Bernice – Puff LP: In the air without a shape

The sophomore album Puff LP: In the air without a shape by Toronto dream weavers Bernice deals in understated wonderment. Frontwoman Robin Dann’s lyrics often recall and indulge in the big, lush joys of childhood, while her tempered vocal delivery grounds those flights of fancy. With an unassuming demeanor, Dann will make reference to the amazement of a sun-bathed aircraft (“Passenger Plane”), frozen lemonade and bowls of watermelon (“One Garden”), or a lunar inamorato (“He’s the Moon”). Other times, she’ll simply repeat a phrase that’s inexorably associated with adolescence, like the bullshit affirmation “I am rubber and you are glue” that she touts on Puff’s opener “Glue.” This is the vivid, imaginative, sumptuous stuff of youth, but what keeps the album’s imagery from turning into sensory overload is Dann’s delicate singing, which floats so lightly over the music it sounds as if her words evaporate the moment they hit your eardrums. Bernice, on Puff, draw from a wellspring of hyper-specific experiences and images, juxtaposing Dann’s expressive lyrics with her even-keeled temperament.(Tiny Mix Tapes)

Bonjay – Lush Life

Even if it were entirely on its own, Alanna Stuart’s sultry, soaring voice would be enough to leave you enraptured. But the teaming of her singing with Ian Swain’s lean, agile instrumentals is downright irresistible.(Exclaim!)

For Esmé – Righteous Woman

Co-created with collaborator Dave Thiel and producer James Bunton, and mastered by Mandy Parnell, the record hears frontwoman Martha Meredith delving into what it means to be a modern, progressive woman. In addition to her own lived experience, she also turned to psych studies researching self objectification, female anger, gaze, cat-calling, depression and body image for writing inspiration.(Exclaim!)

Fortunate Ones – Hold Fast

Three years isn’t a long stretch of time, but a lot has happened for the St. John’s duo Fortunate Ones since the release of its debut album in 2015.(CBC Music)

Jo Passed – Their Prime

There’s a scene in the first Michael Keaton Batman movie where the Joker and his goons descend on a museum. While Prince’s “Partyman” ricochets from a boombox, they gleefully slam paint balloons into the masterworks on the walls. It’s supposed to be transgressive, but only up to a point. The neon-splattered results still look pretty cool, after all.(POST-TRASH)

L Con – Insecurities In Being

The third time is the charm, so they tell me someone said at some point somewhere in this nonsensical universe. Could be pure horse pucky, but perhaps this proverb will prove true of Insecurities in Being, Lisa Conway’s third solo album to be produced under the name of L CON. Where her 2016 effort, Moon Milk, took inspiration from sci-fi fantasy, the former Del Bel hauntress sounds truly committed on this one, digging deep into uncomfortable truths and sober reflections.(Tiny Mix Tapes)

Long Branch – Found The Setting Sun

Dreamy twang one minute, driving folk-rock the next, followed by flawless forays into underground punk-psychedelia and blissed-out, guitar-fuzz ballads. There’s nothing quite like Found the Setting Sun, the first record from Toronto/Honey Harbour, Ont., supergroup Long Branch.(CBC Music)

Michael Feuerstack – Natural Weather

Since he released his first LP under the moniker Snailhouse, Michael Feuerstack has always sounded wise beyond his age. Eighteen years and 11 albums into his solo career, the Ottawa musician has caught up to his wisdom, as Natural Weather feels inquisitive, gentle and accepting in his approach to songwriting and lyrics.(Exclaim!)

Peach Kelli Pop – Gentle Leader

If last month’s Which Witch EP delivered Peach Kelli Pop’s signature rocket-speed hooky punk by blasting through six songs in seven minutes, Gentle Leader finds the L.A.-based band taking a more expansive approach, if one just as lively. The most collaborative PKP album to date — bandleader Allie Hanlon typically writes, produces and records everything — Leader’s ten songs find the band shifting speeds and exploring a widening range of sounds.(Exclaim!)

Shawn Mendes – Shawn Mendes

On his last album, “Illuminate,” the young pop singer and guitarist Shawn Mendes found a way to invigorate conventional pop-rock with agitation. On a troika of excellent singles — “Treat You Better,” “Mercy” and “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” — he sang with punch and vigor, chopping his round voice into something spikier and more tense.(The New York Times)