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.



Altus, Anthropoaliena (Ottawa ON)

Under the name Altus, Ottawa musician Mike Carss has been making and releasing innovative and lush electronic music for more than twenty years. His most recent album, Anthropoaliena, is a retro-futuristic synthesizer symphony, and a mesmerizing one at that. It’s filled with nostalgic arpeggiated synth pads, carefully built progressions, and dramatic crescendos, with a few pieces of ambient drone thrown in. Carss describes the album as a soundtrack for explorers of a new planet, and its icy yet inviting sound draws listeners in, keeping them intrigued through the album’s seven lengthy tracks. The album is a sequel to Altus’s equally vast 2018 album Pioneer and will be followed by a third in the trilogy. Anthropoaliena is a terrifically crafted album for anyone ready for the next trip into another galaxy. • Daniel Field

Rachel Bobbit, “More” (Toronto)

“More” is one of those special tracks that feels instantly familiar until it hits you: you’ve never quite heard anything like it before. It contains the ingredients of a generation’s favourite indie acts — Pheobe Bridgers, the National, and by the triumphant final phase, the War on Drugs — but it’s pretty clear no one could have written this song but Rachel Bobbitt. “No more, please,” she sings to her body, mind and physician, begging for mercy from what ails her. The irony: I play it on repeat. • Mackenzie Cameron

Fresh Pepper, “Congee Around Me” (Toronto ON)

Cooking is very similar to making music. You gather ingredients, experiment, practice, execute, and best of all, share that final magical creation with friends. This is not lost on Fresh Pepper. Joseph Shabason and Andre Ethier, with seasoning from Robin Dann and Felicity Williams of Bernice, have created a musical project about food and friendship. It is tasty. “Congee Around Me”, the group’s first single, is a lush and tender ode to making congee. The song’s magic is captured in one harmonized word: “Mushrooms.” 10 disturbing chef babies out of 10. • Mackenzie Cameron

Fond, Reveal (Victoria BC)

Reveal, the debut EP from Fond (a project fronted by Victoria’s Joseph Leroux), is all about opening up. He admits in the EP’s first line, “I want to understand intention before acting on attraction” and from there, Leroux packs Reveal’s three poppy/r&b songs with honesty and heart. When all of these feelings get a bit too overwhelming, like on “Lužánky Park”, Leroux is not afraid to cry in public.• Laura Stanley

Jamboree, Life in the Dome (Winnipeg MB)

Jamboree’s second LP Life in the Dome — their first on House of Wonders — centres on a fictional community and its mayor who had a glass dome built over the town that trapped residents inside. The record’s themes of isolation, anxiety, and hopelessness are very familiar as we emerge(?) out of the pandemic when those feelings became normal. Underscoring the lyrical bleakness is Jamboree’s close blend of sludgy guitar rock that help to make many tracks feel cathartic. • Laura Stanley

Mauvy, “The King” (Vancouver BC)

On Instagram, Mauvey writes this about his crunchy and high-power alt-pop single “The King:” “Listen to the chorus, it’s about you 💜”. When you do listen, you’ll find that Mauvey is determined to tell you that you are enough. Along with repeating “you’re the king,” Mauvey reminds you to hold your head up and to never bow down. “You don’t need a crown,” he sings. “You ain’t got to listen to them.” • Laura Stanley

No Museums, Pale Blue Eyes (Edmonton AB)

There is something to be said for consistency. Edmonton’s No Museums is an alt-lo-fi drone-pop-making machine, and Pale Blue Eyes is just the latest in a line of impressive — and criminally under-appreciated — albums that buzz with nervous energy (“The Killer Whale”) and roar with grit (“The Frozen Left Bank”). Though his formula hasn’t wavered much from the days he put out albums as Twin Library, it always feels as if Michael Betmanis approaches each new No Museums album with conviction. Like a painter who returns to their favourite subject, each No Museums album is a variation on a theme with a throughline that connects to the artist’s collective work. • Jim Di Gioia

Pony Girl, “Age of Anxious” (Ottawa ON, Hull QC)

As far as song descriptions go, “a sitcom for rats with a side of existential dread” is one of the best and weirdest I’ve ever heard. That’s what Pony Girl is saying about their new single, “Age of Anxious,” a song exploring isolation in the digital age with the Ottawa-Hull-based band’s signature mix of art-rock and experimental pop. It’s not lost on me that I’m writing a review about a song that’s hyper-critical of digital technology and social media ON social media, but that’s the duality of our modern-day love/hate affair with what we’ve gained and lost through technological innovation. • Jim Di Gioia

Josh Sahunta, Mellowdrama (Edmonton AB)

Summer seems the perfect time to kick back and chill out with the stylish and soulful grooves of Mellowdrama, the sophomore full-length from Edmonton-based songwriter, Josh Sahunta. But really, this baker’s dozen set of R&B-infused pop songs is well-suited for any situation and time. Take your pick: “Too Much” is too hot to handle; “Broken” is anything but; “No Filter” is the kind of unabashedly pure pop you keep on repeat for months at a time. • Jim Di Gioia

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