GOGOL BORDELLO (New York, NY)

GOGOL BORDELLO (New York, NY)

Gogol Bordello’s Trans-Continental Hustle, the group’s American Recordings debut, is perhaps the most ambitious undertaking in the group’s already remarkable decade-long career and it’s the result of an inspired, year-length collaboration with famed producer Rick Rubin. Gogol Bordello is arguably the hardest working — and hardest rocking — group of our discordant new century, maintaining a touring schedule and an onstage energy level that would send the average combo running for the emergency room. While putting out several critically acclaimed Gypsy Punks and SUPER TARANTA! albums, the intrepid band has literally traversed even the farthest corners of the globe, building a substantial world-wide fan base via gigs and festival appearances throughout Eastern Europe, South America and the Middle East, along with stops in Australia, Western Europe and in their adopted U.S. homeland. Their encounters and adventures, as well as the band members’ own immigrant histories, fuel the subversively upbeat story-songs on Trans-Continental Hustle. Front-man and lyricist Eugene Hutz spins out scenarios that are, by turns, hilarious and heartbreaking — from the outsider experience of gypsies in his native Ukraine to the struggles and celebrations of Brazil’s favelas. It can be said that Gogol Bordello has been representing the voice of all minorities all at once, a voice that comes from a real, poetic and deep place. Along the way, Hutz looks for common threads while embracing each of his character’s defiantly unique identities, all of which reflect some facet of the frequently flying bandleader...
SLOAN (Toronto, ON / Halifax, NS)

SLOAN (Toronto, ON / Halifax, NS)

Sloan is without doubt the most truly democratic group in the annals of rock, with Jay Ferguson, Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland, and Andrew Scott all contributing original compositions to each record, equal partners with equal say over every aspect of their work. Commonwealth – their first all-new release in three years – sees the Toronto-based quartet disassociating ever so slightly to create one of the more unique and ambitious recordings of their two-decade-plus career, an old-school double album with each member staking out a single side as their own artistic dominion. “I think that perhaps we are one of the few bands that could make an LP like this,” says Ferguson. “Everyone could probably make their own solo LP if they wanted.” “Name another,” says Murphy. “The only act that comes to mind with equally recognizable/regarded members who all write and are capable of taking the lead vocals would have been the Beastie Boys but alas…” Concept-driven works are nothing new to Sloan. Over the course of 10 albums and more than 30 singles – not to mention multiple EPs, hits and rarities collections, live albums and official bootlegs released, like all the band’s work, on their own independent label, Murderecords – the band has tackled countless creative conceits from hardcore punk 7-inches to kaleidoscopic song cycles like 2006’s 30-track Yep Roc debut, Never Hear The End Of It. “We’re always trying to do something a little different from what we’ve done in the past,” Pentland says. “This can be as much to challenge ourselves or just stave off boredom. With four strong writers, it was inevitable that we...
USS (Toronto, ON)

USS (Toronto, ON)

It’s hard to put your thumb on Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker. Ours is admittedly a world where things are constantly being examined, labeled, named, and methodically grouped neatly in one place or the other. When something comes along that won’t be put under a thumb, what then? No, chaos doesn’t consume the earth, but it does often leave people wondering where to place the duo with a sound that is equal parts science and art, a convergence of gentle melody and driving beat. Like a science experiment set to music, what they do melts down acoustic rock, EDM, Dub, Hip-Hop, Orchestral, and Pop transforming it into an entirely new element. It explodes, it implodes, and it is a pure chemical reaction. Just know that if figuring out USS is your main concern, you might be waiting for a very long while. Vocalist/guitarist Ashley Boo-Schultz and hypeman/turntablist Human Kebab have always existed hanging in a sort of myth-like state, allowing the music they make together to first speak for itself, and empowering listeners to take from the sophisticated sound whatever they will. While USS is on a constant quest for meaning, the interpretation of it is largely up to...
AUSTRA (Toronto, ON)

AUSTRA (Toronto, ON)

The moment that Toronto electro band Austra completed its world tour to support its sophomore album, Olympia, its lead singer and songwriter Katie Stelmanis hit the books and began a voracious reading cycle. “I had felt that music had consumed my life for the previous five years and I really just wanted to exercise other parts of my brain,” Stelmanis said last week in a phone interview. “So I really did get into reading, which doesn’t really sound like a big deal, but I hadn’t read a book since high school. “I started making a list of all the books that I had read, because I was able to see this quantifiable gain in my smartness every time I read a book. I tried to read as many as possible.” It wasn’t the only activity Stelmanis undertook during her performance hiatus, which officially ends this Friday with a Mod Club kickoff to a 53-date world tour that concludes in Brussels in April. There were French and Spanish language studies, ballet lessons and cooking as she moved from Montreal to New York to Mexico City before returning to Toronto. But the books she read directly informed much of the subject matter in the 11 songs on Austra’s third album, Future Politics, also out Friday. Musically, it’s an album full of nuanced, throbbing synthesizers, brisk dance rhythms and Stelmanis’s angelic, operatic-inspired warbling. Lyrically, it’s a big-picture observation of social concerns ranging from capitalism to the environment, mentioned in such songs as “Future Politics,” “Utopia,” “Gaia,” “Freepower” and “Beyond a Mortal.” ~ The...
HANNAH GEORGAS (Vancouver, BC / Toronto, ON)

HANNAH GEORGAS (Vancouver, BC / Toronto, ON)

PRESENTED BY DINE ALONE RECORDS The opening moments of Hannah Georgas’ sprawling and lyrically-evocative new album, For Evelyn, highlights Hannah’s seemingly endless capacity for crafting textured pop songs that confound her audience’s expectations, setting the stage for her most ambitious and personal record yet. With its dreamy soundscape, For Evelyn is named after Hannah’s “compassionate, patient, kind and beautiful” 98-year-old grandmother, who has been a lifelong inspiration to her. Produced in collaboration with Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck), they explore a variety of effects that alternate between playful, suggestive, funky, and foreboding, adding depth to Hannah’s compositions. For Evelyn offers an intimate front row seat to the vast spectrum of Hannah’s emotional highs and lows with buoyant tracks like the sweeping single “Don’t Go”, to beautifully haunting lower tempo heart-rending songs. Mixed by Nicolas Vernhes (Wye Oak, War On Drugs, Daughter) the album features Andy Shauf, Howie Beck and Ryan Guildemond. Over two full-length albums, This is Good (2010) and 2012’s self-titled follow-up, Hannah has traversed a carefully constructed soundscape that never fails to surprise and enchant its listener. Since her debut, the Toronto-based musician has won numerous awards and racked up multiple nominations, including four JUNO nods, for everything from Best New Artist to Songwriter of the Year. Hannah has toured the world, sharing stages with the likes of Kathleen Edwards, City and Colour, and Sara Bareilles, playing everywhere from Madison Square Garden to the LA Greek Theatre. Hannah’s music has also been featured on HBO’s hit show,...