For music lovers, October is here. For beer drinkers/lovers, Oktober is here. Don’t mind me, but I’ll pass on the pumpkin flavored ales though – just not my thing, sorry – but great music and a casual drink (non-alcoholic too) always go hand in hand, and when we are talking music, as always, we’ve got you covered. Check out this great little mixer pack of fine music from Canada and beyond for your October listening pleasures.
Angie McMahon feat. Leif Vollebekk, “If You Call”
Somebody asked me recently where I continue to find such a variety of artists to feature here on this recurring monthly feature, and to be honest, the answer involves a lot of help from lady luck. This was certainly the case for this first offering, where a promo for the latest album from rising Australian singer-songwriter Angie McMahon landed in my inbox. Having already performed at SXSW, featured on NPR, and toured with Hozier, my curiosity about this artist got the better of me (of course it did), and a quick glance at the track listings drew my attention to this duet with prominent Ottawa, ON artist, Leif Vollebekk. “I know the sun don’t rise and set above me / I don’t want you to compromise a lot to love me,” the duo share, delivered against a moody atmosphere and somber tempo. “But if you call / I’ll turn on the light for you / If you call / I’m gonna be bright for you / If you call,” the chorus lines shared with minimal instrumentation, allowing these two pure voices to truly shine and render goosebumps as you listen. Yes, I’m patting myself on the back for lucking out finding this gem of a tune.
The Hello Darlins feat. Joey Landreth, “Aberdeen”
Following their stunning debut single, “Still Waters,” and subsequent release, “Catch That Train,” rising Calgary, AB band The Hello Darlins return once again with another absolute gem of a single. Founded by Candace Lacina and Mike Little, and comprised of a seemingly unlimited number of versatile studio-session players, “Aberdeen” sees popular Winnipeg, MB vocalist/guitarist Joey Landreth enlisted to add his signature sound this time around. “Can’t cry anymore about it / Every year that’s going by / Wish you’d come back to the races / I miss the wild in your eye,” Joey recites, joined by Candace for the chorus that follows. “You’re the lightning over water / You’re the fire and kerosene / You’re the heartbeat in the thunder / Aberdeen.” Although written about a horse, this track delves deeper into the meaning of loyalty and friendships, and how to extend beyond the boundaries of a ‘fence-line’ or lifetime. “When we played the demo for Joey Landreth, he got it right away,” Candace recalls. “We recorded it in our home studio and he delivered such a heartfelt vocal, the way only [he] can.” “This is such a beautiful song that weaves a delicate and complex story,” adds Landreth. “Great music made by great people. It doesn’t get better than that!”
Black Canoe, “A Measured Life”
There is nothing written in the Snappy Singles rulebook stating that featured releases have to be brand new. This impressive ditty from Hamilton, ON alt-rockers, Black Canoe dates back to early last year, but only recently invaded my listening space when heard on SXM during my work day. I must confess that the slightly dreamy Americana riffs that open “A Measured Life” captured my attention immediately (as did the discreet banjo licks), before lead vocalist James Cain filled the airwaves, offering so much similarity in sound to Jeff Tweedy that I found myself racing to confirm that this was not some unknown track from Wilco. Per their bio, Black Canoe are a four-piece alternative rock group crafting their sound with elements of alt-country, shoegaze, dream pop, new wave, and others – and giving the entire album a subsequent spin, there are definite nods to UK band Travis (“Are You Awake”) and even some Deni Gauthier inspired guitar rings to be found too (“In The Moment”). Mastered by Stephen Pitkin (Elliott BROOD) at Modest Heights Mastering, this is yet another talented band from The Hammer that we plan to keep an eye on.
Joan Smith & The Jane Does, “Pull”
We are always happy to share new music from Toronto, ON alt-rocker Joan Smith, who refuses to allow a global pandemic to hit the pause button on her creativity and fiery brand of ‘in-your-face’ rock & roll. If you are expecting plenty of dirty guitars, distortion, and pulsating rhythms that tantalize the senses, you’ve come to the right place! “Pull” deserves to be cranked up loud, to blow the cobwebs out of your speakers, and to provide a little over three minutes of pure, unadulterated musical joy. “I force some interaction / You might respond in kind / I analyze your every word / I seek some kind of rise,” Joan growls. “But if you’re pulling backwards / How much should I push? / I got no choice but to blow it up now / I seek some kind of rush.” Joan is joined once again by her Jane Does bandmates: Tom Juhas (guitars/bass), Glenn Milchem (drums), and Brian Kobayakawa (synthesizers), along with the addition of Torontonian Steve Lavery adding his touch on piano. “Pull is a quick and dirty song about wanting to control the reaction of another person, whether it be trying to change the mind of a conspiracy loving Q Anon believer, or a semi-interested lover,” Joan shares. “There’s so little in our lives we can control, but you can’t lie to the truth.”
The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.