Home Hear Indie Roundup | A Dozen Songs To Elevate Your Thursday

Indie Roundup | A Dozen Songs To Elevate Your Thursday

Raise your game with tunes from Circa Waves, Steven Lambke and others.

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Circa Waves make change, Steven Lambke works blue, Geoff Berner gets subtle, Minor Poet treats cancer, Hayden Thorpe gets divine and more in today’s Roundup. I’m reading a bunch of William Faulkner books right now. If and when I figure out what the hell prompted me to do that, you’ll be the first to know.


1 Times has its way with all of us. But that doesn’t mean our current times have to do the same. That’s the simple, direct message of Circa Waves‘ new single Times Won’t Change Me, a preview of the British pop-rockers’ next album What’s It Like Over There? On this song, at least, it seems pretty pleasant  — thanks to a pumping gospel piano, an earworm chorus and a video that makes you feel at home whether you’re lounging around in the bathrobe or suited up. Ironically, it’s a sonic change for them. But at least it’s for the better. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Times Won’t Change Me is a piano-led gospel inspired anthem: Circa Waves as you’ve never heard them before. Taking these universal sounds and locking them together into piano-singalongs, swelling orchestras, fuzzy rock and arena-baiting marvels. The track sets the tone for the record’s buccaneering spirit, using drums as a leading instrument rather than a thumping follower.” Now’s the time:


2 If you want something done right, do it yourself. Though it also helps if you can get Daniel Romano to help. That’s what Constantines and Baby Eagle singer-guitarist Steven Lambke did for his upcoming solo album Dark Blue. The pairing makes perfect sense; after all, the disc is being released to mark the 10th anniversary of You’ve Changed Records, the label Lambke and Romano co-founded. They light the fuse on this celebration with the first single Fireworks, an Eastern-spiced hypno-drone groove-rocker topped with Lambke’s sandpaper vocals and beat-poet lyrics. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “A song can seem a slight thing. Barely there. Unless it is in the midst of being sung or being heard it could be said to exist only in potential or in memory. What is the form of this potential? A balance of words, chords, melody. Balance implies an interaction. The song is the point of balance that is returned to, potential turned into action with intention. In this way, the song is the music of ritual. Ritual is the creation of human meaning through repetition.” You can say that again:


3 Today in irony: Singer-songwriter and accordion squeezer Geoff Berner has a new single titled Super Subtle Folk Song. Now, on to today in topicality: Singer-songwriter and accordion squeezer Berner’s Super Subtle Folk Song lambasts our political system and the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project. But thankfully, it comes laced with the twisted humour you can usually expect from Berner — and an entertainingly kitschy video to boot. Watch it now; after all, tomorrow is another day. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Berner says he was inspired by a Yiddish music hall comedy song from the early 20th century in which the singer describes being in a boat taking on water from a hole, so he made a second hole to let the water out. “That line encapsulates Canada’s bizarre strategy for dealing with the Climate Catastrophe that is now upon us: Respond to a disaster caused by fossil fuels, by trying to double our output of fossil fuels.” Gas it up:


4 The days are getting longer. The snow is gradually starting to disappear. My neighbours are spending more time in the garage. Yep, spring is definitely in the air. And even if it isn’t happening where you are, Virginia singer-songwriter Andrew Carter — who performs under the handle Minor Poet — will help you get there with the summery breeze and lilting melody of his song Tropic of Cancer (even if the lyrics paint a somewhat darker picture). No wonder it’s the new single from his fittingly titled forthcoming EP The Good News. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Minor Poet’s second album, The Good News, is a six-song collection that expands the boundaries of what constitutes the band’s sound. In just twenty-two minutes, the songs take apart the standard formulas of guitar-based rock and infuse them with vibrance and energy.” He’s getting warmer:


5 When his band Wild Beasts split up after more than a decade together, singer-songwriter Hayden Thorpe apparently ended up like many an ex pack-member: Alone in the woods. Lucky for him, he had a glowing piano to keep him company. And to help him write his tenderly uplifting new debut solo single Diviner. Now, if he only find some fingers for his gloves … SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Diviner became the first song and the divining rod for what was going to be next.” Thorpe says, “There are, if we can wait for them, rare days of alignment. Diviner was written on such a day, my birthday of all days. The curtains were drawn for a while, I went inside. To say I’m delighted to see daylight would be an understatement.” Bid him welcome:


6 How do you define a heavy hitter? Well, in the case of an independent pop singer-songwriter from Montreal, a couple of videos that have accumulated more than half a million streams would be a good start. That’s precisely what Emily Rose Kafoury — who records under the handle Nōva — has achieved lately. So it would seem that the title of her lightly bouncing new single Heavy Hitters is somewhat justified. Though she shouldn’t get too cocky; after all, everybody strikes out eventually. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Heavy Hitters, written by Nōva herself and Montreal songwriter Mark Vesprini, is a reminder to anyone who’s ever felt left out and excluded by society, that it’s okay to be exactly who you are. It’s about flaunting all your colours and quirks regardless of what people may think.” And about smearing glitter under your eyes, it seems:


7+8 When you’re as talented as Marissa Nadler, one single is not enough. So the Boston singer-songwriter has unveiled a pair of transfixing tracks: The darkly atmospheric and bleakly intoxicating roots ballad Poison, featuring former Velvet Underground MVP John Cale; and the nostalgically narcoticized girl-group sugar-thump of If We Make it Through The Summer. Double your pleasure. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Lyrically, Poison was written as a conversation between a couple — I hope it conjures a portrait of one of those intense moments of contemplation in a relationship that you never forget, forever frozen inside a snow globe. Musically, Poison is stripped down to its most elemental form, and features a rare element for my work: completely dry vocals. If We Make It Through The Summer, on the other hand, is a slow-core thickly produced, maudlin rocker.” Go for two:


9 It’s gonna be a fine spring for fans of the Earle family. Patriarch Steve Earle releasing his new Guy Clark tribute album Guy. And not to be left out, son Justin Townes Earle is returning with his eighth album The Saint of Lost Causes. Get a taste of what he’s cooking with the scrappy, slightly desperate streetcorner roots-rocker Ain’t Got No Money. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “For The Saint of Lost Causes, Earle is focused on a different America – the disenfranchised and the downtrodden, the oppressed and the oppressors, the hopeful and the hopeless, as well as their geography. “I was trying to look through the eyes of America,” Earle says. “Because I believe in the idea of America – that everybody’s welcome here and has a right to be here.” Let’s get lost:


10 I’m far too old — and far too sensible — to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans (or anywhere else, for that matter). But I can still get into the spirit of the event with Iko Kreyòl, a fantastic revamp of the Crescent City classic Iko Iko from Lakou Mizik and 79rs Gang — featuring VIPs like Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, plus the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Add some beads, wildly overpriced drinks, topless drunks and random street crime and you’ve pretty much got it covered. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “In this retelling, Lakou Mizik and 79rs Gang trade off new verses in Haitian Kreyol and English that celebrate the epic cultural reunion of Haiti and New Orleans. The glory and connection of these cultures are on full display as the traditional Haitian rara horns mix with second-line swagger. By the end, the song winds its way back to its original homeland, Haiti.” Set your flag on fire:


11 You know what they say about silver linings. Toronto singer-songwriter Charlotte Cornfield makes it a reality with her latest single Storm Clouds, a moody folk meditation loosely wrapped around sweetly shimmering melody, dusky vocals and heavenly tones. The tracks — which co-stars Broken Social Scenesters Kevin Drew and Charles Spearin — appears on her upcoming LP The Shape of Your Name. With those names on board, she ought to be in good shape. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “It was the first thing I recorded in Banff, a few days after arriving,” says Cornfield. “I had been carrying around the ‘storm clouds, elation, desire, mania, darkness’ refrain for a long time – it’s a personal meditation. But I have this habit of not finishing songs until I have to, so it took being in the studio to pull it all together. I couldn’t figure out how to end it and then Brendan Canning suggested bringing back the refrain and that just felt right.” Take flight:


12 How do you celebrate a baby epiphany? With a baby hallelujah, of course! Though to be honest, I don’t think that’s what co-ed Norwegian duo Konradsen mean by the title of their single Baby Hallelujah. I’m pretty sure their version should have a comma in it. But no matter; punctuation issues can’t prevent the track from being a beautifully intimate piano ballad. Though the background noises do make it sound a bit like Norah Jones performing for a very inattentive audience. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Baby Hallelujah is about dealing with the aftermath of life,” says the Oslo-based duo. “It’s simple and honest – just piano, vocals and samples of the people we love.” The fractured, achingly beautiful new track has a hymnal quality to it; a song that’s hewn from the fragments that comprise life. Texturally, the ambient foley and hushed sounds of friends and family peppering the song add a distinctly organic element to the writing, suggesting a feeling of community and its healing potential.” Come away with them: