Out Now: DAVID PICCO – Live It Down

Today, St. John’s, Newfoundland singer/songwriter David Picco releases his sixth album, Live It Down, on all digital platforms and via Bandcamp and davidpicco.com.

As demonstrated by the previously released singles “If You Wanna Change My Mind” and “Waitin’ For the Summertime,” it is his most experimental collection of songs yet, veering away from the gritty alt-country sound of his acclaimed 2019 album Out Of The Past, and experimenting with looser, Kurt Vile-esque vibes. The change is partly a reflection of Picco’s experience during pandemic restrictions, as eight of the new album’s nine songs were written over a three-month span in 2020.

“I guess you could say that this about is about coming to terms with the fact that life never turns out as planned,” Picco says. “I would describe it as contemplative, but musically I was going after something more dream-like and ethereal.”

Produced by Mark Feener and featuring an all-star cast of local St. John’s players, Live It Down is certainly a glimpse into the new world of sonic possibilities Picco has embraced, part of an evolution that has been playing out since the mid-‘00s when he was a member of the roots rock band Jet Set Motel. From there, he became a familiar face within the Toronto roots rock scene, working closely with producer Don Kerr (Rheostatics, Ron Sexsmith) and cult hero songwriter Kyp Harness.

Following his move back to St. John’s in 2015, Picco released the album Start Again, which was warmly embraced by CBC Radio. Out Of The Past built on that success, being hailed by Americana UK as “a rock-infused country [album] with echoes of The Velvet Undergroumnd.”

With Live It Down, David Picco begins a new chapter, one that offers hope for renewal for all of us.

Screening Room: Chairmen Of The Boards – “Booty Wiggle”

Toronto’s surf-rock kings Chairmen Of The Boards have released a new track from their debut album Surfin’ The Apocalypse. “Booty Wiggle” is their funkiest track, and essential for any Valentine’s Day playlist.

Here’s what the band has to say about it:
“Mid-winter means Valentine’s Day and Chairmen Of The Boards love to celebrate it. To mark the occasion this year, we are sharing the track ‘Booty Wiggle’ from Surfin’ The Apocalypse, out now on Weewerk Recordings. Please enjoy the video made by Dave Loblaw and imagine the sand between your toes… Then chill the champagne, sip and giggle, and let the Chairmen make your Booty Wiggle.”

Get it and the entire album from the COTB Bandcamp page!

OUT NOW: ONTARIANS – “Time”

The members of the band ONTARIANS don’t live in Toronto, although their sound isn’t far removed from the distinctive brand of country rock that ruled Toronto’s Queen Street West during the glory days of the Horseshoe Tavern, the Cameron House and the Rivoli.

Their turf is mostly the northern half of the province, from Collingwood to Sault Ste. Marie. But with the release of their debut album, The Greatest Short Story Never Told set for March 12, ONTARIANS are more than happy to represent the southern half too with well-crafted songs played by musicians with genuine chemistry.

It’s taken ONTARIANS two years to get to this point (2020 restrictions notwithstanding), with the seeds for the project planted in 2018 when roots rock scene veterans Frank Deresti and Craig Smith decided to try writing some songs together. It soon led Frank to make regular trips from Sault Ste. Marie to Craig’s studio near Collingwood where the pair laid down tracks and sent them off to their keyboardist Jay Stiles in Austin, Texas to add his parts. Chris Johns later overdubbed some drums, before Craig’s painstaking mixes made everything gel into one seamless package.

“This was a true collaborative effort for Craig, Jay and myself,” Frank says. “Between glasses of Pernod, car troubles and lots of laughter we wrote songs about various stages of life we found ourselves in—past, present, and a hypothetical future. When Craig and I sat down to write with a clear goal in mind, it was like a reservoir of creativity was released that had been building up for a long time.”

That flood resulted in standout songs such as “Forest For The Trees,” the only one written and recorded with all three principles together in the same room, “Photographs & Epitaphs,” the first one written for the project, stemming from its prophetic opening line, “Some songs will write themselves…,” and first single “Time,” a slice of classic alt-country in the spirit of Neil Young, The Band, and early Wilco. With the release of The Greatest Short Story Never Told, ONTARIANS are fully prepared to invigorate the roots rock world with their timeless sound.

Click the Roots Music Canada logo to watch the video for “Time.”

OUT NOW: Pressgang Mutiny – Across The Western Ocean

 

The sea shanty craze of early 2021 caught everyone by surprise, but not the members of Pressgang Mutiny. The Toronto quartet has actually been keeping the tradition alive since 2013, performing both traditional material and putting a sea shanty spin on a range of contemporary songs.

In fact, the group had its sophomore album Across The Western Ocean in the can long before the first sea shanty hit Tik Tok, meaning the timing couldn’t be more ideal for it to be officially released in Canada Feb. 5 on all digital platforms and Bandcamp and at pressgangmutiny.com.

Across the Western Ocean balances the tight harmonies and ruggedness that has made Pressgang Mutiny a festival favourite across North America and Europe. The album’s 13 tracks offer a fresh and relevant take on sea music, combining traditional shanty work songs with contemporary pieces by Jonathan Byrd, Martin Green, and Anais Mitchell.

James McKie, Richard Kott, Tim Pyron and Stefan Read have developed Pressgang Mutiny out of a love of sea shanties, as well as Tim and Stefan’s work as tall ship sailors. They are dedicated to showcasing a vital tradition of work songs that represents the world’s first truly multicultural music to new and familiar audiences alike, all while celebrating the joy of group singing.

VISSIA chats with Dusty Organ’s Kane Wilkinson

To mark the release of her new single “On My Mind” from her forthcoming album With Pleasure, VISSIA connected with Dusty Organ’s Kane Wilkinson to discuss her new musical direction and other aspects of her career to date.

“On My Mind” is available at Apple Music + Spotify
Click the logo below to watch the video for “On My Mind” at Dusty Organ!

Scott MacKay’s Stupid Cupid available now!


Today, Scott MacKay releases his new album Stupid Cupid, a collection of 10 original songs that combine the Charlottetown PEI native’s sharp contemporary wit with his fondness for vintage country music of the ’50s and ’60s. Stupid Cupid is available on all digital platforms, and Scott MacKay’s Bandcamp page.

MacKay co-produced Stupid Cupid with Adam Gallant at The Hill Sound Studio in Charlottetown, with mixing done by Scott Franchuk in Edmonton. His third full-length effort, Stupid Cupid features MacKay backed by his regular rhythm section of Josh and Sam Langille, along with renowned guitarist Grant Siemens and pedal steel master Burke Carroll. For MacKay, the project is a reflection of what he describes as getting bit by the classic country bug since his previous release.

“I really became smitten with songwriters such as Shel Silverstein, Hank Williams, Bobby Bare, Roger Miller and others,” he says. “It made me focus my attention on improving my songwriting, and I tried to learn as much about it as I could. I took a lyric writing class, a storytelling class, and a creative writing class. I even took part in a songwriting workshop in Nashville where I got to meet and learn from some of the greatest songwriters in the world.”

The results of that hard work speak for themselves on Stupid Cupid. From the title track’s protagonist having his plan to win his dream girl go terribly wrong, to the tale of someone receiving a “Brand New Heart” from a man killed by his lover, to the surprisingly philosophical “God Walks Into A Bar,” MacKay effortlessly breathes new life into longstanding country music themes. However, it’s all designed to put a smile on your face, as well as a tear in your beer.

Click the logo below to watch the video for “Romance Novel” at The Bluegrass Situation.

Joe Nolan and Stephen Fearing earn 2021 Canadian Folk Music Award nominations!

Big congrats to Joe Nolan and Stephen Fearing for earning nominations in the Contemporary Album of the Year category for the 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards!

With Drifters, Edmonton, Alberta singer/songwriter Joe Nolan continued a remarkable creative run over the past two years, getting down to the bone with a 10-track predominantly acoustic collection, his first to be released in partnership with Canadian roots music label Fallen Tree Records.

Like other artists who are loosely categorized as ‘folk’ and ‘Americana’, Stephen Fearing questioned what those terms really mean on The Unconquerable Past, an album that can be seen as embracing and transcending the labels and genres simultaneously. Above all, on The Unconquerable Past, Fearing stepped out once again with a fresh perspective and a new batch of songs and stories drawing deeply from over thirty years of writing and playing across Canada and around the world.

Screening Room: VISSIA – “Walk Me Home”

Click the single artwork below for links to purchase/stream VISSIA’s “Walk Me Home” on all digital platforms.

Edmonton singer/songwriter VISSIA begins a new stage of her musical evolution today with the release of the single “Walk Me Home,” a slow-burning ballad that showcases the Edmonton singer/songwriter’s soaring voice and a message of empowerment. It’s the first taste of her next album With Pleasure, due out in Spring 2021 on Hurry Hard Records.

On “Walk Me Home,” VISSIA takes the plunge into alt-pop, while drawing from dance, R&B, rock and soul influences. Her intuitive creative choices as a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist explore our emotional heart-spaces with unquenchable curiosity and playful awareness.

Screening Room: Leah Barley – “Mountains”

Click the album cover art below to purchase Leah Barley’s Bring Out Your Dead from Bandcamp.

Vancouver-based singer/songwriter Leah Barley’s first full-length album Bring Out Your Dead contains eight stirring original songs that evoke both the jubilation and heartbreak inherent to classic folk and country music. An accomplished banjo player as well as guitarist, Barley is joined on the album by a full band featuring longtime collaborators violist John Kastelic and multi-instrumentalist Ross Christopher Fairbairn to create a sound as affecting today as it was a century ago.