Canadian Beacon | Stephen Hero, Sean Burns, Pkew Pkew Pkew & More New Homegrown Sounds


In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a metric crap-tonne of great new music arriving today. Even better: A lot of it is from right here in Canada. Including these gems:


Stephen Hero | Scissor John

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This is the first single from Stephen Hero’s upcoming album Paper Flowers. Paper Flowers is an exploration of urban legends from Saint John, focusing on the darker, less tourist-friendly aspects of the blue-collar town’s history. Featuring first-person poetic narratives from the characters in these stories, like a friendly lady from the group home selling homemade flowers at the top of the city market, or a preacher who was ousted from the church and killed, reaching out from beyond the grave to deliver a message from God. Musically the album utilizes a mixture of off-kilter sounds and samples with live instrumentation and layers of vocal experimentation, with a strong foundation of percussion. It’s a rap album, no doubt, but like if Tom Waits made one. Heavily influenced as well by the lo fi, experimental sampling techniques of early Three 6 Mafia and the sonic template of ’90s trip-hop.”

Sean Burns | Hard Times

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Winnipeg singer-songwriter Sean Burns releases Hard Times, the latest single from his upcoming album Lost Country, out Oct. 27. Originally recorded by Mickey McGivern & The Mustangs in 1967 for the infamous Canadian indie label Arc Records, Hard Times is one of 10 songs Burns chose to update in tribute to Canada’s forgotten country music heroes. Lost Country is part of Burns’ ongoing work to preserve and promote Canada’s country music legacy, something he did for over five years as host of Boots & Saddle on Winnipeg’s CKUW and his podcast The Northern Report, launched in 2021. However, much of Burns’ time is now occupied by his new role as bassist in Corb Lund’s Hurtin’ Albertans, a gig that’s given him additional motivation to expand his own musical pursuits.”

Pkew Pkew Pkew | The Night John Buck Hit Three Home Runs

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The pop-punk band of party-loving delinquents Pkew Pkew Pkew drop The Night John Buck Hit Three Home Run, two weeks out from the Sept. 22 release of their Siiick Days LP. Aptly titled, this was the same night that vocalist/bassist Mike Warne’s grandfather passed away. However, Warne assures, “This isn’t a sad song. Don’t be fooled. It’s about watching baseball with my best pals for as long as life will allow.” Having grown up watching the Toronto Blue Jays with his grandparents, he reflects on the family tradition and remarks on how sports are intertwined with life. Baseball catcher John Buck previewed the new single with his three sons, proclaiming that “This song is dope!” and adding that “It’s funny how the game of baseball creates special moments that are impactful in people’s life! I feel honoured to be the dude that was lucky enough to clip bombs and be a good vibe part of Mike’s grandfather’s passing. What a gift to put music to memories and tell such a great story.”

The Pairs | Find Our Way (Live at EMAC Recording Studios)

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Family is what ties The Pairs together. With soaring harmonies, they share stories of life’s hope, hilarity, and hardship. Powered by three classically trained vocalists and a former punk rock drummer, the folk group offer a unique blend of music that will hug your eardrums. Find Our Way is about trying so hard to fit yourself into a story that is not yours, and the pain of that experience. It’s the latest single ahead of their album release for When Will We Find Our Way? on Oct. 13th. The Pairs were named Folk Music Ontario’s Songwriter of the Year in 2020, and in 2021 took home the Forest City London Music Award in the Folk/Roots category. An honest, quirky stage presence and their unbottled chemistry quickly connects them with their audience.”

Metric | Who Would You Be For Me

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Metric have released their new single Who Would You Be For Me, from their forthcoming album Formentera II, out on Oct. 13. The album is the followup to Metric’s 2022 album Formentera. Singer Emily Haines says: “The song Who Would You Be For Me is a throwback lullaby set in NYC in 2002. All the action takes place in Tompkins Square Park, in a subway car, and at the café on St. Marks Place where I worked as a waitress when we were getting our start. Automatic behaviors and patterns are often fairly easy to flag in others but can be a riddle to spot in yourself. In life and in love, all the emphasis in your mind can default to being what someone else wants until it dawns on you to consider your own desire. I could be the girl for you, but who would you be for me?”

Patrick Krief | Get Even

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Patrick Krief presents his new album Skylines. What nefarious forces drive us to leave? Which benevolent souls guide us home? Skylines is an exploration of place, purpose — of belonging and diaspora. Told through the eyes of a first generation Canadian and a first-time father, Skylines explores Krief’s immigrant tale. It’s a story that begins in Morocco in the 1960s, when Krief’s parents were forced to flee Casablanca in the face of abuse and discrimination. Settling in an underprivileged enclave of Montreal, they arrived at their new life only to discover the Canadian dream was fraught with its own toxic nightmares. Across the album’s 12 tracks, Krief reflects echoes of this tale over lush musical landscapes, each crisply woven into a tapestry of expertly conceived and beautifully expressed baroque songcraft. A veteran of the Montreal music scene, Krief has been professionally releasing music for nearly two decades, first as a member of The Dears then via his own projects.”

Aidan Skira | Warm

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “A one man show, 19-year-old Aidan Skira’s vision is all his own: Self-taught, self-produced, self-animated. He is now becoming a staple in the underground live music scene in Toronto. He’s driven by a visceral need to get his dark, yet hopeful perspective out into the world, following his ‘sheltered upbringing’ in a working-class suburban family which hid him from the atrocities of the modern world. Now deep into the trials and tribulations of adolescence, he is discovering the realities of adulthood and using his music plus animations to make sense of it all. With an organic following of bedroom music heads and kids from the suburbs who relate to the heartbreak of being exposed to the truths of adult life, Skira knows he has a unique perspective to share – and is bringing his people with him. His latest single Warm is a prime example, an emotional ballad about a high school crush that didn’t seem to work out no matter how much he tried.”

Colleen Rennison | Persephone

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Vancouver musician Colleen Rennison searches for light in the darkness on her debut solo album Persephone. The title track is the third single, following the release of I Do  in June. The title track is pure thrills, speeding along like a dissolute partygoer hitching a ride with the Spencer Davis Group, but it’s also loaded with meaning. “Persephone is an ode to my motorcycle, which is named after the Greek goddess,” says Colleen. “It started as a joke, cause my bike is so old and beat up, and Persephone is such a pretty name, but after I started looking into the story of Persephone, I found a lot of parallels to my own life and an ancient archetype in the journey of falling in love with the dark side despite the purest intentions.”

Dead Levee | Love & Misery

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Dead Levee are a four-piece old-school, no-nonsense rock band consisting of members Tayler “Izzy” Morgan, Ray Klapatiuk, Rylan “Buck” Dusyk and Preston Laschuk. Their aggressive, organic, and attitude-driven style harkens back to the high energy rock of the late 60’s with the attitude of ’90s rock. Playing alongside established bands such as Chilliwack, The Trews, Monster Truck, The Lazys, The Wild!, Econoline Crush and touring coast to coast for hundreds of shows, they are no stranger to the stage. On their latest offering Love & Misery, the group deliver a polished arena-rock singalong wall of sound that chugs with howling swirling guitars in an ode to a toxic but passionate relationship. “In the case of this song, it’s about a relationship where the sex outweighs the obvious toxicity. Even though the peers around you can all see how bad it is, they don’t know how good it gets.”

Charlie Houston | All Night

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:All Night, the new minimalist indie-pop single from singer-songwriter Charlie Houston, tells the heartfelt story of letting down your guard and showing those you love your complete vulnerability: “Do you recall feeling afraid or resistance? / These things they hold us back,” sings Houston on this groovy yet emotional track. “This song is meant to capture the anxiety and excitement that comes with saying ‘I love you’ for the first time,” she explains. “Is it too soon? How do you know you love them? Will they say it back? Or, maybe even say it at the same time?”

The Sarandons | Say When

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Heartland Canadian indie rockers The Sarandons take solace in acceptance on their latest single Say When, an anthem replete with alluring melodies, whimsical keys, swathed in chorus-drenched guitars and lush vocal harmonies, produced by Dan Hosh (Wild Rivers, City and Colour, Glorious Sons). Following the success of Sightlines, their full-length album which was released at the start of 2023, The Sarandons are already raring to put out more new music. Say When draws inspiration from Bob Dylan’s often overlooked ’80s catalogue; records like Infidels, where folk melodies meet modern production plus Mark Knopfler at the controls and on the guitar. The song begins longingly with a paired back and intimate verse. As the drums crack to announce the chorus, the mood shifts to resignation and the relief that comes with acceptance. Fear, frustration and reminiscence are present in equal measure but ultimately give way to a locked-in outro with soaring guitars, hurtling towards defiant optimism and triumph in the face of pain.”

Kellie Loder | When It Comes to You

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “There is something truly captivating about the multi-genre Canadiana artist Kellie Loder. Loder is a passionate storyteller and accomplished songwriter (Songwriter of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards, 2012 Juno nominee) with a voice that conveys warmth and power. Their unrivaled lyrical brilliance is honest and vulnerable in ways that make the music feel deeply personal. Elevating themselves to new heights, the upcoming album is a stunningly crafted masterpiece with stories of love, heartbreak, life and transitions. When It Comes to You, the album’s lead single gives listeners a glimpse of the pure authenticity of one of Canada’s most promising and celebrated songwriters. When It Comes to You was written during the height of lockdown, when Loder reconnected with an old lover. After all those years, it took a global pandemic to discover that they felt the same things for her that they felt years ago.”

Mitchell Makoons | Cold Coffee

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Mitchell Makoons is a roots-rock musician from Brandon. Mitchell started playing guitar at the age seven to accompany his grandfather and brother on Metis fiddle tunes. He continues to be an active member of the Manitoba Metis community and writes songs that incorporate traditional Ojibway music and culture with modern influences. Under his legal name of Mitchell Mozdsen, he released five EPs. In early 2021, he changed his stage name to something that nodded to his heritage. Makoons is an Anishinaabemowin word that means ‘little bear’ or ‘bear cub.’ Since Mozdzen’s spirit name is ‘Standing Strong Black Bear,’ and he is only 5’5, this name is perfectly fitting. Anytime he was feeling low, three friends helped him out of it and made him feel better. New single, Cold Coffee was written to show his appreciation. Privileged to still have these folks in his life, the trio still play in his band today — Matt on bass, Daniel on lead guitar, and Caitlin on fiddle.”

Norma MacDonald | The Heart Wants

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On her sixth album, singer-songwriter Norma MacDonald explores new songwriting tactics, reimagines old demos, and conducts sound experimentations that expand her folk and country influences into ’60s pop, Motown harmonies, and jangly early millennium indie-rock. The Heart Wants was actually a song that was written back in 2011. However, it never fit in with her release at the time (her third album, Morning You Wake). Over the years, MacDonald tried rearranging and producing the song in different ways but it didn’t seem right. Luckily, MacDonald’s band and producer Dan Ledwell didn’t give up on it and saw her vision through, capturing that dreamy sound that kept slipping through their fingers until now. The upcoming album In Waves (Oct. 27) takes listeners through the seasons, starting with winter. MacDonald wrote the bulk of the track list during lockdown in which she and partner Chad Peck (of indie-shoegaze trio Kestrels) would challenge each other to write three songs in three hours to combat their anxieties and Netflix tedium.”

Boy Golden | The King of Western Swing (Live Session)

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Everything becomes fluid when you can pass through time and space like a ghost, a story, a melody. Boy Golden manifests all three on his new EP For Jimmy. When listening to his music, it feels easy to dissolve into the ether. Everything flows. From classic country to psych-folk, Alternative to roadhouse pop to Appalaichan bluegrass, Boy Golden’s music is easy, breezy, warm and gritty. And don’t it just feel good to listen to it. Introspective and vulnerable, traditional and queer, hard-headed and sensual, Boy Golden’s everyman-aesthetic can appeal to all of us. This ability lies in his songwriting: the songs your friends tell you about, the stories you hear from your neighbours, your community. He’s comfortable both in the spotlight and just outside it, sharing the moments with other artists, lifting others up along with him. He’s a genuine student of Townes Van Zandt and Willie Nelson as much as Dwight Yoakam and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Plus his Church Of Better Daze philosophy, “You can blaze and still get paid,” might help us all to blur borders and old definitions of genres we thought we knew, like Steve Lacy or Justin Vernon do for pop.”

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