Category Archives: Album Reviews

Raine Hamilton – Night Sky

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Soft violin gently starts this album with the soothing hum of singer Raine Hamilton over top it. Before you can fall into the melody, the violin turns to a jagged sort of snap and the story of Night Sky begins to unfurl. As the same song, “Starlight”, carries on, the acoustic folk sound offers vibes akin to wandering through a forest, the intervention of light a hopeless wish. This album takes you through the thicket of harsh and valuable lessons Raine Hamilton came to learn during the time she spent writing it as well as a close look at what is most important to her.

Just as it seems the darkness of the first track may be overwhelming, “Lift Me Up” shines through like a warmth radiating from a soul so pure it wants nothing more than to remind you how strong and brilliant you are. This song rings soft but powerful -a theme found throughout the album- as if written by Love incarnate. It offers what a mother, a lover, or anyone who truly loves you will when it seems as though your entire world has begun burning around you. For Hamilton, she wrote these inspiring words for her former self. “If I could tell myself then what I know now,” Hamilton wrote in a brief synopsis of the song on her website, “I would say: “You are beautiful, you are strong. You are so, so good.”

Other songs worth noting include “Robin Hood” and “Everyday,” the latter being a beautiful, adventurous instrumental piece. The second to last song, “Broken Plate”, has what is among the best moments of the album. It speaks of finding wholeness and sanctity of self after a relationship has fallen apart. Hamilton sings “My heart is not your harvest/ Not yours to reap and sow/ Not even if you’re taking what you think I owe/ I owe you nothing.”

As the albums ends and the music falls away, it will take a moment for you to fully step back into the present. Slowly, you’ll again become cognizant of the traffic around you, vehicular or otherwise. This album listens the way a good book reads; with conflict, resolution, and a protagonist to inspire hope and happiness throughout. Once you’ve heard Night Sky you’ll have heard Hamilton serenade with her voice, her violin, and her guitar, each dying her sleeves with the best and most honest parts of herself for all to see.

J-Hope – Hope World Mixtape

By Chelsea Stevens

Rating: 8 out of 10

Released on March 2nd, 2018 by Big Hit Entertainment.

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The member, J-Hope of the South Korean K-Pop Boy Band, BTS (which stands for “Bangtan Sonyeondan”, which translates to “Bulletproof Boy Scouts”) has put out his first solo project. After years in the making, he finally found the perfect time to share his unique sound with the world.

The first song on the mixtape, which is the title track, “Hope World” starts out with J-Hope letting you in on why he chose his stage name. His name was chosen as he wanted to bring a hopeful existence to BTS. The beat on “Hope World” makes you want to get up and dance.

“P.O.P. (Piece of Peace) pt.1” – The name alone has fans excited because “part 1” means a very high possibility of a second mixtape. Again, in this rap he talks about his stage name and confesses he just wants to be the reason for somebody’s happiness. The vibe of this song will for sure have you bobbing your head along.

While listening to “Daydream (백일몽)”, you may come to realize that a story is being told (if you speak/read Korean, if not there’s plenty of websites and Twitter fan accounts that translate). He tells his truth of how he has become who he is today, through dance, music, his band mates, friends, fans and family. How all of his dreams are coming true and how he wants to remain humble through it all and not take any of it for granted. He wants to be in the moment and enjoy every second of his life while also being an escape for others as well.

“Base Line” and “항상 (HANGSANG)” are two of the songs off the “Hope World” mixtape that the BTS fandom argue on which is truly the best. I personally prefer “Base Line”, but both are good in their own kind of way. Both songs are definitely club sounding tunes that you could get lit and dance to, but they both still have quality lyrical content.

The only spotlighted feature on “Hope World” is with Supreme Boi on “항상 (HANGSANG)”, these two men have worked together plenty before on music so who better to work with than someone you are very familiar with on your first solo musical release. There is also a faint feature from the rest of BTS in the song “Airplane”. It’s very subtle, but it’s very effective.

“Airplane” beautifully wraps up the story being told on the mixtape, recalling his first time doing things he dreamt as a child he never thought would even happen. Hope doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon, personally and with his group.

Lastly on “Hope World”, the song “Blue Side (Outro)” is a slow and calming song only leaving you wanting more.

Overall, this record-breaking release doesn’t have any songs you’ll want to skip, while adding it to your playlist(s). You can tell a lot of work and effort was put into this project by J-Hope, from the details of the cover art to every song sounding different from the last. It really feels like you are apart of “Hope World” while listening.

Check out more from J-Hope and BTS:

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https://soundcloud.com/bangtan

K.I.D – Poster Child EP

By Samuel Stevens

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Released March 24th 2017 by Universal Music Canada

On their new EP, “Poster Child”, K.I.D continues to prove that they’re an Alternative Rock band that needs to be taken seriously. K.I.D delivers four catchy Alt. Rock, Synth Pop infused tracks that allow vocalist, Kara Lane and instrumentalist Bobby Lo to shine beautifully.

K.I.D, which is abbreviated from Kids In Despair, originally formed in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. K.I.D is comprised of members Kara Lane and Bobby Lo. Kara and Bobby are close friends that met when they attended the same high school together. In the mid 2010’s K.I.D wanted to create a Garage Rock-style album and went on the hunt for a producer to develop this dream. This is when they met Mike Crossey, best known for his producing work with The 1975, Wolf Alice, and Arctic Monkeys, to name a few.

The lyrics of “Boy” are of a sexually suggestive nature about, as the title of the song says a, “boy”. Although not on the EP, about a month after the release of “Poster Child”, K.I.D released a new version of, “Boy” as a single featuring the up and coming Hip Hop artist, Cupcakke.

“Errors” features a darker side of the bands topics talking about crippling depression and how hard it can be to live with. While “Errors” does feature a darker nature, the production of the song is upbeat and catchy, featuring a lot of catchy melodies and synth over bass and drums.

“Taker” captures the essence of the bands Alt. Rock side. “Taker” is about a one sided relationship and asking the other person in the relationship when are you going to contribute to the relationship. As per the lyrics “Taker, taker, taker, taker, taker, when are you gonna, gonna give a little?”

“I Cannot Sleep at Night” is pretty self-explanatory. The song opens up with Kara singing, “I cannot sleep at night, my anxieties run high and they build up inside”. This song is about various anxieties that could keep you awake in bed at night. “I Cannot Sleep at Night” may feature one of the catchiest synth hooks on the EP.

K.I.D’s debut concept album, “Tired All the Time” will be out very soon. K.I.D has just recently released the singles, “Happy When I Cry” and “Elevator” off the upcoming LP. K.I.D’s upcoming debut is an album that should be worthy of watching for.

“Poster Child” proves K.I.D are not just another Alternative Rock band in the scene, but one to seriously watch out for. With countless catchy hooks, choruses, and covering various meaningful subjects within their lyrics, this EP will leave listeners wanting more immediately after the first listen. Kara and Bobby only get approximately 12 minutes on this EP to showcase their songwriting abilities and hit it out of the park. Kara’s vocal range shines across all four tracks. I’m certainly looking forward to what they will bring on their upcoming debut album, “Tired All the Time”.

Keep updated on K.I.D:

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Susto – & I’m Fine Today

SUSTOOriginally Published in Stylus Magazine, Volume 28, Issue 4

By Matt Harrison

Standing in the thirtieth row of a partially filled MTS Centre, dressed to the nines (or at least the sixes), on a narcotic propelled rocket hurtling my mind through some forgotten corridor of the cosmos is when I was first introduced to Susto. It was as though my experience was tethered to an otherworldly elastic that, at the moment of its choice, pulled me back down to earth and into my mortal self while the chorus of Susto’s Waves roared through the arena. The lights danced in unison as though they themselves were drowning waves. “It comes in waves” sang front man Justin Osborne, reminding a select few of every time they ever felt the ‘waves’ come on at the outset of what will surely be a good trip.

Waves is the third track on Susto’s newest album & I’m Fine Today, released in early 2017 by Dine Alone Records. As a whole the album is mind bendingly passionate and profound. The instrumental pieces carry a deceptively cheery tone while the lyrics are unabashedly authentic. Take, for example, the playful piano intro in the song “Hard Drugs”  which includes such lines as “I don’t care who’s askin’ I’ll tell ‘em the truth/ I’ve had a long time struggle with substance abuse…I’m just glad that I found you/ and sorry that I couldn’t keep you around.” The contrast of musical vibes and lyrics, often times teetering into the realm of psychedelic, is what creates the sound that can best be described as simply being Susto.

There is no shortage of other phenomenal songs on this album, ‘Mystery Man,’ ‘Cosmic Cowboy,’ ‘Wasted Mind’, ‘Diamonds Icaro’, and ‘Jah Werx’ to name a few, but none are as heart wrenching as “Gay In the South.” As the title undoubtedly implies, the songs tells of the struggles faced by gay individuals living in the southern United States who were close to the songwriter. The first chorus paints a telling picture of the turmoil many are forced to deal with, saying “They promised us/ You were going straight to hell when you die/ I don’t even think it’s a real place.” The contrast of up-tempo music paired with deep, often times thought provoking lyrics is what will lead Susto to success in the future.

Listening to & I’m Fine Today is good for the mind, good for the soul. In a hectic, unpredictable world of unknown horizons, Susto is a sturdy reminder that, in some crevices in the world, there is still good to be found. If more songs were written with this sort of exemplary honesty and depth, surely the world could be a better place. Until then, Susto will lie in wait for the cosmic surfers who, in spite of increasingly hazy global climate, feel fine today.

Check out more from Susto:

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Ferraro – Losing Sleep

Ferraro

Originally published in The Uniter, Volume 71, Issue 24

By Matt Harrison

Rating: 7.0/10

Released in 2017 by Cadence Music

In their debut album Losing Sleep, released under Cadence Music, brotherly rock trio Ferraro came onto the scene with a unique and authentic sound that reminds listeners of what makes music from the era of five-cent bottles of Coca-Cola worth loving.

With the tone of this album revolving heavily around the snap and innocent charm of rock n’ roll from the early 1960’s, Ferraro unearths the undeniably resonance of the first rock bands to challenge, what was then, a tame normalcy.

Losing Sleep is a sustained display of the impact early rock had in the construction of the band’s sound and identity. By pouring their artistic ability into the timeless mould of 60’s pop-rock, Ferraro effortlessly embodies the value of a well-placed harmony, guitar solo, and instrumental breakdown.

Treading in the waters of emulating the exceptionalism of the hip-shaking rock of yesteryear, Ferraro’s own stylistic ability still finds a way to shine through this audible montage of their inspirations.

In what can best be described as a tactful hybrid of Buddy Holly and The Hollies, Ferraro brings to light the genius of pure, original rock n’ roll. The best tracks on this album for my ears were “On the Ropes”, “Old Hollywood”, and “On the Road.” What this album reminds listeners is that the snappy licks of 60’s rock are timeless.

With an average track time coming in a hair over three minutes, Ferraro arms their songs with the brevity many artists from the era of their inspiration adhered to. No song overstays its welcome; every song leaves the audience wanting more.

Losing Sleep should be in the collection of anyone who claims to have an affinity for real rock. Its original rock n’ roll inspirations combined with its modern (but not overwhelming) guitar licks and solos make it the sort of rock album appreciated by avid enthusiasts of all generations.

This appreciation for the roots of rock n’ roll provides the audience with a trip down memory lane to a time they themselves have never seen. Ferraro offers a dose of nostalgic rock flavour that makes a listener wish they had the gall to run a shameless handful of pomade through their hair and dawn a leather jacket, if only for the 30 minutes this album keeps them company.

Keep up with Ferraro:

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