Joe Bass, Ronley Teper, Alanna Matty, and Villages
Gordy the Moose presents some of his favourite new music from the submissions that have arrived in the Roots Music Canada virtual mailbox.
Joe Bass – Part Timer (Release date: Dec. 21, 2018)
First of all, let’s get one thing out of the way: Joe Bass is a band; not a guy. Nobody in this band is named Joe. Now onto the important part: This is way cool – a guitar, mandolin and bass banjo ensemble whose sound is rooted in Appalachia but stretches out to encompass pop and jazz. The members – who are actually named Sandy James, Eric Marcotte, and Garrett Stratford, by the way – combine a raw, percussive guitar sound, hot pickin’, and some really cool arrangements, like the jazzy horn on “Stranger” and the backing vocals that sound like spoken conversation in a bar. Also, hats off to Garrett for the character-rich lead vocals. That boy can holler.
Ronley Teper and the Lipliners – “Timing” (Album release date: Feb. 28, 2018)
What can I say? The moose likes weird stuff, and this is nothing if not weird – in a good way. Ronley Teper has been on the scene for at least 15 years now, and her work has frequently evoked artists such as Kate Bush and Victoria Williams – so she’s always been off on a tributary of her own just barely within earshot of the mainstream. But the Lipliners project is a whole other level of unique. It derives from a residency at the TRANZAC in Toronto during which Ronley invited performers from a variety of disciplines to improvise around her work. Moose aren’t allowed in the TRANZAC, so I never saw the show, but I bet it was crazy and brilliant. This here video, featuring a piece by Ronley and Mary Margaret O’Hara sure is. The music sounds like a mixture of jazz and traditional African music – Ronley’s South African roots showing through? – with a cacophony of strange and wonderful vocalizations. And yes, that’s a compliment.
See Ronley every Wednesday this month at 10 p.m. at the Cameron House.
Alanna Matty – “End Up Alone” (Single release date Feb. 1, 2019)
Toronto artist Alanna Matty’s new EP is titled This Past Year, and Alanna says it was inspired by, well, a really rough year. The production values are certainly appropriately bleak – intimate, acoustic and reverby – but the sound is captivating. Alanna delivers this number with raw, fractured vocals that communicate every ounce of the pain she was obviously feeling while writing it, and yet, it’s by no means a downer to listen to – kind of gentle and atmospheric really, as long as you don’t listen TOO carefully to the words. I don’t know a whole lot about Alanna, but everything I’ve listened to online tells me she deserves to be better-known. Hopefully she’ll get some recognition for this project that’ll help her feel better again. She sings some pretty great upbeat songs too when she’s in the mood.
EP release concert Feb. 16, 2019 – Burdock Brewery, Toronto
Villages – Self titled (Release date: TBC)
**Update: Folks, Villages’ publicist has contacted us to let us know that the album launch is being rescheduled. They asked us to remove the sample track from the web site ’til they’ve got a new date set.
Wow. This is really nice – a young band from Cape Breton that draws more on the songwriting and balladry of Celtic music rather than the fiddle pyrotechnics. And they combine it with just a touch of those atmospheric, indie pop production values that the kids are into. (Joel Plaskett produced the band’s last EP, and this record was recorded in his studio, and I hear he knows a few things about indie pop.) The members of Villages are actually in an indie pop band themselves called Mardeen, and the story goes that they left Cape Breton for Halifax as youngsters hoping to put all that old-school Celtic culture behind them. But a spontaneous sing-along of Rankin Family tunes got them homesick one night, and now here they are. So it stands to reason that they might be more about the songwriting than the trad-style playing – although make no mistake about it; they can play too! The real stand-out aspect of this band though is the vocals. Just lovely.
Correction: a previous version of this story erroneously reported that Joel Plaskett produced Villages’ forthcoming album. He didn’t, but it was recorded in his studio.
Clarification: a previous version of this story reported that Alanna Matty’s EP comes out Feb. 1. Actually, that’s the release date for the single. The EP comes out Feb. 19.