Feels Like: January 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.

Bart, “Once Was” (Toronto ON)

I fancy myself an optimistic fellow, but not at the level of Nathan Vanderwielen from Toronto-based band Bart. Of their new single, “Once Was,” Vanderwielen says he wrote the song “after cutting off parts of some fingers on my right hand in a woodworking accident. The song came from me playing what I could on a piano without using the part of my hand that was still healing.” Lyrically, he and partner Christopher Shannon explore the idea of accepting and adapting to physical changes that happen to us along the way, in much the same way Bart and their collaborators Jason Bhattacharya, Jay McCarrol, Eliza Niemi, and Patrick Lefler make melodic pop from the unlikeliest inspiration. • Jim Di Gioia

Bicyclops, Marooned (Toronto ON)

Listening to Bicyclops’ Marooned with both headphones on is a little like stepping through a portal to another less depressing dimension. On “Sudden Moves”, the producer behind Bicyclops, Phil Johnston, writes, “I try to catch hold of the people I’ve been,” and he seems to have succeeded in putting all those moving pieces together and forming something with a life of its own. Meditative and experimental, Marooned is more than an escape from this covid-riddled timeline, but an exploration of self and sound, a process of taking shape that listeners can witness unfolding: “woke up again in another world.” Some songs are lyrically insightful, while others are instrumental and hypnotic. Overall, Marooned is among some of my favourite soothing-yet-thought-provoking sounds as we move into another undoubtedly challenging revolution around the sun. • Tia Julien

Borscht, Dodo (Edmonton AB)

Dodo by Borscht — a project prepared by Maria Elena Martire — is a hearty serving of energetic power-pop with a dash of doo-wop. Borscht’s tunes are both catchy and exquisitely summarize the current state of things. “All my friends are so fuckin’ sad,” sings Martire on “All My Friends,” and to start off the EP: “All I want is some peace and quiet. Get me off this ride.” You will be back for seconds (and thirds) of this EP. • Laura Stanley

Chastity, Suffer Summer (Whitby ON)

Brandon Williams’ musical project Chastity is steeped in a particular sound and style (think the late 90s, early aughts post-punk emo). Still, it’s a testament to his musical instincts that he’s able to connect with listeners (like me) that aren’t predisposed to such a level of heart-on-sleeve, hard-hitting emotion. But then again, living in the state we’re in, it’s hard not to get caught up and consumed by his brand of all-out melody and moody riff rock. Chastity’s third album, Suffer Summer, is a pearl of an album. Its milky white and polished production belies the gritty and dark places that inspired it. I’ve long been an admirer of Chastity but have not considered myself a fan until now. • Jim Di Gioia

coldblackcoffee, Lore (Kingston ON)

Kingston’s coldblackcoffee has developed an even tastier roast since last October’s self-titled release. Lore features a mashup of intricately woven grooves that’ll be sure to get you up and out of bed to begin the day with a groovy pep-in-your-step. I’ll be damned if one of these little ditties won’t soon be featured on some advertisement for Keurig machines or an independent coffee bean enterprise. The heavy use of sampling ranges from all strata of recognizability — from the easy-to-detect “99 Problems” by Jay-Z, to the relatively unknown chop-up of Joe McLeod’s “Smile Always” and everything in between. Once again following a pattern of keeping the tracks quick and concise (clocking in at just over twenty-one minutes), coldblackcoffee guarantees you can breeze through the entire album before your morning coffee goes cold. • Michael Beda

Matt Foster, “Magic” (Winnipeg MB)

I can’t really think of a song about relationship anxiety that sounds as sexy as Matt Foster‘s stomping Americana/bluesy single, “Magic.” With a k.d. lang-like croon, Foster crumbles as they finally see all of the cracks in their relationship. “I thought we were good, baby, I thought we were all good,” Foster sings, and later offers this hilarious, devastating, and succinct overview of the state of their heart: “I feel like 85 cents.” • Laura Stanley

Vikki Gilmore, “Little Red” (Montreal QC)

It’s not easy to make a story as well-worn as Little Red Riding Hood feel fresh but Vikki Gilmore does so with “Little Red.” On her outlaw country spin on the fairy tale, Gilmore’s confident protagonist isn’t taking any shit from wolves and throughout the song repeats, “I’m about to take over the world.” But what happens to Little Red, wolf-y, and grandma? You’ll have to listen to find out. • Laura Stanley

Handsome Tiger, Diaspora (Vancouver BC)

I’m guessing most people’s New Year’s Eve was a muted affair this past holiday season, but Vancouver-based producer Handsome Tiger rang in 2022 with a bang and some bass drops. He released his new LP Diaspora on December 31st just in time to have its blend of global beats and vocal samples from Indigenous cultures around the world ring in the new year in style. • Jim Di Gioia

Fortunato Durutti Marinetti, “Feels Like” (Toronto ON)

If you’re feeling stifled entering our third year of pandemic-dwelling, you’ll want to keep an eye out for Fortunato Durutti Marinetti’s upcoming jazz-rock album, Memory’s Fool. The Turin-born musician draws on multiple timescapes and stylistic influences to create space-making music that explores themes of restlessness with patience and ease. Single “Feels Like” is composed like a prog-rock score, creating atmosphere with layers of strings and synths that dance around each other as lyrics depict a celestial voyage: “It feels like there’s some kind of satellite that’s been assigned to blink across the sky all night.” Fortunato Durutti Marinetti achieves a light touch in mixing fretless bass with organ and violin that is grounded in our most basic human experiences. Memory’s Fool drops March 18, 2022. • Tia Julien

clara sanchez, “the woman you need” (Vancouver BC)

Don’t be fooled by the lowercase styling of “the woman you need” by clara sanchez. The debut single from Vancouver-based sanchez delivers a powerful message in a potent performance that’s worthy of ALL CAPS shouting. “The amount of anti-Asian violence that took place throughout the pandemic enraged me, saddened me, and ultimately inspired me to proudly add my voice into the mix,” declares sanchez, “I want Filipino stories to be witnessed as valid and important.” She infuses “the woman you need” and the b-side “ben” (a song that weaves the story of her father and Ben Flores, the earliest-documented Filipino person in Canada) with the intimacy of campfire singing, the wistfulness of Sufjan Stevens, and “the yearning of Philippine love songs.” • Jim Di Gioia

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