Canadian Beacon | Mascara Wizard, Matías Roden, Maïa Davies & More New Homegrown Mark

Accents and umlauts and macrons, oh my. The diacritical designators are arriving en masse today. Not sure why. All I know is, they’re accompanied by another damn fine batch of new singles and videos. I could call them the crème de la crème. Or perhaps the pièce de résistance. Then again, I could say they deliver the coup de grâce. But that just feels like a naïve façade — with a touch of déjà vu. OK, I’ll stop now. Bon appétit (sorry):


Mascara Wizard | Elderberry

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Montreal folk-pop group Mascara Wizard share their new single Elderberry. The chill and romantic electronic-influenced folk track is the lead single from the band’s debut EP Sunbathing In The Valley Of Death, due April 21. Mascara Wizard were created during the lockdown of 2020, when poet/musician Simina Banu gave the song Elderberry to Iola Patalas and Michael Johancsik to play with their acoustic band, The Oops Kitchen. They recorded several demos of the track and performed it live, but it never felt quite right without Simina. And so, Mascara Wizard were born. The trio decided to give the song new life and add Simina’s voice to the track, which led to the creation of a full EP. “When I wrote this song, I was really into enigmatic lyrics that could have a variety of interpretations,” says Simina. “I wrote it a long time ago but I think it was mostly led by feelings, wordplay and sounds, and then I tried to arrange them into something cohesive.”

Matías Roden | Great Escape

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Matías Roden is a Peruvian-Canadian singer-songwriter in Vancouver. After performing in cover bands and writing for others in the city’s indie-pop scene (and landing college radio play for one of his cuts), he began developing his own material as an artist. Drawing from classic British synth-pop combined with a modern, sample-based production sensibility and unflinchingly personal lyrics, Matías wrote and produced over a dozen demos in his bedroom studio. Those caught the attention of acclaimed singer-songwriter and producer Louise Burns. His new single Great Escape is sung from the perspective of depression itself, telling a depressed person they’ll never get over them, like a twisted love song. Written during Covid while recovering from a brain injury, Matías channeled the feelings of darkness from that time into the song’s lyrics but made sure to retain a twinge of hope in its rousing production.”

Mike Evin | The Ham In You

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Singer-songwriter Mike Evin has been wearing his heart on his sleeve for over 15 years, writing immediate and disarming piano-pop songs with adventurous melodies that live inside you. His new single The Ham In You builds on the vulnerable end-of-relationship theme introduced in his previous track I Almost Called You Babe — but this time Evin is injecting some of the levity his fans have come to love. The Ham In You is a companion piece of sorts; the light to the dark of I Almost Called You Babe. Underneath the song’s breezy vibe of love and support is a clown who is crying. It’s a bittersweet ode to wishing your ex-partner well, all the while trying to appreciate what was had and mourn what was lost. “I knew that having the word ham in the title might be jarring to some — and I tried changing it to clown, trust me, I did — but it just has to be ham,” he says. “I feel the fact that it’s so specific and personal makes it ring true and makes up for the awkwardness of the title.”

Maïa Davies | Lift Me Up

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “For the past four years, award-winning, Juno-nominated, bilingual Canadian singer-songwriter and producer Maïa Davies has been on a stubbornly unwavering mission of self-discovery. Born in Montreal, Davies has devoted the vast majority of her life to the craft of music. After getting her start in Ladies Of The Canyon, she has released two solo albums in French and penned over 12 hits for Canadian music artists, including Mother Mother and Serena Ryder. Her new single Lift Me Up is a piano-driven, melodic plea to break free from the loneliness of unmet expectations. Written in Berlin at the famed Hansa Studios, Lift Me Up wistfully weaves confessional pop and synth nostalgia into well-crafted motifs, awash in buttery vocals. Produced by Montreal’s Marcus Paquin (The National, Begonia), Lift Me Up begins as a vulnerable tableau of the artist’s longing to belong, and her all-too-human loneliness. “This song was a chance for me to become ultra-honest about my need to belong, and my disappointment at not finding true connections in my life,” she says. “It was an examination of myself, of what my role in my unhappiness was and how I could break that curse. I think I had to become ready to attempt happiness, so I wrote this song aspirationally, in hopes it would come to be realized.”

Nicky MacKenzie | Morals

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The strange states we find ourselves in while growing are where Nicky MacKenzie’s soulful upcoming EP Morals was born. Leaving behind the safe familiarity of adolescence, Morals is an exploration of the emotional landscape the 23-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter has traversed in the years since her debut album, 2018’s Honeydew. In that time, MacKenzie has left her hometown, navigated shifting relationships, graced the stages of huge festivals, and played intimate shows. In the background, she’s worked on new collaborations and participated in prestigious songwriting workshops, constantly pushing the boundaries of her artistry. The tracks on Morals are a record of this growth. The title track is about being a people pleaser your whole life until you decide to start saying no and walk away from situations that don’t serve or even entertain you anymore.”

Luka Kuplowsky & The Ryōkan Band | How Can I Possibly Sleep When There Is Music

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Luka Kuplowsky just announced his new album, How Can I Possibly Sleep When There Is Music, and shared the title track from the double LP. Conceived as a record of adaptations and responses “to a millennia of poetry”, the album draws together the poems of Ryōkan Taigu, Bohdan Ihor Antonych, Rainer Maria Rilke, Yosana Akiko, Du Fu, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, W.W.E Ross, Li Bai and La Fontaine, placing them within a dynamic environment of ecstatic and imaginative expression. Think Bill Callahan meets Don Cherry’s Organic Music Society, an ECM-produced Leonard Cohen record, or Lou Reed fronting the Astral Weeks band, and you get a sense of the record’s unique terrain. The first single, How Can I Possibly Sleep When There is Music, which features vocalist Felicity Williams and flutist Anh Phoung, reflects on Ryōkan Taigu 良寛大愚, a Zen Buddhist monk. Stirred by Ryōkan’s poem and its restless, joyful sentiment, the song carries forth as a response and conversation across centuries. Kuplowsky adds, “Felicity overtaking the vocal melody at the end and reacting to Anh’s flute sets up a framework for the album; a trading forth and conversation between voices and sounds. How special to be in a world so animated by a curiosity and love of sound. And to dance and move to it! How can one even sleep!”

Mickey Cake | Parakeet

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Mickey Cake’s Jonny Drucker (guitar / vocals) and Graham Corrigan (bass / keys) met when they were 11 years old and played music together throughout high school and college. The band eventually morphed: Jonny and lead guitarist Brian Robertson began playing duets around Philadelphia, eventually convincing the latter’s brother Brett to join on drums. Graham brought his bass down from New York to join in, and a live set began to take shape. The name Mickey Cake is a nod to Jonny’s early days as a beatmaker. Their debut album, So That You Know, was made up of live takes recorded over the course of one weekend. Sadly, Brett passed away just a month after those sessions. Jonny moved to New Zealand, Graham to Los Angeles. But the music continued: Their second album, The Mickey Tape, has been coalescing, slowly but surely, over the last three years. Mickey Cake just released a self-titled compilation of tracks that features the energetic Parakeet, whose title spurs from the idea that being somebody’s pet is a cute idea, but a bit of a trap.”

Erik Lankin | Feathers & Wax

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Erik Lankin of Montreal is revealing the second classical composition taken from his forthcoming debut release The Icarus Album, a reinterpretation of the myth of Daedalus, which Lankin has used to grapple with his father’s suicide. In both the original myth and Lankin’s reinterpretation, Daedalus constructs the wings used in his failed lift off out of feathers and wax. The composition Feathers and Wax unfurls with rich anagrammatic piano melodies and guiding strings, growing into tormented sound design which flows into the beginning of previously released first single, Daedalus Requiem. “We had to choose between recording the track on a half-million dollar Fazioli piano or my dad’s baby grand Yamaha, which he left me when he died,” Lankin explains. “In the end we made the sentimental choice.”

Kaï Kater | In Montreal (ft. Allison Russell)

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Grenadian-Canadian musician Kaïa Kater is sharing another new single from her upcoming album Strange Medicine, due May 17. “Simply, this is a reflection on the gravitational pull of my hometown, Montreal,” says Kater of the new single In Montreal, which features Allison Russell. “I’ve left and returned so many times that it now feels like ghosts of my former selves haunt the city. During the deep winter of 2021 with its short days and long nights, I wanted to write an upbeat song about a poet feeling lost and aimless, tectonic plates stacked in their sink — a nod to Leonard Cohen, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and all the other incredible songwriters of Montreal.”

Lemon Bucket Orchestra | Shchedryj Vechor

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Lemon Bucket Orkestra are Toronto’s original Slavic-Balkan-Klezmer party punks — and they are back today with their new single Shchedryj Vechor, taken from their upcoming album Cuckoo, which is slated for release on April 29. The award-winning ensemble has been heralded as a groundbreaking, genre-bending phenomenon by media and fans alike, and over the past 13 years they have performed all over the world, from WOMAD in England and New Zealand and Pohoda in Slovakia to Festival D’Été in Québec City, and Luminato in Toronto.”