Reviews: 6 new releases from Saskatchewan artists that you should listen to now

Soft Cotton – Dark Disco

Despite the album’s namesake, the majority of the music avoids the signature sound of the heyday of mid-2000s indie Can-rock, when dance floors across North America were ignited by heavy hi-hats, broody basslines and staccato stutter beats. Which is what makes Soft Cotton’s nuanced approach on their debut album all the more interesting. Horns dominate much of the melodies, with a grumble of guitars simmering below the surface of the swinging rhythms. But despite the genre divergence, the overall tone is one of shadows and intrigue. And the band doesn’t stray too far from the punk-disco of bands like controller.controller, especially when vocalist Mikhaila Anderson rails “get me out of here” on the mid-album highlight track “Hi-Road” – it’s a powerful moment, and one that hopefully Soft Cotton will take the time to explore further in future recordings. /CM

Babyfats – demo

Rip-roaring rockers Baby Fats have been wowing Saskatoon audiences with their energetic performances, so many will be pleased to know the band have made a three song demo available online. The cornucopia of garage rock, grunge and riot grrl get your toes tapping and head banging. Everything you’d want from a proper rock ‘n roll band is here; from the growling guitars and whooping vocals to drums that sound like they’re being pounded into dust. Vicious lo-fi production give the songs a biting edge, and one that seems to come completely naturally. /AS

respectfulchild – 在找 :​:​searching​:​:

Amidst ping-pong plinks that seemingly float amidst an ethereal bubble bath of gurgles and murmurs, respectfulchild’s debut album, 在找 :​:​searching​:​:, is a wordless journey into a tension-filled sound that never fails to be celebratory. Utilizing a violin and an array of otherworldly effects, respectfulchild’s careful correspondence of songs waft on apparitional melodies and sweetly escalating background noises that range from subtle whispers to the erstwhile clomp of hallway footwear. And on highlight track “float” the song is built like a burning edifice the suddenly dissolves into a few plaintive notes – likely the most tangible dynamic on the entirety of the album. /CM

Hollow Oax – Proper Etiquette for a Life Well Lived

Following the dissolution of Pandas in Japan, members of the art-punk-rock group have since splintered off into several new projects, including Raeburn, helmed by drummer/songwriter Maxwell Raeburn Warner. Now, Pandas guitarist Jon Walker has stepped up with his own offering under the name Hollow Oax. And on his debut album Proper Etiquette for a Life Well Lived, Walker restlessly runs between a number of weirdo sounds and tastes, never quite settling on any but executing each with a bonafide zeal. Barreling from the sandpaper grit of brat-punk burner “Dead Friends” to the sweetly-melancholic jangle stroll of “C’est La Vie”, Hollow Oax’ LP is a satisfying listen if you are along for a jumpy ride. We got a special advance copy but the rest of you can expect to hear the album in its entirety in September. /CM

Too Soon Monsoon – Little Fire

Anchored by keys, hard-hitting rhythms and some massively strong melodies, Too Soon Monsoon come out swinging on their debut EP Little Fire. Musically, this Saskatoon duo favours lush-but-subdued sounds that range between alt-pop swing and tensely-wound indie rock balladry. But the real treat here are Greg Torwalt’s vocals, which show a surprising amount of range, hitting heights that should have fans of the likes of Coheed and Cambria nodding in approval. /CM

TOAM – Decay

Amidst confident pulsating dance beats, urgent vocals and throbbing melodic guitar comes the latest offering from dance-rock group TOAM. At times ghostly and aloof, the EP launches into an eerie spectacle designed to drive a dance floor, particularly on “Haunter”, which sees the band at their most dramatic. Appropriately bouncy without losing their sense of subtlety, TOAM’s latest EP is a brief glimpse into a sound that combines elements of post-punk with shoegaze shimmer amidst a rhythm that will likely compel you to move in that grey area between sway and shimmy. /CM