Ask and Ye Shall Receive

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.

the august arrival, All Blue and Gold (Whitehorse YT)

Yukon-based band the august arrival released a luscious EP earlier this year called All Blue and Gold that wends intricate soundscapes through songwriter Sara MacDonald’s warm and inviting melodies. It is acoustic music that feels electric, humming with energy, intensity, and a deep-felt intimacy. All Blue and Gold is the kind of record that makes you feel as if you’ve stumbled unnoticed upon a very private moment. • Jim Di Gioia

Death Waits, “Empty Me” (Toronto ON)

Death Waits, the band formerly known as CHAMPION LOVER, has been catching my eye recently with a spate of social media posts skewering inspirational quote memes with their unique brand of sardonic humour. A favourite reads “Life is a lot like jazz. It sucks. Listen to ‘Empty Me’ instead.” I won’t weigh in on jazz, but highly suggest checking out “Empty Me,” their latest alterna-punk slice of grungy goodness. • JD

PACKS, Take the Cake (Ottawa/Toronto ON)

PACKS expanded from being the solo project of Madeline Link to a four-piece band (Shane Hooper, drums; Noah O’Neil, bass; Dexter Nash, lead guitar) that’s making melodically quirky indie rock that’s quickly gaining them a lot of recognition and attention. There’s a sweetness laced with bitterness to Link’s songs, some of which were written pre-pandemic while she lived in Toronto and the rest penned in quarantine in the Ottawa suburbs. The result is Take the Cakea mix of old and new, fast and slow, wide-eyed and sleepy. • JD

The Painters, Rain (Montreal QC)

While rain often feels like an uninvited guest, sometimes a big storm can be incredibly refreshing and can make you feel anew when the clouds finally roll away. The Painters‘ two-track release Rain feels exactly like a restoring rainstorm that has a rainbow as its final act. The Painters’ Alex Bourque exudes love and gratitude across these galactic country songs, singing tender thanks, “and though I have made it so difficult, you give me your love anyway” (“I Owe You More Than I Have”), and about the vulnerable act of loving and being loved (“Rain”). • Laura Stanley

Amaka Queenette, “want you more” (Toronto ON)

Amaka Queenette‘s “want you more” is a song built on deep longing. In the follow-up neo-soul single to last year’s two-track release Fleeting, Inconsequential, Queenette savours being in love and leisurely moves at a pace that’s hypnotic. Doubts can often submerge your thoughts, especially when it comes to relationships, but on “want you more,” Queenette is steadfast: “Of one thing I’m sure: I want you more.” It also happens to be one of the best songs of the year so far. • LS

Royal Canoe, Sidelining (Winnipeg MB)

Winnipeggers Royal Canoe always takes me by surprise with how poppy their indie-pop sounds. I don’t know why, but whenever I hear their infectious brand of falsetto-and-funk-based grooves, I’m pleasantly reminded of just how much fun their freewheeling sound is. Their latest album, Sidelining, came together while most of the world (and the band) were sidelined by the pandemic, but is a project that easily finds its way out off the front porch, down the street, and over into the next community. Which is one reason why the band marked its release by coordinating a simultaneous airing of the single “Surrender” by hundreds of people around the world all at the same time. It’s a little gesture that goes a long way to making connections. • JD

Tewksbury, Paths (Hamilton ON)

Paths is a transition of beautiful movements performed solely on piano or with an array of accompanying synths. Douglas Tewksbury’s assortment of recordings in cold climate locations (upon a retreating glacier in Alaska, or off the coast of Newfoundland) pair nicely with the intimate studio recordings made in his hometown of Hamilton. The opening track “Boreal” stunningly sets the tone, its pulsating ambience beckoning you toward a sudden revelation or epiphany. You await a crescendo of rhythm, but it’s all the better it doesn’t come. • Michael Beda

The Town Heroes, “Fuse” (Cape Breton NS)

Is there any story more suited for summers than falling in love for the first time? Cape Breton duo the Town Heroes embrace their love for hook-ladened indie rock, their hometown, and a story set in the summer of ‘99 when “a small-town boy meets a tourist girl at a teen dance, and immediately falls for her.” Their single “Fuse” ignites memories of those first flushes of love the kind you believe will endure forever, not just until the end of the season. • JD

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