A few overlooked acts in 2011

by Michael

This year has been a great year for the blog, as I will put into more detail in a day or two. However, we have struggled a bit to keep up with all the submissions we’ve been getting.

We still have a ton sitting in our inbox waiting to be looked at. In addition to submissions, though, there are some acts that we’ve missed because we didn’t have time. So here I’m going to go over three albums by three different acts that I’ve missed.

Album #1: Cough Cough/Naked House by Damon Guyett

Damon Guyett was born in the “industrial wasteland” (his words) that is Hamilton and now is based in the “dull” (also his words) town of Waterdown, Ontario. He creates lots of experimental, lo-fi tunes. His digital-only (for now) album is comprised of eighteen songs that fall into a bunch of different genres. Some tunes, like “Bed=Safe” are supported by little bleeps of electronics and sparse guitar chords. Other songs are quick, under-a-minute instrumental tidings. There’s also a cover of a song by Velvet Underground among all kinds of other things. It’s a pretty impressive lo-fi project and makes me excited to hear more.It’s a pay-what-you-can download via Bandcamp.

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

Album #2: Listen to the Colour by lightsweetcrude

Boy is this one ever trippy. lightsweetcrude are a group from Toronto who produce instrumental songs with a distinctly South Asian flavour. As I don’t have the vocabulary to properly review raga and its similar sounds, I don’t know how exactly to describe their sound. What I can say is that this music is pretty sweet. If you’re looking for some new sounds to add to your sonic palette this is one to hear. It’s $5 at Bandcamp.

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

Album #3: House of Balloons by The Weeknd

Yes, yes, I know. Shoot me. The Weeknd is a still somewhat-mysterious figure based in Toronto that rarely puts on shows but does release a good ton of music. He just recently released his third mixtape, Echoes of Silence, completing a trilogy of free mixtapes distributed through his website. In his post, Jeff McAllister equated House of Balloons with sex. It’s a pretty great comparison.

The best word to describe House of Balloons is “smooth.” The atmosphere is calculated yet not forced. Everything is just right. I felt like I was in an extended, sexy dream sequence while listening to the mixtape’s nine slow-burning songs. Now I just need to catch up on Thursday and Echoes of Silence and I’ll be on track with the rest of the world. All three albums are free at The Weeknd’s website.

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) +*swoop*

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by Laura 

I too completely agree that we have covered a fair bit of ground this year at Grayowl Point. Unfortunately, everything can’t be reviewed so I thought I would also put in my three albums that we have missed from this past year but deserve a mention:

Album #1: Two Horses by Charlotte Cornfield 

When I interviewed Charlotte Cornfield during her time in Toronto for North By Northeast, the excitement she had to release her first full-length album, Two Horses, couldn’t help but get you excited as well. Well, it turns out that all of this excitement was very justified as Two Horses is a fantastic first full-length record. With its combination of story-like lyrics and folk, jazz, and pop sounds, Charlotte Cornfield channels her greatest influence, Joni Mitchell, and is definitely one to watch for in the future.

Two Horses is available on Bandcamp.

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

Album #2: Morning Comes by Cuff The Duke 

As part one of a two part album, to be released later in 2012, Cuff The Duke keep their unmatched alt-country sounds clear but unfortunately, overall, fall a little flat in Morning Comes. Wayne Petti, lead singer and guitarist of Cuff The Duke has said that Morning Comes, an album filled with dark and heavy subject matter, is the “low” and part two will be the “high.” Without the lyrics, you wouldn’t know that Morning Comes would be considered a low, as any darkness, lyrically, is covered up with a classic, upbeat, and at times poppy, country sound.

Must hear tracks include: “Count on Me” and “Bound To Your Own Vices.” Morning Comes is available on iTunes.

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

Album #3: Kaputt by Destroyer 

After hearing only good things about Destroyer’s Kaputt and then seeing it nominated for this year’s Polaris Music Prize, I knew that I was being a fool by not hearing this record. Flash-forward a couple of months later, I am just now diving head first into the world of Kaputt and boy, is it ever good.

Incredibly lush and, if I may say, glamourous, Dan Bejar, Destroyer’s frontman, takes you on an adventure from “Chinatown” to “Bay of Pigs” with glorious pop-sounds as his soft, whisper like vocals are offset by spacey sounds and synthesizers. Kaputt is available on iTunes.

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*

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