For those of us in the northeast corner of the North American continent, it may be cold and wintry outside right now (we’re thinking of you, Newfoundland), but an abundance of new music releases from independent Canadian artists are providing much needed warmth right now. So put away the snow shovel, hats, and mittens for a while, and spend a little time with some hot new tracks for this new decade.
Brandon Wolfe Scott, “Burden On Your Shoulders”
Released back in mid November, this superb solo release from Brandon Wolfe Scott (Yukon Blonde) has garnered plenty of airplay on SiriusXM lately, and has proven to be quite an infectious earworm that I cannot get out of my head right now. Being a sucker for the smooth pop sounds of 1970s music, this new single has an uber-cool appeal, and instantly provoked fond memories of “The Party,” the 2016 throwback album from Andy Shauf. Citing Al Stewart, Todd Rundgren, and George Harrison as his songwriting influences, Brandon perfectly pairs the sounds of yesteryear with his own introspective lyrics and lush harmonies. “Being fully immersed in the recording process became a comforting experience and a constant learning curve,” Brandon shares. “Working at my own pace, deliberately tracking with limitations, helped me shape a cohesive sound that feels like the most genuine thing I’ve done.” Brandon certainly caught my attention with his soft, introductory acoustic guitar strums and slow-paced vocals, but it has to be the phenomenal funk-driven bass riffs that keep the guitars in check that has me cranking the volume dial and coming back for more.
Andy Shauf, “Living Room”
Disclaimer: the shift from smooth sounds to a smooth segue may or may not have been intentional, but with the release of Andy Shauf’s new album, “The Neon Skyline,” this Friday, how could we not include his recently released single as part of our January Snappy Singles? On top of heartbreak, friendship, and the mundane moments of humanity that define his songwriting, Shauf continues to make music that explores how easy it is to repeat the same mistakes of your past, and those familiar with his previous solo endeavors can expect to find his signature retro vibes here once more. “Living Room,” however, proves to be a completely new and different animal; one that sees his typical hints of 1970s smooth pop fused with an unexpected (yet equally amazing) jazz vibe. The premise of the new album is that all songs are interconnected by a simple plot, one where the narrator goes to his neighborhood dive, finds out his ex is back in town, and she eventually shows up. “A character falls into the same disheartening pattern her father was once in,” offers Andy, in regards to this particular chapter. “[A character who] later asks herself, How hard is it to give a shit?” Groovy bass lines and some gentle bursts of horns indicate that Shauf has discovered another music pasture to explore; one that I hope is fully embraced on this much anticipated new album.
The Prairie States, “Every Little Town”
I’ve lost count of how many times I have made reference to the western Canadian provinces being the ‘Nashville of the North,’ a geographical region thriving with talented artists creating some of the most stunning country music outside of the southern US right now. And with my recent discovery of The Prairie States (Edmonton, AB), I had a strong feeling that more good music was about to explode in my headphones. Drawing inspiration from a recent tour through a number of Canadian towns, the band captures the uplifting feeling of being a dreamer in a small community with “Every Little Town,” released just last week. “During a day off from that tour, we got together with Calgary based songwriter, Aaron Pollock, where the song came together,” the band share. “At first, our inspiration came from the similarities in landmarks and the vibe of the small towns we were touring through, but the song grew to become more about the people that everyone knows in a little town and the sense of community that creates.” Tales of dreamers, schemers, quarterbacks, prom queens, and kids pumping gas to earn a few bucks are delivered with plenty of gusto, wrapped perfectly in this toe-tapping country number that has quickly earned many repeat plays here this week.
100 Mile House, “Worth the Wait”
When we last checked in with Edmonton-based duo 100 Mile House, they had just released “Hiraeth,” a stunning and gut-wrenching album born partly out of their struggles to start a family. More than three years – and, we’re happy to say, one baby – later, Peter Stone and Denise McKay have returned with a new single, “Worth the Wait.” The song is the first release from their forthcoming album, “Love and Leave You,” which drops at the end of March. The music of 100 Mile House has always been remarkable in its transparency and beauty; Denise explains, “Our writing has evolved from songs about Peter moving to Canada from England and the two of us meeting each other to songs about the struggles of starting a family, the loss of loved ones and how the visions you had for your life inevitably change. We believe our songs have grown in the same way our relationship has as we’ve gotten older.” It’s been a long wait for 100 Mile House’s new album but, based on this gorgeous track, I have every confidence it will have been – well, yes… well worth the wait. 🙂