It’s hard to believe that we’ve already celebrated Canada Day north of the border, and Independence Day here in the US, and are midway through July already. We are all trying to beat the heat right now, as hot and humid temps make their way across our continent – so should you feel the need for some fresh summer-themed jams while you sit in front of a cold A/C vent, look no further – we’ve got you covered as always here with this latest installment of Snappy Singles.
Summersets, “Never Love Another”
Okay, so yes, this first track has been strategically placed here to kick off the summer theme – I am guilty as charged, but I could not resist when offered a band called Summersets! And while the name may be unfamiliar, this duo are no strangers to the Ontario music scene. Comprised of Ottawa-based singer-songwriter Kalle Mattson and North Bay musical artist Andrew Sowka (Faraway Neighbours), it was pure luck that brought both musicians together in Sault Ste. Marie back in 2014. “The whole summersets project came from a place of desperation and inspiration,” shares Mattson. “Once Andrew and I began writing and singing these songs together I was so energized by the process.” Produced by acclaimed musician/engineer Jim Bryson (Kathleen Edwards), “Never Love Another” outlines the progression of a relationship, from its first phases, through marriage, life struggles, forming a family, and to the last moments of one half of the partnership’s life. “We were trying not to overthink anything; just trying to chase a warm, lush production,” adds Sowka. “And taking a page or two from the late-60s/early-70s singer-songwriters we really love.”
Hauler, “The Widow’s Vow”
For many, the summer months means festival season, and with the long hot summer nights comes the perfect excuse to enjoy some great traditional East Coast music. Peruse a list of summer festivals and there’s a good chance you’ll find a Celtic event or two, or three…traditional music and summer is a natural pairing, like strawberries and cream. Having released their debut album last May, Sydney, NS trio Hauler now share their latest single/video for “The Widow’s Vow,” a track that perfectly fuses traditional music with their own modern interpretation. Best known as members of Canadian indie-rockers Slowcoaster, both Steve MacDougall and Mike Lelievre join forces with 2017 Canadian Folk Music Award winner Colin Grant, whose Cape Breton fiddle leads off this track, followed by soothing vocals and just enough grit to firmly establish that this is music from The Maritimes. Seamlessly blending and bending roots, rock and Celtic music together into a hearty homemade soup, Hauler has been simmering on the stove and are now ready to serve themselves up with their Cape Breton contemporary music. This is definitely a trio we plan to watch as the rest of the year unfolds.
Miesha & The Spanks, “Unstoppable”
Returning to the airwaves after taking some time out to raise a family, Calgary, AB garage-rock duo Miesha & The Spanks (MATS) recently shared “Unstoppable,” a high-octane rock & roll number that will have you hitting the repeat button and cranking the volume dial. Comprised of Miesha Louie (guitar/vocals) and Sean Hamilton (drums), the duo draw inspiration from The Runaways, L7, and The Buzzcocks to create some ‘modern noise’ that’s catchy enough to raise a fist and sing along. Spending time writing and recording new music at Leeroy Stagger’s Rebeltone Ranch in Lethbridge, AB, MATS have put their full weight behind this first single, promptly reminding us that sometimes ‘head first, full throttle,’ is the only way to get it done. “Slowing down felt crazy,” Miesha recalls, “I wrote Unstoppable while talking myself back into that hustle, getting back on my feet and reminding myself of what I do every day.” Boasting some great grungy guitar opening riffs, there are subtle hints of Keith Richards’ sounds and some great blues-rock piano keys that beautifully exploit the elements of great rock & roll music. “I hope this song hits home if you’ve been feeling a little lethargic after months of quarantine,” Miesha adds. “I hope it encourages you to shake off any cobwebs and slide back into what you do best – or better yet, go hard for something that until now had only been a daydream.”
Orville Peck, “No Glory in the West”
Yes, I know that “Summertime” would have been the fitting track of choice to round up this ‘summer themed’ edition of Snappy Singles, but this latest release from Vancouver, BC (now residing in Toronto) alt-country crooner Orville Peck is equally impossible to ignore. Known for his rich baritone voice and spaghetti-western noir music, both “Summertime” and “No Glory in the West” shall appear on Peck’s upcoming “Show Pony” EP, the follow-up to his groundbreaking 2019 debut album, Pony.” And while both single share the fringed-leather masked enigma’s somber, melancholic tales, this latest offering returns to stark images of barren landscapes, eroticism, and isolation. “Count your blessings they’ll say / And after each midnight begins a new day / But don’t place your bets on a word that they say / They’ll put your life to rest / ‘Cause there ain’t no glory in the west,” Peck recites in his own inimitable style, his persona a stark contrast to the traditional conservative leanings of this genre. Hence the alt-tag – a tag that indicates a ‘new wave’ of ‘old-country’ that is a refreshing breeze for this genre, one that moves away from the bubblegum pop churned out by the Nashville machine these days. Don’t expect to see Peck at the Grand Ole Opry anytime soon, but I’m sure that this mystical cowboy won’t be losing any sleep about that.