Nicole Dollanganger – Observatory Mansions

Nicole Dollanganger’s music is difficult to translate into prose. A description of what she is doing in her minimalistic, lyric centered, wingless-angel songs doesn’t come easily. These songs for the most part relate the loss of innocence in the most visceral (at times brutally) poetic terms. Adolescence and bodies, mortality and divestment, searching and finding, these are the happenings Dollanganger sets out to illuminate.What more can be said that Dollanganger does not say herself? The final song ends so abruptly, so perfectly tying off this disturbing ethereal sojourn, that I will not spoil the surprise but to say it is a counterpoint to Dylan Thomas.

Pink Wine – S/T

Snotty, boisterous, and shot through with sunburns and slurpee. Takes me back to younger years when the rewards of skating outweighed the dislocated shoulders. If you’ve got a sweetheart, you gotta mixtape that “Ghost Eddy” right now. This is that thrasher zinfandel you’ve dreamed of.

Graham Wright – The Lakes of Alberta

A lovelorn concept album, an affair that traced the rocky mountains and the low roads around Medicine Hat haunts 17 years after it ended. What is the feeling that haunts the narrator, the listener? Nostalgia for the intensity of fast love? Regret for what could have been? I feel the yank and tear of decisive action: that he made memories vivid enough to haunt his hotel beds almost two decades later. That he asks this lover to leave her husband and family, drive into the expansive prairie night.

The album’s structure is so essential, placing us in the present (the EP was released in 2008; five years later, has our narrator reconciled with his past?) with a kind of resolution, before dragging us into a hotel room, drinking, drowning in memories. The album is almost over before we are swept up by the affair of “The Lakes of Alberta, Pt 1.” In that way, the happiest, calmest part of the record acts as a climax, and the conflict is never more important to the narrative. His anguish is a function of his memory that lends a sense of impending doom to the relationship, and provides denouement as he (surely doomed to sobriety) aims his car toward the doorway of an old flame.

This is a surprising offering from Graham Wright, a member of Tokyo Police Club. Well written, well structured, and a record I keep coming back to.

Shotgun Jimmie – Everything, Everything

Canada’s sweetest sweetheart, Canada’s #1 most magnetic pop rock tour junkie, Canada’s answer to brighten-the-corner era Pavement: SHOTGUN JIMMIE! is back with a much anticipated follow up to the 2011 on-repeat classic, Transistor Sister. This record is Everything, Everything (*rolls eyes) we could have hoped for. This is a front to back catch factory with the same overpowering heartbeat of homey sentiment that Transistor Sister had in spades. “Adventure in the Heart” is the immediate hit, tilling our spirits and scratching our heads with generosity and approachability. “North!” is an implacable earworm. I could spin yarns for every song on this record, it’s too much. I’ll leave it at this: Thanks for making another record, Jimmie. You’re the best.

Hush Pup – Darlene

Here we have some Toronto dream pop that does the dreaming for you: three fantastic jams, each of which can carry the day in its own rite. Hush Pup treads the ethereal perfumed paths forged by the likes of Beach House and Grimes. “Sign 11:11” is my personal fave. Be cool with it.