Jocelyn Alice Wins Big at First Calgary Music Awards

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After all these years, Calgary has finally launched its own music awards gala. The event went down last night, September 25, 2016. While an annual music awards has been going on in its sister city of Edmonton, 300 km to the north, for seven years, Calgary has seemed more interested in waterflood enhanced recovery processes and voidage calculations than looking at the permeability of music. Hosting the JUNO awards and opening the National Music Centre this year helped consolidate impulses towards organizing something that recognized local recording artists. After all, with Calgary bred A-listers like Tegan and Sara, Paul Brandt, Jann Arden, and Kiesza, there is no dearth of musical talent in Canada’s third largest city.

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(Above: YYC Music Awards stage and nominated pop recording artist Lexi Strate)

This was apparently not the city’s first attempt to put something together. There was an awards show in the 1990s, and one that was planned three years ago fell through. The four core players in this year’s launch were Shannon Ambrose who runs online music site The Portal Magazine, Darren Gilbert, a producer and the owner of local recording studio Off The T-Can Studios, and Leanne Harrison and Sarah Fielder who run music management and booking company The SIN Agency. This time, The YYC Music Awards fell into place at the National Music Centre’s Studio Bell where some 16 trophies were handed out before a crowd of about 275 who purchased $40 tickets to the event. It was all done very professionally and included live performances.

The big winner at last night’s shindig was Jocelyn Alice for her recently certified platinum single, “Jackpot”. She won four awards: Female Artist of the Year, Single of the Year, Singer-Songwriter of the Year, and Pop Recording of the Year. The success of her single helped her recently ink a deal with Disruptor Records under Sony Music Entertainment. View a list of winners below.

ALTERNATIVE RECORDING OF THE YEAR
The Wisers – It’s Safe, I’m Not Here

BLUES RECORDING OF THE YEAR
Debra Power – Even Red Heads Get the Blues

COUNTRY RECORDING OF THE YEAR
Jason Hastie and The Alibi – Feels Like Home

DJ/ ELECTRONIC RECORDING OF THE YEAR
Zach Taylor – “Johnny Hockey”

FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Jocelyn Alice

GROUP OF THE YEAR
The New Electric

JAZZ RECORDING OF THE YEAR
Al Muirhead – “Oop!”

MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Drew Gregory

METAL RECORDING OF THE YEAR
Every Hour Kills – Every Hour Kills

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Cowpuncher – “Later On”

POP RECORDING OF THE YEAR
Jocelyn Alice – “Jackpot”

RAP/ HIP HOP RECORDING OF THE YEAR
DJ Kav (ft. Kay L & Voyce) – “Raindrops”

ROCK RECORDING OF THE YEAR
The Static Shift – “At Odds”

ROOTS/ FOLK RECORDING OF THE YEAR
The Northern Beauties – The Northern Beauties

SINGER/ SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
Jocelyn Alice

SINGLE OF THE YEAR
Jocelyn Alice – “Jackpot”

The Art of Kirty

kirtyOrillia, ON singer and songwriter Kirty has released a very impressive self-titled album, a little melancholy, a little bright, it breezes in like a hazy shade of summer. Besides excellent writing (throughout the disc), her creamy vocals make this a delightful excursion into alternative folk territory. The varied arrangements are nicely done often coming together from sparse sittings to jam with playful spunk hugged by atmospheric glitter and then pulling back again. Kirty says of the album, “These were songs written in the summer, for the summer. It’s the kind of album I want people to be listening to when they’re riding their bike, or headed to the beach, or driving.” Summer may be over, but we’ll be listening to this album every season of the year. Below, we embed the audio for track “That’s Not Me”.  iTunes

Illuminate Your Life with Shawn Mendes

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He grew up between the ghost town of Altona and the marina on Frenchman’s Bay where part of the 1994 comedy The Ref with Kevin Spacey was filmed. He could have sought employment at the city’s nuclear power plant but opted instead for following in the footsteps of other musical greats born or raised in his hometown of Pickering, Ontario, like Neil Young and Sarah Slean. Shawn Mendes scored a platinum debut album when he was 16 years old attending Pine Ridge Secondary School. Much Music VJs called him the “second coming of Ed Sheeran” and “the new Bieber” while the American press compared him to John Mayer. That album was Handwritten, a collection of simple arrangements, mostly acoustic guitar ditties. The album spawned a string of hit singles: “Life of the Party” (double platinum), “Something Big” (platinum), “Stitches” (double platinum), and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” with Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello (platinum).

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Shawn Mendes has just released his followup album, Illuminate, preceded by a couple of singles, most notably “Treat You Better” (platinum). He recently landed on the cover of Billboard magazine, an interview with Larry King, and appearance on U.S. chat show Jimmy Fallon. Illuminate debuted at No. 1 in 65 countries around the world. Music critics seem intent on focusing on lyrics rather than music for younger stars like him which strikes us as odd. Logically, one would think the older recording artists have more to say and more experiences to recount. “More mature” has become an overused cliché that we will avoid. Illuminate is more sophisticated musically than his last effort and we think has smarter writing and arrangements with electric guitars and piano joining the party. The songs are more intricate and more memorable. The sound is bigger, the delivery more natural, thoughtful, and passionate. Though its appeal may find itself igniting the hearts of the youth, the record is one with the musical quality to charm folks of all ages. The lad has talent as five JUNO nominations to date would indicate.

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Shawn’s partners in crime on the album (not that it’s a criminal record) are, in the writing field, primarily Scott Harris and Geoff Warburton, while much of the production was done by Englishman Jake Gosling who has worked with Ed Sheeran and One Direction. The key to superstardom is following up the buzz album (often the debut) with one that is better or at least as good. Such was true of Corey Hart, Madonna, Tears for Fears, and the like. Shawn Mendes appears to have succeeded. Below we embed his latest MV for track “Mercy”.  iTunes

Selected New Releases 23 September 2016

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Dieppe, NB’s Caroline Savoie kicks of this week’s batch of new releases with her beautiful singer-songwriter self-titled album. From her over to the province of Quebec, eclectic, though leaning towards progressive rock, is MauvesCoco as well as adult contemporary release Décibels et des silences from internationally famous Lynda Lemay.

We get some more singer-songwriter / folk from Toronto’s Justin Rutledge on East and more adult contemporary from Châteauguay’s Ima on Femme. For those who like bossa nova, Jean-François Léger does a fine job covering some of the big hits of the genre over the past 50 years on 50 ans de Bossa Nova.

Topping iTunes in 65 countries, Pickering, ON’s teen sensation Shawn Mendes releases his sophomore album Illuminate drawing comparisons to John Mayer and Ed Sheeran. Orillia, ON’s Kirty delivers an excellent, melancholy, alternative self-titled LP. Find rock with melody on the eponymous album from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC’s O Linea.

The legend who is Plume Latraverse gifts us with his latest, Rechut, focussing on roots music and unsurprisingly tops iTunes musique francophone. Always providing the fun, couple Marie-Eve Janvier and Jean-François Breau are back at it with adult contemporary work La route infinie. Two great alternative works from Montreal are Scavenger by KROY and Solitudes by Matt Holubowski.

A pair of EPs this week are Alright, Alright, Okay by Edmonton’s Havelin and They Are Going Away by Sarnia’s Donovan Woods. Both would fall into the singer-songwriter / folk realm, though the first is more perky and the latter more reflective. Both are superb.

Best, Most Sumptuous Albums of Summer 2016

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Today marks the end of summer as we hit the autumnal equinox. We enjoyed listening to 102 LPs and EPs released through the season and have settled on our 15 picks for the best among them. Honourable mentions are too many to mention. They’re all honourable. We add capsule reviews to the 15 works below sorted alphabetically by title with LPs first followed by EPs.

Badu, Bear Mountain

LP Badu from Vancouver’s Bear Mountain is one of those rare discs that keeps one engaged through its entire duration with solid writing and a variety of flavours including electropop, lounge, jazz, soul, dance, and funk. We were struck especially with the professionalism on the production side. Badu sounds very slick with tightly packed sound bytes that move along at a nice snappy pace.

Illusions of Grandeur, Vito V

As luck would have it, Canada has acquired a talented EDM master from Caracas, Venezuela. He is Montreal-based DJ Vito V, and he seems to get better with each album he releases. If you’re tired of music being called EDM only to find it not danceable, Vito’s album Illusions of Grandeur is for you. It will get you moving. The LP contains a mixture of soaring vocal tracks as well as some instrumental boppers. While beat structures tend to be repetitive on many dance recordings, the ever clever Vito V gives us lots of variety and originality. Refreshingly sophisticated, Vito V’s Illusions of Grandeur will take you on an energetic trip down strobe-light lane. Very good album.

Oobopopop, Valaire

JUNO nominated group Valaire knows how to do pop music right, especially considering the amazingly good Oobopopop. Formerly known as Misteur Valaire, the Sherbrooke band’s album is funky, upbeat, brisk, and invigorating. Soaking in the sun rays surrounding their rented house in Louisianna put the players in the proper spirit to make a summery album. Returning to the home base of Montreal, Valaire sought some vocal talents to augment the work and reeled in such featured stars as Alan Prater (The Brooks), Camille Poliquin (Milk and Bone), Fanny Bloom, and more.

La pluie entre nous, Catherine Durand

Dark clouds haunt the landscape but if you look carefully, the falling raindrops have an electric blue aura. Montreal’s Catherine Durand delighted us with progressive folk album La pluie entre nous. It is her sixth. A very sweet voice, gentle strums, and delicate electronics sprinkle down like, well, rain. Bringing clarity to objects hidden in the mist, this is the perfect album to introduce us to the autumn season. The 10 tracks were four years in the making, and taking her time perfecting the composition has paid off in spades. Catherine Durand’s La pluie entre nous is one of the few 2016 albums worth buying in its entirety, a superb work of art.

Regarde autour, Bruno Pelletier

Regarde Autour is multiplatinum recording artist Bruno Pelletier’s 13th studio album and contains a batch of hearty pop-rock tunes all delivered perfectly with his great vocals. The spirit of the disc is a happy one as Bruno takes us on a ride to celebrate the beauty of life. A long list of collaborators helped make this fabulous record, some of whom are Stephan Moccio, Martin Bachand, Richard Séguin, Lynda Thalie, Kim Thuy, and Amy Sky. His overall vision was one of wanting to keep things light and rhythmic, a pop record that was positive and optimistic. He calls the new album “a selfie of a moment in my life. I deal with rather serious themes, but in a positive tone.” Wonderful album.

Ship of Fools, Elephant Stone

No one does progressive, psychedelic, and culturally rich rock music quite as well as Montreal’s Elephant Stone, and listening to the band’s fourth album Ship of Fools reminds us of this. It is, as the boomers would say, a groovy record that pulls in some neat instruments like the sitar and tablas, spices things up with synths, but most enjoyable is the overall boogie style that is sure to get your head boppin’. The album is a 44-minute jam that grips you with delight and never lets go. Elephant Stone gladdened us with a big booming sound rocking the Ship of Fools, one of the best records of the year.

Onto the EPs…

Arrows Part 2, Stef Lang

A multiple Billboard Hot 100 charting artist, Vancouver Island’s Stef Lang released the much anticipated sequel to her Arrows EP Part 1. Part 2 is just as delicious. It offers perhaps a tighter, more hastening sound with a nice edge to it.

Beaches, HWYS

In debut EP Beaches, duo HWYS shares a love of modern synthpop and old school romantic pop. The analogue synths provide a welcome nostalgic feel while the melodies are catchy.

CDW, Charlotte Day Wilson

This debut EP from Toronto’s Charlotte Day Wilson, shows she is a smoking hot R&B singer. It’s classy and smooth, a mellow, sultry soul done right.

Chat, Jaunt

Chat by Toronto’s Jaunt is a jazzy alternative pop that is so very delicious, six jingles to add some sparkle to your day.

Drawing Room, Helena Deland

Montreal’s Helena Deland provides nice guitar work and vocals on this blessed assortment of singer-songwriter jams. Very well written tracks delivered atmospherically.

Emotion Side B, Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly rewarded us with a collection of album throwaways that are better than most of the pop hits of 2016 proving that she is one of our very best.

Every Last Chance, Every Last Chance

Music with a catchy melody, beautiful vocals, a driving beat, and slick production has the power to infiltrate every cell of the body rendering the mind incapable of focussing on aught else in the surroundings. It possesses you. And that’s what you get with this debut dance EP from fresh Vancouver project Every Last Chance.

Falling Up, Lyon

Few do indie synthpop quite as well as Toronto’s Lyon. This sophomore EP is the fruit of a highly talented artist adventurously writing songs, adding edgy dynamics, and gracing them with her beautiful vocals.

Who Is Jillea, Jillea

This Slaight Music protégé delivers energetic power pop answering the question posed by the EP’s title with a whole lotta awesome.

I Didn’t Fall in Love with Your Hair

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Flat Lake, Alberta’s Brett Kissel reminds us that, when it comes to country music, Canadians do it better. Having topped the country radio charts, scored 3 gold singles, released two full length albums, and won a JUNO award, this man is hot. Brett just released a music video for latest single “I Didn’t Fall in Love with Your Hair”. Lyrically, a masterpiece, it has you thinking, “Aw, so sweet” in the beginning, but then Brett strikes the heart strings with a lightning bolt with the line, “The cancer has spread”. One of the most beautiful music videos released so far this year, the song features fellow JUNO winner Carolyn Dawn Johnson.

New Gold/Platinum Awards for Bieber, Hedley, Helman, Lights, Metric

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Music Canada’s Gold/Platinum awards program has announced new certifications for singles by Hedley, Scott Helman, Lights, Metric, and featuring Justin Bieber. The awards are rolling in with its redefining as of September 12 how certifications are determined. Now streams at a ratio of 150 for 1 unit are combined with digital downloads and sales of any physical copies into the single award. Gold is equivalent to 40,000 units, platinum 80,000, double platinum 160,000, etc.

Cold Water” by Major Lazer featuring Justin Bieber, a recent Billboard Hot 100 chart topper, now stands at double platinum certification.

Hedley‘s “Anything” has been awarded quadruple platinum status (!!!!) while “Crazy For You” makes double platinum. The group’s more recent single “Lose Control” is now platinum.

Bungalow” by Scott Helman has reached platinum.

Saviour“, a Top 40 hit for Lights in 2009, has gone gold.

Electronic rock band Metric has a pair of new certifications: “Youth Without Youth” is gold while “Breathing Underwater” is platinum.

For all the latest certifications and to search past awards, visit Music Canada’s gold/platinum database here. You can also follow the Twitter account here.

Quebec’s Kaytranada Wins the 2016 Polaris Prize

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Quebec recording artist Louis Kevin Celestin, who records under alias Kaytranada, won the Polaris Music Prize of $50K for his debut album 99.9%. Born in Haiti, he emigrated to Canada shortly after birth and launched his music career in Montreal where he grew up. His music has been described as a mish-mash of electronic, hip hop, R&B, and house. The announcement followed a 3-hour showcase of performances by 7 of the 10 nominees, some accompanied by members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He was presented the award by last year’s winner Buffy Sainte-Marie.

The Polaris Prize selects the album subjectively according to “artistic merit”. The winner from the short list of 10 albums is determined by a group of 11 judges made up mainly of media personnel. The nine runners up won $3,000 each for being shortlisted – Black Mountain, Basia Bulat, GRIMES, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jessy Lanza, PUP, Andy Shauf, U.S. Girls, and White Lung. Interestingly, grand prize winner Kaytranada was one of the three nominees who did not perform at last night’s gala at the Carlu in Toronto. It was an event that included celebrity video endorsements of the nominees. Kaytranada was in one way endorsed by Madonna, as she picked him to open for her on a couple of dates on her Rebel Heart tour last year. His album 99.9% features a number of international guests including the UK’s Craig David, Sweden’s Little Dragon, and the UK’s AlunaGeorge.

Canadian Hot 100, 20 September 2016

Beginning with the Billboard albums chart, Toronto alt-rock group July Talk lands at #5 with album Touch. It is the band’s first Top 10 album, helped by single “Push + Pull” spending 11 weeks at #1 on the Modern Rock Airplay chart.

On the Hot 100, Ottawa singer Michelle Treacy scores her first hit, “Armageddon,” which enters at #100. “Deja Vu” by Post Malone featuring Justin Bieber debuts on the chart at #43. Alessia Cara’s “Scars to You Beautiful” enters the Top 40 at #39. Coleman Hell’s “Fireproof” reaches a new peak at #30 and Tory Lanez’s “Luv” at #28.

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More Canadian Hot 100 charts here…

NOTES:

Nielsen SoundScan compiles weekly data on sales of digital singles from a comprehensive pool of Canadian retailers. Nielsen BDS compiles weekly data on spins of singles from 137 radio stations nationwide electronically monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These two charts are combined in the Canadian Hot 100 which is published by Billboard. Beginning 17 September 2014, Nielsen included streaming data from online services in determining the Hot 100.

Here we list all entries from the chart that are in whole or in part by Canadian artists.

The date of the chart corresponds to the release of Nielsen Music’s Canadian Update newsletter which is normally 10 days earlier than the date on the online Billboard chart.

We have used the artwork for the singles where we can. In the case where one doesn’t exist or is unavailable, we have used artwork for the album on which the song appears.

KEY:

RK – Rank among Canadian artist entries
RE – Re-entry
NEW – New entry
CAT – Catalogue singles: old songs that re-chart
TW – This week’s chart position
LW – Last week’s chart position
PP – Peak position achieved
CE – Gold/platinum certification by Music Canada at time of chart’s publication
OR – Provincial origin of the artist
WC – Weeks on the chart
Red maple leaf – Canadian artist
Magenta maple leaf – Partly Canadian artist
Blue maple leaf – Featured Canadian artist

Millimetrik Rolls in Fog Dreams

millimetrik-fog-dreamsMillimetrik is the brain child of Quebec City’s Pascal Asselin, and album Fog Dreams released in February 2016 is up for electronic album of the year at the annual ADISQ gala. It is an excursion into lounge electronica with punctuated hip hop beats, dashes of spicy IDM and stark ambient textures. A mostly instrumental work, though with the odd vocals from featured singers, Fog Dreams is a stunning work eliciting cinematic ambiance in which the refreshingly varied tracks present an assortment of delicious flavours. It is a great album to electrify the atmosphere wherever played. Millimetrik’s Fog Dreams is in contention for the Félix award with other fabulous electronic works from Beat Market, Biobazar, Le Matos, and Organ Mood. MVs of three tracks from the album embedded below.   iTunes

Lyon Is Falling Up

lyon-falling-up1Few do indie synthpop quite as well as Toronto’s Lyon. Debut EP Indian Summer turned many heads in 2013 gaining a round of applause from critics. Lauren Lyon and her band are excited to share followup disc, Falling Up, a 7-track extended play record, the fruit of a highly talented artist adventurously writing songs, adding edgy dynamics, and gracing them with her beautiful vocals. On her website, the singer-songwriter says of the new EP, “It’s a seven song snapshot of my life this past year … straight from my heart to yours. I hope you enjoy it as much as I loved making it.” Below is the MuchFACT supported music video for track “Bodytalk”.  iTunes

Valaire Explores the Territory of Oobopopop

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valaire-oobopopop1JUNO nominated group Valaire (also longlisted for the Polaris Prize) knows how to do pop music right, especially considering the amazingly good Oobopopop. Formerly known as Misteur Valaire, the Sherbrooke band’s new album is funky, upbeat, brisk, and invigorating. The title, according to the band is an onomatopoeia reflected in a musical sample in Louisiana where the group wrote and recorded part of the album. Apparently the heat in the State provided the players with a welcome change from the wintry climes where they recorded their last album, Bellevue.

Soaking in the sun rays surrounding their rented house put them in the proper spirit to make a summery album. Returning to the home base of Montreal, Valaire sought some vocal talents to augment the work and reeled in such featured stars as Alan Prater (The Brooks), Camille Poliquin (Milk and Bone), Fanny Bloom, and more. We have embedded the Snapchat MV for what looks like the album’s most popular track, “By My Side,” which features Alan Prater.  iTunes

Bruno Pelletier Looks Around 50 Times

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Bruno Pelletier is multiplatinum Canadian recording artist and a 3-time JUNO nominee. He hails from the Quebec City suburb of Charlesbourg. In the beginning, Bruno formed both Anglo and Franco bands before relocating to Montreal to play gigs around the city. Bruno’s debut album came out in 1992, and he landed major roles in Luc Plamondon musicals such as La Legende de Jimmy (about James Dean), Starmania, and Notre Dame de Paris. Bruno Pelletier’s third album Miserere achieved double platinum certification for shipments of over 200,000 units, and he began winning Félix awards. “Le temps des cathedrals” was named song of the year by ADISQ in 1999. Bruno has an astonishingly handsome voice that has attracted fans from all over the world.

Regarde Autour (French for look around) is Bruno Pelletier’s 13th studio album and contains a batch of hearty pop-rock tunes all delivered perfectly with his great vocals. The spirit of the disc is a happy one as Bruno takes us on a ride to celebrate the beauty of life. A long list of collaborators helped make this fabulous record, some of whom are Stephan Moccio, Martin Bachand, Richard Séguin, Lynda Thalie, Kim Thuy, and Amy Sky.

bruno-pelletier-regarde-autourRegarde Autour came as a surprise to both his fans and Bruno himself. His last project Music & Cinema, a collaborative one with Guy Saint-Onge, took Pelletier on an extensive tour of such places as Russia, France and South Korea, after which he wanted to take an extended break to relax and enjoy his life. However, Bruno’s game plan changed when his friend Nelson Minville asked him to add his vocals to a song for suicide prevention week. Bruno was reluctant at first, because it concerned such a heavy subject, but when he was played the song “Regarde Autour”, everything changed. In fact, Bruno decided to make a whole album. His overall vision was one of wanting to keep it light and rhythmic, a pop record that was positive and optimistic. He calls the new album “a selfie of a moment in my life. I deal with rather serious themes, but in a positive tone.”

Bruno Pelletier’s Regarde Autour is a wonderful album. We embed below the MV for track “Cinquante fois” (“Fifty Times”) below which plays with the concepts of carpool karaoke, cloning, and from the looks of it, enjoying life in one’s fifties.  iTunes

Elephant Stone Meets a Ship of Fools

elephant-stone-ship-of-foolsNo one does progressive, psychedelic, and culturally rich rock music quite as well as Montreal’s Elephant Stone, and listening to the band’s new record and fourth album Ship of Fools reminds us of this. It is, as the boomers would say, a groovy record that pulls in some neat instruments like the sitar and tablas, spices things up with synths, but most enjoyable is the overall boogie style that is sure to get your head boppin’. The album is a 44-minute jam that grips you with delight and never lets go. It’s a little bit of Revolver era Beatles, a tad Sam Roberts, a smidgen of Arcade Fire, and 100% Elephant Stone with a big booming sound rocking the Ship of Fools, one of the best records of the year. The MV for “The Devil’s Shelter” below will give you a taste.  iTunes

Bobby Bazini Returns Full Throttle with “C’est La Vie”

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Canadian soul singer Bobby Bazini, a four time JUNO nominee, whose first two studio albums went platinum, will be releasing his third LP through Universal Music Canada, the country’s biggest record label, later this year. Heralding the disc is newly released single “C’est La Vie”, an infectious jam infused with bluesy keys and one of the best songs released so far this year. The original composition sprouted from an idea by producer Martin Terefe who has worked with Shawn Mendes, Mike Posner, and MIKA. Bobby tasked himself with writing a meaningful lyric to this common expression avoiding sappy sentimentality. He says that the song is “about being in love but also being ‘at love’ – not a fiery phase of early passion in a relationship but a gentle bond which gives fortitude.”

Bazini co-wrote the songs on the upcoming album with a number of other composers in Los Angeles, Nashville, and London. It is expected to explore both familiar territory as well as add fresh tempos and sounds. He has stuck to his preferred approach of an organic process with real musicians in the studio, though will also give the songs a more contemporary feel. He plans on touring in early 2017. Tomorrow (Saturday, September 17, 2016), Bobby will perform his new song in Montreal’s Bell Centre at the Global Citizen event, a concert calling for an end to AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Usher will be performing along with Metric, Grimes, Half Moon Run, and Charlotte Cardin. In 2014, Bobby Bazini’s album Where I Belong sold 102,000 copies in Canada. He performed at the JUNOs in 2015. We’re glad he’s back!  iTunes