Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of non-holiday themed single releases to be discovered right now – they just seem to drown in a sea of festive ditties that dominate the airwaves and your social media feeds. Well, we’re promoting the non-holiday tunes with this final 2023 Snappy Singles feature, and call us “Scrooge” if you must, but our reasoning is that these tunes deserve recognition. Sure, you can enjoy them later, but why wait until the holidays are over? Get ‘em now, while they’re fresh hot, and hold bragging rights over your friends as you talk music around the yule log this holiday season.
Checkerboard Floors, “Hold Me Again”
I may have placed a Holiday-Free Music disclaimer in the banner, but I’m all for encouraging cranking up the dials when it comes to new tunes with a distinct retro flair and sound intended to be played year-round. We recently made the acquaintance of Hamilton, ON indie-rockers Checkerboard Floors, who quickly tempted us with this short, yet stylistic number designed to put smiles on faces and feet on dancefloors. Comprised of Derek Palango (guitar/vocals), Matt Outerson (bass/vocals) and Kevin Barrie (drums/vocals) – with additional instrumentation from Loretta Hale (cello), the band deliver a throwback schmoozer that at first listen, presents Andy Shauf sound influences, whilst clocking in at a respectable Yves Jarvis style 1:48 run time (hmm, both Shauf and Jarvis toured the US together last year – coincidence?). “Hold Me Again was a lockdown song,” shares Derek. “I finished my early demo of it in April 2021. Really, I was trying to capture something that felt good and hopeful and steep it in vibes from yesteryear.” We may be headed into the cold season here in the northern hemisphere right now, but thanks to the warm, textured tones and delightful, lush vocal harmonies found here, old man winter can be kept firmly in check for a little while longer.
SWiiMS, “In Puzzles”
Now that we’ve whet your appetite for some throwback indie vibes, allow us to send you on a hazy, magical, musical escapade down memory lane. If you dig all things 80s new wave, 90s shoegaze, US indie rock, melodic Brit pop, and all varieties of Dream pop, you’ll surely love the music of Toronto indie-rockers SWiiMS. Sharing “In Puzzles” from their recently released debut full-length “Into The Blue Night” album, we present you with a tune, per their press release, that “serves as an uplifting introduction and encapsulates the sense of freedom, lightness and excitement into a blossoming romance.” Founded by Mai Diaz Langou (vocals) and Colin Thompson (guitars), the duo started crafting songs together five years ago, uniting Mai’s elegant poetry and textured melodies with Colin’s love of fuzzy, jangly, swirling guitar tones. Casting soft, dreamy vocals against the dominant soundtrack – rounded out by Cian O’Ruanaidh’s hooky bass lines and a final blast of energy from guest drummer Stefan Loubus – “In Puzzles” does not deviate too far from the new wave indie rule book. “It’s optimistic, with the euphoric guitar riff hitting you right in the heart,” the press release adds. “The verses wrapping you in a cozy blanket and the chorus feeling like levitation.”
Celeigh Cardinal, “Party Of One”
“Late to the party / Already know everybody / I came here all alone / I’d rather be at home / I’d like to start again / Count back up to ten / New Year’s never come / When you’re nothing more than a party of one.” Okay, I promised to keep this feature ‘holiday theme free,’ but our third selection today really does blur the official lines found in the rule book. A perennial favorite here at GDW, Edmonton artist Celeigh Cardinal last graced our pages twelve months ago, and with her latest single landing in our email inbox just moments before the official cut-off for inclusion here today, we flagged this one immediately. The title offered a strong hint of what to expect, and upon the first spin, “Party Of One” endeared itself as a poignant tune for those with little reason to celebrate this holiday season – perfectly encapsulating those feelings of melancholy, disappointment, and regret. “This song was written in 2018 at an AE West program put on by Canada’s Music Incubator. I was grouped with artists Karimah (Ashanti Marshall) and Warming (Brady Allard) for an afternoon co-write,” Celeigh recalls. “We decided, since we are all sort of ‘sad’ artists, to write a party song … about being at a party surrounded by people and still feeling sad and lonely. We just couldn’t help it, the song reflected who we truly were.”
Jeffery Straker, Brand New Light”
As we take a moment to recover from Celeigh’s serenade, it’s time to bring the tempo back up – to raise the spirits one last time, and draw this feature to a close with a rollicking good toe-tapper from Regina, SK-based singer-songwriter Jeffery Straker. We were privy to a pre-release copy (thanks Jeffery) of this cracking fiddle and piano-driven, Cajun-meets-Americana tune early last month, and while November’s GDW slots were all taken around the time of the official release, the single was a lock for inclusion here today. “The song was inspired by a new love,” Jeffery shares. “I fell in love 3 months into the pandemic with my partner Michael, and we’re still going strong. This single is a 2-step about new love helping me see the world differently. For me, love tilted my world on its axis and so much of what was around me felt brand new – love is a wonderful thing and the world needs more of it.” Recorded live off the floor at The Henhouse in Nashville, TN, the single is the first taste of new music set to appear on Jeffery’s upcoming album, tentatively scheduled for release in the spring. “I’ve road tested this song at recent live shows and it goes over like a house on fire,” Jeffery adds. “Fingers are crossed for that fire to burn while people stream the recording as well.”