Oh, Canada! How we are overwhelmed by all your musical offerings! Yes, our cousins over yonder have been working harder than ever since our last Maple Leaf column and here at RGM we have been hand-selecting the very best of the bunch so that you, dear reader, can sample (probably) the very finest in new Canadian music.
First, we get funky with the Julian Taylor Band, whose claim to be “the best Toronto band you’ve never heard” may indeed be true. They are set to release their new record Avalanche on 29th March. Effortlessly cool and packed with sass, wit and groove, Avalanche sounds like a record from the very back of your LP collection - one that you haven’t played in years but instantly wraps its arms around you as if it’s your oldest friend. If it was at all easy to make a record that sounds as classic as this, then surely everyone would be doing it. For JTB it’s seems it simply a case of some seriously fine musicianship, genuine warmth and soul by the bucketload. Don’t believe me? Check out current single ‘Back Again’ and hear for yourself.
If soul and funk just ain’t yo’ bag and big polished pop is more what you’re after then look no further than four-piece Rvnners who, in a past life, used to go by the name Tiny Danza. The band promises an EP release soon and of the tracks to emerge so far ‘Through The Wall’ has to be their ace in the hand. A gleeful marriage of synth and guitar washes between huge drums (gated like 1986) and a lead vocal that manages to be simultaneously muscular and frail. A chart-topper-in-waiting.
Now then, speaking of 1986, have you ever-wondered what would have happened if Morrissey had fronted Human League and recruited Edge on guitar? Well, Ted Kennedy definitely has and his gloriously 80s synth-fest ‘Forty’ is a near-perfect study of the period. I’m a real sucker for a nostalgia party and the Torontonian has planned and executed this one to perfection. Hand your car keys over to Lloyd Dobler, come on in and enjoy.
For something that is sonically a little more organic, head over to ‘Blueberry Fields’, the current single from Montreal four-piece Saint Lo. The warm accordions, fiddle and lazily brushed drums are the perfect backdrop for vocalist Marc Richard’s comforting delivery. This is essentially the musical equivalent of a perfect summer sunrise. The song is the third single from the band’s new album We Could Be which is due for a mid-April release.
Shaking us out of our comfort zone is ‘Little Star’ a blistering, thunderous anthem from Iskwē. The song aims to highlight the tragic deaths of native Canadian youngsters and Iskwē - herself very much in touch with her own indigenous roots - uses the beat of an Anishinaabe honour song as the base for the track. Add to this a pulsing electronic bass, searing guitars and keys, topped with a powerful vocal and what you get is a stunning slab of dynamic, dramatic pop. Difficult to ignore and rightly so.
Well, that is all for now. This is your Canadian correspondent signing off until next time. Thank you for reading and thank you, musicians of Canada, for always sending us the good stuff!
The Maple Leaf Roundup is a Rich Barnard production for Red Guitar Music.