Indie Roundup (Chiaroscuro Edition) | 32 Tracks For a Black and White Thursday

Colour your world with White Swan, En Minor, Too Dead to Die, Lunchbox & more.

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White Swan display ritualistic behaviour, En Minor open the mausoleum, Too Dead to Die go toe-to-toe with Satan, Lunchbox love a parade, Dan Deacon goes to the dogs and more in your Thursday Roundup. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like a lot of today’s offerings are either relentlessly dark and heavy or exuberantly light and frothy. Oh well, I guess it all balances out in the end, right?

 


1 | The White Swan | In Love And Ritual

THE PRESS RELEASE: “London, Ontario-based atmospheric sludge rock unit The White Swan, spearheaded by Kittie’s Mercedes Lander, will release their entrancing Nocturnal Transmission EP Sept. 18. In advance, the band unveil a video for opening track, In Love And Ritual. Lander elaborates, “In Love And Ritual is about finding the person that completes you and the journey of realizing how having that person in your life teaches us to become brand new; kind of like a rebirth of feeling and emotional connection. I really wanted to create space with this song, keeping the roller coaster of dynamics in the forefront with a touch of chaos running in the background. Having the lyrics and melody build with the music and really complement each other.”


2 | En Minor | Mausoleums

THE PRESS RELEASE:En Minor has unveiled a new video for Mausoleums. The solemn track comes off the project’s long-awaited debut full-length, When The Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out, set for release this September. An experimental and eclectic musical endeavor that finds founding frontman Philip H. Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint et al) exploring a softer, graver vocal style, En Minor is an honest and deliberate change of pace delivering brooding tales of pain, regret, and sorrow. At once ugly and beautiful, En Minor features the collective talents of Stephen Taylor, Kevin Bond, Jimmy Bower, Calvin and Joiner Dover, and Steve Bernal. Adds Anselmo, “We were not able to shoot the video we initially had in mind because of the pandemic, but the video rendered is beautifully somber. I’d like to thank the crew responsible for putting it all together and I hope you enjoy it.”


3 | Too Dead to Die | Step Back, Satan!

THE PRESS RELEASE: “One man, one vision: Six years after the debut Murder On The Dancefloor set the discos afire, Too Dead To Die return. The new album Tropical Gothic contains beats for sweaty dances all night long and melodies of bittersweet southern sea emotions. Watch the new video Step Back, Satan! now. Andrey Xx managed to unify the traits of the acclaimed debut with the new way of expression and give some Caribbean flair to the classic Too Dead To Die sound: Still between EDM and industrial stylistically, Tropical Gothic sounds like the longing for distant places and tropical islands. “When it comes to holiday, a lot of people see the resort, swimming pool, palms, endless sun, and fun in their mind. But for me it’s: wild tropical forest, a season of rain, palms, island with old almost-forbidden buildings. That is my kind of holiday!”


4 | Lunchbox | DreamParade

THE PRESS RELEASE:Lunchbox’s Tim Brown and Donna McKean have been making records for two decades, inspired by 1960s/70s AM-radio pop and TV show theme music, punk, C86, and mod à la The Creation and The Jam. After School Special finds them at the height of their powers of songcraft and performance. Donna’s Carol Kaye-meets-John Entwhistle bass and Tim’s scratch ‘n’ jangle guitar are complemented by horns from Gary Olson and Jeremy Goody, while whisps of analog tape feedback and Evelyn Davis‘ keyboards give the record an otherworldly vibe in keeping with its autumnal lyrical themes. From the shimmering opener Dream Parade to the horn-driven mod-pop of Hide and Seek and the haunting male-female vocal stylings of the title track and album closer, the textures shift while the unity of artistic vision remains. Catchy as hell and beautifully packaged, this is Lunchbox at their very best.”


5 | Dan Deacon | Adriane In Wonderland

THE PRESS RELEASE: “On the heels of his fifth studio album Mystic Familiar, Baltimore-based musician Dan Deacon returns with an original score to HBO dog-pageant documentary Well Groomed. In navigating his way into a world where prizes are awarded for going against conventional beauty standards and transforming dogs into flamboyant living art objects, Deacon developed an affinity for its creative groomers — or folk artists, as he sees them. “To me, Well Groomed is about being an artist making art that you find beautiful and fascinating while living in a world where few share those feelings, and making art that you know those outside of your small community may laugh at or condemn. I connected to the sheer euphoria of finding one’s artistic voice and a community to grow that voice with,” says Deacon. Director Stern elaborates, “Part of the soul of the film is the blending of reality and fantasy — between the women’s art, their hopes, their dogs, and the realities of daily living. Dan’s music melted that line in a vibrant and unexpected way.”


6 | Anthea | Illusion

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Los Angeles’ Anthea will release their debut album Illusion on Oct. 23. First single Moirai features guest vocals from Chiara Tricarico (Sound Storm, Moonlight Haze, ex-Temperance) and is a track that was written to capture the beauty of life itself. The band add: “We all tend to focus on our own little bubble, without really thinking about how everyone that ever was, is, and ever will be is connected in the grand scheme of things. To truly express this idea, we decided to include a second vocalist on the track from an entirely different part of the world. Italian symphonic metal singer Chiara Tricarico was up to the challenge and we are thrilled with the end result! Her voice added a beautiful new dimension to the song. She truly understood what the song was all about and what we were going for.”


7 | of1000faces | Astronomica

THE PRESS RELEASE: “While Matt Walker is best known for the past 25 years as touring and recording drummer for such icons as Morrissey, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage and Filter, he is also a music producer and multi-instrumentalist, releasing music under the moniker of1000faces. His new single Astronomica is the title track from the forthcoming album by that name and the first offering from his ambitious and beautifully grounding Monomyyth trilogy.”


8 | Vicki Lovelee | Breaking Barriers

THE PRESS RELEASE: “I’m an indie-pop singer from Toronto. I write storytelling lyrics and pair them up with artistic visuals, to convey an emotion that helps tell the song’s story. I just released my music video for my newest single Breaking Barriers. The song has a nice blend of modern and atmospheric pop. Each of my songs showcases a different emotion and story, reflecting the multiple facets of my persona.”


9 | Daysormay | Running

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Vernon, B.C. band Daysormay launch the new video for their song Running, an introspective, self-audit: asking the tough questions and getting answers you weren’t expecting. Chill, yet chaotic, at the same time, the track exposes the vulnerability of simple guitar and vocals being led down a dark trail by the menacing pulse of drum and bass.”


10 | Be Well | Magic

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Ahead of their debut full-length The Weight and The Cost (out Friday), Be Well gave fans the new single Magic and its heartfelt accompanying music video. The emotionally raw track reveals vocalist Brian McTernan’s navigation of depression, starting over, and insecurities of relationships built around past success. Magic shows the band’s inherent ability to combine massive walls of pummeling sound with melody while never losing sight of the emotional push and pull in their dynamics. The new video, starring McTernan’s and bassist Aaron Dalbec’s children and family friends, reflects this balance with the public display of internal thoughts that are painted over as a means of coping with them.”


11 | Raven Artson | Won’t Forget Just

THE PRESS RELEASE: “L.A.-based creative, multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer Raven Artson refuses to be pigeonholed — he directs his own videos and curates interdisciplinary shows with fashion designers. Now, he’s releasing a new visual for Won’t Forget Just. Providing a well-needed dose of escapism, he tells us “it’s the perfect daydream. waking from a rave to meet up with your friends and do it all again.” He describes the song itself as an “ode to feeling like I belong, like I’m at home.” Don’t mistake Artson for a comfort-zone dweller however — he thrives on friction. “When I moved to Los Angeles, I struck up new relationships that changed my view on the world. I had to be uncomfortable in order to be comfortable.”


12 | Tom King | I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man

THE PRESS RELEASE:Tom King covers Prince’s acclaimed cut I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man. With this new cover, it adds to the exciting artist’s distinctive, growing discography containing his emotive debut release Why Are You Here? and the subtly explosive No Mans Land.”


13 | LAL | End Of This World Together

THE PRESS RELEASE: “For over two decades, electronic duo LAL, comprised of Rosina Kazi and Nicholas Murray, have built a catalogue of silvery, internationally-influenced electronica that insists that the dancefloor remain a place of resistance. In the process, they’ve become the backbone of Toronto’s sprawling DIY scene, nurturing and propping up a multi-generational group of artists. Today, they share the first new music from their upcoming LP, Meteors Could Come Down, out Nov. 6. Kazi says: “As we took this journey without the noise, the people, and the parties in our warehouse apartment, along with the constant grind outside, I found beauty in the stillness of our block. I said to myself that If the world was indeed going to end, then being with Nicholas, our chosen family and friends is paradise. After fighting for our lives for so long, we’ve been actively dismantling a world that wants us dead; we’re more than ready to enter a new paradigm. Being together to witness this old world fade away is humbling and hopeful.”


14 | Milo Gore | I Hear You

THE PRESS RELEASE: “U.K.-based Indie-alternative musician Milo Gore has released his album How Do You Cope While Grieving For The Living? On the album is the exemplary track I Hear You, which will be accompanied by an insightful music video. I Hear You takes the listener on audio highs and lows, much as the artist himself has gone through them, while displaying his dynamic songwriting skills in an uptempo manner. The music video highlights these highs and lows, providing a glimpse into a dark time for the singer. Rhythmic basslines to punctuate a point and soaring vocals to carry the melody, the song provides a small but action-filled preview to the rest of the album.”


15 | Cortez | Look At You

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Boston heavy rock and metal five piece Cortez announce the release of their upcoming third album Sell The Future this October, and unleash a riff-driven new video for Look At You! With the precision of heavy metal, the soul of classic rock, and the unbridled attitude of a band who care less about your expectations than they do about writing kick-ass, drive-fast, dynamic, hugely-grooved, hugely melodic and expansive tunes, Cortez arrive at their third album with a well-earned sense of freedom in their approach.”


16 | Heart Attack Kids | Can’t Stop

THE PRESS RELEASE:Heart Attack Kids premiere a brand new single titled Can’t Stop with a lyric video. The high-voltage track is the first 2020 reveal from the band, written in a back corner room of Taste Of Ink, a tattoo shop in their hometown of London, Ontario. Says Jared Ellul of Heart Attack Kids, “The song is about addictions, something so many of us struggle with. We wanted Can’t Stop to have a high-energy vibe that people could get up and dance to, versus mosh to like our past music. I often get inspired by bands such as Queens of the Stone Age and Death from Above who, in my mind, are masters of having their songs be heavy and full of hooks.”


17 | The Happy Fits | Hold Me Down

THE PRESS RELEASE:The Happy Fits released Hold Me Down, the raucous fourth single from the New Jersey trio’s upcoming sophomore LP, What Could Be Better, due out Aug. 28. The track features all three of The Happy Fits — cellist Calvin Langman, guitarist Ross Monteith and drummer Luke Davis — tackling lead vocals. Calvin states, “Hold Me Down is probably the most contrived song I’ve ever written. I was really into fellow NJ rockers and friends Sonic Blume at the time, so I wanted to write a song using their signature surf-rock beat as the foundation. It felt fitting to write a classic-sounding riff that would lead into a giant, Killers-eque, scream-it-on-top-of-a-mountain chorus. When it came to writing lyrics, I wanted to write about my tendency to go into a creative/introspective daze when I’m around my girlfriend rather than being present with her. I have a very active brain (sometimes too active) and I love how she brings me back down to reality whenever my head goes too far in the clouds.”


18 | Sameer Cash | Cherry Red

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Recently, Sameer Cash announced his upcoming album, This City, due out Sept. 11. Today, the celebrated Toronto artist is sharing another new track from the album, Cherry Red. On the track, Cash says, “There have been so many situations and failures in my life that can be chalked up to miscommunication. I kept trying to find ways of communicating this illusive feeling that seems to plague my generation. This access to everything, but the need for nothing — it manifests itself in all aspects of our lives, from relationships, to the internet. That feeling of needing to be noticed and recognized, yet wanting to be left alone and anonymous. Eventually I stopped trying to write what I thought I should write and just wrote what it felt like: ‘I’m sick of this bullshit’.”


19 | The Pilgrim | Sitting Down On The Porch

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Country-folk duo The Pilgrim (Gabriele Fiori and Filippo Ragazzoni of Black Rainbows) share the dreamy video for Sitting Down On The Porch, the new single taken from their sophomore full-length …From The Earth To The Sky And Back. About the video, guitarist and vocalist Gabriele Fiori comments: “Sitting Down On The Porch is a melodic country folk song inspired by spaghetti western movies, canyons and landscapes. We decided to shoot a videoclip related to the countryside, nature and wild animals which we believe fit the music.”


20 | Cryptozoologists | White Silk

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Whitehorse’s Cryptozoologists announce their new full-length album Pond Life. Realized at Whitehorse’s Old Crow Recordings with Patrick Hamilton, Pond Life comprises 11 songs of teetering hope, political angst, and labyrinthine quests for grace and self-acceptance. Ahead of its Sept. 4 release, Cryptozoologists share the surreal stop-motion video for White Silk. “With this song, I was trying to dismantle the romanticized construction of the self as solitary, able, and questing, and instead just remain open to being a small ingredient in a much bigger process,” said Cryptozoologists songwriter Zach McCann-Armitage.”


21 | Tedy | Boys Don’t Cry

THE PRESS RELEASE:Tedy releases a dark and powerful video for the emotionally charged single Boys Don’t Cry.  The video is an intimate portrayal of traumatic experiences Tedy has undergone or witnessed in his life and highlights how he has had to mute his emotions to survive. As the viewer watches, Tedy is tortured by his self-suppression and the pressure to fit in to certain societal views of masculinity, and as these challenges reveal themselves, Tedy finally reaches his breaking point. Through his catharsis, we finally sense acceptance and a woeful release.”


22 | WurlD | Story

THE PRESS RELEASE: “One of the leading singles from Afrosoul and a firm favourite among listeners, Story is given a majestic, yet simplistic visual treatment. Embracing a monochromatic theme with a bold pop of blue, matched to WurlD’s signature hair colour — the visuals co-directed by WurlD himself allow the focus to lay around his soft vocals. Speaking on matters of the heart, similar to his recently released single Wayo (Kpe Le Wu), WulrD examines his true motions and seeks an answer to his question.”


23 | Northcote | Streets of Gold

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Canadian singer-songwriter and captivating storyteller Northcote (moniker for Matthew Goud) announces his new album Let Me Roar, available Oct. 23. Along with the album announcement, the talented troubadour releases Streets of Gold, a Springsteenesque ballad featuring Northcote’s signature raspy-sweet vocals paired with anticipatory rolling snare and delicate guitar melodies. The track was inspired by the songwriter’s musings while observing a small city park located blocks away from where he resides. “During the day, you can observe folks seeking shade and rest beneath the trees … and at night you can see the park serve as a bedroom for some of the citiy’s houseless,” shares Northcote. “This song is a poem of reflection upon the scenes … as well as the opioid crisis here in British Columbia, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and youth suicide.”


24+25 | Flara K | Patience + Devotion

THE PRESS RELEASE: “A chance meet-cute over spilled coffee at a bookstore cafe led to the beginning of Flara K. Today, the Montreal duo (Sam Martel and Collin Steinz) announce the release of their new EP Anxious, Irrational, Fashionable, due out on Oct. 2. The band treat us to two new singles — the powerful ballad Patience, and the radio edit of their summer jam Devotion feat. Mike Clay. “Patience was the first track written for the EP. This song was written about my experience with being in an unhealthy and verbally abusive workplace that led me to a very dark state of mind,” shares Sam. “Through my struggle with depression, I realized how much love, strength, and patience is really needed to get yourself out of that state of mind and find hope even when it feels impossible.” The band continues: “Over the past year, we came to realize the importance of community and the idea that you and your peers are all after some form of success. It became clear to us that the journey was more important and healthy when surrounded by people who are chasing the same thing, and only want what’s best for you. Devotion is a total representation of that.”


26 | Jessica Luise | Television Mister

THE PRESS RELEASE: “In her first release to be joined by a full band, Television Mister departs Jessica Luise from the chilled out indie-folk sound of her previous releases into a heavier indie-rock vibe, for fans of Jade Bird, The Beautiful South, Courtney Barnett, The Big Moon and Fleetwood Mac. Written by Jessica Luise and produced by Kieron Smith, the heavy drums and slick guitar licks make this Luise’s biggest single to date, and promises to secure her as the next one to watch on the indie music scene. Hailing from Merseyside but now residing in Manchester, Luise has found great joy and satisfaction in making music to create a connection with people all over the world ever since an early age. The memorable lyrics in Television Mister comment on the age of the fangirl, crushes on movie stars and the disconnection between people on the screen and in real life.”


27 | NRBQ | Everybody’s Smokin’

THE PRESS RELEASE: “In their over five-decade career, NRBQ have never played by the rules. Why should they? They’re the ’Q. While other artists may have supplemented their discography with rarities sets by this point in their career, In • Frequencies has the distinction of being the first-ever collection of NRBQ outtakes and rare tracks! Sure, there have been other odds ’n’ ends albums, but none before like this one. The 15-song collectionwill hit the streets Oct. 2, and includes an alternate version of their classic Everybody’s Smokin’. Says founding member Terry Adams: “Everybody’s Smokin’ was made up during an onstage smoke break. All of us wrote it. Obviously I got to be the lyricist. I like this version best because nobody’s thinking about it. We’re just smokin’.”


28 | Chris Smither | Lonely Time

THE PRESS RELEASE:Chris Smither is an American original whose genius is both in his effortless, distinctive, rippling guitar (as he tells it, “one-third John Hurt, one-third Lightnin’ Hopkins and one-third me”) and in his reimagining the acoustic blues as a vehicle for rich, philosophically complex lyrics. More From the Levee, Smither’s 18th album, continues the milieu of his 50-year retrospective Still on the Levee (2014). Reconnecting with his roots, Smither recorded the latter, a double album, in New Orleans at the fabled Music Shed. What resulted were 24 fresh takes on his songs with help from some very special guests including Allen Toussaint and Loudon Wainwright III. With his fingers as supple as his voice, Smither effortlessly delivered the other half of his signature sound on Still on the Levee: the back-porch feel of intricate acoustic blues picking accompanied by his own boot-heel-on-wood rhythms. “I think this might be the first positive relationship song I ever wrote and written as a young man at that. Prior to this one I don’t think I believed such a song could be done, so I never tried. Revisiting Lonely Time in the studio in New Orleans decades later with my good friend Billy Conway, I think it still holds up despite the roads taken in life.”


29 | Decoration Day | Harry Goes to War

THE PRESS RELEASE:Decoration Day reveal their new single Harry Goes to War, taken from their forthcoming album Makeshift Future, out Sept. 18. Written by guitarist Justin Orok, Harry Goes To War sees vocalist Mara Nesrallah assume the role of a disobedient young soldier in the 1940s. Orok says of the track, “A few months before he died, my grandpa sent me a typewritten letter in the mail with the title Anti-Dementia Memoir #4. Every one of the grandkids had gotten one — it was just his charming way of preserving his memories and keeping his mind sharp until the end. The letter recounts his time as a soldier in the Canadian Army during World War II. There is quite a range in the two short pages; he writes about a joyous weekend playing hooky from the army camp, and also about the weight of being forced to burn the instruments of prisoners of war, who would later go on to open their own businesses in Canada.The story flowed in such a natural, folk-like way that I knew it had to be adapted into a song. When I hear it back now, it doesn’t feel like anything I’ve written, but instead like a piece of family lore that’s always existed.”


30 | Micko & The Mellotronics | The Fear

THE PRESS RELEASE: “In case the ongoing frightfest that is 2020 hasn’t given you the chills just yet, the latest release from Micko & The Mellotronics is here to put The Fear in you… A swirling carnival ride of luminous visions, ghoulish brass sections and a foreboding eeriness; this is a song to heighten the senses. Though initially penned some three years ago, The Fear rumbles with incantations of imminent apocalypse and quakes with a tangible feeling of paranoia. The track finds Micko ruminating on phobia and philosophical ideas of freewill, while offering wise words for what may seem like the end of the world. “I was looking to both affirm the positive and compound the idea that unknowns are negative.” says Micko. “I have an author friend in the States called Georg Eifert, who’s an eminent psychologist. He wrote a book called ‘anxiety happens’, which I was reading at the time. So a lot of those theories and ideas came into play and influenced the writing.”


31 | Frode Fivel | The Final Roar of the Dinosaur

THE PRESS RELEASE:The Final Roar of the Dinosaur is a newly released track from Norwegian artist Frode Fivel. The track comes from Frode’s third album, Send/Return, released on Aug. 7. Regarding the track’s themes: “The aged protagonist is falling in love, and tries to get to the woman by inviting her son to the movies,” Frode says. “Together they watch The Final Roar Of The Dinosaur, whose lyrics reflect around the choices that have to be made when falling in love while already being in a long term relationship. The original idea for the song was to make a Thurston Moore-ish guitar-driven rocker, but with a folky mid section. We even considered including a banjo. The banjo idea never came to life and I don’t know about Thurston Moore, but nevertheless we’re pleased with the way it turned out.”


32 | Lowlight | Horsefoot Volume 2

THE PRESS RELEASE:Lowlight have just released their new single Horsefoot Volume 2. It’s both a departure from the way Lowlight usually work as a five-piece indie band, but also a return to form in some aspects. Before joining the group in 2015, bass player Rey Rivera was a hip-hop producer and DJ under the name Ari Why. When COVID-19 hit, Rivera brought out his MPC2000XL to start working and experimenting remotely with files from Endless Bummer. The result in this instance is a dark and intense take on Horsefoot, with its chorus “I need room to move” becoming all the more significant and claustrophobic amidst a global health emergency.”