Basic Instinct Late Bloom Independent Vancouver, BC RIYL: HÄG; Divide and Dissolve; languid riffs
Basic Instinct’s Late Bloom arrived on 4/20 like any self-respecting sludge album should. With this release the Vancouver-based duo do more than just adhere to genre standards or cliché – when the smoke clears, Late Bloom is one of the year’s best metal releases.
Featuring former members of Hard Bitch and Joyce Collingwood, Basic Instinct takes the raw energy of those punkier beginnings to split sludge metal wide open across this record’s six tracks. No one song sounds alike. With a wealth of confident ideas, the band keeps their material consistently sharp. Album opener “Fresh” begins with marching drums and a slow, creeping riff that flips into a churning, black metal ferocity on a whim. Vocalist Carly Glanzberg is just as versatile as the band’s instrumentals: summoning a deep bellow that sounds at ease alongside the low-end her guitar provides, or a quiet coo on the restrained “Dark Turn.” That song revels in the ghostly, urgent tension invoked by percussionist Joy Mullen before turning into a magnificent slow burn.
On Late Bloom, the brand of metal Basic Instinct offer up is molten and malleable in their capable, creative hands.
When COVID-19 hit, the opportunities available to music journalists dried up quickly, but incredibly, the music kept coming. Though there was talk at first about how the music industry would pause during the pandemic, the opposite seems to be true.
Even though the live music industry virtually disappeared overnight, it didn’t take long before you could spend an entire evening moving from one artist’s livestream to the next. It felt nothing like hopping from club to club, but the flurry of activity was a welcome distraction and a sign that you couldn’t just halt creativity. Similarly, “Bandcamp Days”—the now monthly occurrences where the digital music platform and marketplace doesn’t take their share of revenue—encouraged artists to release new music and continue their creative output, benefitting from an outpouring of audience support. Mutating from its original intent to distribute money to artists affected by the pandemic, musicians began to direct funds to causes if they weren’t in need themselves.
It’s in that same spirit that we’ve founded New Feeling. As a music journalist, it was frustrating to watch all of these great and interesting stories arise while having so few places to write about them. I think many of us feel the same way, as more and more of my peers are turning to starting their own Substacks or Tinyletters. I think we all know what we have to do: if the opportunities don’t exist, then we have to create our own.
At the same time, there’s no sense in replicating the very models that are not just failing us in this moment, but have failed us continuously for some time. The immediate slashing of budgets and restructuring of departments at the outset of the pandemic served as a reminder of how precarious our situation already was. I can’t talk about the few opportunities afforded to me since the industry was uprooted without also acknowledging that many people, especially, Black, Indigenous, and writers of colour, are not even afforded those. In trying to build something new, it’s imperative that we also course-correct and question what it is we want to take with us and what needs to be left behind.
In that sense, “renewal” makes a very fitting theme for our first issue. In Leslie Ken Chu’s profile of guitarist and songwriter Hiroki Tanaka, renewal comes in the form of life cycles and the ways in which family often reciprocate care across generations; Jesse Locke catches up with Katie Lee (aka EEJUNGMI), and learns how creativity was key to her ability to process and move on from life-changing conflict; and Daniel G. Wilson writes about how a new, diverse cohort of musicians fundamentally changes their relationship to CanRock and their place in it.
Renewal is also a good theme to introduce ourselves with. Though I’m proud of the work we’ve done to get this far, I also know that we can do better. That’s the ethos at the heart of what we’re doing. Our ability to build a new, sustainable model for what music journalism can look like hinges on our understanding of what has come before and learning from it. We won’t be successful if we don’t acknowledge that growth and change are a negotiation, whether it’s in terms of our continual striving as a co-op toward big ideas like equity and democracy, or the dialogue we’ve started today between us, the music community, and our readership. I hope you’ll be a part of that conversation.
Yves Jarvis Sundry Rock Song Stock Flemish Eye Montréal, QC RIYL: Moses Sumney; Sandro Perri; Mocky
Another chapter in Yves Jarvis’ colour-theory informed album series, the green Sundry Rock Song Stock, further refines the artist’s sound while artfully still nudging listeners to new places.
Jarvis’ previous records Good Will Come To You (released under Un Blonde) and The Same But By Different Means were sprawling mosaics of short song snippets. On the former, the songs felt self-contained, but part of a larger whole, emphasising a sense of communion, whereas on the latter it seemed as though Jarvis intended to overwhelm, with some songs ending abruptly and creating a fractured mentality that was reinforced by the album’s lyrics.
On this outing, the songs are notably longer affairs, and there’s fewer of them. While Jarvis hones in on some of the hallmarks of his lo-fi sound here (layered vocal parts, lean bass/drums/guitar/keys instrumentation, incorporating ambient sounds), every song save for “Ambrosia,” which is completely instrumental, ends with an instrumental coda. These are dreamlike, often synthesizer-led passages that aren’t framed as intrusions of Audet’s pastoral folk but extensions of it. By their nature, these sections allow Audet’s words to hang and be absorbed. On a record that focuses greatly on questioning others’ motivations, the artist not only provides the space for, but rewards that contemplation with kaleidoscopic dreamscapes.
Kerry Maguire’s experimental electronic solo project Wish Lash returns with a stunning set of songs that breaks from the artist’s airy ambience for a hard-lined sound that is as engaging as it is unrelenting. Wish Lash’s 2018 debut, Altar of Doubt, balanced the momentum of its beats with a billowing, miasmic veil, which touched everything from its synthy textures to Maguire’s own voice. Whereas Chaos Choir feels of an altogether different mindset– it’s driven far more by rhythm and movement. That attention toward the corporeal is a result of the production values here, which are sharp and feel cinematic in scope, you can hear it from the ominous and seething “To The Hilt” to the jet engine purr of “Not Now.” There’s a certainty in the clarity of her compositions now and Maguire leans into it. The album arrives on Maguire’s own new Glowcode imprint, which if it’s anything else like the rest of her output (see also: Purlicue, Crims & FLow, Juice Box), is definitely worth following.
Thanya Iyer KIND Topshelf Records Montréal, QC RIYL: Bernice; early Maylee Todd; Laura Barrett
Though it might be hard to pin down Thanya Iyer’s sound — is it jazz? Is it pop? Is it folk? — there’s no mistaking that the band, named for its primary songwriter, has accomplished something truly rare with their latest album, KIND.
In its expansive, expressive way, KIND addresses mental health, identity, and belonging, supported by an entire ecosystem of sounds that feed into and off of one another. Beginning with “I Woke Up (In The Water),” the group conjures the natural world with a field recording of a chorus of cricket chirps and bird calls, before it is enveloped in plucked and bowed strings, Iyer’s expressive vocals, glowing synths, supportive bass, and rolling percussion like a creeping shadow cast on a forest floor from the tree canopy above. Nature and Iyer’s proximity to it is a major theme of the album’s lyrics and the music shores up these themes through the sounds evoked. The band’s fearless exploratory disposition also helps them coax out rhythms and tone colours that make the entire listening experience feel fresh and immersive, in complete lock-step with Iyer on this journey of self-discovery.
Dijah SB 2020 the Album Independent Toronto, ON RIYL: Clairmont The Second; Harrison; Sydanie
A rapper’s ability to sound unphased by what life throws at them is a big part of what makes hip hop so appealing to listen to. Sounding confident while navigating through life’s challenges is a definite skill that many people covet, though few actually possess. With their debut album, Dijah SB makes aspiration art, conveying a sense of drive and determination while nimbly leaving any sense of doubt in the dust. It’s a tough balancing act, but songs like “C’est la vie” pair rubbery future funk with Dijah’s impressive technicality in a way that sounds so lithe and off the cuff that it’s impossible to not be convinced, especially when they rhyme “c’est la vie, anything you do is okay by me.” Over its eight tracks, 2020 the Album is a masterclass in lightning quick quips, strong hooks, and killer production that all contribute to a confidence that’s backed by pure talent.