Open Spaces – By Roman Mitz
New releases drop down to a trickle toward the end of the year and the beginning of the next, but Open Spaces has brushed away a layer of snow and found a few cool audio treats that we wouldn’t want you to miss out on.
Multi-platinum hit-making trio Cheat Codes, popularly known for their smash single “No Promises” (featuring Demi Lovato), are diving into country music with their debut country album “One Night in Nashville.” The big news is that the pride of Medicine Hat Alberta, MacKenzie Porter, is featured on the first single “One Night Left,” and she’s thrilled with the results. “I couldn’t wait for this song to drop,” she says. “We wrote it at my friend’s lake house over a year ago, and I knew it was special then. I am such a fan of Cheat Codes. The guys are so talented and also just the kindest dudes. It’s been so much fun collaborating with them, and I’m so excited for everyone to hear it.”
What better place can there be in the dead of winter than the South Of France? That’s exactly where Ottawa’s Raphaela Nehme goes with her new single. “South of France” is a follow-up to “Fifth Street,” which saw the singer/songwriter embrace pop/country sounds. Regarding the song’s inspiration, Raphaela says, “I wrote this song during a period in my life when all I wanted was to finish university and get a job where I could afford to start travelling around and discover the world. Mix that in with a crush that I wasn’t sure was reciprocated at the time, and you come up with a song like “South of France.”
Staying in Canada’s capital, Evil Creek has released a new EP, “Away From The Sun,” which features the wistful first single, “Lovely.” While the winner of the Music Group of the Year Award at this year’s Ottawa Awards started as a hard-rocking outfit, various other influences have found their way onto the new EP. “As the music scene in Ottawa had less and less opportunities available for heavier music, we found ourselves gravitating towards additional musical tastes that were accessible to more people,” says vocalist Mark Garrod. “We never lost our personal tastes for the harder-edged music, but we wanted to explore other avenues as well. It’s pretty fun working in heavy rock riffs together with very different things like a little bit of country, maybe some bluegrass, and some humour.”
In a west coast tribute to the east coast, Vancouver roots band Rusty Creek’s latest single, “White Sails,” is a rousing salute to the tall ships that came to fish the waters off Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. The third single from the band’s 2022 album, “The Road Of Life,” paints a vivid picture of the abundant landscape and waters that drew the first Europeans to Newfoundland. With a wide variety of musical influences, including bluegrass, country blues, western swing, rockabilly and Cajun, the band describes their latest album as “roots re-mastered,” with songs ranging from barnburners to ballads.
Quickly becoming one of Canada’s fastest-rising singer/songwriters, Waterloo’s Nate Haller gives his fans an audio treat with the release of his debut album, “Party In The Back.” The record, which has four new tracks along with previously released singles, is a 10-song collection that showcases the unique voice and big rock sound that Nate brings to the country music genre. Subjects range from vulnerability (“Ain’t Like Me”) to rowdy anthems (“Party In the Back” and “Broken”). “The last year has been pretty incredible,” Nate says. “Being able to get out on the road, play this music across the country and meet my fans for the first time has been a surreal experience. To celebrate that, I wanted to give something back to them with this album.”
And we would be remiss if we did not close by congratulating one of our favourite groups, One Ugly Cowboy (OUC), for the amazing year they had in 2022. Their cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” was recently rated video of the month by the Country Music Association of Ontario, and then the song reached No. 1 on the indie charts. Yee-haw!