Canadian Beacon | The Dirty Nil, Kue Varo Ruby Singh & More New Homegrown Sounds

A 12-pack of Canadian goodness — and no covers of Hallelujah. Amen to that.

Today would have been Leonard Cohen’s 89th birthday. To honour his memory, I suggest that ABSOLUTELY NOBODY sing Hallelujah. In fact, if I were in charge, I’d make it illegal to cover the damn thing. Just listen to his version already and be done with it. Of course, maybe old Lenny doesn’t put a bird on your wire. In which case, here’s a whole crop of new Canadian songs of love and hate — along with a  bunch of other stuff. Can I get an amen?


The Dirty Nil | The Light, The Void and Everything

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Ontario’s rock ’n’ roll torchbearers The Dirty Nil have shared a new video for their track The Light, The Void and Everything. Taken from their most recent album Free Rein to Passions, the track has been paired with a visual treatment that pays homage to David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, and features a cameo from Wade MacNeil of Alexisonfire, Gallows and Dooms Children. Says frontman Luke Bentham: “For years, we’ve kicked around this treatment, waiting for the perfect song to apply it to. When we heard the playback of The Light, The Void and Everything, it was clear that the opportunity had come. In the execution, (producer/director/editor) Wyatt Clough’s attention to detail was stunning. I’ll never forget walking into that warehouse and seeing the fully constructed replica of the apartment from Blue Velvet. Wade was perfect in the role of Frank and it was a pleasure to watch him play the villain.”

Kue Varo & The Only Hopes | Gates Of Hell

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Calgary art-rock band Kue Varo & The Only Hopes unveil Gates of Hell, released alongside a video directed and edited by Rebecca Reid and Ryan Bourne (Ghostkeeper, Chad VanGaalen).The single will appear on their forthcoming sophomore album Cowboy Witchcraft, set for Oct. 13. Using references to goddesses and their mythology, Varo tells a story of reclaiming their own autonomy. “Martyrdom of reputation for personal liberation. There are also biblical and personal references with an emphasis on making necessary choices for oneself despite cultural, religious, and family-driven disapproval. Gates of Hell ends with a spell of protection following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.”

Ruby Singh | Echolocate

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Juno-nominated artist and Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Music and Art recipient Ruby Singh is announcing his upcoming double album containing the hip-hop collaboration kraKIN and Polyphonic Garden Suite II, which explores the pulses and soundscapes of life. Both albums were created incorporating ‘bionsonification’, raising songs from indigenous flora and fungi, transforming bioelectricity into midi data to inform pitch and rhythm. EchoLocate, the first single from kraKIN, is inspired by the Southern Resident Orca community. This song was created to challenge and question the colonial and capitalist powers that carry on ignoring the devastation in their wake. Shorelines, from Polyphonic Garden Suite II, takes us to the far edges of the West Coast — the lands of the Tla-O-Qui-Aht peoples. Singh invites us into the embrace of this place through binaural recordings of rolling waves, the biosonification of spruce pushing synth pads, and bull kelp bioelectricity playing keyboards filled with the song of Orca and strings.”

Geordie Gordon | Soul Promise

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Geordie Gordon, the Toronto singer-songwriter who is currently a member of two internationally acclaimed indie acts, U.S. Girls and Islands, is sharing the latest single off his upcoming album Tambourine. Gordon says he wrote Soul Promise during “a turbulent time of transition. The song speaks to the internal arguments we have between reason and feeling. Making a big decision can be difficult for me, but sometimes a wave of change will swell up inside and override my rational thoughts. Soul Promise finds me learning to trust my gut and embrace these changes. The song was originally recorded in 2018 for an unreleased album that ended up dying a digital death on an ancient laptop. Having to produce this song from the ground up felt like a second chance to fulfill a promise to myself.”

Gabrielle Shonk | 5AM

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Gabrielle Shonk is sharing the new video for 5AM from her latest album Across The Room. Directed by Gerado Alcaine with director of photography Jay Boivin, Shonk says she wrote 5AM basically “telling a story about running into an ex at a party and then going home together after a long night of inhibition. The choruses then express a desire to rekindle and fix the relationship through idealistic ideas as if nothing were ever broken. When Gerardo and Jay presented the concept of the video to me, I was really happy they came up with an idea that expressed elements of the song without being a direct visual interpretation of the lyrics.”

Kelly Sloan | I Wanna Wake Up

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Toronto singer, songwriter, and musician Kelly Sloan is sharing another new track from her upcoming album Insides Out, set for release on Nov. 1. I Wanna Wake Up explores a moment that Sloan says happened “a few years ago when I found a stack of journal entries that I had written when I was 15 and head over heels in love with someone. Going through them was embarrassing and also like reading someone’s else’s words. A young person who was looking at love before having experienced any of the woes or heartache associated with it. This heart was a freshly baked cake; no cut marks, no burns. I imagined what it would be like to wake up like that. A new-born heart and mind before experience shaped them. What did it feel like? It’s hard to remember. So, I wanted to try to imagine for a few moments.”

Abigail Lapell | Isabeau

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Abigail Lapell’s Lullabies is a haunting collection of traditional songs from around the world, arranged and performed on classical guitar and vocals. Recorded by Michael Timmins at his Toronto studio, the project includes songs in English, French, Hebrew, Spanish, Yiddish, German, Japanese, and Welsh and features original guitar and vocal arrangements and, in some cases, new English lyrical adaptations. Lullabies also includes one original song in English, based on a fragment of a half-remembered bedtime song from her mother. Today, the celebrated songwriter is sharing Isabeau, which brings sparse plucked strings and haunting layers of vocal harmonies to the beloved traditional French lullaby. Isabeau s’y promène (Isabeau Goes Walking) tells the story of a young girl who goes walking in her garden by the water’s edge, where she meets 30 sailors aboard a boat. The youngest of them starts singing a beautiful song, which she wants to learn. With its mediaeval feel and repetitive structure, the song casts an enchanting, otherworldly spell.”

Blinker The Star | Foundlings

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Foundlings, the third advance single from the new album Animal Math, is now live. A huge thanks to Paul D’Amour and Gilden Tunador for their stellar guitar and vocal contributions. Album drop is Nov. 2.”

Post Modern Connection | If You Care

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Born from the mind of Tega Ovie and Georges Nasrallah, Vancouver’s Post-Modern Connection has taken their sound from a university dorm to headlining festival stages. Over the past five years the band has carved out their unique space in the modern indie scene with their globe-spanning influences and genre-bending sound. The more you listen, the more you uncover. Unafraid to explore the bleaker aspects of relationships and reality, their melancholic lyrics are often juxtaposed with infectiously upbeat instrumentals. This can all be heard on their 2021 debut EP Clustered Umbrella, which saw the group have tremendous success on college radio. The group now look ahead to release their sophomore EP A Welcome Change this fall.”

Lauryn Macfarlane | Dive

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “As a rising Canadian alt-pop artist, Lauryn Macfarlane’s honest and vulnerable songwriting style and personality are what draw audiences in and leave them wanting more. Having opened for and shared bills with various acts including Aysanabee, Chantal Kreviazuk, Donovan Woods and Kathleen Edwards, Lauryn has honed in on a presence and aura onstage that commands attention. In the summer of 2022, she had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles and work with Montreal-born producer Jason Kellner. The Montreal artist’s new single Dive came out of those sessions. Written right as she was falling madly in love, it’s a fun yet vulnerable song about allowing yourself to fully Dive into a relationship with your whole heart, even though you know you could very well be crushed by the wave. This song is the first time a producer has given Lauryn an instrumental to write to with free reign on melody and lyrics. To her surprise, it came very easily and is a new way of collaboration that she is eager to pursue more of in the future.”

Baby Jey | What’s the Point of Saying Sorry

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Baby Jey are an Edmonton indie-pop band who wear their love of classic disco and synth-pop music on their sleeves. What’s the Point of Saying Sorry, the lead single from their upcoming LP Crop Circles, was recorded using vintage keyboards from the ’80s and ’90s, the Korg M1 and the Yamaha Motif ES7. Its lyrical themes have a double meaning, explains the band: “Some people listen to the song and think it’s about someone who is bitter, saying ‘Who cares that I’m hurt, as long as we’re sleeping together, then everything must be fine.’ But other people take a straight-up understanding of the lyrics — that words can only say so much and that there are things we can express with physical touch that are also emotionally powerful. Saying sorry can be important but spoken language isn’t the only way that people communicate.”

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