Canadian Beacon | CJ Wiley, Deep Dark Woods & More New Homegrown Winners

Wiley. Woods. Wounded. Worn. Working. The alliteration administration are clearly trying to tell me (and you) something with today’s roundup of new Canadian songs and videos. Get ready to take the W:


CJ Wiley | No One Like U

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Recently, CJ Wiley revealed their latest single, No One Like U, and today the Toronto slack rocker is sharing the new video for the single. ”The No One Like U music video is a queer recreation of the film 10 Things I Hate About You,” says Wiley. “The song is about that one friend who drives you crazy but you just can’t help but love them so much, which is the sentiment of the movie.” Tearing through Toronto on a groundswell of breezy rock, Wiley doesn’t waste any time. Twirling guitars, a steady drum beat, crunchy bass; ballads twanged slightly country, anthems skewed slightly grunge; telling stories of loss, gender, starting fresh, and how expensive it is to be alive; Wiley’s musical project is urgent and undeniable. No One Like U is a “song is about the nostalgia of teenage years,” notes Wiley. “Playful friendships, the expansiveness of queer love and how romance can show up in platonic relationships, going through ups and downs with friends just as you would with lovers.” Co-written with Toronto songwriter Charlotte Cornfield and produced by Boy Golden in Winnipeg, No One Like U is a trans-Canada song already primed to hit the road.”

Deep Dark Woods | Spanish Is The Loving Tongue

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Juno-nominated group Deep Dark Woods have announced their upcoming album Broadside Ballads Vol. III. The record will lend a familiar melancholic warmth to a collection of traditional folk songs spanning centuries and continents. It’s a fitting tribute to the music that influenced Ryan Boldt since forming the band. Today they’re sharing Spanish Is The Loving Tongue, a song based on the poem A Border Affair by Charles Badger Clark in 1907. “Clark was a cowboy poet who lived throughout the American West, and over the years, the song was recorded by many top recording artists, including Bob Dylan, Judy Collins and Ian and Sylvia,” notes Boldt. “I’m influenced first and foremost by Bob Dylan. He is the greatest vocal phraser in all of folk and rock music, not to mention the finest songwriter of the 20th and 21st centuries. As a live band, we are definitely influenced by The Grateful Dead and the way they took their songs to interesting places each night. I’m personally influenced by the traditional music of Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and, to some degree, America.”

Mustafa | Imaan

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Mustafa shares his first single of the new year, Imaan, alongside a self-directed video that stars Imaan Hammam, creative direction from Ramy Youssef and co-direction from Nabil Elderkin. Imaan serves as the second taste of Mustafa’s forthcoming debut album, set for release this year. Featuring backing vocals from Snoh Aalegra, Imaan marries Mustafa’s Sudanese influences with American folk for a wholly singular sound. Mustafa shares: “Imaan is a love song between two people in search of God and purpose. It’s about longing for all that we don’t have evidence of. Two Muslims journeying through their love of borderless Western ideology and how it contradicts with the modesty & devotion in which they were raised. Imaan sonically represents this tussle too — the Sudanese strings and Egyptian oud woven into the bed American folk chords and drums. This tapestry, this collision is the song, is the romance, is the person Mustafa is. How it’s never enough, or too much. The song sits in the grey that people of faith are afraid to live in, but identify with. It’s about the way faith swings beneath Mustafa and Imaan like a rope. How cultural tension and bias and racism can inform and dismember romance.”

Toddy | Wounded

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “There are seemingly endless possibilities to self-expression, and Vancouver comedian and trained opera singer Toddy is out there breaking new ground. With a winning combination of drag, standup comedy, opera, classical and pop music, Toddy is redefining the very idea of pop stardom. Toddy has been performing professionally since they were nine: Singing in the chorus and operas in Calgary; studying opera at McGill in Montreal, and eventually segueing into the worlds of comedy and drag. Inspired by abusive relationships Toddy has been in, they wanted a wide variety of victims to be able to put themselves into this song.”

Lisa Humber | The Devil’s Advocate

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Toronto alt-pop musician Lisa Humber shares her empowering new single The Devil’s Advocate, written in collaboration with producer/guitarist Justin Abedin. He also played a significant role in her debut EP The Space Between, released in 2022, helping to infuse beauty into her work and shape her lyrics and melodies. The release of this new single launches a quadriptych of new music to be released from Lisa in 2024. “The Devil’s Advocate delves into introspection on love, mistakes, and self-discovery,” says Lisa. “It’s a song about facing the fallout of ignoring warning signs, playing games, and owning up to my part in the chaos. We’ve all been on that rollercoaster of growth, and this tune encapsulates the essence of breaking away from past choices while asserting newfound empowerment.”

Cabin Fever Orchestra | Worn

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Cabin Fever Orchestra is Graeme Cornies’ passion project. And one in which the lifelong television composer is reversing the usual process; instead of writing music for picture, he is creating visual art posted to social media, depicting the feelings and mental states of his music. Worn is the first in a series of collaborations between Cornies and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. “For me, this piece is about feeling worn, but not worn out,” Cornies explains. “It’s about feeling the wear and tear of age and experience, but also the feeling that you have so much left to contribute because of it.” Written and performed by Cornies (piano) at the end of last summer, CNSO performed their parts in Prague on Halloween of 2023.”

Dark Mean | Working Hard

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Dark Mean refuse to slip away for good. Quietly chipping away in their Hamilton studio, once again they have focused their spontaneous fits of inspiration into something concrete. Years of extended hiatuses are nothing new to the trio of Billy Holmes, Sandy Johnston and Mark Dean. That’s how they operate. Incessant file sharing and e-mails, late-night Zoom calls, relentless attention to detail, unabashed honesty, and the odd show amidst chaotic life schedules are just a few ways the band have not only hung together, but continue to release new music. “In terms of what inspired the song, or the lyrics… umm probably desperation,” they say. “Feeling so desperate for something to happen while full-well knowing time is not on your side and there is nothing you can do but wait. So the opening of the track begins with this sort of cathartic release: ‘Working hard, killing time. I woke up wrong, just to feel right.’ Doing nothing is often harder than doing something, right?”