Dirty Words & Thoughts About Music

Renegade Radio’s Music News and Reviews
Brian Wright-McLeod, 2016
News From Indian Country

Tanya Tagak: Animism [independent]
I’ve reviewed this album before and mentioned her 2014 Polaris Music Prize award in a previous column, but I wanted to update briefly on other attention Tagak’s album has received. Her 2015 Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) for Aboriginal Album of the Year also included Juno nominations for Producer of the Year (Jesse Zubot) and Alternative Album of the Year.

 Buffy Sainte-Marie: Power in the Blood [True North Records]
Twelve songs, with the opening song being a rebrand of her 1964 hit “It’s my Way,” and some of the songs are reworked compositions from other early material both original and covers of other artists such as “Power in the Blood” taken from a classic by the Alabama 3 amid a number of collaborations with iconic songwriters and producers Jack Nitzsche, Michael Phillip Wojewoda, Chris Birkett and Jon Levine. The album underlines her resilience and tenacity as a performer and activist retains. Additional musicians include Mike Bruyere (Eagle & Hawk), Max Kennedy Roach, drums; Derek Miller, guitar/vocals; Maury LaFoy, bass; Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Marie Gaudet, backup vocals;  

The Jerry Cans: Aukuluk [independent]
Another 2015 Canadian Folk Music Award nominee; perform in the Inuktitut language using traditional throat singing stylized to suit their needs and to place their culture in the forefront.  The album title is an Inuit term of endearment often used to express love for one another. Lively beats echo a Scottish influences through the fiddle and accordion. While the album and the music is not solely a roots-based fiddle album, there is a distinct cross-over with rock of the British Isles based on a steady accent of Inuit underpinnings. English makes intermittent appearances in some passages of certain songs and serves to show change and adaptability. The most poignant number on the disc “Qanurli Isumavit,” sung in English and Inuk, spells out the social conditions facing all nations. The liner notes provide lyrical content in both languages. Andrew Morrison, lead vocals/guitar; Brendon Doherty, bass; Gina Burgess, fiddle/violin; Nancy Mike, accordion/throat singing; Stephen Rigby, drums.  thejerrycans.com

Shy-Anne Hovorka Bones [independent]
Country-rock, folk, jazz – Shy-Anne Hovorka handles it all with strong vocals, colorful music and well-arranged production. More than just pick-up truck ditties, you’ll want to crank up the volume on this little puppy, although the album weighs in at a hefty 14-track listing of mostly original compositions. But, the mood and music style changes completely at the tenth song where it becomes another album altogether. It would have been better to release a nine-track album and use the remaining numbers for a follow-up, it would also make better business sense too (just sayin’). Needless to say, Bones leaves a strong impression. Some outstanding tracks include “Dirty Kinda Pretty,” the cultural anthem “Awakening” and her rendition of “Ava Maria” with beat-boxing by Richard Tribe. Guest musicians include Spady Brennan, Chris Lamont, bass; JT Corenflos, John Foster, Justin Sillman, guitars; Gordon Mote, Shy-Anne Hovorka, keys; Paul Scholten, Josh Hogan, drums; Graeme Elchuk, tabla; Derek Grizans, didgeridoo; Cassidy Belisle, Aleyah E. Lennon, hand drums.

Jace Martin: Falling Stars [independent]
Melodic phrasing, a country-rock twang, bouncy rhythms, smooth vocals and tight song writing provide a solid foundation for Jace Martin’s platter that enlists ‘50s rock’n’roll ballads exemplified in the dreamy cover of a little ditty called “We Belong Together.” The seven-track release is a calling card that suggests that there’s much more to come in the future suggested by his latest release Mighty. Jace Martin, lead vocals/acoustic guitar; Dewayne Strobel, lead guitar; Jonathan Newton, guitar; Robbie Turner, steel guitar; Jack Hart, bass; Howard Duck, piano; Louis Winfield, drums; Orin Isaacs, bass/keys; Crystal Shawanda and Eva Swarts, backup vocals. jacemartin.ca

Miranda Currie: Up in the Air [independent]
Some might say that a fiddle album is a fiddle album, but with Amanda Currie’s first-time disc of original songs, underlines the fact that there’s something uniquely singular about her music. That counts for something considering that Up in the Air was recently nominated for a 2015 Canadian Folk Music Award. That’s a big deal for someone who’s just starting out. Captivating and alluring barley begin to describe her individualistic style as she seduces her instrument with a deft hand (can I say that? Oops, just did). The only downer are the scant liner notes that unfortunately provide no recording information, only personal writings on healing and recovery. mirandacurrie.ca

Lacey Hill: 528 [independent]
Another Mohawk singer from Six Nations, Ontario released a sampling of her original songs. A strong singer with lyrical content focussing on culture and modern society, Lacey Hill accompanies herself on acoustic guitar. She blends a bluesy, kind of folky repose with a tinge of jazz. Her independent demo-style CD includes eleven songs that feature her strong voice and alluring playing style. Three tracks were recorded live at the Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford, Ontario. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Louie Gonnie: Spiraling, Ascending with Prayer [Canyon CR-6517] and Spirit of the Swirling One [Canyon CR-6518]
While music of the Native American Church or the peyote way has experienced a rise in popularity and even recognized at the Grammy Awards, there still exists a humility within the context of those who sing the songs. The expressions of Louie Gonnie conveys the essence of those roots. His collection of original songs are well performed, recorded and produced as one can expect from a label like Canyon.

Young Bear: Born to Sing, Recorded Live at ASU [Canyon-6534]
From the Mandaree community of Fort Berthold Reservation, two-time champion contemporary northern style drum group Young Bear brings their culture to ;ife. Another generational lineage of powwow singers comprising Nelson Baker and Sidrick Baker Jr. gathered other singers from both side of the Canada-US border to create a circle of singers derived from the community elders who made the historic drum groups of White Lodge Singers and the Mandaree Singers.

Leonard Sumner (Anishnabe) formerly a rap/hip-hop artist known as Lorenzo, Leonard Sumner transformed into an acoustic player who is making successful inroads, including his collaborations with Canadian music icon Ron Sexsmith. His album Rez Poetry is online at leonardsumner.com.

Boyd Benjamin recorded a hot little platter of traditional fiddle music The Flying Gwitch’in Fiddler [independent]. Selections include the Yukon fiddle anthem “Crooked Stove Pipe” and country favorites like the “Lone Star Rag.”

Aqua: Spirit Music  [independent]
Going by the name of Aqua, this young Metis singer brings an illuminated sense to her brand of hand drumming with a contemporary vocal style derived from traditional roots. If you want to give her an ear, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
If you’re on the hunt for more independent Native artists, check out Once A Tree featuring Jayli Wolf at onceatreemusic.com

To submit your music for review and promotion, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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