Vines - Nora Kelly Band - Brewflies - The Vanrays

Photo - Anna Longworth
Vines - The World At Large.

Brooklyn composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Cassie Wieland has released the third single, a cover of Modest Mouse's "The World At Large," from her upcoming debut LP as Vines.

In 2022, Wieland began covering popular indie songs using her vocoder as a side project, unearthing the emotions lying inside of these tracks. “The World at Large” is just one example of her contemplative reimaginings. Throughout her cover of Modest Mouse’s 2004 hit, Wieland softens each beat, slowing down each peppy “ah” into a pensive hum. The song takes on themes of drifting and running away, and in Wieland’s gossamer threads, heart-wrenching simplicity amplifies its melancholy to unveil the existentialism that colors the music.

The single follows "january" and "I don't mind," the latter of which Stereogum likened to "Imogen Heap’s “Hide And Seek,” with traces of Sigur Rós, Bon Iver, and various electronic singer-composer types a la Lydia Ainsworth and Laurel Halo." Vines' full album, titled Birthday Party, will be out August 18th.

On Birthday Party, Brooklyn-based composer Cassie Wieland (aka Vines) braids poignant, rich instrumentals with sparing lyrics. It’s a new, deeply personal direction for the composer, whose previous music was primarily written for others to play. Here, her own voice, diffused by the feathery touch of a vocoder, is front and center; her economical words stem from the loneliness you might feel on your birthday, where long gone memories and nostalgia feel their most acute. From these thoughts, Wieland weaves lush, contemplative tapestries, finding catharsis in fuzzed-out melodies.


Nora Kelly Band - Horse Girl.

With their latest single, “Horse Girl,” the Nora Kelly Band tell the tale of an urban cowgirl. Featured on their upcoming debut album Rodeo Clown, due out August 25 via Mint Records, the Montreal quintet premiered a video for the track via Under the Radar, who said, "Kelly’s lyrics namedrop Hank Williams and Townes Van Zandt and the band echos those vintage country touchstones, soaking the track in keening pedal steel, sweet vocal harmonies, and a heady dust-tinged haze." Rodeo Clown was written by Nora Kelly, produced by Kelly with Ethan Soil, and mixed by Pietro Amato (The Luyas/Belle Orchestre).
Having completed a run of Pacific Northwest dates earlier this month, the Nora Kelly Band head out along the East Coast in August, including a hometown release night celebration at La Sala Rossa.

Discussing “Horse Girl", Nora noted,  "When I started writing country music a few years ago, I arrived with a deep appreciation for the genre and history. Still, I live in Montreal, where I earned a Fine Arts degree. I’m not trying to fool anyone. I’m no ‘Okie from Muskogee’ or ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter'. But I’m not the first city slicker to love playing ‘cowboy’ either. In writing ‘Horse Girl’ it felt good to just come out with it… ‘I always tip my waiter but I’ve never tipped a cow’ and ‘I could ride the range but I don’t know how.’

Maybe this is the Nora Kelly Band’s theme song. It definitely was a group effort. I delivered the lyrics and vocal melody to the band, and more than any other track we really workshopped the music together. The result feels fresh and playfully new.”

Regarding the video, Kelly added, “We shot the video for ‘Horse Girl’ at a county fair in Ormstown, Quebec. Our day began at 9am at a horse competition. With each member of the band making bets on which horse would be voted best in show - Vader inexplicably chose correctly every time. After, we witnessed a demolition derby where young men in broken down cars slammed into each other, with firefighters and ambulances waiting on the sidelines. We also rode fair rides and played carnival games. Because the director and cinematographer were carrying a big camera, we looked like we were up to something important and this served its purpose. When it came time to shoot my close up on the ferris wheel, the ride attendant let us on for free and didn’t make us get off for a good 20 minutes.”


Brewflies - Anything is Possible.

Brewflies released “Anything is Possible” a few days ago. The song written by Michael Veitch derives from his participation in the PBS Songs of Survivor project which paired songwriters with Holocaust survivors.

The song tells the story of a young boy’s escape after witnessing the rounding up of Jewish people into concentration camps. It starts from the harrowing revelation of the depths of the “possibility” of Nazi depravity and inhuman brutality of unimaginable proportions (that “anything IS possible and nothing is impossible) and immediately proposes the limitless hope of overcoming this dire possibility by taking “one step” toward freedom (“He told me just one step could start a road…”).

Brittain says, “We included the song because of its relevance now, too; it points to the possibility in our time that a microbe could bring a ‘sophisticated’ techno-scientific society and economy to its knees (a stark reminder that NOTHING is impossible)…and yet-actually overcoming that threat IS also, it turns out, a real possibility.”

The song features Kirsti Gholson on lead vocals and background harmonies, Billy Clockel on bass, Larry Brittain on acoustic & electric guitars, Gary Oleyar on violin, and Dan Hickey on drums.

The album documents Brewflies Covid-19 experience through interpretations of noteworthy songs representing the period. Artists represented on the album include Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Mary Gauthier, and three original songs by their musical soulmate and collaborator, Michael Veitch.


The Vanrays - Put It Out (Album).

The Vanrays have just released their latest long-player “Put It Out” with an accompanying video for the album’s focus track “Hard Times.” The band carries on with their tradition of belting out undeniably catchy Motown and Soul tunes with big hooks, big melodies and an even bigger brass section. Taking notes from classics and contemporaries like Spencer Davis group, Detroit Cobras, Curtis Harding and the Daptone Records roster, The Vanrays have delivered an album of soulful classic R&B and garage music.

Their bio reads like a manifesto for their brand of music: It’s a Motown beat down in a sharkskin suit. It's wailing like it’s gospel while they're laying in the boots. It's a curb stomping rhythm on the corner of control. It's a nod in the direction, when all shoes had leather souls. And to when those shoes were twisting, to Otis and to James. And so now do, The Vanrays too, we are here to do the same.

The video for “Hard Times” was directed by Carleen Kyle and shot at the Wise Hall during the pandemic and in the middle of the heat dome. Piano and organ player Gordon Rempel describes the scenario, “We were happy for the space and air conditioning! The objective was to bring a more intimate “performance” video than a regular live video. Thus, setting the performance on the floor rather than the stage.”

Overall the album touches on themes of love and heartache which seems to tie the songs together. Bassist Phil Adington laments, “We never intended for this to be a concept album, but for me all of the songs involve love and relationships and the order they appear on the record does seem to map out a passionate, tempestuous affair that ultimately ends in heartbreak." The recording sessions for Put it Out began just before the onset of the pandemic, when the world went into lockdown. Rempel reflected on the time by saying, “It's been a journey. We were forced to adapt. With only bed tracks recorded before the lockdown, we were forced to improvise. We remotely finished a couple songs as demos compete with Zoom-like videos that we released as "The Social Distanced Demos" on Bandcamp. 

Slowly, we completed recording the album, instrument by instrument together and apart. I recorded many of my organ and piano parts in my garage studio. Others ventured into Brian’s studio to record their parts with masks and social distancing. Scott Fletcher, producer of the Put It Out shared his take on the experience, “My shared vision as producer of this record was to tip our collective hat to the classic 60s and 70s Soul and R&B from stax records, without being a museum piece. Music is an organic, living, growing thing and I truly believe we took this genre to a new place. Recording a 9 piece band is no easy task at the best of times, but we tried to preserve the “live off the floor” feel while staying socially distanced in the studio. The Vanrays, needless to say, became my bubble. If I were to put it in a nutshell, I would say recording Put It Out got us through the tense times of the pandemic.”