In this new post-pandemic era, we’ve returned to our roots at GDW by devoting most of our editorial space to live music coverage, which unfortunately means less coverage of the constant stream of new album releases. In a perfect world, we’d cover all of the cool music that comes our way, but alas, with limited time and resources, turning that dream into a reality is simply not feasible. This does not mean that new releases are being ignored – no, quite the contrary – many offerings from some of our favorite artists over the last few months are slowly (but surely) earning some time on the GDW turntable.
We buy a lot of new music on vinyl (we’re collectors), but cannot simply drive up to Ontario every weekend to source the new Canadian releases – so for years, have made purchases directly from artist websites or affiliated pages. The drawbacks here, however, are the shipping costs from Canada to the US – and while we appreciate that artists do not control (nor profit from) the cost of international postage, such fees can often equate to as much as the item being purchased, often a disincentive when having to sacrifice one album over another.
Fortunately, while we live in a small central PA town, we now have a wonderful independent record store (Hub City Vinyl) just 35 miles south of here in neighboring Maryland (with an upcoming state-of-the-art live music venue set to open very soon). The store is not only connected to an efficient distribution network, they actively share weekly pre-order lists on their social media pages, making it easy for this vinyl junkie to simply shoot them a message when an item of interest appears in that post. Those lists sometimes cause the raising of the eyebrows too, offering limited releases typically only available directly from the artists (we have three of those variety on order right now – with fingers crossed that they can fulfil the requests), and being an easy drive to the store once notified of being in stock, sayonara international shipping costs.
Team GDW always advocate for supporting artists, and for buying their merchandise directly from them if possible – but we want to also reiterate that independent record stores are a goldmine too, and deserve our support. Use them or lose them, as folks often say. With that said, we’ve utilized Hub City Vinyl’s pre-ordering option frequently over this year, and are choosing to focus here on five of the amazing new Canadian releases that they were able to source on our behalf. We don’t have a ton of time to dig deeply into them, so we’ll let the music do the talking, and keep our musings ‘short,’ promise.
Boy Golden, “For Jimmy” (July 21, 2023)
Dazzling us with their debut album, Winnipeg, MB band Boy Golden’s 2021 “Church Of Better Daze” album dropped onto our radar once SXM radio discovered their music and blasted hit singles “KD and Lunch Meat” and the cover of Tom T Hall’s “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died” across the North American airwaves. Catching a show with Boy Golden (Liam Duncan) here in PA last fall, we not only got our hands on a copy of that album, we also witnessed performances of some new and unreleased tunes that would be found on their sophomore release.
Released across streaming services as a 6-track EP, imagine our surprise when arriving at the record store to pick up our copy, only to find it is indeed a full-length, 11-track album. “For Jimmy” picks up where the previous album ended, as Boy Golden once again weaves classic country with cosmic folk-rock so naturally and effortlessly, yet Liam demonstrates plenty of sensuality and vulnerability when stepping into the shoes of this artistic alter-ego. “Nothing don’t come out of nothing / But somehow I came out to you / I left who I was in the back of your car / But I know that our love was true / Our love was true / Yes I do.”
Recommended tracks: “Aging Mr. Riley” – “Mountain Road” – “Blue Hills”
Taylor Ashton, “Stranger To The Feeling” (August 18, 2023)
Of the five artists featured today, Vancouver, BC-born and current Brooklyn, NY-based artist Taylor Ashton is the only one we had no familiarity with until very early this year. Perusing a concert series announcement for a local venue in Frederick, MD, we happened to see the words ‘Canadian folk artist’ next to Taylor’s name, and our curiosity took over at that point. With no expectations or prior sampling of music, Taylor proved to be quite a consummate showman, initiating conversations with his audience, making jokes, and most importantly, sharing some amazing original material.
On that given January evening, Taylor offered frequent tales about the creative process behind his upcoming album, and how these new songs were produced and recorded by his friend Jacob Blumberg during a 3-week road trip from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. The resulting album is a sonic odyssey through the heart of the land he now calls home, working its way geographically from coast to coast as it meditates on the meaning of closeness and connection. With guest appearances from Rachael Price (Lake Street Dive) and Courtney Hartman, this is an impressive musical sojourn of self-discovery.
Recommended tracks: “Strong Hands” – “Honey” – “Skylight”
Allison Russell, “The Returner” (September 8, 2023)
This long-awaited sophomore solo album from Montreal-born, and Nashville-based JUNO Award winner and GRAMMY nominated artist Allison Russell is finally here. Readers may recall that Allison’s previous “Outside Child” album set an incredibly high bar as the GDW 2021 Album of the Year, leaving us scratching our heads in wonder as to how the artist could possibly top this. Where “Outside Child” was a deeply personal recollection of surviving her traumatic childhood, Allison leaves such subject material in the rear view mirror, and with “The Returner,” looks towards the brighter road ahead with this next chapter in her story.
With a body-shaking, mind-expanding, soulful expression of liberation, love, and self-respect, Allison shifts gears with a rhythm-first, genre-fluid approach. This collection bursts with improvisational energy, fusing her folk-roots core with soul, funk, and gospel elements, not to mention poetry, spirituality, and delightful sonic tones that transcend the decades. “This album is a much deeper articulation of rhythm, groove, and syncopation,” Allison shares. “Groove as it heralds the self back into the body, groove as it celebrates sensual and sexual agency and flowering, groove as an urgent call to action and political activism.” To summarize – essential listening!
Recommended tracks: “The Returner” – “Eve Was Black” – “Stay Right Here”
Bahamas, “Bootcut” (September 15, 2023)
One of the items that we never expected to find on our 2023 bingo scorecard was a legitimate country music album recorded by JUNO-Award winning alt-pop-soul artist Bahamas. The stage name of Barrie, ON singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso Afie Jurvasen, Bahamas combine stunning guitar work with a variety of textures, overtones, and electronic elements – sharing songs about sunsets and love affairs, delivered with genuine warmth and sincerity, albeit a little tongue-in-cheek at times. And having enjoyed a Bahamas concert back in 2016, we can attest to the soul-fueled, alt-pop grooves that this band consistently deliver.
So again, learning that this latest release was to be a country album was a curveball that would almost make Nolan Ryan blush – yet is one that removes all skepticism and doubt when hearing these songs come to life once spinning on the turntable. For full authenticity, Afie recorded the album at the legendary Sound Emporium in Nashville with producers Robbie Lackritz and Dan Knobler, and secured the services of revered musicians Vince Gill, Sam Bush, and Dave Roe (plus others) to contribute their talents. This album could well be one of the biggest surprises of the year, when all is said and done.
Recommended tracks: “Just A Song” – “Into The Unknown” – “Nothing Blows My Mind”
Good Lovelies, “We Will Never Be The Same” (October 6, 2023)
Not to dismiss their 2021 “B-Sides” 3-track EP and their 2019 “Evergreen” Christmas album, the last ‘regular’ full-length album from the JUNO-Award winning vocal pop trio of Susan Passmore, Kerri Ough, and Caroline Marie Brooks can be traced back to their 2018 “Shapeshifters” album – making this 2023 offering long overdue, yet totally worth the wait. As long-time favorites here at GDW, we’ve featured all of these releases over the years (along with Caroline’s stunning 2019 “Everything At The Same Time” debut solo album), and do not plan to stop any time soon.
With the creamsicle colored vinyl spinning on the turntable, we recall first learning of this album during a festival performance by Caroline in August 2022, who road-tested “Young At Heart” with harmonies from Guelph-based band I, The Mountain. Just a little over a year later, and the album is here in all its glory – produced by Christine Bougie and Joshua Van Tassel (who both add instrumentation), with additional engineering from Chris Stringer, Darren McGill, and Heather Kirby. Good to see Kyle Cunjak’s name in the liner notes too – although it is impossible to miss his distinctive tones on the upright bass. Another solid outing from these fabulous three ladies.
Recommended tracks: “Young At Heart” – “Keep Moving” – “Find Our Way Home”
Photo Credits: Artist Website (Boy Golden) / Jonno Rattman (Taylor Ashton) / Dana Trippe (Allison Russell) / Dave Gillespie (Bahamas) / Jen Squires (Good Lovelies)
Additional Credit: Thanks again to our friends at Hub City Vinyl for feeding our music addiction. Do you have an independent record store of your own that takes care of your music needs? Be sure to drop their name into the comments on our social media pages so that we can share some love for them too.