The best new music of 2016: We review nine Sask. artists that you should listen to now

If music were booze we would be so drunk on these songs right now.

And it’s only breakfast time.

Here are nine new-ish tracks from some magical equine-esque Sask. musician-type creatures that you should probably listen to right now. Or else.

waitress 2016

Waitress – Delay Our Time

Brooding, ominous, uptight, assured and ultimately revving to go: Standing somewhere between the hazed-out boundaries between electronic and rock music lies Waitress, the dream-pop space-obsessed sounds of Janice Weber and Kalon Beaudry. From the wild-in-the-streets/wild-in-the-sheets zebra seat covers gracing the LP artwork, Delay Our Time crosses several aural time zones in the span of less than 30-minutes. Instrumental interludes help balance the tension of mechanical precision of the vintage synth-pop moments, while the occasional foray into hip-shaking sets a much-appreciated groove. Check out the haunting vocals “I’m not made for this time” on the album’s swaggering title track, a doozy of a dance number that swaggers along with the lil extra oomph in the beat track. Shimmer-fuelled shoegaze guitars give the LP a few extra punches along the way, and turn a few potential snoozy psych-lullabies into spiralling anthems to get day drunk to. Having perfected the recipe for sunshine and heartbreak with their previous project The Foggy Notions, Weber and Beaudry are back running full tilt, creating a gorgeous exercise in visceral pop glee to boot.

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Ponteix – “Béat”

Mystery may abound on “Béat”, the lead single from the debut EP from Sask. psych-poppers Ponteix, but the avant melodies and swirling synth cuts all lead to the same big payoff. Sung entirely en francais, “Béat” combines the echoing swagger of stadium-sized guitar chords with dreamlike song structures and woozy instrumental flourishes. Clad in immaculate, pointy dancing shoes (probably), the latest offering from Ponteix is a taste of well-groomed exuberance that is not unlike blissing out on a bed made of clouds, choral harmonies and an endless supply of snacks.


Basement Paintings – Mystic

It’s hard to pin down exactly what’s happening at any given moment on Mystic, the sprawling instrumental opus of ambient doom cheerleaders Basement Paintings. But it’s the diversity of that sonic palette that lends strength to the overall album. Mystic contains most if not all of the symphonic hallmarks of the murky world of post-metal: impressive rhythms, melodic bass thumps and blistering, otherworldly guitar tones. But the patient four-piece also takes plenty of time to travel to, and ultimately unravel, their own sonic immersions – the ambient moments are some of the biggest payoffs, and lend a much-needed respite from the deep-heaving sighs of heaviosity and layers of briny sludge.


Doubt It – “Diet Pepsi”

Filled with effervescent pop bubbles that tickle your nose, Regina four-piece Doubt It have released “Diet Pepsi” off of their second EP humourously (?) entitled Two. Guitar riffs flow like the flailing limbs of a bendy straw floating on a sea of sangria in a patio’s breeze, but there’s still plenty of DIY-basement crunch for those who like their brat-punk ’90s-esque, gravelly and hard-to-chew. Also, I want to cuddle that tiger’s dumb kitty face.

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Lying Light in the Quiet – “Recovery”

File under the soundtrack of that wacky dream you had where you were trapped in an otherworldly arboretum filled with swirling synth patterns, drones that may or may not be following your every move, and lazy lazers. The noise pop/drone project of Zac Knuttila and Alex Stooshinoff, Lying Light in the Quiet is instrumental mood music that follows the duos’ dreamy whims – inclinations that may have given an artful birth to Saskatchewan’s own Windsor hum.


Treebeard – “Post-script Ulysses”

Some of the best video games are those where the only way to succeed is to mash the buttons repeatedly. It’s not exactly cerebral magic, but there’s always a time and place for the visceral ingenuity of the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, and that goes for both punk rock and Super Smash Bros. And on their lead single “Post-script Ulysses” Treebeard similarly treat us to an all-guns-blazing bash out. A charmer of a bass line snakes through a jumble of slammed guitar garage party rock that somehow manages to hint at a number of sounds including early punk, alt-nonsense and a smattering of roots rock. There’s a lot of things going on here in this potent brew and it works, even if it does leave a mess behind in the before-mentioned kitchen sink. Whoops. Also, this song is from an upcoming EP called No More Night Prices, which is probably the best album title we’ve ever seen come out of this oft-depressing province.


The Florals – “Body Snatchers”

In a perfect world, “Body Snatchers” would reside in your parents’ record collection, ushering you in to the slightly-seedy side of rock ‘n’ roll, first cigarettes, and secretly holding hands under a blanket during movie night with friends. Managing to pack garage shimmy verses alongside some very polite falsetto, The Florals fuse shuffly rock guitar gospel that boasts power-pop rhythms and slow-burning swagger. Lose your inhibitions to the muffly brine of nostalgia. Let your heels launch you into the air. Sigh heavily as the band packs up their gear for the night, leaving you wondering why no one invited you to the after party.


TOAM – self-titled

There doesn’t seem to be much of an explanation for what TOAM actually means. Not that a cool band name necessarily needs to represent anything other than the music, so basically TOAM is left in the enviable position to define themselves: On their self-titled EP the group crank out four songs of unnervingly dark synthed-out alt-echo pop that invoke creepy-creep stripped-down feelings wandering through the apocalypse, chewing gum and holding hands. Except there is nowhere to get gum anymore because it’s the apocalypse. Also, you aren’t allowed to use TOAM in Scrabble play. Sorry, but I looked it up because that sort of thing is important.


SemiAlien – Spectral

Woozy and badass, the otherworldly soundscapes of SemiAlien’s Spectral blend nicely with late night back alley dance rhythms and the space sounds you stumble across on the solitary airwaves of community radio. The work of Regina’s Iain Emslie – who is currently based out of Victoria, but whateves – SemiAlien is a foray into 8-bit melodies where the buttons on the controller are never sticky. Also, really dig the artwork – astro decoupage reminiscent of Robert Pollard if he had been born a gas giant on Saturn’s third moon.

Want more Sask. super cool awesomeness? Click HERE for more of the best new music of 2016.