Here We Come Gallopin’: March 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.

DijahSB, 2022 the EP (Toronto ON)

Life lately has been very good to DijahSB but didn’t come without a shit-ton of hard work and determination. In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, they said their stellar run of two albums and two EPs since 2020 has laid the foundation for their future: “Now anything can happen at any moment, and I’m focusing more on anything happening at any moment.” And for the moment, Dijah is living large (literally). That’s their face looking down from a billboard on Yonge-Dundas Square on the cover of 2022 The EP, a five-song continuation of the love and passion Dijah has for the creative process. The party vibes of their early work are still present on these fresh tunes. Still, Dijah’s also looking at their city with a critical lens, calling out the systemic injustices that disadvantages members of the community. • Jim Di Gioia

Fjord Mustang, Solitaire (Toronto ON)

Solitaire brings a smile to my face, not just for its easy-on-the-ears indie rock/folk/pop vibe but for the way Fjord Mustang brought their debut to life. Working remotely at first, the band collaborated on demos from a distance. Their work coalesced around themes of isolation and evolution, exploring how we instinctually change with the changes happening around us. They’ve genuinely come together to offer up an ace of a record, full of optimism and hope at a time when change is upon us again. • Jim Di Gioia

Ghostkeeper, “The Trees” (Calgary AB)

In a swinging three-and-a-half-minutes, Ghostkeeper’s “The Trees” sum up all the poison that colonialism, political and religious rhetoric, and economic greed inflicts on the Earth. The song’s titular flora, “swaying like Christians in their pews,” are a reminder that even though its inhabitants are more and more motivated by wealth, power, status, and hate for others, Mother Earth is steadfast in her resolve to engage with the Creator. “It’s about yearning to return to that powerful spot,” says Shane Ghostkeeper, “that place in time when spirituality was simple, concise and magical.” • Jim Di Gioia

Jared Jackel’s Bad Vibrations, Mal Casual (Kamloops BC)

Something (or someone?) lurks in the shadows of Mal Casual, the new offering from Jared Jackel’s Bad Vibrations. The EP’s jangly psych-country sound is eerie and often hazy — “We gotta hold back the devil now,” Jared urges on “Here we come Gallopin’” which is perhaps the lingering creature — but it’s also as playful and fun as your favourite Buffy episode. Do not be afraid. • Laura Stanley

Ross Jenkins, Free All Day (Vancouver BC)

I love the leisurely pace of Ross JenkinsFree All Day. His soft folk songs, and gentle vocals, perfectly match the tenor of a day when you have no obligations and spend it doing the little things you love: working on personal projects, going on walks, listening to music, staring at the dust swirl in the sunlight. • Laura Stanley

The Lucky Ones, Slow Dance, Square Dance, Barn Dance (Yukon)

The Lucky Ones gathered over four days at the Anglican Cathedral of the Diocese of Yukon, on the traditional territory of the Ta’an Kwach’an Council and Kwanlin Dün First Nations, to record Slow Dance, Square Dance, Barn Dance. That feels right, given that the band is devoted to “the music of their parents, and their parents’ parents before them,” embuing their sophomore album with a spiritual devotion to country music sense of community and communion. If the tale on story-song opener “Kate and Dan” doesn’t get you, the live-off-the-floor vibe of songs like “Keno City Love Song” and “Bones” will make you a believer. • Jim Di Gioia

The Moneygoround, “Girl in My Head” (Charlottetown PE)

PEI’s the Moneygoround have introduced themselves with some throwback gold, a concisely written power-pop anthem called “Girl in My Head.” Joel Plaskett’s simple and tight production shapes what, to me, is an example of how careful hook-filled songwriting can be crafted into a catchy track that borrows heavily from Nuggets compilations yet sounds fresh and new. Guitars jangle, harmonies swell, and heads are sure to bounce along as The Moneygoround leaves listeners wanting more. • Daniel Field

Tony Ross, Tales of the crying creek (Rigaud QC)

There’s a swampy charm steaming up Tales of the crying creek, an album of live recordings released by Tony Ross. I know next to nothing about Ross (save what I can glean from his Bandcamp page, which is very little) but his music paints a rich and ragged portrait of the artist: living hard, keeping it simple and real, making 80 proof outlaw country on the periphery of genre. A blend of blues, stoner rock, country, and folk, Ross distills his front porch musings down to their purest state with just his guitar and voice. My favourite lyric, which tidily sums up Ross’s ethos: “Crack open a beer and fuck all the rest/ This thing is so real that they’re playin’ us like chess / There’s no thing to do, keep your distance from stress / if you’re too soft for booze there’s sex” (“Pandemic Lullaby”). • Jim Di Gioia

Stem Champ, Kill the Imposter (Edmonton AB)

Flames lick the walls of Stem Champ’s latest EP, Kill the Imposter. The first words we hear crackle out of lead singer Sare’s mouth are “I dream of arson.” As the EP extinguishes, Sare is consumed by their thoughts and asserts, “I wanna set this all on fire.” These five lo-fi bedroom pop songs, which are fire, remind you to embrace change, not shy away from growth and leave behind the fake, unauthentic you. Throw that version of you into the garbage and set it alight. In Sare’s words, “I hope they make you wanna dance away your fears, and maybe, if you’re up for it, kill the imposter in you.” • Laura Stanley

Sunnsetter, All watched over by machines of loving grace (Norfolk County ON)

Sunnsetter, who has been performing solo and in bands for most of the last decade, has just released an impressive album of ambient post-rock, All watched over by machines of loving grace. In writing about the process of creating the album, Drew McLeod discussed focusing on manipulations of sound using a Tascam 4-track recorder. As a result, tracks have a noticeably analogue feel, with crackles, field recordings, and imperfections intentionally placed within slowly building guitar drones. Sunnsetter’s works pay homage to some of his influences, including the roster of Montreal’s Constellation Records. Still, his music more than stands on its own, displaying its fractured beauty for a complicated world. • Daniel Field

Razaq El Toro 
Lagos Loft
Erica Dee Mah 
The Sargasso Season