This week in the Midweek Music Mix we look at the latest releases from Faith Bow, City Natives and Free To Grow.
Faith Bow – Quiet
There is a certain degree of sparkle associated with the genre we lovingly referred to as Pop Music. Besides maybe commercial rap music and all the wealth fronting associated with mainstream hip hop culture, pop music, by design, is often positioned as something nearly unattainable for a new musician – its formulaic polish and predictability something that only a highly skilled team of writers, engineers and producers could ever accomplish.
Pop music requires resources. That much is true. This is probably a big part of why we don’t often come across someone writing and recording pop music on their own, especially in rural parts of eastern Canada. But there are always exceptions, and when it comes to music, exceptions usually prove to be worth looking into.
Faith Bow is one such exception. Based in Perth-Andover, a village community in the north-western part of the province with a population of just under 1600, Bow, with the help of musician/producer Cameron Nicholas, is defying the rules of the pop music game. Her debut album, Quiet, finds its strength in honesty and sincerity. It’s pop music created on an indie level. It’s big ideas without the big budget backing. And while it may lack the heavy coating of gloss that has galvanized chart topping hits since the disco era, its fundamentals are no less impressive.
From the simple, poetic delivery of the album’s opening track, Too Little Too Much, to the struggles and frustrations of life in a small town as told through That Choice, a powerful duet with Kam Speech (Nicholas), Bow’s first-person-narrative relates the complexity of the world faced by twenty-somethings everywhere, while also offering an impressive introduction to a new voice in New Brunswick music.
City Natives – Reborn
City Natives are back with a new album, almost two years to the day since the release of Dream Catchers, an album that helped the group to earn an ECMA for Indigenous Artist of the Year in 2018. This latest release finds the group continuing to deliver tight, emotionally driven hip hop inspired by their cultural heritage and first hand experiences.
Reborn is the band’s sixth album and their second as a trio. Opening with a strong cultural reference – as is tradition with City Natives – Victorious quickly sets the tone for this rebirth, mixing traditional indigenous voices and classic hip hop to great effect. With just one exception, the album’s production was handled by Beaatz (Shelby Sappier) and the group’s in-house producer, Juliano (Julien Silvea). This shared vision for what City Natives are and could be provides a cohesive soundtrack for songs that don’t weigh too heavily on indigenous issues but instead, simply work to broaden the stories and messages shared by a genre that can so easily become stereotypical and unimaginative.
Since their last release, indigenous art in Canada has taken a propenant position within the national conversation. With more people finally recognizing indigenous art as culturally relevant, part of our national identity and something that exists beyond the walls of gift shops and highway gas stations, City Natives are still on point, still doing what they’ve always done. The cultural shift, national conversation, renaissance or however folks are referring to the positive change we’re collectively witnessing hasn’t changed the music City Natives are making, except now maybe more people will hear how strong this group is.
Free To Grow – No Change
Free To Grow’s name says it all. When the band began releasing music five or six years ago, the influence of classic and British prog rock was undeniable, and while they rarely drift too far from those familiar sounds, the band have certainly embraced the freedom music can offer.
Songs like Loon Song, Happy Dance and Hipster are all intentionally silly, and at some point the group’s founder Jeff Patch began experimenting with a green screen and that silliness spilled over into the band’s video production (see End of the World). While probably not the right complement for all the band’s music, Patch and the willingness of his growing collective of musicians to not take themselves too seriously continues to help broaden the band’s audience.
But Free To Grow aren’t all classic rock and goofiness. They take their craft very seriously, yet, admirable, they seem to go at it with no big dreams and no apparent goal besides writing and performing together for the love of it. Knowing all this, the band’s latest single, No Change, comes as a bit of a surprise. No green screens here. The video opens with some archival footage of a KKK rally and continues on a pretty heavy path. No Change is heavy, human subject matter, a song that speaks to civil unrest, moral divides, cultural clashes and the general shit state the world is in today. But it’s not all doom and gloom. The track also features one of the best guitar solo/breakdown passages the band has ever recorded, so there’s a bit of much needed hope hidden inside the bleak reality No Change reminds us of.
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