Category Archives: Canadian

Palaye Royale – The Bastards

By Samuel Stevens

Release Date: May 29, 2020

Genre: Rock, Hard Rock

Label: Sumerian Records

The Juno nominated, Canadian/American rock band, Palaye Royale consisting of the three brothers, Remington Leith (vocals), Emerson Barrett (drums), Sebastian Danzig (guitar), and now official members, Daniel Curcio (bass) and Andrew Martin (guitar) who after being long time touring members with the band, are finally set to release their massive third full length album, The Bastards this week, after a eleven month long tease. The band wrote the album in various places around the world, renting out spaces to song write, however the band recorded majority of The Bastards in the house of Ashton Irwin, the drummer for the pop punk/pop act, 5 Seconds of Summer. While Irwin was on the road touring with 5 Seconds of Summer, he let the members of Palaye Royale and crew to use a completely blacked out room that’s located in the crawlspace of his house that they used to cut some tracks for the album.

The Bastards could be seen as a partial concept album, set in a place that is a reflection of their own lives, but in a mythological sense. The album takes place on an island titled, Obsidian, set in the year 1888. Obsidian is in a world that started off with the intentions of free thinkers and artists to amalgamate together. Eventually this fictional world created by the band becomes overwhelmed with political power and evil toxicity across the land. If anyone wants to remain a true individual in this society of Obsidian, you must wear a gas mask. The band, specially Emerson have been working along side the Swedish artist known as, XOBillie, who was originally just a fan of the band, on a graphic novel for The Bastards. Some of XOBillie’s recent art for Palaye Royale can be seen in the band’s music video for their single, “Little Bastards.”

Musically for the band, The Bastards is a tremendous step up for the members of Palaye Royale, showcasing a new enthusiasm, as well two new members that joined the fray to contribute to the songwriting. The band swayed into a new era from their self described, fashion rock on their two part album, Boom Boom Room (Side A) and Boom Boom Room (Side B) to display a little heavier side to their music, blurring the lines into a more hard rock version of themselves with various elements from other genres scattered throughout the effort. Lyrically on The Bastards, the band went with an honest and open approach by addressing plenty of significant issues that are frequent in today’s youth. Rather it’s the struggles of mental health, the gun violence epidemic, substance use as a mean to escape a strenuous reality, or parental abandonment, the band cover it on The Bastards‘ whopping fifteen tracks.

The Bastards opens up with one of it’s eight singles, “Little Bastards,” one of many that have been released over the course of the last eleven months. The song is about the frustration and anger towards individuals that are meant to be friends, but end up not being there when you need them the most. The track exhibits the band’s new direction right off at the start of the album, for just a taste at what the other fourteen tracks have in store to it’s listeners. “Fake friends all around / They watch while I drown / No one is there to help me.”

Following, “Little Bastards” is the boisterous and almost punk rock-esque song, “Massacre, The New American Dream.” This is one of the heavier songs lyrically on the album, touching on the gun violence epidemic prevalent in America. “Generation Y, Generation why are we / Why are we so casual ’bout these casualties? / (Come on) All you killers on your killing sprees / (Come on) A massacre’s the new American dream / (Come on) And all the kids on the murder scene.”

The first two singles, “Fucking with my Head” and “Nervous Breakdown” are essentially a two part song. “Fucking with my Head” touches on emotional abuse put on someone, by someone else and the lasting scarring it can do to the human mind. While, “Nervous Breakdown” covers the aftermath of leaving the toxic person in the past. “Lonely,” is another heavy lyric based track about the mental and physical abuse vocalist, Remington Leith endured as a child, centered around an acoustic guitar, light drums, and a haunting string arrangement. “Tonight Is The Night I Die” is a magnificent Bond theme inspired type track. While the song, “Doom (Empty)” is a heavy bass driven track with an almost sludge metal bass line.

For anyone who has, or hasn’t been been keeping up with the band’s previous eight singles that have been released over the last year before the album releases, May 29th, these singles are just highlights of the entire album. While these eight tracks are showcasing the bands new direction, when all fifteen tracks are listened to as one whole, it all falls into place for a masterful piece of work from Palaye Royale.

The Free Label – M.I.A

By Samuel Stevens

Release Date: May 29, 2020

Genre: Pop, R&B, Hip-Hop

Label: Independent

Toronto based, genre defying, and self-described boyband supergroup, The Free Label, have continued to solidify their musical path with the release of their debut album, M.I.A. The album’s eight tracks hit you with numerous amounts of positive vibes, if it’s from The Free Label’s endless catchy lyrics, or their at times melodic, groovy, experimental, genre defying, and electrifying sound leaving you with what might be the soundtrack to your summer. The Free Label originally formed in 2017 as a funk cover band, before evolving into what you may know them as now, a multi-instrumental powerhouse comprised of four charismatic Canadian boys: Josh Daniel (vocals), Mathew Fantini (bass, vocals), Malik Mungo (guitar, vocals), and Cole Méndez (keys, vocals), who all sing and rap, in addition to playing their respective instruments. M.I.A was entirely self-produced by The Free Label, however it was mixed and mastered by Gabe Galluci, who has previously worked on albums from, Shawn Mendes and Francesco Yates to name a few.

Two years ago in the Summer of 2018, The Free Label had an extremely successful single, “All Night,” that lead the band to head out on the road on a four month long tour throughout South America and Europe, which was followed by the release of their three track debut EP, Lift You Up. Within the last few weeks, The Free Label released, Quarantoonz Vol. 1, a mixtape in a series which was created and recorded throughout the months of March and April, while the band and all of us practiced social distancing in the comfort of their own homes. The band used this as an opportunity to flex their creativity and try something new.

M.I.A focuses on the subject of transition, touching on relationships ending, complicated situations changing, and remaining focused on the future. This effort is a reflection of what The Free Label are capable of comprising as artists. The album opens up with it’s melodious title track, “M.I.A (Money Isn’t Available),” a track full with a resonating guitar line, a catchy chorus, and mesmerizing beat. “M.I.A (Money Isn’t Available)” sets itself up as a party, feel good anthem and is just a taste of what’s yet to come on the remaining seven tracks. “We just want to do it for the money / So we can even turn up on a Sunday / Ladies all around us sweet like honey / We don’t need to wake up on a Monday.”

The strident tune, “Oreo,” is the album’s one and only full hip-hop track, while the track, “Up In Flames” also stands out on it’s own as one of the tracks with the slowest tempo. “Up In Flames” also features the sultry vocal performance from bilingual (English, Spanish) Toronto indie pop artist, Oleyada. The two tracks, “Let Me Find A Way” and “Without You” are centered around groovy bass lines and will most certainly make you want to get up and move. However the track, “You Ain’t Got No Reason” while also being centered around a massive bass line and hypnotizing synths, it takes the band back to their musical roots with a funky, and groovy anthem with elements that are something that resemble the likes of Justin Timberlake or Bruno Mars.

The Free Label did not want to leave their successful 2018 celebratory anthem and highly catchy single, “All Night” off the effort. The track suits the entire project extremely well and is the perfect culmination for what the previous seven tracks on M.I.A touched on. M.I.A may have the possibility to be the soundtrack of this upcoming summer and “All Night” itself stands out to be the contender to be part of it, if not the entire album. Since the original release of, “All Night” the song has surpassed the monumental achievement of 550,000 streams on Spotify. “Cause we’re ridin’, we’re drinkin’, we’re smokin’ / And we don’t give a fuck / We elated, sedated, cross faded / And we be keepin’ it up all night.”

Check out more from The Free Label:

Q&A With Red Vienna

By Samuel Stevens

Photo by Kasia Stromecki

What’s the significance of the name Red Vienna?

Robbie: Vienna was one of the most beautiful cities in Europe that we visited while on tour with our previous band. When I got home, I did some research on the city and saw the term “Red Vienna” which was an effort in order to rectify many of the cities social crises. Some great artists and Art Deco architecture came out of this era in the city. It just had a really interesting meaning and the cultural significance seemed to resonate with us as a new band. It had nothing to do with politics, I think it just suited the vibe we were going for. 

How would you describe your band’s music for any person who may have never heard Red Vienna before?

Jahmeel: Aspects of it are heavy, but it’s also very melodic and melancholy. 

Robbie: The songs also have post-punk and shoegaze elements at times, but don’t necessarily fall into those categories.

What are your musical influences that shape the sound of, Red Vienna?

Jahmeel: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Failure, Killing Joke, Bee Gees, Black Sabbath, and Fugazi, are all groups I would say have had a direct influence in some way on our songs.

Devin: Interpol, Radiohead, The War On Drugs, The Stone Roses, Slowdive, and Wild Nothing come to mind.

Your new EP, Tomhet, is about to be released later this week and the two tracks have been released as singles the last few weeks. How has the reception been so far?

Jahmeel: Really great! Seems like we’re reaching more people than ever before and the reactions have been really positive so far. 

Robbie: It’s been so great, the receptions to the songs have been so positive. I’ve had people tell me how beautiful, “Evelyn” is… I never saw it in that way as the topic is so dark. It can be a bit nerve racking releasing your music to the world as everyone will have their own opinion on it. All you can do is hope people will enjoy it, and that has been the reaction so far.

The title track, “Tomhet” follows the subject of depression and hopelessness. If you don’t mind me asking, is that a personal subject to write about?

Jahmeel: It was at the time I wrote the lyrics. Happy to say I’m on the other side of that. 

Glad to hear you’re on the other side of it. How did the grim, yet haunting Robert Wiles photograph from 1947, titled “The Most Beautiful Suicide,” influence you in writing the song, “Evelyn?”

Jahmeel: I was really struck by the photo when I saw it. It’s a beautiful image even though it’s also a morbid one. There was also the influence of New York itself and the fact that the photo was taken there. It’s such a special city and anytime I can put my thoughts there in a song I find it really inspiring. “The Dead Lines” off our album, The Book of Hours, also touches upon similar subject matter. 

Are these songs just a taste of what’s yet to come in future releases? Do you happen to have any more music ready for the near future, considering Tomhet was only a two song release?

Robbie: We do hope to record new material in the near future. We currently don’t have any tour plans so for us, it makes more sense to release a song or two at a time.

With Tomhet being of a darker subject matter, is there any positives you want people to take away from the EP?

Jahmeel: That you’re not alone. I think most people experience the type of feelings I touch upon here. There’s a light up ahead. 

What’s currently planned for Red Vienna for the remainder of 2020?

Jahmeel: With the current situation in the world, the immediate plan is to work on more material at home. Hopefully we can continue to reach more people with these new songs and videos as well. 

Thanks for the time. With everything going on around the entire world right now, I hope you’re staying safe. Is there anything else you may want to add?

Jahmeel: Thank you for the interview. I’d like to send our thanks to everyone who’s checked out the new songs and shown their support online. We greatly appreciate it. Stay safe out there. 

Robbie: I would like to thank all the fans out there and that we very much appreciate the support. Wishing you all good health and to stay as positive as possible. We have to get through this together.

Red Vienna – Tohmet EP

By Samuel Stevens

Release Date: April 3, 2020

Genre: Post-Rock, Alt. Rock

Label: Locust Hail

The Vancouver based three-piece, Red Vienna, return to the spotlight with a two track EP, Tohmet. The EP is a grim and haunting follow up to their 2015 full length album, The Book of Hours. Red Vienna was formed in 2010 by drummer Robbie Zgaljic (Sparkmarker, Black Halos), bassist/vocalist, Jahmeel Russell (ACTORS), while they’re joined by guitarist, Devin Boquist. Tohmet was produced by Jahmeel’s ACTORS band mate, Jason Corbett at his Vancouver studio, Jacknife Sound.

The album features two alternative rock/post-punk tracks “Evelyn” and title track, “Tomhet.” The pair of tracks pick up right where the band’s previous album, The Book of Hours, left off. The first track on the effort, “Evelyn,” was inspired by the photograph captured by Robert Wiles titled “The Most Beautiful Suicide.” While the image has been iconic for years, it’s quite the morbid and subtle image of a 23 year-old woman, Evelyn McHale, laying on the roof of a United Nations Limousine, taken on May 1, 1947, four minutes after she jumped to her death from the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building. Where as the title track, “Tohmet,” is a song covering the similar topics of depression and hopelessness.

Tohmet beautifully captures various rock sub-genres in collective elements ranging from post-rock, alt. rock, shoegaze, and even in a little bit of punk. Although Tohmet is of a darker subject matter, there is still some positives you can be left with after listening. The album is for fans of bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Interpol, Killing Joke, and Failure, to name a few, and these band’s influence shines through brightly on both of the tracks, “Evelyn” and “Tohmet.”

Check out more from Red Vienna:

Sleepwalking by Cole Shway

By Matt Harrison

Sleepwalking is a four track EP that puts the musical talent and lyrical poeticism of Cole Shway on display. What listeners will find on this EP is a balance of gentle harmonies as he sings with authentic passion. Shway acts as master of the strings as he plays guitar, banjo, and bass in addition to singing on each track.

The soothing fluidity of Shway’s arpeggio guitar picking style makes this EP smooth and calming to hear. The album at times sounds as though it has a brush stroke of a psychedelic nature which further entangles listeners into these poems of self discovery. 

Of the four songs on the EP, the last track, Sleepwalking, stood out more than any other. The track begins with the gentle picking of a banjo. Shway tells listeners his story as best as he can while the gentle melodies flow under his voice.

“I feel great ‘cause I’m not scared anymore”’ Shway sings at the outset of the song. “To take on the world, to let it in.”

The chorus states simply as the gentle instruments crescendo under his voice, “I am sleepwalking.”

If what you seek is a mellow sound that you can turn up and tune out into, Cole Shway’s Sleepwalking is the next album for you. Shway tells his stories through poems that listeners can relate to and connect with through its great subtle moments. These songs will touch a silent part of your heart, leaving you looking for more.

The gentle melodies of this EP will take listeners by the hand and into the mind of Cole Shway. This aptly titled EP listens as though you are wandering through a dreamscape. The songs Shway writes are revealing but mysterious as he shares that which is caught in his heart and soul through his words and instruments.