Staff Selections: May 07, 2024

Laura Stanley [ Matt Hertendy]

Staff Selections: We pick ’em; you play ’em and (hopefully) pay the artists for ’em.

That’s essentially the premise for this new feature, spearheaded by Laura Stanley (left), a long-time DOMINIONATED team member and much-admired freelance writer whose work has appeared in Exclaim!, NOW, Bandcamp, She Shreds, No Depression and many more sites and publications.

Staff Selections feature hand-picked recommendations by a member (or members) of the DOMINIONATED team that they feel is worth your listening time. Think of it as our version of a record store whiteboard where every shop clerk gets to list what they’re loving and listening to at the moment in hopes that you will check it out, too.

Below are four picks from Laura that she suggests you give a spin. If you like them, why not add them to your collection?

FANGIRL, General Admissions EP

The opening track of FANGIRL’s debut EP, General Admissions, is called “Fun Song,” and that pretty much summarizes what this Victoria trio is all about. Their five poppy punk-ish rock songs are packed with clever wordplay, sizzling takedowns, cats, dogs, and cake. One listen to this EP, and you’ll be fangirling about FANGIRL.

Kaleah Lee, Birdwatcher

Folk artist Kaleah Lee gained quite the following on TikTok by first posting cover songs and, eventually, original material. (I interviewed Lee for RANGE Magazine in 2022 if you want to learn more about her.) Pairing her hushed and quivering vocals with soft guitar picking, Birdwatcher, her debut EP, is incredibly delicate sounding. This sonic delicateness doubles as a cozy safe space for Lee to dive into difficult subjects like loneliness and ageing. Fans of the Boygenuis universe especially need to hear Birdwatcher

Shaina Hayes, Kindergarten Heart

Do you know Recess Therapy? It’s a charming video series in which the host (and sometimes famous guests) interviews kids about life. Thankfully, these kids haven’t reached the inevitable stage when they fear judgment, and so they earnestly share their hearts with us. This vulnerability and starry-eyed wonder fuel the folk-pop of Kindergarten Heart, Shaina Hayes’ second LP. Hayes steps into the world with a warm curiosity, and the songs are catchy as hell to boot.  

Warming, Toil Boy

Whenever I read the word “toil,” my mind drifts to the witches in Macbeth–“Double, double toil and trouble.” The Weird scene that I associate with “toil” matches the vibe of Toil Boy, the latest release from Winnipeg’s Warming (Brady Allard). Warming’s deadpan baritone vocals cast a long shadow over the already eerie-sounding collage of noisy synth-pop and post-punk. There’s an intensity about the record, but it’s also surprisingly funny at times. The final track, “Email”, for example, feels exactly like the state of your brain when you’ve stared at your Lenovo work laptop for too long, and you get an Outlook notification.

Cindy Lee 
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Fan Wu 
touch The Ten Thousand Things without dependency