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Short Cuts | Seven Recent Canadian Releases To Check Out

Sample the newest sounds from Begonia, Corb Lund, Dany Laj and plenty more.

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Some weeks are busier than others. But no week this year has been crazier than this one, with more than 200 new albums dropping. Even I can’t listen to that much new music and write about it all. But I can help guide you to the cream of the crop. Here are some of the top Canadian albums that have dropped recently, in alphabetical order:


Begonia
Fear

THE PRESS RELEASE: “As Begonia, Alexa Dirks is bold, brazen with her florid, surprising pop that is tempered with sensitivity and wisdom. Whether it’s learning to come into her own or processing a brutal heartbreak, Dirks’ intimate lyrics and audacious sound allows for her audience to relate to the messiness of life with an honesty that is refreshing. With Begonia’s debut full length album, Dirks leans hard into a sense of arrival. She wrote and co-produced the record with a familiar team: Matt Schellenberg and Matt Petters of Royal Canoe, along with Marcus Paquin, who has previously worked with The National, Arcade Fire and Local Natives.”


Evangeline Gentle
Evangeline Gentle

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Produced by Jim Bryson and mastered by Grammy-nominated Philip Shaw Bova, Evenageline Gentle’s debut LP is rich, sweet, and lush with vibrato – only a few of the unmistakable qualities that constitute Gentle’s fervent timbre. Their songwriting possesses an authenticity and depth as rare and unique as their own journey. Born on the Northeast coast of Scotland, Gentle’s family lineage tells all. A descendent of the Codona Circus family, they have live performance in their blood and were given an unequivocal name for the stage too. Gentle has already been awarded Emerging Artist at the 2015 Peterborough Folk Fest and Best Female Vocalist of the year at the 2015 Wire Awards.”


Dany Laj & The Looks
Everything New is New Again

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Alt-indie pop troubadour Dany Laj & The Looks left a trail of travel markers when it came to making their seventh and latest release, Everything New is New Again, recorded in New York City. “We descended into what felt like a bunker opening into the depths of the underground through the sidewalk,” he continues, speaking of NY Hed Studio where the trio tracked the record over the next two days. “It was an honour to record with Rocio and Matt Verta-Ray at a place where some of our favourite and coolest records we know were made. Working with them was like catching lightning in a bottle… They captured us in our purest form. The five of us in the studio were on the same page the whole time, and that felt quite special. Everything was done analogue, on tape — no computers, no cell signal, not a screen in sight.” The dismissal of digital distractions in the depths of Manhattan’s Lower East Side held space for the power pop-meets-punk trio’s spirited sound to hold strong. “We have a simple philosophy,” Laj waxes. “Write good songs. Play them well. And have a good time. This is pure pop.”


Corb Lund
Cover Your Tracks

THE PRESS RELEASE: “With his latest EP, Cover Your Tracks, Corb Lund expands on his Western heritage by wearing his more popular and prominent influences on his sleeve. Covering songs from diverse artists such as Lee Hazlewood, Billy Joel, Marty Robbins and AC/DC, Lund expands on not only his favorite songs but on the range, sound and style in which those songs are delivered. Featuring the likes of Ian Tyson and Hayes Carll, Cover Your Tracks is a focused and deliberate collection of classic and unexpected songs, curated by Corb.”


Eamon McGrath
Guts

THE PRESS RELEASE: “In an exploration that began with 2018’s Tantramar, Eamon McGrath expands on that album’s dark, introspective and atmospheric musical landscape that many call Canadiana: Americana’s darker, colder, Northern cousin. In his words, “it’s a concept album, challenging, criticizing and condemning the modern norms of toxic masculinity, but from a heterosexual man’s point of view. It’s about growing into a better person and wanting to be better.” Guts is a record that was written over the course of a period of sobriety and self-reflecting in November of 2017. The album was conceived in the midst of the Me Too movement and around the death of McGrath’s grandfather. McGrath’s main focus intends a reversal of the heteronormative traditions of popular music; in exploring what it is that defines one as a man, and how to express oneself as a man without silencing the voices of others.”


Leeroy Stagger
Strange Path

THE PRESS RELEASE: “The name Strange Path applies as much to Leeroy Stagger’s unexpected route from the BC punk scene to southern-Alberta singer songwriter as it does to the album’s own evolution. Following from 2017’s Love Versus, itself a creative re-emergence after a years-long fog of anxiety and depression, Strange Path is the end result of a triple-album’s worth of scrapped demos, and a spirit-reviving retreat inwards. It’s also Stagger’s most ambitious and philosophical creation yet, a veritable self-help book pulled from a lifetime of struggling towards the light and brimming with the hard-won joy at the heart of his recent renaissance. It’s an album full of sharp hooks and sharper insight.”


Drew Thomson Foundation
Drew Thomson Foundation

THE PRESS RELEASE: “The Drew Thomson Foundation’s self-titled debut album follows a period of self-reflection and rectification to reveal surprising new sides of its songwriter. Produced by Alex Newport (At the Drive-In, City and Colour, Frank Turner) in his Los Angeles studio, its recording sessions found the Single Mothers frontman joined by bandmates and longtime collaborators to cultivate a collection of vulnerable lyrics into vivid, hook-laden anthems. Laying feelings bare on Thomson’s newfound sobriety, the death of a loved one, and pushing away people who he wants to keep closest, it welcomes listeners on his journey towards inner peace.”