When it comes to fiction, we love rooting for the bad guy. It’s why more cosplayers opt to don Darth Vader’s breath-stifling black mask over an original trilogy Luke Skywalker robe, or why online battle masters went bananas when Fortnite reintroduced Marvel heel Thanos as a playable character this past spring. Imperfect, endlessly complicated, and full of mystique, there just seems to be more to latch onto with a villain.
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There are those nights where you and hundreds of your closest friends are all gathered in the dark, dancing together to a band or a DJ, and then all of a sudden it’s not just you and them but it’s us. A collective mass pulsating to the music. A singular organism moving to and within every single note that is playing. This is what DOOMSQUAD is all about. The Toronto-based dance act wants to push the idea of what identity is.
“I’m used to bombast: guitar solos, lights, sweat, that kind of thing. Here was me and my guitar, and that’s it.” This is Murray Lightburn, longtime frontman for Canadian rock outfit the Dears, on the stripped-down nature of a recent performance in New York to promote his spectacular sophomore solo LP, Hear Me Out.
Just like the rest of us thumbing our way through our Insta feeds, Angel Du$t have a big-ass love for dogs. The music videos surrounding the U.S. quintet’s just-released third album, Pretty Buff, confirm as much, with the clip for their energized “Big Ass Love” finding the group, miniaturized and living within a discarded speaker, getting slurped by a Frenchie who punctured the speaker cone with its curious tongue.
It’s a chilly morning in Montreal when I get ahold of Ariel Engle on the phone. She is going on a morning walk and sets the scene for us. “It’s a chilly but beautiful morning just walking down Fairmont beside a bagel store. It’s about -2 degrees and there is a lot of snow. It’s all very Montreal”, she says with a laugh. You may know Engle as one of the members of the mighty Canadian collective Broken Social Scene, but you will definitely start to know her more through her solo project La Force. Her self-titled debut album is a bold artistic statement.
From thumbing through curiously flame-embroidered leather guitar straps, to crushing drum fills on electronic drum pads, to picking up a pack of guitar strings, Partner’s video for “Long & McQuade” is instantly relatable to anyone that’s killed an afternoon at their local music store. But even while it’s a universal experience on the whole, the Windsor, ON-by-way-of-Sackville, NB twosome of Josée Caron and Lucy Niles went extra CanCon on the track by specifically shouting-out the titular national chain.
Better Oblivion Community Center has come out of almost nowhere. The band, fronted by Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers, spent some time over a year and half period quietly writing songs together in Los Angeles in between both of their increasingly busy schedules. With a surprise release last week, Better Oblivion Community Center is set to take their record on the road this spring and we caught up with Oberst and Bridgers in LA to discuss the new project, their community songwriting process, and working with your friends.