Gord Downie Succumbs to Glioblastoma at 53

“The secret rules of engagement are hard to endorse when the appearance of conflict meets the appearance of force.” – The Tragically Hip: “Grace, Too”

Gord Downie, lead singer of alternative rock band The Tragically Hip, died Tuesday of brain cancer. He was 53.

Downie was born in Amherstview, Ontario and grew up due east in nearby Kingston. He met his bandmates in high school and played shows around town performing cover songs mainly. It was at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto where MCA Records president Bruce Dickinson saw the musicians and offered a record deal.

“I grew up listening to The Hip and I will grow old listening to The Hip.” – Lexi Strate

The Hip won 16 JUNO awards from 1990 to 2017 and scored three diamond albums (representing sales of one million copies each): Road Apples, Up to Here, and Fully Completely. Some of the group’s best-known songs are “Bobcaygeon,” “Ahead by a Century,” “Courage,” and “New Orleans is Sinking.”

“It was a privilege to witness Gord Downie’s creative genius, he was such a force in the Canadian music industry.” – Sarah McLachlan

On the side, Gord Downie began releasing solo works in 2001. He won a pair of JUNOs in 2017 for his Secret Path project exposing the horrors of residential schools. At its center was the story of Chanie Wenjack, a young Anishinaabe boy from the Marten Falls First Nation who died of freezing and starvation in 1966 while trying to return home after escaping from one such school.

Gord was known especially for his thoughtful poetry and energetic performances. He is survived by his four children.

“We will miss you. The legacy will continue.” – Tyler Shaw

Advertisements

Charlotte Cardin Makes Hot 100; Pierre Lapointe Has #1 Album

The bad news first. September was an abysmal month for Canadian artist hit singles. Two of the month’s weeks saw only 10 entries in the Hot 100, an all-time low. In contrast, the week of August 8, 2007 saw 39.

As things stand, this week’s chart has four in the Top 40 with nine more in 60-100 for a total of 13. Many of these are Canadians as featured or co-credited artists.

New on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 is Charlotte Cardin with “Main Girl” at #98. It is the opening track off her EP of the same name released in September. This is her first charting single on the Hot 100. Charlotte recently signed a deal with Atlantic Records in the United States and is gunning for international success.

Canadian singer-songwriter Pierre Lapointe has this week’s #1 album, La Science Du Coeur. It is the 4th 2017 Canadian artist album to top the chart following albums from Drake, Arcade Fire, and Shania Twain. It is Pierre’s third chart-topping album.

American Music Awards Nominate The Furious Five

The furious five are back in the nominations spree. This time it is the American Music Awards which might as well re-christen itself The Canadian Music Awards. Find nominations by artist below. The gala will take place Sunday, November 19. Drake and The Weeknd have 5 nominations each. Alessia Cara and Shawn Mendes have 1 apiece. The Biebs has 4. The Americans seem to have lost sight of genre. Drake’s More Life is considered a pop/rock album in addition to a rap one, as it is nominated in both categories. Something tells us Drake won’t have a problem with that though.

Justin Bieber

– Collaboration of the Year x2 (“I’m the One” + “Despacito”)
– Favourite Song Pop/Rock (“Despacito”)
– Favourite Song Rap/Hip-Hop (“I’m the One”)

Drake

– Artist of the Year
– Favourite Male Artist Pop/Rock
– Favourite Album Pop/Rock (More Life)
– Favourite Artist Rap/Hip-Hop
– Favourite Album Rap/Hip-Hop (More Life)

The Weeknd

– Collaboration of the Year (“Starboy”)
– Favourite Album Pop/Rock (Starboy)
– Favourite Male Artist Soul/R&B
– Favourite Album Soul/R&B (Starboy)
– Favourite Song Soul/R&B (“Starboy”)

Alessia Cara

– Favourite Female Artist Pop/Rock

Shawn Mendes

– Favourite Artist Adult Contemporary

There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light but in Stars

Twinkling ever so brightly is new album There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light by Quebec group Stars clocking in at 3 years after last effort, the popular No One Is Lost. The new album was produced by Peter Katis who has done an excellent job blending orchestral manoeuvres with upbeat synth pop. As always, Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell take turns at the mic delivering sensitive lyrics. The album was heralded by single “Privilege” which opens the disc. Playful B-side “We Call It Love” is included. “Losing to You”, at over 6 minutes, is packed with enough goodies to keep you captivated: a nocturnal shimmer that breaks into slapping beats and burbling bass.

Another standout is “Hope Avenue” suggesting a place to go for Strange Advance’s “We Run”. “Real Thing” seals the deal for a great album, a synth pop ace (official audio below). Even on the mellower tracks, genius is present, an example being “California, I Love That Name”. “Wanderers” is the perfect closer, dramatic and feel-goody.

Three JUNO nominations, all for Alternative Album of the Year, are among Stars’ achievements. Album Set Yourself On Fire was awarded gold certification in 2006 for sales surpassing 50,000 copies. On There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light, the band has penned some of the finest songs of 2017, and the album gets top marks from us.  iTunes

Ryan Kennedy Declares, Love Is Gold

A singular voice and beautifully written smooth folk-pop songs deck recently released album Love Is Gold from Canadian recording artist Ryan Kennedy. Last year, his “Honest Song” stirred up some buzz and graced the airwaves in certain regions of the country; its MV (see below) has racked up over 100,000 views. Ryan self-released album Home Fires in 2015. He composed all tracks on the new album, and there isn’t a single bland one in the batch. As both a singer and a songwriter, Kennedy aces both which is uncommon. Count this album a winner.  iTunes

Oct 13 Releases: Alan Doyle and The Glorious Stars

Among this week’s new releases are 4 EPs and 29 LPs. Two are from JUNO winners and 10 from JUNO nominees. Eight currently twinkle from the iTunes Top 20. Two are Christmas albums (from The Tenors and Sultans of String) which will probably pick up in sales as we head closer towards that holiday. The Voice winner Ludovick Bourgeois launches his debut eponymous album.

Fans of rock, whether on the roots or alternative sides, have many to choose from this week. The ace players of the genre include Kingston’s The Glorious Sons, Hamilton’s Terra Lightfoot, Toronto’s The Beaches, and Saskatoon’s awesome One Bad Son. Alternative works include the hypnotic Queens of the Breakers from The Barr Brothers, punchy The Wild from The Rural Alberta Advantage, and orchestral synth pop There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light from Stars. Also find folk-fab disc A Week at the Warehouse from Alan Doyle, adult contemporary covers on Signé Plamondon from Brigitte Boisjoli, R&B rubbed Morning After from dvsn, pop-rock cool on The Trouble with Teeth from Little Coyote, singer-songwriter warm Keep the Fire from Gabrielle Papillon, alternative adept Politesses from Félix Dyotte, and pop proficient EP Love from Chloé Breault.

A list of these and more of this week’s releases are outlined in the table below. Our year to date album count is up to 102 EPs and 553 LPs. Of the latter, 34.7% are from groups, 34.0% from male soloists, 21.7% from female soloists, 8.7% from duos, and 0.9% from various artists.

TITLE ARTIST ORIGIN JUNOS
A Week at the Warehouse Alan Doyle NL 1N
In the Unknown Annie Sumi ON  
C’est ca l’Amerique, Vol. 3 Aspect Mendoza QC  
Tempest Band of Rascals BC  
The Drifter & the Preacher Barney Bentall ON 1W
Queens of the Breakers The Barr Brothers QC 2N
Late Show The Beaches ON  
Signe Plamondon Brigitte Boisjoli QC  
Something I’ve Done Downchild Blues Band ON 1N
Morning After dvsn ON 1N
Beauty Community The Elwins ON 1N
Politesses Felix Dyotte QC  
Keep the Fire Gabrielle Papillon NS  
Old Cosmos Giant Hand ON  
Young Beauties and Fools The Glorious Sons ON 1N
Héra Ménard Héra Ménard QC  
Innocent OST Ian Kelly QC  
The Trouble with Teeth Little Coyote ON  
Ludovick Bourgeois Ludovick Bourgeois QC  
Tuning Mauno NS  
Made in the Name… One Bad Son SK  
Dollhouse The Pack A.D. BC 1N
Calendar Patrick Ballantyne ON  
The Wild Rural Alberta Advantage ON 1N
Ray of Hope Sina Bathaie  ON  
There Is No Love… Stars QC 3N
Christmas Caravan Sultans of String ON 3N
Christmas Together The Tenors BC 1W
New Mistakes Terra Lightfoot ON  
Love (EP) Chloe Breault NB  
Uh Oh (EP) Jessicka BC
Within Waves (EP) The Kents ON  
Free (EP) Rosa Laricchiuta QC  

This Canadian Music Video Just Hit One Billion Views

Earlier this year, Billboard magazine named Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call My Maybe” as best chorus of the 21st century. Recently, further honours were given the mega-hit; its music video surpassed one billion views on YouTube. Carly will be performing with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra November 21 in the city known for racing cars. She will be touring with American pop superstar Katy Perry in 2018. Of the MV’s achievement, Carly says, “Today CMM video has hit over 1 billion views!!! This is crazy town. THANK YOU to all involved in making this baby spread.” In 2012, “Call Me Maybe” from the British Columbian sold 12 million copies around the world becoming the century’s best-selling single by a female artist.

And, Yes, the Twain Shall Meet

Canadian acts are one and two on the official albums chart this week, catapulting themselves ahead of new albums by the wrecking ball that is Miley Cyrus and jiu-jitsu enthusiast Demi Lovato. In some ways the Canadian artists are quite different. Shania Twain is a female country-pop soloist from Ontario; Hedley is an all-male pop group from BC. What cements them is the fantastic music they create, and together they dominated the past week in album consumption.

Shania Twain’s Now debuts at number one on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart. The album sold 72,000 copies in one week, the biggest 7-day total for an LP since Drake‘s Views sold 92,000 in May 2016. Now is the third 2017 Canadian artist album to hit #1, the others being More Life by Drake and Everything Now by Arcade Fire. Shania Twain is the second best-selling Canadian artist in the Nielsen SoundScan era (behind Céline Dion). Her Come on Over is the biggest selling album of that era. Now also debuted at #1 in The United Kingdom, Australia, and The United States.

Hedley’s Cageless debuts on this week’s chart at #2 with 9,000 consumption units. It is the band’s third album to enter in the top two. All seven of the group’s albums have peaked in the top six. Track “Better Days” from the new album enters the Billboard Hot 100 at #100.

Pierre Lapointe Examines the Science of the Heart

Platinum recording artist and 3-time JUNO nominee Pierre Lapointe is a sharp-dressed man, these days sporting a Commander Riker beard. The native of Alma, QC has released his latest studio album, La science du cœur (Science of the Heart), a piano infused singer-songwriter work that recently dethroned Marilyn Manson to take the top spot at iTunes. Below we embed the colourful MV for track “Sais-tu vraiment qui tu es” (Do you really know who you are) which will give you a taste of his brand of orchestral pop dressed with lush poetry and his John C. Reilly vocals. Since his first album came out in 2004, a self-titled work, Pierre has continued his preference for penning songs about failed relationships. He has managed to make a name for himself in Europe which is normally a formidable task for Canadians. Recently, Pierre has served as a coach on the Canadian installment of The Voice.  iTunes

2017 Thanksgiving Sees 33+ New Albums!

The Thanksgiving long weekend is upon us, and we are giving thanks to the 33 Canadian artists who released new albums yesterday. The new batch brings our annual running total up to 524 LPs and 98 EPs. Among the new releases are 3 JUNO award winners and 8 nominees. Highlights are below with all 33 releases listed in a table below the text.

Currently at #3 at iTunes is platinum, 3-time JUNO nominee Pierre Lapointe from Alma, QC. His new piano centered singer-songwriter album is La Science du Coeur (Science of the Heart). As always, his artistry here is top notch.

Multiplatinum 5-time JUNO nominee Lara Fabian treats us to a new English-language album, Camouflage, which dresses adult pop tunes with her exquisite vocals.

With Universal Music, Montreal’s Wolf Parade contributes Cry Cry Cry, an alternative rock work that is selling well. Along similar lines but in a slightly different technique comes Toronto JUNO nominee Weaves with Wide Open. With a style all its own is JUNO nominated electronic duo Blue Hawaii and Tenderness.

Rap enthusiasts have their choice, among others, between Ottawa JUNO winner Belly and Mumble Rap and Quebec City’s very popular Souldia and Ad Vitam Aeternam (Pour toujours). The latter is currently #12 at iTunes.

A number of world music releases have come out whether in terms of being performed in an Allophone tongue or a cultural musical style (or both). Among them is Mexican-Canadian JUNO winner Boogát with San Cristobal Baile Inn and 2-time JUNO nominee Socalled with Tales from Odessa (A Socalled Yiddish Musical).

Find a couple of blues releases which include Winnipeg 2-time JUNO nominee Little Miss Higgins and My Home, My Heart.

A hefty amount of classical works is freshly available. With an amazing 3 JUNO trophies, Louis Lortie is back with a brilliant interpretation of Chopin on Louis Lortie Plays Chopin, Vol. 5. With 4 JUNO nominations and a gold album (the latter is rare for a classical artist) Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà interpret a composer on Portrait: Max Richter. Max’s music has been widely used in the movies. Decked with a pair of JUNO nominations David Jalbert contributes work Stravinsky & Prokofiev: Transcriptions for Piano.

Finally, we would like to give a shout-out to Ryan Kennedy and his fab new album Love Is Gold. He has a great voice and the songs are very well written with lots of rich details. Ryan’s “Honest Song” received a lot of attention is some circles last year. À nous la beauté from Nini Marcelle slays as far as singer-songwriter discs go. Full marks for this one as well..

TITLE ARTIST GENRE ORIGIN
Here We Are Andie Duquette Country QC
Portrait: Max Richter A. Dubeau/La Pietà Classical QC
Can You Hear Me Ashley Condon S-S PE
Synapses Audionaute Alt QC
Mumble Rap Belly Rap ON
Tenderness Blue Hawaii Electronic QC
San Cristobal Baile Inn Boogát World QC
Brimbelle de la ferme… Brimbelle Children’s QC
Dear Hip Hop… Dan-e-o Rap ON
…Poetes acadiens 2 Danny Boudreau Country NB
Stravinsky & Prokofiev… David Jalbert Classical QC
Bonsoir Sherif Keith Kouna Rock QC
Camouflage Lara Fabian AC QC
My Home, My Heart Little Miss Higgins Blues MB
…Chopin, Vol. 5 Louis Lortie Classical QC
Same As I Ever… Matt Patershuk Blues AB
A nous la beaute Nini Marcelle S-S QC
The Hunt Papagroove World QC
Madre Amiga Hermana Patricia Cano World ON
La Science du coeur Pierre Lapointe S-S QC
Romes Romes Alt ON
Love Is Gold Ryan Kennedy S-S QC
Generation S.V.Ray Country QC
Tirer des lecons Sam Harvey S-S QC
Tales from Odessa Socalled World QC
Ad Vitam Aeternam… Souldia Rap QC
Full Circle Twin Bandit Folk BC
Weather Station Weather Station S-S ON
Wide Open Weaves Alt ON
Rule 62 Whitney Rose Country PE
Cry Cry Cry Wolf Parade Alt QC
Fantasies: Vol. 1 (EP) Emma-Lee Pop ON
Fearless (EP) Roveena AC ON

Lights Scores 1st Top 10 Canadian Artist Album in 8 Weeks

It’s been a bit of a dry spell for Canadian artists on the official albums chart, but Lights took care of business, as she always does. The last Canadian artist album to debut in the Top 10 was Arcade Fire’s Everything Now back on August 8. Lights’ Skin & Earth debuts at #3 this week (in terms of pure album sales it was #2). This matches her highest charted album to date, Siberia. All of Lights’ album releases have made the Top 10. The Toronto electopop star is a multiple JUNO award winner and a platinum certified artist.

Skin & Earth is the 18th Canadian artist album to debut in the Top 10 in 2017. USS kicked off the year with New World Alphabet (#3). Two albums reached #1: the aforementioned Arcade Fire album and Drake’s More Life. Expect to see Shania Twain and Hedley in next week’s Top 10.

Reviewing Shania Twain Now…

With origins in Timmins, Ontario, Shania Twain rose to become the only artist in history, whether foreign or domestic, to score three double-diamond albums: The Woman in Me (1995), Come on Over (1997), and Up! (2002). Twain co-wrote nearly all tracks on the trio of discs with then husband South African record producer and hitmaker Robert John “Mutt” Lange. With wisps of teasing sass and songs that were irresistibly fun, Shania won over people from all walks of life: fans of both country and pop, both men and women, and people of all generations. We won’t go into Shania’s personal hardships which effectively placed her on indefinite hiatus aside from saying that she suffered from dysphonia putting her singing out of commission.

After 15 years, Shania Twain has finally released a new album, entitled simply, Now. The 13-time JUNO award winner co-wrote all tracks. The song-writing is top notch as is the production. While many are wondering if it is possible for her to make such a comeback without the “Mutt” as to return her to her former heights of superstardom, what is clear is that she and her team have done a remarkable job on the album. She even dabbles in some reggae and tropical house. Shania Twain’s Now is available … now. iTunes

Hedley Goes Cageless on 7th Album

In a year that has seen Canuck radio stick to the furious five (Alessia, Bieber, Drake, Mendes, and The Weeknd) at the exclusion of most other Canadian talent largely unknown States-side, one of the casualties of this kowtowing to musical tastes in the Republic is multiplatinum Abbotsford, BC pop band Hedley. The group’s music has never been better as demonstrated on 7th studio album Cageless which topped iTunes upon release. Hedley has become so popular in Canada that even the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen opened for the band on its last Canadian concert series. Shawn Hook will fill those shoes next year for the Cageless tour.

Starting out in the pop-punk genre, JUNO winning Hedley has smoothly transitioned into putting out a pleasant dance pop sound, as demonstrated particularly on infectious track “In Love with a Broken Heart”. The album includes delicious single “Love Again” which peaked at #50 on the Hot 100 and popular songs “Better Days” and “Obsession”. As far as bands performing pop music go, there are few in the world as good at the game as this bunch. On a side note, longtime drummer Chris Crippin has departed for new pursuits.  iTunes

Gabrielle Shonk Scores the Surprise Hit Record of the Year

Somehow this obscure newcomer from Quebec City got discovered by Universal Music, and now Gabrielle Shonk‘s debut album is at #5 on the iTunes chart. She is being called the new Alicia Keys with her brand of soulful indie-folk.

Gabrielle was born in Providence, Rhode Island, USA to an American father and Canadian Francophone mother. She learned English first c/o her father and surroundings in the States. Then, at age five, she relocated to Quebec City and grew up in French immersion. It was important to her to write songs in both languages, and thus her debut, eponymous album is a true Canadian bilingual affair (7 Anglo and 3 Franco tracks).

In 2014, Shonk was a finalist in Season 2 of The Voice while keeping busy teaching jazz at non-profit music school Arquemuse.

We’re going to let the music on this beautiful album speak for itself. Below we embed the MV for “Habit” with its plucky verses breaking out into a gorgeous sweeping orchestral chorus.  iTunes

Cindy Doire Presents a Musical Panorama

With origins in Timmins, Ontario, and serving as one-half of popular singer-songwriter duo Scarlett Jane, Cindy Doire presents her fourth solo album Panorama. She will be on tour to promote it in November. The disc is a genre-defying collection of carefully calculated catchy compositions encompassing measured grooves. The panoramic sound is both ethereal and delicate, as Cindy concocts a new style for this work, an amalgam of dream pop and Moog synthesizer inflected folk all wrapped up in a silvery sheath of angelic vocals. On production detail is Mark Howard (Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, and Tom Waits). Cindy Doire présente: Panorama is an album for the intelligent who love to dream. It soothes, captivates, and rearranges frayed emotions into perfect order.  iTunes