Posts Tagged ‘Idee Fixe Records’

Maybel – “Can’t Abandon My Love”

This lovely Canadian country-folk album snuck out early in 2020 as a digital only release on Vain Mina, but I missed its charms until just now. Today the excellent label Idée Fixe announces that they’re going to reissue the album and give it an LP pressing. Its a sort of beautiful and pure recording that’s part Carter Sisters, part Mountain Man oscillating between stripped back folk and velvety arrangements that lacquer on some pedal steel and glowing keys. Its hard to whittle down a favorite among the bunch, but the plaintive, sunset strums of “Can’t Abandon My Love” give a good idea of when their ache and grace line up in perfect harmony, tugging at the heart like a nagging memory that refuses to fade. The LP pressing will be out from their new label on April 10th, but not day better than a Bandcamp Friday to get in line for it.




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Jennifer Castle

There’s something quite freeing about the latest release from Jennifer Castle. The Canadian songwriter has always had a charming quality of disarmament, but on Monarch Season she’s created a folk masterpiece that slowly peels back the layers of the listener with each song. By the time the last song fades away into the colors of the clouds, the listener can feel the grass growing between their veins. Its such a natural, unfettered vision of folk in 2020 that the record almost feels as if we’re listening across some extra-dimensional echo from the past or a ripple from a future in which the gardens of the Earth are more tended by the caretakers than they are now.

Castle’s rooted this album in the enduring wonder of nature, which against all odds persists in some of the most amazing ways despite what we throw into the mix. It’s an unlikely beacon of hope in a year of uncertainty — an album centered around the migration of butterflies, yet stretching its winds wide to blow through social upheaval, personal tragedy, and stability brought low by the smallest consistencies. With just an unfurnished piano or strum, Castle can captivate. The songs lap at the listener like night waves, entranced by the silver stroke of the moon. Her voice stretches in the headphones — comforting as cashmere and often feeling twice as delicate — but also so enveloping that it seems no force could ever shake it. If a single tear of quiet release had a soundtrack to its fall, this may well be it.

Castle’s never come this close to hearth songs. These feel at times like homecomings, a soft whistle in to the family to gather from all corners, and the inclusion of a book of sheet music with the LP speaks her feeling of weaving this LP into the fabric of sing-a-long comfort that comes from closeness. Its a bygone pastime to gather loved ones and sooth through song, but Castle makes a good case here.

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Jennifer Castle – “Monarch Season”

Been a bit charmed by this new single from Canadian songwriter Jennifer Castle and it lands quite gently on a crisp fall day. With a bit of Judee Sill and Kath Bloom in her approach, Castle’s latest album is wistful and reserved, letting melancholy sit on our hearts with all its weight. “Monarch Season,” the title track to her upcoming LP, is a song that lacks even a whiff of jadedness, which in our current climate seems almost impossible. Castle depicts being so struck by the beauty of natural cycles that its overwhelming. With just a slight tumble of piano, a faint whisper of hiss, and her strident voice Castle can stamp out the most fervent doubts that while the world would conspire to crush us under a mountain of madness, there’s still an innate ability for it to also enrapture us with just one or two quiet moments. The song seems to streak down the skin in the wake of a tear, and like that simple indulgence, its gone with gust of the afternoon wind. The album is out October 16th from Paradise of Bachelors and Idée Fixe.




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ROY

Well, when you dive into it, theres a whole lotta backstory behind Peace, Love, and Outer Space. It centers around benevolent beings descending from space to offer a gift of peace that goes terribly awry for the recipient. Governmental intervention ensues, the message of peace is lost in a skirmish with the authorities and ROY as it were is left a changed person — open to the universe, but betrayed by his own fellow man. That story is spread over the nine tracks here, but it’s linked within a gauzy haze of psych-pop that makes it a skosh less cut and dry and a whole lot less ‘cult-culture pamphlet piece” than that might sound. Canadian label Idée Fixe has a longstanding tenure with psychedelics, but they rarely reach this far into the pop waters. The record is tin-hat certified but also lovingly crafted, draped in a lush pop pedigree that falls in easily with current contemporaries like HOLY, Jacco Gardner, or Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel. Though, historically, the band most earnestly threads their psychedelic needle with the same golden yarns that tied together the lush epics of Todd Rundgren before them.

Stylistically they skip between languid waters that threaten to melt into the soil, shimmering love-addled syrup-psych, and heavier riffs that thicken the pudding enough to give this one more than just a focus on the peace and love of the title. There’s a lot of reverberating gauze, and perhaps that’s to be expected, but the band can get into a high octane bit of garage pop when they want to. Sure, its all a bit much, but that’s sorta the point. If you’re not in it for the high-concept hipswing then you might as well just exit now. With members in tow from fellow Toronto psych bands Kaleidoscope Horse, Vypers, Possum and Hot Garbage, the ranks are deep enough to make this concept land on equal footing with the musicianship. Strap in for the full ride, though, and ROY’s LP is a candy-colored careen through the fourth wall of the studio.




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ROY – “Is It You (Sky Brother)”

New goodness out of Canada’s Idée Fixe Records this week and its draped in glittering psych-pop that’s hard to resist. Under the name of ROY, the rather anonymous Canadian collective weaves a tale of celestial beings that descend with a message of peace and love, omniscient objects, and government coverups. “Is It You (Sky Brother)” is drenched in a slippery echo that bounces off of chiming guitars and cozy vocals. The tone is harmonious, baroque euphoria, and the band wields the feeling well. Presumably the songs grow darker as they wind down the nefarious paths of dark forces intervening in their harmonic bliss, but on this early taste of the tales of Sky Brother and Sky Sister, the band is thrumming on a divine frequency. The album is out April 17th.




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James Matthew VII

There’s been a wealth of psychedelic country flooding the speakers of late, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Adding to this year’s patch of low-valley shimmer is Canadian songwriter James Matthew (De Long) VII. A longtime studio vet and songwriter, he’d originally found his way to the front of the fray with fellow punk tuned pop magnate Ben Cook in No Warning before the pair went on to softer shores with Marvelous Darlings. From there he found himself subsumed into the session life contributing to Tina Turner and Bone Thugs n’ Harmony records all while still popping up on Canada’s finest (Young Guv, Yacht Club, Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn LPs). All sounds like the perfect setup for an alt-country comedown, eh? Well, maybe. After branding himself Blind Matty he shifted to the slide-swapped shimmer of country for Burger Records, eventually dropping the moniker in favor of a tag closer to the name on his government issue.

His debut LP for Canadian powerhouse of psychedelic ephemera Idée Fixe Records sees him crystallize his vision for twang-tinted ramble. The record pulls at classic psych-country touches handed down from Flying Burritos, Country Funk and Mighty Baby while tumbling headlong into the cloud of smoke that surrounds latter day saints like Beachwood Sparks. De Long makes good on his twenty-odd years behind the strings for others, pulling in guest spots here from an enviable gathering of talent – Augie Meyers (Sir Douglas Quintet, Bob Dylan), Daddy Long Legs, Bill Cutler (Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir), John Catfish (Psychic Ills, Nude Party), Sean Dean (The Sadies), and Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn (U.S. Girls, MV&EE). The stacked bench pays off with songs that feel lived-in and natural, heartbreaking and melancholy. The record pulls off the heat-shimmer psychedelia bouncing off the blacktop while still feeling like a leathered country classic that could easily stand another twenty years and sound timeless. This is yet another release swooping in at the tail end of 2019, so don’t let the rush to quantify the last eleven months overshadow one of the years’ best.



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The Cosmic Range

Its such a packed year, that as we enter the mid-point its time to go back and sweep out some of the great releases that got lost in the cavalcade. That includes the sorely under-appreciated sophomore LP from Canada’s Cosmic Range. The band, much like their close contemporaries in Badge Epoque Ensemble, is comprised largely of players who found themselves in and around the backing band from last year’s U.S. Girls release. Featuring the likes of Matthew ‘Doc” Dunn and Maximillian (Slim Twig) Turnbull, the record scratches a familiar itch that claws at the crux of jazz, psych, and funk. The band is dipped and doused in the hash den Ashram of ‘70s Miles Davis on his run between the Brew and the Corner. They’re beset with the same shakes that lit up the nerves on Nation Time and they’re weeding out the same calm collective gardens that Alice Coltrane tended.

There’s more than a little hazed quasar space rock floating in the froth as well and the band pulls the throttle way back for the disquieting loneliness of “Eyes for Rivers” before they spark back up for the double barrel burn of “The Observer.” Rhythm is a constant throughout the album, whether tapping out a tender cosmic sendoff or bringing the punishing pound of a polyrhythmic puzzle. The band’s clearly comprised of seasoned vets bouncing their highest beta wave wobble among the collective consciousness. The record is a heady hit, blown through with psychedelic sax n’ wah fried guitar grooves that’ll sate the most ardent heads out there. If you’ve heard the tangential works that the players have cropped up on, then it should come as little surprise that the alchemy is strong among this bunch. Highly recommended that you lock in and let this one wash over you.




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