by: leigha stuiso
Home Remedy tackles current issues, but gives you feelings of nostalgia with their sound. This album is the first release for Sundressed under their new label Rude Records. The indie-punk band has a sound similar to Modern Baseball, Weezer and All Time Low. The 11 tracks LP follows the 2017 release, A Little Less Put Together, and is a fresh, new sound for the band. Produced by Mike Pepe (Taking Back Sunday, Wasi), the highly anticipated album is finally out. Frontman Trevor Hedges said, “Home Remedy is a record about getting better by any means necessary. Despite many setbacks, I truly believe we were able to make our most authentic and honest record yet.”
Hedges along with AJ Peacox (guitar), Vic Chan (drums), Matthew Graham and Justin Portillo are putting their best foot forward with “Home Remedy”. The title track is everything you would want from the band and more. It is a cathartic release that is meant to be put on at full volume. Fans have been quick to praise the other singles, “Oh Please” and “Size of my Heart”, off the album. “Is This a Drug?” is the song that caught my attention the most. The lyrics are begging to be heard and belted back at the track; you can envision how this track would perform at a concert.
The Atlanta-based band rock out on “The Facts” and “Explode! (Into Pieces)” with strong guitar riffs and drums. Things get serious on “Cash Out”, which tackles the issues of money, insurance and mental health; “Is this the reason why we’re dying? / it’s probably more affordable so just stop trying”. Hedges explains that “Your Frequency”, “is about the “side-hustle” culture. How it’s never okay to relax, how something always comes up when you’re almost ahead. This song is about the desire to have less worry about essential needs and have more time to be human.” All the tracks are honest and catchy at the same time, without being cheesy. Listening to Home Remedy it is easy to see the effort and time put into crafting these tracks.
What started as Hedges project in 2012 to help maintain his sobriety has turned into a place for others to find comfort in themselves. The band tries to make an impact with their music and pushes listeners to keep moving forward. In this record, Sundressed focuses on topics like frustrations with money, hustle culture and mental health issues. While being relevant with the lyrics, there is something about their sound that isn’t forced and feels warm. If you are looking for a sign to listen to Home Remedy, this is it. This is the sign.
by: leigha stuiso
As an artist, your debut work can make or break you. It provides the foundation for a fan base and is the first opportunity to show the strengths and weaknesses of your power. Montreal-based artist Tedy is releasing his debut EP via Sony Music Canada. The 28-year-old fuses soul, alternative and pop together for a unique sound. The compilation of six tracks show his abilities, which are impressive for an emerging artist. Boys Don’t Cry is led by the singles “Stuck” and “War”, both co-produced by Mike Wise (Ellie Goulding, Chainsmokers) and Herag Sanbalian.
In 2019, Tedy began to craft the EP thoughtfully and as a creative collaboration. He strives to have a meaningful response to his creative endeavours, which he seems to have here. The title track, “Boys Don’t Cry”, is the track we need, with different powerful elements coming to play. Tedy’s vocals might be the best part of the EP, as they slip in and out of the melodies. It is almost as if his voice is reminiscent of a mix between Sam Smith and Rag’n’Bone Man, especially on a track such as “Fireworks”. This song is a rollercoaster of highs and lows that showcase his range. He is not afraid to slow things down with “War”, and then ramp up the ante with “Twisted (I Hate Myself)” where his voice battles over the strong sound of drums.
Listening to “Stuck” , it is hard to believe this is only his debut release as a signed artist. The song feels current and pulls you in all around, whether it is the lyrics or the production. The sixth and final track, “Hopeless” feels like the bow on top of a present. It ties together all the best elements explored in the album and doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. Overall, Tedy put together an impressive collection of songs that convey his talent. He is one of those artists you could never forget and easily will become a staple in your music repertoire. Boys Don’t Cry is out now.
Welcome to Nevada City. The small town is infused with musical talent across several genres, and it’s all showcased on The Nevada City Album, a compilation put out by Dowd Records in celebration of the Nevada City Film Festival. As we come across each artist featured on the album, we can trace a progression of genre from mood music to courageous hard rock.
Our first stop is Brett Shady, a folk singer who describes his music on twitter as easy listening. His track “Dear Life” is a swaying waltz that endears all who it flutters by with Shady’s uncomplicated voice and some whimsical sax playing. Things get a little psychedelic with Aaron Ross farther along the album, with his own personal brand of freak folk in his song “Painted Sky.” Its endless and dreamy guitar riff, bejeweled synth melodies and odd backing vocals certainly paint an interesting sky– one that Lucy and Sgt. Pepper could gaze upon together. These indie tracks are echoed by “Peaks and Passes”, a fleeting gem on the album gifted to us by The Moore Brothers. A blues guitar riff and harmonies reminiscent of doo-wop or even gospel music make for an eclectic sound that shows how extensive the influences are around Nevada City. But we have only scratched the surface of the cavernous pool of genres on this compilation.
“Coming Down” by Jessica Lynn and Broken Spoke and “Heart on Fire” by Farrow and the Peach Leaves both rock a country/americana sound, with classic country vocals and roots-oriented guitar. “Heart on Fire” has a hint of happy-go-lucky energy to it, while “Coming Down” layers in some twangy guitar for a more western sound. Soon enough, however, the clouds roll in and that western sound darkens for Tiera May’s “Ballad of the Damned.” Her moody psych rock comes from rumbling guitars, atmospheric cymbal rolls and May’s apparition-like vocals that writhe through the air like the wails of a ghost. Less spectral but just as moody, the alt-rock track “400 Degrees” by Casual Fog uses slow, gloomy guitars and a rising bassline to create a perpetual, inevitable demeanour that carries you along with it.
Speaking of rock music, this compilation is an ecosystem of the genre, with diverse species that work together to cultivate an interesting and fruitful environment. First we travel back in time to the 80’s with “Hungry for the Dark,” by TLA, another alternative rock tune with lots of influence from punk and new wave. Its drum machine, prominent synth bassline and embellishments and the robotic lead vocals make you nostalgic for the post-punk era, no matter what year you were born in. Dipping into some electronica, “Lrn2love” by The Fit transports us to another planet entirely, with its glitching, cybernetic music and computerized vocals. The celestial rock bop “In Gratitude” by Shapes Freely, on the other hand, exists suspended in space. Its gentle vocals, orbiting synths and strings paint a vivid soundscape from outer space complete with stars, planets, rocket ships, and even extraterrestrial beings. On our way back down again, we meet “The Bad One” by Mount Whateverest, or, ‘the highest band on earth.’ This track is a product of what the band calls “solar powered fuzz and roll,” complete with slow, disjunct, infectious beats and a variety of vocals with different effects. Mount Whateverest utilizes whatever they can from saccharine pop melodies to big classic rock riffs to reach new heights with their music.
Finally, we reach the antipode of the easy, calm sound of “Dear Life” with the hard rock tracks “Killed Alive” by Cherry Rats and “Beverly Hills” by Beautiful Dudes. The former’s crashing drums and vigorous distorted guitar provide you with a taste of 2020 style classic rock. The Dudes are known for their cathartic hard rock sound and catchy hooks, and “Beverly Hills” certainly delivers, sounding grungy but upbeat in a vaguely Weezer-like way.
The Nevada City Album sought a varied and gifted assortment of artists in the area, scooped them up and unified them in a multifaceted compilation that has something for everyone. It’s well worth listening to, for when you find yourself drawn to some of the musicians, you know exactly where to look for live shows!
by: katy mombourquette
It’s a long life, made up of seemingly infinitesimal moments. The Sea The Sea captures those moments when you feel incredibly alive and in the world and reimagines them as flashes of light in their new album, Stumbling Home. When time seems to stretch into prolonged chaos, The Sea The Sea keeps us grounded in the essential with their beautifully intricate brand of indie folk-pop. The New York-based duo is composed of Chuck and Mira Costa, who draw their infectious melodies from pop, but otherwise subverts expectations with their unconventional song arrangements. More than anything else, however, this free-spirited pairing are lauded for their exemplary vocal harmonies. The Costas’ exquisite vocals fit together like puzzle pieces tailor-made for the duo. Their voices are completely authentic, sounding lovely and unblemished in their own right. But while duets are a key part of The Sea The Sea’s sound, they also play with thick choral-textured harmonies and solo lines to add some variance among the tracks while still maintaining their sound.
Stumbling Home is brimming with musical imagery that is at times delicate and at other times deep and rustic. The result is glimpses of life, as seen through nature and a little bit of magic. The opening track, “Nothing Brighter” sounds like light, with the glint of sunlight on a clear day in the understated woodwind flourishes, and the glowing bass and piano as the blurry hues of a sunset. The relaxed, tranquil guitar solo sounds like it’s underwater, painting images of rays of light extending down beneath the surface. “A Thousand Years” is more concrete, sounding like the musical equivalent of camping beneath a starry sky. The rich guitar picking and embellishments are the flickers of the fire as they rise above and become stars overhead. The track embodies the deeply rooted tranquility that comes from being removed from society, as felt in the gentle thump of the drum in the stunning interlude partway through the song. Other images are abstract, such as in “Rainstorm.” While there are no explicit qualities in the track that denote a storm, as a whole, it has this somber beauty to it that echoes that of the fall of rain and thundering clouds.
In literature and art, however, one can always find magic embedded within nature. The Sea The Sea captures this magic in their songs with sparing uses of synth and electric guitar. The chorus of the emotional “Broken” sweeps up in a satisfying multi-part harmony and ends with glimmering drops of guitar plucks. Towards the end, these drops lead the song to the pleasantly haunting outro “oohs,” transforming the sound from sparkling fairy dust to mystic beings deep within the forest. “Fall Before The Climb” starts with a simple voice and guitar, but builds, first with harmony, then with a gently driven beat and dulcet electric tones that return to the shimmering stars of “A Thousand Years”, but from the perspective of outer space rather than earth. The acute line “Can we be in love with it all?” summarizes the album as a whole, mirroring the idea of the moments in life when you feel alive and in tune with the world. Uncomplicated guitar strums and the Costas’ patented vocals showcase guitar and synth sorcery in “Stumbling Home.” Bowed strings make their appearance for the first time in this track. Despite how well they fit, the strings are a bit of a surprise, giving “Stumbling Home” a bit of refinement compared to the other, more rustic tracks. Subtle but welcome changes like this find their way into many songs on Stumbling Home. “Parachute” sounds like you would expect after hearing a few songs on this album, except Chuck’s harmony is missing. Instead, Mira backs herself with echoes and a feathery multi-part harmony that sound like forest nymphs. The track also feels more intimate than the others, beginning with some room noise and ending with an ambiguous woosh sound that keeps the listener tethered to the real world. The standout track “Real Thing” realizes a slightly harder, rock sound with a bit of sharp guitar strums and stronger drum beat. Every guitar, synth melody, and percussion part contributes to the full sound, and the universally appealing chorus line “ahh, give me that real thing” has that cathartic nature to it that makes this track one to sing along to. I only wish it were longer; every time I listen to it I’m disappointed when it reaches its end. “I’ll Be Loving You” and “Foreign Country” share an understated mesmerizing quality. “I’ll Be Loving You” and its 6/8 time creates this swaying nature that’s perfect for a love song. Spirited triplet guitar figures simultaneously embrace the vocals and the listener, coaxing both to sink into serenity. “Foreign Country” has substantial guitar, but the line “Do we ever really know exactly where we are?” floats across the background like falling leaves, and the perpetual beat invites the listener to snap along, almost in a trance.
The Sea The Sea’s 2014 debut release, Love We Are We Love, received praise from NPR, American Songwriter, and No Depression. The video for their song “Waiting” sparked the interest of Buzzfeed and Pitchfork, and was included at the international TED 2015 conference. But for the duo, Stumbling Home reaches a new level of fulfillment. “It’s the work we are most proud of to date,” shares Mira. “We are proud of the way we grew the arrangements in our new creative space. Making music fills us, and we also believe that it matters in the world. Our mission statement as a band is to remind people they aren’t alone — in their pains or their joys, and everything in-between.” This shrewd sense of the world, both what it seems to be and what it is, allows Stumbling Home to be a beacon of light in an otherwise ill-lit world.
by katy mombourquette
In an effort to work through the trauma of a psychologically abusive relationship, Caitlin Pasko offers Greenhouse: nine hauntingly pensive songs that aim to heal the self and move on from past wounds. A greenhouse is a structure that protects plant life from unfavourable external conditions, and in the same way Greenhouse provides a safe space for Pasko’s songs to grow and flourish into understanding and acceptance. The album is deeply involved with the concept of space– both in a metaphorical sense with its title, but also in terms of its sonic atmosphere. All the songs exist suspended in space, and silence works hand-in-hand with language to provide room for Pasko’s thoughts to form and evolve. “Ooo Happy”, a fleeting and chilling mid-album interlude has fourteen seconds of silence at the end before moving on. There are no words in this silence, and yet it speaks volumes. Much of Pasko’s gentle and breathy vocals on this album are delicately supported by sparse accompaniment, but each line carries so much weight. The accompaniment sometimes comes in the form of electronic atmospheres or decorative plucked strings, but most often in the form of ambient piano playing. Pasko’s compositions fully explore the tension between dynamics, tempo, and space, reminding one of Satie or Debussy. Her songs feel liberated from tempo, as her vocals and elegant piano melodies freely move like fantasias. In “Unwell”, the placement of each word and each chord is liberated from any sort of beat, but at the same time is deliberate and effective.
“Unwell” is also the first of a trio of songs on Greenhouse, manifested from Pasko’s walks through Brooklyn in 2017. During these walks she experienced dissociation– a kind of out-of-body sensation where she felt like she was floating above herself, viewing herself from a different point of view. Pasko channels this idea of multiple points of views in “Unwell”, “Mother”, and “Even God.” She crafts parallels in her lyrics between songs, such as when she talks about walking a neighbourhood that isn’t hers in “Unwell” and then sings “Today I remembered what it feels like to go walking on the sidewalk in the city that’s not my city” in “Mother”, the lyrics in both songs spilling over one another, feeling like a wandering thought. “Mother” plays with perspective as well, towards the end she sings “She’s my daughter, I’m her sister, she’s my sister, I’m her mother, she’s my mother” and delves into the idea of becoming a mother herself, with a second voice joining her in harmony when she talks about creative another life. “Even God” is written from the perspective of Pasko’s own mother and recalls Greenhouse’s inspiration: an abusive relationship. “Even God” is about being trauma-bonded to an abusive partner, with the principal lyric “Even God is selfish” playing with the idea that “nobody’s perfect.” About the song, Pasko says “‘You can sleep in / just make the bed’ is me saying, ‘I will put up with these bouts of cruelty, because I know you love me.’ It’s dark. I was sick. I was twisting the truth in order to cope with my reality, and as I started to believe my non-truth, I also turned against my friends who wanted to help me. If I believed them, then I’d have to admit to my own hell.”
So while “Even God” is about Pasko’s relationship with her partner, it’s also about how her situation affected her relationship with her friends, and even herself. Greenhouse documents the dissolution of relationships, romantic, platonic, and familial, all the while developing her ever-evolving connection to herself. “I Know I” uses two part harmony to represent Pasko’s child self and her inner mother, and how they communicate. The lower harmony briefly becomes the lead in the middle of the song, but soon enough returns to its original role, functioning as a metaphor for the conversations that take place between the mind and the heart. We hear this metaphorical harmony in “Mother” as well, when Pasko mulls over the possibility of motherhood for herself. At times, the album highlights relationships in the form of a dichotomy, such as in “Horrible Person.” The deeply reflective nature of the track contradicts its themes of self-abandonment and toxic enmeshment. Therefore, the “horrible person” is not only the abuser, but also the self as seen through someone else’s distorted, narcissistic mirror. Pasko composed the track a cappella, alone in her bed, in the dark, in an attempt to develop a reclamation of personal agency. It became the album’s centerpiece, and uses electronic sounds to create tension but also to depict an underwater chasm. Flickers of sound represent neon diatoms that dart around Pasko, eventually overtaking her right before the song ends in a deafening silence.
“Horrible Person” highlights how an abusive relationship can have reverberations in other parts of someone’s life, and when it’s over you have to remedy that. But a part of healing is confronting what happened and believing one’s own survival story. Pasko rewrites the narrative surrounding her experience in “Quiet Weather” and “To The Leaves.” In “Quiet Weather”, Pasko uses metaphors for herself and her partner to evoke imagery of a lake with still waters, showing her sense of lyrical craftsmanship. She attempts to exhume the past to allow herself to move on, singing “When I think of you I take a shovel to my chest and dig as deep as I can get.” “To The Leaves” is an artistic wonder that stitches together fragmented versions of the self in order to regain a sense of personal identity. With the words “It’s hard to believe that I was ever a peach in the leaves / It’s hard to believe that I was ever that version of me,” Pasko calls to attention how a survivor may gaslight herself into not believing her own experience. The piano gently plays haunting suspended chords that send a shiver down your spine.
The effective chords in “To The Leaves” create one of the scarce moments in the album that evokes emotion. Greenhouse is not emotional, it’s passive and composed. Yet it isn’t devoid of feeling. It’s a document; her words and experiences speak for themselves. In the moments where the piano chords deepen or electronic static takes over the space, they only emphasize the already implicit feelings. We hear this in the closing track, “Intimate Distance,” in which Pasko sings to herself as an act of atonement. The opening piano is unsentimental, but as the song progresses it deepens, at times feeling somber but at other times feeling powerful and majestic. “Intimate Distance” is the final step to moving on for Pasko, she clarifies and makes peace with the pain and love that lie beneath her trauma.
Greenhouse is intricate, intellectual, and complex. But so is the path to healing. By the time we get to “Intimate Distance”, we have seen Pasko face her damage from the past, engage with the possibilities of her future, and deal with all of the complications along the way. Her words are utterly beautiful, and packed with exquisite veiled meaning that would take many listens to fully grasp. From its title to its reserved demeanour that is subtly interwoven with emotion, Greenhouse is an understated work of art that needs to be listened to with willing ears and an open heart.