An extended play record (EP), as far as we are concerned, is one with at least three original tracks that have a combined run time of less than 25 minutes. Sometimes remixes of one or more tracks on the EP result in a disc run time of over 25 minutes. We still consider these to be EPs. We do not count as an EP a disc with only one or two original songs plus various remixes of them. We may consider as an EP a collection of bonus tracks released as an addendum to a studio album even if it runs over the 25-minute mark.
Canadian music blog editors tracked 128 qualifying extended play records from Canadian artists released in 2017. We listened to all and settled upon a year-end ranking of the 10 best regardless of genre. Find below our 10 favourite Canadian artist EPs of 2017 including our 2017 Extended Play Record of the Year!
Toronto’s Joseph Salusbury, under stage name Joseph of Mercury, had the thermometer visibly rising with the release of his superb 2017 EP. It’s 80s synth pop combined with 50s velvety crooning. He has the theatrical good sense of Freddie Mercury, captures the excitement of Future Islands, and dishes out the echo heavy proclivities of Roy Orbison. With the Joseph of Mercury disc, the man was named artist of the week by Apple Music in both The United States and Canada. The beats are well done, and the ride is one of unexpected twists; the whole package sounds fresh and is as engaging as fireworks on the 1st of July. This is quite the ace in the hole and we look forward to a full-length from this super talented artist in the future. iTunes
Toronto’s Kayla Diamond dropped her debut mini album Beautiful Chaos which contains some of the finest pop music of 2017. Kayla’s academic pursuits in law school were interrupted when she won Slaight Music’s It’s Your Shot Contest and was offered a recording contract with Cadence Music. Leading up to the EP release was her delicious single “Carnival Hearts” which got her named iHeartRadio’s Future Star for the month of July. The song did well hitting airwaves across the country, getting spun into the hundreds of thousands on Spotify, and charting on Shazam. But the EP has much more to offer with well crafted charmers dressed with her glittery vocals. iTunes
Though he started out on guitar, Montreal’s Charles-Alain Roy expertly crafts chillout electronic music under the moniker Aléatoire (French for random) and presented EP Maps on the Palms containing four tracks all featuring the exquisite vocal talents of Toronto’s Alina Libkind. “Immune”, previously released as a single, received a nice writeup in Fader Magazine which stated the song “weaves a crushing set of circumstances into a warm and blissful light at the end of the tunnel”. Indeed, the tracks are each a comfortable cushioned sofa and serve as hypnotic neon lights pushing away the darkness of night with sonic flashes and shimmers all dressed with Alina’s mesmerizing coos. iTunes
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
From the Metro Vancouver city of Maple Ridge is this country newcomer who decked 2017 with her debut EP, an eponymous one. The six-track disc followed the release of single “Rebound” last October. Her name is Natasha Zimbaro, and if her name or face seems familiar, that may be because she was a finalist in Simon Cowell’s X Factor UK in 2011. Moreover, she was one of three in pop group Prty H3ro who placed two singles in the Billboard Hot 100, “Life of the Party” and “Young & Shameless”. As a soloist, Natasha has decided to return to her country roots, the genre she embraced when she became a teenager. Natasha gives the country music scene what it needs – a fresh, vibrant, youthful style, and she injects a wallop of confident energy into the genre. Picture Back to the Future III’s Doc Brown tossing some Presto logs into the locomotive boiler. That’s what Natasha does here. She elevates country music to a dynamic realm. She has a great voice and the music on this is fab. iTunes
Kashka is the project name of Toronto’s Kat Burns who had us all smiles with 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 the EP’s title suggests, this is music to relax to with unprocessed, crystal clear vocals, haunting electronica, and superb songwriting, in short everything a fan of progressive music can ask for. iTunes
Calgary’s Bobby Wills released a stellar EP in 2017, In Comes the Night, heralded by two singles, “Get While the Gettin’s Good” and the title-track. The writing, vocal delivery, and production are all top-notch making this 7-track disc a gem among the year’s country music releases. The EP soothes, exhilarates, and has us cheering as great track follows great track. It was a fabulous late summer release that had us welcoming the fall. Bobby Wills won the CCMA Rising Star Award in 2013 and the following year released his music through MDM Recordings. iTunes
Sisters Lex Valentine and Nadia Valerie King formed pop duo LOLAA last year launching debut single “Always Been” with backing vocals by Love Inc.’s Simone Denny. The duo put on some live shows around the GTA supporting such acts as MSTRKRFT. Lex and Nadia are not necessarily new to the game; they were part of rock trio Magneta Lane which has put out some albums. On board the LOLAA project is producer Jon Drew (Tokyo Police Club). The duo cites Gloria Estefan, Kim Carnes, Laura Branigan, Debbie Harry, and Donna Summer as influences. On the EP, find six radio quality pop charmers with memorable melodies, pleasant vocals, and addictive beats. This one has a nice bite to it. iTunes
Toronto’s Stacey is surfing at the forefront of a new wave of music we can describe as “nuage-pop” being made right here in Canada. Canadian women such as Stacey, Rosemary Fairweather, and Amaara are world leaders in making ambient pop music with crystal clear vocals and dreamy keyboard sequences. It’s all very exciting. Stacey offers a style that is at times a little more vigorous. Her latest EP is entitled First Move, and it comes with five exquisite tracks. They take on a nice balance between soothing background mood music and surging foreground suds of captivation. iTunes
The quality of progressive pop music kept bubbling up to new heights through 2017. The best extended play record of the year harnesses the sound of the decade that began with the release of Atari’s Missile Command and closed out with the introduction of the first Game Boys. Fresh 2017 synthpop was crafted by a Toronto slick stylist of cool who found herself signed to prestigious label 604 Records. The EP borders on the excellence delivered by Tegan & Sara on the duo’s last two LPs. And in fact the Quin twins became fans of this disc, a pretty big endorsement. Find half a dozen bright, burbling, and melodic gems that conjure up scenes of playing Tomy’s Waterful Ring-Toss. If nothing else, track “Tease” should make your day. Canadian Music Blog declares Ralph by Ralph as 2017’s Extended Play Record of the Year! iTunes