“Lifting your spirits,” teased Cowboy Junkies vocalist Margo Timmins in the band’s recent appearance at The Birchmere, “is not what we do.”
It wasn’t quite a joke, as it’s a true statement. “Upbeat” would not describe their music, which is deeply moody and full of heartache. Sonically, the Junkies accomplish this by combining two distinct musical traditions, both of which have plenty of sadness: the alternative and art-rock of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground — whose “Sweet Jane” still occupies a central place in their setlist — and David Bowie, whose “Five Years” they covered in their encore, and the dusty Americana embodied by their late friend, the legendary Townes Van Zandt, whose “Rake” was featured in the second set.
Since they last appeared at The Birchmere before the pandemic, the Junkies have released two albums. The first, Ghosts, came out in 2020, and was made in response to the death of the Timmins siblings’ mother.
Bahamas perform at 9:30 Club on Oct. 12, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Some recording artists deserve to be admired for their commitment to enhancing their songbook, continually challenging themselves to dive deeper into a creative process that the average person can’t even begin to imagine.
A gentleman out of Ontario named Afie Jurvanen has proven himself to be exceptionally dedicated to his craft, and he recently brought his musical vehicle, Bahamas, to the 9:30 Club for what was an impressive, charming weeknight reminder that he’s one of the best individual performers hailing from north of the border — some might argue on the whole darn continent, and his collection of Juno awards and nominations supports that notion.
“Cake,” the new single from singer, songwriter and producer Lydia Ainsworth’s forthcoming album Sparkles & Debris, is out today with an accompanying video directed by Takeshi Suga and shot in Tokyo before the start of the pandemic.
The album, which follows 2019’s acclaimed Phantom Forest and blends live drums, guitars and bass with Ainsworth’s signature vast electronic landscapes, is due May 21 via Zombie Cat Records.
What’s the internet for if not to watch cat videos? Well, Parklife has the best cat video for your eyes in a while!
You see, Toronto power-pop punk trio Talk Show Host release Mid-Century Modern, their debut full-length, on June via Wiretap Records & Disconnect Disconnect Records. And the lead single, “Blood In The Sand,” is streaming everywhere, along with a new music video, which features Mila the cat.
Toronto-based acclaimed indie-rock band Fast Romantics have announced their new LP Pick It Up, due out Aug. 7 on Postwar Records. Album title track “Pick It Up” and its accompanying quarantine-friendly video is inspired by frontman Matthew Angus’ lifelong battle with depression and anxiety.
Vast Robot Armies album cover for Paper Crown Parade (Artwork by Victor Malang)
Vast Robot Armies describe themselves as “three cities, two countries, one band.” John Agee (guitar, bass, and vocals) and Joe Wells (guitar, bass, synth, and backing vocals) hail from Kansas City, Missouri. Jason Thomson (guitars, piano, synths, and vocals) lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The band recently released a new full-length album titled Paper Crown Parade. I caught up with Jason to ask him about standout song “Little Detroit.”
Following their game plan from their previous visit to The Birchmere in July 2018, the Cowboy Junkies went with a proven format for their recent show there. They’d play two sets. The first, slightly shorter set, would mostly consist of songs from their latest album, All That Reckoning, while the second set would comb their extensive catalog from more than 30 years together.