Blxck Cxsper
EUROSTAR vol.1
Trans Trenderz
Montreal, QC
RIYL: Juice WRLD; Rihanna; Capricorns

Boasting untameable Capricorn energy, this September mixtape from Trans Trenderz founder Blxck Cxsper was supposedly assembled in two weeks, but it rallies a cast of producers and features that could speak to months of calculations. Cxsper’s syrupy vocal flow spills out early on an English rendition of Belgian rapper Hamza’s “Life” and creeps across the tape like a mudslide, but tightly wound trap rhythms and twinkling melodies keep things in a dreamy state of motion. 

Tracks like “Castle” invigorate the space with a breeze and boom that commands attention, while Cxsper reclaims Harry Potter and the Mona Lisa from a TERF patriarchy, articulating their subjects as affectionate pet names for trans lovers. Younga’s production work on “Gare Du Nord” puts the cherry on top, stirring up loose and pulsing sounds that could occupy the same cloudy atmospheres as Rihanna’s “Needed Me.” Blxck Cxsper flips the switch on that track’s sense of rejection, licking the spoon in English and French: “found love in the dark, found love I could lie in.”

– Tom Beedham

Cryptozoologists
Pond Life
Independent
Whitehorse, Yukon
RIYL: The Mountain Goats; The Unicorns, quests

Maybe it’s time to take Cryptozoologists seriously. The Whitehorse band has traded in scrappy art-rock since 2016, but on their latest, they’ve finally married the sardonic cultural critique and existential wandering they honed on Songs for Losers and More Futility Jams with the folky esoterica they’ve always gestured towards and real, meaningful absurdism. 

Overflowing the font of Zach McCann-Armitage (guitar, vocals), Pond Life is a vast and mystical landscape densely populated with clairvoyants, poltergeists, wishing wells, and mushrooms, unlocking a new dimension for the project while scrutinizing the art galleries and punks that have always been in their crosshairs. Their sonic palette is expanded, too, now sprinkling synthesizers and sequenced drums into the mix, but not without some meta-commentary; invoking the legacy of Duchamp’s Fountain and so many readymades, on “White Silk,” McCann-Armitage declares, “repression comes easy in the shape of a solo show urinal.” Peering inside-out and packaged with a tarot deck bearing designs McCann-Armitage collaged on Home Hardware paint swatches, Pond Life just might tell your fortune.

– Tom Beedham

Mi’ens
Future Child
Kill Rock Stars
Vancouver, BC
RIYL: Sonic Youth; Lightning Bolt; Yonatan Gat

Climbing into the future on a mathy spiral of guitar and drum rushes, Vancouver based duo Mi’ens tap into their surroundings and go widescreen on their third proper release. The guitar squalls of tracks like “French Disko” recall the towering density of Daydream Nation and Sonic Youth’s New York, but Vancouver is no such place – it’s a city where glassy towers and concrete are only minor intrusions on big skies and mountain vistas. Mi’ens swirl that energy into bigger picture perspective here, glancing to Iceland’s Rift Valley (a meeting place between tectonic plates and the site of early parliament) to mark seismic geological and political shifts (“Rifft Valley”) while “Charge Dodger” chugs along a doomier path, only to corrode and collapse as if too corrupt for its own good.

Tom Beedham

French Class
Tape 2
Independent
Winnipeg, MB
RIYL: Junichi Masuda; Brad Allen Fuller; more cowbell

The second tape from Megumi Kimata’s French Class project often feels like a video game obsessed electronic producer trying on different genres, but each track on Tape 2 still feels like an expansive work of world building. “Adventure!” sets the pace with a majestic cowbell gallop, and “Science Techno” and “House Tune” are efficient genre impressions you’re more than happy to revisit, but Kimata’s best when deconstructing the rules. On a tape filled with tracks that mostly hover around two minutes, on the three minute finale “Taxi Cab,” Kimata cuts across lanes to punch up an otherwise zany garage house strut with a battle synth that feels right out of the Immortals’ “Techno Syndrome.” The extra time really lets you bask in the wacky glory of that juxtaposition.

Tom Beedham

French Class
Tape 2
Independent
Winnipeg, MB
RIYL: Moses Sumney, Sandro Perri, Mocky

The second tape from Megumi Kimata’s French Class project often feels like a video game obsessed electronic producer trying on different genres, but each track on Tape 2 still feels like an expansive work of world building. “Adventure!” sets the pace with a majestic cowbell gallop, and “Science Techno” and “House Tune” are efficient genre impressions you’re more than happy to revisit, but Kimata’s best when deconstructing the rules. On a tape filled with tracks that mostly hover around two minutes, on the three minute finale “Taxi Cab,” Kimata cuts across lanes to punch up an otherwise zany garage house strut with a battle synth that feels right out of the Immortals’ “Techno Syndrome.” The extra time really lets you bask in the wacky glory of that juxtaposition.

Tom Beedham