Fresh tunes from the indie label who brought us PUP and Hollerado.
by Glenn Alderson
Music has the power to lift our moods and release us from couch grip.
As music hype-ists, we’re always looking for the best new tunes and one place we’re guaranteed to get a good listen is from Royal Mountain, the indie label who introduced us to bands like Hollerado, Alvvays and PUP.
We have highlighted five of their most recent releases that we think you need to hear. Give ‘em a stream or order them on vinyl—these are the tunes that will turn your self-isolation blues upside down and inside out.
Ellis – Born Again
Ellis is the kind of artist who debuts material over livestream from a blanket fort, and creates music videos that can only be described in her words: “an anime fairytale world.” The Hamilton-based songwriter has a soothing and intimate voice that makes you hang on her every word, and sometimes, those words cut shockingly deep. Her new album Born Again is no exception. Its title and tracks are inspired by the re-evaluation of her values that were formed by her Christian upbringing. Many of her songs tackle her feelings of shame. A slow lull that gets angry when it needs to—it’s hard to believe such dark thoughts could come from a voice so pure.
Nap Eyes – Snapshot Of A Beginner
The fourth album from the self-proclaimed Nova Scotian nerds is just the kind of introverted indie rock that’s perfect in a time when we can’t do much but sit at home and self-evaluate.
Over mostly acoustic instrumentals that are sparse but catchy, light and non-invasive but determined, former biochemist Nigel Chapman spends most of the album analyzing why he’d rather sit around and procrastinate than change the world.
In a surprisingly low and endlessly relatable baritone voice, Chapman sings matter-of-factly about everything from a highly scientific description of evolution to The Legend of Zelda and why Mark Zuckerberg just might be a ghost.
Mav Karlo – Reno Tapes
The debut solo project from former Hollerado frontman Menno Versteeg, Reno Tapes was recorded over the course of nine days in a $40 per night casino hotel room in Reno, Nevada. Using only the scarce items pictured on the album artwork, Versteeg used this opportunity as an attempt to get away from it all and spend some time alone.
The sound is much more lo-fi than his former band’s energetic pop-rock cuts, white noise crackling throughout as Versteeg deftly plucks his acoustic strings. With the use of a drum machine and his four-track recorder, he conveys a certain sense of realness and charm, infusing his songs with his dark but undeniably hilarious sense of humour.
Shady Nasty – Bad Posture EP
This Australian trio is proudly blurring the lines between contemporary hip-hop and lo-fi punk on their latest four-track EP. They grew up playing jazz and classical music together, so expect to hear some complex polyphonic throughout.
As atonal and claustrophobic sounds creep across these instrumental palates, some of these tracks essentially sound like what would happen if you replaced the instrumentation in a trap song with pounding drums and the menacing minor-key sludge of noise-rock guitars, Kevin Stathis shouting triplet flows overtop. Fans of Daughters, Bambara, and Idles should definitely pay attention.
Addressing the heavy expectations placed on their Chinese immigrant parents and struggles with mental health, Shady Nasty are a great example of Australia’s multidimensional music community standing head and shoulders above the rest of the world; a natural fit for Royal Mountain’s first international signing.
U.S. Girls – Heavy Light
On the seventh album from Toronto-based Meg Remy’s critically acclaimed experimental pop project, she boldly steps into a new territory of soul and funk, but never loses the poignant social commentary she is known for. Remy addresses a gauntlet of issues, interpolating multiple legendary tracks from the 60s and putting forth a lot of old-school girl-group musical energy. Remy brings out all the emotional catharsis that the best kind of exuberant, danceable pop music can incite. Centered by three powerful word collages about traumatic experiences, Heavy Light is a powerful album for healing together.