Heart Failure Research Unit, as a name, may sound cryptically connected to hospitals and healthcare. But as Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes will clarify, HFRU is brave exploration of folk and rock — tied together with bold lyrics of a troubadour. Headed by Calgary’s Dustin Anderson, HFRU pumps its way through up beat ballads and slow psych numbers. Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes offers wild recordings, supported by weary folk wanderings. The contrast between the album’s songs is mesmerizing. While offering clear insight into the end of love, HFRU tosses its emphasize from rhythm to ramblings, all while trying to reason with real emotion. As you are warmed and frozen by Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes, you will see that you are in delicate care — the intricacies of folk music are masterfully handled by Heart Failure Research Unit.
Pembina, the first album from Edmonton electro-rockers Viking Fell, is fully energized. A unique combination of talents and styles springs the entire album to life. Viking Fell is the precise outcome of a bold mix of swift guitar rifts, electronic sounds, and echoing lyrics. The album peaks in its combinations of a raw and aggressive guitar, moderated by the animation brought out by district and well chosen digital twists. The ultimate interpretation is left to each listener: Should you rock out? Should you head bang? Should you dance? The answer to this may be lying deep in vocals on Pembina — vocals that remind me of a time when I was less concerned with over-thinking music, and more concerned with enjoying music. Regardless of how you move to Pembina, you are certain to be invigorated by Viking Fell’s reminder that music should celebrate the bold.
The Canadian prairies are as difficult to describe as they are to capture in music. To capture the feeling of the people of the prairies is an even more complex feat. The magnificence of Local Haunt’s debut, the self-titled EP Local Haunts, is his ability to do just that. David Janzen, the artist behind Local Haunts, combines his song writing talents with a distinct mix of folk, country, and alternative country melodies. Musically, Local Haunts is ever rhythmic and inoffensive. The clear combination of genres makes it feel that the “haunts” Janzen writes about could be anywhere from the Rocky Mountains to the lakes of Manitoba. His lyrics are ever intriguing and ever complex. Inspired by feels of leaving and longing, of desire and disorder, Local Haunts draws up strong memories of life in the land of endless fields and expansive skies. Whether you were raised a prairie child, or have only seen the endlessness of Central Canada on a map, Local Haunts will give you clear insight into the emotions of the area.
In the endlessly dense genre of “electronic” music, the creativity of Sirch.’s North of Fifty-four serves as a reminder of how interesting the genre can prove to be. As ambitious with his samples as early Books releases, and as poetic as Boards of Canada, Sirch. is a bold intersection of folk-stories and sound. North of Fifty-four relies on the evidence left by past memories. Chris Szott, the artist behind Sirch., makes use of an electric mix of found-sounds — varying from the audio from home movies, antiquated informational videos, and more. To support these samples, Sirch. creates simple yet expansive soundscapes that relies on rhythm and melody instead of volume and surprise. The album feels almost surreal, and pulls its listeners into a plethora of emotions. What Sirch. does best is create a world of sound inspired directly by the slightest memories of ones past. Regardless of whether its memories of summer spent lake side, long car drives, or strange Canadian towns, North of Fifty-four shows us how nostalgic music can make us be.
One Part blues, one apart country, and one part rock and roll make up the cocktail that best defines the latest album from Luke Thomson and the Howl. “Songs from the Milkman,” a powerfully gritty offering, highlights Thomson’s talents. The first of these talents is Thomson’s ability to create something that sounds like real prairie rock; you’ll be quickly reminded small towns with only one gas station and one bar. The second of these talents is Luke’s ability to capture the best of the multiple styles of music he toys with. His guitar twangs like a busker’s, rhythms around folk numbers, and slaps along with a leather soled boot. Support by The Howl, “Songs from the Milkman” confidently boasts a gospel influence, giving the album a spiritual feel, and memories of sun bleached fields, late night fires, and an endless adventure.
The best part of “Songs from the Milkman” is the entire composition of the album. Thomson makes stark contrasts between each song, and in each song. He plays songs that best suit one to many drinks, followed by songs that best suit a broken heart. In some songs, he counters himself with a variety of harmonies and a suppressing variety of musical arrangements. Thomson embraces a joyfully sound that will warm you like a bonfire with all your best friends.