Hawksley Workman soars, Basic White hit the streets, Sarah Potenza works it, Jon Fratelli channels Glen Campbell and more in today’s Roundup. Are you not entertained? Well, too bad. That’s all I got.
1 Hey kids! Want to shoot a video for your band but don’t have money for actors, dancers, sets, lighting or audio playback equipment? No problemo! Take your cues from Basic White. The London, Ont. rock ’n’ rollers fronted by singer-guitarist Riley White shot the clip for their catchy Can-Rock corker Time to Leave in the streets (and schools, libraries, grocery stores and shopping malls) of their hometown as White listened to the track through big-ass headphones. Sure, it sounds cheesy. And it kinda is — but both the charmingly home-spun video and the radio-ready single grow on you fast. If the rest of their upcoming album The Second Half is this good, it won’t be long before they’ve got the bucks to blow on some big-budget vids. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Time to Leave came together very last minute, and was the last song written for the record. It started out as a little guitar riff and just grew from there. It’s about being in a relationship with someone and getting to the point where it’s time for someone to make the move to leave. You both know it’s the right thing to do, but neither person wants to say it,” said White. No time like the present:
2 You can call Hawksley Workman a lot of things, but lazy isn’t one of them. Especially not this year. The veteran singer-songwriter has two albums on the way in coming weeks: Heavy Meta, the sophomore album from his Mounties supergroup with Hot Hot Heat‘s Steve Bays and Limblifter’s Ryan Dahle; and Median Age Wasteland, his 16th solo studio album. Get up to speed on the latter with the black-and-white video for his latest single Lazy, a gorgeously meandering slow-burner that features some powerhouse falsetto vocals and a scorching solo. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Lazy is an exploration of love and memories. Childlike images of winter and school portables give way to a lover’s proclamation of staying awake and staying the course. The profound decision of love meets the feeling of love.” Go up the slide backwards:
3 We all feel uncomfortable in our own skin sometimes. Even singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume. The Juno-nominated Métis artist shares her experience — and offers hope for those in similar situations — with the touching video for her rootsy pop single The Skin I’m In. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The song The Skin I’m In is about learning how to love oneself, unconditionally, no matter what body type, skin colour, gender, sexuality, religion, spirituality and so on. I came out as gay in 2003 but still struggled for years to feel 100% comfortable in my skin, and in my life. It has only been in the last year that I feel I’ve really come into my own and been able to claim my identity proudly. This song was inspired by the idea that as humans I feel we have SO much to battle against… physical body norms, mental health, societal norms, gender norms and I hope this song can provide hope for anyone that might be struggling with accepting themselves and finding self-worth and self-love.” Share the love:
4 You would expect a band named Beast in Black to be brutal and evil in the extreme — especially on a song called Die By The Blade. But you’d be wrong. Instead, the Finnish quintet fronted by chorome-domed singer Anton Kabanen take a more subtle and stylish approach, dishing out a synth-fuelled power-metal anthem straight from the ’80s on this preview of their Feb. 8 release From Hell With Love. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Die By The Blade is one of the Berserk manga related songs on the album and apart from its very straightforward song title, the lyrics deal with a deeper issue than it might seem at first glance.” Live and let die:
5 I suspect most musicians have wanted to strangle music journalists with their own microphone cords at one point or another. But Swedish metal masters Soilwork may be the only band that has actually done it on video. Or at least pretended to, as singer Björn Strid does to his hapless interrogator in the clip for Witan, the single from their just-released 11th album Verkligheten. And before we go any further, don’t get any bright ideas, folks. That is precisely why I conduct my interviews over the phone. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Swedish visionary metallers Soilwork have released their long awaited new album, Verkligheten! In celebration of the release the band has also released the music video for crushing song Witan.” If that’s the kind of drivel they spout in interviews, a few reporters might want to choke them too.
6 As Bob Dylan once told us, you gotta serve somebody. Unless you’re Sarah Potenza, perhaps. The Nashville singer-songwriter and former Voice contestant serves herself — as she makes patently clear on her empowered new single I Work For Me, a slice of irresistible R&B from her upcoming sophomore album Road To Rome, due on March 8 (which is International Women’s Day, appropriately enough). SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I Work for Me is about more than just bossing up and doing for yourself. It’s saying ‘Hey, I work for me, as in, my body, my spirit, my personality, who I am…It all works for me. I Work for Me is my dedication to those who told me I wasn’t good enough. What I have come to know, is that what they really meant to say was, ‘How dare you believe that you can, when I don’t dare believe that I can.’ Because confidence scares people. It puts them in the awkward position of facing their own fear of success.” Works for me:
7 Kurt Cobain had a heart-shaped box. Plenty of people have heart-shaped faces or glasses. Los Angeles industrial-pop husband-and-wife duo 8MM apparently have a Heart-Shaped Hell — or at least like the phrase enough to use it as the title of their upcoming EP. But based on the swaggering and seductive preview single Superchaser, hell ain’t a bad place to be. Not if Juliette and Sean Beavan are providing the soundtrack, that is. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Supercrush finds the band at their apex – Juliette’s confident and commanding vocals serving as a worthy adversary to Sean’s rhythmic dexterity. “We wanted to write a song that tied the swampy, bluesy-ness of Between the Devil… and the 808 heavy, cinematic quality of Heart-Shaped Hell together,” says Juliette of the song. “Thematically, Supercrush is that vice or person that you know better than to fool with but you just can’t help going back to… every time.” The hell you say:
8 The third time is the charm for Jon Fratelli. Though the first two weren’t too shabby either. The Fratellis frontman has already previewed his upcoming solo album Bright Night Flowers with the twangy lullaby Dreams Don’t Remember Your Name and the candlelit title cut. Now he’s treating us to Evangeline, a slice of classic-sounding country reminiscent of Glen Campbell at his ’70s peak. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Evangeline is a good example of a song that starts it’s life heading in one direction and ends it in somewhere completely unexpected. When I first recorded this, stylistically it was more in the realms of a Spector-Esque Wall Of Sound piece, where it is now pays more of a homage to the kind of easy, country strum which I always tend to gravitate back towards. Songs like this are so pliable that you can make them fit almost any style you want, to my ears this version is the one that suits the song best, allows it to breath and meander at it’s own pace to take you where it needs to.”
9 Is there a Canadian sound? I once spent several weeks asking artists that question for a feature story. Some adamantly swore there was; others ridiculed the very concept. I don’t think I spoke to the guys in Wintersleep about it. But maybe I didn’t have to; based on the press materials for their upcoming album In the Land Of, the disc has a lot to say about our home-and-native-you-know’s culture, geography and identity. And based on the vibrant high-stepping single Beneficiary and its pull-no-punches lyrical message, it sounds undeniably Canadian. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Beneficiary is a throbbing disco-noir romp that details the genocide of Indigenous peoples and our modern relationship to it. ‘Drive to work all day, try to sleep at night / Beneficiary of a genocide’ vocalist Paul Murphy sings.” Don’t sleep on it: