September music preview

Preview 13 albums you need to hear this month.
Canadian rock band July Talk released their debut album in 2012. (Ty Snaden)

Every month, we look ahead at the albums coming out from across the country that we think you should hear. This month we have new albums by July Talk, Shawn Mendes, A Tribe Called Red, Donovan Woods and more. Read on for more about each upcoming release.

Who: Snake River
What: Sun Will Rise
When: Sept. 2

Why you should listen: Regina's Snake River started as an outfit with which creator Christopher Sleightholm could release his psych records, and since that debut in 2012, has grown into a band lyrically hooked on fictional characters and increasingly heavy psych-pop. Sun Will Rise is the band's third album based on the fictional Snake River Mountain town, giving us an honest, if slightly screwy, look at author Reginald McKruski's inner monologues and outer dialogues. Amidst the sprawling instrumentation and reverb float Reg's ultra personal stories, revealing the disparity between the person he's in love with (Jeanie) and who he actually spends his time with (Bethune and Dot). "Who's going to tell our story when you're gone?" he asks on "Who'll Tell Our Story". Snake River, we're hoping. — Holly Gordon (@hollygowritely)

Who: Harrison
What: Checkpoint Titanium
When: Sept. 9

Why you should listen: While 21-year-old Harrison was born in the '90s, the Toronto electronic musician actually reaches further back for much of his sonic inspiration, tapping '80s boogie and funk among other things. His retro yet contemporary groove and synth-laden instrumental productions unfurling over Soundcloud loosies and a few EPs have shown impressive creative growth over the past few years. Consequently, on his debut album, Harrison avoids the trap of only capturing a grab bag of promising sounds as befalls many artists. Instead, Harrison's subtle stewardship successfully incorporates the varied artistic inputs of Ryan Hemsworth's dreamy sonics, futuristic R&B vocalist Allie, prodigiously talented teenage MC Clairmont the Second and Ben Cook of F--ked Up's Young Guv project into his big tent approach. — Del F. Cowie (@vibesandstuff)

Who: Snowblink
What: Returning Current
When: Sept. 9

Why you should listen: Art-house atmosphere wrapped tight around a beating heart, Snowblink's back with songs as big as the night sky and small as a whisper in the back of your head. The tracks are stacked with superb musical guests (Feist, Owen Pallett), the arrangements reach up to the sky with architectural precision and care, occasionally cracking apart to reveal sleek tundras of chilly solitude, moonlit reserves of hope in the dark and the unfettered joy of sun sparkling against a current once more. — Andrea Warner (@_AndreaWarner)

Who: July Talk
What: Touch
When: Sept. 9

Why you should listen: July Talk officially released its self-titled debut album four years ago. Since then it's been repackaged, re-released, expanded on, relentlessly toured and, last year, awarded with a Juno. It's such an incredibly long cycle for an album that it was easy to doubt whether we'd ever see another one from the band. Fortunately, July Talk's sophomore album is entirely worth the wait. The band has found a way to refresh its punk-blues sound while still retaining the magnetic back-and-forth between singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay that made them so unique in the first place. There are moments when Touch hits harder than anything July Talk has done before (such as on "Beck + Call", which features vocalizations from Tanya Tagaq), but the highlights are actually the softer moments. "Soft" here being relative to July Talk, so, you know, still not that soft. Songs like "Picturing Love", "Strange Habit" and "Touch" perfectly highlight the complementary forces of both Fay and Dreimanis's vocals, but in a way we haven't heard from them yet. Gone is the devil/angel dichotomy that became a key part of their aesthetic — and one they felt was trapping them into stereotypes — and in place is a more harmonious give-and-take between the two, resulting in a more mature-sounding album that's every bit as immediate and in your face as ever. — Jesse Kinos-Goodin (@JesseKG)

Who: Bear Mountain
What: On My Own
When: Sept. 9

Why you should listen: Since the release of their its album, XO, in 2013, Bear Mountain's stature has been steadily growing, and rightfully so. The four-piece is one of the most exciting bands to come out of Vancouver in a while, mixing cutting-edge indie-electronic instrumentation with pop-friendly hooks and a complex, undeniably groovy rhythm section. Bear Mountain's sophomore album is an eclectic mix that showcases its various strengths, whether it's the atmospheric title track, co-written with Nelly Furtado, the driving pop of "Give It Up" or, my personal favourite, "Badu", a gorgeously rich and adventurous instrumental that wouldn't be out of place with the sounds coming out of the U.K. funky scene. — JKG

Who: Daniel Lanois
What: Goodbye to Language
When: Sept. 9

Why you should listen: Despite having what can only be described as a signature sound, you never really know what you're going to get from Daniel Lanois. I suppose that, in essence, is the man's signature. You know that you're likely to get some guitars; they might crunch or they might float in ambience. You know that you're going to get a record of impeccably high sound quality. Lanois is attentive to such details. And there's a good chance that you're going to go down a path of sonic expression — be it acoustic, electronic, folk, roots or pop. Lanois continues to push his musical boundaries and, at the same time, expands yours. Constructed entirely on pedal and lap steel guitars, Goodbye to Language does all of that and more. Perfectly. — Judith Lynch (@CBCJudith)

Who: Tami Neilson
What: Don't Be Afraid
When: Sept. 16

Why you should listen: She's one of the most underrated vocalists in the world right now, but not for long. Rousing and vibrant like thunder and lightning, or wistful and heartbroken like twang and tears, Tami Neilson's voice spans decades and genres, and yet through some miracle exists in the present day. Don't Be Afraid is a brilliant showcase for Neilson's agility as a performer, from the soul-stirring title track to the gospel fire of "Holy Moses", and from the vintage country lament of "If Love Were Enough" to the bluegrass frolic of "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh". — AW

Who: A Tribe Called Red
What: We Are the Halluci Nation
When: Sept. 16

Why you need to listen: A Tribe Called Red is one of the most exciting and original acts of this generation. But for the group's third album, the best thing the artists could have done was to invite people into their studio. The Ottawa-based DJ trio, whose 2012 debut featured an electrifying, groundbreaking mix of Indigenous vocalizations and house music, launched ATCR onto the international stage. The group's follow-up, Nation II Nation, showed what magic the three could work when given unlimited access to Indigenous drum group samples. On their latest, they left the samples behind and worked first-hand with drum groups to compose original music, while at the same time inviting an unprecedented (for them) amount of like-minded artists to collaborate, including rapper-poets Shad and Saul Williams. The result is some of ATCR's most incendiary, meaningful work to date. The title track, which features spoken word by late activist John Trudell, is truly inspired, while "R.E.D.", an explosive, stadium-sized banger, also features the best verse from Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) this decade. "Sila", the group's collaboration with Tanya Tagaq, is simply dizzying. — JKG

Who: The Luyas
What: Says You
When: Sept. 16

Why you need to listen: We've been patiently waiting four years for something new from Montreal's the Luyas, and now's the time. Produced by the Besnard Lakes' Jace Lasek, Says You is a five-song EP filled with melody and crashing feelings, from the post-apocalyptic bleep-bloops of "Engineers" to the dreamy, soothing title track. "The idea is to affect anticlimax, to disprove any false pretense of control," front-woman Jessie Stein told the Fader of the track "Engineers". It's how you need to treat all of Says You: give up control, and lean in. — HG

Who: Jesse Mac Cormack
What: After the Glow
When: Sept. 16

Why you should listen: After premiering songs over the last few months, Jesse Mac Cormack is ready to release After The Glow. The five-song EP, which was produced in his mom's garage (aka his studio), is a perfect example of what happens when you leave a multi-instrumentalist to their vices. The words raw power comes to mind when listening to his tracks that have endless amounts of layers. As a listener you're constantly switching your attention between the intricacies that have been created in the background and his heartfelt lyrics. Listening to the EP, there's an immediate understanding why he would be asked to open for such big acts as Shakey Graves, Cat Power and Half Moon Run. Mac Cormack is just getting started and you can expect he'll be headlining big shows soon enough. — Matt Fisher (@MattRFisher)

Who: Shawn Mendes
What: Illuminate
When: Sept. 23

Why you should listen: Three years ago, Shawn Mendes was just a 15-year-old boy who gained a huge following on Vine. Fast forward to 2016 and the Toronto pop star is selling out stadiums across North America and preparing for the release of his sophomore album, Illuminate. Building off of the foundation of guitar-driven pop anthems on last year's debut, Handwritten, Mendes promises that his new songs will be more personal and edgier. It's a subtle growth, as heard on singles "Treat You Better" and "Mercy", but it's there, and in a time when pop music is thriving on synths and electronics, there's something distinctly rebellious about Mendes' commitment to the guitar. — Melody Lau (@melodylamb)

Who: Donovan Woods
What: They Are Going Away
When: Sept. 23

Why you need to listen: If you couldn't get enough from his February release, Hard Settle, Ain't Troubled, you'll be happy to know there are more tracks coming soon. The songs that had been mostly penned for that album but didn't quite find a place or weren't quite ready have been re-worked and now released as a four song EP. Woods has been never known to write overly happy songs, and would likely be the first to admit he enjoys writing about heartbreak, empty towns and ex-girlfriends. The first single "Drove Through Town" deals with a slew of issues from living up to someone's expectations to escaping a dead-end relationship. So while the songs may have themes we've come to expect from Woods, the songwriting is really exceptional (which says a lot as he's already one of Canada's greatest current songwriters). They Are Going Away will be released on Woods' own label, Meant Well. — Matt Fisher (@MattRFisher)

Who: Kroy
What: Scavenger
When: Sept. 23

Why you need to listen: Camille Poliquin, who you may recognize as half of the Montreal-based duo Milk & Bone, is releasing her own collection of songs under the stage name Kroy. The trip-hop and modern pop influenced artist has put together nine uniquely creative songs that have her ever-so-captivating voice to string you along the record. The tracks were originally conceived on the piano and although some still feature the piano, most have evolved into giant creatures of their own with synthesizers and grainy drum beats. The great thing about this record is the variation: some tracks will have you dance, while others will have you contemplating all of the sad things in life. This is an incredible piece of work for her first solo album and I'm sure we can expect a lot more exciting things to come from her in the future. — MF


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