HIP HOP: Started from the Bottom
By Drake; streaming here
On his new single from a yet-to-be-titled upcoming album, the rapper-deluxe Aubrey Graham is both proud and self-pitying, declaring himself a bootstrap puller from humble beginnings. “Boys tell stories about the man,” rap-sings the cigar-smoking millionaire and former child-acting star, over an elegant piano loop. “Say I never struggled, wasn’t hungry, yeah.” Who doubts his hunger? Who doubts his struggle? Drizzy’s privilege (or lack of it) is a non issue, and his pout and protestations grow tiresome. Rap music in general struggles to make the transition from underdog to overdog, and this track seems years too late. Kanye West has moved on to dark, twisted and fantasy, but this guy Drake can’t get past himself.
FOLK-POP: First Letters
By The Weather Station (featuring Marine Dreams), from The Weather Station Duets #3 (You’ve Changed Records); streaming here
“I wonder what could be conveyed in a song we wrote.” A duet from Ian Kehoe and the sublime singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman expresses a damp, grey and poetic afternoon spent marsh-side – trippy, satin-covered folk music for your day-dream pleasure.
By Woodpigeon, from the forthcoming Thumbtacks + Glue (Boompa); streaming here
From Alberta songwriter Mark Andrew Hamilton, a unicorn ride through orchestral fields finds the midpoint between Fleet Foxes and New Pornographers. Lush, light and gently majestic.
INDIE POP: Je Me Perds De Vue
By Melody’s Echo Chamber; streaming here
A reworked version of her instrumental IsThatWhatYouSaid, from the psychedelic-Parisian songbird Melody Prochet. The velvet, vibraphone-ish, up-up-and-away excursion ends in a heavier guitar jam – an electric-jangle wake-up for the headphone-hypnotised.
By Tim Thompson
If Saturday nights were alright, for the nation above the 49th parallel, Hockey Night in Canada was the reason. In a poignant vignette narrated by the author-musician Dave Bidini, a cast of musicians (including Gord Downie, Sarah Harmer and Gordon Lightfoot) and former players – when did Eric Lindros get so old? – speak to the memories of a shared cultural experience televised once a week, not ubiquitously and relentlessly as it now is. America has its SNL, but, in Canada, HNIC comes first.