Print Edition: September 3, 2014
Vancouver Sleep Clinic
Vancouver Sleep Clinic is the musical moniker of 17-year-old Australian Tim Bennison. Like his pseudonym implies, Bennison creates a mellow and sleepy atmosphere, while presenting concepts of longing, isolation, and remoteness through his lyrics. His aptly titled Winter EP contains six songs Bennison recorded over the course of two years in his hometown of Brisbane. The album is highlighted by the lead single “Collapse,” an ambient vessel of sound containing a dynamic bed of synthesizers and punchy electronic beats. These textures render the backdrop to Bennison’s yearning falsetto vocals — the heart and soul of the record. Another track worth noting from the EP is “Vapour” which has strong similarities to Bon Iver. At the ripe age of 17, Bennison has a lot more to offer musically, but Winter EP has firmly established a solid footing for him to build on.
In the Lonely Hour
In 2013, British electronic duo Disclosure released their debut album Settle to critical acclaim. Led by a soaring vocal line, Settle’s lead single “Latch” hooked listeners worldwide and introduced the globe to the voice of Sam Smith. Overall, In the Lonely Hour is very much a debut album, as it is often varied and nomadic. The album bounces through a catalogue of genres, hitting on electronic (“Money on my Mind”), adult alternative (“Stay with Me”), soul, gospel (“Like I Can”), and even R&B and disco (“Restart”). However, this is to be expected as Smith and his label are testing the waters for what works, and what will turn out to be the “Sam Smith sound.” The true star and only consistent element throughout the record is Smith’s commanding and unique vocals. Luckily, this alone is a reason to give this record a spin. Smith commands your attention with his control and range, especially on emotional tracks such as “Lay Me Down,” the exceptional album closer. It is evident In The Lonely Hour is simply a sample plate of what’s to come for Sam Smith, but it sure did whet my appetite.
The Cellar Door
The Cellar Door is the first full-length album from Flatbush natives AK and Issa Gold, collectively known as the Underachievers. With two well-received mixtapes under their belt, one would think that The Cellar Door would prove to be an even better, more refined synthesis of the two rappers’ skills. On some levels it is, but on others it isn’t. AK has always been my favourite of the two, with a lightning-fast delivery reminiscent of an automatic rifle. That isn’t to say Issa’s any less talented than AK, as they both display a tremendous amount of talent. “Sonorous,” one of the first singles released for the album, showcases both rappers at their best. Issa’s verses usually have a more slurred, fluid quality, as opposed to AK’s neater, faster ones. If rapping were colour-by-numbers, Issa would probably have some crayon on the outside of whatever animal he was colouring, whereas AK would most likely meticulously avoid overstepping the boundaries. Tracks that merit special mention include “Chrysalis,” on which both rappers are at the top of their game, and “Nebulous,” which features some of Issa’s best verses.