With such an abundance of new single releases landing in our inbox regularly, selecting four tunes for this monthly feature has never been more difficult. So much great music being created, but with only four slots here to fill, we chose to mix things up – selecting a pair of tracks from artists never previously featured, and a pair from some long-time GDW favorites. Go ahead and spend some time with these great tunes, add the artists to your streaming platforms, and discover more – each and every one of them has a solid music catalog just itching to be explored.
Katie Cruel, “Desert Valley Nights”
As we recommenced taking northern road-trips last year following the reopening of the US-Canadian border, it was finally possible to enjoy sifting through the new arrival bins at our favorite Ontario independent record stores once more. Browsing with no particular plan in mind, the thrill was to find something surprising to bring home. We struck gold last fall, finding a mint copy of “I Am An Animal,” the 2017 debut from Ganaraska Forest, ON artist Kate Boothman – and after spinning this impressive album, asking ourselves, whatever happened to Kate? The answer, it appears, is hello Katie Cruel – recording under a new moniker, who offers this first taste of some pretty amazing new music, and shares news of an upcoming new album. “Desert Valley Nights” pushes the boundaries of contemporary dream-rock-Americana music, and boasts some phenomenal sonic richness and timeless authenticity. Teaming up with producer Mark Howard (Bob Dylan, Neil Young), Katie Cruel proves an exciting alter-ego for Boothman, replacing her indie-rock roots with music that embraces sweeping strings, heavy bass, guitar twang, and organ swells that create a trippy, washed-out folkscape reminiscent of something Lee Hazelwood could have dreamed up with the help of Mazzy Star.
Laur Elle, “Easy Way Out”
Calgary, AB-raised, and current US-based indie-pop artist Laur Elle (a former Canadian competitive gymnast) follows up her previous singles “Burning Out” and “The Man” with another sonically delightful summer jam – one that once again perfectly showcases her unabashed pop prowess, heartfelt lyrics and vocals, and melodies that are tinged with a dreamy, indie-rock delivery and vibe. “Easy Way Out is heartbreak wrapped up in hope,” Laur offers. “I was in a very mentally abusive relationship and even afterwards, I found it hard to talk or write about.” With a peppy, driving rhythm, escapism is the theme – one further supported by the music video’s road trip narrative. “But I can’t keep shrugging it off / I can’t lose more than I’ve lost / I wish I’d left before you locked down / Every easy way out / Every easy way out.” Writing and creating music proves to be Laur’s personal escape, and she’s ready to offer the same kind of solace for her listeners (debut album coming soon). “The first two lines of the song hit me while I was driving through the mountains when I realized for the first time, the amount of relief I felt from being finally free,” Laur adds. “It’s a reminder to anyone struggling that you deserve better.”
Boy Golden, “Mountain Road”
Sure, this fabulous tune from Winnipeg, MB ‘disco-country’ band Boy Golden has been out in the public domain for a couple of months now, but no matter how many times I hear “Mountain Road” blasting across the radio airwaves, a huge smile forms on my face. “Late last week, I was drivin’ / Down Mountain Road off Highway 5 / Don’t got no AC, so the windows were wide / And the tape deck was playin’ Charlie Pride / Nothin’ don’t come out of nothin’ / 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.” First encountering this song during a performance by Boy Golden here in PA last fall, seeds were planted for some long-awaited new tunes following the band’s outstanding 2021 “Church of Better Daze” album – and this radio-friendly lead single offers encouragement for those struggling with identity, self-worth, and a desire to belong. Better still, every verse reads like a parable, delivered with a gentle momentum of swaying acoustic guitars. “I hope you listen to this song when you’re driving and think about all the people and events and stories that have brought you to where you are,” Boy Golden offers. “There is no going back. Be in the moment. Take a deep breath. This is all yours to hold.”
Angela Saini, “Say”
We are LONG overdue for a check-in with Toronto, ON indie folk-pop artist Angela Saini, and the timing could not be any more perfect, based on this delightful, infectious toe-tapper released just a month ago. “Got nothing to say, every vowel’s gone / So I’m going MIA, curtains are drawn / I can’t seem to let my words go / Syllables in a sinkhole / Let them drop like leaves.” The origins of “Say” come from the time-tested phrase, the truth shall set you free, which Angela explains. “The song is about honesty, and being afraid to express how you feel. I was feeling really stifled and stuck until I realized that the fear was self-imposed,” she shares. “I had this imaginary dialogue about how my words were going to land with the other person, but really, I could only be free once I let go of the fear and just expressed my feelings.” For Angela, creating music reflects a personal commitment to feeling empowered, joyful, and as optimistic as possible – where every moment results from choices made, and can align with such positivity (through the power of song). “In the end, there wasn’t any reason for me to feel as anxious as I did,” Angela adds. “I felt understood and heard, and it was worth the courage it took to just have that conversation.”