molly drag – “out like a light”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

molly drag, the performing moniker of montreal’s michael charles hansford, embodies a homespun aesthetic, tinged with folk tendencies and saturated with collages of ambiance.

hansford is readying his latest release, touchstone; at the helm is its lead single, “out like a light,” a glacial centerpiece populated by meandering guitar arpeggios and the hushed echo of a lead vocal. adding to its intimacy is an accompanying music video, with arresting animations compiled by elijah zimmerman.

touchstone is out october 4th via egghunt records. watch the music video for “out like a light” below.

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bodywash – “eye to eye”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

the montreal quintet bodywash occupy a hazy realm of polychrome, where smears of shoegaze collide with bubbly synths and vocal tandems that sound like they’re delivered from the bottom of a thirty-foot well.

the band has its roots in the creative partnership between chris steward and rosie long decter, forged in 2014 when the two were students at mcgill university; since recording an EP in 2016, bodywash has swelled to its current size while working on their debut full-length, comforter, due later this year.

on “eye to eye,” the first taste of comforter, tag-team a lead vocal that has a tendency to burrow into the greater texture of the track, an end result that feels like dusk settling in on a humid summer’s day. a guitar line faintly echoes the chorus’s vocal melody, its second iteration a precursor to a transportive instrumental bridge that fleshes out the seamless nature of bodywash’s sonic communications.

bodywash have recently joined the ranks of luminelle recordings, who will release comforter at some point in 2019. for now, take in “eye to eye,” below.

helena deland – “claudion”

– featured image courtesy of maya fuhr –

helena deland’s altogether unaccompanied song series continues to add more volumes; after releasing vol. i & ii this spring, the montreal singer-songwriter is readying two more for the fall, its five synth-pop gems poised to provide adequate warmth just as the weather begins to cool.

the collection’s lead single, “claudion,” is a beautiful ode to companionship, deland’s voice awash in syncopated synth pads as she recalls a near-fateful night averted by a dedicated friend.  a buoyant motif enters alongside the refrain’s arrival, the final stitches on an aural swaddling blanket that gradually envelops everything in its path.

from the series of songs “altogether unaccompanied” vol. iii & iv arrives october 19th via luminelle recordings.  listen to the fourth volume’s stirring “claudion” below.

interview – cam maclean

– featured image courtesy of  sarah o’driscoll – 

Cam maclean’s music evokes a sense of timelessness.  the montreal songwriter – perhaps best-known for his work in vesuvio solo – began constructing his solo debut full-length back in 2015; the end result is wait for love, an eight-song collection of breezy, folk-inflected soft pop gems interested in parsing how heady topics like heartache and masculinity collide and intertwine.

from early, synth-driven cuts like “where i go” and “new jerusalem” to the piano-oriented title track and evocative ballad “light cast,” maclean has already provided a broad primer to the textures he explores across wait for love, his singular falsetto and angular guitar motifs threaded throughout.  with the album’s arrival just a day away, we caught up with maclean via e-mail to discuss its creation; check out the transcript, lightly edited for clarity, below.

how did this new batch of tunes come about?  did you have a conscious plan to create a body of work separate from vesuvio solo, or did it occur a bit more organically?

i’ve always written songs on my own, and had been planning to do my own record for a long time.  vesuvio solo is (ironically, i suppose) very much a duo – the songs are co-written by both (co-frontman) thom and i.  i do work really well in partnerships in general, though, and in the making of my own record wait for love, working with producer adam wilcox was invaluable.

we started working together on some of the songs in 2015, and a lot of them went through many different arrangements.  the song “where i go,” for instance, was originally done in a major key – adam encouraged me to play it in minor.  “light cast” is another song that ended up dramatically different than it started – it was originally written as a slow acoustic ballad, sung in a much lower register.

wait for love explores a sonic territory that’s familiar to you, but you cite a larger range of influences.  what new artists in particular did you find yourself gravitating towards while working on this release?

i can’t say that i was directly influenced by any newer artists when it came to writing or producing any of these songs.  in fact, perhaps the album i listened to the most while i was making these songs was carole king’s tapestry!

i am, however, of course inspired by a lot of newer artists.  jessica pratt is someone whose music i’m consistently interested in, for instance.  my record does explore similar sonic territory as vesuvio solo, yes, but the songs on wait for love have a confessional quality that makes them quite different from vesuvio solo, i think.

can you speak to any obstacles you faced while recording a solo project that you hadn’t encountered previously?  perhaps there were unforeseen benefits as well?

i worked on the album in a very piecemeal fashion over the course of two years or so.  this was both frustrating (because of course it’s nice to get something done quickly), and also a gift because it did allow the songs to grow and become shaped more organically without force.  the biggest obstacle was trying to complete the album and focus on it while still being active with vesuvio solo and several other projects.

this album has many of the lush qualities that could be associated with the singer-songwriters of yesteryear.  is there a specific decade you find yourself especially endeared to, touchstones that will always inform your work in some way?

the 1970s is probably the decade that produced my favorite records more than any other.  court and spark by joni mitchell, for instance, is a record i always come back to.  other favorites include judee sill’s self-titled debut, paris 1919 by john cale, and paul simon’s debut solo record.

“jacob always” has some memorable imagery that slots in nicely with the album’s overarching themes.  is there a set of circumstances that inspired the track that you’d be comfortable sharing?

jacob as well as the “fortune teller” in the song are fictitious, but the themes in the song are ones i wanted to consciously explore.  i suppose many have driven good love away at one point or another, but of course i’ve known so many men in particular who’ve done this again and again and thought they “weren’t to blame” for the damage they caused.

do you see any more solo work in your future after wait for love winds down?

yes, definitely.  i’ve already begun recording a few new songs for my next solo record.

wait for love arrives tomorrow via atelier ciseaux records; stream it in full a bit early, courtesy of popmatters.

cam maclean – “light cast”

– featured image courtesy of sarah o’driscoll – 

cam maclean’s solo debut is only a few weeks out from release; the montreal songwriter’s eight-track full-length seems poised to be brimming with delicate pop gems, as evinced by its handful of singles.

“light cast,” the mid-tempo piano ballad that closes out the album’s a-side, is a concentrated shot of maclean’s aesthetic, his swirling falsetto layered on top of itself throughout the hook for dramatic effect.  packing sweeping orchestral gestures into a sub-three-minute package is no easy feat, but maclean executes his strategy with aplomb, traces of his signature guitar stylings still evident within a saturated texture.

wait for love arrives july 6th via atelier ciseaux; watch the chilly, plaintive music video for “light cast” below.

helena deland – “take it all”

– featured image courtesy of chris almeida – 

helena deland’s from the series of songs “altogether unaccompanied” vol. i & ii contains four songs of spectral, spacious pop music.  we’ve written about the second volume’s “take it all” in these pages before, a standout cut that recently received a music video treatment.

hazy footage intermittently regains its clarity throughout as director mégane voghell follows the exploits of a couple at glacial speeds.  the relationship in tumult deland explores on “take it all” surfaces viscerally in its visual counterpart, which “paints an eerie and overall sad concept of togetherness,” according to deland.  it’s a striking composition, one that allows avenues of interpretation while never straying from a concrete message.  check it out below.

cam maclean – “wait for love”

– featured image courtesy of sarah o’driscoll – 

when vesuvio solo’s cam maclean shared two standalone tracks last year, the pair seemed to be exquisite one-offs, extensions of the soft-rock palette he had cultivated with his band.  instead, the montreal songwriter has been diligently at work on his debut solo album, wait for love, due out july 6th via atelier ciseaux records.

those aforementioned singles both make an appearance on maclean’s debut, along with six other tracks that showcase his effortless falsetto and meticulous arrangements.  unveiled this week as well was the album’s title track, the piano-driven “wait for love” breezy and tender as it absorbs synth stabs and distorted guitar interjections before being conquered by the latter, drifting off into the sunset as the angular, emotive motif loops to exhaustion.  take a listen below.

 

helena deland – “take it all”

– featured image courtesy of alex huard – 

montreal’s helena deland can transform a minimal soundscape into an overpowering entity.

her latest single, the nocturnal slow-burning “take it all,” is constructed with nary more than a sparse beat, a static guitar line, and some well-placed synths, allowing deland’s lead vocal to take command, calmly steering her vessel through the rough waters of a tumultuous relationship.  some lines are searing, some endearing, but the sum is an arresting colossus of mood, one that wriggles into ear canals and sets up a long-term residence.

“take it all” is culled from deland’s forthcoming extended play, from the series of songs “altogether unaccompanied” vol. i & ii, out march 2nd via luminelle recordings.  take a listen below.

helena deland – “there are a thousand”

– featured image courtesy of alex huard –

montreal singer-songwriter helena deland garnered a spot on our list of this year’s anticipated releases, and some of that release’s outstanding elements have recently come into focus.  for one, it appears that deland will share a pair of extended plays throughout 2018; the first installment, from the series of songs “altogether unaccompanied” vol. iis due out march 2nd via luminelle recordings.

for another, it appears that our anticipation was completely warranted.  “there are a thousand,” the first single culled from “altogether unaccompanied” vol. i, is a snapshot of deland’s effortless intimacy coupled with an airy, confident lead vocal.  swirling around all of this is a lush arrangement tinged with psychedelia, one that seems perfectly content to drift off into the distance when the moment is right.  listen to “there are a thousand” below.

 

harley alexander – “tiny bricks”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

little more than a year after releasing harland, the montreal-based singer-songwriter harley alexander is gearing up for the advent of a new mini-album, spill kid.  alexander leads somewhat of a nomadic lifestyle, splitting his time between performing in montreal and planting trees clear across the country, just outside of vancouver.  it was on the west coast that this latest batch of songs took shape; nestled in amongst nurturing tape hiss and warm acoustic guitars are slightly poignant ruminations on alexander’s surroundings.

“tiny bricks,” the first offering from alexander’s forthcoming release, studiously evokes every facet of this aesthetic.  inside a simple structure of drum programming and softly-strummed chords lies a hazy narrative, one that examines the soothing familiarity of nature as it relates to a smattering of interpersonal vulnerability.  punctuated by a mournful melodic motif that sustains throughout its coda, “tiny bricks” is an excellent glimpse into the intimate environment that is spill kid.

spill kid arrives october 20th via sports day records.  marinate in “tiny bricks” below.