At the end of 2017, twelve years after their inception, multi-award winning band Hey Rosetta! went on hiatus, after selling 10,000 tickets to five farewell shows. For the band’s principal songwriter and lead vocalist Tim Baker, this was the start of a new chapter. On his debut solo album Forever Overhead, Baker warmly welcomes you to it. The first words we hear him sing, on the first single “Dance,” is akin to a toast: “Here’s to the other side.” What follows are eleven songs that centre on kinship and show that Baker’s sharp songwriting, the heart of Hey Rosetta!, is as affecting as ever. When crafting the album, Baker drew from ’70s songwriters like Jackson Browne and Randy Newman, whose music filled his childhood home and from his contemporaries (Feist, Leif Vollebekk, The Barr Brothers). Produced by Marcus Paquin (The National, Local Natives), Forever Overhead blends piano ballads with ebullient folk-rock tracks featuring Liam O’Neill (Suuns), Ben Whiteley (The Weather Station), as well as Mishka Stein & Joe Grass (Patrick Watson).In the album’s opening track “Dance,” Baker moves alongside soft piano chords as buoyant, ’70s pop style instrumentation and a piercing guitar riff steadily build, bolstering his words of longing. He sings of connectivity and the tender emotions that are coupled with glances across a gym’s confetti-lined linoleum floor, the air thick with potential. Like Forever Overhead as a whole, Baker brings beauty and hope into listeners’ lives.
Good music seems instantaneous: a decisive rush of expression and dopamine. Hamilton, Ontario’s Ellevator capture that direct hit of immediacy, with a closer listen revealing the meticulous design of their muscular pop songs. Frontwoman Nabi Sue Bersche delivers raw lyricism with quiet power. Her nimble melodies anchor the electric hooks and cinematic timbres Ellevator has refined on countless stages. Their striking debut EP – recorded in Hamilton with Michael Keire (Arkells, The Dirty Nil, Wildlife) – was released in April 2018 by Arts & Crafts, and followed by a run of evocative singles. Brick by brick, Ellevator has built a reputation as a band to watch.
iskwē | ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ is, among many other things, an artist – a creator and communicator of music and of movement, of pictures, poetry and prose. And through it all, she’s a teller of stories that have impacted our past and will inform our future. acākosīk | ᐊᒐᑯᓯᐠ is the culmination of her creation and collaboration to this point. It’s a collection of seven sonic explorations that not only blur lines between sources and styles, but also between the actual and the ideal, the real and imagined. But by extension, it’s also the star around which immersive worlds of live performance, video, and visual art revolve. Building on the foundation of potent, cross-cultural electro-pop established on her self-titled 2013 debut and confidently cemented on her heralded 2017 JUNO-nominated and Polaris Music Prize Long-Listed follow-up The Fight Within, acākosīk incorporates more intense and urgent tinges of alternative, post-rock, and even industrial. The cohesive-yet-combustible result tips a cap to modern innovators like Florence + The Machine and FKA twigs while simultaneously borrowing sounds accumulated over centuries by iskwē’s cree and Métis ancestors. Virtually every song is laced with traditional Indigenous sounds, showcasing the beauty of the artist’s culture and inviting others to experience it first-hand. As such, the album is a masterclass in dynamics, sometimes reaching out like a tender hand in a velvet glove and hitting like a fist wrapped in razor wire at others. Her message is arguably most impactful when delivered from the stage, where it’s not uncommon for people to leave in entranced contemplation or even in tears. Music merges with dance, multimedia, and more in a completely engulfing and cathartic experience – again, one meant to bring people together and celebrate that which unites over that which divides.
Hamilton, Ontario’s King Park has been turning out mercurial, high-contrast indie rock since they released their 2017 breakout track, “Stay.” Gritty and lush, the quartet’s sound mirrors the antitheses of their hometown: on the one hand, blue-collar and raw, and, on the other, artful and lovely.
Haviah Mighty didn’t need to change her birth name when she decided to dedicate her career to music. In fact, Mighty couldn’t be more accurate a word to describe the 26-year-old artist, named one of XXL’s 15 Toronto Rappers You Should Know in 2019.Raised in a musical household in Brampton, Ontario, Mighty started singing at the age of 4, rapping at 11, and producing at 15. Well-known for being one of the three MCs who make up The Sorority — a hip-hop group born during an all-female cypher on International Women’s Day in 2016 — Mighty is making equally large waves as a solo artist. Haviah has been releasing music independently since 2009, but it was her project, Flower City (2017), that propelled her solo career into further success. In 2018, Mighty’s track “Vámonos” appeared on HBO’s hit series Insecure. That same year, Mighty was declared winner of the prestigious 2018/2019 Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class. Haviah’s explosive live show, filled with in-your-face intensity and her fast, technical flows, has also quickly developed her reputation as one to keep an eye on, earning her opening slots for acclaimed artists like Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, Redman and Method Man, Sheck Wes, Nelly, Desiigner, and Kranium. Mighty’s Polaris Prize-winning album 13th Floor is her most fully-realized project to date. Garnering overwhelming praise from the likes of Pitchfork, Hot New Hip Hop, and Lyrical Lemonade to name a few, Haviah continues to carve out spaces that boldly defy gendered expectations for women in hip hop.
Nyssa is the producer and performer of her own sequin-encrusted beats, powerhouse vocals, and picaresque persona. Raised on the glitz and glam of yesteryear, Nyssa flips the script on masculinity in rock and roll, blitzing the boys’ club to pave the way for all of the bad girls. She uses her lyrical prowess to explore themes of modern-day feminine malaise, sexuality, and androgyny. Nyssa’s live performance is a sleazy spectacle of pageantry and pomp. She struts with the bravado of a B-movie vixen against the backdrop of glitter-soaked power ballads, sparking desire as her dynamic vocals fan the flame.