Tag Archives: Music

The first annual True North Star fake award for real music

Welcome to the first annual True North Star fake award for real music, where we celebrate some Canadian music I’ve enjoyed since I decided to create this award. First let me start by clarifying: this is not the Polaris Prize, where a bunch of music critics talk shit in gchat for months then host a gala event to which I’m never invited (jerks!).

The first annual True North Star fake award for real music is very much its own thing, embracing the same DIY spirit shared by many Canadian artists. Out of respect for their great work, I plan on donating to the charity of the award-winner’s choice using my personal credit card, and I won’t dispute the charges for an entire week.

Anyway, on to the music!

Jacques Greene – Feel Infinite

Greene has been honing his combination of UK house/garage (pronounced garridge) and R&B vocals since his first major EP release in 2010, and all that experience went into his debut album. Resting somewhere between the ambiance of a Jamie xx mix and the beats Disclosure wish they were making, Feel Infinite is an elegant and fun exploration of where the dancefloor is meeting pop music in 2017.

Curiously, Greene moved left Montreal – Canada’s electronic music mecca – to move to Toronto, where many forms of DJing are still considered witchcraft. I think this qualifies him as a trailblazer.

Project Pablo – Risk the Rip

Speaking of Montreal, Project Pablo made the move to Beaubien Ouest from Vancouver after the release of his stellar debut album in 2015, and the change of scenery appears to have emboldened his keen sense of rhythm and impeccable ear for simple, memorable melodies. Every time I play a Pablo track around people who don’t know him, they’re nodding their heads before they know it and asking me what we’re listening to. His sound is infectious, rendering listeners powerless to resist his chill vibes, and his latest EP might be his best work yet.

The highlight track is called Trash Town, which could mean his love affair with Montreal is on the wane, possibly due to all the garbage littering the potholed streets while corrupt city officials line their pockets with money meant for infrastructure upkeep and the police are… you know what? You do you, Montreal. Never change.

Marie Davidson – Adieux Au Dancefloor

Davidson’s third album positions her as a sort of francophone James Murphy, needling and prodding at the culture surrounding the dance and club music she’s been producing for years now. Speaking words over minimal techno with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Davidson displays a refreshing irreverence for the trendier European scenes like Paris and Berlin (side note: I still love you, Paris and Berlin, please let me into your cool clubs).

“I can hear you from the other continent,” Davidson teases during Good Vibes (Mocking Bird). If the other continent can’t hear her, it’s their loss.

The Courtneys – The Courtneys II

If you’re one of the many Canadians who believe music isn’t real unless there’s some sort of guitar involved, rejoice! There’s still something out there for you to enjoy in the form of Vancouver band The Courtneys, who deliver the same fun-in-the-sun lo-fi riffs and catchy choruses that we all thought went out of style a decade ago.

It’s almost impossible to separate new rock music from the nostalgia surrounding the genre’s heyday, but The Courtneys manage to keep things sounding fresh throughout their second album, which makes for a perfect road-trip listen.

Winner: Colin Stetson – All This I Do For Glory

The things Stetson does with a saxophone are unreal. He’s basically a one-man band, and he does it all with one instrument. He doesn’t even stop to breathe! I’m not sure where he sold his soul to become an otherworldly sax machine, but I would like the address if anyone has it. The first time you hear one of his tracks you might wonder who is playing drums, but that’s just him clacking the keys on the outside of his sax.

Stetson’s latest album is his most ambitious yet, playing with classical and electronic song structures and alternating between lengthy sonic journeys, uplifting interludes, and one pummelling track that sounds like it was ripped from the songbook of a metal band.

Rock on, Stetson. No one can sax like you.

The U.S. Presidential Campaign Needs More Candidate/Rapper Pairings Like Bernie Sanders and Killer Mike

My Canadian heritage has never prevented me from appreciating the spectacle of an American presidential campaign. Big money, bigger rhetoric, and very little concern for reality ensures a fresh sideshow south of the border every four years and I’m not one to turn down free entertainment.

Like any big American production, presidential campaigns can’t resist using celebrity cameos to generate interest among a wider audience. Think about it: nobody remembers anything about the 2012 Republican National Convention aside from that bit where Clint Eastwood mistook a chair for the president. 2016 is no different, with Bernie Sanders gaining the vocal support of Killer Mike – best known as one half of hip hop wrecking crew Run The Jewels.

Killer Mike is no stranger to political statements…

…but his involvement in Sanders’ campaign goes beyond any lyrical namedrop. Killer Mike has a six-part interview with Sanders on his YouTube channel and he spoke on the senator’s behalf after a Democratic party debate, marking the only time in history the spin room has ever been enjoyable.

If Sanders gains enough support to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, it could (and should) send other candidates rushing to find their own hip hop sidekicks. I have no clue who each candidate would select, but I have a few ideas (Kendrick Lamar is disqualified because he is too tight with Obama to rep for anyone else):

Hillary Clinton / Nicki Minaj

Minaj and Clinton are two women trying to carve out a place at the top of their male-dominated fields (rapping and being president, respectively). That might be all they have in common, and Minaj isn’t quite on Team Clinton yet, but that’s nothing a little face-time and an undisclosed campaign consultant fee couldn’t fix. Forget Clinton and Sanders, the people want to see a debate (read: rap battle) between Minaj and Killer Mike.

Martin O’Malley / Meek Mill

Mill would be the perfect face for whining about how O’Malley isn’t getting enough attention. Maybe he could respond with a dis track on a mixtape released months too late to have any impact. Maybe both of these guys should stop picking fights outside their weight classes if they want to stop being pummeled. Just a thought.

Donald Trump / Watch The Throne

Watch The Throne is the ultimate luxury-rap album, and Trump could decorate his most ostentatious mansion with Kanye’s tweets about Persian rugs and Jay Z’s lyrics about art auctions. On this front, Watch The Throne seems like the ideal pairing for Trump and his epic comb-over. You’ll need to ignore all the divisive, xenophobic garbage Trump spews every time he opens his mouth, so just try to stay focused on the money.

Also, Trump’s brand of combination spray tan and hair dye comes pretty close to matching this album art:

Ted Cruz / Drake

The Canadian connection! Cruz will tap into Drake’s appeal in the American heartland and Drake will do the Hotline Bling dance at the 2016 RNC.


How could anyone say no to this?

Marco Rubio / Macklemore

I’m not sure why, but Rubio strikes me as the kind of candidate who would rap about mopeds if given the chance.

Ben Carson / Wu-Tang Clan

According to Carson, he was one of the founding members of the Wu-Tang Clan. He also beat the Russians into space and punched Godzilla back into the Pacific with his bare hands. Wu-Tang!