Civil House’s latest release, “Shivers,” redefines the band’s sound

Civil House is an indie pop band from Montreal made up of three best friends. Dean Dadidis, lead singer/guitarist and Aris Dadidis, the bassist, are brothers both studying at Concordia. At the same time, the drummer, Paul Laventure, is a childhood friend who moved to the U.S to study.

The three formed a band shortly after discovering their passion for music while jamming out every Sunday at church. 

While the group started with a harder sound akin to alternative rock, as seen in their first few songs like “Not Holding on” and “The Moment,” they now have slowly transitioned to a softer pop sound.

Their latest song, “Shivers,” is reflective of the music they’re going to produce. The song was written and produced by Dean, toying with elements of indie pop while adding soft and sparkling guitar notes to highlight the undertones of nostalgia.

“Shivers” is not your typical cliché love song. The song is about seeing someone you love or  used to love. Even though you know you can’t go back, it’s better for you to move on. The unmistakable feeling of love is still there.

While first love and first heartbreak can be brutal, the song emphasizes the feeling of being in love and reminiscing the good and old memories. “Shivers” is about remembering and holding on to that exciting, happy, and good feeling of being in love while forgetting about the hurt that follows the breakup. 

The song is not limited to personal experience. Dean explains his goal to reach people through music. 

“When I write something, it reignites an experience through the song, and when someone listens to that, and relates to it, there’s just an invisible connection,” he explained. 

Though not everyone can relate to the experience of being in love, this song is still worth listening to. “Shivers” stuck to me because I felt that “magical feeling” and experienced many emotions while listening to the song.

Moving forward, the band hopes to make more music together. Despite the distance between them, the band is still united. 

“They’ll always be in my life. We might get together and just produce a whole album when we can,” said Dean.  

You can listen to “Shivers” and more of Civil House’s music on their Spotify page.

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Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Luna Li – Duality

 Luna Li’s solid debut record shows a wider audience that she should certainly be on your radar

After hitting a stride of virality on the internet in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto-born and raised artist Hannah Bussiere Kim, also known as Luna Li, was launched into a much larger audience than she had ever reached before. This stride of internet clout brought Luna Li’s name into similar circles of artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, beabadoobee, and Japanese Breakfast; the latter of which went on to bring Luna Li on tour as support for a number of performances through America in the summer of 2021.  

Though Duality is only her first record, Luna Li’s auditory identity is very self-realized and fleshed out. This is largely in part from her academic background in classical music (specifically string performance), as well as working alongside and being a part of several performing and recording groups in the Toronto music scene for years. Though the moniker Luna Li is new to her, she is more than familiar with her field of work after being so heavily involved in Toronto’s indie rock sphere.

Lush harps, keys, and warm bass lines are found on every track of the record, providing a nice sonic cohesion and groundwork for the album. Kickoff track “Cherry Pit” smashes you in the face with a blast of distorted guitars and boomy drums before disappearing into a bedroom pop soundstage. The track does not waste any time displaying the range of textures you will find across the album’s 41-minute runtime.

Luna Li’s music videos and social media output on the surface exudes a bedroom pop princess-like energy, which is present in her music but in smaller doses than anticipated. Angular guitar solos littered with overdrive and distortion come through a number of tracks on this project, such as “Alone But Not Lonely.” The song kicks off with a sultry Portishead-like string section, contrasted by some sweet vintage casio style keys, capped off with a cute and simple drum machine that sounds like it could be run through the filters and effects section of a Roland SP-404. As she repeats the title of the song about a dozen times in not even two minutes, the song evolves through numerous colours of indie pop and arena rock that comes together in a delightful little package of surprises, without Luna Li biting off more than she can chew. 

“Silver into Rain” is yet again more glorious art pop, with a dreamy feature from beabadoobee who in her own right is a scene mainstay for the bedroom popheads. The cut is a recipe for a hit, much in line with the rest of the record keeping you on your toes, unsure of what might be around the next corner. 

Luna Li’s distinct palette and twist on the current pop sound, tied with her whimsical songwriting, make for an enjoyable full-length that will surely leave a lasting impression on those who listen. With tours to come and more music down the line, Luna Li has the potential to build a loyal following and garner plenty of excitement and fans. 


Score : 7.5/10

Trial track: “Silver Into Rain”


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Revisiting The 1975’s sophomore record

Now’s a better time than ever to listen to I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it.

What now feels like eons ago has only been about five years. The 1975’s 2016 album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, came three years after their self-titled debut, The 1975. The 17-track sophomore release has come to be a springboard for the music that the band would produce in the years following.

The interim period between their debut and their catapult to fame was defined by a social media blackout that fueled rumors of a potential split of the band. Following this, neon signs began appearing in a variety of different locations, each one displaying a song title from the album. Their placement was meant to reflect the meaning of the songs. Signs popped up in a variety of places such as New York, London and Los Angeles. Whether it was outside a grocery store, an emergency room or even in a church, all of the places were reflected and referenced within the respective tracks. With the help of photographer David Drake, photos of these signs came to be promotional icons for the aesthetic of the album.

It has now become tradition for The 1975 to open all of their albums with a version of the eponymous track, “The 1975.” With the second installment of this now-tradition for the band’s albums, I like it when you sleep’s version is more dependent on choir vocals and heavy synth. Nonetheless, its meaning as a track still remained a masqueraded tale of oral sex, “Go down / Soft sound / Step into your skin? / I’d rather jump in your bones / Taking up your mouth, so you breathe through your nose.”

It is just like any band to question the direction that they hope to take musically and lyrically as their careers are being forged. From their first LP to this one, there is a remarkable change in the sound of their music. At first, The 1975 was mostly a guitar-heavy, Brit-pop, emo band. This esoteric style of music is still appreciated by avid fans, but casual listeners only began to flock once their sound did a 180 and morphed into the synth-pop, production-heavy, I like it when you sleep. Even with a great change in style, band members and friends George Daniel, Ross MacDonald, Adam Hann and Matty Healy have stayed the course.

The first half of the tracklist opens with staples, “Love Me,” “A Change Of Heart” and “She’s American.” In an interview with Pitchfork, band frontman Matty Healy summarizes I like it when you sleep as “ego, fear and light.” These three tracks are exemplary for this description by Healy. “Love Me” comes off as a very musically striking track with heady guitar riffs and solos, when lyrically it is a tirade about the way fame has brought temptations into his life and fluffed up his ego following the band’s successes. In its own right, the song is self-referential, with its lyrics about fans loving the band and him trying to “Be the man that gets them up on their feet.”

“A Change Of Heart” follows the story of a falling out between two lovers. While this kind of song is cheap in music, Healy used this particular track to criticize people on the internet with, “And then you took a picture of your salad / And put it on the Internet.” The project’s fifth track, “She’s American” sees a musical output almost reminiscent of ‘80s pop songs with its prominent drumming pattern in the mix and upbeat production effects.

Lyrically, Healy is digressing on his status as a British man living in the United States, as the band lived in California when recording the album. His juxtaposition with the cultural differences between American and British women sees a variety of lyrics highlighting these differences such as “If she says I’ve got to fix my teeth / Then she’s so American.”

I like it when you sleeps shining moment comes in the form of the project’s 10th track, “Somebody Else.” Like every other band, there needs to be a song that catches you and reels you in to check out their other songs, and “Somebody Else” is exactly that. “Somebody Else” is not just a bedroom pop jam for heartbroken teenage girls, it is a staple for the music that The 1975 makes.

Throughout the middle ground of the album, there are a handful of tracks that attempt to engage listeners that are frankly a bit long and experimental in contrast to the album’s more popular songs. While tracks like “Please Be Naked,” “Lostmyhead,” and the title track can appeal to devoted fans, a casual listener may find little to enjoy with minimal or no audible words across these tracks.

While not for everyone, fans of production and mixing could certainly appreciate the mastery possessed by band drummer and often producer, George Daniel. Nonetheless, as Healy mentioned in Spotify’s storyline feature, ambient music is his favourite art form and he likes to “think of ambient music as the engine of The 1975.”

As the album draws to its end the tracklist ends on the melancholic trio of “Paris,” “Nana” and “She Lays Down.” The first of the trio is one of the album’s more critical songs, where Healy describes a foul girl whom he meets who is coked up to the nines (“She’s a pain in the nose”). While the lyrics are a bit sporadic in this song, Healy is again able to point the finger back at himself as opposed to solely criticising someone else. Healy, who once was addicted to heroin and other opiates, does a variety of self reference in this song with lyrics like “As the crowd cheered for an overdose,” and “She said I’ve been romanticizing heroin.”

The penultimate track, “Nana,” is a wearily somber acoustic track that sees Healy retelling the tale of his grandmother’s death and how he is reeling from it. His poignant lyricism builds on earlier themes of religion, while diving headfirst into mourning. “And I know that God doesn’t exist / And all the palaver surrounding it / But I like to think you hear me sometimes.”

As the lengthy I like it when you sleep draws to a close, Healy caps off the album with a fingerpicking acoustic guitar track, “She Lays Down.” While this track is bereft of any heavy production or woozy synth notes, the lyrics make up for the song’s overall simplicity by being a very personal memo referencing Healy’s relationship to his mother and her postnatal depression “—And in the end, she chose cocaine / But it couldn’t fix her brain.”

In hindsight, everything always looks clear. I like it when you sleep was a standalone masterpiece at the time, but looking back on it to this day, there is a linear progression throughout The 1975’s albums. As Healy mentioned on Spotify’s album storyline feature, this album was the springboard upon which he dove into the band’s next two albums, saying, “I often see ILIWYS as the creche for the ideas that came next.”

All of this to say, I like it when you sleep will likely be to The 1975 what The Dark Side of the Moon is to Pink Floyd, an album that will be remembered for decades down the road. Though vastly different, both of these albums possess similar qualities that see them lyrically covering a variety of topics, backed by memorable musical displays. With this album being their breakout, the band later ensued with what is arguably their opus, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. With the sound having gone through an evolution, there is a traceable pattern of growth in sound, lyricism and delivery with the progression of music from The 1975.


Underrated albums of 2020, Vol. 2: Kacy Hill – Is It Selfish If We Talk About Me Again

Kacy Hill’s GOOD Music tenure was uneventful. Now as an independent artist, her music can shine without lofty expectations

When Kacy Hill first emerged into the mainstream as a feature on Travis Scott’s “90210,” it was apparent that she was a star in the making. Prior to that, Kanye West’s infamous GOOD Music label had signed her to a deal after West heard her promotional single “Experience” on his The Yeezus Tour in 2013. Clearly, he saw her potential before anyone else did — a very Kanye thing to do.

Though Hill has a soothing voice and a good ear for beats, she was, for the most part, mishandled by GOOD Music. All the music she released under West’s imprint had pretty much gone by the wayside. With a disturbing lack of label-backing and nearly zero marketing for her debut album Like a Woman, it seemed like her career came to a jarring halt nearly as soon as it began.

GOOD Music has received its fair share of criticism for squandering young talent —  like Desiigner, Cyhi The Prynce, Valee — so it’s understandable that Hill decided to cut ties with West’s once-legendary label. With her departure from the imprint came a more stable release cycle for her music. Despite not having dropped a full album in 2018 or 2019, she released a handful of loosies that would keep whatever fans were still tapped in after her split.

Then came her sophomore album Is It Selfish If We Talk About Me Again. Released entirely independently, Hill’s newest album is not only a return to form but an indication that she’s confident in her own lane of indie-pop.

Kacy Hill made her album without it sounding like a glaring attempt at re-emerging into the mainstream. Her songwriting on tracks like “Much Higher” and “Everybody’s Mother” proves that she can not only sing the hell out of a dreamy pop ballad but write one with extreme care and tenderness.

The sole feature comes from Francis and the Lights on “I Believe in You” and the pairing is as natural as you’d expect. The group is also a GOOD Music signee but their chemistry together is simply an example of what could’ve been if the label had treated her music with the same level of importance that they treat Big Sean and Teyana Taylor.

Is It Selfish If We Talk About Me Again is the type of album you’d put on a Sunday evening in August. It sounds like the summer ending, despite an early May release. It’s chill, relaxing, and thoughtful enough to keep your attention both by the gentle instrumentals and by Hill’s introspective and reflective songwriting.

It’s also a testament to releasing music independently. GOOD Music clearly had a winner on their label and didn’t know what to do with her. It’s a shame that this is such a common occurrence in 2020, as independent artists have proven time and again that they know best when it comes to their own music. Is it surprising? Not really. At least Kacy Hill figured it out.


The epitome of friendship

Rex Orange County sings about love and care

There was a soft, cloudy set-up on stage as if you and all your friends were at a dreamy sleepover. The crowd was very calm and very young, in the far reaches of the venue parents waddled, waiting for those that they had to accompany.

There was no opening act, it was straight to the point. He entered the stage wearing baggy jeans and a baggy sweater, and said, “Hello, my name is Rex, and I’m going to start with some songs from Pony.”

Rex Orange County, or Alexander O’Connor, is from a small town near Surrey, England. According to an article in The Guardian, “[the name] stems from a nickname an old teacher gave him, “the OC,” after his initials.” The 21-year-old artist has released three studio albums since his debut in 2016. Pony is the most recent, launching his career into mainstream pop.

The concert kicked off with “10/10,” a song about acknowledging one’s potential for growth— that they’re not quite the best version of themselves yet but are becoming better. The majority of Rex’s songs call out to notions of love, sorrow, acceptance, and joy—the roles that exist within platonic and romantic relationships.

Partway through his set, as tears rolled down my face, Rex performed his cover of Alicia Keys’ “No One.” At that moment, it became clear that it was a song integral to the concert, and perhaps even to Rex’s journey as a musician. 

The tunes that followed were from his previous albums, and had a stronger pop-feel to them. In the 2017 single, “Best Friend,” Rex recounts an all-too-familiar tale of accepting that the person you like is just your friend and having to grow over time to be okay with that because they are that important to you—that having them in your life in this way is better than not at all.

While trumpet and saxophone players took to the stage, Rex broke out into my personal favourite, “Sunflower.” “Sunflower” makes me feel okay; that I am loved and held by those I care about. That no matter how bad and shitty I feel, there will always be people who “don’t wanna see you cry” and “don’t want you to feel that emptiness.”

The song is about true love, and maybe it’s not the love you were expecting; but it’s love nonetheless. And regardless, you’ve just got to “keep [your] mind at bay” and “diggy dig down down, du du du duuu.”

It goes without saying that Rex Orange County is the most tender in the world of indie-pop. With relatable lyrics, a friendly voice, and catchy tunes, it’s hard to stay still.

Graphic by @sundaeghost.


A beginner’s guide to C86 music

The short-lived style blended sticky pop melodies with tender poetics

Lacking the cosmopolitan cool of the mod revivalists, the existential ennui of the post-punkers, and the glitter of the new romantics, the rise of the C86 movement in the 80s was sudden and bizarre. In a way, it seemed fitting considering the artists at the style’s core.

C86 was first coined by the British magazine NME in their eponymous 1986 cassette compilation, created with the purpose of unearthing new groups from Britain’s burgeoning indie pop scene. The term served not only as a descriptor for the jangly, overblown pop sound of the groups, but of the shambling and emotionally fickle mentality that existed behind them.

In essence, C86 was more of a movement than a singular musical style. Very much a regional affair, the groups hailed from smaller middle-class communities rather than the metropoles usually associated with the glitter of rock-and-roll stardom. The groups themselves mirrored their peculiar musical upbringing, as the movement was primarily perpetuated by tenderly lovesick middle-class kids with nothing else to do but pour their feelings into song.

Former NME writer Andrew Collins summed it up perfectly when he referred to the movement as “the most indie thing to have ever existed.” Characterized by its healthy use of jangly guitars and superfluous pop melodies draped in a thick blanket of sentimentality, the honesty which sifted through this formula is what gave C86 its charm. This allowed it to withstand time and remain ever-present within the scope of British indie-pop.

The Pastels, a Glaswegian group led by Stephen McRobbie, is the group that best personified the sentiment of C86. As delicate and soft-spoken as they were abrasive and disjointed, this duality was first presented in their 1982 debut seven inch vinyl record Songs for Children. The record would influence hordes of young Brits to pick up instruments and capture the same emotion. While far from their best work, the cultural impact of this seven inch proved immense, becoming somewhat of a cornerstone for the C86 movement to come.

This trend would live on through groups such as the Edinburgh-based band Shop Assistants, whose nervy, black leather pop shined brightest in their charmingly bitter ode to an ex-lover, “I Don’t Want to be Friends With You,” and The Flatmates, a Bristol-based group who broke out at the same time with their dreamy pop anthem, “I Could be in Heaven.” Largely rooted in punk, the bubblegum coated melodies, lo-fi scuzz and 60s girl group influence allowed these groups to deviate from the norm. This approach created an original and contemporary sound which reflected not just the music scene, but the era itself.

Expanding even further into sonic territories were Paisley-natives Close Lobsters. Their debut single, “Going to Heaven to See if it Rains,” released by Fire Records, incorporated a tinge of psychedelia. This influence proved rare in the context of C86, as it drew more from the subtle ethereal tones of contemporary British groups than the acid-soaked psychedelia of the 60s. Still, this dash of dream pop injected the Scottish quintet with a fuller sound and made them one of the most endearing and influential groups of the movement. Their 1987 debut album, Foxheads Stalk This Land, a record chock-full of twee anthems, drew from The Byrds as much as they did from Cocteau Twins. This balance of differing sounds perfectly encapsulates C86, as it stands as one of the few classic LP’s from the movement.

Despite its naive facade, to dismiss the C86 style would be a crime. Many groups, such as the groovily soft-spoken Mighty Mighty and the aforementioned Close Lobsters, integrated outspoken political messages in their music. However, the group that best translated its politics to music was undoubtedly the London-based McCarthy. Sporting an especially shambolic sound, the group incorporated strong left-wing politics in their music. This political slant would consume nearly every one of the McCarthy’s singles released in the five years they were together and cemented the band’s legacy in C86 lore.

The vast influence C86 had on future generations is hard to miss. The cataclysmic rise of Britpop acted as a follow-up of sorts to the movement. This was especially perpetuated by less polished groups like Elastica and Supergrass. The past few years have seen a rise in groups channeling the aesthetics of the heartbroken mid-80s pop kids. Bands such as Alvvays, Girlpool and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart play a crucial role in preserving the C86 style. These bands still incorporate contemporary influences, however, to craft their own sound. And yet, this is added proof that the spirit of C86 still lives on.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

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