Walrus rassle, Laurent Bourque thinks of you, Those Pretty Wrongs know what it’s about and more in today’s Roundup. Pro tip for publicists: If EVERY SINGLE EMAIL you send me starts with the words “I am excited to send you the new single by … ,” you’re not fooling anybody.
1 Personally, I have never understood the appeal of wrestling. For some weird reason, watching sweaty guys in bathing suits groping each other has never really done anything for me. And quite honestly, it makes me suspect that the hyper-macho types who are clearly way, way too into it are trying just a little too hard to conceal something about themselves (or perhaps from themselves). I have no idea how the dude-bros of Halifax weirdos Walrus feel about all that — but at least they don’t seem to be taking the whole rasslin’ thang too seriously in the video for their latest track Played Out, which is a potent little hit of Flaming Lips psychedelia laced with garage-rock intensity. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Whilst visually tipping hat to the band’s affinity for wrestling, Played Out sonically angles towards the band’s garage-rock temperament, cutting a groove laced with doom-laden riffs and billowing guitars. Thematically, the track looks to document the feeling of negative repetition, a topic tackled within the video: “Even though you know it’s no good for you, and the feeling is played out compared to what it used to be… you do it anyway.” Nice toy collection, man:
2 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, and then make this video. The least you can do is watch. 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:
3 As I’ve said before, of the umpteen zillion albums coming out this fall, one I’m looking forward to is Zed for Zulu, the Sept. 6 sophomore release from Those Pretty Wrongs, the duo of Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and singer-guitarist Luther Russell. Thankfully, I am lucky enough to get advance copies of these things. And you are lucky enough to get another taste of what’s in store via the preview track It’s About Love, a sweetly sunny number laced with swirling guitars, rich organ lines and sighing backup vocals. What is not to love? SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: The song speaks for itself. You can’t go wrong:
4 They say health is wealth. Fair enough. But these days, you can’t always have the former without the latter — as Rae Spoon posits in the tightly wound and surprisingly hooky number Money, the third preview of their Aug. 16 album Mental Health. It’s a bittersweet lyrical pill delivered with a spoonful of melodic pop-rock sugar. SAYS THE PRESS RELASE: “Money is about the least talked about aspect of the mental health system which is that it’s almost impossible to receive positive treatment without personal money,” says Spoon. “The mental health epidemic is due to a lack of allocation of funding by governments. I wrote it about the cycles that occur when people don’t have resources.” Thankfully, you don’t have to have cash in hand to listen:
5 These days, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. Thankfully, Tommy Womack can help sort that out. The veteran singer-songwriter and Nashville institution’s crunchy new roots-rock ditty We’ll Get Through This Too is that rarest of musical creations: A timely protest song with a sense of humour and a heart of gold — plus a side order of positivity to boot. You’ll have no trouble getting through it. And if by chance you are left wondering what “this” refers to, congratulations on finally coming out of your two-year coma. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “People ain’t writing protest songs, least none I’ve heard,” muses Tommy Womack. “I worship a head of lettuce name Jerome, and he told me, ‘Give people some HOPE!” So, I wrote the Eve of Destruction for our time, but it’s optimistic, not indignant.” Get to it:
6 Sean Cronin is asking for it. The Brooklyn bassist calls his band Very Good — or Sean Cronin’s Very Good, depending on which site you look at. That takes some stones. But give him credit: Based on the soothing vibe and trippy beauty of his Laurel Canyon-style chamber-folk waltz Ghost Warning — a peek at his Oct. 11 album Adulthood — his act is living up to the name. After all, it isn’t bragging if it’s true. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The dreamy waltz creates a sense of watching the grainy footage of one’s youth, knowing that the dreams of yesterday will be unmet in the present. But maybe the film projector is actually a crystal ball, a prophecy of a bleak future? The song seems to go in both directions at once: past and future; hope and resignation, the child and the adult.” Good to go:
7 There are people who make music for Saturday night. There are people who make music for Sunday morning. Then there’s Southern California roots-rockers Ted Z and The Wranglers, who make music that’s about one but sure sounds like the other. Check out their rollicking two-stepper Guests on Sunday Morning and tell me I’m wrong. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Ted’s catchy story-songs are fully-realized tales of love, regret, getting older and getting in trouble. The band stirs up its Americana influences, featuring quick picking and bluesy slide guitar over galloping train beats and swinging shuffles.” Hallelujah and pass the bottle:
8 Kitchener pop-punks Wayfarer are calendar boys. Not in the shirtless-photography sense — at least, not that I know of — but in the musical-theme sense. Their 2016 EP was titled Three Winters. Their upcoming album is named Reckless Spring. And the surging, melodic preview track they sent my way today is titled February. Hey, at least they’re consistent. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “People always talk about how February is the most depressing month of the year. Stuck in the dead of winter, spring seems so far away, and summer is merely a distant dream. By the time winter comes back around again, you know you’ll have probably squandered the few good months you yearned for only a few seasons ago. When you finally step outside of it, you realize you wanted to use February as a scapegoat for all your bad behaviour, all your own shortcomings. Maybe it isn’t the weather’s fault.” Spring forward:
9 Speaking of the seasons, summer goes by so fast. So maybe it’s only right that Summer Sun, the latest shimmering surf-pop single from oddly named Albany indie outfit Pony in the Pancake, lasts just 113 seconds. After all, you’ve got to make the most of the season while you can. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “A tear fell from The Sun and cousins Robert and Dan witnessed it fall from atop a summer mountain in a moment outside of time. Since then they have been on a quest. Wherever PIP goes, they go there with one purpose, and one purpose only. For over two decades PIP has explored The Earth under the guidance and worship of The Sun. They secluded themselves in the darkest basements of Upstate New York where they went to work channeling Joy, Sadness, and Death on a four track recorder. They derive their music directly from The Sun and write all of their songs in the moment of inspiration. They do not think. They celebrate The Sun and out comes Love.” Geez, that lasted longer than the song:
10 Unlike Pony in the Pancake, some guys don’t need to blather on about their music. Take the Scottish electronica artist and composer who records under the handle My Heart, Your Thunder. He just sent me his strikingly cool instrumental New Rules, accompanied by this simple but spot-on message: “It’s kinda spacey but with metal drums. I mean, I dig it but then, I made it.” Well, fair enough. But here’s the thing: I dig it too. And I suspect you will too. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: I think I’ve said too much already, don’t you?