BRACCO (FRANCE)

Working with the electronic producer Paulie Jan for their first LP, Bracco came up with the sound that faithfully portrays their music. A logic and sensitive mix between dark club-music, and deep post-punk. “Grave”, their first album, referring to the multiple dramas that have stroke the group’s life, forms a skillful deconstruction of references.

In 2022, the duo, based in the venue “La Station Gare des Mines”, in Paris, France, are preparing a new album, signed on Born Bad Records (FR), even more rallying than the previous. It will be released beginning of 2023, on the french music label – Born Bad (Frustration, Villejuif Underground, J.C. Satan, etc.)

Pillow Fite (Nova Scotia)

Art Ross (they/them) and Aaron Green (he/him) come from disparate backgrounds and musical forms, meeting in the middle to comprise a band that’s tender and fierce, exuberant and gentle.

Green—a veteran of the Halifax rock scene, the guitar anchor of Floodland and Hello Delaware—and Ross—a trans songwriter with an acoustic guitar—started writing songs together over text, by accident. Pillow Fite emerged publicly at the start of 2021 with its non-binary gender-subverting aesthetics already in place and a languid lead single in “Playing the Fool.” Halifax, a town built on and stuck in rock music made by men, responded with supportive fervour, selling out back-to-back shows that saw the duo expand its sound with help from the scene’s most in-demand players.

Fans of the intimate and observational lyrics of Kathleen Edwards and the intensity and moodiness of Radiohead will find similar amenities in Pillow Fite. Between Ross’ boldly queer, bravely intimate lyrics and Green’s tasteful and inventive guitar lines—he’s also cut his production teeth on this project—they evoke weeping and singalongs in equal measure.

Drawing on the influence and emotional heft of songwriters such as Sharon Van Etten, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Tegan and Sara, Pillow Fite’s debut record solidifies a fusion of a diverse array of experiences, genres, and ideas. Flutter is a an album that is as deeply heartfelt as it is catchy against all odds. The the Halifax duo collaborated with John Mullane (In-Flight Safety, Loviet, POSTFUN) to create a project that is bold yet quiet, intimate, and full of tender moments. Pillow Fite is music for your break-up and your rebound, the future and the now, a cut and a kiss.

Izra Fitch (Nova Scotia)

‘THE ARTIST LEAVES YOU NO CHANCE…’ IGGY MAGAZINE

Izra Fitch introduces her alt-pop revolution. The front woman’s debut single ‘The Hollywood Kids’ introduced her raw yet polished presence as a queer pop artist. Her sincere connection with her audiences matches the band’s ability to produce a drama filled live show. It is that superhero-meets-human-woman that makes up Izra Fitch.

Backbeats to heartbreak. 80s drums. A motorcycle helmet over blonde hair. Being transformed on a stage.

Welcome to Redemption Era.

Yohvn Blvck (Nova Scotia)

Yohvn Blvck, born Edwin Yohance Hull in St John’s, Antigua, 1995, can be found continuously breaking boundaries in Canada since arriving in 2013. Notable for his unique sound, charisma and exuberant performances, Blvck is an up and coming artist with an already strong foundation set and laid.

With roots grounded in RnB, Blvcks alternative sound blossoms effortlessly in conjunction with obvious Hip Hop and Rock influences. He is truly in his element whether in the studio or on stage, where he alternates between reveling in and surrendering to his own vulnerability. The singer songwriters’ energy is unmatched as he pours his heart into each unique track of his EP “Icarus”.

No stranger to dark times, the Antiguan artist shares his soul with fans, delving into depictions of substance abuse, relationships and betrayal. With tracks like “California” and “Drowning”, Blvck unapologetically shines a light on heartbreak, hopelessness and the will it takes to persevere. Listeners can’t help but be left with a sense of solace after each performance.

Flying high, with fierce dedication and a soulful approach, Yohvn Blvck is a force to be reckoned with. His ever-adaptive approach to life translates seamlessly into his music, with each passing verse pulling you in closer to the artists own unique perspective.

Haley Blais (BC, Canada)

Haley Blais is a Vancouver based singer-songwriter and musician. Haley has been DIY-ing it since 2014, turning out song after song of defiant scream-into-your-pillow bedroom pop anthems recorded in her actual bedroom. Below the Salt, the debut studio LP from the up and comer, is a coming of age story that recognizes that there is no real ‘coming of age.’ Featuring production from indie favourites Tennis (Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley) and fellow Vancouver artist Louise Burns, Haley’s signature sound has matured into a distinct new voice. Her lyrics riff on the joys and banalities of the every day, on the need to break apart and away from an uninspiring life, on radical acceptance, and manifesting a world where you feel proud of yourself and who you’re surrounded by. “Canada’s nostalgia pop queen” – i-D Magazine

Cassidy Mann (MB, Canada)

As a lyricist, singer-songwriter Cassidy Mann often reshapes a small moment into a powerful and poetic song that feels both personal and relatable.

“My favorite thing is to write about tiny things that make the bigger picture more important somehow,” she says. “It’s interesting to me how memories are interpretable.”

Mann’s latest EP “If It’s Not Forever” served as a catalogue of how her early relationships ended and why – and she hopes that other people feel seen and comforted by her stories.

Certain moments in a relationship are almost always at the core of her songs, whether it’s the potential start of something special (“Since I Met You”) or the inevitable end (“Stop a Heart”).

Her latest offering is the new single “Along For the Ride” – a song she wrote alone in her bedroom and then co-produced with Kris Ulrich and long time collaborator Roman Clarke. The track features back up vocals and harmonies by Georgia Harmer, a choice Mann says is “a musical symbol of the people in your life who support you.”

“This song is about getting caught up in someone else’s life and losing your agency for a while, which is always destabilizing. I hope it can be a reminder that our own goals are worthy of pursuing and the right people will encourage them, not try to bury them.”

XL the Band (BC, Canada)

XL The Band is a Western Canadian Music Award nominated hip hop/ jazz/ alternative fusion project featuring 2/3rds of 4x JUNO Award winning Vancouver group Swollen Members. The members of XL have decades of live experience rocking audiences of tens of thousands on festival main stages, playing in orchestras, and winding up jazz clubs.

XL have had their songs and music videos streamed over 3,000,000 times, have been selected to perform at multiple prominent festivals, and have European and North American touring lined up in support of their debut album release Opus No. 1.

Ellen Froese (SK, Canada)

Ellen Froese is what you’d call a “prolific artist”; committed, too. For someone who only just passed the threshold of their mid-20s, she’s amassed a resolutely solid body of work and, with a variety of projects, achieved more than some many years her senior. For Each Flower Growing, Froese’s fourth full-length, produced in collaboration with the Sheepdogs’ Sam Corbett, is her most accomplished statement to date, drawing on her established sound as a folk & country-based singer/songwriter while incorporating a wider frame of reference in the rich production, supple instrumentation, and overall sonic soundworld. It’s much harder to pin down than any simple description can convey, making it all the more worthwhile to check out.

The impressive scope of this rich, imaginative amalgam of an album is largely due to the expansive creative vision of Froese herself, who says the album is “based around ideas of 1970s science exploration via Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos, Arthur Russell’s drum machine folk music, finding humour in sadness, and analyzing past relationship choices”. Some of these guiding elements can be attributed simply to the continuing growth of a serious artist, but others lie in less sunny realities. Jill Mack, Froese’s original recording engineer and close friend, sadly passed away during the making of For Each Flower Growing, and subsequently the album became, as she puts it, “something different – it is now an homage to her and will always hold memories of my time in the studio with her”.

Despite this deep sadness underpinning the album’s creation, Froese was lucky to find a wonderful creative foil in Sam Corbett, helping her move past old ideas and reimagine her conception of what “folk music” can be. With the addition of drum machines, synths, and more intricate vocal production techniques, Froese reflects that “folk music can be anything I want it to be; I don’t have to be stuck in an antiquated mindset to hold strong musical ties to the past”. And the results of that mindset are stellar; For Each Flower Growing is exquisitely warm and inviting, foregrounding the singer’s lilting, ethereal vocals atop right-in-the-pocket, pillow-y drumming, melodic bass lines, ripples of Hammond organ layers, and – for the headphone listener – a bevvy of expertly-placed sonic details tucked into the margins of this highly accomplished album.

The album is an easy listen, immediately inviting and begging for repeat listens. And while it sits nicely alongside contemporary songsmiths such as Angel Olsen, Laura Veirs, Jessica Pratt, and Adrienne Lenker (Big Thief), Froese’s sound moves beyond those realms, also recalling the aforementioned Arthur Russell, an iconoclastic songwriter and producer whose songs traded in similar contemplative, horizon-gazing moods, and even the more relaxed moments of Jeff Tweedy and Wilco. In other moments, Froese’s roots in the trad-folk world shine through, revealing an affinity for ’60s British folk trailblazers such as Fairport Convention and Nick Drake, as well as under the radar gems like Judee Sill and Sybille Baier. Froese recently completed a string of live dates with beloved fellow Saskatchewanians Deep Dark Woods, and she is gearing up for a residency at the legendary Cameron House in Toronto for the month of November. The album is due out on November 10 via Victory Pool Records, and appreciators of fine music would be well-advised to check it out.

Commander Spoon (Belgium)

Commander Spoon is used to drawing Jazz that is anything but by the book colouring outside the lines in stinging movements. After their vibrant first album, they are back to present a new collaborative piece called Flock. For this joyful musical assemblage, they gathered other thriving artists around them including Tristan, Shungu, Esinam, and many others.

The band consists of Pierre Spataro (saxophone), Florent Jeunieaux (guitar), Fil Caporali (bass) and Samy Wallens (drums). They made several EP together and an LP called Spooning in which they interlace their eclectic wealth of influences into an energetic sound, respectfully demolishing walls between genres.

LohArano (Madagascar)

LohArano are a power trio coming to us from Madagascar, with a fusion of rock and malagasy ternary rhythms that results in a new sound of metal. It’s a parable of malagasy’s past, present and future identity, told through their bubbling rock fusion, combining electric guitars and mystical sounds.

ALASKALASKA

London based Welsh artists ALASKALASKA make their FOCUS Wales debut in 20223! Four seasons of dawn chorus, panoramically framed by fruit trees and more analogue synths than can comfortably fit in a cow shed-come-recording studio…the scene is set for the recording of ALASKALASKA’s second album ‘Still Life’. Ordinarily located in South East London, writers and producers Fraser Rieley and Lucinda Duarte-Holman were eager to get out of the city. Taking advantage of this rustic countryside scene, they were able to capture something uniquely their own.

Following their debut album in 2019, they resurface in to a new era embracing all the things that first put the band on the map, attracting the likes of Tame Impala, Hot Chip, Porridge Radio and Nilüfer Yanya for tour support slots. The band now push their foundational ideas further and explore sounds they’d never quite had the freedom to play with. Duarte-Holman explains, “…with everything going on at the time, the restrictions led us to try working in a new way. The limitations were different, but meant we were able to adventure into a more electronic soundscape that we’re really looking forward to expressing live.”

Opus Kink

The name ‘Opus Kink’ flutters on the lips of the kingdom. The six-piece group – comprised of Angus Rogers, Sam Abbo, Fin Abbo, Jed Morgans, Jazz Pope & Jack Banjo Courtney – blend a dizzying array of influences to create a dark and thundering dish hitherto unknown to the unwitting public.

Early support from BBC Radio 6, The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess, NME Magazine & other champions bolstered the word-of-mouth notoriety of their wild live show & paved the way for an incoming barrage of new releases and appearances.

‘Horn-fuelled filth-funk, where punk & jazz combine in grimy circumstances’ NME Magazine

‘always at the peril of derailing but somehow still in control – the adrenaline rush that comes from both situations is addictive’ DORK

Paddy Hanna (Ireland)

Paddy Hanna’s second album, Frankly, I Mutate was hailed by critics as “essential’ (Uproxx), “Superb” (The Quietus) and “As Brilliantly distinctive as they come” (Sunday Business Post). He also received considerable coverage in Stereogum, with Journalist Ryan Leas hailing him as an unsung hero of the Irish music scene.

The album’s critical success also led to various festival appearances such as Primavera and Electric Picnic, along with an unexpected tour with soul Legend Billy Ocean.

SUN (France)

SUN is a singer-songwriter, guitarist and actress. Catchy toplines, colorful visuals, feral screams and double pedal drums, her Brutal Pop could be the hidden child of St Vincent and Gojira. She debuted on the big screen in 2021 in a leading role in the feature film « Tom Medina » by Tony Gatlif, selected at Cannes Film Festival 2021. In the movie she acts, sings her own songs and plays her sparkly Telecaster. She also wrote five tracks of the soundtrack.

SUN opened for Ayron Jones, Betraying The Martyrs, Travis, Nina Hagen, Shonen Knife, Shanon Wright, Dagoba…

She has performed in several showcase festivals in Europe and Japan : The Great Escape (UK), MaMA (Paris), Tokyo Beyond (Tokyo), Trans Musicales (Rennes), Future Echoes (Sweden), Wave (Austria), MMVV (Spain), MIL (Portugal), Spike (Bulgaria).

In September 2021 SUN was awarded the FAIR Prize, the most important French prize for modern Music.

Upcomings tours are in Laos / Japan, Germany / Scandinavia and USA.

NoGood Boyo

The trash-trad group NoGood Boyo is the only band you need to see if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you locked Enter Shikari, The Prodigy and Meredydd Evans, in one room and told them to make some noise. NoGood Boyo is also the only band with an accordion to request extra security staff, and paramedics on standby after shattering dancefloors at their gig in Brittany the night before. Even without listening to a note, and whatever you think of traditional music, these facts make them like no other grassroots band coming out of Wales right now.

Dressed in attire resembling a steampunking Welsh Nana, and with their music mixing traditional Welsh language songs with the sounds of 90s rave and nu-metal, NoGood Boyo are already on their way to taking over the music industry in Wales, and they are ready to party like it’s 1699.

NoGood Boyo take their genre-bending ‘trash-trad’ label from the purists out to stop them, and the traditional music they proudly and brashly mashed up, and brought in to the 21st Century. Their uniform consists of a boiler suit, sunglasses, and a traditional Welsh hat – seen only on biscuit tins and tacky merch at Barry Island until now.

The perfect balance of paying tribute to their welsh heritage with with all out recklessness. Go loud or go home.

N’famady Kouyate

N’famady Kouyaté is a young energetic master musician from Guinea (Conakry), who relocated to Cardiff (Wales) in 2019. A talented multi-instrumentalist who wowed audiences across the UK and Ireland during autumn/winter 2019/20 with his modern interpretations of traditional West African Mandingue songs and rhythms supporting Gruff Rhys on the Pang! album tour. N’famady’s primary instrument is the balafon – the traditional wooden xylophone, sacred to West African culture and his family heritage of the griot/djeli. In Guinea he founded ‘Les Héritiers du Mandingue’ a tradi-modern group that toured extensively in West Africa.

In the UK N’famady has played both as a solo artist and with a full band line up – where his arrangements are a fusion of Mandingue African with western jazz, pop, indie, and funk influences provided by an ever-evolving collective of musicians. Instrumentation includes balafon, keyboards, drumkit, djembe, guitar, bass, kora, doundoun, congas, saxophone, trumpet, & callabash. N’famady’s performances create amazing atmospheres and vibrations wherever he goes, and audiences are charmed by his infectious enthusiasm and joy.

N’famady released his first EP in July 2021, recorded in the legendary Rockfield Studios, with a full band line up, including guest appearances from Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), Lisa Jên Brown (9Bach), and Kliph Scurlock (The Flaming Lips). The EP features mash-ups of traditional Guinean songs with new Welsh lyrics, modern & traditional instrumentation, played by a ten-piece band. N’famady has a steadily growing fanbase both in the UK and West Africa.

During the 2020 lockdown N’famady participated in a number of online events including DarloDrum Fest, Ara Deg festival online, Out Of Focus Wales, and Gwyl 2021 festival – but due to COVID-19 restrictions was only able to do solo sets. N’famady did play one pop up (socially distanced) gig with a full band line up, plus special guest Gruff Rhys, as part of Butetown Carnival in Cardiff Bay in September 2020. Since then the band have performed at the Wales Millennium Centre, Llangollen Fringe Festival, and took Green Man Festival by storm headlining the Chai Wallah stage.

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