Summer is here, Cottage Country is open for business, and many cold beers are flowing. All that’s missing is some great new music, and at GDW, we’ve got you covered. Here are four treats that you absolutely must hear while waiting for that next pint, that next swim in the lake, or that next party.
Union Duke, “Ladidadida”
I must confess to an adrenalin rush upon learning that Union Duke are back in the spotlight with a brand new single. Having always loved the soulful, indie-rock bluegrass that this Toronto based quintet are best known for, “Ladidadida” not only sees the band return, but come out swinging with this up-tempo summer treat. “This is the story [about] leaving behind what you love,” the band shares. “The unbridled bliss of making it back in one piece, the desperate highs [and] lows in between.”
Opening with a great vocal intro and breezy summer vibe, the anticipation for their traditional sound arrives quickly for those like me, who crave the banjo-centered attack courtesy of Rob McLaren’s exceptional picking skills. “Ladidadida is a gateway for those unfamiliar to all that folk music has to offer,” the quintet add. “[It] was written in about five minutes, and aside from arranging it as a band, the song itself changed very little from inception to now.” Listen carefully for some of the delights you can find during the 3:08 run time, from crafty changes of pace, to some doo-wop influenced harmonies. “We want to restore faith in those nostalgic for the past that the traditions of folk will live on in good hands,” they share. “After all, why can’t folk music be youthful and energetic while also being folk? Why can’t modern indie music contain great stories and tender lyrics?” All are perfectly good reasons for folk music to thrive, and with Union Duke, “more banjo” is pretty much guaranteed. Welcome back.
Dan Moxon, “Where You Gonna Sleep Tonight”
Best known as the vocalist/guitarist of popular progressive-indie band, Bend Sinister, Vancouver native Dan Moxon’s latest solo release is a groovy, indie-soul slow burner of a track. “If you’re conflicted on whether to confront all the issues in your relationship, or break up and move on, this one’s for you,” he shares. “This is really about the push and pull of modern relationships. Not wanting to call it quits, but struggling with the [daily] distractions, busy lives and the trust between partners.”
Check out the incredibly potent keyboard introduction to “Where You Gonna Sleep Tonight,” which shares many similarities to the sound and style of Erin Costelo’s East Coast soul. Listen out for the soothing horns and phenomenal harmonies that intensify this tune, and complement Moxon’s emotionally charged lyrics and vocals. “It’s that feeling when your partner doesn’t come home at night, and you can’t sleep wondering where they might be,” he adds. “Or the feeling when things get too overwhelming and you might be moving on yourself.” Be sure to close your eyes and gently sway to the highly-charged saxophone and keyboard solo down the stretch, before Moxon needs your shoulder once more for his relationship woes. Outstanding.
Knox, “Deep Dark Love”
Receiving this single in my inbox about a month ago, this may no longer be a brand new release, but when I first gave this one a listen, I knew it was one to save for a rainy day. “Deep Dark Love” is the debut single for this former school teacher turned musician; an incredibly moving and slow paced alt-country number that proves to be the perfect vessel for showcasing Knox’s wonderful vocals. “Deep Dark Love is about forlorn of forbidden love, however you see it,” Knox offers. “You know that feeling of longing and sadness, spaced with moments of apology, and dare I say, hope?”
Recorded and produced by Aaron Goldstein at Baldwin Street Sounds Studios in Toronto, “Deep Dark Love” was recorded over a three day session last December. Goldstein’s trademark pedal steel and guitar sounds are naturally evident, setting both the tone and pace for this impressive debut, as are the distinct and passionate backing vocals offered by Carleigh Aikins. For Knox, the unique nature of the Baldwin Street Sounds studio contributed to the final product. “Formally a bakery, the drum kit on the sound floor now sits nestled in the ghost of a brick oven,” he recalls. “With no line of sight between the booth and the sound floor, there is a wonderful live energy that happens in that space. Isolated and complete.” From the strength of this single alone, I am very curious to hear Knox’s debut “Heartbreak & Landscape” album that shall be released later this year.
Johnny Payne, “All Messed Up”
And now for something completely different. Vancouver based singer-songwriter Johnny Payne’s latest single is an absolute blast from the past of epic proportions. How epic? Cast your mind back to the first time you heard a Dear Rouge track, and gasped in awe at their throwback synth-pop sounds. Now repeat the exercise, but this time with Andy Shauf, and his incredible 70s inspired sounds found on “The Party.” Okay, you get the concept? So prepare to be astounded by “All Messed Up,” a catchy and retro 70s pop-soul ditty that will transport you to “the impossibly bright lights of an entire generation’s youthful idealism, [complete with] the harmonies, the hooks, and the choruses.”
While “All Messed Up” is perfect for mainstream Canadian pop radio stations, the song could inadvertently sneak into the rotation on SiriusXM’s ‘70s on 7’ channel too, complementing the likes of Abba, Tony Orlando, and The Starland Vocal Band with ease. “My new song means exactly what it says,” states Payne. “There’s no mystery behind it. It’s literal. I was all messed up one night and it made for a great story.” Mixing bouncy keyboards with some funk bass and some up-tempo strings, Payne truly has recreated an authentic revival of the sounds of yesteryear. Tales of a personal nature are shared in the lyrics: “Hey there mister, come on let me in / all messed up, all messed up / Might have left my shoes on the table, but I’m not sure of it;” which Payne is naturally happy to relive. “[Making] my way outside [the club] for some air, I was barefoot. Apparently I had taken my shoes off to dance at one point,” he reminisces. “Of course, I went straight back to the dance floor. I don’t remember getting home that night.” If the DJ is not playing “All Messed Up” at your party this summer, don’t despair – just find a better DJ who knows how to get a dance floor hopping with tracks such as this. Truly exceptional.