A Four-Way in the Heart of the West End: February 2022

The DOMINIONATED Newsletter is a monthly(ish) round-up of music and creativity from across the country, bringing reviews and recommendations from our writers right to your inbox.

William Chernoff, “A Four-Way in the Heart of the West End” (New Westminster BC)

William Chernoff‘s jazz trio from New Westminster, BC, offers up a smooth single that appropriately clocks in at just over four minutes. Chernoff’s striking bass playing neither takes a back seat nor upstages Francis Henson’s crisp guitar licks or Carson Tworow’s percussive pockets. Instead, they are all completely in sync and take us on a brief but entertaining trip. The title “A Four-Way in the Heart of the West End” stems from Chernoff’s habit of tossing his keychain into the air when torn on how to approach a dilemma and observing the direction in which the majority of the keys point to make a decision. While this exercise in blind faith might appear as though you’re surrendering your freedoms to chance, the freedoms Chernoff and company exhibit in their playing should assuage the skeptics. That’s jazz! • Michael Beda

Humours, “Little Harm” (Edmonton AB)

Edmonton’s Humours are challenging the tropes of folk by making music that’s not only rough around the edges but prone to leaving splinters in your psyche when you rub up against it. Their latest single, “Little Harm,” is just a teaser of what they have in store on an upcoming sophomore album. They say the song “stares down the ‘what ifs’ of paths not taken to make sense of the people and places that make us who we are,” and do so with poetic-yet-plain-spoken language and a gripping, gritty visual accompaniment that I highly recommend you check out. • Jim Di Gioia

Mount Maxwell, The People’s Forest (Vancouver BC)

In its ghostly opening title track, listeners are welcomed to Mount Maxwell‘s The People’s Forest by various voices saying “I live here” and then, eventually, “we live here.” As the EP unfolds, multiple voices, moods, and, sounds become its core as Mount Maxwell orchestrates collisions of electronic and ambient instrumentation. The People’s Forest sounds both industrial and naturalistic and is a nice playground for anybody who prefers their ambient music to be in the foreground. • Laura Stanley

Pompey, Overwhelmed (Montreal QC)

Pompey’s latest release is entitled Overwhelmed and described as “a pandemic album,” but wait, it doesn’t sound like how you think. Overwhelmed does not wallow in despair, nor does it sound overwhelming. Instead, Pompey (with Thanya Iyer, Anh Phung, and Shelby Cohen) has made an album of celebratory, tender-toned experimental-folk songs that spill over with optimism. “I am full of hope and not much else,” sings Pompey on “Hope,” and how nice it feels to hear that. • Laura Stanley

Positive People, “Specific Northwest” (Vancouver BC)

I’ve occasionally engaged in lively debates regarding which of Canada’s three coasts reigns supreme. Every debate has failed in determining a clear-cut winner, however, Positive People‘s “Specific Northwest” is unabashed in their opinion that the west coast is the best coast. Olenka Krakus’s lyrics, coupled with the assertive and unpredictable musical stylings of Jeffrey Moon, pine for the Pacific, much to the chagrin of my Atlantic brethren. Krakus is convincing, silkily musing, “How pacific: easy going…. Knowing how to keep it focused….. How atlantic: dark and stormy. Storming out of anger for me.” The Vancouverites make a strong point in just over two minutes, though the Atlantic (or even the Arctic) might prepare themselves a rebuttal. • Michael Beda

Soda Pony, Senior Year (Whitehorse YT)

Soda Pony‘s Senior Year is chock-full of tales from the rank-smelling halls of high school and the Whitehorse band’s characteristically energetic garage-rock sound. The prom queen of the record has to be awarded to “Drive Thru,” a track about post-graduation blues that features surf-rock trio The Garrys. Senior Year is a super fun listen even if you’d rather forget your own high school experience and if you’re looking for something to watch before you re-watch the Breakfast Club, be sure to check out the visual album. • Laura Stanley

TOVI, “Mad Melancholia” (Toronto ON)

Toronto-based synth-rock artist TOVI experiments with audio-visual effects on her latest single “Mad Melancholia,” accompanied by a black and white animation depicting the ins and outs of mental spirals. TOVI achieves a listlessness in pulsing synths and cyclical lyrics, representing what can often feel like an endless loop of destructive thoughts. With the weight of shoegaze and the shine of dream-pop, “Mad Melancholia” is a synthesis of stylistic influences embodying the anti-lullaby of intrusive thoughts. • Tia Julien

Tryouts, SNAFU (Toronto ON)

Tryouts is the project of Toronto-based artist and multi-instrumentalist Nick Jung, whose latest album, SNAFU, comes on the heels of a “period of self-discovery and reinvention” for Jung. Warm electronica and fuzzy atmospheres dip and blend through passages that phase through light and darkness, “between order and chaos, between periods of pure elation and uncertainty” as Jung describes. The result is an impressive record that effortlessly veers from post-rock to ambient drone. • Jim Di Gioia

Claire Turnbull, “Falter” (Moncton NB)

The description of Claire Turnbull‘s debut EP on Bandcamp, in part, reads “Falter came to fruition while gazing out at the lake from her partner and also bandmate Zach’s childhood bedroom,” which may explain its captivating hazy quality. Turnbull, a Moncton-based folk artist, and Zach Bachand are gentle storytellers and both tracks, which touch on love’s pain and solace, feel like water softly lapping against the shore. • Laura Stanley

the worst guy, “Drinking in Edmonton” (Edmonton AB)

Ellen Reade of the worst guy says that she wrote “Drinking in Edmonton” back in 2017 but only recently shared it with some friends who really responded well to it. So she and her friends did some composing, recording, mixing, and released it in about a day. “I thought it would be a good thing to release right now,” she says, “I’ve been so incredibly nostalgic for [Edmonton arts and entertainment hub] Whyte Ave circa 2014-2019 and all the fun times I had with friends. I wanted to put something into the world that reminds me of that time since it’ll be a long time before I ever get to experience it again.” • Jim Di Gioia

Yoyu, All Dharmas (Winnipeg MB)

Yoyu, the ambient moniker of Winnipeg’s Ali Khan, quietly released the album All Dharmas on Bandcamp in mid-January. With seven slow-building tracks, he has built an album of layered synth drones that manage to feel as meditative as they do impassioned. The closing title track is a perfect example of Yoyu’s carefully crafted textural soundscapes. • Daniel Field

Peach Luffe 
Beyond EP