Best of Me
Best of Me is available via:
22nd June, 2017
The E.P., Bassline I, is available here:
THIS review will take in some new…
elements and considerations. I will split the introduction between praise and constructive criticism. That might sound harsh on Bassline but, as you will see, the guys have a lot to offer. I will come to look at the ‘praise’ side of the coin but, before I do, I will look at some aspects of the Toronto band that requires a retool. I feel Twitter is becoming more and more dominant in the market so it is, in 2017, crucial every artist makes their presence known on the service. I have looked hard but cannot find the Canadian band on there. Maybe I am searching for the wrong terms but there seems a lack of Bassline on Twitter. They have an official site and Facebook but, when it comes to music and promotion, the most influential and important platform is Twitter. One of the reasons I have discovered so many great artists is Twitter. It is a place you can easily and quickly share music and get it to the masses. If you are on Facebook; it is easy enough to get fans but I find it harder finding promising music. The whole process is a lot less smooth and accessible: there are really no other social media channels for the musician to exploit. Twitter remains the faster and more available option. For artists starting out; there is a whole lot of work to do that demands your full attention and diligence. Getting the social media side of things worked out and formulated is paramount. One of the great things about social media – there aren’t many – is the way one can get music to the masses at the click of a button. Nobody says music is easy but it is a lot less stressful if you get your sounds out to the people as quickly as possible. Bassline have a great official site and take advantage of other music services. I am predicting big things for the Canadian band as we head into 2018 – they look set to make progressions and big steps.
I have been lamenting the way music has changed and how busy it has become. That might sound like someone growing old before their time: tormented by the changing conditions and sad things are no longer simple. It is weird finding things become so detach and digital. I know there are physical formats but the basis and fundamental foundation of music has been eroded. Maybe there is no way back – and it is a sign of the times – but I have every hope the state we are in now will yield results. The biggest benefit of the modernisation of music is the fact new artists can come into the market. Once upon a time; you could not get onto the radio unless you had a recording contract. Now, in this digital time, anyone can come into the business and get themselves known. What I recommend Bassline is to embrace everything out there and promote their music across all social media and music-streaming sites. I will talk about Canadian bands but what I find interesting about the nation is the way they embrace older technologies and formats. More artists (from here) are on BandCamp and release music to cassette – a lot of Canadian acts doing split-releases and putting music out on tape. Maybe there is that sense of preserving the old methods but the need to tie that with technological advantage and the necessity of social media is essential. I know the band will augment their basis and get more fans in. Right now, they are a national treasure and building their name among Canadian fans. I would like to see them get worldwide acclaim and have their music taken to heart. That will come in time and, as we step into the coming year, it will be an opportunity to get out to the world. I feel the U.S. and Europe will be markets they will exploit and find footing in. How far they can go is up to them but, by sharing their music everywhere, that will bring in venues and people.
I am going to ration my Canadian assessment because, right now, nearly one-fifth of all my work revolves around Canadian artists. I am British and, if I am taking in another nation to form an alignment, it would probably be the U.S. It makes sense because of the size of the market and the variation. I am not down on Canada: quite the opposite, in fact. The music there is different to America and, in my view, goes a bit deeper. I mentioned how the nation still embraces the beginnings of music and seems attached to its start and authentic soul. This is reflected in the music that comes out of Canada. There is something more touching, natural and deep when listening to artists. The U.S. has more promise and profitability but Canada has a wide and varied landscape that finds all sorts of musicians provide music of the highest order. Toronto is an area I keep coming back to and discovering joy in. Crystal Castles and Broken Social Scene are two bands who have put the city on the map – showing what strength and durability there is from Toronto. It runs deeper than that and, if one looks at the new acts emerging, there is a wealth of colour and interest. Lido Pimienta is a multi-talented artist that is working in galleries and on the stage. She has made bounds this year and got her music to a wider audience. She writes from the soul and addresses issues that are key to her; matching that with a physical and expressive performance (when you see her perform live). LUKA is a minimal group and, last year, played small venues around Canada. Songs like Always the Same Bed have captured the imagination and it seems like the band can transcend from Toronto – making a bigger name in Canada and getting their music across the world. Crooked House Road is an artist I have featured before. Led by Shania Silver-Baird; there is a sassy and emotive vocal backed by Folk thud and drama. It is a mix of theatrical and rooted that has seen crowds spread the word far and wide.
Harrison produces delicate and slight beats with an edge of the 1980s. The beatmaker from Toronto that produces sensual, sinuous Lounge-scented tracks that can get people up and moving. Mazola are a Garage four-piece that have made impressions with singles like Heaven and Sweater Song. They have made steps and movements this year and, with their reputation growing, next year could be their biggest yet. That is just a summation of the Toronto talent – the pool gets wider by the year – but so much variation and interest linger in the city. Extend the net to Ontario and you have a rival for cities like New York and London. I am always amazed by Canadian music. Unlike other nations; the artists there preserve and revitalise genres that have risked slipping into obscurity. It is wondering watching the nation blossom and get so much attention internationally. I will cover this in more detail later but, right now, wrap up on this point. I will keep my eyes out for Toronto – even though I am going to limit my exposure to the nation – because the musicians from here are doing wonderful things. Bassline fits in perfectly and are among the hungriest acts from the city. They have exploited the venues there but, the way I see it, there are opportunities waiting out there. It is challenging getting your voice heard but, in a vibrant city that looks after its musicians, I feel their stock will grow in 2018. I am excited to see where they can go and whether they conspire with any fellow acts. That might be a way into the wider market: hook up with other musicians in the city and push their sounds to new crowds. Bassline are a force on their own but, conspiring with other singers/musicians might lend their work a different edge and dynamic. Maybe they have plans for next year – I am not sure whether a new E.P. or album is on the way – but they will end this one with more touring.
Bassline I is the debut E.P. from the band and, after performing at the Toronto Undergraduate Jazz Festival and The Rex – a Jazz and Blues bar in Toronto. I will talk more about their recording methods and the way they operate but, right now, the style they play and the genres one can experience. One hears Bassline and you get blown away by their funk swagger. The electricity, rouse and spirit that emanates from their songs have infused and infected listeners and fans. We have a lot of Funk music in this country but, when thinking of new artists, I often have to look internationally. D.J.s like Craig Charles expound and expose the best Funk music from around the world. A lot of his set/tastes revolve around older artists. Maybe there is not a huge market for the genre right now but, if that is so, that would be a shame. There is something about Funk that gets into the bones. The immediacy and fun of the sound cannot help but get the listener involved and active. Maybe commercial tastes favour Pop and Indie but, if you think of how music has evolved the past few years – one could argue a desire for Funk is quite strong. We need fun and energy in music: the more contemplative and serious sounds are not providing escapism at a time when we need release and relief. The effects, drama and physicality one experiences when listening to Funk means you get something unique and different. I love the sound of Bassline and see they take the heritage and history of Funk and give it a modern sound. The range of instruments and players in the fold provide a full and dynamic clash. I can imagine their live performances are very different when compared to their studio work. It is the recorded material I am charged to review but, as I will allude to in the conclusion, I would be keen to see them come to the U.K. and bring their brand of music to us. We have a few Funk bands but the genre does not get the oxygen it warrants. I have mentioned D.J.s like Charles – someone with a deep love of Funk – but he can only do so much.
Bassline are not reserved to Funk: they bring in other sounds and create a cacophony of ideas and textures. One detects bits of Rock and Pop in their songs; little Jazz elements and Indie. It is a busy and vivid combination that hits every part of the imagination. I have mooted the band need to get more exposure on social media – that might extend to images, too. For an act that has such an incredible and enduring sound – one wonders whether a few professional shoots need to take place. I think they have a great look and fashion – not only in terms of their music – so seeing more updated, professional shots would be good. This is all designed to take the band as far as they can travel. I am curious to see how they adapt to the coming year. Those who want to get an edge and distinguish themselves from the throng need to be aware of the perilous work and multiple considerations. The Toronto band knows this so, for 2018, I would like to see those images come online. They have a lot of live shots – almost turned the review down due to lack of professional, non-live snaps – but journalists will want to see more in the way of portraits and studio shots. In terms of a ‘brand’ or logo: they have one on Facebook but they can expand this and update their look. Their pages look good at the moment but they have such a visual and evocative side to their music. I would also look for more involvement when it comes to getting their music onto international audiences. The band are pleased their local base is building but we here need the likes of Bassline in our midst. I have wandered off-course but felt compelled to investigate other sides of the band and what they can achieve. The guys self-record and recorded their E.P. at their drummer’s home-studio. It gives the music comfort and a sense of homeliness. That might sound confined and safe but, when one listens to the tracks, you find that is not the case.
A big and strange studio might have put them off and created an unusual environment. They thrive when they are in a setting that is secure and warm. Their homemade world of ‘Groovetopia’ expresses love and togetherness. Critics and fans have reacted to the strong and addictive music one can discover throughout Bassline I. The band is more a ‘force’ than a traditional group. What you get is a real hit from the horns; a full-on charge and explosive performance. Trying to distil that into music; make it sound natural and free in the studio – that is quite a hard trick. No doubt their live performances allow greater movement but, when listening to their recorded tracks, things are not over-produced and tamed. I feel Bassline are one of those acts who can reply to the negativity and division in the world. They are not burdened with a dictatorial and objectionable leader but must feel the strain and pressure from Donald Trump. He is their near-neighbour head of Government that is leading the world into a dark phase. People are responding to this and, together with the ongoing sexual allegations and controversies in entertainment, there is a lot of stress and accusation. Music can respond to this but I wonder whether it is powerful enough to change things?! Certainty; one can have their spirits raised and put their mind elsewhere. It is all well and good having mainstream sounds proffered and promoted – most of what is coming from here lacks real fun and adventure. I yearn for the more carefree and uplifting sounds associated with the likes of Bassline. I know the band will continue to build and gain huge acclaim. For me; they are the definition of a good-time, for-all-the-people display that needs proper celebration. We are welcoming a lot of Canadian acts to our radios so it is only fair we give Bassline that same due. I am not sure why Canadian music is resonating with us over here.
Not that this confusion is a bad thing: the nation does things differently and have a flair and flavour we do not have here. The mainstream best of the year has been great but, when you assess it, how much fun and unity is there?! I have loved albums from Robert Plant and St. Vincent but I feel there is something missing. Maybe it is my view of the world and the fact things are getting harder for us all – nothing can really overthrow the general feeling in the wind. I want music that strips away the negativity and puts my mind in a better place. I do not really get that with the mainstream music of the moment. There are some albums that create a safer and better environment but, for the most part, that is not true. Bassline can give the body and mind the direction it needs without compromising quality and professionalism. Radio and the media need to retune their tastes and give more time to genres like Funk. The same way the best Folk of today integrate other genres and pushes things forward; Bassline bring other sounds into the fold and stir that with some solid Funk. We do not really have artists like this in London so, in a way, the band provide direction to our artists. The Toronto clan have made waves there they are – will musicians here follow suit?! The best way of monitoring that is to get the music as far as possible. The band is doing their part but I wonder whether it will take a few more years before they are staples here. I have mentioned Canada and how a lot of the musicians from there are finding fans in the U.K. Bassline are an act we need to clutch to the bosom and get onto the airwaves. I am not sure whether we can expedite their passage to Britain: the fantastic sounds brewing and percolating from their camp is intoxicating and engrossing.
The second Best of Me bursts into life; one knows the sort of conversations that must have prefaced its creation. I could see the band deciding whether they wanted something sharp and tangy to lead in; maybe a full-on horns section – they have gone with something more subtle. It is a soft, yet alluring, opening that means the song does make a quick impression. The heroine is on the microphone and seems to have someone on her mind. She was losing focus and “losing sleep every night”. The fights and debates are keeping her confined; the stress and conflicts keeping them separated and balkanised. I can hear horns and little bits sparkling from the speaker but it is quite a demure and gentle opening. The most power comes from the vocals which are spirited and passionate. The band plays their part and backs the heroine; the production is lo-fi and clean which allows the raw and real strands full breath and personality. Shimmering and luminous strings glide through the song and, when paired with percussion and bass, gives the track soothe and sensuality. The idea of the track is to step away from the horror of a broken relationship and find some time out. Our girl is looking for solace and time away from the conflict. That desire for time and space comes through in her vocals. The song shifts from a kicking and jabbing thing to a more contemplative and tender offering. Before the next verse comes out; the vocal/composition has an aspect of 1990s Soul and R&B. It is a fantastic tease that has such a sense of sexuality and smooth beating the heart. Maybe the aim is for something else but I was hooked and graced by the potency and beauty of the voice. The instrumentation matches that and takes the song into spine-tingling realms. Before you buckle and are led to the bed; the curtains are opened and the sunshine blares through.
The band brings the energy and funkiness to the party. We have been through the harsh and unforgiving times: here, now, there is rebirth and a chance for a new life. The heroine will not let misery get her down and define who she is. The lyrics are simple and quite common but that is their strength. If they were too complex and oblique; that would cause confusion and be harder to relate to. Things get edgier and more electric as the players unite in a carnival-like atmosphere. Our heroine will not be suffering and sitting at home wallowing – she has had enough disappointment and pain to last her a lifetime. The horns come through the thick and give spunk and smile to the song. The entire feel is one of realisation and growth. Things have been bad but here is where things turn around. Again, before you get caught in the wave of exhilaration and Funk; there is a new phase beckoned in. One hears about the boy and him sitting at home. He was wallowing and downbeat; he has head in hands and brooding on what has unfolded. Nobody could see the split coming but it seems like it is for the best. I have seen many songs document love like this but none that have the same strands and layers. The composition moves through suites and brings different sounds together. Where they go from here is a mystery but I feel the heroine is better off where she is. Maybe there was love and dedication but, now there has been a bad turn, that needs to get out is fierce. I feel there is a desire to find love again but, right now, time for space and assessment. It seems the guy was in the wrong and has been responsible for the way things have turned. That is not uncommon but, rather than spit acid and get bitter: the girl is fighting against that urge and determined to lead her life in a different way. It is a positive and impressive attitude to heartbreak and upheaval. The band works around that and produce party and alacrity. The horns are still pressing but other instruments come into the fold. I have heard few songs that have such a direct and simple heart. Even though the lyrics have darkness and pain; the need to overthrow that with something cheerier and more uplifting defines Best of Me. There are handclaps and funky strings; riffing and Jazz interludes; swooning horns and swivelling percussion – all of this happens towards the end of the song. One can hear these stages unfold and a real evolution throughout. I am stunned by how busy and changeable the song is. It retains its messages and personality but incorporates multifariousness and range. Few bands can provide this on their first release – credit to Bassline for sounding so assured and accomplished on their new single.
PHOTO CREDIT: Austin Mateka
I know Bassline have a busy next few weeks ahead of them. Their E.P. has been out for a couple of months now and, in that time; they have played to new faces and grown in stature. Canada is reacting to their music but I feel there is a market for them in the U.S. There are some similar bands in America so I am sure the guys could find favour and profit up there. The same is true of the U.K. We would love to see them here very soon. It might be part of their 2018-plans but, perhaps, getting the money together might be challenging. To fund a tour; it takes a lot of planning and finance to get it underway. Gigging locally means the band can save a bit and concentrate on the local mobs. They must be looking ahead and wondering where they can go from here. Their five-track E.P. is quite short and delivers the goods in a fraction. Bassline I suggests there are other works in the pipeline. Maybe the band is already collating material for the follow-up E.P. I would urge them to get Twitter online and get a profile kicking; have some shoots done and get a few images up that stray away from the live setting – they have some modern shots but are not the best in terms of quality. They are starting out so it is understandable there are considerations and aspects not yet covered. When they do get everything sorted; there is no telling where the band can go. I love their dynamics and make-up; the way they record music and, most importantly, the sounds that emanate from them. Long may their rise and success continue! Crowds and media are monitoring their E.P. and still getting to grips with it. As I step away from Canadian music – to an extent, anyway – I am stunned by the exciting and brilliant music coming from them. Make sure you investigate Best of Me and, if you like that, involve yourself with their E.P. The Toronto band is only starting out but, this time next year, I can see them…
RULING the roost.