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Indie Roundup | Seven Songs You Should Hear This Thursday

Neal Francis, New Swears, Shura, Almost Owen and more make tracks.

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Neal Francis makes time, Aaron Lee Tasjan renews his karma, New Swears follow the code of the road and more in today’s Roundup. Is anybody else out there watching Jett? You should be. Especially if you like Carla Gugino and gritty, Elmore Leonard-style crime dramas — and seriously, who doesn’t?


1 Singer-pianist Neal Francis has been called the reincarnation of late great New Orleans singer-pianist and songwriter Allen Toussaint. That might be pushing it a bit — but not by much, judging by This Time, the funky, horn-laced title track from his Sept. 20 album. Not bad for a 30-year-old white guy from Chicago who reportedly came perilously close to self-destructing in an abyss of drugs and alcohol before finally cleaning up his act. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The refrain on This Time serves as a foxhole prayer for a better future: “Let me get it this time/I won’t let you down/Let me get it this time/I won’t fool around.” It’s definitely worth your time:


2 You know what they say: If something’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing. Or, in the case of Aaron Lee Tasjan, doing over. Exactly a year after the release of his 2018 album Karma For Cheap, the veteran singer-songwriter will return with Karma For Cheap: Reincarnated, a totally reimagined and re-recorded version of the disc. For those who need something completely new, there’s the first single and video My Whole Life is Over (All Over Again), which seems thematically fitting, to say the least. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “It seems like everything is getting a second look these days. In a time where everything from news cycles to songs come and go quickly, a second look at them in a new context offers us the opportunity to consider what there is we may have missed the first time around.” First things first:


3 At some point in their career, every band is apparently required to make a video about life on the road. And it has to include home-movie shots of them rocking out onstage, sleeping in their van, peeing by the side of the highway, getting toed, horsing around in motel rooms, jumping around in their underwear and generally savouring the romantic, nomadic existence of young indie musicians on tour. For Ottawa rockers New Swears, that point has clearly come. And their timing couldn’t be better, since the song in question — the rootsy road-dog anthem Wheels — comes from their just-released album Night Mirror. Get in the van. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Touring can certainly be a magical rollercoaster ride. This song takes you on a journey with us. Enjoy, and keep those wheels rolling.” And keep those backflips coming:


4 Growing up is hard to do — especially when you still live with your moms. Just ask Boston singer-songwriter Almost Owen: He tells it like it is on his bouncy, mischievous indie-pop ditty We Out Here. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “It’s a song about being king (or queen) of your castle… even if that ‘castle’ is just your parents’ basement.” It’s a millennial anthem, a balls out braggadocious tribute to debauchery and straight-up ridiculousness. It’s the song playing full blast the first time you steal your dad’s convertible, the one that makes you feel like a millionaire even if you’ve only got $12 in your pocket.” Or if you’re ruining the good couch:


5 Some artists like to play coy when it comes to sex. Not Marika Hackman. At least, not on the seductive All Night, the latest preview of her Aug. 9 album Any Human Friend. But even though her record label calls the track “X-rated” — and it is admittedly graphic now an then — it still sounds classier, cooler and way less lurid than the filth most dudes her age would come up with. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I thought it would be exciting to write a really overtly sexual song about a woman from the perspective of a woman. You don’t hear much about sex between women in music, or if you do its usually from a fetishised male perspective, I thought I’d reclaim a bit of that power.” That’s one strategically placed pig:


6 If you liked half-Russian New Yorker Shura’s slick, superbly titled soul-pop single religion (u can lay your hands on me) when it came out back in June, then you’re in luck: She’s just released a remix by London producer Gabe Gurnsey. Get your hands on it right here and right now. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I’ve been a huge fan of Shura’s work since Nothing’s Real so it was an honour to be asked to remix her latest single religion,” says Gurnsey. “Shura’s vocals alone are a dream element to have in the remix process and that coupled with the amazing textures and production that lie deep in her tracks have made working on this a massive pleasure. The vocal hook ‘Oh girl don’t stop ‘ was destined for the dance floor…” Don’t let me stop you:


7 A lot of us spend way too much time thinking and not enough time doing. You might be tempted to include Toronto singer-songwriter Laurent Bourque in that group, based on the dreamy loveliness of his latest single Thinking of You. But consider this: At least he got out of his own head long enough to write and record the song. The least you can do is give it a listen. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “It’s a song about daydreaming about a past relationship. It’s about those little vignettes and moments in time we reminisce about when we’re busy doing something else. It’s about the instinct to maybe reach to that person we’re thinking about and want to ask them how they are or what they are up to; yet we always hold back due to being scared of seeming vulnerable. We all have these thoughts and instincts yet we can rarely act on them. It’s my summertime jam, or about as close as I get to that.” Or so he thinks: