Brendan Kergin, Arts & Entertainment Editor Ω
One of the biggest buzz bands of the indie-music scene in Canada this summer was Japandroids. The duo from Vancouver released their second proper album (kind of third) this summer. Called Celebration Rock, it impressed most critics, though the finicky NME rained on that parade.
Their style is upbeat, punky, low-fi and loud. With the spread of musical duos in this genre, you could say they’re copying the Black Keys or Death From Above 1979, but each group brings their own style. Japandroids are actually more akin to Tokyo Police Club, though loader, and a little dirtier. They don’t seem to want to sound like just two guys, so there’s a lot of stuff going on between them.
A party rock band if there ever was one, the upbeat, positive sound is anthemic at times and beats out the chaos and noise to come out on top. If people are looking for some pump-up music before a night on the town, this is the material to suggest. Maybe not one to sing along to in the car, a la “Bohemian Rhapsody,” more just to bang away at the back of the seat in front of you.
Japandroids track to check out is “The House that Heaven Built.”
Taylor Rocca, Copy/Web Editor Ω
Hailing from the Centre of the Universe in Toronto, Ont., Austra provides listeners with the feeling of sailing through the stars.
Noted for an airy, space-pop sound, the trio is driven by the eerie female vocals of Katie Stelmanis, who might remind some listeners of an edgier, unpolished modern-day version of Stevie Nicks (of Fleetwood Mac fame).
With distinctive electro-alternative beats that at times sound influenced by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame), Austra is certainly a unique act within the Canadian music scene, but have quickly been gaining recognition, having been nominated for the Polaris Music Prize in 2011.
The band’s name comes from the middle name of leader singer Stelmanis, but also happens to be the name of the goddess of light in Latvian mythology. Certainly an interesting thought when you consider the various sounds and moods explored by the band.
Austra has only released one studio album to date, 2011’s Feel It Break. Also in 2011, they released Sparkle, an EP.
Worthwhile songs to check out from Austra include, “Lose It,” “The Beat and the Pulse,” “Hate Crime” and “The Villain.”
While Austra might fall a bit off the beaten path in relation to mainstream music, the band certainly has talent and is worth keeping tabs on as it continues to develop and expand its musical musings.