Tag: Polaris Music Prize

Earlier this month, I wrote about the St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada-born singer/songwriter and guitarist, Dallas Green and his acclaimed, commercially successful folk rock/alt country-solo recording project City and Colour. Green started playing piano when he turned eight and was writing music when he turned 14. Initially beginning his music career as a member of Helicon Blue, Green was a founding member of Canadian post-hardcore act Alexisonfire with whom he wrote and recorded four Platinum-certified albums and an EP — 2001’s self-titled album, 2004’s Watch Out!, 2006’s Crisis and 2009’s Old Crows/Young Cardinals and 2010’s Dog’s Blood EP — before officially breaking up in 2011.

City and Colour, Green’s solo recording project can trace its origins back to 2005 when he began releasing early versions of songs for fans to download. Many of those songs were written when Green turned 16 — and he complied those songs and rewrote many of those songs, eventually releasing them as his 2005 City and Colour debut, Sometimes.

2008’s City and Colour sophomore album, the folk-influenced Bring Me Your Love featured a wider arrangement of instrumentation, including harmonica, banjo, drums and lap steel and found Green collaboration with The Tragically Hip’s Gordon Downie and Attack in Black‘s Matt Sullivan. The album’s lead single “Waiting . . . ” peaked at #32 on the Canadian Hot 100. Building upon a growing profile on both sides of the border, Green and his backing band went on their first American tour, opening for Tegan and Sara and Girl in a Coma. The following year, Green went on a Stateside headlining tour with William Elliott Whitmore. 

January 2010 saw Green on another headlining Stateside tour to support Bring Me Your Love with opening act Lissie, which he followed with a UK tour opening for Pink and Butch Waters, with a handful of headlining dates. He ended that year collaboration with Polaris Music Prize-nominated artist Shad on a remix of one of “Listen” off TSOL, and an original song “Live Forever.

2011’s Little Hell featured Green’s highest charting single, “Fragile Bird,” which reached #1 on the Canadian rock/Alternative Charts. That August, Alexisonfire formally broke up with a statement from the band’s George Pettit saying that Green had been planning to leave the band to focus on his solo work, as balancing the two projects became too difficult.

In 2014 Green collaborated with multi-Grammy nominated and winning pop artist Pink in You + Me and the duo’s full-length debut, rose ave. debuted at #4 on the US Top 200 Charts, #1 in Canada and #2 in Australia, eventually being certified Platinum and culminating in appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Green’s most recent full-length album 2015’s If I Should Go Before You debuted at #16 on the US Billboard 200 and #1 in his native Canada, marking his third consecutive chart-topping album in his homeland.  As far as other accolades, Green has won 3 Juno Awards, including two Songwriter of the Year Awards — and in Canada he has 3 Double Platinum-certified albums, 1 Platinum-certified album and 1 Gold-certified album, which may arguably make him one of the most commercially successful, Canadian artists of his generation.

His forthcoming sixth, Jacquire King-producedfull-length album is slated for release this Fall through the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter’s newly minted Dine Alone Records imprint, Still Records. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first single “Astronaut” was one part, honky-tonk ballad about a lonely life on the road, far from friend and family, playing your sad, beer and whiskey-soaked songs on the road, one part, towering and anthemic hook-driven shoegaze that recalls Slowdive and The Verve.  “I always think of the relationships in my life that have been fractured because I ended up doing what I do for a living,” Green says of the new single. “I’m always gone, wandering around and singing songs. However, it weighs on my family and friends. I’m asking for ‘one more year.’ I left home at 21 to go play my guitar. It’s lonely, but it’s because I yearn to wander, I’m aware of how lucky I am. “

The as of yet-unnamed album’s latest single “Strangers” is interestingly enough, its first official radio single and it manages to continue in a similar vein as its predecessor — a mesh of honky tonk country and towering shoegaze, centered around an enormous, arena friendly hook, Green’s plaintive vocals and a haunting refrain in which Green pleads “Don’t wake when when this is over/just let me drift amidst my dreams.” “‘Strangers’ is about how you will never truly know another human being,” says Green. “You’ll never really understand what it’s like to be inside someone else’s brain or heart. So, we need to appreciate the differences. If we do, maybe we can live better with one another.”

Earlier this month Green announced festival dates and a North American tour that will feature back-to-back nights in Nashville, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. One night in each of those cities will take place in a seated theater, featuring Green playing an intimate solo show with stripped down versions of songs across his catalog with Ben Rogers, the first artist to sign onto Green’s new label.  The second night will feature Green and his touring band playing in general admission rock and indie rock venues with Ruby Waters opening. You can check out the tour dates below.

For this tour, Green has partnered with PLUS1. $1 from every ticket sold in Canada and the States will be donated to charitable foundations — Crisis Text Line here in the States and MusiCounts and Indpsire in Canada. Since launching in 2013, Crisis Text Line has provided free, 24/7 confidential support for those in crisis across the country, exchanging over 100 million messages from folks across the country. If you or someone you know needs help, have them text 741714 in the US to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor.

TOUR DATES
Festival Dates
Jun 27 – Lansing, MI @ Common Ground Festival (Solo)
Jun 29 – Peterborough, ON @ Peterborough Musicfest (Solo)
Aug 3 – Montreal, QC @ Osheaga Festival
Aug 5 – St. John’s, NL @ George Street Music Festival
Aug 4 – Saint John, NB @ Area 506 Festival
Aug 17 – Elora, ON @ Riverfest
U.S. Tour Dates
Sep 20 – Tacoma, WA @ WAMU Theatre (w/ ALICE IN CHAINS)
Oct 09 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East**
Oct 10 – Nashville, TN @ James K. Polk Theater (Solo)*
Oct 14 – San Francisco, CA @ Palace of Fine Arts (Solo)*
Oct 15 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore**
Oct 16 – Los Angeles, CA @ Ace Hotel (Solo)*
Oct 17 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre**
Oct 21 – Boston, MA @ Royale**
Oct 22 – Boston, MA @ Berklee Performance Center (Solo)*
Oct 24 – New York City, NY @ Webster Hall**
Oct 25 – New York City, NY @ Town Hall (Solo)*
Canadian Tour Dates
Nov 08 – Victoria, BC @ Save On Foods Memorial Centre^
Nov 09 – Vancouver, BC @ Pacific Coliseum^
Nov 10 – Kelowna, BC @ Prospera Place^
Nov 12 – Calgary, AB @ Scotiabank Saddledome^
Nov 13 – Edmonton, AB @ Rogers Place^
Nov 15 – Regina, SK @ Brandt Centre^
Nov 16 – Winnipeg, MB @ Bell MTS Place^
Nov 19 – Sudbury, ON @ Sudbury Arena^
Nov 22 – Toronto, ON @ Scotiabank Arena^
Nov 25 – Ottawa, ON @ Canadian Tire Centre^
Nov 26 – Kingston, ON @ Leon’s Centre^
Nov 29 – Halifax, NS @ Scotiabank Centre^
* = w/Ben Rogers
** = w/Ruby Waters
^ = w/Jacob Banks and Ben Rogers
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New Video: Black Mountain Takes on 8-Bit Video Games in New Visuals for “Licensed to Drive”

Stephen McBean is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he became involved in the Victoria, British Columbia music scene, forming his first band Jerk Ward in 1981. In 1984, the band recorded a demo that was re-released in 2009 as Too Young to Thrash. Jerk Ward evolved into Mission of Christ (MOC), who recorded a split 7 inch in 1987 — but two years later, the band broke up and McBean relocated to Vancouver, where he started Gus, a band that released two singles, a split EP and a full-length album, 1995’s The Progressive Science Of Breeding Idiots For A Dumber Society, which lead to McBean’s first experience with extensive touring.

In 1996 McBean asked Radio Berlin’s Joshua Wells to join his new band Ex Dead Teenager. Much like his first band Jerk Ward, Ex Dead Teenager eventually morphed into Jerk With a Bomb. Signing with Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records. the band released three albums — 1999’s Death To False Metal, 2001’s The Old Noise and 2003’s Pyrokinesis, which featured Dream on Dreary’s Amber Webber contributing vocals.

While McBean and Wells were still writing, recording and performing as Jerk With a Bomb in 2003, McBean started to demo material that included “Black Mountain” and by the following year, the duo began working on demos under the name Black Mountain with contributions from Webber, Matt Camirand (bass) and Jeremy Schmidt (keys). Those early demos eventually led to their self-titled debut album and a split 7 inch with Destroyer that featured “Bicycle Man,” and was released by Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records.

Building upon a growing profile, Black Mountain toured across North America and Europe and by the following June, the band released the 12″ single “Druganuat”/”Buffalo Swan” in the US. In August 2005, the band opened for Coldplay during their Twisted Logic Tour.

2008 was a huge year for the band, their sophomore album In The Future was a finalist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, and the album received a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Additionally, “Stay Free” was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack.

By 2010, McBean relocated to Los Angeles, where they wrote and recorded their Randall Dunn and Dave Sardy-co-produced third album, 2011’s Wilderness Heart, an album that was long listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize and appeared on !earshot’s Top 50 chart.

2016 saw the release of their fourth album, the aptly titled IV. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes and now features McBean along with Arjan Miranda, Rachel Fannan, Adam Bulgasem and Jermey Schmidt. Interestingly, during that same period McBean got his first proper driver’s license — and for him, it was as though he essentially became a teenager again, discovering a new sense of personal independence and freedom.

Now, as you may recall, the band’s newest album Destroyer derives its name from the discontinued, single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, and reportedly the album is imbued with the wild freedom and newfound agency, anxiety and fear that comes from one’s first time behind the wheel. The serpentine, slow-burning, whiskey fueled, boogie strut “Boogie Lover” was meant to evoke cruising down the Sunset Strip late at night while drawing from space rock, doom metal and stoner rock simultaneously. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Licensed to Drive” evokes a sense of wild freedom  — of speeding down the highway with the music blaring at eardrum shattering levels while sonically drawing from krautrock, space rock, Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent, as the track is centered around a motorik pulse, shimmering synths, buzzing power chords and a razor sharp hook. Get in your car, play this one loud, man.

Directed by Zev Deans, the recently released video for “Licensed to Drive” is an extended riff on classic 8-bit video games and Mad Max, complete with leather and ax-wielding barbarians, a tricked out 1976 GMC Spirit, a guy playing trash can drums, and an enormous, mutant bat. And of course, while McBean and his buddy are playing the “Licensed to Drive” game, a cord is yanked out or something and they wind up having to watch a hilarious take on the classic Maxell Cassette tape commercial. For those of you who came of age in the 80s or grew up in the 80s, this video will bring back a lot of memories. 

New Audio: Black Mountain Releases a Motorik-Styled Ripper

Stephen McBean is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he became involved in the Victoria, British Columbia music scene, forming his first band Jerk Ward in 1981. In 1984, the band recorded a demo that was re-released in 2009 as Too Young to Thrash. Jerk Ward evolved into Mission of Christ (MOC), who recorded a split 7 inch in 1987 — but two years later, the band broke up and McBean relocated to Vancouver, where he started Gus, a band that released two singles, a split EP and a full-length album, 1995’s The Progressive Science Of Breeding Idiots For A Dumber Society, which lead to McBean’s first experience with extensive touring.

In 1996 McBean asked Radio Berlin’s Joshua Wells to join his new band Ex Dead Teenager. Much like his first band Jerk Ward, Ex Dead Teenager eventually morphed into Jerk With a Bomb. Signing with Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar, the band released three albums — 1999’s Death To False Metal, 2001’s The Old Noise and 2003’s Pyrokinesis, which featured Dream on Dreary’s Amber Webber contributing vocals.

While McBean and Wells were still writing, recording and performing as Jerk With a Bomb in 2003, McBean started to demo material that included “Black Mountain” and by the following year, the duo began working on demos under the name Black Mountain with contributions from Webber, Matt Camirand (bass) and Jeremy Schmidt (keys). Those early demos eventually led to their self-titled debut album and a split 7 inch with Destroyer that featured “Bicycle Man,” and was released by Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records.

Building upon a growing profile, Black Mountain toured across North America and Europe and by the following June, the band released the 12″ single “Druganuat”/”Buffalo Swan” in the US. In August 2005, the band opened for Coldplay during their Twisted Logic Tour.

2008 was a huge year for the band, their sophomore album In The Future was a finalist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, and the album received a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Additionally, “Stay Free” was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack.

By 2010, McBean relocated to Los Angeles, where they wrote and recorded their Randall Dunn and Dave Sardy-co-produced third album, 2011’s Wilderness Heart, anJ album that was long listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize and appeared on !earshot’s Top 50 chart.

2016 saw the release of their fourth album, the aptly titled IV. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes and now features McBean along with Arjan Miranda, Rachel Fannan, Adam Bulgasem and Jermey Schmidt. Interestingly, during that same period McBean got his first proper driver’s license — and for him, it was as though he essentially became a teenager again, discovering a new sense of personal independence and freedom.

Now, as you may recall, the band’s forthcoming album Destroyer derives its name from the discontinued, single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, and reportedly the album is imbued with the wild freedom and newfound agency, anxiety and fear that comes from one’s first time behind the wheel. The serpentine, slow-burning, whiskey fueled, boogie strut “Boogie Lover” was meant to evoke cruising down the Sunset Strip late at night while drawing from space rock, doom metal and stoner rock simultaneously. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Licensed to Drive” evokes a sense of wild freedom  — of speeding down the highway with the music blaring at eardrum shattering levels while sonically drawing from krautrock, space rock, Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent, as the track is centered around a motorik pulse, shimmering synths, buzzing power chords and a razor sharp hook. Get in your car, play this one loud, man. 

New Video: Black Mountain’s Trippy Lo-Fi Visuals for Sultry “Boogie Lover”

Stephen McBean is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he became involved in the Victoria, British Columbia music scene, forming his first band Jerk Ward in 1981. In 1984, the band recorded a demo that was re-released in 2009 as Too Young to Thrash. Jerk Ward evolved into Mission of Christ (MOC), who recorded a split 7 inch in 1987 — but two years later, the band broke up and McBean relocated to Vancouver, where he started Gus, a band that released two singles, a split EP and a full-length album, 1995’s The Progressive Science Of Breeding Idiots For A Dumber Society, which lead to McBean’s first experience with extensive touring.

In 1996 McBean asked Radio Berlin’s Joshua Wells to join his new band Ex Dead Teenager. Much like his first band Jerk Ward, Ex Dead Teenager eventually morphed into Jerk With a Bomb. Signing with Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar, the band released three albums — 1999’s Death To False Metal, 2001’s The Old Noise and 2003’s Pyrokinesis, which featured Dream on Dreary’s Amber Webber contributing vocals.

While McBean and Wells were still writing, recording and performing as Jerk With a Bomb in 2003, McBean started to demo material that included “Black Mountain” and by the following year, the duo began working on demos under the name Black Mountain with contributions from Webber, Matt Camirand (bass) and Jeremy Schmidt (keys). Those early demos eventually led to their self-titled debut album and a split 7 inch with Destroyer that featured “Bicycle Man,” and was released by Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records.

Building upon a growing profile, Black Mountain toured across North America and Europe and by the following June, the band released the 12″ single “Druganuat”/”Buffalo Swan” in the US. In August 2005, the band opened for Coldplay during their Twisted Logic Tour.

2008 was a huge year for the band, their sophomore album In The Future was a finalist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, and the album received a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Additionally, “Stay Free” was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack.

By 2010, McBean relocated to Los Angeles, where they wrote and recorded their Randall Dunn and Dave Sardy-co-produced third album, 2011’s Wilderness Heart, an album that was long listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize and appeared on !earshot’s Top 50 chart.

2016 saw the release of their fourth album, the aptly titled IV. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes and now features McBean along with Arjan Miranda, Rachel Fannan, Adam Bulgasem and Jermey Schmidt. Interestingly, during that same period McBean got his first proper driver’s license — and for him, it was as though he essentially became a teenager again, discovering a new sense of personal independence and freedom.

In fact, the band’s forthcoming album, Destroyer, which derives its name from the discontinued single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, reportedly is imbued with the wild freedom and newfound agency, anxiety and fear that comes from one’s first time behind the wheel. Interestingly, the album’s latest single is the serpentine, slow-burning, whiskey fueled- boogie strut “Boogie Lover,” a track meant to evoke cruising down the Sunset Strip. Clocking in at a little over 6 minutes and centered by wah wah pedaled guitar, thumping drumming, sizzling synths, the track manages to draw from space rock, doom metal and stoner rock simultaneously — all while being incredibly sultry and apocalyptic.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Rich Aucoin Releases a Gorgeous and Meditative Visual for “The Mind”

Over the course of the past year, I’ve written a lot about the Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based singer/sgonwriter, electronic music producer, electronic music artist, indie rock musician and JOVM mainstay Rich Aucoin. And as you may recall, Aucoin spent time as a guest musician in his older brother Paul’s band Hylozoists before developing a reputation as a solo artist in his own right with the release of his debut EP, 2007’s Personal Publication, a concept effort written as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Personal Publication EP was also the first of an ongoing series of collaborations with charitable foundations, as he supported the EP with a cross Canada tour made entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. After completing his first solo tour, he went on to join his brother’s band while they were on tour; however, Aucoin suffered a debilitating iron deficiency that cut his time on  the tour short. But once he recuperated, Aucoin went on the road again, running partial marathons between tour stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. During both of those early tours, the Halifax-born and-based singer/songwriter, electronic music artist, electronic music producer and indie rock musician spent time writing the material that would eventually comprise his full-length debut, 2011’s We’re All Dying to Live, an effort that featured over 500 guest musicians, including  Sloan‘s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party‘s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band‘s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. Adding to a rapidly growing profile. the album was long-listed as a nominee for a Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” won a Prism Prize in 2013.

Building upon a growing profile, the Nova Scotian producer and electronic music artist released his critically applauded sophomore effort, 2014’s Ephemeral. Several years passed before the release of last year’s Hold EP, and with singles like the sprawling and propulsive “Release”, the swooning M83-like “The Middle,” the jangling guitar pop meets synth pop  “The Fear.” and the slow-burning and wistful “The Dream,” the EP further cemented Aucoin’s reputation for crafting slickly produced, infectious and thoughtful pop.

Slated for a May 17, 2019 release through Haven Sounds, Aucoin’s third full-length album  Release was co-produced by the Halifax-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer, electronic music artist and indie rock musician and drummer Joel Waddell. Inspired by the work of David Bowie, Holly Herndon, Fatboy Slim, Bjork, John Lennon, Future Islands, Caribou and Chic among others, the album finds the JOVM mainstay further cementing his growing reputation for his own unique blend of organic and electronic instrumentation — while thematically, the album finds Aucoin grappling with mortality, by using Alice in Wonderland as a metaphor for life’s journey. 

“The Mind,” Release’s first single is a pulsating instrumental track is centered around a slow build up of increasingly textured sounds including arpeggiated synths, chopped up and ethereal vocal samples and propulsive drumming that finds Aucoin drawing from drum ‘n’ bass and Kraftwerk-like minimalism before an explosive conclusion. “This track is about the mind and therefore has no lyrics,” Aucoin explains in press notes. “Musically, this song has two drum sets on it. The main kit is played by Jeremy Malvin (aka Chrome Sparks) and the second is carried over from the Release session by Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff. Ben Talmi played the very rare Therevox slide theremin on the track down at his Virtue & Vice Studio in Brooklyn. While Jenn Grant was recorded by Daniel Ledwell at his Echo Lake Studio in Nova Scotia. The vocal melody seamlessly switches from male to female vocals with Jenn and my voices being the samples.”

Directed by Meghan Tansey Whitton, the recently released video follows a mysterious and otherworldly figure covered in a metallic blanket, striding on a beach at sunset and as the video progresses, the figure is subjected to the elements, facing them with a preternaturally zen-like calm. 

New Audio: Dan Mangan’s Spectral Cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”

Dan Mangan is a Smithers, British Columbia, Canada-born, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based multi-Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 2003 when he was 20 with the release of his debut EP All At Once. 500 copies were pressed and then sold or given away throughout the Vancouver area. Building upon the initial bit of buzz surrounding him, Mangan financially supported with a bank loan, recorded his Daniel Elemes and Simon Kelly co-produced full-length debut Postcards & Dreaming with the assistance of a small community of musicians, who offered cheap or free session work. Much like All At Once, Mangan initially released his full-length debut independently, selling the album online and at live shows; but by 2007, Vancouver-based indie label File Under: Music re-released the album with new artwork and a new, extra track “Ash Babe.”

August 2009 saw the release of Mangan’s sophomore full-length effort Nice, Nice, Very Nice. Deriving its name from a line Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, the John Critchley-produced album was recorded at Toronto’s Green Door Studios and featured an assortment of Canadian musicians include Veda Hille, Justin Rutledge, Mark Berube, Hannah Georgas, members of Said The Whale, Major Maker and Elliot Brood. The album’s first two singles “Robots” and “Road Regrets” received airplay on local Vancouver radio stations, as well as The Verge and CBC Radio 3 — with Magnan eventually winning Artist of the Year at that year’s Verge Music Awards. 

The following year, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was licensed and released by renowned, Toronto-based indie label Arts & Crafts in the States and in Europe through City Slang Records. Adding to growing critical acclaim surrounding the album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, named iTunes Album of the Year in the singer/songwriter category, won three Western Canadian Music Awards — Independent Album of the Year, Roots/Solo Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. And “Robots” was named Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards. 

Over the course of the next year, Mangan began collaborating with musicians from Vancouver’s experimental music scene, recruiting rummer Kenton Loewen (Mother Mother, Submission Hold and Gord Grdina Trio), bassist John Walsh (Brasstronaut) and guitarist Gord Grdina (Gord Grdina Trio, Haram, and East Van Strings) to be his backing band for the writing and recording sessions that eventually comprised 2011’s Colin Stewart-produced Oh Fortune. Loewen, Walsh and Grdina recruited a large, rotating cast of local musicians including trumpeter JP Carter (Fond of Tigers, Destroyer), violinist Jesse Zubot (Fond of Tigers, Hawksley Workman, Tanya Tagaq), pianist Tyson Naylor and cellist Peggy Lee (Mary Margaret O’Hara, Wayne Horvitz, Veda Hille). Additionally, Magnan enlisted Eyvind Kang to contribute orchestral arrangements. The album was a critical and commercial success with the album winning Juno Awards for New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year with nominations for Songwriter of the Year and Video of the year for the Jon Busby-produced video for “Rows of Houses.” The album won three Western Canadian Music Awards for “Rock Album of the Year,” Independent Album of the Year,” and “Songwriter of the Year.” Also, the album was long-listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize. Lastly, “Rows of Houses” won Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards, making Mangan the winningest artist in the award’s history — and the only artist to date that has won in the Best Song category multiple times. 

Credited to Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, 2015’s Club Meds found Magnan and his backing band of Grdina, Loewen, Walsh, Naylor, Carter and Zubot focusing on core band contributions — and while critically applauded, the album wasn’t as commercially successful as its predecessor. Since then, Mangan released the digitally released EP Unmake, which featured a cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me,” stripped down versions of “Kitsch” and “Forgetery,” off Club Meds and an acoustic version of “Whistleblower,” re-worked from the original 6/8 time to 4/4 time and contributions from Tegan and Sara’s Tegan Quin, and drummer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep and Holy Fuck). Mangan has also done a few film and TV scores, including the CBC/AMC series Unspeakable, headed the Arts & Crafts Records imprint Madic Records, which released albums by Walrus and Astral Swans, who he has produced. During this exceedingly busy period, the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist took some time off and became a father before writing and releasing his latest album the Drew Brown-produced, More or Less, an album that Mangan claims “feels more like ‘me’ than ever.” 

The critically applauded Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is currently in the middle of a lengthy tour to support his latest effort, and it includes a March 14, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. (You can check out the tour dates below.) And to celebrate the tour, and its inclusion in the trailer for Unspeakable, Mangan released a spectral, Peter Gabriel-like cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” that’s centered around a looped guitar line, twinkling jazz-like keys and Magnan’s plaintive vocals. Admittedly, while I’ve been a huge R.E.M. fan for most of my life, I’ve hated “Losing My Religion” for many years because it was played way to death and then some throughout 1991 and 1992; but Mangan’s cover reminds me of the original song’s mysterious quality and weary ache. “When I was a kid, R.E.M. was a staple in my household,” says Mangan. “I remember air guitaring to this song with my brother and sister. It was such a massive hit but also so unlikely a candidate to be so. The chorus isn’t really a chorus. It’s long. It’s repetitive. It’s like a hypnotic cyclical trance of words that stick with you even if you have no idea what they’re about. I really wanted to try and approach it from a new angle. There’s no point in attempting to sing like Michael Stipe — there is only one Michael Stipe. So I tried my best to let it live in a new light while paying homage to the original.”

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Charlotte Day Wilson. And as you may recall, Wilson’s musical career started in earnest with a stint as the frontwoman of the equally acclaimed jazz, funk and soul act The Wayo; but with the release of her debut single “After All,” the Canadian singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist quickly emerged as an up-and-coming solo talent within her hometown’s scene, eventually beginning ongoing collaborations with BADBADNOTGOOD and River Tiber.

2016’s CDW featured critically acclaimed singles “Work” “Find You,” and the aforementioned “After All,” and unsurprisingly, the album found Wilson further establishing herself as an artist, who crafted deeply personal songs with an wisdom, insight and honesty that betrayed her relatives youth — paired with sleek, minimalist, electronic production. Interestingly, this past year may arguably be one of biggest years of her career: Stone Woman, Wilson’s sophomore effort is a decided and self-assured change in sonic direction in which Wilson paired her effortlessly soulful vocals with neo-soul, soul and jazz-leaning production in which organic arrangements are meshed with subtle electronic production.  Since its releasee earlier this year, Stone Woman has amassed over 30 million streams across all screaming platforms. Wilson was nominated for a Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Work” was awarded a Prism Prize for best Canadian music video. Wilson and the video’s directed Fantavious Frtiz used the prize money to create the Work Film Grant, a fund that awarded $10,000 to emerging female and non-binary directors. 

Additionally, Wilson toured with longtime collaborators BADBADNOTGOOD, which included an incredible BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell stop back in August. The acclaimed Canadian artist  ends a big 2018 with two Spotify singles recorded at Toronto’s HOB Studios– “Doubt,” the first single off Stone Woman is a slow-burning and soulful ballad featuring a production that recalls BilalErykah Badu and others; but more important, the song is centered around a heartbreaking emotional honesty in which, the song’s narrator expresses a deep, crippling uncertainty over her own worthiness. The Spotify singles version possesses a “you-were-there-in-the-room” immediacy that gives the song’s an emotional punch. 

The second track is Wilson’s cover Dolly Parton‘s “Here You Come Again” centered around a sparse arrangement featuring the Canadian singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist’s soulful vocals, shimmering guitars, twinkling keys — and although Wilson’s version is a slow-burning and atmospheric take, the track maintains the song’s ache, reminding contemporary listeners of what an under appreciated songwriter Parton is.