Selected New Releases June 23, 2017

It isn’t a big week in terms of the number of album releases as things begin slowing down for the summer months. Here are three…

Black Moon is a dreamy atmospheric mini-album from Toronto’s AMAARA, solo project of Kaelen Ohm, member of group Reuben and the Dark. The album is a stunning piece of work.  iTunes

Jon Stancer delivers pleasant, mature pop album For the Birds, his first as a soloist. He has served as guitarist for artists around Toronto and in some local bands. The tunes are put together nicely.  iTunes

More on the alternative rock side, we have And the Magic of Horses from Ottawa’s New Swears, a talented group as the disc demonstrates.  iTunes

Folks, a one-bedroom 439 square foot condo (i.e. cavity in a building) in working-class East Vancouver is listed at $725,000. A track at iTunes goes for $1.29. Which one are you going to buy? A host of new singles have come out, music lovers. Here are three…

Saskatchewan’s Jess Moskaluke, platinum country star and JUNO award winner, discharges new song “Kill Your Love”. It is easily the best country song of 2017 so far.  iTunes

Toronto K-Pop specialist Henry drops delicious new track “I’m Good” complete with a music video. See below.  iTunes

Gold-certified JUNO award winning electropop ace LIGHTS launches new mainstream pop single “Giants” from upcoming album (and comic book) Skin & Earth. MV below.  iTunes

Chart Highlights June 20, 2017

Interesting fact: Shawn Hook becomes the first non-Ontarian Canadian artist to score a Top 40 hit in 2017. The British Columbian’s “Reminding Me” featuring US singer Vanessa Hudgens broke into the upper echelon last week and is up a notch this week to #37.

Justin Bieber‘s teaming up with EDM specialist David Guetta results in a debut at #4 on the Hot 100 with “2U”. The track is #2 at Hot Digital Songs

For those who like urban music … “To the Max”, the DJ Khaled track featuring Drake is into the Top 40 at #32.

Toronto R&B singer Mckenzie Small released EP Half of Me back in April, and her song “Dynamite” is bubbling under the CHR airplay chart and the Canadian Emerging Artists chart. For this, she receives a feature in Nielsen Music’s newsletter this week. Check out the MV below.

Speaking of CHR, Hedley‘s new single “Love Again” makes an entrance at #38 and Hot AC at #37. New City‘s “Dirty Secrets” lands on the Hot AC chart at #36. Perhaps the biggest news of all this week is that “Chills” by James Barker Band (Barrie, ON) is #1 at country radio this week! Speaking of country music, Dallas Smith has released a new music video for his song “Sky Stays This Blue” from his album Side Effects. We embed it below.

Carly Rae Jepsen Gets Backed by the TSO

Canadian multiplatinum, multiple JUNO Award winning pop superstar Carly Rae Jepsen performed Saturday night, June 17, 2017 in concert with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She managed to make the evening so much fun that she brought the sold-out crowd at the Roy Thomson Hall to its feet. Wearing a floor-length black and sparkly gold dress, she opened the night with “Run Away with Me” and capped things off with “Call Me Maybe”. The crowd demanded an encore, and she let loose on “I Really Like You”. Youthful conductor Lucas Waldin charmed the audience of young men and women and families. Some of the parents commented that their children were learning orchestral instruments and were also fans of Carly, so her performing with the symphony was very encouraging in their pursuit of music.

SET LIST:
Run Away with Me
Making the Most of the Night
Gimmie Love
Emotion
Your Type
Tug of War
When I Needed You
Boy Problems
All That
Let’s Get Lost
Call Me Maybe
I Really Like You (Encore)

The concert was part of a series of projects across the country to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation and was also the 10th anniversary of Jepsen’s appearance on Canadian Idol. Her success on the program helped launch a career in music which began with 2008 album Tug of War which spawned two gold singles. This in turn helped her secure a record deal with Chad Kroeger’s (Nickelback) 604 Records. She released song “Call Me Maybe” and EP Curiosity. The former was the best-selling song in the world for 2012, and title-track “Curiosity” went gold. LP Kiss followed which went gold and won the JUNO for Album of the Year. It spawned the #1 hit “Good Time”, a collaboration with Owl City. Carly’s third album Emotion was critically acclaimed and short listed for the Polaris Prize. Among its tracks was gold-certified single “I Really Like You” the music video of which featured Hollywood A-list actor Tom Hanks.

Carly Rae Jepsen is regarded by many of her fellow recording artists, both men and women, as one of the finest at her craft in the world including her fans Justin Bieber, Lorde, John Mayer, and Katy Perry. Her latest single “Cut to the Feeling” was named by Billboard Magazine as one of the 50 best songs of 2017 so far. Billboard also named “Call Me Maybe” as having the #1 best chorus of the 21st Century.

A busy weekend for Carly, once done with the concert Saturday night, she headed on over to attend the Much Music Video Awards on Sunday as a presenter.

Parliament Hill Concert Vs. CanCon-Deprived MMVAs

Canadian artists are topping the charts and selling out arenas all over the world, but in the minds of the organizers of Canadian events, they are not good enough to perform. For the past three years, foreign acts have headlined the Grey Cup half-time show. Moreover, we predicted when Robert Pittman’s iHeartRadio became involved with the Much Music Video Awards (MMVAs), that it would lead to a death of CanCon, and as we see in the performance lineup for the 2017 MMVAs, that is exactly what has happened. It is bad enough to allow Francophobia to exclude Francophone artists from performing at such nation-wide events, but to shut out Canadian artists as a whole can only mean that a 150-year-old country has no confidence in itself.

To the rescue comes an all-Canadian lineup, as it should be and as it has always been, for the Canada Day concert on Parliament Hill. To celebrate the nation’s 150th birthday, concerts across the land will take place. At the Canadian Museum of History July 1 at 6:30 p.m. local time, find the Souljazz Orchestra and at 9 p.m. The Lost Fingers. Major’s Hill Park’s players are Ruth B at 6:30 p.m., Jonathan Painchaud 7:15, Laurence Nerbonne 7:30, Moon Vs Sun featuring Raine Maida (Our Lady Peace) and Chantal Kreviazuk 8:30, and Mother Mother 9:30.

The flagship concert will take place on Parliament Hill at 8:30 p.m. Ottawa time, and here is the impressive lineup:

Alessia Cara
Cirque du Soleil
Dean Brody
Gordon Lightfoot
Kelly Bado
Kinnie Star
Lisa Leblanc
Louis-Jean Cormier
Marie-Mai
Mike Tompkins
Serena Ryder
Walk Off the Earth

We can only hear organizers of other events justifying their lack of CanCon by pointing out the full-slate of maple stars at the Canada Day concert. It’s very sad.

Gears Perfectly Aligned on Nickelback’s Feed the Machine

Hanna, Alberta’s post-grunge group Nickelback, recipient of 12 JUNO Awards, releases its ninth studio album Feed the Machine. The current lineup is lead singer Chad Kroeger; guitarist, keyboardist, and backing vocalist Ryan Peake; bassist Mike Kroeger; and drummer Daniel Adair. Nickelback wrote or co-wrote all tracks and co-produced the disc with Chris Baseford. Despite the airwaves being heavily dominated by urbanized EDM these days, the band continues to sell records in impressive numbers. All studio albums to date have achieved gold/platinum certification. Nickelback’s third album Silver Side Up is the group’s best-seller at 8x platinum representing 800,000 units in Canada. Worldwide record sales for the band are estimated at over 50 million.

The price of success for a Canadian act is often defamation from foreign entertainment journalists in larger markets which stems from a mixture of profiteering and xenophobia. In a recent interview with Brooks, Alberta’s Anne-Marie Mediwake, who asked what the band did to turn the negativity around, Chad Kroeger stated:

“Nothing. Didn’t do anything. Just kept doing what we were doing. It had zero relevance on our lives. Half the time I think it’s a good thing because I look at all the other bands that were coming out at the same time that we were coming out, and almost all of them are gone.

“Our manager said something to me recently. He was speaking with somebody in Nashville, and he was talking to someone who worked at a record company for some big artist, and he looked at my manager, and he said, ‘Brian, how much do you guys pay for all that?’ and he’s like, ‘We don’t.’ He’s like, ‘You’re kidding me! You guys just get all that press for free?’ And my manager looks at him, and he goes, ‘Ya, I don’t know if your artists want it quite the way we get it but uh,’ and he’s like, ‘Who cares, you’re in the press all the time.’ And we constantly just turn the other cheek, and we just keep doing what we’re doing, we keep making music, we keep touring.”

On album Feed the Machine, Nickelback has never sounded better. Slickly produced, well-written tracks see the band ripping and roaring like there’s no tomorrow. Not representative of the album’s overall sound is fine power ballad “Song on Fire” which was recently garbed with a music video. We embed it below. iTunes

Mid-June 2017 Hot Canadian Tracks

We’re closing in on summer, upon Canada’s 150th, and upon us is a tasty batch of new tracks which we present. Hopefully at least one of these will do it for ya.

Quebec’s Arcade Fire has decided to release a second track off upcoming album Everything Now. “Creature Comfort” offers a style that is punchier than the bouncy title track released not too long ago. An ultra widescreen MV complete with lyrics is out, the coolest part of which is to see Régine pull a LIGHTS and wield a keytar.  iTunes

The Great White North’s most popular pop group, British Columbia’s Hedley, has wrapped up the Hello era to launch a stand-alone single, “Love Again”. A new album is undoubtedly in the works.  iTunes

Montreal alternative group Stars releases a traditional two-track single as A-Side: “Privilege”, B-Side: “We Called It Love”.  iTunes

Ontarian Donovan Woods has crafted a super catchy singer-songwriter ditty called “All Mine”. He sounds a bit like John Mayer which we mean as a compliment. Wonderful track!  iTunes

The incomparable Pierre Lapointe cranks up the artistry on “La science du cœur” which builds to a satisfying climax. The music video (subtitled in English) has the camera slowly pulling back as Pierre stands before a beautiful set design.  iTunes

Nova Scotian Ria Mae is back with a bite on wonderful new pop song “Bend”. If she can consistently come up with songs this good, the platinum singer and songwriter has a great career in store.  iTunes

The production on Toronto’s Alvvays‘ last effort pushed Molly’s beautiful vocals into the background drowning them out into a muffle which disappointed us. Hopefully, a smarter job will be done on upcoming album Antisocialites. Lead single “In Undertow” is … in tow.  iTunes

Death from Above 1979 casts forth new song “Freeze Me”, a boss alternative rock track. The outfit has a JUNO and a gold-certified disc.  iTunes

Metric singer Emily Haines echoes the beautiful piano balladry of Emm Gryner (21st Century Ballads) while filling it with alternative ornamentation. The new track is “Fatal Gift” in which she addresses extremes of wealth and poverty.  iTunes

CMB Reviews Puff by Bernice

Toronto collective Bernice is composed of Diana and Owen Pallett collaborators and has been called one of the country’s most underrated bands. New EP Puff just might blow your indifference down. “St Lucia”, dotted with electronic wops and blips, captures the excitement that underground synthpop generated for seekers in the 80s. “Don’t Wanna Be European” is warmly dressed with summery coos and backed by a hanger of percussion. “David” continues the spirit in a slower pace. Atmospherics come and go through “Talking About Her” while “Gemini” refines experimentation into something inquisitive, magical, and engaging.  iTunes

CMB Reviews Stand Still by Alanna Gurr and The Greatest State

Following up exceptional, critically acclaimed album Late at Night, Guelph’s Alanna Gurr and The Greatest State presents EP Stand Still. Upon listening, we found ourselves being pulled along effortlessly, captivated by the rich, soothing folk music. The players fluently spin out an organic sound that comes together seamlessly even during unexpected twists and turns such as in closer “True for You”. Find sophisticated vocal harmonies, prancing keys, and expert guitar work throughout this very gratifying disc.  iTunes

June 16, 2017 Releases: Nickelback, Shawn Hook, and More

Albertan multiplatinum rock band Nickelback, recipient of a dozen JUNO awards, has never sounded better than on new album Feed the Machine. Remaining true to its popular brand, it rips, it roars, and also pitches sonorous balladry. The album currently sits at #2 on iTunes.

British Columbian platinum pop star Shawn Hook contributes four-track EP My Side of Your Story with relationship themes in focus. Lead single “Reminding Me” featuring Vanessa Hudgens is now a Top 40 hit.

Anela & the Early Hours presents delightful indie album Yesteryear for those who like their music melancholy with sweet vocals. Track “Sweater” is a magnificent composition. The album is worth checking out.

We also like alternative EP Puff by Toronto’s Bernice. It has that quirky electronic underground sound that is always great fun.

Very different but equally choice is new folk EP Stand Still from Guelph’s Alanna Gurr & The Greatest State which somehow manages to both sooth and captivate.

Below is a table summarizing these and more releases this week.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE ORIGIN
Every Other Night Dylan Ireland Folk Peterborough
Feed the Machine Nickelback Rock Hanna, AB
If It Feels Right Lunch at Allen’s Country Toronto
Oblivion Munroe Folk Hamilton
Yesteryear Anela & the Early Hours Indie Burlington
My Side of Your Story (EP) Shawn Hook Pop Nelson, BC
Puff (EP) Bernice Alternative Toronto
Stand Still (EP) Alanna Gurr & The Greatest State Folk Guelph
Young Ones (EP) Rococode Alt-Pop Vancouver

 

Shania Twain’s Life’s About to Get Good

Shania Twain is the only recording artist to have scored three double diamond albums (i.e. 20x platinum or 2 million copies); that’s how big she became. From 1996 to 2004, she won a dozen JUNO Awards, and a 13th with her induction into the Music Hall of Fame in 2011. She did release a new song that year; something about which the press has forgotten. “Today Is Your Day” peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Today, Shania releases new song “Life’s About to Get Good”. It is selling well over at iTunes, sitting at #9 at this writing. Twain penned the song herself, while Matthew Koma and Ron Aniello handled production duties. It rings of something Michael Bublé might do with a dash of countrification. The single heralds her September 29 album, Now. It will be her first LP in 15 years and is currently available for pre-order. We’ve embedded the official audio of the new track below.  iTunes

Louise Burns, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Klô Pelgag Make Polaris Prize Long List

When it comes to the Polaris Prize, there is no medium list. Today, the long one was unveiled with a kaleidoscope of styles including the indigenous-flavoured EDM of A Tribe Called Red, the heavy metal of Anciients, the artistic singer-songwriter prowess of Philippe B, the exquisite new wave of Louise Burns, the superb electro dance pop of Le Couleur, the ambitious project of folk artist Fiver, the alternative pop of Geoffroy, the delicious mainstream pop of Carly Rae Jepsen, the beauteous adult contemporary of Klô Pelgag, the sizzling sythpop of Peter Peter, the 60s pop of Tuns, and the cool-groove R&B of Charlotte Day Wilson.

In its own words, “The Polaris Music Prize is a not-for-profit organization that annually honours and rewards artists who produce Canadian music albums of distinction. A select panel of music critics judge and award the Prize without regard to musical genre or commercial popularity.”

The 40 albums on this year’s long list were presented earlier today at the National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa. The albums are as below.

A Tribe Called Red – We Are The Halluci Nation
Alaclair Ensemble – Les Frères Cueilleurs
Anciients – Voice of the Void
Arkells – Morning Report
Philippe B – La grande nuit vidéo
BADBADNOTGOOD – IV
Louise Burns – Young Mopes
Chocolat – Rencontrer Looloo
Clairmont The Second – Quest For Milk and Honey
Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
Antoine Corriveau – Cette chose qui cognait au creux de sa poitrine sans vouloir s’arrêter
Le Couleur – P.O.P.
Marie Davidson – Adieux Au Dancefloor
Mac Demarco – This Old Dog
Gord Downie – Secret Path
Drake – More Life
Feist – Pleasure
Figure Walking – The Big Other
Fiver – Audible Songs From Rockwood
Geoffroy – Coastline
Hannah Georgas – For Evelyn
Japandroids – Near To The Wild Heart Of Life
Carly Rae Jepsen – E.MO.TION Side B
B.A. Johnston – Gremlins III
Lisa LeBlanc – Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen?
The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions
Klô Pelgag – L’Étoile thoracique
Peter Peter – Noir Éden
Lido Pimienta – La Papessa
Jessie Reyez – Kiddo
Daniel Romano – Modern Pressure
The Sadies – Northern Passages
John K. Samson – Winter Wheat
Tanya Tagaq – Retribution
The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem
TUNS – TUNS
Leif Vollebekk – Twin Solitude
Weaves – Weaves
The Weeknd – Starboy
Charlotte Day Wilson – CDW

Only 188 titles made the first ballots of the 201-member jury.

The list was announced by past multiple nominees Kathleen Edwards and The Acorn’s Rolf Klausener joined by Polaris jurors Lana Gay and Erik Leijon. Special guest Philippe B was in attendance to perform music from his excellent 2017 long-listed album, La grande nuit vidéo.

The 10-album short list will be revealed on July 13, and the winning album will be determined at the Polaris Gala September 18 at The Carlu in Toronto. The event will be livestreamed at CBCMusic.ca.

Albums eligible for Polaris nomination were those released between June 1, 2016 and May 31, 2017. The two lists are determined by a jury of music journalists, broadcasters and music bloggers from across Canada. Eleven from the pool are selected to serve on the Grand Jury, and they choose the 2017 Polaris Music Prize winner who will receive $50,000. Each of the nine other Short List artists will receive $3,000 courtesy of Slaight Music.

Random Maps on the Palms

Though he started out on guitar, Montreal’s Charles-Alain Roy expertly crafts chillout electronic music under the moniker Aléatoire (French for random) and drops new EP Maps on the Palms containing four tracks all featuring the exquisite vocal talents of Toronto’s Alina Libkind. Track “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. Aléatoire’s Maps on the Palms provides 2017 with one of its finest extended play records.  iTunes

David Guetta Is the Latest to Feature The Biebs

It’s a collaboration that had broadcasters engage in a feeding frenzy. On his latest single “2U”, squinty-eyed French EDM wizard David Guetta has recruited the highest in-demand featured vocalist of the year: Canadian R&B singer Justin Bieber. In the game too, via a lip-synched MV starring its models, is multibillion dollar company Victoria’s Secret, the latter owned by L Brands. Something tells us Queen Victoria would not be amused at the immodesty of the four models, one Swedish, one Dutch, one American, and one Portuguese. Something also tells us that the models, for their efforts, will not be receiving much of the $6.1 billion L Brands’ corporate executive Les Wexner has stowed away in his offshore bank accounts.

In an interview with MTV, Guetta says that a non-brand music video will also be released. Lucky to have an album go gold in the United States, David Guetta has seen two albums hit multiplatinum sales in Canada, so it just might stand to reason why he would prefer to snatch up a Canadian vocalist. He credits Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, a key crafter on Bieber’s Purpose album, with being responsible for the hook up. David Guetta has been active since 2001 and is known for combining intense energy with emotional elation in his music: “I like making the people dance but with a tear in their eyes,” as he puts it.

Justin Bieber’s first successful feature in a track was in Far East Movement’s “Live My Life” which reached #4 on the charts in early 2012. Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Beautiful” which featured him made the Top 40 later that year. Successful 2013 features include “That Power” from will.i.am (#6) and Top 30 “Lolly” from Maejor Ali. His feature in Grammy Award winning Skrillex and Diplo’s “Where Are U Now” (#5 in September 2015) saw his reinvention and kicked off a string of smash hits: Major Lazer’s “Cold Water” (#1), DJ Snake’s “Let Me Love You” (#4), and Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” (#1). He is also one of several featured artists in the chart-topping “I’m the One” from DJ Khaled.

David Guetta’s “2U”, which topped iTunes in 45 countries, is set to become another sky-scraping hit for Justin Bieber.  iTunes

Allie X Hits the Mark on CollXtion II

Judging by her new album CollXtion II, Oakville, Ontario’s Allie X has earned a pass into the league of extraordinary pop music pros that includes Carly Rae Jepsen, Grimes, Shawn Hook, and Tegan & Sara. She hits her stride and is now in a position to charm the masses with her brand of catchy synth pop.

A Billboard Hot 100 charting artist, thanks to “Catch” (#55), Alexandra Ashley Hughes launched a career in indie pop from Toronto. Four years ago, her talents took her to Los Angeles, US where she worked as a songwriter and on her own music, often collaborating with JUNO award winning Canadian producer Cirkut. CollXtion II is her first formal full-length album.

Choice cuts include ripe-for-radio whistling and plucky opener “Paper Love”. Slow-burning “Need You” combines seductive flickering percussion with an effective processed vocal feature of Valley Girl. “Lifted” crescendos into an exhilarating reggae-tinged chorus. A similar effect envelops the slightly eerie “Simon Says” which creeps into a synth-spicy chorus. Giving the album a large wattage of shimmer is “Old Habits Die Hard”. Previously released as a single, “That’s So Us” has perhaps the album’s winning melody. Closing out the disc is ballad “True Love Is Violent”, beautifully done. Strong writing for CollXtion II is enhanced by pristine production. Ideas have been carefully cultivated into perfect fruition. While some artists try to reinvent the wheel by dabbling in anticlimactic choruses, Allie does what always works: uses the verses to set up big, gratifying choruses. Allie X’s CollXtion II is in the running for Pop Album of the Year … worldwide.  iTunes

Selected New Releases: June 9, 2017

A high profile release this week is LP COLLXTION II from Oakville, Ontario’s Allie X, who presents pop music at its finest, sitting somewhere perhaps between Carly Rae Jepsen and Grimes. Allie is a Billboard Hot 100 charting artist. Opener “Paper Love” (see lyric video below) is creating some buzz. The disc contains some previously released singles like the superb “That’s So Us”.

Talented teen-throb Lenni-Kim is excited to launch his debut album, a fine bilingual pop effort. Les autres includes popular track “Don’t Stop” (see MV below which has over a million views).

We also like Aaricia‘s new album Figures. She’s from Montreal and with R&B vocals sounds a bit like Alessia Cara. The music is richly electronic. Below is track “All for You” which has some nice percussion.

Splendid is Toronto’s Taylor Knox who delivers a really good alternative rock album entitled Love. MV for track “Running Into Love” below. The synths at the end are a nice touch.

As far as top-notch EPs go, Montreal’s Aléatoire recruits excellent singer Alina Libkind on four-track disc Maps on the Palms. It’s a sumptuous feast of trippy electronica.

Below is a table summarizing these and more Canadian artist releases this week. Enjoy the new music.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE ORIGIN
Les autres Lenni-Kim Pop Montreal
Both Sides of the Bar Jojo Mason Country Regina
COLLXTION II Allie X Pop Oakville
Family Hangover Walrus Alternative Halifax
Figures Aaricia R&B Montreal
Is Cary Pratt Prairie Cat Alternative Vancouver
Love Taylor Knox Alternative Toronto
Mon livre vert Guylaine Tanguay Country Lac St-Jean
River Town Saints River Town Saints Country Ottawa
The Road Ahead Is Golden Jon and Roy Folk Victoria
We Are the Aliens iLLvibe & Myer Clarity Rap Barrie/Montreal
Maps on the Palms (EP) Aleatoire Electronic Montreal
Welcome to Finetown (EP) Robert Robert Alternative Montreal