JoJo Worthington puts it all together, Proud Sons are in good company, Abigail Lapell haunts the water, Balthazar feed their fever and Charlie Faye gives it up in today’s Roundup. Before we star: I have to say that personally, I am far less appalled by Greta Van Fleet’s music than I am by their clothes. For the love of all things holy, will somebody please stop those nitwits from dressing like refugees from a Bollywood movie? That is all. Thank you.
1 Some songs and videos are big on substance. Others are all about style. Nothing wrong with either approach. But this eye-catching and thought-provoking clip for Ontario singer-songwriter JoJo Worthington’s new single Stabilize — a plea for unity and support — is one of the rare offerings that does both. And does them magnificently, thanks to both Worthington’s charmingly understated pop smarts and artist Kristyn Watterworth’s distinctive, colourful art design. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “This is a song that asks for community and support in order to help those around us who are affected by mental illness. In another parallel, it also pleads for mutual support among the sexes…to come together and Stabilize the world around us. Each scene in the video is full of chaotic and beautiful colours – representing characteristics of mental illness that can prove to be difficult and inconvenient to deal with, but are not things that we should feel ashamed of. Those of us who do not know these struggles should always be ready to extend an open hand of understanding to those in need.” Colour me impressed:
2 Winnipeg’s Proud Sons have plenty of reason to be chuffed these days. They just signed on to open up for The Tea Party on their upcoming North American tour. And they just released a new video for the single Company. The song is a lazily twangy, harmony-rich southern-rock breezer — and the video is a personable home-made road movie rich in scenes of down-to-earth high jinks and bromantic adventures. Well done, lads. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Honestly, getting the chance to play so many shows in 60 days in places we never imagined we would play has yet to sink in;” shares lead singer Ryan McConnell. “Following in the same footsteps of a lot of the bands that inspired us to pick our instruments has been our dream for nearly a decade. As a band at this level we are always keen to keep on learning and progressing as musicians and writers, so being in the company of The Tea Party is a front row seat in Rock and Roll 101.” Tell Stuart I said hi. He loves me. But not half as much as you clearly love each other:
3 Canadian folksinger Abigail Lapell’s new single and video are titled Down By the Water. Which naturally makes me think of Neil Young’s Down By the River. Which naturally makes me think of the gospel classic Down By the Riverside. Which naturally makes me think of the barbershop classic Down By the Old Mill Stream. Which naturally makes me think of … well you get the idea. But to her credit, Lapell’s unadorned, quietly pretty acoustic ballad — from her upcoming Getaway album out Feb. 1 — sounds like none of the above. If anything it resembles a classic Celtic ballad transplanted to Appalachia. And since apparently everyone uses the word “haunting” to describe her music, I guess it’s also haunting. Fun fact: She directed this recording-studio video. And did so hauntingly, one presumes. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Down By the Water is a springtime song, so there’s a lot of imagery of renewal or redemption, and even some biblical symbolism, suggesting an escape to a better place — whether literal or metaphorical. The song evokes the idea of getting away somewhere isolated, away from the world, in order to rediscover your voice or calling — something that ultimately deepens your sense of connection to the world. Like a songwriting retreat!” A haunted songwriting retreat?
4 Do you feel a fever coming on? Balthazar do. The Belgian quintet’s Fever album comes out Friday. But just in case that’s still too long to wait, they’ve decided to share another preview: The excellent track Wrong Vibration, which channels the sweetly Spectorish girl-group sound of the ’60s — but tops them with an incongruously sinister male vocal. Nothing wrong with that. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Wrong Vibration comes on all sumptuous harmonies against a nocturnal backdrop. Maarten Devoldere takes on lead vocal duties joined by Jinte Deprez on harmonies, providing further evidence of the wonderful pop side of Balthazar and reinforcing the band’s newfound enthusiasm. Dig in and enjoy the ride.” Catch the fever:
5 Speaking of girl groups, Austin trio Charlie Faye & the Fayettes are previewing their Feb. 8 sophomore album The Whole Shebang by sharing the new single You Gotta Give It Up (Party Song). Truer words were never spoken. You do indeed have to give it up for a song that updates their retro-fab sound with the thumping drums, wiry guitars and vocal sass of The Go-Go’s — and then updates that with empowering call-to-action lyrics urging people to wake up, get wise, speak up and organize. Maybe they should have called it the Political Party Song. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I’m still influenced by ’60s girl groups, but this time around, other elements came into play, too,” Austinite Faye explains. “I wanted us to start venturing a little more into the early ’70s, as so many of the great girl groups did.” That’s one way to rock the vote: