Written in the midst of deep personal tragedy and dramatic emotional upheaval, Altameda’s stunning new album, Born Losers, is a meditation on change, loss, and growth, but more than that, it’s a reckoning with mortality, a call to live while we’re still alive. The music here is more subtle and nuanced than ever before, with raw, candid performances arriving wrapped inside gorgeous, gently atmospheric arrangements, and the lyrics showcase a similar leap in scope and maturity, grappling with our dueling desires for connection and escape through visceral, cinematic imagery that finds meaning in the mundane. Launched in Edmonton, Altameda first found their stride as a hard-touring four-piece and garnered early acclaim with their 2016 debut, Dirty Rain. Dates with Sam Roberts Band, The Trews, Dan Mangan, and SUSTO followed, as did an even more ambitious sophomore effort, 2019’s Time Hasn’t Changed You, which was met with continued praise on both sides of the Atlantic. Exclaim! hailed the group’s music as “the perfect summer soundtrack,” while Rolling Stone Germany swooned for their “country bliss” and “pub-rock enthusiasm,” and the CBC’s Grant Lawrence proclaimed them “the best Canadian band I have heard in a while.” Recorded with producer Thomas D’Arcy (Neko Case, The Sheepdogs) and mixed by studio wiz Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Whitney, REM), Born Losers marks Altameda’s first release since relocating to Toronto, as well as their first collection as a duo.
With over a decade of experience, Tynomi Banks is a world-class drag entertainer. Recognized best for her full-production performances, Banks dominates a stage while radiating a powerful, but playful energy. Her hustle lead her to become the first Drag Entertainer to perform in Toronto’s Dundas Square during World Pride 2014. In just one month, during Pride 2018, she became the first Drag Entertainer to work with Hudson’s Bay Company and the only Queen to partner with Spotify for a featured playlist, which also resulted in a billboard over Dundas Square in Toronto during Pride. She has since partnered with Sephora, Shoppers Beauty, Amazon, Absolut, Netflix, Crest, and Ikea to name a few. Banks became the first Drag Entertainer to be the trophy bearer at the seventh annual Canadian Screen Awards. In 2021, Banks was the only drag performer to be featured in a Super Bowl ad other than RuPaul herself. Then in February, she partnered with Black Lives Matter Canada to create and sell a line of merchandise where partial proceeds went to dismantle all forms of anti-Black racism, liberate Blackness, support Black healing, affirm Black existence, and create freedom to love and self-determine. Catch Tynomi Banks on Season 1 of Canada’s Drag Race on Crave (Canada), LogoTV (USA) and BBC3 (UK).
Founded in 2008, The Barettas exploded out of lockdown with 2021’s All Is Fair In Love and Rock & Roll. These Steel City firecrackers (guitarist/vocalist Katie Bulley, bassist Justine Fischer and drummer Lauren Small) have played electrifying shows that range from the unsung music halls to festival dates opening for The Diodes and the New York Dolls. Speaking of New York City, they’ve been there as well, playing shows in Manhattan and Detroit Rock City where the crowd sang along to the their music. “The Barettas have been resurrected and are back from the grave… and we’re aiming right in between the music industry’s eyes! Bang Bang, baby.”
Blind Mule has progressed from many musical directions since their inception in 2007, and their music has evolved from a folk roots duo, to a diverse sounding quintet, revolving around alt-country boogie, which dives into progressive pop, throws in a dash of reggae/ska, and live, rounds it out with many jams and an energetic stage performance, creating a recipe that keeps the dance floor alive and the music fresh. As a band that escaped death while on tour in a sudden snow fall in BC, while going down steep mountains with worn out tires, or having toured in a minivan with seven people for two months at a time, or travelling for 6000 km with a intermittently, next to broken transmission, due to lack of funds while on the road, whatever it took to get to the next gig, Blind Mule have always been about the adventure of bringing their music to the people. After touring the country countless times, BM has played many types of showcases, including the Northern Lights Festival Boreal sharing the stage with the likes of Joel Plaskett and Serena Ryder, or a hippy commune house party (where they played seven sets of music til the wee hours of the night), to playing in a parking lot in a indigenous community in Northern Ontario opening for Trooper, or experiencing the magic of the Artswells Festival in Northern BC, where the whole festival takes over the small town of Wells and brings an unincorporated town a lot of well deserved business. Blind Mule has been touring for since 2007 throughout Canada, and are currently working on their next studio EP, for release in the summer of 2022, then will be playing as much as possible to support this new album, fully equipped with new merch and new music for their fans.
Born in the Eighties
Playing the best in ’80s and beyond, Born in the Eighties is Hamilton’s favourite party band.
Written, recorded and mixed in eight days, Only Up is the second Breeze album by producer and artist Josh Korody (NAILBITER, BELIEFS). Enlisting a whirlwind of performances from Tess Parks, Cadence Weapon and an array of the Toronto music scene, including members of Orville Peck, Tallies, Vallens, Zoon, Sauna, Fake Palms, Rapport, Praises, Civic TV, Moon King, Blonde Elvis, For Jane, Ducks Ltd, TOPS and Broken Social Scene, Only Up sees Korody digging through and channelling three decades of anthemic British bands. From the angular guitars of late 70’s post-punk (Gang Of Four, Wire), to the lush gloom of ’80s electro-pop (Tears for Fears, OMD), with the dance floor psychedelia of the Manchester sound (Primal Scream, Happy Mondays), and through the late ’90s and early 2000s post-punk / new wave revivalists, Only Up celebrates its sound cathartically. When originally asked to make this album for indie label Hand Drawn Dracula, Korody and his long time friend and music collaborator Kyle Connolly (Orville Peck, The Seams, Wish) quickly threw down ideas in a session, however with Connolly embarking on a world tour, and with Korody’s demanding schedule at his Candle Recording Studio, the project sat unattended. But by the time of the album’s delivery deadline, Korody not only orchestrated a creative ensemble of friends and collaborators, he wrote, recorded and mixed the entirety of the album in two weeks without a single regret or compromise. Only Up was released by Hand Drawn Dracula in August 2021.
Three-time JUNO Award-nominated Nuela Charles is an alternative/soul singer-songwriter known for her soulful vocals and captivating stage presence, solidifying herself as a Canadian music staple. Born in Kenya, raised in Switzerland, Canada and the Bahamas before settling back in Canada, Charles’ music is infused with her multicultural upbringing, giving a fresh and diverse flair to her sound. Charles’ latest single “Space” came out of a writing session with multi-platinum/ diamond record producer Don Mills (Giveon, Snoh Allegra, Juice WRLD, and more) and was completed by JUNO-nominated producer/mixer Ryan Worsley, who brought life to the track and took it to the next level. The groove-laden tune is an honest, lightning-bolt response to the notion that you just need space to salvage the momentary love turmoil. “Space” oozes with Charles’ smoky, sexy voice. Dripping in soulful flames, the track is the perfect combination of soul, pop and alternative — funky bass slaps, groovy guitar runs, bright, tight drums, sultry synths and rich trumpets that layer up the frequencies. The production on the track is an amalgamation of polished yet raw goodness. The catchy hooks and beat are totally engrossing and bold, accompanied with Charles’ confident vocals. Charles has brought her distinct voice to various stages over the last several years – having performed notably at Reeperbahn Festival in Germany, making her UK debut in London, and making her U.S. debut at the coveted “It’s A School Night” by personal invitation by tastemaker and KCRW radio host Chris Douridas. Over the last year, she has shared the stage as direct support for some of Canada’s musical icons – including Sam Roberts Band, Jann Arden and Stars. With a nod from tastemaker The FADER, placements on the hit shows Jane the Virgin and Tiny Pretty Things plus some comfortable real estate on the CBC Music charts, Charles is ready to release more of her fiery brand of cinematic soul.
Dearly Beloved’s upcoming album Walker Park (coming Jan 2023 on Sonic Unyon) is the soundtrack to an as-yet-unmade film of the same name. And, like the movie, the album tells a story and has an arc. The record flows in this way : Loss. Change. Ego. Nature. Connection. Vibration. Unity. Power. Family. Choice. Frequency. Love. Dogma. Marriage. Memory. Nostalgia. Respect. Gratitude. It took shape while frontman Rob Higgins was writing and recording freely at home alone to cope with the pandemic, among other things. Walker Park got put away and sat on for well over a year until the outside world started to steady. Upon completion, Walker Park became the seventh Dearly Beloved album made in 15 years. And the tenth album for Higgins, once you add in the Change Of Heart, Tristan Psionic and Doctor records that he was fortunate enough to help create and tour behind. 25 years. 10 albums. 111 songs. 28 countries. It all adds up to an unforgettable live experience. Be there front and centre and get a face full of the band’s self-described “barrage rock.
Raised on the cool precision of late-aughts guitar music and the melodrama of post-rock, Ellevator hold lean hooks and sweeping crescendos in perfect tension. Frontwoman Nabi Sue Bersche wields her arresting lyricism with clear-eyed lucidity, drawing deeply personal reflections from big themes like power, love, and loss. Citing influences that range from stadium limelight (U2, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush) to the warm glow of indie haunts (Feist, Spoon, Death Cab For Cutie) Ellevator’s music hits with the impact of great pop songs and the fierce emotional resonance of their rock and roll heroes. Following the release of their eponymous debut EP in 2018, Ellevator cut their teeth on the road, sharing stages with the likes of Amber Run, Banners, Our Lady Peace, Arkells, Bishop Briggs, Cold War Kids, and Dear Rouge. In Autumn 2021, the band released the first taste of their new music with the pulsing single “Easy,” followed by hypnotic “Charlie IO”. Their debut LP, produced by Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie, Foxing, Tegan & Sara), is set to be released in 2022.
Aaron Goldstein has enjoyed a career as one of Canada’s most visible side players, appearing or recording on pedal steel or guitar with a roster of artists too numerous to list. Espanola is his solo project that sees him wearing on his sleeve his love for rock & roll, from psychedelia to power-pop, formative blues-rock to cosmic country-rock and beyond.
Fame Cartel is the alternative rock project of Canadian multi-instrumentalist Eric “Dio” Diodati. When recording, Diodati writes, records, performs, and produces all of the project’s music. Fame Cartel’s sound stems from a variety of rock and R ’n’ B influences. He also has a love of rap/hip-hop which helps inspire the deep rhythms and edgy drum arrangements. Diodati’s musical interest began to grow after receiving his first electric guitar. As his comfort and skill progressed, he became more and more infatuated with starting a band. So he did, gathering together three high school friends and started a band called The Keystones, who played dozens of shows across the Niagara region. For several years, Eric has immersed himself in the world of music production and sound engineering which led him to creating his solo project under the alias Fame Cartel. He describes his sound as a mix of blues rock with a modern electronic spin.
Golden Feather is a project started by Steve Kiely and Brad Germain, inspired by their love of the Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, and other bands that like to jam and take the listeners on a musical journey. Close friends for years, Kiely and Germain had just finally gotten to writing music together in the early part of 2019. What started out as a weekly hang for the two in Brad’s basement recording demos, quickly turned into them having to find more like-minded musicians to help them bring their musical ideas to life. The group was set to play its first show in March 2020 when the global pandemic hit, suddenly ending all hopes of live performance. Brad and Steve, along with bassist Ronson and guitarist Chris Wheeler worked on the songs remotely and recorded their debut album entitled Light On Water. Not long after its November 2020 release, Gareth Inkster joined the group on keys to complete the definitive lineup that makes up the band today. Golden Feather’s expansive live sets are full of dancing, singing along, and good vibes, with the main focus being the give-and-take relationship between band and crowd. The band’s Now & Then EP arrives at the end of September on Sonic Unyon.
Sarah Good & The Bads
Sarah Good & The Bads are a unique group from Hamilton, Ontario. Their imaginative songs mix baroque velvet with ferral awe and dark metal with flower petal. They invoke the spirits of otherworldly beings, battle with the grotesque perimeters of the physical world, incite horrifying scenarios that end in laughter, challenge our ideas of the mystic and macabre and playful, and leave deep soothing melodies that soak your ears and hug your soul.
Great Lake Swimmers
Featuring a blend of acoustic instruments, rural soundscapes, and wistful vocals, Great Lake Swimmers are a critically acclaimed indie-folk group led by songwriter/vocalist Tony Dekker. Based in Toronto, Ontario, the group emerged with a succession of heavily atmospheric albums recorded in old silos and rural country churches. The music has developed that pastoral warmth over subsequent albums through a continued vision to record and perform in acoustically unique and historical locales. They are renowned for their homespun folk and lush, intimate Americana in their live shows. Great Lake Swimmers celebrated their 15th anniversary in 2018 with the release of The Waves, The Wake, which displayed both their pop-oriented side as well as a new direction utilizing instruments like marimba, harp, lute, and woodwinds and adopted a more orchestral and improvisational approach to modern folk music. They have been shortlisted for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize and nominated twice for Canada’s Juno Awards, with the CBC calling them “a national treasure.” Their latest offering is 2021’s double LP, Live At The Redeemer, an archival live performance from the album release concert for Ongiara at Toronto’s Church of the Redeemer.
Hamilton Children’s Choir
Over its 47 year history, the Hamilton Children’s Choir (HCC) has seen more than 1700 children and youth participate in the choir, performing and traveling around the world. HCC consistently dazzles audiences with flexible choral tone, masterful interpretations of challenging repertoire, and a captivating, authentic stage presence. The Choir has grown to include more than 225 young singers. Rouring ensemble Ilumini has shared its passion with audiences across North America, Europe, and Asia. The choir has ventured on more than 10 international tours in the past 13 years and participated in five international competitions where they have earned the Grand Prize Award. Tour highlights include: World YCC Festival (Hong Kong, 2019), ACDA National Conference (Minneapolis, 2017), ICFM World Symposium (South Korea, 2014), and Grand Prize, International Choral Competition (China, 2013). In the summer of 2020, Ilumini was invited to perform in New Zealand as one of 24 choirs worldwide at IFCM’s 2020 World Symposium on Choral Music. In addition to gaining international acclaim, HCC is proud to be an active part of Hamilton’s thriving arts community.
Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra Brass Quintet
The Hidden Cameras
One of Canada’s most mercurial artists, Joel Gibb is the lead singer, songwriter and choir captain of The Hidden Cameras. Forming in Toronto in 2001, Gibb and his gang of musical provocateurs have created music and live performances legendary for their raucous, unfettered celebration of freedom and sexuality. Released on the eve of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations, Home On Native Land is an inquisitive ode to Gibb’s homeland; it’s a stealthy return to Canadian soil both philosophically and physically. After relocating to Berlin for some time, The Hidden Cameras pick up and head west to commune with musical ancestors and explore the gentle folk sounds of the Canadian countryside. But as with everything Gibb does, there’s a darker undercurrent flowing beneath the Canadiana terrain. The album’s title, a play on the national anthem line “home and native land,” questions the definition and identity of Gibb’s nation, referencing the #LandBack movement and ongoing debate around reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Ever the master of subversion, Gibb arches an inquiring eyebrow at the personal as well as the political through his songs, returning to themes of belonging and identity from within. As a commanding, provocative figurehead of the LGBTQ community, Gibb inhabits the guise of the lonesome cowboy to his own ends, plumbing the depths of musical memory and delivering a beautiful album of life -affirming experiences in all its colours along the way.
As a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, Cam Kahin has been pouring out his own experiences and emotions into his music. Cam’s been playing music since he was 12 years old, and has been developing his skill set ever since. His music leans toward an experimental/alternative-rock sound, from which he says is due to his upbringing, listening to bands such as Muse, Cage The Elephant, and Biffy Clyro.
Shawnee Kish discovered music as medicine at a very early age. Born dreaming about being on stage and starting her journey toward a career in music at the age of 12, music has quickly become a source of self-empowerment for the Two Spirit soulful singer. Fuelling her with purpose and reason, making music has allowed Shawnee’s to stand tall in her personal strength and power. Named the winner of CBC’s 2020 Searchlight talent competition, this fierce, powerhouse artist has been celebrated as one of North America’s Top Gender Bending Artists (MTV), named by Billboard as an Artist You Need To Know and continuously uses her music to empower. Listening to her chart-topping releases one can easily recognize that, as an artist, Shawnee has been influenced by the strong, confident voices of female performers such as Melissa Etheridge, Etta James, Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse. Her deeply personal and always poignant lyrics are rooted in healing, allowing both herself and her listeners to find purpose and reason in the stories she tells. An outspoken advocate for her Indigenous and 2SLGBTQ+ communities, Shawnee is a proud Two-Spirit Mohawk who has shared the stage with some of the world’s biggest names — Lady Gaga, Madonna and Alicia Keys to name a few. 2020 saw her step into the world of virtual performances without hesitation, taking part in The Canada House/UK Commerce International Women’s Day Virtual Performance, performing at The Songwriter Series with Serena Ryder and participating in the RBC’s Emerging Artist program. In addition to virtual performances, Shawnee raised her voice on a Grammy Museum Discussion Panel (Being an Artist During COVID) and joined the National Arts Centre of Canada on a collaborative youth project (ongoing). 2021 will see the Edmonton-based artist release a new EP that addresses her personal struggles of the past twelve months — “The main theme will be lighting up what use to be and getting on with what is now. The songs represent becoming yourself, finding out where you were was not where you wanted to be and fully embracing that in order to let go. Light the Place up, even if it’s unintentional” — and hopefully return to touring. She will also continue her work with the We Matter Campaign and Kids Help Phone in hopes of empowering youth, providing strength and hope through music.
Kira Huszar knows a love of music is innately human. As LOONY, she and producers Adam Pondang and Noah ‘40’ Shebib protégée Akeel Henry (Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz, Roy Woods, Jeremih) meld neo-soul, jazz, gospel, hip hop and R&B to create a melodious alchemy that feels as organic as it is luscious. Born and raised in Scarborough, from the moment she came home from the hospital, Huszar was exposed to a diverse sonic landscape by her music-loving parents. Even before she could speak, the nascent artist began to sing and develop her melodic pallet; later using summer vacations at her grandmother’s house as an excuse to force her cousins into musical groupings. When her high school boyfriend was unexpectedly incarcerated, Huszar turned trauma into catharsis by releasing her first home-made tracks into the world. But it wasn’t until 2018’s Part 1 EP that LOONY, as we know her, was born. Two years later, back-to-back EPs, JOYRiDE and the upcoming soft thing, which have earned the up-and-comer comparisons to Erykah Badu and Sade alongside raves from the likes of Complex, Stereogum, The Fader, NME, CBC and the BBC, to name but a few. With such acclaim and talent to spare, it’s no surprise that Sir Elton John himself declared on his international radio show: “I love that LOONY.”
If 2020 was a rollercoaster, 2021 is the theme park. It’s the only way rock-pop singer-songwriter Loviet can explain it. The quick ride of 2020′ three-song EP “Everyone Knows the Thrill When it’s Over” turned out to be just a taste of the expansive set her upcoming fall album has to offer. With this second release, she boldly introduces sound versatility to the speakers, lyrical variety to the ears and a burgeoning songwriter to the crowds. Loviet’s kept her signature, shimmery hooks and tell-all emotions rooted in party sweat, but mastered a cathartic flavour in all seven songs she wrote, sang and produced during 2020’s planet-wide period of self-reflection. Led by the lead single, “Dullshine”, the album’s romanticized teen memories, inner battles won and lost, and existential sparring with the future easily duet with classic ’90s grunge and ’80s synth on the side. The whole album’s nostalgic thread pulls together a generational gist wrapped in poetic power that anyone can relate to. As her body of work grows, it it’s clear that Loviet’s here to take up some serious space on the edge of pop’s dancehall mold. A good measure of fuck-it undertones live in her exhales to help counterattack the industries plastic and emphasize her see-through approach to real stories and gutteral songs. It’s a deliberate move by an artist who wants to see where things can go before they close the gates.
Canadian singer/songwriter Olivia Lunny delivers a dynamic breed of alt-pop, instantly infectious but full of emotional depth. After taking up guitar and writing her first song at age 12, the Winnipeg native soon ascended to national fame, earning a Western Canadian Music Award nomination for Pop Artist of the Year and scoring a Top 40 hit with her 2019 single “I Got You.” In the making her 2020 debut EP To the Ones I Loved (which drew widespread attention, garnering millions of streams and receiving praise from the likes of Billboard, PAPER, American Songwriter, & Parade), Lunny channeled even more vulnerability into her songwriting, a quality that infuses standout tracks like “Bedsheets”— an acoustic-guitar-laced ballad hailed by Ones to Watch as “heart-wrenching.” 2021 was a massive year for Olivia, where she inked her own label imprint distribution deal with Universal Music Canada and globally through Virgin Music, received the Young Canadian Songwriter Award from the SOCAN Foundation, and released her self-titled full-length debut. On her latest release, “Vibe Check” ft. Bhad Bhabie, Olivia brings seductive beats and lyricism, emanating a confident and infectious energy that is dancefloor-ready. The song is one of empowerment and a natural progression for Olivia as she continues to explore and embrace a more mature and confident era of her artistry.
Over 100,000 kilometres of highway, railroad and sky behind him, as Eamon McGrath continues to blaze an impassioned trail of music that finds a sound and voice somewhere between punk rock, country, folk and rock and roll. Taking him to locations as geographically diverse as Reykjavik, Palma de Majorca, Warsaw, and everywhere in between, McGrath and his guitar represent a new dawn of singer-songwriting that’s injected with the raw, fierce energy of punk rock: not in the sense of an acoustic performer hollering at the top of his lungs to simulate the energy of a full band, but instead something more rooted in a passionate commitment to your craft and a blind and zealous determination to your vision, wrapped in a sonic texture as rough as the road itself.
Nezqwik is whatever the moment calls for. Inspired by an array of genres and artists, every note is thought out and means something to this group, all whilst maintaining a groove that any audience can vibe with. With a rotating and ever evolving lineup and setlist, no two shows are ever the same with this group. As a collective, Nezqwik strives to be musically unique. The choice to remain instrumental as often as possible is intentional, as it forces band members to express themselves through the voice of their collective instruments. In addition, Nezqwik blends elements of all the genres its members are immersed in, which includes jazz, gospel, hip-hop, funk, rock, and even traditional Indian music. Currently in the process of writing a debut album, the band’s philosophy is aptly described by the three short words of their slogan: Groove. Pocket. Colour.
Northern Cree , also known as the Northern Cree Singers, is a powwow and Round Dance drum and singing group, based in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada. Formed in 1982 by the Wood brothers; Steve, Randy, Charlie and Earl Wood of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation, All members originate from the Treaty 6 and are members of the Cree Nation, unless otherwise noted. (Saddle Lake Band, Samson Band, Louis Bull Band, Frog Lake Band, Onion Lake Band, Sweetgrass Band, Poundmaker Band, Sunchild Band, Menominee Nation)
The debut release from OMBIIGIZI (pronounced om-BEE-ga-ZAY, meaning ” s/he is noisy”) is a collaboration between Zoon (Daniel Monkman) and Status/Non Status (Adam Sturgeon), Anishnaabe artists who explore their cultural histories through sound. Their debut album Sewn Back Together (Arts & Crafts) is a rumination on family, a celebration and holistic cleansing, with a strong sense of brotherhood and loving support. An amalgam of their Indigenous heritages and their personal musical architectures, Daniel and Adam imbue the lyrics with their families’ storytelling, revealing truths and finding common ground amidst their differences. The first single “Residential Military” responds to Canada’s reckoning with its residential school system, introducing a concept that Adam describes as Indigenous Futurisms – “a song about finding the past to picture a future which is not always so easy here and now.” Summoning life and creation in place of anguish, “Residential Military” is a clash of catharsis, and a resonant image of personal reconciliation, interpreted live and in the moment. Putting aside the tonal nuances of their previous work as Zoon and Status/Non-Status (formerly known as WHOOP-Szo), OMBIIGIZI strips back the waves of distortion to reveal themselves, their voices, writing and improvising for the sake of the song. The family on Sewn Back Together includes the production duo of Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene and Nyles Spencer of The Bathouse Studio. Recorded there in fast and intentional sessions during the summer of 2021, Drew and Spencer – along with musicians Eric Lourenço and Drew McLeod from Status/Non-Status and Zoon, respectively – helped steer this collision of divergent artists into some glorious sonic territory steeped in shoegaze, dream pop, anthemic rock, Chicago post-rock, and second-wave emo. While not always getting to play and perform alongside other members of their community, OMBIIGIZI is a coming together – with Sewn Back Together, a resounding statement shaped by healing and the guidance of culture.
Raised on a healthy dose of the country music narrative and the spiritual motivation of gospel hymns, Lydia Persaud is reconnecting with her roots with her debut EP Low Light. Winner of the 2013 Oscar Peterson Award, Lydia has had an active involvement in the Toronto music scene since her graduation from Humber College’s Jazz program. After performing internationally with The O’Pears and Dwayne Gretzky, and backing artists such as Lee Fields, Jill Barber, Royal Wood, Jadea Kelly and Karl Wolf, Lydia has emerged with her own voice in the world of folk-soul. Spring of 2017 found Lydia touring solo through Spain, then returning to Canada to play shows in Canada’s East Coast. Low Light features some of Canada’s finest musicians such as Robbie Grunwald (Jill Barber, Good Lovelies), Joel Schwartz (Birds of Chicago), Josh Van Tassel (Great Lake Swimmers), and Drew Jurecka (Jill Barber). Lydia’s intimate songwriting paired with subtle instrumentation inspired by her process of writing with voice and baritone ukulele is a highlight of the EP. Influenced by songwriters Eva Cassidy, Michael Kiwanuka and Ray LaMontagne, Lydia combines folk storytelling with a soulful vocal delivery.
Afro/Indigenous/Colombian/Canadian/punk/folklorist/traditionalist/transgressive/diva/angel. There are so many layers to Canadian-Colombian singer Lido Pimienta’s identity that you might get lost in them. But if you did, you’d be missing the point. Her multi-textural, mind-bending voice and music project what Canada’s The Globe and Mail called her “bold, brash, polarizing” persona, which constantly confronts the powers that be. But it also reveals an embrace of the Afro- and Indigenous traditions that is at once defiant, delicate and sweetly nostalgic. Pimienta’s new album Miss Colombia takes her ecstatic hybridity to a new level, building on the “nu” intersection of electronica and cumbia established by her first two albums, Color, released in 2010, and the 2016 Polaris Prize-winning La Papessa as Canadian album of the year. The latter was the first 100% independently released, non- English or French album to win the $50,000 prize. Produced with Matt Smith, a/k/a Prince Nifty, Miss Colombia overflows with the kind of understated genius that promises yet another breakthrough. As a Canadian global-beats trailblazer, Lido has an affinity for acts like A Tribe Called Red and Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, but her work also resonates with British-Sri Lankan rapper MIA and she draws unabashed inspiration from the New York-bred Dominican-Trinidadian rap queen Cardi B. Miss Colombia has the effect of expanding the narrative about her dual Colombian/Canadian identity to her family’s mixed roots in the Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Wayuu communities, while establishing an ambitious new sonic palette that brings her closer to home.
Walls, Mirrors, and Windows, the debut LP from Toronto’s Pleasure Craft, is a conceptual work of pulsing, dark post-pop and sharp, gothic new-wave. It builds on the sonic and thematic worlds that multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Sam Lewis has been crafting over five years and two prior EPs. It is volatile and razor-sharp, ominous and grimey beneath thick, industrial grooves, buzzsaw guitar riffing, tectonic synth palettes, and gorgeous vocals. The three-act record, punctuated in each chapter by shifting production palettes, is the culmination of a conversation that Lewis has carried across Pleasure Craft’s releases with equal parts wit and gravity, through sneering drawls and belting howls: what are the consequences of the dominant cultural constructs of manhood and masculinity, and how do we unstitch the violence sewn and socialized into people raised under those constructs? Which parts of the self are performance, and which are real? What do we hold onto, and what do we dismantle? In Lewis’ work, this dominant culture of absolutes hurts all that it touches, including the aggressor. Healing these damages is a moral and existential imperative. Walls, Mirrors, and Windows is meant to be as enjoyable as it is unsettling. This is where Pleasure Craft lives: on the knife’s edge of calm and chaos, the familiar and the frightening. With this debut LP, Lewis reminds us that these things are not separate or discrete: they are blurred and overlapping, raging inside all of us. The journey of Walls, Mirrors, and Windows isn’t just his, or the protagonist’s; it’s all of ours, too.
Queen Cee with GSSO and Duckai
Queen Cee is a multi-faceted artist. A powerful singer/songwriter and community activist in her own right, she is the recipient of many arts and activism awards. Her years in music has always been R&B-driven, but a change in her musical trajectory has been a long time coming and is now allowing her to tap into what she’s been wanting to do for a long time: express and explore her deep love for House music. Now, the Queen is back with a soulful vibe, refreshed sound, and doing what she loves freely.
Amanda Rheaume’s rootsy, guitar-driven ballads introduce crucial dimensions to the world of Heartland Rock. In a genre characterized by anthems of underdogs, assumptions and unfair advantages, Rheaume’s sound and story crucially and radically expand the boundaries, geographic and cultural, to make space for new perspectives on resistance and resilience. A Citizen of the Métis Nation, and an active and proud member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, Rheaume’s music is indeed from the heart, and the land. First a songwriter, Rheaume comes from a long line of tireless, transformational organizers and activists, and carries this lineage forward in her ever-growing role as a crucial builder of Indigenous music infrastructure and community. From the International Indigenous Music Summit, to newly-founded Ishkode Records, and the National Indigenous Music Office, the goal of raising Indigenous sovereignty in the music industry drives all of Rheaume’s work. Rheaume (she/her) has released five full-length albums over a period of 15 years, a self-managed career that has traveled countless tours and milestones. 2013’s Keep a Fire was nominated for a JUNO Award and won a Canadian Folk Music Award for Indigenous Songwriter of the Year. With a new single “100 Years,” a driving, surging Copperhead Road-esque journey through a wilfully, harmfully misrepresented chapter in a violent colonial timeline, Rheaume makes a powerful statement about history and identity.
Two years after the release of their critically acclaimed, self-titled debut album, Toronto-based indie pop outfit Tallies are preparing to defy all expectations with their hotly anticipated new single, “No Dreams of Fayres”. A lilting yet powerful opus culled straight from the dreampop ether, it is both a direct continuation of the band’s sound, and an evolution into a stronger, wiser, and more mature version of Tallies. On “No Dreams for Fayres”, singer Sarah Cogan’s sweet, flowy vocals coast effortlessly atop Dylan Frankland’s crystalline guitars, every note conjuring up the jangled melodies of classic groups like The Smiths, The Sundays, and Cocteau Twins. Under it all, drummer Cian O’Neill’s driving percussion propels the song into the stratosphere. But “No Dreams for Fayres” isn’t merely an exercise in nostalgia — Tallies’ modern twist adds a tightness, an urgency, an awareness that breathes new life into a beloved genre. “No Dreams for Fayres” is also TALLIES’ first release on new label Bella Union, a partnership that was written across the indie pop firmament since the band’s beginnings. Run by ex-Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde, Bella Union’s ethos aligns perfectly with Tallies’ dedication to immersing themselves in the label’s signature sound. Produced by Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck) and Dylan Frankland of the band at Palace Sound, Baskitball 4 Life and Candle Recording in Toronto. Tallies return with their new single and video (directed and shot by Colin Medley and edited by Christopher Mills) for “No Dreams of Fayres” via Hand Drawn Dracula (Canaada), Kanine Records (US) and Bella Union (UK/EU).
Toronto-based singer-songwriter Julian Taylor has been part of the musical fabric and landscape in Canada for over two decades. Taylor enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2020, when his second solo album, The Ridge which earned praise from press worldwide, and airplay from America to Australia to the U.K. In addition to winning Taylor Solo Artist of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, The Ridge was also nominated for two Juno Awards (Contemporary Folk Album of The Year, Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year), the Polaris Prize Long List, a Summer Solstice Indigenous Award (Contemporary Folk Album of the Year), a Canadian Music Week INDIES Award (Indigenous Artist of the Year), and an additional Canadian Folk Music Awards nomination in the English Songwriter of the Year category. The nominations and awards kept coming in 2022, with Taylor winning best male artist in the International Acoustic Music Awards, and scoring five Native American Music Award nominations. His latest album, Beyond the Reservoir, is an album that addresses identity, loss, sadness, hope, and redemption. The themes of resilience, courage, and strength are prevalent in every carefully-chosen lyric. It contains a gentle spiritual thread that runs throughout the album touching on each of the elements, like fire, water, air, and earth as they relate to humanity. It is a coming-of-age story and a beautifully-orchestrated successor to The Ridge.
TRP.P (pronounced “trippy”) is a Toronto band, breaking barriers on the Hip-Hop/R&B scene. Composed of Truss (producer, singer/songwriter) and Phoenix Pagliacci (singer/songwriter), the dynamic duo began their collective artistry in the summer of 2017. In October of the same year, they released their self-titled debut EP. Since then, they have been unstoppable. TRP.P has made their mark in Toronto as a group to know. In 2018, NOW Magazine listed them among the list of Must See acts performing at Toronto’s Pride. Dubbing themselves “The Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth of R&B”. Truss and Phoenix have an undeniable chemistry that is both relatable and infectious. The two have performed across North America, opening for heavy hitters like Oakland songstress Kehlani and Baltimore soulbird Mumu fresh. Their EP, 2TRP.P, was released in September 2019.
When asked to choose between music and a relationship, there’s only ever been one answer for JJ Wilde. Music has permeated every part of her life since childhood, and it’s something she’s held closely; an unwavering connection she’s fought to foster. The result is a meteoric rise over the past 18 months, putting her squarely on the radar of rock fans around the world, breaking records and helping to break the glass ceiling for women in rock. Her debut single “The Rush” saw global radio airplay, hitting #1 on OUI-FM in France, and spending an unprecedented 10 weeks at #1 on Canada’s three rock radio charts surpassing artists like Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters. That momentum helped propel her to a SOCAN Rock Award, 2021 Indie Award and the 2021 JUNO Award for Rock Album of the Year for her debut album, Ruthless. It was the first time in 25 years that a woman took home that award, the last being Alanis Morrisette in 1996 for Jagged Little Pill. In May 2021, JJ dropped her EP project WILDE, which featured #1 rock radio hits “Best Boy” and “Mercy”, alongside her new single “Off The Rails” which hit #2 on the Alternative chart in Canada. Featured prominently on Spotify’s billboards at Times Square in New York and Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto alongside significant global editorial support across the board, her profile continues to grow. BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders described JJ as “a voice that commands the stage …. an undeniable rock star in the making.” She will put that to the test this Fall supporting The Record Company on their US tour before returning for her first tour of Canada supporting The Glorious Sons throughout early 2022.
Charlotte Day Wilson
Charlotte Day Wilson‘s critically acclaimed debut album ALPHA, out now via Stone Woman Music, has amassed the artist an even larger dedicated fanbase and has achieved over 40+M streams since its release. Charlotte made waves in the industry from her 2016 release of her debut EP CDW (which has garnered more than 100M streams in total), and through her work with friends and collaborators BADBADNOTGOOD, Daniel Caesar, and Kaytranada. Charlotte returned in 2018 with the poignant EP Stone Woman. She has garnered 1.8+M Monthly Spotify Listeners and over 150+M streams, truly making a name for herself. Charlotte’s contemporary take on R&B and Soul showcases her sublime vocals and her ingenuity as she fuses vintage basslines, gospel assonance, and contemporary minimalist production to create a strikingly beautiful sonic aura. ALPHA is an authentic display of Charlotte’s artistry. A euphoric blend of R&B, jazz, and soul music, the album amassed critical acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork, Billboard, FADER, Okay Player, and more. The authentic Alpha era has now begun.