All Eyes and Smiles: August 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. Enter your email address below to subscribe now.

Dawn to Dawn, “Stereo” (Montreal QC)

Summer is far from over, but I’m already certain that “Stereo,” by Montreal-based trio Dawn to Dawn, is one of those songs I’ll turn up when the temperature starts going down. Tess Roby, Adam Ohr, and Patrick Lee are gearing up to release their debut long player, Postcards From The Sun To The Moon, in October, but in the lead-up, I’m more than happy to bask in “Stereo”’s neon-kissed glow and synth-pop revelry. • Jim Di Gioia

It Could Be Franky, Edena (St. John’s NL)

Though the risk of repetition and sounding same-samey is true of any genre, I think finding your own musical voice is most fraught when it comes to electronic music. Uniqueness is not a concern for Danielle Hamel. The St. John’s NL artist has been making curious and quirky electro-pop under the moniker It Could Be Franky since 2017. She says her third album, Edena, is “where [she] landed after a period of musical exploration and self-discovery.” From the slow shuffle of “Better” to the thundering groove of “Forest Fire,” Edena is indeed a garden of musical delights. • Jim Di Gioia

Jozem, It Came To Me In a Dream (Toronto ON)

It Came To Me In a Dream, the debut album from Toronto-based artist Jozem, has the same soft edges as dreams. Jozem’s climbing falsetto is beguiling, and his electro-soul sound is so lush that you’ll never want to leave — like bed on a Sunday morning. Sonic dreaminess like that of It Came To Me In a Dream is often a playground for ambiguity but Jozem is locked in. About his album, he writes, “It Came To Me In a Dream is a soundscape of my 20s, a window to my soul. It is a soundscape of my dreams, my fears, my goals and aspirations; of pivotal moments in this time that shaped me.” It’s Jozem’s determination and curiosity that roots the album in reality and it will make you feel wide awake. • Laura Stanley

Kazdoura, Wain (Toronto ON)

Toronto-based duo Kazdoura call their sound “Arabic fusion with a modern twist.” Their debut EP, Wain, is a funky blend of east and west influences. Both “Killo Birooh” and the title track are deeply groovy. “Titi Titi” and “Ya Salam” sway with jazzy inflections that wouldn’t be out of place on your favourite psychedelic slowcore soft-pop playlist. Those looking for a breezy refresher to their summer soundtrack look no further. • Jim Di Gioia

Ian Daniel Kehoe, Yes Very So (Toronto ON)

In 2020, Ian Daniel Kehoe released three fantastic albums at the same time (3D of IDK), and I think we should talk about that more. His follow-up album, Yes Very So, is another winning addition to his back catalogue. Over nine avant-pop tracks, Kehoe creates a world made for dancing and desire. Alone, the six minute long title track of ’80s inspired pop and glistening synth goodness has enough to keep you alight for a while but Kehoe has always been generous. • Laura Stanley

Nyra River, Lanterns (Toronto ON)

Toronto’s Ryan Carson, who records prolifically as Nyra River, has just shared his gorgeous album Lanterns, and it might just be the calmest collection of music you’ll hear this summer. Featuring heavy use of nature samples, harps, woodwinds, and synths, Carson pulls from the new age side of ambient to create works that, as he describes it, “capture the sight of dust dancing in the light of the sun coming through an open window in the form of sound.” Where some ambient artists focus on texture and tone through drones, Carson’s project finds a variety of instruments more up front, with some truly gorgeous blends of acoustic and synthesized instruments, all finding a home amidst the sound of moving water or birdsong. A perfect midsummer soundtrack for doing as little as possible. • Daniel Field

Sophie Stevens, With Love EP (Winnipeg MB)

The swinging folky pop-rock of Sophie Stevens’ With Love EP has an early ’00s vibe. If these songs were written fiftenn years earlier, you probably would have heard one on Grey’s Anatomy (a very formative television soundtrack for me!). But how I know that Stevens wrote these songs recently is the EP’s exquisite piano-pop closer. Here, the self-described “music witch from Winnipeg” repeats, “no one’s fucking happy.” But hey, maybe throw on With Love, go into an American Eagle for the first time in a decade, and see if you can rekindle some joy. • Laura Stanley

Nick Storring, Music from ‘Wéi 成为 (Toronto ON)

I’ve listened to Nick Storring’s album Music from ‘Wéi 成为 twice now, and I’ve never quite had a feeling like this about music, where I’ve had so much I’ve wanted to say and yet felt so incapable of how to say it. The easiest way to describe Storring’s work would be that it’s made on a piano and sounds like a one-person orchestra, but not the traditional kind you’d find in a concert hall. At times the piano is played traditionally, but more often than not, Storring explores what else the instrument can do, creating an unusual world of sound that is sometimes rich and layered and then all of a sudden completely sparse. Storring finds as many ways as he can to upend expectations of classical music as he brings in ambient, experimental, jazz, and even pop tendencies to create music that sounds like a talented musician doing things that this writer doesn’t really understand but very much enjoys. • Daniel Field

Weird Lines, Weird Lines (Sackville NB)

The first self-titled album by Weird Lines was the sound of my summer in 2016. Now their second eponymous release is quickly becoming 2022’s summer soundtrack. C.L. McLaughlin, Weird Lines’ stalwart leader, recorded the album pre-pandemic with Jose Contreras, Allison McLean, Amy Nicoll, and Katherina Baber. Contreras, Paterson Hodgson, and Micheal C. Duguay are bringing the songs to life with McLaughlin on the road right now. Still, no matter how they’re served up or who’s playing them, Weird Lines’ latest collection of wild and whimsical clamorous cavorting feels like shackles are finally coming off. • Jm Di Gioia

Winternom, The Cold or the Crowd (Ottawa ON)

I first heard Winternom (aka singer-songwriter Andrew Sowka, who is also one-half of the duo summersets) back in 2019 on the Bully EP, an exploration of physical and emotional violence through the lens of life in small-town Northern Ontario. Sowka is back once again, this time with the long-player, The Cold or the Crowd. He’s moved on from North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, ON, and a thirteen-year relationship, and those life changes are reflected in the album’s themes. “Blue” is a folky lament on lost love; “Just Another Reaction” is a krautrock-driven alt-rocker that indulges pandemic-fueled introspections like “I am just another face without a name worth writing home about. / What if the dark is in the light?” For an album inspired by changes and endings, The Cold or the Crowd feels like a fresh new start or Sowka, both personally and professionally. • Jim Di Gioia

Thanks for checking out DOMINIONATED

We rely on reader support to keep delivering Canadian music conversations like the one you’re reading.
Become a supporter and help keep DOMINIONATED’s conversations going.


Liam Faucher 
Big Rig 
Big Rig