Canadian Beacon | Major Love, Aloysius Bell, The Lucky Ones & More New Homegrown Excellence

How was your Friday? Mine was nuts. But here’s an oasis of sanity amid the chaotic stupidity of everything else — the latest crop of homegrown gems from my fellow Canadians. Make yourself at home while I mix up the first caesar of the evening:


Major Love | Mountain Standard Time

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Live, Laugh, Major Love, the long-awaited, semi-eponymous sophomore album from Major Love, comes to us like a cheeky valentine, pairing emotional vulnerability with light-heartedness and the kind of confidence that is synonymous with rock. Earnest without taking herself too seriously on this record, singer-songwriter Colleen Brown playfully scorns romantic love even as she openly longs for it. “The older I get, the more plainly obvious it is to me that in order to survive, we need to learn to love each other, forgive each other, be emotionally vulnerable with one another, look for ways we can collaborate and compromise, and become totally and utterly truthful with ourselves and each other.” The 11 tracks on Live, Laugh, Major Love showcase Brown’s willingness to do just that, in partnership with her bandmates: Trevor Mann on guitar and vocals, Shea Connor on drums and vocals and Murray Wood on bass. Today, they share the new single Mountain Standard Time, marked by anthemic opening guitar riffs, and the addition of producer Marcus Paquin’s vibey Garth Hudson-esque organ. Brown says t song is “a reflection on leaving our comfort zones to chase love or ambition; only to feel like an alien in a strange land, and eventually returning home to some sense of deeper belonging.”

Aloysius Bell | Wreckage

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Aloysius Bell is the alter ego of Winnipeg-born, Montreal-based singer-songwriter Annick Brémault. While her name is a nod to the male pseudonyms of the Brontë sisters, Aloysius is a persona born from intense soul-searching who aims to shed light on murky, in-between spaces. Her debut EP Warm Thing will be unveiled on Feb. 2, produced with Toronto artist Driftnote (Korea Town Acid, R. Flex) and mixed by David Plowman (July Talk). Born from the interplay of otherworldly realms and her imagination, she artlessly melds her distinctive songwriting with pop, R&B and electro influences. “Sometimes you just don’t get along with your person and you have to vent,” Brémault remarks about the universal sentiment that resulted in the soulful track Wreckage after an argument with her partner. “I guess I find it funny how we can become so petulant and childish in times of conflict with the people we love — in the moment you can be furious and the next day you can barely remember why.”

The Lucky Ones | Since The Farm Got Sold

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On a hot Tuesday in 2023, Yukon bluegrass band The Lucky Ones set up at Toronto’s Ganaraska Recording Co., the studio run by Juno-winning multi-instrumentalist Steve Marriner and guitarist Jimmy Bowskill. Their motive was the time-honored tradition of artists capturing lightning in a bottle while in the midst of a tour, and it indeed proved to be a highly productive day, with the five songs laid down live-off-the-floor now comprising The Lucky Ones’ latest EP, A Nickel For The Fiddler. The new collection also marks a fresh start of sorts for The Lucky Ones. Having built up a stellar reputation in their home area, largely through a long-running weekly residency at the ’98 Hotel in Whitehorse, the group are now fully committed to hitting the road and connecting with bluegrass audiences all around the world. A Nickel For The Fiddler is the latest phase of that process, with a further full-length album slated for later in 2024.”

Donovan Woods | How Good

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This past autumn, Juno-winning songwriter Donovan Woods completed the last of a busy year of touring, wrapping with U.S dates supporting The Gaslight Anthem, and releasing his first new music of the year. Today Donovan returns with How Good, a delicate song that sees the artist at his introspective best. Co-written with Steve Robson (James Blunt, Miley Cyrus), the tender, piano-driven song was intended as a lullaby for Woods and his wife during a patchy time. Discussing the single, Woods noted that it was “essentially written for my wife and I, in a year when we sorely needed it. It describes a way of looking at the world that’s probably a little naive. My work puts added stress on us and I’m not the easiest person to be around to begin with, but everything can change in an instant, we all know this.”

Kellie Loder | When We Kiss

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “There is something truly captivating about Juno nominee and ECMA winner Kellie Loder. Their lyrical brilliance is honest and vulnerable in ways that make the music feel deeply personal lending to their unmatched songwriting prowess, and distinctive blend of folk, Americana, and indie pop influences. Loder’s upcoming album Transitions is set to drop on April 19. The LP follows on the heels of their award-winning release Benefit of The Doubt (2018), offering a stunningly crafted masterpiece of original songs with stories of love, heartbreak, life, and transitions. Today, Loder shares a video for a new single When We Kiss, a song about “the most romantic night of my life,” recalls Loder. “I found myself at Signal Hill with someone I just met that night, looking at the lights of the city, her eyes, and having the Best. Kiss. Ever. (aka multiple kisses). I wrote it the day after it happened, at my kitchen table in St. John’s in September of 2017, and it may have been the easiest song I’ve ever written. I’ve been performing it at live shows for what seems like forever and now it’ll finally live on an album.”

Daniel Isaiah | Brock Avenue

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Montreal’s Daniel Isaiah is an artist that deserves your attention. A multi-talented musician, Isaiah has been captivating audiences with his performances on guitar and piano, all while leaving an indelible mark with his unique voice. Isaiah’s true gift, however, lies in his songwriting abilities, which have reached new heights on his new album, To Live A Wild Life. The songs create a compelling conversation, grappling with chaos and death, but ultimately affirming life in all its unpredictable twists and turns. On Brock Avenue, Isaiah explains this track he had been humming for years. After two decades away from his childhood neighborhood, on a recent visit he saw a familiar face in an old neighbor who hugged him in condolence of his mother’s passing. That moment inspired the process and weight of the single. “The song seems to embrace all of my childhood,” he says. “All of my love and loss.”

Classified | All Wrong

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Classified has released his new single All Wrong from his upcoming new album Luke’s View, due April 19. All Wrong is a testament to navigating in the present, and appreciating every moment — unburdened by the expectations from youth. As Classified puts it, “I think growing up we all have expectations of ourselves, our friends and what we think is important in life. But, after going through it all, I think a lot of people look back and think, hmm. I could have, or would have done certain things differently if I knew what I know now’. It’s about appreciating those moments you have cause you never know when it will be over and you’re onto the next part of life.”

Devon More | My Body Is

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Vancouver musician Devon More shares her empowering new single My Body Is. The latest single from her new album Sky Is Falling, set for release on Feb. 29, My Body Is is a powerful anthem for the fundamental right of bodily autonomy. “My Body Is is a complete sentence: My body exists, and that is enough,” says Devon. “The song is my attempt to disentangle a lifetime of mixed media messages and societal projections onto my female body — and ultimately celebrate the simple living magic in ALL body machines. Every flesh home is worthy — no matter what it looks like, or where we may find ourselves on the love/hate relationship spectrum on any given day.” My Body Is is also one of five original songs featured in More’s critically acclaimed stage show Hits Like A Girl — an immersive soundscape and poetic manifesto exploring the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury acquired in her early 20s that left her in an altered state of consciousness for years.”

Melina Coolen | Behind Every Cloud

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Melina Coolen is a musician, songwriter, producer and audio engineer. Her retro-pop influence is undeniable in her carefully self-produced sound and sophisticated songwriting style. After years of formal classical training in piano, she pursued her love for pop and jazz songwriting in college and university. Paying homage to the Brill Building greats, Melina researched production and recording techniques of the past while studying at university. She released her debut EP All Of My Life in 2017 in conjunction with her master’s thesis on analog and digital recording hybrids. “I composed this piece about eight winters ago shortly after my grandfather passed away,” she says. “I’m a spiritual person, and I could sense the response in nature and his presence. For about a week or two after his passing, I remember the sun being extra vivid in the sky. Once I looked out my window on a stormy day and the clouds were dark but the sun was shining brightly behind them. It was very striking and inspired Behind Every Cloud.”

Caméra | Matsutake

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Buried deep in Montreal’s lingering winters, a trio of musicians (Francois Jalbert the guitarist, composer and producer; Mélanie Bélair the violinist, arranger and composer; and Aurélien Tomasi the composer, arranger and performer) sat in a room together. Accustomed to the crazy pace of working in the city’s hyperactive music industry, they might have been unconsciously looking to do something slower, calmer, and free from commercial constraints. Looking at the snow battering the wide windows by the train tracks, they spent the afternoon playing around with what was in the room: A slide whistle, a Juno and some guitar pedals. The table was set for what would become Caméra. Matsutake is a species of mushroom that grows in East Asia, but also in Quebec. It is prized in Japanese cuisine for its distinct spicy-aromatic odor. The new single is inspired by the famous scene from the film My Neighbor Totoro, where Totoro and Satsuke wait for the Catbus in the pouring rain. The piece paves its own unique soundscape blending 1980’s synth with organic instrumentation.”

Sam Drysdale | Bonnie

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Sam Drysdale is a singer-songwriter rediscovering the roots of his musical style. On his forthcoming EP, Bonnie’s Sad Songs, Drysdale strips things back to the core of his songwriting, channelling raw emotionality. Paring things back to their essence and focusing on potent lyrics and intimate melodies, he uses his talent for crafting compelling narratives and connects with the passion that first inspired his journey. The title track, Bonnie was inspired by Bonnie Parker and the two Texas Rangers that hunted Bonnie and Clyde. “That film really highlighted Bonnie’s role as the principal antagonist in their whole story,” Drysdale explains. “I loved the idea of writing a song from Clyde’s perspective as he followed around this beautiful, evil woman that he loved. Even if it killed him.” Produced by award-winning artist Joey Verskotzi, Bonnie has a timeless feel and ties in with the EP’s theme about love requiring great sacrifice.”

Kojak | Midnight

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In the spring of 2023, the rock quartet Kojak entered the studio of acclaimed folk musician and producer David James Allen to record what was initially intended to be a single tune. Little did they know that this encounter would mark the beginning of a liberating creative process that unraveled a full LP. Their self-titled album showcases the culmination of Kojak’s evolution and dedication to their craft and high energy and at times heavy sound. Midnight is a song about hanging on to a moment, or night in this case, as long as you can, as futile as that can be. One of those nights where you don’t want it to end, whether it be that you’re having a good time, or you don’t want to see what the morning brings. It’s just as much about enjoying the current time/moment, as it is about avoiding what is about to come the next day.”