One Friday night at a pool hall, brothers Nelson and Morgan Bankes and their buddies formed a band. A week later, The Bankes Brothers played their first gig. The former high school classmates’ humble beginnings do not detract from their burgeoning acclaim. Accompanying Nelson and Morgan on vocals and guitar, are guitarist Carson Cleaver and drummer Gray Oxley.
Released this past February, the band’s debut single, “In Waves,” is the title track off their upcoming EP, produced and recorded by Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat, The Zolas, Mounties). The Brothers don’t discriminate when it comes to musical influences. From Elvis Presley to The Strokes, to Paul Simon and The Pixies, their energetically youthful sound is its own kind of charismatic.
The band’s sophomore single, “Things I’ll Never Learn,” is a reflection on failed relationships and the constant pull towards romantic entanglements that aren’t quite right. With honesty and simplicity at the heart of the Brothers’ lyrics, there is plenty of room left for spirited melodies. In Waves details that transitional period from childhood to adulthood, simultaneously marking the band’s ascent.
Known for his parent project, indie-rock band GHOSTKEEPER, Canadian musician and family-man Shane Ghostkeeper has even more tricks up his sleeve. His latest endeavor is a departure from the last 15 years of music, plunging into the realm of country and western, inspired by the records popular where he grew up.
Growing up in several Northern Alberta Métis communities, Ghostkeeper seeks to pay homage to the music of his childhood and the Bakersfield sound. Set to release July 28, 2023 via Victory Pool Records, Songs For My People is just how it sounds- a gift to those who have influenced his taste in country records. A fiercely dynamic vocalist, his music explores a mixture of various mouth-driven sound production and traditional melodic singing styles. In keeping with the theme of family, production for the album was joined by the members of the main Ghostkeeper band.
A subtle nod to his fiancée, “I Know How” is a sprightly number about two-stepping and “a prayer for redemption to the country music God of the dance floor.” The music video was conceptualized and directed by his fiancée Sarah Houle.
Montreal-based producer and composer Devon Bate is the mastermind behind The Weather Holds. Known for his secret contributions to the world of contemporary Canadian music, theatre, and dance, Bate is no stranger to the world of creative art. The Weather Holds includes the work of Common Holly, Jean-Micharl Blais, Jeremy Dutcher, and composer Beatrice Ferreira.
Through its efforts to assist others’ successes, The Weather Holds values connection and collaboration, fusing the opposing realms of Canadian indie and contemporary classical music. As a producer, Bate strives to highlight the best parts of people, transforming songs into emotional journeys that reflect the relationships and talents that go into each one.
Reminiscent of his days busking in Winnipeg, the debut LP, You Couldn’t Ask For a More Beautiful Day, celebrates Bate’s musical training history. In true Montreal fashion, the album is full of memories and experimental sounds.
The album’s standout track, “Five Roses,” showcases the army of talent behind the album’s creation. At least 12 musicians play on this song, most of them joining in to sing the chorus, “I wrote a song.” A love letter to the Montreal community, the song is a return to the project’s folk roots.
Folk / Singer-Songwriter
Toronto singer-songwriter Erin Hunt is breaking the genre mold and making music her own way. The artist’s second album, Brave New World, outright resists categorization, instead blending numerous musical styles through its unconventional and enchanting venture into the human condition.
With a timeless air, each song is not only honest and raw, it invites listeners into the experience. Part of what makes Hunt’s lyrics so special is her refrain from including talk of politics and modern goings-on. A mixture of Latin, pop, jazz, rock, and more, Brave New World also balances between traditional and electronic instrumentation. Featuring both solo and ensemble work from Joel Joseph (keyboards), Dan Miller (drum and keyboard programming), KC Roberts (guitar), and Tony Rabalao (drums), the album proves to be an instrumental and lyrical masterpiece.
The tenth and final track off the album, “Won’t Give Up,” is a chorale of resilience and faith, showcasing the band’s dynamic presence. Most powerful is its refrain, “We don’t give up,” a murmur of hope that penetrates the soul and sparks something deep within you. It’s a song about listening to your heart and letting things happen how they’re meant to.
Featured photo: The Bankes Brothers