Juliana Hatfield wasn’t even planning a new album, but then Donald Trump got elected President, and everything changed. If anyone questions whether the musical world could rise to the occasion and create thoughtful art in response, 2017 should erase those doubts. “I wasn’t planning on making a record,” says Juliana Hatfield. “All of these songs just started pouring out of me. And I felt an urgency to record them, to get them down, and get them out there.”
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Toronto’s Wild Rivers began life as folk duo Devan & Khalid, named for Devan Glover and Khalid Yassein, two fabulous singers who harmonize perfectly like two people born to perform together. Building out their indie folk sound to a band, the duo added Ben Labenski (drums) and Andrew Oliver (bass, guitar) and now Wild Rivers inhabit folk rock perfectly, their Fleetwood Mac influences worn proudly on their sleeves. But Wild River is no tribute or retro act as their music feels completely contemporary and fresh. Witness “Do Right”, an earworm of a folk-pop tune with a hit-single chorus. If Nashville the show featured music like this, more people might still be watching it. Well, Nashville the city can’t have this band as Canada has a proud Canadiana tradition and Wild Rivers are waving that flag high.
Gift of Gab, a.k.a. Tim Parker is one-half of the seminal hip-hop duo Blackalicious who have released a bevy of critically acclaimed albums throughout their career. Gab also has a highly successful solo career dating back to 2004, and he’s set to release a new solo EP, Rejoice! Rappers Are Rapping Again, in April. Gab’s style is pure classic hip-hop with dazzling rhyme schemes, soulful production from Jumbo, and politically and socially relevant critique. Gab says, “the new batch of songs I’m working on is all about lyricism for heads who love it. I’m in a place in my career right now where I’m hearing a lot of talk that hip-hop isn’t as lyrical as it once was. I come from the school of Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and rappers that are really intensely rhyming. With this new slew of music I am doing, it’s almost like I’m rhyming for other rappers.”
Lost in Stars is the nom de plume of the British-born composer, writer, and poet Dylan Willoughby who now finds his inspiration in the stars of Hollywood rather than the green gardens of England. Willoughby took some time away from music to work on an MFA and focus on his writing, but music is a passionate siren, and it can easily lure the creative soul back to its beckoning waters. Willoughby may have been classically trained, but it’s electronic music that has always been his prime inspiration and on this new song “All We Ever Wanted Was Everything” one can hear his warm musical style and fine pop sense. Partnering often with singer Kid Moxie, Willoughby again uses her ethereal and dreamy voice to great effect on his new single.
Neo-swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy first found fame in the ‘90s during the long-overdue Louis Prima revival that suddenly brought swing bands from coast to coast to greater prominence. But Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was always among the best of the lot with a really tight band that could jump, jive and wail just like their many musical heroes.