Concert Reviews Music

Welcoming spring with Loving and Fog Lake

Band Loving and artist Fog Lake marked the start of spring in Montreal during their 2024 tour.

On March 23, timed with the advent of spring, Canadian band Loving made a stop in Montreal for a performance at Foufounes Électriques, supported by artist Fog Lake, during Loving’s 2024 Spring tour.

Aaron Powell, known under his artist name Fog Lake, is a Canadian singer-songwriter from Glovertown, Newfoundland. He opened the night with a wave of nostalgia. Opening his set with “Bandaid Heart” from his album Midnight Society, he then transitioned into “Dinosaur” from his earlier work, Captain.

Performing solo with only his voice and guitar, Fog Lake opted for the stripped down sound of down-strummed guitar chords played with his thumb. To draw in the crowd, the artist performed a cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” eliciting the crowd to sing along. Aaron also took song requests from the crowd, and played certain suggestions from his own discography like “Catacomb” and “Push,” creating a unique concert experience for the fans.

Transitioning from the intimate solo opening of Fog Lake, main act Loving took the stage, making a long-awaited return to Montreal since their last performance at La Sala Rossa in April 2022. 

The band is a trio from Victoria, British Columbia, consisting of brothers Jesse and Lucas Henderson with David Parry. It has since evolved into its core duo, featuring Jesse as the main vocalist and songwriter, and David as a multi-instrumentalist and producer. 

Exuding their meditative and indie aura, Jesse and David performed with four additional musicians. The band’s stage arrangement deviated from the conventional placement with the lead vocalist at the centre stage, setting Jesse, the vocalist and main pianist, on the far right.

The band played several songs, seamlessly flowing from one to the next, before addressing the eager crowd for the first time. They continued with select tracks from their latest album Any Light, released on Feb. 9, including standouts such as “Medicine.” The rest of the set went by rather fast—the band played songs back-to-back, including “Sweet Fruit” and “If I Am Only My Thoughts,” without pausing to check-in on the crowd. 

Although Loving consists of talented and cohesive musicians, there was a noticeable lack of connection with the crowd. Their show lacked the uniqueness that the opener, Fog Lake, effortlessly provided at the start. The disconnect between the spectators and performers left the audience feeling somewhat detached, despite the band’s impressive musical delivery.  

Albeit the main act’s slightly disappointing performance, both Loving and Fog Lake graced the stage in Montreal with exceptional music, setting the tone for an exciting spring season of upcoming concerts.

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Mac Demarco – Five Easy Hot Dogs

Five Easy Hot Dogs is a great idea on paper, but in reality, it isn’t quite living up to Mac Demarco’s talent

Mac Demarco has been a household name in the indie scene over the past 10 years. Projects such as 2 and Salad Days helped propel the Canadian singer-songwriter to stardom. Even after six studio albums and more than a decade of being active, he still finds ways to experiment new things with his music. This time, it has taken the form of an instrumental record with his latest release Five Easy Hot Dogs. 

Wait, so guitarist extraordinaire Mac Demarco has released an instrumental record, it must be great, right? Well, not so much. While Five Easy Hot Dogs has its moments, it suffers from safe production choices and sound repetition, which makes the album fall flat on its feet.

Even though it’s Demarco’s first album since 2019, this new record feels much more like a side project rather than a full-fledged studio album. Every song on the record has been recorded during a road trip and each song represents the city it was written in, which explains why there are three songs with “Vancouver” in the title. This makes it easier to follow Demarco’s road trip throughout the album, which starts from Gualala and ends in Rockaway.

For someone who is known for his impressive guitar loops and infectious beats, Five Easy Hot Dogs feels rather uninspired compared to previous works. Yes, the songs are sweet and they are very easy to get into, but as I was listening to the album over and over again, the songs became more and more forgettable, often blending together. This record sounds like if Apple hired Mac Demarco to compose new adventurous alarms — it’s soothing to wake up to, but would you really listen to an album filled with alarms? I don’t think so.

I can definitely see this album getting played and working in some instances. For instance, while studying or relaxing, songs like “Gualala,” “Chicago,” or even “Victoria” would all work well. Aside from these three songs, most of the songs on the album sound like a warped attempt at a lofi study beats project. 

Despite Five Easy Hot Dogs having some moments of brightness, they’re not enough to save the album. This could have truly been something great, but it ended up being little more than wasted potential that in retrospect, will serve as one of Demarco’s most forgettable projects.

Trial track: “Gualala”

Score: 4/10

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Blink Twice by Arkells

It was to great anticipation that Arkells released their album Blink Twice on Sept. 23. Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, the Indie band first released their Blink Once LP last year. On their blog, they said that the album was “about resilience. It’s about grieving with loss and fall outs and finding your way back.” 

The last track of Blink Once, “Last Night I Heard ‘Em Sing (Outro)” leads right into Blink Twice’s first track “Reckoning” where the opening lyric goes “Last night, I heard ‘em laughing.” 

Blink Twice uses a lot of synth, coming off as more poppy than indie, though they don’t lose their soul in the mix, which is something that a lot of indie bands lack once they get into a comfortable spot (I’m looking at you Maroon 5 and Coldplay). 

There were a lot of songs on this album that I appreciated on an emotional level. 

The first one has to be “Past Life” because it was a breath of fresh air from the previous track “Reckoning.” Arkells frontman Max Kerman and Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett sing this song together.

It feels like an ’80s driving song that mentions Bob Dylan’s son Jakob Dylan from The Wallflowers. My favourite part is when Willett sings “I was born an old soul, / I feel like Bob Dylan’s son, / Always in the shadows.” At first I thought it was a diss to the junior Dylan but in fact Willett has expressed his appreciation for Bob Dylan and his son.

Another track that was on repeat for me was “Miracle” for its grittiness that stood out from the other tracks. Honestly, it felt like the lovechild of Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) and Paul McCartney, which was an even bigger incentive for me to keep repeating it. 

My least favorite song is “Dance With You” with Cœur de pirate and Aly & AJ because it sounded way too processed for the band, even if it had an emphasized groovy funk line. Too poppy for my taste, sorry Arkells.

Besides the aforementioned features, there are many other artists in this LP: pop duo Tegan and Sara, Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers, Joel Plaskett, Jake Clemons and Lights.   

Do I like the new Arkells? Yes, with an asterisk. While they kept to their roots, there were some songs that could have been less processed, pop oriented and quantized. Could be better. 

Trial Track: Past Life (Feat. Cold War Kids)

Rating: 6.5/10       

Interview Music

Quebecois singer-songwriter Elliot Maginot is taking the province by storm with his indie music  

The Concordian sat down for an interview with the musician between a sound check and his biggest headliner at Outremont Theatre

Elliot Maginot, whose real name is Gabriel Hélie-Harvey, has been slowly winning over the hearts of la belle province since his first EP was posted to MySpace in 2013.

He calls himself a “contemplative soul” and is always looking to explore new sounds and avenues with each album release. His songs combine different musical instruments, sometimes including a saxophone, a cello, two guitars, a keyboard, a drum-set and backing vocals all playing together.

After discovering the guitar early on, Maginot dipped his feet in the musical universe as a teenager and doesn’t plan on leaving it.

Although he writes and sings his songs entirely in English, the artist is a dedicated Québécois francophone through and through.

His album Young/Old/Everything.In.Between which released in 2014 propelled him into the spotlight. He quickly joined the lineups for important cultural scenes, like the Montreal Jazz Fest or the Festival d’été de Québec.

Staying in his comfort zone

Although he was not raised religious, Maginot often writes songs with Christian influences. “Holy Father,” “Holy Water” and “Dead Church” are only a few of the songs where the singer uses spiritual vocabulary.

“I guess I am fascinated by the symbolism because it’s so unknown to me. It’s cathartic to sing ‘hallelujah.’ When I sing ‘holy’ I just want to raise my hands,” he said.

One tradition he and his band members share is to dress up in Christmas sweaters in mid-July — right when the heatwave peaks — and write a yearly holiday song.

“I do like Christmas, but it started more as a running gag and now it’s become tradition. It’s a way to return to the studio mid-album. It’s a song we’ll never play live so it’s less pressure and the recording sessions are lighter.”

Future possibilities

Having two previous Gala GAMIQ nominations under his belt, Maginot certainly hopes to win an award in the near future “just to have it at home so [he] can use the statue as a paperweight.” He is currently nominated for two categories in the upcoming Gala de l’ADISQ.

He’s currently working on his next album, in which he hopes to include more collaborations with other artists. As he put it, “My creative bubble is very closed and airtight. I feel intimidated. I’d like to sit down and write something with another artist.”

With every new project comes the goal of exploring new sounds and ideas. Keeping a consistent aesthetic without repeating himself is a challenge Maginot takes on with each new creation.

The singer is currently touring across Quebec promoting his latest album, Easy Morning. On Sept. 16 he passed by Montreal, playing in the Outremont Theatre. It was his biggest show as a headliner.

With a full house, the show offered an intimate performance, with Elliot and eight accompanying musicians delivering a touching rendition of his work. 

Picture by Auréa Gamboa

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Beach House — Once Twice Melody

18 years and eight studio albums into their career, indie darlings Beach House deliver yet another bulletproof batch of shoegaze inflected, dream pop galore 

Hailing from Baltimore, Beach House has been releasing some of the most consistent music in the “indie” sphere for nearly two decades at this point in their career. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have remained the only two members through the bands entire career, and they are back to flex their dream pop muscles with another set of blissful soundscapes. Once Twice Melody is the first double album the band has released. 

The duo has consistently shown listeners that they are masters of sequencing and editing themselves, with each studio album being very “all killer no filler,” and barely ever breaking a runtime over 60 minutes until Once Twice Melody. Released as four chapters across nearly four months, the album not only works as a double LP but also as a quartet of EPs that hold their own as standalone projects. Bookended by the most cinematic cuts in the tracklist, each EP feels like a different window to gaze out from within the Beach House. With a longer runtime, the band has created a project that fully displays the sum of all their parts. 

The sound palette Scally and Legrand have established until this point is here in full force. Emotive synths and organ chords, sunburnt guitars and vintage LinnDrum-esque drum machines are present here as to be expected with a Beach House release, but with the new emphasis on strings, many of these songs reach theatrical highs that Scally and Legrand have not yet achieved until now. From the soaring shoegaze-y opener and title track “Once Twice Melody,” we are immediately transported into the familiar sounds of a Beach House project, but with a haziness that we have not heard since albums like Devotion and Teen Dream. By self-producing for the first time, this project is a direct translation of the duo’s ideas, with nothing between them and the listener. 

The high-gloss big budget production that defined their last record 7 is now gone, and we are given a much less sterile sounding album. Once Twice Melody is padded out by beautifully warm tape echo and a very round low end, coming across soft on the ears, even in climactic moments. Evident on highlights like “Pink Funeral,” their ear for melody is as present as ever, with a lush arrangement of staccato strings over swelling harps building higher and higher before a soaring guitar line breaks the song down, over the sweet hi-hats and soft snares of programmed drums. 

Kicking off the second half of the record, “Sunset” is the true centerpiece of the album, and shows Legrand’s ear for harmony and vocal layers, with repeating phrases bouncing from channel to channel, being driven by an acoustic guitar, an instrument that they lean into much more on this record than they ever have before. The real beauty in this track lies in the screeching metallic synthesizers, drenched in reverb that top off the entire track; sounding like trains coming and going from a terminal straight out of a dream. 

Beach House have become a behemoth of the indie world, and continue to further solidify their cream of the crop status in the current landscape of music. Once Twice Melody is a full display of everything they have accomplished until now, on an unmatchable scale with some of the highest quality songwriting they have composed to this day. 


Score: 9/10

Trial track: “Once Twice Melody”


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Underrated albums of 2021, Vol. 1: Crumb – Ice Melt

Crumb’s 2021 release Ice Melt was widely slept on

With 2021 being such a great year for music that saw some of the most prolific artists in recent years release albums, it is expected that smaller bands and artists received less exposure than the big ones. This is the case for Crumb, an indie dream pop outfit from Brooklyn, New York who released their second full length LP Ice Melt in late April of last year. While this album might have gone under the radar, it doesn’t mean it isn’t just as good as the most popular records of 2021. 

Imagine being outside on a rainy day, wearing a yellow raincoat and you’re deliberately stepping into water puddles in your rubber rain boots. The rain stops and you start seeing the sun coming through the gray clouds. Suddenly, a bright rainbow appears: this is how Crumb’s music feels. The lo-fi approach of the band makes for the sweetest and most harmless dream pop music. Their intentions are very clear and they are nailing the sound they are trying to achieve. 

Ice Melt sees Crumb using the same simple yet effective formula that they used on their last record. Although a bit inconsistent and unfocused at times, their 2019 debut album Jinx had a lot going for it, showcasing all of Crumb’s potential to succeed in the indie scene. Their new album is a realization of all the potential their debut had to offer, with some much better songwriting and more infectious melodies.

There is something about Lila Ramani’s voice that meshes so well with this style of music. Her gentle and fragile high pitched voice is extremely pleasing to the ear and is in perfect harmony with the moody guitars, soft drum patterns, and overall mellow production of the album. Ice Melt is a very fun and accessible album, and is such a light listen that it can serve as background music, even when studying or trying to go to sleep. This record is the equivalent of getting tucked in with a warm hug before heading into dreamland.

Ice Melt is a truly beautiful experience as the band put together a tracklist that is filled with highlights and not a single skip. It might have slipped through 2021’s cracks, but it can easily go toe to toe with some of the best indie records of last year.


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Anna Justen takes a step in the right direction with Saintclaire

Meet Anna Justen, a third-year Concordia student fresh off the release of her first EP, Saintclaire.

Anna Justen moved to Montreal two weeks before turning 19 to study journalism at Concordia. Having been born and raised in Seattle, Washington, it was quite the shock for her to leave the family’s nest. She’s since embraced this change and is making waves in the Indie/Folk genre with her new EP Saintclaire already released. Even while having lived her entire life at the same house, she was ready to face her new reality, living in Montreal.

“It’s awesome being in a big city with other people my age and Seattle is not a lot like that and I really loved it,” said Justen.

The musician’s parents aren’t musicians, but they did a great job of integrating her into the music world, by listening to a ton of music and forcing her to pick up an instrument at a young age. Even with a love for singing, she began her musical career by playing trombone for four years in elementary school, (which she admits she hated), then went on to learn instruments she found more interesting.

“I eventually decided that I didn’t want to play trombone anymore, so I taught myself piano, and then I was like, I can’t transport this anywhere, I can’t play it anywhere so I taught myself guitar instead like a couple months later,” she said.

Coming from the United States, Justen had always been busy with sports throughout her life — and since enrolling in university, she has not been a part of any sports teams. This afforded her more time to work on her craft, and she capitalized on this opportunity. “Since coming to university I have written so many, so many songs and I can’t stop. It’s like all my energy goes here,” she said.

When it comes to her sound, Justen blends elements of indie and folk, with a slight touch of pop music. Certain names in the music industry come to mind when listening to her work. She shares similar qualities with artists such as Phoebe Bridgers or even the band Big Thief. In recent years, her biggest musical influences have been largely from bands from the indie scene such as Slow Pulp and Soccer Mommy, who have really helped the young artist refine a sound and style that is true to her. Some of her other influences include the 2000s underground scene and the 90s Seattle grunge scene.

Justen had only released two songs when she decided to work on dropping an EP. She herself played most of the instruments on the project, and teamed up with producer Ash Always to work on it. After months of hard work, Saintclaire is finally out. It is an intimate experience that presents a subtle vibe instead of an in-your-face one, but is still hard-hitting and appealing like any high quality project. Justen’s vocal quality, where she will fade some words in order to prioritize how they sound, results in hauntingly beautiful vocals that deliver a profound sense of melancholy. From the pop-influenced and lighthearted “Centralia,” to the emotionally charged “Buckman,” the EP’s five tracks all bring something different to the table.

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“Once I released my first single, I knew I wanted to do three songs and then release an EP and I knew generally what songs were gonna be on it. When I wrote each song, I knew immediately that it was meant to be on the EP like each song individually came together for me in that way. I have a lot of different versions like the order of the songs and I had different ideas for each of them,” she said.

The track “Buckman,” is a highlight in Justen’s catalogue (and also happens to be her favorite track off the EP) because of the message behind it. This song talks about childhood memories, and is dedicated to her late cousin, David, and her late aunt, Jane. In the middle of the track, we can hear a vocal message of Jane speaking at her son David’s funeral before passing away. This track is super meaningful and a strong feeling of nostalgia is present all over the song. The meaning behind it is embellished with gentle acoustic guitar, added rain sounds and gorgeous vocals which all build on the song’s beauty.

“My aunt Jane is a twin and her twin Julie is alive and listened to the song and cried and told me she loved it. My whole family is listening to that sobbing,” she said.

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Anna has the talent to become a known name in the Montreal scene –– all she needs is more visibility. Her debut effort proves that she has the capacity to break out someday.


Photo by Gabe Sands


Qi Yama finds beauty in all aspects of the process

The elusive Montreal artist sat down with us to discuss his impressive debut LP, and the road that led to it

Normally when one sees a rose wilting, they see nothing more than a once-beautiful flower decaying, watching its petals drop as it slowly loses life. In Qi Yama’s eyes, there’s much more beauty to it than meets the eye.

“People might look at it like, ‘that’s sad,’ but is it sad? Or is it beautiful?” he questions, with a hint of optimism. “The process is beautiful whatever the process is.”

That’s what wilting represents for Qi Yama, and why he’s chosen wilt as the title of his recently released and excellent debut.

It’s about recognizing the beauty in all aspects of the process, no matter what they are, and that realization has been an integral part of creating his debut project. It’s also what he’s proudest of — not the release, the reception or the impressive streaming numbers — but the journey that it took to get there.

“To be honest, I’m just proud that I’ve been on this journey and that I stuck to it, that I’m at a place where I feel like I’m finally figuring things out, not on a success scale, but on a personal scale, a human scale.” He adds humbly, “I’m finally figuring myself out and understanding myself. That’s my greatest accomplishment.”

It’s an admirable and understandable feeling for him to have, as this was a long journey. The mysterious Montreal musician has spent years cultivating a completely unique sound that blends lo-fi hip hop, atmospheric R&B and hazy bedroom pop — a craft he’s been perfecting for years leading up to wilt’s release.

In fact, a handful of tracks on the project were released for a short window of time several years ago, before being quickly removed from streaming services. This wasn’t due to the songs being unfinished — though they’ve since been touched up — it was a personal decision for Qi Yama.

“I needed to grow up a little bit, mature a little bit, see what this industry shit was all about,” he reflects, adding that it “needed to happen for me to actually be ready to truly put this out in the world and be like, okay, this could stay out there forever.”

It’s during this time that the ideas for this album were put on a grander scale, becoming a multi-dimensional multi-media experience. The album’s rollout now includes a mysterious world built around the artist’s mystique and music, through Instagram posts and music videos, all being brought together to tell one cohesive story.

“Cohesiveness is the pinnacle of storytelling to me, you know?” Qi Yama explains. “If you’re gonna tell a really good story, it has to fit. Everything has to fit perfectly.”

He places a lot of importance on storytelling, both in his life and in music. In his eyes, it’s an integral tool used to bring people together.

“Storytelling is beautiful to me,” he states passionately. “It’s what connects people. It’s the way in which we learn about ourselves and others, the way in which we reflect our histories and our experiences.”

It’s in this process of writing and creating music, and sharing these experiences, that Qi Yama finds true peace. It’s a process that he loves, that he knows if he puts his all into, he gets it back.

“It’s almost like a journal — and not in the way of, I’m writing down my life here, here is my story,” he explains. “It’s like as I’m living life, I’m taking these experiences and ideas and stories, and I’m putting them into this album and it’s kind of like, as I work on the album, it works back on me.”

He hopes this is something that translates in his music, something that can be heard by the listener. Not only that, but he hopes the music can help them in their search for what they’re looking for as well.

“I just hope the listeners find whatever it is they’re looking for,” he says, adding that he hopes “it means something to them, really. I hope when they hear the stories, it reminds them of something in their life, because that’s what I think music is all about.”

His approach to music is to make it as personal to the listener as it is to him. His enigmatic nature and cryptic songwriting lends itself to listeners creating their own unique interpretations of his message.

“I’ve met people who, the music hit them so deeply, and they really wanted the story to be the way they interpreted it and I’m like, it is the way you interpret it.”

Interpretation is a concept that rests at the core of Qi Yama’s art. It’s his perception of the process, and the beauty in all of its aspects. It’s his emphasis on having an elusive presence and leaving his music open for listeners to interpret his art how they desire and create their own personal connections to it. It’s his own interpretations of success in the industry, and what it means to make it big.

“Being a famous artist could be a huge part of my journey, but life is definitely way bigger than that to me,” he explains. “Especially if I’m happy with my art. If I’m okay with my art and I have peers I respect who are okay with my art, then I’ll be completely okay with wherever I go.”


A conversation with Montreal’s genre-bending Ivytide

We spoke to Ivytide about their past, present and what’s to come

Ivytide is one of those bands you can’t put into a box. The Montreal-based group is made up of Concordia alumni Nathan Gagné, Kyle Ruggiero and McGill’s Jamie Snytte – none of whom ever had any formal music training or education.

Having learned everything via YouTube and lessons as children, Ivytide debuted in 2018 with their self-produced EP, Bloom. As far as debuts go, their sound was something bordering on experimental, which was telling of their promise as artists. With its languid psychedelic sound and crisp production play, Bloom has become a springboard for Ivytide’s sound.

In the years since, Ivytide has stayed steadfast in their release of singles, and even signed with Higher Reign Music Group, a distributed label of Sony Music.

Last year came the band’s sophomore project, Pardon Our Distance. Instead of succumbing to the sophomore slump that some musicians may encounter, the project leans more into the blending of genres. Compared to the woozy sound of Bloom, Pardon Our Distance sees an Ivytide that blends the genres of lo-fi, indie, R&B and bedroom pop, into something that has become a sound that is uniquely theirs.

Most recently, Ivytide made their debut to the new year with the single “talk about it.”

TC: Who are some people you admire in the Montreal music scene?

Nathan: Montreal is full of super talented artists, like Edwin Raphael, wordsbyjuni, Oscar Louis, Common Holly and Fleece. We’re lucky to work with some of them, and be inspired by their art, as well as learn from them about how to navigate the music industry.

TC: Now that you’re coming up on three years together, is it safe to say you have a vision for the future of Ivytide?

Jamie: We’re just trying to keep making the music we love, and we’ll see where that takes us.

TC: What was your favourite song to work on for the last EP?

Jamie: “Undone” was probably the most fun song to work on from the last EP because we got to make lots of cool weird noises. Nathan rubbed nails together in his palms next to a microphone to get a cool shaker sound, and it came together really quickly and naturally.

Nathan: “Blurr” was probably the least fun song to work on, because Jamie made the original beat in a tuning that was impossible to replicate. Adding other instruments to the arrangement quickly became implausible, and we had to be creative to get things going (tuning different bass strings to individually “off” pitches).

TC: As a band, what’s that feeling like when you’re finally signed?

Nathan: It was an exciting moment for us, and it gave us the motivation to work even harder.

TC: In a band of multiple members there can be a lot of creative clashing, is there potential for collaborations between Ivytide and other artists or bands?

Jamie: I think if everyone’s ideas lined up perfectly, then there’d be no creativity. So usually different opinions and ideas are conducive to creating the best work. Sometimes ideas can clash, but as long as we try things and explain our reasoning then usually we can come to an agreement pretty quickly. In terms of collaborations, we’re looking forward to working with a bunch of our Montreal homies.

TC: Can you describe the conception of a song from thought to finished product?

Nathan: Usually starts off with a demo that either I or Jamie work on and send out. And then we get together and the creative process really starts. This means there’s usually a guitar (or keyboard or sample) plus a vocal melody, or just a beat, and then we add more elements and adjust melodies, rhythms and percussion elements to make it fit. Sometimes the song will emerge relatively quickly, and sometimes it takes many days, weeks, and sometimes months of tweaking the tempo, key, and arrangement until it’s just right.

TC: Can you tell me anything about what’s next for you guys?

Jamie: We’re working on a string of new singles for 2021. We’re really excited about these songs, we really think they’re our best work yet. We think people who dig our music will dig these tunes, and hopefully we’ll hand out more shovels so more people can keep digging the songs.



Images courtesy of Ivytide


Julianna Joy wants to comfort people with her music

The 19-year-old Chicago-born artist discusses her music and feeling like a veteran in the music industry.

If you’re good at what you do, age is just a number. Such is the case with 19-year-old Julianna Joy; the Chicago artist is now making her name known. “I’ve been in this industry since I was 15, but I feel like I’ve been in it forever,” she said.

My first impression of Julianna Joy came from one of those nights where you skip everything on Spotify, and through countless new artists I landed on Joy’s track, “Poseidon.” Something about the poignant lyricism with a voice like Alessia Cara’s screamed at me even though the song is so beautifully gentle.

In a bid to commit to a life of making music, Joy made the move to Los Angeles the same week her debut EP, Cherries, was released.

“I followed the advice that I got my freshman year, which was: ‘If you want to do music, you gotta be in L.A. It thrives there.” Now nearly a year removed from the departure, Joy is not in school — she is now working full-time to support her musical aspirations.

While the move has been one of those bets on yourself, her humility remains unmoved.

“I would say my goals have stayed the same, being in L.A. just made them more achievable.”

Having released Cherries on Valentine’s Day 2020, she currently sits at nearly 70,000 Spotify monthly listeners in addition to having well over a million total plays in just under a year of debuting on the platform.

“I’m hoping to be an important person in the music industry. I want to be touring and recording tons of music,” said Joy.

Joy’s instrumental ability spans across a variety of skill sets, including guitar, piano, ukulele, bass and even a bit of banjo. Paired with a desire to keep creating, Joy has been able to bring about something that is gaining traction online. While I have found similarities between Joy and Alessia Cara, she describes her sound as if “Lorde had a lovechild with Taylor Swift, and that child got really really really into classic rock and ‘80s pop music when they turned 16.” She furthers her point on an appreciation for older music with her dream collaborations, dead or alive. “My dream collaboration alive would have to be Jack Antonoff. Dead would have been Freddie Mercury.”

Muses come and go, but Joy says “Most of the time I write music for myself or for the person I’m trying to talk to, and for the people who find comfort in my weirdly personal stories that I choose to publicize.” Seemingly all of Joy’s tracks have a self contained narrative, but the must-listen from the young artist comes in the shape of “Cherry Bomb,” an upbeat concoction of guitar and strong percussion that could form the soundtrack in a coming of age movie.

Most recently in the blossoming career that is Julianna Joy’s, came the Spotify release of her song “Seventeen.” Its appearance on Spotify comes as a rerelease of sorts, seeing as the song previously existed solely as a YouTube video. With the song’s lyrical themes of young love, it becomes easy to remember her youth. “My age never comes into question when talking about my career. It doesn’t go unnoticed, don’t get me wrong,” she said. But when it comes to business, Joy is respected in her artists’ seat.

 “It never changed the dynamic from what I can tell,” she added. Though expectations are sometimes high for promising young stars, Joy is not feeling any rush or schedule to drop an album anytime soon.

“Maybe the next three years or so.”

Even with things still being cloudy and shrouded in terms of when live performances can be held again safely, things still look good for Julianna Joy. For the fan of indie music and soothing vocals, Julianna Joy is not someone to overlook.


Penelope Isles are the psych rock revivalists 2020 needs

We spoke with Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolter to discuss the band’s latest work and surviving lockdown in the U.K.

Penelope Isles have put in some serious work. The U.K.-based band is spearheaded by sibling duo Jack and Lily Wolter. Originally from the Isle of Man, Jack and Lily initially had separate solo projects, Cubzoa and Kookie Lou, that have released EPs respectively. Lily then moved to Brighton where she met Becky Redford and Jack Sowton, who would later become a four-piece band once Jack Wolter joined them in 2015.

Following their new formation, the band released a 7-track project, Comfortably Swell, in the fall of 2015. This release came to jumpstart their extensive history of touring. They hit the ground running; the band performed in pubs, stores, festivals and venues as they set out to make a name for themselves in the English music scene.

In January 2019, Penelope Isles signed to British record label Bella Union. Once partnered with the label, they released their full-length debut album to Spotify, Until The Tide Creeps In. It has garnered 1.95 million streams to date. The release covers a variety of bases both sonically and lyrically — there are many intimate lyrics as well as many aspects of psychedelic rock, fused with a lush sound and warm vocals.

Last year alone, the band performed well over 100 shows that also saw them opening 16 shows for the Wallows’ Nothing Happens tour, prior to COVID shutdowns. Although the band was not scheduled to open for Wallows on what would have been the European leg of the tour, Jack was still excited to have them, saying, “We had their London show in our diary.”

With the effects of shutdowns in the U.K., they took it upon themselves to write, record and produce their latest album. As Jack says, “It was perfect timing to make a record as we had no choice but to be in lockdown.”

Most recently, the group made some personnel changes, seeing members Becky Redford and Jack Sowton leaving the group earlier this year. With new members Hannah Feenstra and Henry Nikelson now on the team, they are looking to release their newest record shortly.

While the future still looks uncertain, a certainty is that Penelope Isles continue to be dedicated to their craft, and striving to be a great live band. With their next record already finished, Jack says that he and Lily are both working on new material for their solo ventures.

The Concordian spoke to Jack Wolter about making music in a pandemic, and the band’s upcoming album.

TC: As a band formed in Brighton, there’s definitely a lot of lore and a history of great music coming out of there. What kind of legacy do you want to etch as Penelope Isles continues to get bigger?

JW: I guess to leave an impact and for people to have enjoyed the experience of seeing us play live. I don’t think we are a particularly important band in the way of changing how people think. Most of our songs are abstract thoughts and feelings. But we do love playing live and that connection with the room. I would be stoked if anyone thinks of us as a great live band.

TC: COVID-19 drew your tour with Wallows to a premature close. Even though it was cut short, how was the tour and how did you and Wallows come together?

JW: We have the same booking agent so they hooked us up. The boys from Wallows dug our sound so invited us along. It was nuts! It was an amazing few weeks and ones we’ll never forget. Sold out show after another. Our music is a little different to Wallows so we were a bit nervous as to what the American/Canadian kids would think, but it went down so well. We loved playing for all you guys.

TC: What advice would you give yourself back when you first started with everything you’ve learned up to this point?

JW: Take time away from it all sometimes. As obsessed you might be. I still have to remind myself of this.

TC: Up-and-coming bands sometimes burn bright and die fast when they change their style to fit certain niches. Right now, you guys have a familiar sound and vibe with your music, where is the balance between experimentation and continuity for Penelope Isles?

JW: Good question. I think it’s important to feel comfortable in the environment in which you are making music. That applies to both writing and producing. On this next record we have pushed ourselves a little more in terms of how the songs sound sonically. It’s more experimental and dramatic in moments but doesn’t drift too far away from the songwriting on our first album. Our new songs feel more emotional. Maybe because we have lived, loved and lost a little more. I think if you are personally making art to please someone else then it is in danger of losing something special.

TC: In other interviews you have cited Radiohead as an inspiration, do the comparisons of your first album to Radiohead’s In Rainbows put any pressure on you for future releases?

JW: I mean that is such a compliment! It’s one of our favourite records. Not really as I know that it’s nothing as good as In Rainbows. Our new record is sounding cool and we’re ready to share it when we can! I’m excited to see what people think and can’t wait to play live.

TC: With production for all of your work done in-house by you, should we expect the same for the upcoming album?

JW: Yes! When we got back from America we rented a cottage in the southwest of the U.K. and moved all our gear down for a month. We made a lot of it there as well as back here in Brighton. It was perfect timing to make a record as we had no choice but to be in lockdown.

TC: You have no shortage of touring and performing experience in a variety of different places, how eager are you to get back on the road and start doing shows again?

JW: Very much so. And even more so after such a long period without touring. The process of travelling around, leaving town, returning home is something that I really have missed dearly. It’s something I need in my life like many others who travel a lot. It feels pretty claustrophobic staying in one spot. But everyone can relate to that right now. We are very excited about coming back to America and Canada one day soon!

Photo by Laura Caldwell


Evan H. Clarke is a musical jack-of-all-trades

Evan H. Clarke is showing no signs of slowing down.

The Calgary native has been playing music for over half of his life. His story as a musician dates back to his time in the eighth grade where he delved into the world of Led Zeppelin and took inspiration from John Bonham to begin playing the drums.

As the years went on, Clarke took it upon himself to learn to play a plethora of other instruments including bass, electric and acoustic guitar, banjo, harmonica and piano. Having paired this ability to play with the knowledge of mixing and mastering at a young age. In Clarke’s own words, he is “music-obsessed.”

Clarke’s most recent release was his debut to Spotify, a 10-track album, Maverick, released in April of this year. As per usual, Clarke was at the helm of production for his latest project, citing Pro Tools and Logic as his go-tos for putting together his tracks.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clarke was in the process of rehearsing for shows to perform his Maverick album for the first time. It would have been his first time singing while playing the drums, seeing Clarke taking a new direction in his array of musical abilities, as he “should be coming close to my 10,000 hours.”

Now at 29, Clarke is in his final year of study at Concordia as a double major in Communications and Irish Studies. Through his twenties and his time as a Concordia student, Clarke hasn’t slowed down at all, releasing projects at a consistent pace and keeping the flame burning in his passion for music. Even with a variety of different EPs and two full-length albums under his belt, it is only the beginning for the artist. With big plans for the near future, Clarke continues to record for new projects and even aims to release electronic music someday as well.

We spoke to Clarke about his world of music.

The Concordian: Your album, Maverick, has a certain flow from the opening track all throughout the album. How did you pick your album’s tracklist arrangement and song titles?

EC: I usually write a batch of songs around the same time, so I tend to pick keys and chord progressions — which are similar — so they sound cohesive. My writing techniques vary — sometimes I will come up with the song title first, which was the case with the song “Hibernia,” and then write the song after, and sometimes I’ll pick a line from the song which holds the most meaning and use that as the title. It varies from release to release.

TC: It seems to be an open secret that you’ve got a variety of scattered works all over the internet, will we ever see any of those hit Spotify?

EC: Possibly! I’m quite proud of some of those releases, perhaps I should put them up on the big streaming platforms. My previous full-length Afterlight was released under a different name, maybe I’ll do a re-release!

TC: As a one-man show who puts up lyrics, music composition, mixing, producing and mastering, how much time are you dedicating to your craft?

EC: I try to dedicate as much time as possible to it, which can be difficult, particularly when you are a student. I usually write when the inspiration hits, which could be anytime, and then dedicate a few months to tracking and mixing when I’m happy with the batch of songs. I should be coming close to my 10,000 hours!

TC: The lone single for your first album came out the day after COVID-19 shutdowns began in Canada. Has the pandemic affected your artistic process and methods?

EC: Haha yes it did, great timing on my part. It definitely has, I had a large album release show planned with merch and everything, but I called it off. I have had more time to work on my music than ever, so I have another album nearly finished, and a couple electronic projects on the go. The shutdown has afforded me some time to experiment on finding a different sound for my future releases.

TC: For someone that plays so many different instruments, when you approach the musical part of a song how do you know where to begin?

EC: Great question! I usually write on my acoustic guitar or piano, that gives me a sense of what the song could be and which instruments to use. I start by tracking drums (this is always difficult because I don’t have a set, so when I go into the studio it’s my first time playing the song), this gives me an idea of what the bass track should be because it should correspond with the drums. From there, I’ll lay down some guitar or piano. It is usually a process of trial and error.

TC: What should the world expect from Evan H. Clarke moving forward?

EC: More music! I’ve got another album 75 per cent done, and some electronic music in the works. I am moving to Vienna next year, so I am sure that will have some effect on the music I make in the future!


Feature photo by Sabine Schoerkhuber

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