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Saturday, January 20, 2024

A Mumford & Sons/Pharrell Williams collab, plus The Strumbellas, Jeen, Jane's Party, The Smile


Mumford & Sons + Pharrell Williams: Good People


The British trio and the American hip-hop/R&B artist met during festival tours over a decade ago, we're told, and reconnected last summer at Pharrell’s "Something in the Water" festival at Virginia Beach. They decided to join up in New York and then Paris to write and record some new songs, with Pharrell producing. 

They are joined on this track by the Native Vocalists, a six-member choir made up of members of Native American tribes from the U.S. and Canada. The song had its first live performance as part of Pharrell's presentation at Paris Fashion Week this month.

The Strumbellas: Hold Me


This first single in two years from the Toronto-based folkie-indie-rock group heralds its fifth album, Part Time Believer, due in a couple of weeks. Band member David Ritter (keyboards, percussion, vocals) says of the album's theme: "I think people often feel like things are escaping them, or they’re trying to grab on to something - happiness, gratitude, professional or personal goals - and for some reason, they just can’t get there. Even if they get the thing they want, it doesn’t feel the way they thought it would. A lot of these songs are about trying to, like, figure out why we’re all feeling this way, and how we can find more peace in our lives."

Jeen: So What


The about-to-be-released album Gold Control is touted as "hazy, heady, hedonistic and hopeful," and this track as its emotional centerpiece. "It’s about never-ending uphill battles,” the singer-songwriter says, “and wishing you could freeze time to stay with someone you can’t enough of." The album is another collaboration with Canadian rock veteran Ian Blurton, who has co-produced Jeen's last five albums.

Jane's Party: Common Guys


This Toronto quartet's last full-length was Casual Party, released in the pre-pandemic days of 2019. Since then they've put out an album of live tracks and a few singles, and they kicked off 2024 with this fun number, described as "walking a very fine line between polished dance-pop and slacker indie rock." It was written by bassist Devon Richardson and vocalist/guitarist Tom Ionesu, who says the concept is "grade 8 school dance, after school in the gym, trying to muster up the courage to ask a girl out."

The Smile: Wall Of Eyes


Photo by Frank Lebon
We're picking up the title track from the new album by the side project of Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood plus Sons of Kemet's Tom Skinner. The Guardian writes: "As with [The Smile's] first album, you would be hard-pushed to describe Wall of Eyes as anything other than Radiohead-esque. But for an album so thick with disquiet and gloom, there is a strange sense of ease about much of it," adding that "there are lovely, tumbling chord sequences and vaguely Latin rhythms underpinning" this opening number.

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