BEND SINISTER The Other Way (Cordova Bay)
Bend Sinister has been many 2
things over the years—jaunty rock ’n’ rollers, anthemic gut-bellowers, and sultry balladeers. The Other Way successfully takes all those elements and slots them together into one slick record.
Describing the collection as “six songs of fun”, the band has hit the nail on the head. Opening the collection with a Queen-esque masterpiece, the group shows its aptitude for tonguein-cheek pastiche without losing its own identity.
“Get Along”, the second track, kicks the EP off proper. High-octane drumming and honky-tonk keyboard riffs jostle with a persistent bass line and stadium-filling chorus, before sliding into lead single “Walk the Other Way”—a track that sports an Imagine Dragons feel, but with infinitely more swag.
“Rock and Roll”, on the other hand, returns to the band’s proclivity for pastiche. With a chorus featuring lyrics like “Rock ’n’ roll can’t be forgotten” and “We won’t lose our soul,” the self-referential track recalls classics like AC/DC’S “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” or the Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ’n Roll”—all elevated by singer Dan Moxon’s flawless vocals.
It’s certainly ambitious to nod to the greats. But with its excellent musicianship and immaculate production, The Other Way is never derivative, and injects new life into elements that defined rock bands of the past. > KATE WILSON
Half Present (Independent)
Sure, it’s possible to appreciate the music of Funny Death without knowing any background—but to really get it, it’s worth digging into his story.
Born Jad Mroue, the artist has roots in Lebanon, the Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso, and fled a number of war zones before settling in Vancouver. A nomadic soul, Mroue has been quoted as saying that nationalities and frontiers don’t matter to him—and that’s one of the reasons for the uniqueness of his music.
Heavily influenced by ’80s Japanese electronic tracks—he lived in Japan for a time—the producer creates dreamy songs filled with meditative synthesizers and occasional reverbed vocals. Western melodies and lyrics form the foundations of his songs, and each is augmented by Japanese scale flourishes. On his first Canadianwritten album, the expansive 19-track Half Present, Mroue has created a collection that would sound perfectly at home soundtracking the original Blade Runner movie or Ryan Gosling’s moody Drive—at once saturnine and sparkling with eastern energy.
Sure, it’s a niche part of culture that few stumble across—but the genre still boasts an ardent following in the West. Mroue perfectly taps into the scene, borrowing motifs from the era and transporting them into 2018 by floating them over glitchy funk bass lines in tracks like “Misswave” and the soulful bossa nova of “Toden Arakawa Line”. It might be miles away from mainstream EDM, but Half Present has plenty to hook electronic-music aficionados of all stripes.