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Home at Last with Homeshake

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I have had many music crushes that have come and gone over the past couple of years but unlike some, I think that Homeshake is definitely one that is here to stay.

Homeshake is the pseudonym and solo project of Montreal based songwriter Peter Sagar, aka Piter Sugar, who is perhaps most well known for being Mac DeMarco’s former guitarist. Since deciding to leave the band to make his own music à la Homeshake (on tour consisting of Sagar and friends), he seems to be constantly compared to DeMarco. Although you may get the same sort of Demarco-warmth from a Homeshake track, with that laid back vibe, they both have their different sounds and as one critic has mentioned, Sagar does not allow his personality to engulf his own music in the same way that his former band mate does.

As with Homeshake’s first release The Homeshake Tape, Sagar breaks away from giving us the usual straight-up indie pop, offering funk inspired bass lines, jazz and soul infused rhythms. It’s a charming home-recorded release and junior effort. In the Shower (2014) also shows itself to be a great follow-up to the self-titled album and offers a lot more in the way of memorable songs – receiving great praise from fans and critics alike. It is similarly cool and mellow, with smooth, sliding vocals and wonky instrumentation. There are certainly some gems to uncover on the album, ‘Making a Fool of You’ and ‘Chowder’ to name a few.

Midnight Snack, the latest record which was released by the Captured Tracks affiliated label Sinderlyn in September last year, comes across as a natural progression from In the Shower and boy has Sagar done well. Over 12 incredibly slick and steamy tracks Homeshake turns up the heat, creating smooth jams that invite you to get lost in Sagar’s sweet, sweet vocals, sultry guitar strums and sometimes bass wobbles. While still holding onto the indie pop sounds which characterise Sagar’s previous contributions to the Canadian music scene, this record has an ‘after hours’ 90’s R&B vibe going on.

The spoken-word opening track ‘What Did He Look Like’ is mellow and eerily transitions into the synth heavy ‘Heat’. Featuring drowsy bass tones and dipping in and out of a high falsetto, Sagar’s vocals are highly contagious and able to get stuck in your head in no time. It’s a track that shows the growth in Sagar’s writing skills. The lyrics to ‘Heat’ and tunes alike, such as ‘Faded’, are concerned with loneliness, vulnerability and longing. But while many of the tracks are about anxiety and may have a sombre atmosphere, there is also a reassuring return to home and to a comforting midnight snack.

Although there are a few tracks that are harder to get into. For instance, ‘Under The Sheets’, ‘Real Love’ and ‘Move This Body’ are not as memorable after the first chorus as others, the album nevertheless regains itself, closing with some intimate and almost therapeutic tunes. ‘Give It to Me’ especially contains that bewitching slow dream pop kind of feel as well as R&B undertones. When Sagar sings ‘I wish I could live in your heart / So I could see what it means / When you’re so hot / You seem so far away’, his voice is soothing to any listener and is sure to make your heart palpitate.

Overall, Midnight Snack is a good continuation for Homeshake as Sagar experiments and expands his sound. It is easy to see on this record that he brings in his musical influences, resulting in a nod to artists like R. Kelly, D’Angelo and on one track Mariah Carey. Sagar’s vocals also sound a lot more polished and there seems to be greater complexity to the songs. While Midnight Snack offers a different musical direction, it still has that unique Homeshake vibe and it may be one of the best under rated albums of 2015.

Having just completed a European tour and two intimate gigs in London that sold out quickly, Homeshake is obviously doing something right. Perhaps it is time to listen to Midnight Snack on repeat until his next effort arrives, check out the video for ‘Heat’ and catch Sagar and friends live someday.

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