Saint Thomas – There’s Only One of Me (2009)

Apparently Saint Thomas have been around for six years now, touring with the likes of Lambchop and Of Montreal and over time developing an addiction to alcohol and prescription medications. Yep, like Amy Winehouse, they tried to make him go to rehab, and apparently he did and put together this album at the same time. I suppose it’s a good way to get rid of your demons, and this collection of surprisingly upbeat alt-country pop (think Bonnie Prince Billy crossed with Galaxie 500) is a testament to the man’s willpower. Already released in Norway to great acclaim, we can finally hear the record in the UK and it shows just how intruiging the Norwegian scene is right now, coming up with some of the finest pop this side of the world. I mean, they gave us The Kings of Convenience and now it seems Saint Thomas is ready to step into the limelight. Check out opening track ‘The Drive’ and you’ll know exactly what to expect, with chirpy upbeat vocals and an endearingly lo-fi production style that makes you feel like you’re being played to in your front room. Elsewhere ‘The Famous Stalker’ brings to mind Hefner at their best and ‘After the Show’ is like Sufjan Stevens as played by Daniel Johnson. For at it’s most intimate you won’t be able to find much more honest and heart-wrenching than Saint Thomas.

mp3 320 kbps | 86 MB | UJ

Will Johnson – Scorpion (2012)

Scorpion was recorded in the wooded outskirts of Denton, Texas, at the studio of longtime bandmate, producer and engineer Matt Pence.  Also lending their skills to Scorpion are multi-instrumentalists Scott Danbom (Centro-matic, South San Gabriel, Sarah Jaffe), Howard Draper (Tre Orsi, Shearwater, Okkervil River) and Magnolia Electric Company’s Mikey Kapinus.Unlike Centro-matic’s Candidate Waltz or Johnson’s last solo album Vultures Await (both of which were written well in advance and recorded using carefully conceived arrangements), Scorpion documents the genesis and germination of its songs. “A lot of them,” Johnson says, “Were written in the studio, right then and there, in the moment. I enjoy capturing those initial gut reactions in songwriting. It doesn’t always work, but when it does—you capture the song in such a raw, unique form.”

mp3 320 kbps | 86 MB | UJ

Freeman Dre And The Kitchen Party – Old Town (2012)

Freeman Dre has become of one Toronto’s most talked about singer-songwriters. His fresh take on Folk traditions and songwriting have garnered attention of crowds and critics around the world, his collective, Fedora Upside Down, are changing the landscape of Toronto’s downtown music scene, and his band, The Kitchen Party, are a cult following in progress.The name of the band is a reference to a kitchen in a partied-out Queen West pad in Toronto where, only a few years ago, the group threw impromptu shows until crowds started to spill into the street and the neighbours began complain. But despite the casual atmosphere in which they originated, make no mistake; onstage, Kitchen Party is tighter than a three day bender. Described in Exclaim magazine as “a highly entertaining outfit live”, the lyrics aren’t just words, they are stories, and the landscape is one of the city’s most creatively fertile neighbourhoods, Parkdale. Where friends hang out most every night, where tales get spun, and where a lot of music gets written.

mp3 320 kbps | 90 MB | UJ | UL