Group Chat: Hotel Dog; SÜRF

Art by: Michael Rancic | SÜRF photo by: Marcus; Hotel Dog photo provided by the band

Welcome to New Feeling’s Group Chat. In this feature, we invite a panel of writers to give their takes on two songs selected by our editorial team, with the goal of offering a variety of perspectives of each track and discovering common threads of interest, analysis, and interpretation.

To kick off Group Chat, Jordan Currie, Karen K. Tran, and Jesse Locke answer the call to offer their thoughts about the runway-ready “Telephone” by Winnipeg’s Hotel Dog, taken from the band’s bedroom pop collection, the Isolation Inn EP. Meanwhile, Reina Cowan, Sun Noor, and Tom Beedham dive into deceptively deep waters on Toronto rapper/producer SÜRF’s “Bunda,” one of six minute-long riptides from his EP, Project.wav.

Check out the takes below!

Jordan Currie: Hotel Dog’s “Telephone,” from their debut album Isolation Inn, is a jovial blend of bedroom pop, electronic, dance, and house sensibilities. The offbeat track’s lyrics show singer Charlie Baby breaking free of their anxieties and celebrating their authentic “non-binary and hot” self. “I don’t do this for you / Not even if you’re my boo,” they sing. Light and tinny vocals contrast with the meaty bass line and clanging key chords in the background. “Telephone” is the type of song that could easily be played at either a late-night house party or a posh fashion runway show.

Jesse Locke: Hotel Dog’s Charlie Baby has a gently stoned sing-song quality to their voice that immediately disarms. On “Telephone,” they reach out for affection and assurance but never sound stressed out. Riding sputtering synth grooves reminiscent of Chad VanGaalen’s DIY dance music, the non-binary singer explains that it’s all for fun: “I don’t do this for you / Not even if you’re my boo / Not a guy or gal / Just write the songs with my pal.” Like Palberta’s Lily Konigsberg, Hotel Dog makes bedroom pop that could be a bona fide hit, if the world wasn’t so crummy.

Karen K. Tran: “Telephone” is a notable addition to the bedroom pop genre. It has it all: teenage lamentations, hypnotic vocals, and a pretty groovy bass line. Hotel Dog make good use of the tools they have available and possess an attentive ear for adding the right amount of production, without overthinking it.

Hotel Dog reinforce the telephone theme not only with the sample of the “This number is no longer connected” message but also with those ’90s phone keypad tones incorporated into the beat. The key change at the end gives the song an eerie edge reminiscent of a home dial-up internet service connecting.

Tom Beedham: SÜRF was only serving up a self-described appetizer with the November release of his Project.wav collection on Bandcamp, but he’s already weary of the tedium of hip-hop’s eternal self-marketing. Summoning a scratchy violin sample and room-shaking bass to boom and weave through high-pressure systems, on “Bunda,” the artist draws a line in the sand and washes away any notion of talent scarcity, insisting they can turn it on and off like the Human Torch: “I’m so done giving out my handles / I’m like an eternal candle / Johnny Storm in this bitch like flame on.”

Reina Cowan: You don’t often hear this type of instrumentation on hip-hop songs, but it works. The strings and percussion on “Bunda” give this track an international funkiness that refreshingly breaks out of the moody, dark, sing-rap sound that Toronto has become known for. Production-wise, “Bunda” has an demo-esque rawness to it. On a track with a 1:11 runtime, this style fits perfectly. Lyrically, lines like “Only ever here to raise the bar higher / Turn up, make the girls go, ‘Ahh yeah’ / Sauce like this is hard to come by, eh” feel like a good dose of solid (if a little simple) hip-hop bravado. There are some cleverly placed comic book, video game, and film references on this track and throughout SÜRF’s whole Project.wav record. See if you can catch ’em all. The punchy energy on “Bunda” makes it a strong introduction to SÜRF’s catalogue, making me want to hear more from this intriguing new artist.

Sun Noor: Fusing new sounds with the old and being open to new approaches during the creative process enables the creation of timeless music. SÜRF encapsulates that energy through his track “Bunda,” off his eclectic first release, Project.wav. With all six songs amounting to a minute or less, SÜRF redefines what an artist’s initial release should capture. “Bunda” is undoubtedly one of the stronger tracks off this project, given the beat’s infectious, violin-heavy instrumentation that is reminiscent of Sudanese jazz. SÜRF captures how letting go of a perfectionist mentality allowed him to embark on his newfound musical journey with ease.

Yes in My Backyard: Winnipeg


By: Kaelen Bell | Art by: Laura Stanley (Clockwise from top left: Dana Waldie, Anthony OKS by Graham Wiebe, Hut Hut, Vagina Witchcraft by Jess Mann, Julien’s Daughter, Virgo Rising, Warming, Tired Cossack)

Winnipeg understands extremes; too cold until it’s too hot, too quiet until it’s too loud. Squeezing under frost-caked doorframes and crawling up from sweltering basements, the music that the city incubates covers every degree of that unstoppable pendulum, from skull-crushing metal to nocturnal art-rock and everything between and beyond. 

It’s a city that knows isolation better than most, which means it also recognises the necessity of community like few others—for the wide breadth of disparate sounds that the city offers, there’s a nucleus of togetherness at the core. And after a year that sent us inside our homes and inside ourselves, Winnipeg feels like it’s finally emerging again—as winter returns, there are few better ways to stay warm than huddled at the foot of a stage. 

The city’s sound has only gotten wilder in its dormancy; there’s a sense of urgency and inventiveness to the music being played, with a whole crop of new artists who’ve honed their voices in the past year’s quietude.

Anthony OKS

Though it was released at the beginning of autumn, Anthony Sannie’s latest release as Anthony OKS—the lush In the Garden EP—feels like a capsule of summer. With richly drawn, knocking production and Sannie’s sharp-eyed lyricism, it recalls the heat, hedonism, and hardship of a season that found us all redrawing lines both socially and personally. He’s an emerging key-player in Winnipeg’s hip-hop scene, and his music is some of the city’s warmest and most human. 


Tired Cossack’s Stephen Halas understands the worth of knowing—where you’re from, where you’re going, where you wanna be. His alt-country-infused post-punk is steeped in Ukrainian folklore and a palpable sense of longing; whether it’s for the homeland, a lost love, or some unseen place around the corner, his music is constantly reaching for something beyond itself. His most recent release is the chugging single “Pea Roll Along,” which sounds a bit like alternate-universe Ukrainian Joy Division performing in the bed of a pickup. If that description doesn’t make it clear, it’s very good, adding some wide-open-sky optimism to a genre known for its macabre self-seriousness. 


Brady Allard, Warming’s primary songwriter, hasn’t released anything new in a hot minute, but his band’s return to the stage has marked a distinct confidence shift—tighter, bigger, and dancier. Warming’s punky, twisted take on ’80s-indebted synthpop feels more urgent than before, and more than ready to face whatever’s coming ’round the bend next. 


No other band rages quite like Vagina Witchcraft, because no other band has Kayla Fernandes at the helm. The poet, activist, and doom-metal world-destroyer illuminates the four-piece’s pitch-black tides of sound with a vengeful fury, a demand to be heard that pierces even the most floor-shaking riffs. In a city rife with police misconduct and racialized social inequity, the band’s self-titled debut album is an unrelenting document of retribution, an onslaught of doom-metal sludge that finds hope in devastation and points the way to a new kind of world. 


Julien’s Daughter seem destined for something big—maybe it’s world domination, or maybe it’s just one perfect, untouchable pop song. They seem capable of both, possessing a confidence and immediate musical chemistry that belies the fact that the four-piece met on Kijiji and local music message boards. Their debut EP, The Static That Carries Over, is glittery, airtight, guitar pop, equal parts grit and sheen. Though they’ve just started, they already feel too big for the stages they stalk, and new single “The Dealer’s Hand” is already pushing their sound to new, dance-indebted places. 


Virgo Rising’s music sounds every bit as celestial as their name would suggest—prickly, math-rock guitars and warbling violin careen like meteorites while Emily Sinclair’s lyrics find the universal drama in everyday minutiae. They’re another electrifying new addition to Adam Fuhr’s House of Wonders label, and their brand of darkly intelligent, deeply felt music already feels like the small label’s calling card. 


Dana Waldie is all about the slow burn. The French-speaking artist makes the kind of lush, patient pop that could feel at home in any place, in any decade. Inspired by 1960s Yé-yé but woven with the synthetic textures of modern pop, her music lives on the line between the unfamiliar and the brand new. Her newest single, “Que toi,” feels like an artist coming fully into their voice—there’s little else like it in the city. 


Deeply inspired by the Dismemberment Plan’s caustic, anthemic art-rock, Hut Hut are guitar-pop experimenters in the truest sense—they are the sound of shattered beakers and boiling serums, the music of a mad scientist let loose in the studio. Frontman Matt Klachefsky’s helium-pitch voice is not for the faint of heart, but he tempers his sideways impulses with a knack for memorable, crystalline harmony and an unrelenting sense of momentum—good luck getting “Hey Strangers” out of your head anytime soon. 

Tunic – Exhaling

Artoffact Records
Winnipeg, MB
RIYL: METZ; KEN mode; White Lung

Within the last year or so, I have spent a lot of time reflecting and I have come to recognize how angry I am. Now I am forced to reckon with how to put down all of this anger. Exhaling is the sound of Winnipeg noise punk trio Tunic putting down their anger. In press materials, lead singer and guitarist David Schellenberg notes, “I need that catharsis of screaming about these things over and over again. These are all things that have unfolded in my life and I use Tunic as a coping mechanism.”

Exhaling is a deep breath out, but instead of a quiet flow of air it’s a frenzied expulsion of squealing guitars, pummelled bass and drums, and ragged yelling. The album’s 23 songs come at you fast and are unrelentingly loud and energetic. Just when I thought Exhaling couldn’t become any more chaotic, the closing track “Frontal Lobe” comes teeming in and makes all of the other songs feel like easy listening music. Here Tunic gives one final tug at their tightly knotted emotions, rip themselves free, and find, I can only hope, clarity.

If you are the type of person who drapes themselves in din, Exhaling has everything you are looking for.

Laura Stanley

Vagina Witchcraft
Vagina Witchcraft
Winnipeg, MB
RIYL: Vile Creature; WAKE; Fuck The Facts

I challenge anyone to find a more impassioned four minutes and twenty three seconds to be put to record this year than the introduction to Vagina Witchcraft’s debut— and that happens before even a note of music is played. Taken from vocalist Kayla Fernandes’ speech at a Winnipeg Black Lives Matter rally in June, which was in response to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Winnipeg’s own Machuar Madut, the intro unequivocally positions the band and their music as anti-racist and anti-oppressive. It’s a bold but important distinction in the realm of metal where many fans and musicians alike either strive for an “apolitical” stance of ignorance and cowardice or are outright white supremacist scum. 

This context helps set the stage for when Fernandes sings the words “fear me, I am the fucking devil” on the album’s first musical track, “Mercury.” Its anguished bass, drums, and guitar punctuate Fernandes’ bellows and emphasize their fury before the group locks into a double speed doomy torrent that sends the song into a groovy spiral. With each subsequent song Vagina Witchcraft deftly deploy some trademark occult themes and depressive soundscapes of true doom aficionados, that alongside their strong political sensibilities make their music a truly vital expression. 

Michael Rancic

Baseball Hero – Salvation Mountain

Baseball Hero
Salvation Mountain
Winnipeg, MB
RIYL: Diet Cig; Palehound; Alex G

Baseball Hero’s Salvation Mountain is a scrappy and emotionally charged EP. The band – Allegra Chiarella (vocals/guitar), Mirella Villa (vocals/bass), and Lino D’Ottavio (vocals/guitar/drums/production) – are a tight team who make taught, lo-fi, grungy pop-rock tracks that sometimes whine as loud as the feedback from a baseball announcer’s microphone. On the rambunctious standout, “Emo Song,” Baseball Hero sound like they’re having an absolute blast, despite Chiarella cringing at the past: “think of all the stupid things you’ve done in front of everyone.”

If the self-described “slo-pitch slowcore” band had their own baseball card, the blurb on the back would probably read something like this: “The Winnipeg trio aren’t afraid to get their uniforms dirty and lead the league in sliding head first into other players. When not on the field kicking up dust, they can be found in the dugout helping teammates work through their emotions.”

– Laura Stanley 

French Class – Tape 2

French Class
Tape 2
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