Indie Roundup | 36 Songs To Put A Smile On Your Mug This Thursday (Part 1)

Sam Coffey, Micky James, Vallens, Arionce and more offer some pleasant surprises.

Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs hit home, Micky James makes a night of it, Vallens offer some dos and don’ts — and things are just getting underway in your Thursday Roundup. Let the games begin:


1 | Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs | What This City Needs

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Toronto powerhouse Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs premiere a new track and video titled What This City Needs, from their upcoming third studio LP Real One, out Feb. 19. Reflecting on how the current pandemic has exasperated the homeslessness crisis in his hometown, Coffey says, “What This City Needs came out of a despondent sense that I have that the city I live in hates poor people. It’s never been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s a provincial-wide order to stay home, yet bylaw officers are tearing down encampments in parks where our neighbours are staying to ride this out. I get there are no easy answers … But how can people stay home, when they don’t have a home to stay in?”

2 | Micky James | Live At the Met

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Glam rock artist Micky James goes big with Live At The Met: The Philadelphia Special, a nearly 35-minute full-set rock concert shot at the iconic Met in Philadelphia. Filmed without an audience, James’ electric rock ‘n’ roll show brings the prestigious venue back to life during the shutdown to deliver a high-energy and passionate performance that gives fans a glimpse of what’s to come. An accompanying live EP is also set for release in February — and it will include the unreleased song Scars.”

3 | Vallens | If I Don’t

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Toronto ensemble Vallens have announced details of their second album, In Era, set for release on March 19. Vallens also share the video for their first single If I Don’t. The most fascinating and lasting artists to trip across the vast field we know as “popular music” are the ones who consistently allow us to ride shotgun along with them as they figure out who they are as artists. Robyn Phillips and art-pop combo Vallens are moving along such rarified lines. If I Don’t expertly aligns the Vallens you already know with the Vallens of the future, that perhaps most perfectly captures this moment in the band’s evolution. Says Phillips: “If I had to pick one song to show to someone and say ‘This is how we sound now,’ I think that encapsulates it best.”

4 | Arionce | Leucosia

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Berlin’s Arionce come dare to experiment with instruments, tell exciting stories with a depth & lyrical skill and take in unusual and challenging narrative perspectives. Basically, they break every rule that makes young newcomers successful and that’s what makes them so exciting. The new single Leucosia deals with a feeling of inescapable addiction and desire. With felicitous changes of perspective and unique metaphors, Arionce describe the inner struggle with the desire for a drug, a person, for the pursuit of power or the blind delusion to harm oneself. Thus, they not only thematically break out of the newcomer garb, but also want to sensitize especially in these times for the topic of addiction and loneliness. Arionce have the morbid and fascinating storytelling of David Lynch, the live energy of bands like Muse & Dredg and deal with the wonder, the sense and the often connected pain of human existence.”

5 | Luka Productions | Nèguè

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Here’s a new live performance video by Mali’s Luka Guindo under his Luka Productions project, playing Nèguè, a currently unreleased track set to appear on his forthcoming LP. Shot on location at Baconi Commune 1 in Bamako, Mali, Luka’s joyful electronic take on West African folk music is completed by a dance accompaniment from local performers Star Boys. Luka Productions’ most recent album was Falaw.”

6 | Flipturn | Glistening

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “To celebrate the one-year anniversary of their EP Something You Needed, Florida pop-rock trio Flipturn have released an artful, metaphor-filled video to accompany their tender, melodic track Glistening. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Dillon Basse explains, “One of the coolest parts about writing music and putting it out into the world is hearing all the different ways people perceive the song. When we write the songs, we always try to leave a little ambiguity in the lyrics for this very reason. Even within the band, Glistening meant something a little different to each of us.”

7 | Mantric | Polyanna

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Norwegian progressive metal trio Mantric, comprised of former members of prog innovators and Grammy nominees Extol, have just revealed a music video for the track Polyanna off the band’s third album False Negative, issued last year. In other news, Mantric have spent the last few months in quarantine writing new material and are set to enter the studio to record their fourth full-length album, scheduled to be released during the fall 2021. Says guitarist and vocalist Tor Magne Glidje: “We’re more inspired than ever, and are really looking forward to seeing where this material will be heading during the process.”

8 | Nixil | Deaths Of Our Own Design

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Maryland black metal alchemists Nixil — featuring past/current members of Spectral Tombs, Tsepesch, Dagger Moon and Corpse Light — will unleash their All Knots Untied full-length on March 5. In advance, Nixil unveil the visual accompaniment of first single. The band comment: “Deaths Of Our Own Design is a treatise on the necessity of continuous self-sacrifice of the mundane ego. If one is to advance upon the spiritual path of the undoing of ‘All,’ one must be ever ready to seek out and slay the perceived ‘I,’ which is being tenaciously reborn day by day, moment by moment. The video is a moving sigil and descriptive of this gnosis, seeking to inspire those with the eyes to see to draw the knife across the throat of self until there is indeed nothing left to kill … ”

9 | Shadows | Ghost Of Old

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Shadows are a new dark avant-garde metal band from Immolation and ex-Goreaphobia guitarist Alex Bouks, who has been involved in the extreme underground music scene since the late ’80s. Now Alex has returned to his musical roots in Shadows, with classic influences featuring Pink Floyd, Celtic Frost, Sisters of Mercy, Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate or Voivod, and with musicians he always felt chemistry with, including Henry Piotrkowski and Jake G of Goreaphobia and Lance Walter of another Philadelphia unit, Dominance.”

10 | Shred Kelly | Take Me Home

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Shred Kelly’s song Take Me Home is a look back on the past life of singer/songwriter Tim Newton’s father Bud. The narrator of the song is spoken in the words of Tim’s father singing to his mother reflecting on their time together. It is a declaration of love and a realization that his life is coming to an end, asking her to take him home so that he can leave the world in comfort. In the video, the band beautifully capture the progression of a single man building his life, and Tim paid homage to his dad by wearing his fur boots.”

11 | Raw Soul Express | Fate of the World

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “With no airbrushing and no studio trickery, Raw Soul Express are still the soul and funk force of nature they were when they released their first album 45 years ago and their new single Fate of the World sees the band as tight and as vital as ever. Retaining their original core members, a feat almost unheard of in the music world, the band are still at the top of their game, creating a track with delicious melodies, thought-provoking lyrics and extraordinary musicianship and vocals. Raw Soul Express have produced another killer tune for not only their legions of existing fans but for audiences of all kinds who love real music.”

12 | John Orpheus | Fela Awoke (I Will Miss You)

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Only one month into the year and Toronto artist, author, troubadour and Renaissance man John Orpheus continues to blaze his unique path. With the recent launch of his memoir Saga Boy, he prepares to launch a sonic companion of the same name, to be released May 21. Today, John shares the first single Fela Awoke (I Will Miss You), a song about celebrating our heroes by letting them go to become our own. “This song means everything to me. It tells a deeply personal story and it’s reaching for something more profound than I’ve ever tried to say in a song,” John says. “I always felt connected to Fela Kuti. In a year where life has been so fragile, this is my response. The lyrics are genuine. It’s uniquely me but feels universal.”

13 | Zoe Zobrist | Fire

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Singer-songwriter Zoe Zobrist rounded out last year with her single Fire. Today, she presents a video showcasing an intimate performance of the track in its most distilled version. The sparse, melancholic track lends itself well to the stripped-back performance that features Zobrist relying on just her guitar and vocals. “Fire is about the uncertainty of loving someone. Life happens and nothing is guaranteed but we choose to love them anyways,” she writes. “It’s about how that doesn’t go away through difficult times. It’s such an incredible thing that we can see someone and be seen in each others entirety and stick through that.”

14 | Molly Annelle | Sunday

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Vancouver’s Molly Annelle has announced that  her debut album Elevator Music comes out Feb. 2. To coincide with the announcement, Molly also shares a new video for her latest single Sunday. Sunday is a quarantine anthem in which Molly explores her fear of the mundane and how this current situation affects her. The video, directed by Zachary Vague, sees Molly delve into the colourful world she creates in her mind palace as she is stuck inside. “It’s everything to me to be part of the entire project, I feel so much more fulfilled when I’ve done everything I can do,” she says. “Collaborating and really creating something amazing is such a fun and satisfying process.”

15 | Ariel Posen | Now I See

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “With Ariel Posen’s latest single What Are We Doing Here climbing the charts, the acclaimed songwriter and guitar player is sharing another track from his upcoming album Headway. Co-written with long-time friend Alexa Dirks (aka Begonia), Now I See was inspired by “my own personal growth over time but more specifically by a friend that had once told me that ‘now they could see’ that everything was left behind them,” says Posen. “They were struggling with some relationships and some severe personal issues and it took time, but they finally found acceptance in themselves and were able to move past it. Just because they weren’t the type of person that they thought they would be, and just because someone isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean that they don’t belong. Sometimes the smallest realizations and changes lead to gigantic breakthroughs.”

16 | Evergrey | Where August Mourn

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Evergrey will release their new album Escape Of The Phoenix on Feb. 26. Gearing up for the release of their highly anticipated 12th album, the Swedish progressive metal band are at a point in their career that many of their peers can only dream about. Since the release of Hymns For The Broken in 2014, Evergrey have enjoyed increased notoriety and success with The Storm Within (2016) and The Atlantic (2019), which is  something frontman / founder Tom S. Englund considers an honour and a privilege. They mean to continue this tradition on with Escape Of The Phoenix, another heavy, melancholic and thought-provoking journey.”

17 | Tkay Maidza | Kim (ft. Yung Baby Tate)

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “After a stratospheric 2020, Tkay Maidza returns with a new single and video for Kim, featuring Yung Baby Tate. Maidza says: “The idea for the song came from Kim Possible, an iconic figure in my childhood — she always came out on top. I thought, ‘Why not make a song to remind those who question me that I will always figure it out like Kim?’ From there when we started planning a video we thought, ‘Why not recreate iconic moments from other iconic Kims across generations?’ ”

18 | Fences | A Mission

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Seattle’s Fences, the alter-ego of musician/songwriter Christopher Mansfield, will release the deluxe version of his third album Failure Sculptures on March 5, featuring two bonus tracks (A Mission and God Music). Mansfield says, “Almost the instant you track something in permanence you start to play it differently. You know how stories get embellished, religious texts have a bit of wiggle room or the size of fish your stepdad caught keeps growing? It’s like that. A song is really just a short story. Romance aside, I just wanted y’all to hear me play ’em as is and in that room in that moment. One take with some light overdubs.”