This week’s Midweek Music Mix looks at ten new releases from New Brunswick artists including new material from Colin Fowlie, Wicked Vices, Small Package, Hilary Ladd, Stephen Hero and more. Let’s get caught up.
Colin Fowlie – Second Time Around
Colin Fowlie takes the reins on Second Time Around, handling everything from writing and performing to recording and mastering his latest single. As is so often the case with Fowlie’s way of combining music and lyrics, the emotions run high on this, his first new release since his stellar full length East of Nowhere arrived last May. There are not many artists able to capture the level of sincerity Fowlie delivers in front of the mic. His gift for identifying life’s pivotal moments is unmatched. Read the lyrics. Listen to the song. And try not to feel something honest within yourself.
Mike Wicked – Love, Sick, Love
The Ramones really hit on something. The dynamic free, one-volume-does-it-all, minimal-chord-changes-required template for self expression they helped solidify became one of rock music’s most recognised means of delivery. It has been used countless times, yet somehow never gets old. On their latest release, Moncton’s Mike Wicked skillfully employs this time tested format, crafting seven songs ripe with big chords, whoa-whoa choruses and youthful emotion.
Small Package – Ribbit to Russia
Keeping with the Ramones theme and of course, punk rock from Moncton, the latest album from Small Package is full of scruffy humour. With song titles like I Don’t Wanna Buy Smokes (at The Needs), Worst Case Ontario, and Fuck This Shit (I’m Getting Drunk Tonight), Small Package find an appropriate balance between “Haha, this is funny” and “This is actually pretty good.” Combining a few songs from 2018’s live-off-the-floor EP, Too Old To Be A Punk, Too Young To Die, and a few new future fan favourites, Ribbit to Russia is nine songs of classic punk inspired RnR.
Stacey Steeves – Lightning in a Bottle
Here’s a wild ride. Expanding upon the direction he began exploring with last year’s Cruel Pink Symphony, multi-instrumentalist Stacey Steeves has put together another project he describes as “movies for the ears.” Mixing layers of samples with both programmed and performed instrumental passagesd, Steeves builds a thrilling and adventurous narrative compounded by some cutting guitar leads and an eerie host of early digital tones. When paired with the cover art, Lightning in a Bottle is as cinematic as you can get without a screen.
Paranerd – M N O
Paranerd has been creating electronic music for well over a decade at this point. Characterized largely by decidedly digital sounding soundbanks and various tone generators, their music could be described simply as a form of escapism. Rarely rising above a dull roar, much of Paranerd’s catalog revolves around short meditations on mood, time and place. As with most instrumental projects, the lack of vocals places each track’s value on the type of mood or emotion they can evoke. What separates Paranerd’s work from a lot of other electronic composers is their ability to create space in any environment. As a listener, whether you’re commuting to work, getting through the hustle of the workday, or relaxing at the end of it all, Paranerd’s compositions have the ability to adapt to time and space, always finding a comfortable place to exist regardless of the context. M N O is another fine example of this unique trait.
Stephen Hero – Gold Collection
I have been singing the praises of Stephen Hero for about four years now. A highly prolific rapper and producer and a humble and perennial collaborator, Saint John’s Stephen Hero has become one of the most important new voices in New Brunswick hip hop to surface in recent years. He’s been at it for a lot longer than that, but his trajectory over the past two years has been straight up. On Gold Collection, Hero handles all production work for the first time, extracting the best elements from old school beats and phrasing techniques without sounding like he’s simply mimicking a proven template. It’s all forward, with beats, rhymes and delivery that pay homage to the past while looking toward the horizon.
Hilary Ladd – Breastmilk + Tears (Pt. 1)
Hilary Ladd’s Breastmilk + Tears may very well end up being one of the most important albums to come out of New Brunswick in 2022. Leaving behind her folk music past, Ladd teamed up with award-winning producer Erin Costello to write and record a beautiful and highly personal pop album that explores motherhood, independence, self-worth and love to a depth far beyond what can properly be described here in 200 words. While it’s certainly too early to call Ladd’s latest work a triumph, these songs and arrangements, driven by lyrics that project a wealth of life’s highs and lows with complete honesty, are nothing short of a celebration marking the complete reinvention of one artist’s creative vision and her search for meaning in a world that is anything but predictable.
UNDO – Hello
Producer Hayden White (white VHS) continues to explore new sounds on Hello, the latest in a long line of releases and his second since (possibly) wrapping up his mammoth 13-part VGM series back in February. Hello is a glitchy, drum & bass instrumental built around a drowning melody line that surfaces for occasional gulps of air before being pulled back beneath a wave of frantic percussion. This above-and-below approach makes Hello one of White’s most challenging listens while also serving as an introduction to this latest project. Interested to see how this one develops.
The Mark Green Band – Don’t Bother Me
Possibly the biggest surprise in this latest new music round-up, this latest release from The Mark Green Band mixes the sass and swagger of 60’s rock n roll with elements of classic outlaw country, Stax and Motown. Pairing a few originals with a handful of cover songs from artists like Hank Williams, Steve Earle, Waylon Jennings and others, Don’t Bother Me offers listeners the polished throwback they didn’t know they needed. Featuring performances by Green, Alex Madsen, Jon Epworth, Dave Epworth, Luke Pattersdon, Marc Doucet, Ivan Eileff, Bary White, Kenny James, and Ron Smith with production credits to Mike Trask (Lovin’ It), as well as Green and both Epworths, Don’t Bother Me is a solid collection of songs and players spanning rock and country, regionally and beyond.
Wicked Vices – Ruby
Wicked Vices are back with a new single, the first to follow October 2021’s Athlone St. Written in tribute to vocalist Kristen Vautour’s grandmother, Ruby finds the band taking a softer approach this time around while remaining strong as ever. Starting off with voice and piano at the forefront, Ruby builds with each verse, carrying listeners forward to perfectly placed guitar solo before slowly retreating back to the song’s minimal beginning. While the band refrains from straying too far from familiar territory with this new single, Ruby reinforces the group’s collective strength in delivering well crafted, radio-friendly rock music with apparent ease.
Send us your Music!
If you are a New Brunswick artist or group, have new music on the way and would like to be considered for a future edition of Midweek Music Mix, send us the details at gridcitymagazine(at)gmail.com