A lot of really good music has been released this year in Saskatchewan and it’s only February? WTF!
We don’t normally publish our Best Of lists until the end of the year. And, honestly, it feels like we just did that – it’s only February for fuck sakes.
But, as it turns out, Saskatchewan has been pumping out a tonne of amazing albums as of late, and it’s been hard to keep up. So we thought we would just go ahead and round up some of the best stuff that we’ve heard this year.
Without further ado, may we present Ominocity’s Best new music of Saskatchewan in 2015 (so far)!
Dumb Angel – Broken Glass
On his latest album Shaun Mason fully inhabits sun-kissed psychedelic pop that meanders yet never loses its purpose. Dumb Angel has always leaned heavily on heavenly vocal harmonies, and on “Wanted, Needed, Loved” – the first offering from the forthcoming Broken Glass – Mason manages to weave a complicated web of harmony that is blissful and poignant and still somehow manages to squeeze in a lil’ bit of fist-pumping rock goodness in as well.
A Ghost in Drag – self-titled
Mathcore four-piece A Ghost in Drag have the auspicious designation of being one of the first bands to release an album in 2015 – the group dropped their self-titled EP on the most hangover-y of days on January 1. And this New Year’s baby doesn’t disappoint. There are plenty of heavy riffs and hardcore breakdowns along with a virtual buffet of bizarro hooks and growling vocals. The musicianship on songs like “42 Below” is intensely precise – think of a surgeon removing a gall bladder in a back alley or a milk-drunk toddler wrapping all the tracks in Mario Kart in under five minutes. Precise-ly!
Wolfen Rabbits – self-titled
Lithe and spritely, Wolfen Rabbits is the combined musical efforts of Melissa Gan and Ryan Holaday, a duo who seem bent on breaking the heart of everyone who dares listen to their lovelorn folk balladry. And on their debut EP, the pair might do just that. Opening with an instrumental number, the CD opens up with the combined might of dueling vocals and keen musicianship. Just don’t call it sad or depressing – think of how the most bittersweet longing tastes like and you’re halfway to the exquisite emotion of Wolfen Rabbits.
Optional – Midsized Eras
Bedroom lo-fi pop-isms aside, Saskatoon’s Optional has crafted a debut album that leans heavily on off-kilter charm and experimental rhythms. Combining warm melodies along with ethereal layers of noise and the pluck of a guitar, Midsized Eras is a catchy, rewarding listen. Also, who are you?
Haunted Souls – Officer Dad
There’s no shortage of echo, moxy, or goofball antics on The Haunted Souls’ latest EP Officer Dad. Short and snappy, like a pair of last week’s gitch, the group pinball between nearly indiscernible garage punk and Beach Bum harmonics set amidst razor guitar lines that reverberate like a paper cut between your finger and your fingernails. Play at a party to piss off people you don’t like.
AWOL One and Factor – Crossroads
Reminiscent of ‘80s downer dance pop – both musically and vocally – Factor’s latest collaboration with AWOL One is an unexpected hip-hop-esque stoner jam that is vaguely jubilant – kind of like when you wake up with the perfect hangover and instead of moping under the bed sheets you actually feel like going for a jog.
Megan Nash – Song Harvest Volume One
Megan Nash is blessed with a voice that glitters like a fanny pack full of sunshine. And on her latest two tracks – which comes in advance of her album Song Harvest Volume One, which will see release on March 17 – she croons as if her life depends on it. Thankfully, the production is kept to a minimum and, with sparse instrumentation as accompaniment, you can literally feel the walls shiver around her.
Wizards – SDRAZIW
Saskatoon’s Wizards are an ever-evolving bunch of ragtag misfits – in the best possible way of course. While their live shows tend to flow between genres – think surf-drone dance rock mixed amidst noise freak-outs with a 10 per cent chance of sitar – on their latest recorded offering the group manage to cement the entirety of their sound within a concise, and dancey, package. It’s a great pop record that pushes the weirdo levels all the way up.
Acronyms – SIMPLECOMPLEX
Complex bass lines and rhythms abound on Acronyms’ debut EP SIMPLECOMPLEX. Spacey guitars rocket amidst the echo of shoegaze along with a good heft of indie rock wallop. Also, the cover art reminds us of a Spirograph which is always a good thing.
Orphan Mothers – Hindsight
On their debut release, Orphan Mothers construct a wavering edifice of indie rock destructo dance beats and heavy synth-lines along with a glib sense of romance and hook-laden vocals. Also: handclaps, foot stomps and the prerequisite musical iciness of the best part of the ‘80s that you never heard on radio and always longed to.
Hypnotic Dirge Records – Subarctic Nocturnes: Doomed to Be [Volume I: 2015]
So Saskatoon has a black metal, doom rock record label that has been releasing albums from bands across the world. Yes! And on their latest release, Subarctic Nocturnes: Doomed to Be [Volume I: 2015], a compilation featuring the likes of Lavagoat, Hypnotic Dirge Records have cemented their place in the kingdom of heaviosity. Again. The LP is also a trilogy, which means more to come. If you haven’t already, check out their line-up.
Dagan Harding – Best Times
Following the most recent Despistado reunion, Regina’s Dagan Harding has compiled together a new solo offering that draws deep from his past work but manages to capture a whole new brand of magic. On Best Times the guitars still chime as sharp as ever, while the vocals, combined with lyrics that are oft introspective and wryly poetic, contain elements of maturity. Thankfully, Harding hasn’t lost an ounce of wonder.
The Whiskey Jerks – Neat
Wordy folk that doesn’t skimp on the stomp or the storytelling, The Whiskey Jerks serve up a neatly complex mash-mix of instrumentation that serves as a solid foundation for a playful platter of vocals. Also, that crow is way too cute.