musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Tag: Toronto Canada

Introducing… Sarah Cripps

Photo by Ryan Nolan

Photo by Ryan Nolan

Penetrating and haunting, Sarah Cripps’ new song, “Leave Behind,” seduces and intoxicates with its eerie and mournful guitar and the deep shadows in Cripps’ voice. It is the lead single from her upcoming album.

During the making of this album, I was going through a turbulent transition in my life. I was struggling with the perception of who I thought I was supposed to be, and who I truly am. It left me feeling pretty dark at times. It was making this record that helped me decide I would embrace the darkness and the weirdness. – Sarah Cripes

Based in Brigton, Ontatio, Cripps is a Toronto Independent Music Award winner and a powerful new talent in the mainstream country music realm. However, country music is only part of her story, and you can hear the richness of her musical vision in this one song. As she herself describes the search of her strength as an artist, “I pulled myself out of the perfect box I thought I had to fit into. I found a way to create my own narrative and not subscribe to the one that is often forced on young women. Although “Leave Behind” is a reflection of losing myself and some of my lowest moments, ultimately, it’s the turning point that gave me the guts to just embrace the weirdness.”

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Introducing… Andi

AndiMusic

Ah, the optimism and fortitude of youth! And yet, Toronto-based Andi, in her most recent new song “Half Home,” sounds lonely and not so certain about her chosen life as a musician. She also sounds not so certain about her own abilities and none too excited by her current lifestyle of traveling between recording sessions and rehearsals, alternating between sleeping on friends’ couches and crashing in her car. “Half Home” suggests a state of flux, a sort of earth plane “bardo,” where you don’t really belong anywhere. Meanwhile, there’s change in the personality and progress is being made, but it’s not always perceptible. For an impatient youth, the clock might not seem to be moving at all.

“I call on the phone just to reach a busy tone
I call on the phone just to feel like I’m not alone.

I’m calling just a little bit older, a little bit bolder
and still I’ve got nothing to say
I’m calling just a little bit older, a little bit bolder
and still I’ve got nothing to say
I’ve gotten just a little bit colder
I needed a shoulder to help get me through the day.
I’m afraid, I’m afraid
I’m the same girl as yesterday.”

– Half Home

Andi’s Sketches EP, released just last year, was her debut. It made the top 4 in Canada’s national CBC Searchlight competition. She describes the inspiration behind the new single as “being young and in a transitionary stage of life.” The song has a pop feel, but with touches of other genres that include an R&B swagger that adds dimension and gives Andi her own unique sound. In her early 20s, Andi writes and produces her own music. Along with supple, smoothly sliding vocals, the instrumentation, with its neat, tasty guitar and bass lines, raise the level beyond the average pop song to something more progressive.

Andi is currently working on her full-length debut, inspired by weighty world issues and her personal connection with them. She tackles subjects such as women’s empowerment and autonomy, sociey’s ideas about masculinity, LGBTQ+ issues and her life experience as a bisexual woman. She observes and writes about the human condition, including emotional struggles, self-conflict and love, while championing the individual’s quest for empowerment and acceptance.

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Introducing… Anna Atkinson

In the first single from her new album, Anna Atkinson takes us on a trip down memory lane. Wistful nostalgia never sounded so good, with her angelic voice and sparse, old-timey strings. It’s a quiet story, beautifully told, of being a descendant of family members who were craftspeople and creators, whether it was a pair of shoes, wood carvings, visual art, quilts or a family feast. Through the ages, they survived war, poverty and suffering. As we watch her revisit her family home, now boarded up and derelict, we see a quilt being sewn. It’s sad and hopeful at the same time, filled with sweet remembrance, admiration and a lot of love. It seems to be a celebration of humankind’s enduring spirit, to continue to create through hardship, and especially the idea of creating a vibrant and meaningful life together as a family.

“When we weave our sad stories together
Maybe we could knit a sweater
Gather silk scraps and cashmere
Embroidery threads
Morsels of blankets all tattered, in shreds
And the quilts that our mothers unfurled on our beds
When we were young”

– When We Were Young

As Atkinson explains,

“When I was a child, my mother had a subscription to ARTnews, and one edition had an article about a Canadian artist — Janet Morton — who knit a sweater for a house on Ward’s Island. I thought it was the most amazing concept and it was the initial inspiration for the song — its working title (Sweater For A House) came from that.”

Her new album is called Sky Stacked Full, and it features David Occhipinti. She wrote the songs over a 10-year span and spent five months recording at CBC Studio 211 in Toronto.

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Brooklyn Doran and The Villain

We first introduced you to Canadian musician Brooklyn Doran a few short months ago, but as her debut album These Paper Wings is due out on September 9, we’re revisiting this talented songstress to pass along a lovely second single from this upcoming release. It’s called “The Villain” and it stirs up some strong emotions about a relationship misadventure. It’s sad, but out of pain comes renewed strength and determination.

The music on the 7-track album straddles the line between folk and adult contemporary, but with a sharp edge and a strength of spirit not always found in the former and typically never found in the latter. As she describes it, the songs each represent a different time and place in her life within the past three years, and are about the different stages of being in love (or out of love). The video was filmed at Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto by Public Space Productions, created using a series of cinemagraphs.

Doran will be touring around Canada to support These Paper Wings, starting with an album release show on September 10 in Toronto at The Drake Hotel with Ukae and A Fellow Ship. For more information and a complete listing, see Bandsintown.

Track Listing

  1. Not the Time
  2. Sing Me Your Song
  3. I Found A Home
  4. Paper Wings
  5. Haunt Me
  6. The Villain
  7. Say The Worlds

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Introducing… Darling Cora

Darling Cora (a.k.a. Darlene Cuevas) has a secret weapon — it’s an impossibly supple voice that conjures the mysteries of the ages. It soars, glides and flutters overhead with the grace and fluidity of birds whle deftly accompanied by electric and acoustic guitar and strings with occasional touches of soft percussion that combines the best of classical, folk, jazz and shades of world music visited by exotic gypsies from a bygone era. Her astonishing debut album, Heart Strung Out, is a rich bouillabaisse of all these ingredients, yet the music never upstages her hypnotic vocals. Instead, it complements her beautifully, creating magical settings for her to truly shine.

As the album flows, just when you think you’ve figured out her sound, she suddenly surprises (such as with the tremendous power and passion of “Three Pennies Faling” and “Charade”). The album spans a range of emotions. As the artist herself explains, her debut is about “a young woman figuring out matters of the heart, especially to do with love — the good, the bad, the sweet, and the ugly. I wrote about different facets of loving, and how its lack or excess can wear upon the heart and psyche.”

Currently based in the Toronto area, Darling Cora has a pair of shows coming up — at The Cameron House in Toronto on September 23 and at the Red Brick Cafe in Guelph on October 8.

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Says Ronley Teper and The Lipliners, Have Faith

Even without its accompanying psychotropic video, a mixed-media crazed cacophony masterminded by Davide Di Saro, the song “Faith” by Ronley Teper and The Lipliners is a very curious creature. It has a magical fairy princess vocal that innocently winds its way into the subconscious — “here comes faith, like a river to the soul,” while the music slowly builds into an ‘everything-but-the-kitchen-sink circus tent orchestra with a choral accompaniment of woodland hippies. The video itself, comprised of pencil and water color drawings, flash animation and 3D graphics, has a kind of Beatles ‘Yellow Submarine’ vibe, though perhaps with just a tinge of madness.

The message is of hope and faith in the face of unavoidable change toward the unknown. Here is the story of this fantastic voyage:

“The adventure unfolds among a living landscape representing the paradoxical friction of force between our real world and dreams to achieve. Within this world we gracefully follow a fantastical character roaming with his soul, toward an unalloyed river which streams silver shimmers of faith and optimistic peace. Ultimately the adventurous soul, embarks on a floating mountain disappearing in the distance while we learn how to respectfully pose an eternal farewell to what we have left behind.”

The video is part of an 8-year collaboration between Di Saro and Ronley Teper, performance artist turned musician. Their trilogy of animated films (this is the first) came out of massive upheaval in her life — a time when she got rid of everything from her clothes and belonging to her nostalgia and memories. The song “Faith” was a reminder to herself to accept the changes that ushered in a new chapter in her life and to overcome them.

Originally from South Africa and raised in Toronto, Ronley began playing guitar in high school to accompany her poems and monologues. She released her debut Stories From The Tray in 2001, which told the story of a naive waitress serving unsavory customers. Her follow-up, Cornered In The Alley, explored both universal love and everyday love, with all its ugly and beauful experiences. In her work with her many collaborators, she experiments with music as performance art.

Teper collaborates with a revolving cast of Canada’s finest artists in the indie music scene (in addition to puppets) to create art that combines poetry, comedy, magic, theatrics and good old-fashioned storytelling. In her new album, 20 short musical monologues are featured that were workshopped during improvisational shows where she and her musicians create startling new musical worlds.

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Introducing… Place Erupt

There’s something about a cello that can make any music seem both sophisticated and somber. That’s certainly true for the song “Mayday,” a track from the debut album Breathe A Storm from Toronto ensemble Places Erupt, out August 20th. Previously known as The Benefit of the Free Man, this Canadian quintet is a classy outfit. With the strings and traditional classical/folk harmonies, at times they sound like something straight out of Renaissance. At other times, they really rock out, even dipping into prog rock and experimental terrain. The subject matter of the aforementioned song includes the following line in it — “Checking on the pulse/ Beat reporter/ Plastic tentacles / Reaching in.” It came about when Piazza was experiencing heart palpatations and had to wear a heart monitor for a few days to monitor his heart activity. Traditional instrumentation and modern concerns. However, the song is ultimately about how hard it is to shake things off and how difficult it can be to compartmentalize that which disturbs you. Amen to that.

Having listened to their amazing forthcoming album, I’ll call their music “fierce progressive rock/folk/classical.” They veer madly from hushed to hypnotic to hellfire fury, and often within the same song. It’s a unique sound that really gels.

The band comprises Anna Jarvis (cello), Greg O’Toole (guitar, vocals), Lee Piazza (vocals), Mike Legere (percussion) and Katie Wolsley (violin). For those in the Toronto area, Places Erupt will be hosting their album release party at Burdock Tavern in Toronto on August 20th.

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Introducing… The Elwins

There’s quite a cheery indie-pop sound that permeates what, at least lyrically, seems to be rather sad sentiments in The Elwins’ official video for “So Down Low.” This single, which was on the Canadian commercial radio charts for six months, was the first to come from their album Play For Keeps, the follow-up to their debut And I Thank You, released back in 2012. In addition to the upbeat music, there’s an equally upbeat menagerie of strange creatures on post-in notes. What that means is that you might not want to watch this video late at night.

Hailing from Ontario, Canada, The Elwins began in 2006 as the duo of Matthew Sweeney and Travis Stokl, releasing their debut EP in 2008. They then decided to add to their sound with guitar, keyboards and bass. On their first tour, they opened for SPEAK and Jukebox the Ghost, and by the following tour in 2003, they were headliners. With this new release, they’ve continued to tour steadily throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan. They’re now in the midst of shows in Eastern Canada that run through mid-December. See their official site for more information.


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Introducing… The Boxcar Boys

Damn, these guys and gals are hellacious fun. Clarinet, accordion, harmonica, piano, violin, washboard, bass drum, banjo, trombone, jaw harp, sousaphone — it’s a crazy jambalaya of Klezmer, vintage Dixieland jazz, New Orleans blues, old timey folk and a healthy dose of hillbilly from various bygone eras. They released their third full-length album, Cicada Ball, back in September.

Based in Toronto, Canada, this sauce sextet plays beautifully together, weaving effortlessly in and out of each other’s sophisticated playing. They’re amazing — both incredibly accomplished and delightfully whimsical. In addition to their usual (unusual) instrumentation, the album features cello banjo (Sheesham and Lotus), Adrian Gross on mandolin (The Slocan Ramblers) and Michael Eckert on dobro (The Double Cuts).

If you happen to live in Toronto, you’re in luck. The Boxcar Boys (and girls) seem to have a residency going on at the wonderfully-named C’est What. They’re also playing at the Sharbot Lake Country Inn on November 28. My guess is that a lot of crazy unhinged dancing and general merriment and mayhem will ensue. Hmm, I wonder if these guys know about the Honk! Festival?


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Introducing… Hayden

Ok, so actually this isn’t an introduction for Canadians, as Toronto-based Paul Hayden Desser a.k.a. Hayden has been performing and quietly releasing albums since 1994. However, he’s known as being something of a reclusive, so don’t be alarmed if you’ve never heard of him and didn’t know that he’s just put out his seventh album, Us Alone. The first six albums were on his own (obscure) Hardwood Records label, but this time, he’s signed with Arts & Crafts, realizing that it might be a good idea career-wise to actually let some people know when you’ve put out new music. It’s possible that what led to this foray into public life was that he was erroneously listed as “deceased” on on his Wikipedia page. Fortunately, the error was brought to his attention by a fan. As he himself said, “I was dead six months before anyone noticed.” Humor is so essential in this business.

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