June was a very busy month for new music and the start of the summer concert series for a lot of artists who are on the road for the first time since the pandemic brought everything to a standstill. July begins with some excellent new music from Drake, Cola, Gorillaz, and June Shelly.

Canadian artists are doing well on almost every Billboard chart; Orville Peck, Drake, and have enjoyed a lot of success so far in 2022.

Cola: Deep in View
(Release Date: 06/17/2022)

2021 was a busy year for the members of Cola; the Montreal-based indie band released 5 singles after the founding members decided to end their run as Ought, and reformed. Ought was a post-punk band that began in 2011 and the collection of American and Australian ex-pats had a decent run with Constellation Records; the Quebec-based label has a strong history of supporting regional bands in Quebec, British Columbia, and parts of the United States.

Cola is a new venture that includes Ought’s Tim Darcy and Ben Stidworthy who formed the new trio with U.S. Girls drummer Evan Cartwright. Deep in View reminds me almost immediately of The Shins stripped of the quirky lyrics that made the New Mexico band so interesting. You can hear it in the instrumentation but Cola needs to lighten up a tad.

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Drake: Honestly, Nevermind
(Release Date: 6/17/22)

When does an artist start to become a caricature of themselves? Drake proves that charisma and clever marketing can take some artists really far — but what happens when that begins to truly fade. Songwriting seems to have fallen off the truck on the 401 on this very tepid release that is heavy on expletives and very few clever hooks or concepts that we have not heard before from the Toronto-based artist. Drake has an enormous audience and that doesn’t say a lot about the current state of pop music.

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Gorillaz featuring Thundercat: “Cracker Island”
(Release date: 6/22/22)

Unlike Drake, Gorillaz frontman, Damon Albarn, has both a sense of humor and a very firm grasp of songwriting and how to create dance music that is uplifting. Albarn started Gorillaz because he was unable to create the music he really wanted to make with Blur; one of the more interesting Brit-pop brands of the 1990s. “Clint Eastwood” became an instant hit for Gorillaz and the band has always been successful at meshing its catchy instrumentation and social messaging.

“Cracker Island” with Thundercat is a wonderful blend of Albarn’s pop and Stephen Bruner’s heavy basslines making this one of the catchiest pop tracks of 2022. Bruner is one of the most prolific bassists around; Erykah Badu, Sa-Ra, Flying Lotus, and many others have used the talented Bruner on studio recordings and he’s currently featured on the Minions OST with his cover of Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle.”

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Joan Shelly: The Spur
(Release Date: 06/24/2022)

Louisville-native, Joan Shelly, almost immediately conjures up comparisons to Gillian Welch and Rhiannon Giddens with her very warm and melodious voice and ’60s folk and old school country songwriting. Her seventh studio album, The Spur, starts off with the beautiful “Forever Blues,” a track that showcases her strong voice and writing craft.

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Shelly’s music feels like a love letter to her husband and that’s perfectly fine when the emotion and sentiment is so genuine. The recording has a really wonderful presence to it with a very natural sounding blend of acoustic guitar and Shelly’s voice. An album that won’t get a lot of attention in a summer filled with releases that will be mostly forgettable — make sure you pick this one up.

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Related reading: New Music Wednesday (May 25, 2022)

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