Halfway to Hollywood is a fairly new pop/rock trio from Vancouver. In just two years, HFH has completed eight Canadian tours and in so doing has built up a strong fan base. The band has opened for a number of big acts: Hedley, Down With Webster, and Victoria Duffield. Halfway to Hollywood has sold over 7,000 digital singles since its debut. “Unbelievable” received radio spins across the country. The group’s latest EP is Rain containing five confections of modern music which would add some zest to any CHR playlist. Opener “We Are the Wild Ones” combines a rousing beat with vigorous guitar playing and bubbly keys. Shimmering “Moments” and larger-than-life anthem “Me Against the World” follow. Upbeat “This Is Not a Love Song” dazzles with some great power chords, and we dig the keys on closing ballad “Please, Please”. All-in-all, Halfway to Hollywood’s Rain is a great little EP. iTunes
As we head into the busy autumn season, we are seeing an upsurge in the number of album releases. Below is an overview of 20 Canadian albums (and an EP) released on this last day of September 2014.
As far as more mainstream pop/rock goes, Tristan Malavoy has released a 4-track EP (pictured left) called Quatre, which is very good with beautiful artistic compositions. Tracks of My Years is a new album of covers from Bryan Adams who needs no introduction. Un homme qui vous ressemble is the latest LP from Mario Pelchat, a platinum, Felix-winning, 4-time JUNO nominee. Nova Scotia’s Mo Kenney is garnering immense critical acclaim. Her songwriting prowess is being compared to Ron Sexsmith’s. Mo’s new album is In My Dreams. For lovers of more rootsy, classic rock, New Brunswick’s Kendra Gale Band has released the great Carousel.
A number of electronic albums are out. Secret Sun is a duo from Montreal with album Cold Coast which is remarkably good. Innerworldis the new LP from Toronto’s Electric Youth. For alternative music on the more experimental side, check out Lydia Ainsworth‘s Right From Real. Zubberdust! by Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche is mainly an instrumental progressive jam. Coco Melies‘ Lighthouseis less electronic and more eclectic. Chloe Sainte-Marie has released double CD and book, A la croisee des silences, with poetry readings and music.
Roots music fans can examine el Paseo by Calgary’s WiL for something a little different. Along the same lines, Kelowna, BC’s Andrew Judah has come out with the exquisite Monster, an alternative folk work.
Prominent Anglophone rappers have launched new albums: Vancouver’s Madchild(Switched On) and Nova Scotia’s Buck 65(Neverlove). Francophone rapper Souldia has released Krime Grave.
Legendary jazz guitarist Lenny Breau is no longer with us, but a discovery of a past recording was made and transferred onto CD – LA Bootleg 1984. Three-time JUNO nominee Elizabeth Shepherd has come out with The Signal. This is vocal jazz with some good R&B/soul in the mix. Philippe Dunnigan has done a good job at converting some popular songs into classical arrangements which you can hear on album There You Are. Les pourquoi 2 is an LP of Children’s Franco music by Benoit Archambault. Finally, Songs of a Siren by Lea Longo is jazzy world music with Indian vibes.
Launching her career as a youth, Abbotsford, BC triple threat (recording artist, dancer, actor) Victoria Duffield has had much success with more to come. The JUNO-nominated singer has been a finalist in YTV’s The Next Star, scored five charting singles, hit both gold and platinum, toured with The Backstreet Boys, been featured in the Royal Canadian Air Farce, collaborated with Cody Simpson, and released two studio albums. Victoria has unveiled her latest music video for track “Paper Planes” off her fabulous sophomore album, Accelerate. Check it out below. It’s literally magical and in the end features in the background a sweet, familiar landmark. iTunes
Highly respected Montreal composer, singer, producer, and creator of exquisite stage shows, Debbie Tebbs, who has worked with the likes of Bran Van 3000, has released new album Up!, which follows her acclaimed Modern Talking LP in 2012. Debbie’s genre of choice is upbeat synth-pop especially that rooted in an 80s new wave style. She collaborates on the disc with JUNO and Polaris nominee Misteur Valaire. Debbie Tebbs’ Up! is both nostalgic and fresh, energizing and captivating, heaving with exciting sounds and flavours. iTunes
Quebec City’s Étienne Drapeau was a hockey player in the minor leagues, and in 1996 became a Habs 4th round draft pick. After retiring from the sport, he skated himself into a music career and has done quite well. Étienne was a Top 10 finalist in the 2004 season of Star Academy. His formal recording career began three years later with a debut album, and “Je l’ai jamais dit à personne” received a Song of the Year Felix nomination. Fifth album T’es toute ma vie came out this week and is a beautiful work with fresh breezes of heartland pop. iTunes
The Rural Alberta Advantage (RAA) is a trio from Toronto consisting of singer + songwriter Nils Edenloff, multi instrument handler Amy Cole, and percussion expert Paul Banwatt. The group began its formal recording career in 2006 and has been nominated at the JUNOs. 2014’s Mended With Gold is the latest LP. The band’s style of music belongs in the elusive alternative category, with folk-rock leanings, and the adjective that first came to our minds in hearing the new album was vigorous. The energy of the musicianship provides a nice contrast to Nil’s casual vocal style. Things keep ploughing ahead like a rusted jalopy, with a couple of broken parts dragging along the ground, being pushed by a freight train. It’s an appealing style. Mended With Gold debuted in the iTunes Top 10 upon release. iTunes
As far as pop/rock male soloists go, Shawn Hook is one of our finest talents. The JUNO nominated singer + songwriter hails from beautiful British Columbia and has thus far scored three Hot 100 charting singles. His latest, “Million Ways” is a strong contender for 2014’s song of the year, an instantly likeable, infectious pop gem. Shawn has revealed the story behind the song. It all began when he had a session lined up with Jeff Trott who co-wrote many of Sheryl Crow’s biggest hits.
Shawn flew all the way down to Los Angeles. He showed up at Trott’s studio who told him, “I’m so sorry but I have to cancel because my kid’s got soccer practice.” (Shawn had to return to Canada the next day.) However, Jeff suggested Shawn hook up with gifted, Grammy-winning songwriter, Victoria Horn. Shawn called her out of the blue and asked for a session apologizing for the short notice. She accepted and the two wrote and recorded “Million Ways” in six hours. Check out the lyric video below. Shawn Hook’s absolutely brilliant “Million Ways” is available on iTunes.