Yes, Spring is just around the corner, and many are ready to pick brackets for the annual NCAA March Madness tournament. But how can anybody find time for college hoops when there is SOOO much fantastic new Canadian music out there??? If you have a few minutes to spare before the opening tip-off, then check out some of these slam-dunks on offer this month.
Nick Earle & The Reckless Hearts, “I Wanna Know”
We enjoyed some live music from Earle and (Joe) Coffin here in PA a couple of summers ago, and were sad to learn shortly after that the duo decided to call it a day. Their infectious brand of Newfoundland blues music was incredibly entertaining, and they will be sorely missed. On the flip side, however, Nick Earle is back, with some new bandmates in tow, and has an absolute barn-buster of a single here. Joined by Clare Follett (bass) and Dan George (drums), Nick brings his vocals and dynamic guitar talents back to the spotlight with this lively blues-rock number that is the perfect recipe for any Saturday night party. “After the release of my [first] solo record, I needed a band to tour the album. The first calls were to Dan and Clare,” Nick shares. “After performing together so much, we started developing a different style and chemistry as a band.” This is high energy, vintage rock n roll, with great bass riffs, some pounding drums, and THAT guitar – no more needs to be said. It’s loud, it’s in your face, and it’s one you cannot afford to miss.
White Elephant Orchestra, “Rocket Ship”
You could make a case that with the coming of Spring, comes a sense of new beginnings, of renewal, of reinvention. So don’t feel too bad if, like me, you have no familiarity with White Elephant Orchestra; the most recent project in which Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Stochansky seeks to reinvent himself. Having discovered a passion for learning guitar and songwriting during his seven year stint as a drummer for Ani DiFranco, Andy soon found himself recording his own albums and touring venues where his name now appeared on marquee signs. Known most recently as a songwriter for other artists, the long-burning desire to create for himself soon came round again, and with an emphasis on synth sounds, drum machines, and soaring vocals, White Elephant Orchestra was born. There is no substitute for a great hook and melody, and Stochansky delivers both in abundance here. “When I look round, the world looks tired / I’ve not slept in a long, long while / Maybe we can jump on board for just one second,” he recites in a deliberately slow pace, before bursting into the very catchy, up-tempo chorus. Welcome back Andy, you’ve been missed.
Arkells, “Years In The Making”
What, you really think that I’d put together a March Madness themed article and not include music from one of Canada’s most electrifying live bands right now? When it comes to generating a buzz and pumping up a crowd, look no further than Hamilton’s own rockers, Arkells. Following the incredible success of their 2018 JUNO Award winning “Rally Cry” album, and their extensive international tour, Max Kerman and his bandmates are not letting off the gas pedal anytime soon. “You never know when the universe will deliver a tune from the song gods, but Years In The Making arrived just when we needed it,” Max offers. “It leans on a question we keep coming back to: How do we conceive of everything we’ve been through, and shape it to offer some love and hope?” And just like “Rally Cry,” this new single is difficult to ignore. Great lyrics, great sounds, and, the horn section ARE BACK!!! Arkells recently announced their plans for yet another Rally this summer in their hometown; and will no doubt have plenty of new tunes to share with the Hamilton faithful.
Emily Rockarts, “Stay”
Following a songwriting residency at the Banff Center in 2018, indie singer-songwriter Emily Rockarts decided to up-sticks from her office job in Toronto and move east to Montreal in order to focus solely on her music. Released just yesterday, this single is the first teaser track from “Little Flower,” her forthcoming full-length debut album released next month. Citing Feist, Kathleen Edwards, and Andy Shauf as some of her musical influences, Emily’s sound shares the same ringing guitars and synth sounds synonymous with her peers, with vocals that propel her into Kim Deal territory. Accompanying the single is an amazing music video, directed by Brittany Farhat, that features enough mid-century modern furnishings to leave this retro-décor junkie positively salivating. “We’re tearing at the seams / I’m wondering what you mean / You say it’s the wrong time / Everything’s not right / Everything’s not fine,” Emily delivers, bouncing against a lively indie-pop beat. An excellent teaser of new music, and a great video, complete with a larger-than-life grapefruit punchbowl that I’m more than ready to take a swig from right now.