Vancouver Duo Fionn Are Back With A Brand New EP Candid Constellations

Vancouver singer-songwriters Fionn are back with a brand new EP Candid Constellations. The 8 track release follows their 2020 EP Everyone’s A Critic and features an array of 80s, pop influenced songs like “Spark” “Cold” and “Hold Off”, the latter being a writing collaboration with the iconic Josh Ramsey. I grew up listening to his band Marianas Trench and to this day I still find myself remembering their music, and not because I have a good memory but because Ramsey is a really good writer and his music is super memorable. I think his style also translates really well in this project with Fionn, and I think the twins both have really great voices for this style. 

Fionn says some of their influences on this EP were Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia and The Weeknd’s After Hours and I really think they pair well with that sound. I also think the sisters are also good writers and not only do they capture the sound but their lyrics really make it feel more local for me and I like that. I think my favorite track is “Spark”, I love the synth heavy melodies in the chorus but I like the sound of their voice against the more stripped down drumline and that little Phil Collins-eque kick peppered through-out. It’s already on my playlists and I think you should definitely check it out. 

Less about the music but  I also really like their aesthetics and branding for this EP. I think in the social media age it’s extra important to be memorable and I think the kind of Y2K, Lizzie McGuire aesthetic is really fun and makes me just as eager to follow their fashion and makeup side as I am their music.

You can checkout Candid Constellations right now on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Haunted Mansions, “Reformed Baptist Blues” & The Tragically Hip

Earlier this week The Tragically Hip surprised us with their Saskadelphia  EP release. The band, having retired after the 2017 passing of lead singer and lyricist Gord Downie, recovered 5 of the 6 tracks during a recording period in New Orleans back in 1991 and believed they had been lost in a studio fire back in 2008. At the time these tracks were recorded The Hip had just gone platinum with their debut album in Canada and were attempting to branch out into the US and maintain their success going into their second album. 

A really fun fact about this EP is that the 5 songs recorded in 1991 were done at the now, closed Kingsway Studio, a mansion in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. The walls are 14ft tall and it was built in the 1800s. As a studio, it saw many album recordings by some of the industry greats like Emmylou Harris, U2, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Peter Gabriel, R.E.M., Robbie Robertson, Sheryl Crow, and Pearl Jam, among many others. The local legend goes that the house is haunted by the spirit of Germaine Cazenave Wells, a former Kingsway owner and alcoholic, who died as the result of falling and hitting her head. Though she may have moved on from the physical world, the story is that you can still hear her partying from beyond. 

In context with Saskadelphia I would describe these 5 songs as having a deep south influence in the instrumentation and I loved Gord’s vocals and lyrics as well. My favorite track on the EP is “Reformed Baptist Blues”, it feels like one of those songs I would describe as “all gas, no brakes” in the energy it’s giving off. The recording has a gritty quality to it, the lyrics and the riffs are super memorable. The drums are also killer and overall it’s a rip-roaring good song that really feels like a young band firing creatively on all cylinders, playing for restless ghosts and picky execs in a bayou mansion.

The whole EP is solid in my opinion and I think it comes from a variety of factors. I think the fact that it had been lost for 30 years is part of what gives it this feeling like it was unearthed in a time machine, and mostly recorded at an earlier point in the Hip’s run where they were hot off the success of their first album and getting ready to make their second. 

I also think because Gord Downie was such a prolific and skilled lyricist that each song feels unique and I think it’s better that it’s come out now in 2021 than it would have if it stayed just for a b-side on Road Apples. You can listen to “Reformed Baptist Blues” along with the whole Saskadelphia EP on all streaming services.

Squamish Constellation Festival Organizers Eye Return With 2022 Event

The Squamish Constellation Festival started in 2019 and was put together by artists Tamara Stanners and Kirsten Andrews but the ongoing pandemic had to be postponed last year and this year. Not to fear, however, Stanners and Andrews have been steadily working behind the scenes, and have been joined by former Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman and say they are confident they will deliver a phenomenal festival in 2022.

 

What I think is really cool about this festival is the focus on grassroots and community. I’m not much of a festival-goer these days, but I have seen the way large festivals can wreak havoc on the surroundings and throw the road systems into disarray, and that’s something the trio is also very focused on minimizing.

As Heintzman says “the whole intention of this passion project that the three of us are really dedicated to is — it is grounded in community… We don’t want to have people driving tired and we want to minimize road traffic. We want to be as green as possible, as a festival, so we are looking at those alternatives”. 

The biggest size they would like to get to in terms of attendees would be between 12000 to 15000. Heintzman also adds that her skills in planning “[are] really the core of what I bring to the table. That ability to speak the government language and hash out all the plans and all the logistics, I have seen it from the other side, so I can understand the needs of the city, the needs of the different departments of the city and to get to the heart of what their intention is and come out with a positive solution.”

It’s pretty impressive when you get a former Mayor involved like this, but Heintzman and Stanners have been friends for over 20 years and encouraged Stanners and Andrews when they first announced their festival for 2019. Back in 2016, the Squamish Valley Music Festival closed up its doors and Heintzman says she “Immediately” started to think of what new festivals could happen but this time with more of a focus on the community. As the festival grows the trio is thinking of other things to incorporate not just music but arts and perhaps even camping. 

With Stanners, Andrews and, Heintzman being as involved as they are I imagine Squamish Constellation Festival is going to be incredible. They have all additionally been putting this project together out of love for their community and don’t get paid for it, so I thought this would be a good time to plug their website, where you can learn more about the festival, its lineup, how to support them and donate.

https://www.constellationfest.ca/?utm_source=new%20west%20record&utm_campaign=new%20west%20record&utm_medium=referral

The Tragically Hip Will Perform at 50TH JUNO Awards With Feist

It’s been a good month for Hip fans, with a new EP release, and the announcement of a performance at this year’s 50th JUNO Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announced on the 13th of May, that 15-time JUNO Award-winning band and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees, The Tragically Hip, will be taking the stage once more. This special performance will be accompanied by singer-songwriter Feist and marks the first time the band has performed live since the passing of lead singer and lyricist Gord Downie in 2017.

It’s a sweet story, The Hip and Feist have been working together for over 20 years, and one of her earlier tours in her career was with the band back in 1999. Of the upcoming performance, the band said: “We are all huge fans and Gord loved her. It’s an honor to be able to play one of our songs with her. It’s been such a difficult year for our fellow musicians, we wanted to do something to honor them in a way that would make Gord smile”. 

Feist returned the love, saying “I was a kid in their midst and I’m touched to be invited into the clan now, to play alongside them. The only way I’m making any sense of it is to imagine I’ll be singing backups for Gord, and know my 20-year-old self wouldn’t believe it. Like the rest of Canada, I’ll be so happy to hear these kings of song play again, and am very honored to join them as they receive their Humanitarian Award.

The 50th JUNO Awards will also see The Tragically Hip receive the 2021 Humanitarian Award Presented by Music Canada for their lasting and impactful contributions to various social and environmental efforts which include The Canadian Cancer Society, the Sunnybrook Foundation, Camp Trillium, the Special Olympics, and more. The award will be presented to them by Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees and rock legends, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush. You can watch the performance broadcast on Sunday, June 6, 2021, which is airing nationwide at 8 p.m. EST and 5 p.m. PST on CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music, and streaming globally at CBCmusic.ca/junos. 

Billie Eilish Tour Will Come To Vancouver March 2022

She’s one of the absolute biggest acts in the world right now, with her mesmerizing soprano voice and always memorable fashion, BC Billie Eilish fans get ready because she has announced her dates for her upcoming 2nd Studio Album “Happier Than Ever” World Tour. The multi-Grammy award-winning artist will be playing the Rogers Arena on March 24th, 2022. The first leg of the tour will commence in February and other Canadian stops include Montreal and Toronto.

The tour has also partnered with Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan platform, and fans can get on the pre-sale register for Sunday, May 23 at 11:59 pm on the Verified Fan’s website and the remaining tickets will be for sale on May 28th. Makes sense given what a big name she is that her tickets would probably get sucked up by third-party scalpers pretty quickly so hopefully the fans that want it can get it this way. 

This concert stop in Vancouver is one of several high-profile performances returning in the later months or early next year and it feels kind of exciting, like things might actually be getting back to normal. I like Billie Eilish, I think her vocals are exceptional and I love the teamwork between her and her brother/producer FINNEAS. Frankly, I wish I could work with my sibling in that capacity but I think we would fight way too much, but Billie and FINNEAS are both really talented artists and I’m excited to see them come to Vancouver.

This tour is extra exciting given that her World Tour for her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? had to be canceled due to the pandemic. So I imagine for the biggest fans of Eilish the announcement of this world tour must feel all the more exciting.

Local Artist Babylung Teases Release Date for New Single and Music Video

Local artist Babylung announces the release date for his new song “Betrayal”. The music video will also be released on May 27th.

Self-described as dedicated to capturing the authentic struggles of love and life of Gen-Z”, Babylung was raised in a family of musicians, singing in choirs and learning multiple instruments before he ultimately fell in love with rap and poetry. Babylung’s multiple talents in music really shine with his 90’s inspired neo-soul and R&B sound and I think his music has a really ageless quality to it that I think appeals to more than just Gen-Z. 

A couple of things I like about Babylung’s tunes are the luscious, multilayered music beds and his exceptional singing voice.  Whether he’s delivering more poetic bars or crooning with his signature tender vocals, you will want to hear more. Luckily he’s been active over the last couple of years and he already has two albums Theia Mania (2019) and Look What You Did (2017) out on services like Spotify and YouTube Music. Some of his earlier releases include “Toxic”, “Ride With Me” and “Aliyah’s Song” have been featured on some of Spotify’s Canadian R&B playlists, and back in December “Ride With Me” even made it on the platform’s “Best R&B of 2020 Canada” playlist. and you can find much more of his catalog on the platform. 

He also self produces through his own label “BabyLung Productions” and I admire the more DIY nature he and his generational counterparts are taking with production. I think that’s a neat thing about Gen-Z with regards to music is that they aren’t afraid to dive in and experiment with cross-genre sounds and styles, but they’re also seeing the importance of the backend parts of production, release, and utilizing the technology of today to get their stuff out there.

Also as someone from Surrey, I really like to see artists from my city getting out there and showing what they’ve got, and with the distribution powers of social media, it’s artists like Babylung that show how brightly we can shine.

Long Weekend Fun: May Long Festival

I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say I am desperate for a fun time, and with more vaccines being administered and life starting to look like it’s headed in the right direction, those fun times might actually be getting closer. May Long Weekend 2020 was lost, but it’s 2021, I got my hat on backward and it’s time to party.

Well, by “partying” I mean bringing my laptop to the balcony and tuning into a digital version of The May Long Festival May 21-24. Filmed from the Anvil Centre Theatre in New Westminister the event will feature performances from an exciting roster of some wonderful talented local creators.

Janice Bannister will be performing her one-woman show “The Weirdest Year of My Life” and after the collective weirdness of 2020, I really could use a laugh! I imagine if you can be crowned BC’s Funniest Female twice you are exactly the person I need to watch. 

Tickets are $10 a show or $30 for all four. In addition to Bannister’s performance will include “Blak/Canadian Women in Music & Arts’ from vocalist Krystle Dos Santos and Friends, where they will celebrate notable Black Canadian women in music. Devon More will perform a selection from her one-woman cabaret in “More Or Less” and Jaylene Tyme and Allen Morgan will perform their conversational piece “Reflections”.

It’s sure to be a good time and I am both interested in the shows but also the way it’s filmed. Live events obviously suffered over the course of the pandemic and with everything having no choice but to get digital, I’m always interested to see the ways people work with technology to make the event exciting. Obviously, I’m looking forward to May Long Weekend 2022 because maybe then we’ll be back to in-person events, but for 2021 I will definitely take this.

TITUS BANK, “I Do, Yeah” & Everything Forever

Said the Whale co-lead singer and band co-founder Tyler Bancroft launches his new recording label Everything Forever alongside a new release from TITUS BANK. A fellow Vancouver-based singer, TITUS BANK dropped his latest single “I Do, Yeah” on May 11th on all streaming platforms. 

The track was co-written and produced by Toronto group Valley, and showcases BANK’s luscious vocals alongside a gradually unfolding and multilayered instrumentation that leaves you wanting to hit that repeat button, just one more time. The song deals with subjects such as social expectations and pressures and the road of personal growth. It’s a great song in general but one that will be definitely making the rounds on my summer playlists this year. I am always really impressed by artists that write and produce but I am most enamored with BANK’s exceptional singing voice. 

 A fact I thought was super interesting was that this song was also partly the product of a “song-a-day 365 Songwriting Challenge” wherein TITUS BANK’s wrote, produced, and released a staggering amount of almost two hundred songs to his YouTube page. I frankly would give anything to have that level of creative output because holy moly. It’s clear TITUS BANK has some major talent and I think working with Bancroft’s label is going to make for a really exciting debut album release. 

 

I also think it’s really cool to see a local musician like Bancroft make it to see major success with Said the Whale and to now work with up-and-coming local and Canadian artists is pretty rad. TITUS BANK will be releasing his first debut solo album under Bancroft’s label, alongside music from other groups such as Winnipeg’s Micah Erenberg, Toronto’s Mute Choir, and Shy Kids as well as Vancouver’s own Big Kill. Said the Whale will also be releasing their upcoming album under Everything Forever.

CBC Music’s Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe to host the 2021 JUNO Opening Night Awards presented by Music Canada.

On Tuesday, May 18th, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announced Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe, of CBC Music’s The Block will host the 2021 JUNO Opening Night Awards presented by Music Canada. 

A reimagined version of the iconic Canadian event will be streamed live at 8pm ET (5pm PT) June 4th, 2021 on the free CBC Gem streaming app, on their website cbcmusic.ca/junos, and on CBC Music’s Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube pages.

Allan Reid, President & CEO, of CARAS/The JUNO Awards, and MusiCounts says: “The JUNO Opening Night Awards Presented by Music Canada is a crucial platform to recognize emerging and revered talent and industry veterans who’ve helped pave Canada’s musical history. We are incredibly proud to celebrate and honour the remarkable skill and determination of Canadian artists and recognize 50 years of Canadian music with an evening that shines a light on this year’s impressive showcase of talent.”

The JUNO Opening Night Awards will feature 5 performances from nominees such as Crown Land (Rock Album of the Year), country artists Lindsay Ell and MacKenzie Porte (Country Album of the Year) as well as rapper-singer TOBi (Contemporary R&B Recording of the Year and Rap Recording of the Year). Reggae Recording of the Year nominees, Ammoye, Kirk Diamond, and TÖME will join together to perform a special celebration of life and alt-rock group MONOWHALES will also be performing later in the event.



Personally, as a Canadian music fan, I look forward to the JUNO Awards and I’m excited to see how they celebrate their 50th Anniversary over the course of the weekend. The main awards ceremony will take place on June 6th and while I can’t imagine they wanted it to be virtual I think they’ll find a way to make it exciting. The Weeknd leads the 2021 JUNO pack with six nominations and is followed by Justin Bieber, Jessie Reyez, and JP Saxe each tied with five nominations each.

Save the Date: Powfu & “Drinking Under the Streetlights”

Like I assume many did, I’ve been logging some serious time into social media over the course of the pandemic, and one app, in particular, has been particularly interesting to me. TikTok is a short-form video app and one of the most popular social media apps on the market with 689 million active users. The app is unique in its relationship with music, it’s partnered with many major record labels on top of their catalog of user-submitted sounds, and that makes it one of the few platforms right now where you can have copyrighted music in your video without getting slapped with an infringement notice. One thing that makes the app really stand out is how it can absolutely propel a song into the stratosphere, and not just its own. Some American artists like Lil Nas X, Lizzo, and Doja Cat have all seen major cross-platform success from users making fan videos to their music.

 

I personally have found a lot of artists I like through TikTok and one of them I didn’t even know was from the town next over?

 

This artist is Powfu, and even if you don’t know the name you’ve probably heard his music. His track “Death Bed (Coffee For Your Head)” was released a year before it ultimately swept social media and netted him a No.1 on Billboard’s Hot Rock and Alt charts and is currently sitting at almost a billion listens on Spotify.

He’s had a busy 2020 putting out an album, an EP, and several singles. 2021 has already seen Powfu release three singles and one of the things I really like about his music is his writing. His latest track “The Long Way Home” deals with the difficult subject matter of domestic abuse, through the eyes of a teenager in the house. It’s a raw track and what I think Powfu has done really well is how he’s able to translate those feelings in a way that makes me remember what it felt like when I was a kid going through real problems and I felt I had no one to relate to. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/COk-BElLZV6/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

It was that feeling that got me into the alternative music scene in the first place, for me the writing in music from groups like Linkin Park, MCR, and Canadian groups like Billy Talent, Marianas Trench, and Faber Drive.

 

Funnily enough, Powfu (real name Isiah Faber) is the son of FD frontman Dave Faber and I think it’s super cool to see how music runs in the family and how that writing style is finding new life with Gen Z artists in 2021. 

Powfu’s next EP “Drinking Under the Streetlights” comes out June 4th and I for one, can’t wait.