Crystal Eyes - Niloo - Tamar Berk - Ali Sperry - Wildlife Freeway - Hannah Schneider

Photo - Rebecca Reid
Crystal Eyes - Don't Turn Around.

The Calgary, Alberta-based psych-rock/dream-pop band, Crystal Eyes have just shared their new single, "Don't Turn Around" which comes off the back of support for last month's release, "Wishes" which went on to find support at FLOOD, Brooklyn Vegan, Exclaim and more. The new single is the latest to be lifted from the forthcoming second record, The Sweetness Restored which is set for release via the beloved Madrid label, Bobo Integral (Motorists, Ducks Ltd, Quivers) on April 22.

Crystal Eyes, who are made up of Erin Jenkins (singer/guitarist) and a revolving cast of musicians, currently Jordan Tettensor (guitar), Joleen Toner (synth), Will Johnson (bass) and Paul de Andrade (drums) describe the new record as a "feel-good self-help record for the age of existential dread." The Sweetness Restored displays a kind of wistful self-awareness right from the start, it's a collection of ten tracks that flirt with musical influences ranging from new wave, psych-rock and shoegaze, with songs driven by melody and steeped in texture.

Recorded at Montreal's Breakglass Studios with producer/engineer, Andrew Woods (The Operators, Legal Vertigo, Basia Bulat) before being mixed by Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, The Unicorns, Peter Gabriel) the record contains thoughtful attention to musical detail thanks to the talented team of artists behind the project. And with the beautiful, warm tones of the Neve console, it's at once a unique sound, but one that feels comfortingly familiar. The prolific Scott' Monty' Munroe (Preoccupations, Chad VanGaalen) contributed bass and the talented Eve Parker Finley composed and performed string arrangements.

On the new single, "Don't Turn Around" the band turns the dial on some of the forthcoming album's post-punk aesthetics and 00's indie-rock sounds, nodding towards the Show Your Bones era of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Metric and The Raveonettes. Speaking about the new track, Jenkins says: "We wrote this track starting with the synth line and formed all the other parts around that. The drums are actually built off a loop of the live drumming (played by Kenny Murdoch), that our producer, Andrew Woods, built. The guitar part (that guitarist Jordan Tettensor) wrote felt incredibly Joy Division - this is one of the darker tracks on the record. We were definitely going for something moody and also sanguine."


Niloo - To Feel It Deep.

Niloo tells us "To Feel It Deep is the first single off of my self-titled EP. To Feel it Deep is a catchy, nostalgic and heartfelt dream-pop tune about the grief experienced from a heartbreak you can see coming from a mile away. 

The song begins with a simple yet conspicuous guitar and bass line, blended with warm vocals that carry the intimate lyrics through a build that grows into a lush and energetic arrangement. This song was crafted in the middle of the 2021 heatwave, at Risqué Disque Studios in the beautiful Cedar, BC, with the help of Jen Yakamovich of Troll Dolly on the drums and vibraphone, Shilo Preshyon as co-producer//audio engineer//mixer//bassist, and finally, Jonathan Scherk, who mastered the EP.

For the music video, I worked with the talented director and filmmaker Ali Calladine, who previously shot the music video for my debut single, Funny Face. We aimed to create a simple, yet beautiful music video that highlighted the introspective and emotive elements of the song. 

The visuals interweave three scenes that represent three different facets of post-heartbreak reflection: a vocal performance scene highlighting the lyrics, a movement scene with evocative choreography, and lastly, a water scene representing renewal. The music video features choreography and performance by Ella Huber of The Space Collective, as well as performances by myself and Youssef Ben Ammar."


Tamar Berk - Your Permission.

Indie pop singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Tamar Berk has released the lead single from her upcoming sophomore album Start At The End, titled “your permission”. This new single is the first new music from Tamar since her full length album from 2021, The Restless Dreams Of Youth, which was just nominated for album of the year and best pop album at the San Diego Music Awards.

The song, which also opens the new album Start At The End, starts out small and intimate – with just Tamar’s voice and some wurlitzer keys – before steadily building up additional layers of vocals and instrumentation until the song arrives at a huge sing-along chorus, showing off the full dynamic range of her songwriting abilities in a relatively small package.

Speaking to the inspiration and lyrical meaning behind “your permission”, Tamar writes “There are days, or even periods of my life when I just want to stop having to be me, and step outside of myself and be someone else…not have to deal with my usual anxieties, issues, and the obsessive thoughts in my head. Just the thought of not being in my head, even for just a day, seems so incredibly liberating!  My thoughts can be quite intrusive and annoying and I suppose, it would be nice to experience not having to deal with being myself for a day or making any decisions. The title of the song “your permission” came to me as I thought about moments when I find myself apologizing for stating my opinion, needing something, or simply standing up for myself. My first instinct is always to apologize which I find myself doing sometimes…ultimately the title is ironic.”

The single is also accompanied by a music video in which many different ghostly versions of Tamar are overlaid on top of each other, each wearing different outfits as they all sit down to play at the same piano, a clever mirroring of the track’s opening lyric “can I ask your permission to be someone else today?”.


Photo - Fairlight Hubbard
Ali Sperry - Excuses.

Venerated Nashville singer/songwriter Ali Sperry has just released "Excuses," the latest from her forthcoming LP, In Front Of Us, out on March 11th.

"Excuses" calls out those who can't take responsibility for their actions - "In keeping with the archetypal characters in this record, 'Excuses' centers around the person who you want to give the benefit of the doubt to but repeatedly lets you down, a person that makes a mess and holds no accountability," says Ali of the track. "As I continued to tease out the lyrics to the second verse, I found myself picturing our then president and wondering whether in his quietest moments he was ever able to experience the weight of the harm he was doing."

With Owen Biddle on bass, Jen Gunderman on keys, Kai Welch on synth, and Sadler Vaden’s rip-roaring guitar, Ali was able to explore a broader palette of colors, and channel into the music some of the innate anger that comes with being human.


Wildlife Freeway - Flea.

Wildlife Freeway, the artist moniker of songwriter Sunny Atema, released her debut album Sunny on Alex Ebert's Community Music label, available to stream worldwide. The album features a collection of exquisitely crafted, moody, whimsical indie-folk songs that courageously plunge into the depths of human emotion.

“A wildlife freeway is a bridge for animals to safely cross over busy roads, so when we humans are rushing off in cars to our parties, the animals can get to their forest fairy parties too,” says Atema on the project and album. “The name also speaks of wildness and life on the road. The actual road, putting in the miles, brings us eye to eye, connecting without a screen between.”

A few years back after her beloved dog passed away, Sunny Atema packed her real upright piano in the back of her station wagon and toured the entire US. “I was so sad, I died too. I felt like a kite whose string was cut loose, longing for Earth,” she explains. The music shows were raw, both painful and joyful, surrounded by the perfect presence of people beckoning her back to their shared world when she felt disconnected from it. It was in New Orleans on that very tour that she was introduced to Alex Ebert, and soon after they entered the studio together.

“I don’t normally produce other artists, so when Sunny showed up at the studio unannounced, I had no notion of producing anything,” Ebert recalls. “But as soon as she sat down at the baby grand, I was inspired. This was a uniquely personal kind of music. I approached the production itself delicately, as if the songs themselves would shatter to pieces if a callous move was made.  I wanted to make sure the whole album felt the way I felt when I first heard her at my studio - like we are each being let in on a secret.”


Hannah Schneider - Mirror Sphere.

With a minimalist and sensitive tone, Hannah Schneider's new single Mirror Sphere tells a monumental story about the beginning of life. Mirror Sphere returns to the amoeba's path from sea to land in an organic, ambient pop song. The single is the second single from Hannah Schneider's upcoming album Ocean Letters. Mirror Sphere was released on February 25 via Copenhagen label Midnight Confessions

The singer is one half of the celebrated duo AyOwA who have received significant international support from the likes of Huffington Post, The Independent, VICE, The Line of Best Fit, CLASH Magazine and Wonderland Magazine as well as airplay from both BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens as well as BBC Radio 6’s 6mix with Nemone. Independently, Hannah Schneider has been nominated for several music prizes in Denmark, and has performed all over Europe, the UK and the USA. Her spherical voice has appeared on several big Scandinavian TV series, recently in the international nordic TV series Ride Upon the Storm.

Hannah Schneider released the first single from her upcoming album in November ’21. “We Will Be The Only Sound In The World” is told from the perspective of a conch shell, about the grains of sand and waves that have left their mark over time:

“We Will Be The Only Sound In The World opens on an austere,
elegant piano topped by Hannah’s deliciously haunting voice,
crystalline yet ethereal at the same time. It’s one of those mystical
voices with the power of summoning up the past, present,
and future” pop

The mysteries of nature and the oceans have inspired all the new songs, and the story of Mirror Sphere is told from the perspective of the amoebas - life at the beginning of the earth.

“I wrote Mirror Sphere in the middle of the darkest times of the pandemic. It felt like it was a crucial moment in history - almost as if it was the end of it all. I came to think of the earth's long history, and that everything happens over billions of years - all the way back from the time the amoebas decided to go ashore, to become animals and later humans. We're just part of the long haul, and that’s kind of a consolation!”