Encouraging Words for a Long Winter

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.



AIM LOW, Broken Sundial (Montreal QC)

This time of year, when the air is crisp, and darkness overtakes daylight, always weighs heavy on my soul. To help me through this season, I’m turning to records like Broken Sundial from Montreal-based group AIM LOW. Released last spring, Broken Sundial is about “the nature of lost time,” as its title suggests. It may seem counterintuitive to turn to a droney, experimental album that’s rife with pandemic anxiety and isolation, but AIM LOW approaches their improvisation and musical texturing with purpose and artistic vision. Take one Guided by Voices cover (“My Valuable Hunting Knife”), add some e.e. cumming’s poetry (“Hypertensive Crisis”) and then blend everything together via a remix that uses the stems to all the other songs (the “Lachlan Fletcher Body Horror Remix” of the title track), and you get Broken Sundial, the kind of record that makes winter hibernation bearable. • Jim Di Gioia

Caroline Marie Brooks, Everything at the Same Time (Toronto ON)

Caroline Marie Brooks (aka 1/3 of the Good Lovelies) finds beauty in the simple things on her debut solo LP, Everything at the Same Time. Singing birds signal the arrival of spring, sunshine is a nourishing wonder, and the promise of a new day is reassuring (“I can do better tomorrow,” she sings). Brooks doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff on Everything at the Same Time, but, with Jim Bryson at the helm, it’s a comforting folk record with a sonic warmth that feels perfect for these cooler days. • Laura Stanley

Fort Laurie, Encouraging Words for a Long Winter (Salmon Arm BC)

Singer/songwriter Cole Levesque adopted the alias Fort Laurie to honour his late aunt, who shared his love for songwriting and who also “used her music as a way to cope with her own internal conflict, living a short and complicated life as a gay RCMP officer in the Kootenays of BC.” On his debut album, Encouraging Words for a Long Winter, Levesque lays bare his self-exploration of nostalgia, regret, and self-worth as a young gay musician. The album was “recorded in a dark storage closet on a single stereo track of a Zoom h4n field recorder” with all the ambiance and intimacy that comes with it. But what sets For Laurie apart is Levesque’s vulnerability and artistry, two sides of himself that coexist and connect in striking and engaging ways. It’s an encouraging start for what is sure to be a long career. • JD

OMBIIGIZI, “Residential Military” (Tkaronto)

OMBIIGIZI (pronounced om-BEE-ga-ZAY) is the super-group collaboration I’ve always wanted but didn’t know I was getting. Zoon‘s Daniel Monkman and Adam Sturgeon of Status/Non-Status have joined forces as Anishnaabe artists exploring their cultural histories through their shared studies in sound. The first taste of their work is “Residential Military,” an arty rock exercise that’s as stripped down and straightforward as these pair of musicians get. In true collaborative fashion, the song recalls neither Monkman nor Sturgeon’s other projects; OMBIIGIZI (which means “s/he is noisy”) exists in its own right. • JD

Roo, “While” (Lunenburg NS)

As Roo, Sophie Wonfor describes herself as an “emo-bard, leaning into the light at the end of every tunnel.” It’s both an ominous and beautiful description which is the exact vibe of Roo’s music. “While,” the first song from a forthcoming three-part series ‘Blooming, Glooming,’ is a slow and steady folk track. Its gentle, hypnotic pacing is perfectly attuned with Wonfor’s appeal for patience and celebration of growth. • LS

Rudy, “Gutted” (Vancouver BC)

On their newest song “Gutted,” Vancouver duo Rudy find themselves living in a daze. “Life is salt I threw over my shoulder,” Rudy’s Ruby sings, beautifully characterizing how ephemeral everything feels. But sonically, “Gutted” is not lost in a haze. It’s a bright and memorable tune that’s full of groovy guitar hooks, a sax solo, and a catchy pop melody that altogether might be enough to evict your brain fog. • LS

shinner, bin 18 (Montreal QC)

The debut release from shinner — a project credited only to “carly in canada” — includes a song about you. Well, that’s what Carly writes on Bandcamp anyway. But Carly is right! Within the headphones-friendly bedroom pop-rock songs of bin 18, prism-like shards of Carly’s voice intersect with a snowstorm of fuzzy guitars and the anger you feel about the city you live in (“lachine”) or the acidic broken heart you are nursing (“circe”) is reflected back at you. • LS

Tawni Bias, SEL Fellow (Calgary AB)

Calgary-based artist Tawni Bias (aka TJ Elkin) makes big use of “small mistakes and large moments” on their debut album SEL Fellow. Elkin calls the record “an exploration into both the emotional cadence and the hidden sonic guidance” that voices carry. • JD

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