It’s funny what happens when you throw a pandemic at people: some people flourish, some people flounder, while others just flutter about. For me personally, it has been a period of adjustment, as I by nature am something of an introvert. You’d never know it when I’m with my people, but with new folks I tend to be more of an observer and will eventually engage. I have worked from my home office for quite some time, and I enjoy blasting some tunes and working through the day, but when the quarantine happened I gained 3 co-workers, with my wife working from her home office and our two little ones figuring out how to exist in the house. All of this is to say, it’s been an adjustment, and until today I had a pretty serious case of writer’s block, aside from not having a whole lot to say.
Fortunately, the jam finally dissipated, and I’m back to share some of the “Quarantunes” that have been getting me through these weird and unprecedented times. (Aren’t we all sick of hearing that term “unprecedented”?) While the live music scene has come to a screeching halt, musicians are making the best of the situation, and are bringing their tunes directly into our homes with intimate livestream performances. I want to shout out the weekly highlights brought to us from Adam Baldwin performing early on at a couple of different venues, and lately coming to us live from the Sonic Temple in Halifax, while his pal Matt Mays has been playing his Mantle Music for us from his place in Toronto. It’s been a treat to catch them play weekly sets, or to see Paul Murphy playing us tunes from both Wintersleep and Postdata. While quarantine has been stressful, emotional, and downright unpleasant at times, Music has been getting me through. Aside from a steady dose of livestreamed tunes, here are a few that have been stuck in my ear over the past couple of months.
Twenty-One Pilots – “Level of Concern” (The Tonight Show: At Home Edition)
When Tyler and Josh dropped this tune a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, as it was far poppier, and something of a departure from their recent album which had a darker, more sinister feel. Since then, this ear worm has burrowed itself deep inside my head, and if you catch me out on my weekly Costco adventure and I’m bobbing around, chances are that this is playing in my headphones.
The Killers – “Caution”
This is a track that didn’t need an incubation period for me; it was a jam that needed to be played, over and over again. It feels new, while retaining all of that great dusty Americana Killers vibes. I can almost guarantee that this is a banger when performed live, and it makes me miss those warm summer evenings out at a show.
Sarah Harmer – “New Low”
Around the time that all of this nonsense started, Sarah Harmer was making her triumphant return to the Canadian music scene with the release of her new album Are You Gone. Fortunately, before we were all asked to socially distance, the fine folks at Indie 88 had her in to record a couple of tunes at the Forty Creek Black Box, one of which being the jangly track “New Low”. Her entire album is fantastic, but this track is one of my favourites off of it.
Snotty Nose Rez Kids – “Real Deadly”
While I was a little late to the Snotty Nose Rez Kids party, I’ve been blasting their music regularly since last year’s HPX set at The Seahorse. The band just dropped their Born Deadly EP, which contains the track “Real Deadly”, equal parts catchy, comical and thought provoking. This track is well worth your time, as it showcases another great Canadian hip-hop act.
Like a Motorcycle – “Wide Awake”
The latest offering from Halifax’s own Like a Motorcycle, “Wide Awake” is a jam, pure and simple. It takes the band’s hard-rock punk vibe and introduces a poppy infectious element, which is every bit a solid dose of aural caffeine that will have you up and dancing. This is a definite earworm that will continue to further the band’s upward trajectory, and I look forward to seeing what they have planned next. I’d also be remiss in not shouting out director KT Lamond’s great work on the video for “Wide Awake”.
Rich Aucoin – “Reset”
Rich Aucoin has always been crafting these interesting and avant-garde multi-media productions, and his latest track “Reset” is no different. It was the first video in a long-time that had me picking my jaw up off of the floor, a brilliant and stunning piece of art that I’m honestly shocked hasn’t been created before. One would think that it should be far more difficult to find the necessary footage to craft something like this, unfortunately that is not the case in US, as it becomes far too commonplace to be confronted with Breaking News of yet another mass shooting. Even though we here in Nova Scotia and Canada had this sort of violence recently transpire on our doorstep, our government didn’t drag their heels on the matter, and put a swift and immediate ban on military-grade weaponry in an effort to prevent this from happening in the future.
Aside from the subject matter of the video, the song itself is a banger. It would be one of those tracks that unites the entire room and gets everyone bouncing. This could very well be that track that breaks Rich Aucoin through into the mainstream.
My only question is, where Rich would then find an arena-sized parachute?