Universal Music Canada Takes the Heat for Franco Exclusion

Canada’s largest record label Universal Music recently came under fire for its exclusion of French-language music in its Canada 150 compilation and has issued an apology as follows.

Unsurprisingly, the CBC, in an attempt to soften the seriousness of the omission, mentioned the complaints coming from Quebec only. In fact, they came from Anglophones outside of Quebec as well. Count us among them.

We would go beyond the status quo of shallow standards to say that any playlist, compilation, or “best of” Canadian music list that excludes Franco works is anti-Canadian. And, no, we do not believe that this is too strong a statement. Francophones make up 22% of our population and create some of the best music not only in Canada but the world at large. Beyond being mindful when compiling music lists, national events like the JUNO awards must include a French-language performance at its main televised gala, as well the Grey Cup half-time show. Both Anglo and Franco songs ought to be played in arenas and during breaks in play of hockey games at home. A couple of Franco songs must grace the playlists of all English-language conducted radio stations and be included in Canadian television and movie soundtracks regardless of the language of dialogue. We must adopt a zero-tolerance policy to those who make Francophobic comments. We cannot refer to Anglophone artists as “Canadian artists” while calling Francophone artists from Quebec as “Quebec artists”. We either call all Canadian or specify the provincial or local origin of each. We cannot move forward as a country that claims to espouse federalism with francophobia intact.

Chart Highlights 18 July 2017

“Despacito” featuring Justin Bieber spends its 10th week at the summit of the Billboard Hot 100. Reaching a new peak position on the chart is Shawn Mendes‘ “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” at #6. It is Shawn Hook, however, who is king of the Emerging Artists chart for the second week in a row with “Reminding Me” which is up to #31 on the Hot 100. Only 13 Canadian artist tracks (whether as the main or lone featured artist) sit on the chart this week.

No new Canadian artist albums debut within the Top 10; Broken Social Scene settles for the respectable #14 for latest album Hug of Thunder.

Most chart activity is happening with country this week. New in the All-Format Airplay Top 50 is Gord Bamford‘s “Living on Summertime” at #42 (see brand new MV below). He is followed by Jojo Mason and “Something to Wrap My Heart Around”, #43. Tim Hicks is up to #2 on the Country Airplay chart for his “Slide Over”. He is bettered only by Thomas Rhett. Washboard Union‘s “Shine” debuts on the chart at #45.

As promised, here’s a little dose of the Bamford:

Meet the 2017 Female Artist of the Year CCMA Nominees

Below are, as reckoned by the Canadian Country Music Association, the five women who are currently making the hottest country music in the land: Edmonton’s Alee, Calgary’s Lindsay Ell, British Columbia’s Madeline Merlo, Saskatchewan’s Jess Moskaluke, and Ontario’s Meghan Patrick. We’ve provided some info on the fabulous five with an embedded MV for each to give you a taste of their music. Who’s gonna win the award? And whom are you rootin’ for?


Edmonton’s Alee scored a couple of Country Top 40 hits from her debut independent album which drew the attention of Wax/Universal who signed her. Album Bad Habit came out this year. We have embedded the MV for her latest hit single “When I Do” below.

Lindsay Ell

Lindsay Ell, based in Nashville, is from Calgary. She is one of the few Canadian country artists – male or female – who is doing relatively well in the United States. She hasn’t quite cracked the Top 40 there but has a few Top 50 hits in the Republic. At home, Lindsay scored her first Country Top 10 hit last year with “All Alright”. Lindsay’s “Trippin’ On Us” made the Billboard Hot 100 in 2014. Last week, Ell released the MV for her latest single, freestyle country song “Waiting on You” (see below).

Madeline Merlo

Hailing from Maple Ridge, BC, Madeline Merlo is doing very well: six Top 40 Country hits including a Top 10 (“Whatcha Wanna Do About It”). In 2015, she won the CCMA Rising Star Award. Below is “Over & Over” which peaked at #13 on country radio.

Jess Moskaluke

There is no question that Langenburg, SK’s Jess Moskaluke is currently country music’s leading lady. She is a platinum and Billboard Hot 100 charting recording artist who has won a JUNO award. Ten of her songs (one as a featured artist) have made the Country Top 40, four of which rolled into the Top 10. “Drive Me Away” peaked at #3. Jess has won the CCMA Female Artist of the Year award for the past three. The awards are being held in her home province this year. Can she win a fourth time or will the CCMAs decide to give the award to another for a change? Below is Jess’ MV for “Take Me Home” which has amassed over half a million views.

Meghan Patrick

With momentum on her side, Bowmanville, ON’s Meghan Patrick has three CCMA nominations this year, and she’s only just released her debut album, Grace & Grit, which has spawned four Top 25 country radio hits, including Top 10 “Still Loving You”. The album is the only one from a female artist up for Album of the Year and was produced by big names including Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger and Vince Gill! MV for her most recent hit “Be Country with Me” embedded below.

Mikey Bustos’ Parody at 24 Million and Counting

Move over “Weird Al” Yankovic, Canadian singer Mikey Bustos, an alumnus of Canadian Idol, though making successful original music, is becoming increasingly known for his hilarious parodies. We previously featured his delightful lyrical re-write of Meghan Trainor’s “No”. Mikey has taken the #1 hit “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber and, hitting the beach, rewritten the Spanish lyrics into English ones and titled it in true swimwear fashion: “I Wear Speedos”! It has surpassed 24 million views on Facebook and a million on YouTube. Canadian Music Blog sends Mikey a big congrats on the continuing success. He’s a very talented guy. Below is the MV which should put a big smile on your face.

Claps for Broken Social Scene’s Hug of Thunder

Toronto collective Broken Social Scene (a.k.a. BSS) has scored two gold albums each of which won a JUNO (Alternative Album of the Year). At the core of the lineup which has gone anywhere from six to nineteen were founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. Though a hit single has eluded the group, critical acclaim has poured in. BSS failed to stay afloat announcing a hiatus in 2010, but now experiences a strong return via superb new album Hug of Thunder. Onboard are such notables as Feist and Metric’s Emily Haines & Jimmy Shaw; 15 members are on the disc.

Track “Halfway Home”, absolutely epic, combines a towering Coldplay anthem with intelligent Arcade Fire facets; this is our favourite cut. Metric’s Emily Haines seems to have set off on a ski jump with a gliding vocal delivery while guitars pump the air beneath her in “Protest Song”. “Skyline” blends the cinematic folk of Grapes of Wrath with the alternative atmospherics of Love & Rockets; we dig the guitar work yielding to boss percussion halfway through. The popular “Stay Happy” is funky, quirky, and bold. Feist takes the mic in title-track “Hug of Thunder” drenched with her signature choppy approach, flickering bass, and subdued boom.  iTunes

Emily Rowed Gets the Electric Heart Pumping

Vancouver’s Emily Rowed was heavily into folk music when EDM wizard Tiësto chose her as the voice on “Say Something”, a reworking of the song by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera. She found the progressive currents exciting and decided to make music that was bigger, more energetic, colourful, and electric. Signed to world renowned label 604 Records, Emily launched her single “Arrows” in May. Presenting a warm vocal delivery, the song is rooted in her acoustic songwriting while brought into fruition by smart alt-pop production. The La+ch remix of the track dresses the music with more ornate electronics. Rowed heralded her EP Electric Heart with the exquisite song “Electric”. Beginning as a boot-stomping bluesy number, it morphs into an advanced sculpture with both electric and electronic grooves. The other tracks on the disc are just as popular: “Burn” flickers, “Swords” cuts to the chase, and “Rubies” dances brightly.  iTunes

We’re Howling with Delight at Amaara’s Black Moon

Triple threat Kaelen Ohm, recording artist, actress, and award-winning filmmaker, recently released album Black Moon under moniker Amaara. Technically an LP (with six tracks, it has a run time of 27 minutes), Black Moon is drenched in dream pop atmospherics. Amaara, having served as a member of Reuben and the Dark, proves she can make just as satisfying music as a soloist. The music frolics airily through lullabies, fantasies, and fairy tale magic. The exceptional title-track perfectly delivers her style. “Dreamcatcher” blends the ominous with the soothing before breaking into a soft flow. Amaara’s Black Moon is a hauntingly beautiful album for those seeking something magical.  iTunes

Kashka Helps Us Relax

Kashka is the project name of Toronto’s Kat Burns who recently released synthpop EP Relax. Standout tracks include the burbling, glittery “Holding Steady”; funky, chiming “Wild Things”; and trippy yet sobering “Reset/Outro” propelled by eerie synths and backed by grieving strings. As its title suggests, this is music to relax to with unprocessed, crystal clear vocals, haunting electronica, and superb songwriting. Kashka’s Relax is among the best synthpop works of the year. Fans of the genre can’t afford to miss out on this one.  iTunes

CMB Premieres Upcoming Single from Every Last Chance

Emerging pop artist Every Last Chance (ELC) will be releasing new single “When I Grow Up” on July 21. The song presents a heartfelt and honest monologue inspired by almost losing a parent. Says the group, “That reflection became a discovery, that adulthood is scarier than it appeared when we were children – and that we never really feel as though we’ve ‘grown up'”. Ultimately the song explores what it really means to be an adult and how drawing on inspiration from our parents can help guide us on our journey. Canadian Music Blog embeds the official audio below. A music video is planned for September.

Every Last Chance (ELC) is a Canadian project that aims to make pop music with meaning. Debut single “Spotlight” featuring the superb vocals of Marissa Dattoli (lead singer of Ontarian band Crystalyne) stirred up some buzz; the euphoric EDM masterpiece peaked at #65 on the Mediabase CHR chart. Followup single “Roll the Credits” featuring David Spekter continued the momentum reaching #27 at AC and #39 Hot AC nabbing for the group Bell Media’s Future Star award. ELC launched its first EP (iTunes), a self-titled work, in 2016. The act has amassed close to half a million Spotify plays. A new EP is in the works expected to come out in the fall of 2017 which will include the new song “When I Grow Up”.

Connect with ELC:
Website:  http://everylastchance.com/
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/everylastchance
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/everylastchance

2017 CCMA Award Nominations Announced

The Canadian Country Music Association announced nominations for the CCMA awards today. There are 34 categories, and eight trophies will be presented during the artist gala to be broadcast from Saskatoon on Sunday, September 10 at 8 p.m. on CBC. Already booked to perform are Dean Brody, Brett Kissel and Jess Moskaluke. During country music week, there will be three award ceremonies including artist, musician, and industry for a total of 42 awards.

Leading the nominees with five each are first-timer James Barker Band (Woodville), Dean Brody (Jaffray), and Brett Kissel (Flat Lake). Find the list of nominees below. To view musician and industry awards, visit the CCMA website:  https://www.ccma.org/

You can vote for the Fans’ Choice Award here.

Gord Bamford
Dean Brody
Chad Brownlee
High Valley
Dallas Smith

Beautiful Freakshow – Dean Brody
Dear Life – High Valley
Game On – James Barker Band
Grace & Grit – Meghan Patrick
Side Effects – Dallas Smith

Lindsay Ell
Madeline Merlo
Jess Moskaluke
Meghan Patrick

Gord Bamford
Chad Brownlee
Tim Hicks
Brett Kissel
Aaron Pritchett
Dallas Smith

Cold Creek County
High Valley
James Barker Band
The Road Hammers
The Washboard Union

The Lovelocks
Jessica Mitchell
Lindi Ortega
JJ Shiplett
The Washboard Union

Dan Davidson
Aaron Goodvin
James Barker Band
JoJo Mason
Meghan Patrick

Autograph – Dallas Smith
Cool With That – Brett Kissel
Lawn Chair Lazy – James Barker Band
Take Me Home – Jess Moskaluke
Time – Dean Brody

Chills – James Barker Band
I Didn’t Fall In Love With Your Hair – Brett Kissel
That’s When You Know – Chris Buck Band feat. Kira Isabella
Time – Dean Brody
When A Momma’s Boy Meets A Daddy’s Girl – Aaron Pritchett

James Barker, Gavin Slate, Travis Wood, Donovan Woods
Song: Chills (Performed By: James Barker Band)

Ted Hewitt, Brett Kissel, Phil O’Donnell
Song: Cool With That (Performed By: Brett Kissel)

Clayton Bellamy, Dan Davidson
Song: Found (Performed By: Dan Davidson)

Dean Brody
Song: Time (Performed By: Dean Brody)

Patricia Conroy, Jessica Mitchell, David Thomson
Song: Workin’ On Whiskey (Performed By: Jessica Mitchell)

Shae Dupuy
Tim Hicks
Hunter Brothers
Brett Kissel
Wes Mack

New on the Charts: July 11, 2017

Four Canadian artist songs reach new peak positions on the Hot 100 this week. Virginia to Vegas‘ “Selfish” is up to #72, Hedley‘s “Love Again” #58, Shawn Hook‘s “Reminding Me” #34, and Drake‘s “Signs” #12.

The Icon series has put together a various Canadian artists compilation album of hits from the modern era called Canada 150. It debuts on the albums chart at #15.

Toronto’s Kayla Diamond was busy at law school when she submitted an original song to a contest. A win had her pursuing music full time. Her new song “Carnival Hearts” debuts at #35 on CHR radio, ahead of Kesha. Kayla is working on an album due out later this year with Cadence Music. She receives a feature in this week’s Nielsen Update newsletter. (See the song’s lyric video below).

Saskatchewan’s Jess Moskaluke, performing at this year’s CCMA awards gala, appears on the Country Radio chart with her new single “Kill You Love” (#48). She is followed by Ottawa’s River Town Saints whose “Woke Up Like This” debuts at #49. AC radio gives the nod to Vancouver’s Ashleigh Ball and “Crazy” (#31). Hot AC is bending for Nova Scotia’s Ria Mae; “Bend” debuts at #40.

Jess, Dean, and Brett to Perform at 2017 CCMA Gala

The Canadian Country Music Association has revealed the initial performers at the 2017 gala which will be held in Saskatoon September 10 and broadcast at 8 p.m. on CBC. They are Jess Moskaluke, Dean Brody, and Brett Kissel. For those unfamiliar with these three darlings of the Canadian country music scene, below are some tidbits. The CCMA plans to have over a dozen players take the stage, the remainder of which will be announced in the coming weeks. Eight trophies will be doled out at the gala. Nominations will be announced July 12.

Langenburg, SK’s Jess Moskaluke is a platinum recording artist c/o her hit “Cheap Wine and Cigarettes”. Jess is currently country music’s leading lady; she has won the CCMA Female Artist of the Year Award three years in a row. Her collaborative single with Paul Brandt “I’m an Open Road” was recently certified gold. This year (2017), Jess won the Country Album of the Year JUNO award for her EP Kiss Me Quiet.

Originally from Jaffray, BC, Dead Brody is a platinum recording artist thanks to three of his songs. As well, he has a gold album, Dirt. Two of his LPs have won the JUNO for Country Album of the Year. Dean has been active since 2009. His song “Bounty” made it to #1 at Country Radio. He has placed an amazing 20 songs on the Billboard Hot 100.

Brett Kissel is from Flat Lake, Alberta and has scored three gold singles, including the #1 Country Airplay hit “Airwaves”. Brett won the 2014 JUNO Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year which marked the first time in 17 years that a country artist nabbed the award. He has won six CCMA Awards. Eight of his songs have appeared on the Billboard Hot 100.

New Releases, July 7, 2017

Fevers is an alternative group from Ottawa. Album Apologia is essentially electronic with the music swinging between more mainstream pop and alt pop. Dance beats make some appearances at times. This is an impressive album.

Quake Matthews is a talented rapper from Halifax. Find a number of ace guests on album Celebrate the Struggle including JRDN and Ria Mae.

Female rappers are less abundant but there are a few, and one of the best ones at the game is OneNessa. She is based in Montreal. Album Coming Through is for those who love lots and lots of sumptuous bass.

Seasoned country singer Julie Daraîche is the sister of Paul. The Daraîche family is one of the most successful in the country at selling records. Her new one is entitled 50 ans d’amour.

Broken Social Scene‘s Hug of Thunder is the most successful Canadian album released this week, and it deserves to be. The alternative atmosphere it presents is thick enough to be cut by a knife. The large ensemble of players hails from Toronto.

Enthusiasts of alternative music on the quirky side will find much to grin about on Life After Wartime from Toronto’s The Nursery.

Country player Keven Landry has managed to top the iTunes Musique francophone chart with album 94 and its superb musicianship. He’s from Havre-Saint-Pierre, QC.

Hamilton alternative duo Whitehorse submits Panther in the Dollhouse. It’s an album for nighthawks taking a road trip to the Manitoban death star.

Whitehorse may not actually be from the north, but Quantum Tangle is indeed. On album Shelter As We Go…, the Yellowknife duo combines Inuit storytelling, throat singing, and Métis roots and blues.

A couple of EPs to check out are alternative disc Little Fire from Saskatoon’s Too Soon Monsoon and Summer Time Come from Vancouver blues group Ian Campbell Band.

New Releases for Canada Day 2017

Martin Kerr is our lucky acquisition from Britain. He was semi-finalist in Season 6 of Canadian Idol and is now based in Edmonton. Martin presents singer-songwriter album Better Than Brand New with great vocals, expert instrumentation, and nicely written tunes.

Folk music of the most magnificent calibre wafts from Prince Edward Island thanks to Catherine MacLellan. She honours her father Gene on album If It’s Alright with You – The Songs of Gene MacLellan. Arrangements on some of the songs ring of a more traditional folk while others a modern singer-songwriter vibe. Gene was the great Canadian composer who wrote classics like gospel track “Put Your Hand in the Hand” and Anne Murray’s “Snowbird”. Elvis Presley, Joan Baez and Bing Crosby were among the many artists who performed his songs. Who better to present them in review than his daughter?

A hope was that MAGIC!’s breakout success would help pull some reggae tunes from their artists into the mainstream. We cannot say that that has happened, though a number of artists are incorporating reggae threads into modern pop music. Ammoye is a Torontonian acquisition from Jamaica … mon. She has crafted a tightly produced set of northernized (i.e. pop) reggae tunes on album The Light. Some lean more towards reggae and some pop. She is as talented as they come, and this very intelligent work deserves an award. (She has three JUNO nominations so far). Very, very good album.

Mike from Canmore may no longer be with us (R.I.P. John Morgan), but we do have a duo from Canmore, Alberta making peaceful and soothing folk music. Self-titled album The Raven and Fox is described by its authors as “mountain music”.

There are not a large number of artists making funk music these days, but those who dabble are doing a good job at it. One example is Franky Selector with new album Shabby Chic. Described as “organic sounds and vintage instrumentation”, seventies enthusiasts will rightfully dig it.

For those looking for music with more of a kick to it, Manitoba’s Mise en Scene pumps out the energy in indie rock album Still Life on Fire, a combination of razor slashing guitars and delectable vocals.

Versatile artist Lily Frost gifts the world with new EP Rebound. It’s a 60s jazz-pop tour de force that includes spy, surfboard, and bluesman cometh themes. This one is a total blast.

Stars Shine Beneath Parliament Fireworks at Canada 150

Quite possibly the year’s most Canadian concert went down on Parliament Hill in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday July 1, 2017. A big crowd gathered on Parliament Hill to see their favourite recording artists perform. Knowing that not all around the world were able to see it, we took some screen captures and present them below.

Above, Walk Off the Earth kicks things off. Below, Louis-Jean Cormier performs beneath the lights.

Serena Ryder kills it (below).

Serena then joins Marie-Mai and Lisa LeBlanc to pay tribute to Gordon Lightfoot covering a couple of his songs.

Gordon Lightfoot himself then mounts the stage. Gord performed on Parliament Hill for Canada’s 100th birthday 50 years ago as well.

The incomparable Lisa LeBlanc does what she does best.

Kinnie Starr wears a tuque in July. What can be more Canadian than that?

Beautiful performance by Kelly Bado.

Kinnie Starr, Louis-Jean Cormier, and Kelly Bado perform together.

Wide shot of the proceedings:

A party wouldn’t be the same without Cirque du Soleil!

Country star Dean Brody sings “Canadian Girls”.

Marie-Mai may be wearing a #10, but she’s #1 with us.

Innovative artist Mike Tompkins turns up the wow factor.

Alessia Cara pumps up the crowd with “Scars to Your Beautiful”.

Back to the Future in Canada 150.

The all-star lineup performs Tragically Hip’s “Ahead by a Century” to close out the show.

Fireworks begin…