Jack Johnson / To The Sea / Universal
While musicians branch out and experiment to continually impress their listeners, Jack Johnson lazily relaxes on the beach with his mind at ease. Not because he’s a lyrical genius who can manifest magic with his words, but because he’s not too worried about the critics. To The Sea shows his mindset as it’s not particularly groundbreaking, but it’s enough to make his down-to-earth, flip-flop-loving followers dig it. Upbeat tunes still float nearby while the honest gems that reveal his surfer heart are both depressing and warming enough to cap off that campfire with close friends at the beach. Gnarly, dude.
Download: “The Upsetter”, “Anything But The Truth”
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals / Self-Titled / Universal
Throw in stunning vocals, the swagger of Joan Jett and the sexiness of Stevie Nicks into a cocktail shaker and what do you get? A classy rock n’ roll dame that’s tries imitate Grace Potter. The Vermont rock outfit is like the Monarch butterfly some of us were forced to care for in grade three. Instead of being a quiet and tedious caterpillar that transforms into a crippled creation due to idle hands, the band tore at the seams of its confinement and evolved into what’s titled Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. The release represents the rock genre as it’s honest (“Goodbye Kiss”), vivacious (“Medicine”) and prominently sexual (“Paris (Ooh La La)”). That’s excluding the dauntless solo and primitive wails inhabiting the end of “Tiny Light”.
Download: “Paris (Ooh La La)”, “Tiny Light”
Born Ruffians / Say It / Paper Bag Records
The Midland trio wanted to make a statement with Say It and proclaim they’re in the music biz for the long haul. In all honesty, the sophomore disc is what would happen if you made Vampire Weekend swig Canadian whiskey. Each carefree pluck and riff is soaked in vibrant sounds that puzzle and excite while guitarist/vocalist Luke LaLonde swoons with perky vocals powered by a bit of chest hair. To call it a pop record is blasphemy as “The Ballad Of Moose Bruce” is Exhibit A, but it’s okay to say it: Born Ruffians have hit a stride in a true Canadian way.
Download: “What To Say”, “Nova Leigh”
Uffie / Sex, Dreams And Denim Jeans / Warner
Everyone remembers girls fighting. They scratch the makeup caked on each others faces, throw wild punches and even pull each others hair. With rival pop stars already unchaining tracks similar to material Uffie has been dropping for years, you expect the electro artist to start taking shots at others. Anna-Catherine Hartley doesn’t roll like that. Neither does her debut which exemplifies what she’s notorious for: a sense of recklesness combined with a saucy attitude and rhymes infected with cute-kitten venom (“I got more stamps in my passport than a post office”). The talent drips from her pores, but if Uffie can tone down the experimentation and let her flow move with its torturous flair, she’ll be feeding starving hipsters with animated lines for years to come.
Download: “MCs Can Kiss”, “Neuneu”
The Acorn / No Ghost / Paper Bag Records
It seems like nothing good comes from Ottawa. Their hockey team chokes on a relentless basis and the only reason to travel there is to take advantage of the border and pillage stores for their cheap alcohol. The Acorn hail from such a city and surprisingly, No Ghost isn’t a disaster. Like most indie folk, it’s glowing with personality, one that’s fond of nature, the wilderness and jangly, whole-hearted guitars and percussion bits that speak in lullabies. The collection of songs may seem more confusing than campfire-esque, but if you let the soothing boyish vocals entertain your mind, you’ll understand the delicate emotion thrusted into each verse and chorus.
Download: “I Made The Law”, “No Ghost”
Hawthorne Heights / Skeletons / Wind-up
It’s hard to believe some of us were infatuated with singles like “Ohio Is For Lovers” and bands like Hawthorne Heights. Yes, the Dayton quartet is still playing music and yes, that fact does sound like a nightmare. If you liked the band’s early material then you will be surprised by Skeletons. Why? Because you can’t compare it to new acts. Instead you find yourself relating the grizzled chords and frontman JT Woodruff’s growls to nostalgic memories like Armor For Sleep. Like most emo pop, it’s soaking wet from hatred and self doubt and will thankfully fade into dust like the thoughts of how we used to steal our sister’s clothes because it matched our tattered Converse kicks.
Download: “Broken Man”