17 minute read

Local Releases: Album Reviews

RICHARD INMAN COME BACK THROUGH

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Richard Inman’s new album, Come Back Through, is narrated by desperate cowboys, gamblers, and lovers at the edge of what’s bearable. They stare down mistake-filled pasts, debtridden presents, and overwhelming futures, struggling with the question of hope. Recorded over a weekend, it is sonically unified and organic. You can feel the magic of that specific time and place as Inman’s baritone rises above classic country chord patterns and instrumentation. As with all of Inman’s work, the storytelling takes center stage.

In the chorus of Come Back Through’s opening song and lead single, “Waiting on the River,” Inman introduces us to the album’s major themes: troubles with gambling and drinking, the beauty of rural central Canada, the precarity of loving and being loved, and the certainty of death: “I’m digging for change, waiting on the river/ Just hoping that my liver and my luck hold out/ Thinking on your dark eyes, dark-haired darling/ Chase away my worries and wash away my doubt.”

Like the other great country songwriters (and he is among the best), Inman can communicate a lifetime of baggage in a few verses and a chorus. He is the master of evocative detail, operating outside of generalization and cliché even when the subject is, on the surface, the stuff of country music tropes. Take this couplet from the terrifying and cinematic “Cut Fence (Let God Sort Them Out)” (co-written with Markus Skovsgaard), which depicts a lonely rancher setting his horses free as a fire barrels toward them: “Had the keys been by the door, instead of blue jeans on the floor / Might have had a chance to haul out a load.” With this one detail, Inman gives us what we need to understand the story the rancher has been telling himself for years, the story that he’s already constructing about this freak fire: that his carelessness is to blame for the loss. In the end, he accepts his fate: “Good luck, godspeed, glad someone made it out / Better than burning here with me.” He’s singing to his horses, but he’s also singing to everyone he feels is better off without him.

Inman is at his strongest when he’s singing about love. Love is not just contained in the lyrics. It hums across the whole album. The title track, which I consider the album’s best, captures the power of unconditional love. Despite unpaid debts, an old friend tells the wanderer, “Brother, always come back through when you go away.” In the wake of this love, the wanderer finds a way forward, reflecting, “If I start right now and take it day by day, I could make it right and chip that debt away.”

In these times of intense conflict and division, the love that Inman invites us to witness on Come Back Through, though broken and tenuous, is tender and a great comfort. Noah Cain

JAMBOREE LIFE IN THE DOME

Alternative-rock band Jamboree’s sophomore album Life in the Dome is a delicate balance between hope, despair, melody, and broken chaos. Released on April 1 by House of Wonders Records, the album in its entirety is a melancholic delight.

Throughout the album, you get a flavour for the various influences Jamboree has cultivated and their creative expansiveness and ability to portray each song as having its own unique identity. The lyrics are raw and express a general sense of being pretty bummed out, and rightfully so. “The Birds Are Chirping” grants us a glimpse into the album’s overall concept: the idea of an entire city being confined under a dome-like structure.

The record begins with Jamboree’s first single, “The Snow,” which gives the listener a short, calm disposition and then quickly falls into a despairing guitar distorted scream—highlighting the confusion and frustration the lyrics contain. “The Snow ‘’ represents one of the more musically and lyrically confrontational tracks on Life in the Dome. Concluding with the repeated request “Just get away from me” and slowly submerging into a cosmic array of guitar feedback.

Slowing down the pace with songs like “Walk” and “The Dome,” Jamboree manages to combine a lighter, airy guitar with an apathetic taste in the vocals and lyrics, complimenting each other quite nicely by weaving together a paradoxical sound of cheeriness and despair. “The Dome” conveys a more traditional pop song structure as a melodic lullaby is sung through the choruses.

“Quebec” and “Another Day” highlight possible influences of 1970s hard rock and late 1960s alternative rock, while “Be True” is pleasantly nostalgic of 1990s alternative rock. Swaying back and forth between an unassuming innocence and a hard-hitting guitar lick, “Quebec” is a definite headbanger. “Another Day” brings forth a more existential vibe reminiscent of The Velvet Underground & Nico’s “Venus in Furs.”

“Victoria” and “The Trees” continue a theme of opposites meshed delicately together. “Victoria” has gentleness sprinkled with a moment of chaotic and spacey feedback. “The Trees” is anthem-like and passionate but begins with vocals almost as quiet as a whisper.

The album ends with “Stop Moving,” a pleasantly dreamy acoustic song.

Jamboree’s Life in the Dome shares vulnerably with its listeners the depths, frustrations, and conundrums of life in mass isolation. Jackie Weseen

SWEET ALIBI MAKE A SCENE

Released in late January 2022, Make a Scene is the newest album from Winnipeg’s own Sweet Alibi. These eight songs were collectively written by Amber Nielson, Jessica Rae Ayre and Michelle Anderson with bassist Alasdair Dunlop and drummer Sandy Fernandez.

Each of the eight tracks on this album have a clean mix of instruments with thoughtful and interesting lyrics. With beautifully sung harmonies, unique instrumentals and interesting rhythms this album plays like the soundtrack for the start of summer.

Track three, “Same Roads,” tells the story of a person caught wandering the same wrong paths in life again and again. Try as they might to break through and live a new life, the writer stays caught in the same tracks: “I keep walking the same roads again; that road keeps breaking me down.”

The very next track, “Really Great,” picks listeners up from the disposition of old ways.

An interesting song to note is “Confetti.” The story of this song is of a wealthy older woman who has a lesson to teach her “money grubbing children.” Since she can’t take her great wealth with her to the otherside, the woman chooses to have her riches used as confetti at her funeral.

“She had this one idea

To teach her money hungry children

That stuff is temporary

And you just can’t take it with you when you go.”

Sweet Alibi has gifted listeners with a fresh and upbeat sound. It makes me want to throw the windows open or take a walk somewhere the sun is shining. An exploration of oneself and what is most valuable in life, Make a Scene is sure to make an impression on all who hear it. Matt Harrison

THE BROS . LANDRETH COME MORNING

The Bros. Landreth are back and have done it again. Joey and Dave Landreth’s new album, to be released May 13, comes with a run time of just under 40 minutes. Come Morning is chalked full of emotion and harmonyheavy soulfulness. Tackling difficult emotional themes, Come Morning is

about balance, fatherhood, priorities, emotional healing, hard truths, new beginnings, and change.

Come Morning has layers of harmonies over atmospheric analog synth, Hammond organ, and guitar. Beginning with the singles “Stay” and “What in the World,” the album continues to “Drive All Night,” a song filled with ethereal synths, guitar, and driving rhythms and vocals on the chorus. Traveling onto the next songs, the brothers wrap you in a blanket of slow, sorrowful melodies in “Shame” and “You Don’t Know Me” about loss of friendship. “After the Rain” is more an upbeat, uplifting, and hopeful song about needing a change. Moving on, “Don’t Feel Like Crying” is a powerful, relatable song about moving on and the next step in the healing process. “Corduroy” highlights the keys reminiscent of the past. Layered melodic guitar and vocals, “Come Morning” holds you in sway, making you wish you were still dreaming before morning. Taking you by the hand, “Back to Thee” leads you back to reuniting and mending relationships to conclude the album.

In Come Morning, The Bros. Landreth collaborates with others. Two songs, including “After the Rain,” a song about the need for deep, meaningful change, were co-written with Jonathan Singleton. The album also has appearances with Leith Ross (“Don’t Feel Like Crying”), Joe Pisapia (“You Don’t Know Me”), drummers Aaron Sterling and Daniel Roy.

The Bros. Landreth takes you along on their journey of sadness, healing, change and hope for new beginnings. Perfect for long drives and chilling at home Come Morning is a beautifully crafted and soul-touching album you will want to add to your collection.

Keeley Braunstein-Black

MUSIC VIDEO REVIEW CAID JONES FOR THE GAME

Hopscotch and skipping his way through slick rhymes and eccentric flows, 22-year-old Caid Jones is an unrelenting force on “For The Game.”

Historically, the Winnipegbased rapper uses his voice for public awareness and in support of various social justice issues. On “For The Game,” he keeps the spirit of community outreach alive, showcasing the beautiful grit of the middle province.

“It’s like we always been walking the line/ I put in work but still watch the poverty rise/ Until I’m in the dirt with my thoughts and a shrine/ I give it all, never stop ‘till I die,” raps Jones over a 90’s indebted beat.

A pseudo-psychedelic looping sample underpins the track’s entirety, creating an excellent launchpad for Jones to catapult into the stratosphere. A deep and booming bass envelopes the listener and gives the song the catchy edge it needs. One of the most compelling aspects of the production is the subtle, hard to hear synth melody that feels reminiscent of early Dr. Dre and would fit perfectly on Doggystyle.

The song’s accompanying music video takes a note from Jones and similarly captures the abrasive spirit of Winnipeg. Interspersed between shots of Jones’ crew cruising through downtown Winnipeg in an old Cadillac are profiles of real people who are a part of the community Jones exalts. “Pressuring the city like a diamond,” raps Jones about the place that raised him.

Rarely seen alone, the video profiles Caid Jones surrounded by friends and family. They ride bikes, pop champagne, and fine dine together, all working towards the vision of unity Jones expresses so vehemently through the track.

“For The Game” is a blissful and encouraging song about community actualization. With a strategic blend of old-school beats and modern takes of socio-economic upheaval, Jones addresses the one aspect of Winnipeg that has captured and confounded the soul of anyone who has lived there— the Adonic grunge. Myles Tiessen

Ulteriors

CAID JONES PHOTO: KATIE KOLESAR

THE WEATHER STATION HOW IS IT THAT I SHOULD LOOK AT THE STARS

Toronto singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman returns with an equally deft and personal album as her group’s prior efforts. The Weather Station’s previous forays into bluegrass, pop, folk and jazz shine through in turn on her newest record, whose musical tone meets the album cover’s dense-darkhopeful vibe.

Global conflicts, relationship struggles and existential musings often comprise the lyrical body of any given song. As lilting keys anchor tracks, the singer drops lines like: “…all I can see today is black…those stars don’t guide you anywhere” (Marsh). Lindeman’s lyrics find an intriguing balance between unfiltered journal jot notes and considered poetic musings.

The support band - variously playing guitar, flute, sax, upright bass, clarinet, and more - sound lower in the mix than on previous records, yet no less important to the album. It is hard not to think of experimental jazz in the vein of Brad Mehldau when the woodwinds pipe in with critical emphasis on “Taught”. “Stars” is reminiscent of fellow Canadian Stan Rogers’s ballads, finding the singer proclaiming: “So overwhelmed by the beauty of the stars. How could I not be?” with stoic fervour. Even at the album’s most pained and lonely moments, its warm production upholds their sanctity.

“Song” finds Lindeman reflecting on songwriting itself as she considers: “… what I’d place inside, if I could bury light, in something I could write.” Not just light, but darkness, conflict, hope and pessimism ring out with startling clarity over the album’s course.

How Is It That I Should Look at the Stars? represents a poignant and measured entry in the growing catalogue of pandemic-era “personal” records. The Weather Station’s members are more than familiar with attunement to cultural moments, having focused their last effort on climate change with 2021’s “Ignorance.” One can only hope the group stays the course with comparably astute and relistenable entries.

For fans of: Aimee Mann, Sibylle Baier, Cassandra Jenkins, Vashti Bunyan. Paul

Newsom

DANA GAVANSKI WHEN IT COMES

When It Comes is a passage into a fantasy world. Dana Gavanski has long been lauded for her ability to convey deeply intimate emotions through the power of melody. Her latest album uses those powers to transport the listener into an entirely different realm. From the first glimmering piano ballad of “I Kiss The Night,” Gavanski brings us down the rabbit hole into a world filled with imaginative and extravagant sonic offerings. With a melody like a lullaby and introspective lyrics, “I Kiss The Night” dazes the listener into a captivating trance that remains throughout the entirety of When It Comes.

The Vancouver-raised artist has firmly cemented herself as one of the foremost indie-pop artists working in Canada. Gavanski uses When It Comes to push her ambitions into the stratosphere. The record simultaneously sounds intimate and omnipotent—personal yet universal.

There are moments on When It Comes where it feels as if you are stepping into the inquisitive reverie of a poet. The song “Lisa,” for instance, is a meditative examination of the natural world, written from the viewpoint of the sea. “I watch you roam the streets, a frown upon your face/ Chasing after days that melt behind,” sings Gavanski through a lush wall of synthesizers. As the chorus builds, a looping guitar riff lulls you into the track, and you can practically feel the ocean waves beneath your feet.

One highlight of When It Comes is “Bend Away and Fall.” At some points, sounding truly medieval, and at others, diving into science fiction, the track

glides in an ethereal, timeless space. Gavanski’s vocals twirl and spin in the atmosphere, entangling with the equally evocative instrumentation. “I give a chance to experience as they bend away and fall,” sings Gavanski in a nursery rhyme-like fashion.

Gavanski’s poetry is a little harder to audit than her objectively beautiful melodies. Her metaphysical syntax is like reading through hazy glasses. It’s generally hard to interpret individual lines, but broad, comprehensive readings make it all crystal clear: “Love, reach inside the rhyme/ Oh love/ Love, oh you are not mine/ Oh love/ I watch the space, the bending frame,” Gavanski sings on “Under the Sky.”

While each track on When It Comes” has its own aura—“The Day Unfolds” sounds like a Super Mario score until it dissolves into free-form jazz—they all seem to work concurrently in service of the album’s larger vision. All tracks live somewhere in Wonderland and are unrelenting in their poignant instrumentation and lyrical affectation.

Myles Tiessen

PEDRO THE LION HAVASU POLYVINYL RECORD CO .

On Pedro the Lions 2017 LP Phoenix, their first studio album in 18 years, the closing track “Leaving the Valley” anxiously documents a 12 year old’s uprooting and the stillness in motion that comes with trekking across the country in a van. The track wraps up with a guitar melody flickering like a lightbulb until the lights are gone. On “Don’t Wanna Move,” the first track off the new LP Havasu, that same flickering guitar melody finds light again to start the track, echoing in the same direction, down the same highway where a young David Bazan is stuck in a van. The anxiety turns to cemented fear of starting anew and a firm resistance of his new home, his destination: Lake Havasu.

Released on January 20th to the surprise of many, Havasu is less of a follow up album as it is a direct continuation of the adolescent stories shared by Midwest Emo veteran David Bazan. Bazan’s seasoned and weary vocals add an emotional layer to life lessons and experiences that still hold their value in moulding a teenager into a grown up. Apart of a fitting burst of distortion and drum fills on “First Drum Set,” the trio keep a tame and rather melancholic energy throughout the album, almost like a comedown from the hard rock energy we heard on Phoenix.

Pedro the Lion’s surprise new LP helped to bring peace and clarity to my living room while an orchestra of truck horns occupied the airspace I inhabited for what seemed like an endless period of time. A soundtrack for reflection; Havasu is a must-listen for the dedicated fans and newcomers alike.

For fans of: Death Cab for Cutie,

WHITNEY K HARD TO BE A GOD

“There was a wicked messenger, from Eli he did come/ With a mind that multiplied the smallest matter,” sang Bob Dylan on his mysterious, biblical album John Wesley Harding.

Whitney K’s Hard To Be A God confronts the influence of his idols Lou Reed, Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan, whose corpses are strewn across the album cover. “In a past life/ I was a wicked messenger,” retorts Whitney, perched in the background, taking notes that delight in multiplying the smallest matters on the opening song “While Digging Through the Snow.”

Whitney’s influences are direct and compartmentalized. When he intones in mostly unrhymed prose, he channels Lou Reed, who also inspires the music: the tumbling rhythms, droning chords and repeated bending guitar figure of “Not Unlike a Rock” resemble a restrained Velvet Underground. When Whitney sings, his voice carries a hint of country drawl like Kristofferson, especially as he weaves country tropes into his ramblings: “Head upon the dashboard, feet under the wheel/ Well I didn’t see her coming blue eyes, and shining steel/ And the paper said it was an accident” he sings in “Two Strangers.”

“They sent for the ambulance/ And one was sent/ Somebody got lucky/ But it was an accident,” Dylan croons over a trudging blues on Blonde on Blonde. Perhaps it’s an accident that so many of Whitney’s lines engage so directly with Dylan, a coincidental collision of influence and creativity as Whitney forges his own path as a songwriter.

If Whitney hadn’t put his idols on the cover - and had made a longer album - it wouldn’t feel like confronting his influences was the main theme of this mini-album. Putting that theme aside, the songs stand on their own, from surprising humor in the lyrics (“you looked like Khruschev addressing the committee”) to the variety of musical influences. From the chamber music of the opener and closer to the cinematic Appalachian theme of the title track, the music always fits perfectly with each clever turn of phrase. Jesse

Popeski

TRISH KAY PERFORMING AT BULLDOG PIZZA ON APRIL 8 PHOTO: KATIE KOLESAR

PORTUGAL. THE MAN • TASH SULTANA

BUDDY GUY • JAPANESE BREAKFAST • BAHAMAS

BETTYE LAVETTE • KURT VILE & THE VIOLATORS • WEYES BLOOD THE STRUMBELLAS • JERRY HARRISON AND ADRIAN BELEW “ REMAIN IN LIGHT “

SUDAN ARCHIVES • LIDO PIMIENTA • THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS ANDY SHAUF • WILD RIVERS • BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA • DERVISH CHICANO BATMAN • FRUIT BATS • AROOJ AFTAB • JEREMY DUTCHER ALLISON RUSSELL • OCIE ELLIOTT • THE WEATHER STATION • CADENCE WEAPON JUDY COLLINS • MADISON CUNNINGHAM • REUBEN AND THE DARK • BEDOUINE

BOY GOLDEN • BUCK MEEK • GANGSTAGRASS • LES FILLES DE ILLIGHADAD PACHYMAN • TRIO SVIN • SWEET ALIBI • JAYWOOD • TRÉ BURT • IFRIQIYYA ELECTRIQUE JEREMIE ALBINO • TEKE::TEKE • AHI • LEITH ROSS • PIQSIQ • TALL TALL TREES CHARLIE CUNNINGHAM • RUBY WATERS • JJ SHIPLETT • SAM LYNCH • DEL BARBER MOONTRICKS • NDIDI O • TRISH KLEIN • RICHARD INMAN • BOBBY DOVE THE TRADE-OFFS • SHANLEY SPENCE • FONTINE • CLEREL • SEBASTIAN GASKIN ALLISON DE GROOT & TATIANA HARGREAVES • KIRBY BROWN • CASSIE AND MAGGIE

JESSEE HAVEY & THE BANANA BAND • JAMES CULLETON SUPER FUN • GREEN FOOLS THEATRE • MADAME DIVA ET MICAH