Canadian Beacon | Homeshake, Bells Larsen, Dan Mangan & More New Homegrown Wonderments

Don’t get me wrong: I freely and happily worship at the altars of Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman as much as the next person with a lick of sense. And I thoroughly dug watching their long-overdue comebacks on TV last weekend (especially next to the crop of crap and peurile pap that passes for pop in these dying days of Western civilization). But seriously: If I have to read one more overwrought, overthought and (worst of all) overlong essay / column / thinkpiece about the magic, majesty and magnificence their Grammy performances, I’m gonna lose it. I mean, kee-rist on a pogo stick! Is this what it has come to? Does everybody have to chase the same ball like a bunch of five-year-old soccer players? Can we maybe, just maybe, talk about something else? Like, perhaps, some deserving Canadians who just released some new music — and without the help of a superstar supporting cast. Hey, just a thought:


Homeshake | CD Wallet

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Homeshake — the long-running solo project of Toronto-based musician Peter Sagar — just announced his new album CD Wallet will be out March 8. He also shared a video for the title single. Written and recorded over a majority of 2023 at Peter’s home studio, CD Wallet is a record that takes place in his old hometown of Edmonton, and touches on memories of growing up and the feeling of returning years later. Peter explains how the album was “made in a heavy, straightforward indie-rock style to impress my childhood self” and addresses feelings of nostalgia and the trappings one finds themselves in when reflecting on years past. The video for CD Wallet was shot by Jim Larson in Edmonton and features clips of Peter traveling through his childhood home, visiting places he hasn’t seen since moving away over a decade earlier but is returning to now. It’s also an homage to feeling alien in a place you haven’t lived in, but still know where everything is and how to get there.”

Bells Larsen | Bike Dream

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Montreal songwriter Bells Larsen is sharing his cover of Rostam’s Bike Dream. “Rostam is one of my favourite songwriters and producers,” says Larsen. “The lush yet epic quality of his music never ceases to make me feel like I’m in a dream. That’s why — of course — I love Bike Dream in particular. The song’s lyrics place you in a very specific moment in time while the production (of the original) instills this flourishing sensation of timelessness in your chest. I put my own folky spin on the tune with guitar and doubled-vocals but also tried to maintain the dreaminess of the original with the help of Thanya Iyer’s violin. Is this song about the anxiety of biking through a city? Is it about having two boyfriends? Who knows. The song just feels good and that’s why I love it.” The track arrives complete with a video filmed during the winter in Montreal. “As soon as winter rolls around in Montreal, most people stop biking,” explains Larsen. “Most years, it’s too icy to continue riding through the cold. If you walk around Montreal from January-February, you’ll see abandoned bikes covered in snow and chained to poles, waiting for their owners to return to them in the spring. There are a select few Montrealers, however, who bare the chilly air on their bikes and keep on keeping on as though they’re riding on a summer’s day. This video is an ode to both the forgotten bikes and the hardcore people who bike through the winter months.”

Dan Mangan | Sleep On The Floor

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This month, Dan Mangan will be supporting his Juno-nominated, Polaris-shortlisted album Being Somewhere with a 10-date European headline tour. Today, he’s sharing an acoustic cover of The Lumineers’ platinum-certified single Sleep On The Floor. “When I got word I’d be touring Europe supporting The Lumineers last year in June, I knew I wanted to cover one of their songs,” says Mangan. “They have so many hits but Sleep On The Floor was always the one I’d crank when it came on the radio. Wes has a distinctive and strong vocal approach, and I thought it would be interesting to attempt the song with a whisper. Rather than wide open chord changes, a simple piano plodding along keeping pace. The song is about escape, and as somebody who has literally spent a fair amount of time sleeping on floors and couches around the globe, I wanted to explore the sonically comforting elements of my own nostalgia from a life on the road.”

Alex Southey | God’s Green Earth

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:God’s Green Earth began as a little left-of-centre earworm for Alex Southey while playing around with a looping pedal and guitar. He stumbled upon what would become the verse melody. He then decided it worked better as a vocal melody than a riff. Propelled by positive live reception, he prioritized this song in his recording schedule. Regarding the subject matter, the chorus can be taken two ways: 1) Someone sad they’re seeing natural beauty destroyed, or 2) Someone annoyed they have to hear about it. They’d rather stick their head in the sand / are apathetic at best. You decide. “The vast majority of this song’s life has been as a poorly recorded, poorly overdubbed, stitched-together voice note,” Southey says. “I then played that basic recording on my laptop, and recorded more harmonies into my phone. It was like working with digital scotch tape. When I brought it to producer Alex Gamble, we kept multiple portions of the original demo in order to keep its frayed, worn-in qualities. It’s my favourite of this batch. I hope it’s yours.”

Vogue Villains | A Slow Ride

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Vancouver Island alt-rockers Vogue Villains have just released the single A Slow Ride from their debut album Built On Bones, due March 7. A Slow Ride deals with themes of being exhausted and fed up with the negative pressures that people can put on you. “While the lyrics may be sparse, they came out aggressive and poignant, so naturally the music had to follow suit,” says singer-bassist Andrew Baskin. “To say that it’s a song about no longer taking sh*t from anyone may be an oversimplification. It becomes much more complex when you think about the fact that we can just as much be the culprits of our own demise. And imagine the physical and mental struggle that goes along with that — a self manifested fist fight and the slow ride we take when we’ve been knocked down to the mat and the never-ending struggle to climb back on to your feet.” Based in Campbell River, Vogue Villains are a hard-rocking alternative band with a musical foundation planted firmly in catchy melodies and multi-part harmonies. Set on making music that feels unique, yet unafraid to wear their many influences on their sleeves, they have created a sound that is unmistakably their own.”

Good Kid | Break

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Juno-nominated indie outfit Good Kid are excited to announce that their next EP Good Kid 4 will arrive March 27. Alongside the announcement, the Toronto quintet share the new single Break. Brimming with gorgeous indie guitar licks and razor sharp riffs, singer Nick Frosst’s catchy melodies, cathartic vocals, and clever lyricism shine on this endlessly catchy, indie-pop banger. Known for their eclectic blend of J-rock, indie-rock and pop-punk, Good Kid’s streaming success is not just a result of their propensity to create catchy songs; their innovative online engagement and savvy business decisions have helped the band amass an extensive and devoted fanbase, only serving to further the hype for the upcoming EP.”

Jerry David DeCicca | Forty Years In the Wilderness

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The upcoming album James Toth Presents: Imaginational Anthem vol. XIII – Songs of Bruce Cockburn features a galaxy of indie stars salute the great Canadian singer-songwriter. It’s out on April 5. The first single Forty Years in the Wilderness, featuring Jerry David DeCicca and Bill Callahan, is out now. Cockburn is one of the most celebrated Canadian artists of all time — but unlike fellow Canadians Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell or Neil Young, he has not been fully embraced by a younger generation of indie musicians and fans. Well-respected indie artist Toth, known for his work with Wooden Wand, aims to change that with the 13th volume of the guitar series Imaginational Anthem. Although there is a focus on Bruce as a guitarist, there are also vocal tracks on the album. Indie stalwarts Callahan, Matt Valentine, Luke Schneider and DeCicca all step up and pay tribute to this musical hero, proving that Cockburn is not only influential, but also the keeper of a deep catalog of songs ripe for discovery.”

Allen Dobb | Alone Together

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “After more than a decade-long retreat from recording and performing, singer-songwriter Allen Dobb has returned with a new album. Alone Together is a collection of 10 original songs drawn from characters, stories, and landscapes that are part of Dobb’s experience working as a range management specialist in the interior of British Columbia. It’s also a reflection of traveling the globe, following his dreams, and connecting with his roots. For the album’s title track, Allen wanted to write about the romance of a fictitious couple who are really tuned in to each other and ready to leave the quiet and lonely town behind. “I was playing outside in the evening a lot because it was early summer,” says Allen. Part of the lyrical inspiration for the song came from this incredible scene… “just up the hill from where I live, the male nighthawks were creating their fluttering boom sounds with their wings as they were swooping to the ground. This is part of their mating ritual, and for me the nighthawks just added to the romance for this couple in the song.”

Slightest Clue | Carousel

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Vancouver’s Slightest Clue are like the secret afterschool project of four kids who would have passed each other without a glance in the hallway at school, but once they’re plugged in and ready to play their distinct blend of post-punk, alternative rock and dark pop, all bets are off. Produced by Matt Di Pomponio, their new Carousel EP is inspired by the beginning, middle and end of a formative romantic relationship, spanning the trajectory from love to this loss of connection. The closing title track marks the ultimate bittersweet reflection with unique harmonic layers to portray those contrasting emotions, shifting between grand and quiet tones.”

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