The 25 Best Albums of 2017

We tracked a total of 678 Canadian artist albums released in 2017. Of these, 55 were greatest hits, various artist compilations, live albums, or holiday releases, and we did not count them towards contention for our Top 25 of the year. We ranked our favourite 25 of the remaining 623 after many listens regardless of genre, language, region, and relative popularity of the artist. These 25 represent an elite 4% of 2017 Canadian artist studio albums. At Canadian Music Blog, we like music that is sophisticated with catchy melodies and pleasing vocals (unless it is instrumental). Find below our 25 favourite Canadian artist albums of 2017 including our Album of the Year!.

258 of Hearts by Blinker the Star

Since the mid-90s, Pembroke, Ontario’s Blinker the Star has been concocting some delicious music. 2017’s 8 of Hearts could be classified as alternative rock; in addition, you will hear a good dose of a retro progressive rock kneaded into the dough. At times, there are surprises, like a banjo on track “Heather” and haunting piano with fluttering analog synth on “Caves and Shadows”. Here are well written songs that are highly enjoyable to listen to. We’re lucky to have this great band aboard Team Canada.  iTunes

24The Space Between by Majid Jordan

It’s the Canadian duo that does R&B right. Majid Jordan brought us sophomore effort The Space Between. The Toronto pair is best known for giving Drake his first Top 5 hit as a main artist – “Hold On, We’re Going Home”. The Space Between sees Majid crooning smoothly over Jordan’s downtempo musicianship. It is chillout music with ground-shaking bass, addictive beats, cool grooves, and (thankfully) clean lyrics. Both those heavily into R&B and those not typically taken by the genre will find this little nugget diggable. The album features well-known artists dvsn and PartyNextDoor.  iTunes

23A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone by Mappe Of


Whitby, Ontario’s Tom Meikle, through Paper Bag Records, presented his debut album A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone under moniker Mappe Of. Lyrically, he populates the disc with an interesting gang of characters: a disturbed boy setting fire to his family’s home, a vagabond in Australia who’s disavowed all family ties, a Canadian youth figuring life out overseas, and an elder dying from Alzheimer’s who can’t recognize his family. Musically, the album is a dreamy, meta-dimensional sequence of alternative folk masterpieces. Mappe Of blends synthesizers with organic instruments including guitars (both acoustic and electric), trumpets, violins, kalimba, and autoharp. Where you allow this album to take you is entirely up to you; it’s filled with sonic magic.  iTunes

22LLL (Love, Loss, Latitude) by Wanting


Vancouver based Wanting released this, her third album. While keeping her singer-songwriter and adult contemporary sensibilities, she dressed some of the songs up with a slicker, more upbeat, electronic pop sound. Assisting her with this was producer Justin Gray whose impressive CV includes work with two MCs – Miley Cyrus and Mariah Carey. As a result, we get a nice blend of flavours. One of the things that makes LLL so enjoyable is that Wanting’s clear vocals shine though the music in such a way that you get drawn into the lyrics, and as far as lyrics go, she holds nothing back and tells it as it is. Check out especially tracks “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” and “Set You Free”. Wanting expresses without reservation the euphoric throes of love and the paralyzing sting of loss. Her skills at songwriting have never been stronger, and her vocals seem to have gotten even better. Every track here is enjoyable, and LLL is a beautiful album.  iTunes

21Love Is Gold by Ryan Kennedy


A singular voice and beautifully written smooth folk-pop songs deck this one. Last year, Ryan Kennedy‘s “Honest Song” stirred up some buzz and graced the airwaves in certain regions of the country; its MV has racked up over 100,000 views. He composed all tracks on the 2017 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

20Midnight for a While by Walkwaves


Walkwaves, a Markham, Ontario group goes beyond the popular pool of smooth synth pop into the rougher seas of new wave here and succeeds. At times funky, at others gritty, but always with catchy beats and expressive vocals, Walwaves strikes us as a more organic Depeche Mode. Opener “Get You Out” burbles along carefully before switching on some rumbling bass pulses; it’s a delicious track. The catchy “Girls on Snapchat” combines vocal crooning with detailed instrumentation. While modern electronic musicians seem to perpetually use the same few synth/computer voices when there are thousands available, you’ll find a nice variety through the Walkwaves disc; find many on track “T.T.T.L.”. For something different, check out the atmospheric “Friend” one of the more experimental tracks which satisfies by throwing in unexpected musical twists. Closer “Nightfall” packs a nice punch to cap things off with a bang.  iTunes

19La grande nuit vidéo by Philippe B


Everybody enjoys a big video night. JUNO nominee and collaborator of such aces as Pierre Lapointe, Groenland, and Salomé Leclerc, Philippe B dazzles on fifth album, La grande nuit vidéo. Find meticulous attention to detail and a knack for penning masterful tunes with immaculate arrangements. Philippe is the sort of fellow who makes music critics drool copiously, a true champion of folk or singer-songwriter styles. On the album, he explores the bygone age when couples would spend the night together before cathode-ray screens watching television series, movies, and everything presented by the intelligent box of communication. The nostalgia abounds with superb orchestral arrangements and is augmented by the sweet guest vocals of Milk & Bone’s Laurence Lafond-Beaulne. If you want a work of art, this is it.  iTunes

18Antisocialites by Alvvays


Toronto group Alvvays pressed its sophomore album, Antisocialites. The band is helmed by Nova Scotian raised Molly Rankin. The smart mixing job appropriately obscures the vocals slightly on the shoegaze tracks, such as delicious opener “In Undertow”. And on jangly pop tracks, like “Dreams Tonight,” they shine through. Molly purposefully sings in a deadpan style which works well with the Alvvays design. The writing is strong and the fusion of flavours is seamless, as heard on songs like decade defying “Plimsoll Punks”. Although the cubby-hole genre does not have broad spectrum appeal, the musical composition here will waft onto many wanderers its charms. No one can resist a good tune, and Alvvays has the savvy to craft more than a few. Nicely done!  iTunes

17Finale by Mike Rocha


Toronto-based producer Mike Rocha surfed up a pleasant surprise, his debut album Finale. His past production credits include works from Greys, Electric Youth, Ivana Santilli, and Black Pistol Fire. The instrumental electronica, led by the Prophet ’08 synthesizer, at times amusing and at others dark, is highly cinematic and rich enough to please fans of both classic and modern sides of the field of time. The weaves of sound succeed in eliciting tension, urgency, thrills, suspense, and all emotional rollercoaster effects required for an entertaining film experience. At times, you will feel like you’re listening to a therapeutic mixtape in The Unborn, being hunted by the terminator, or inside the complex of Ex Machina. Finale is as good as anything done by Markus Guentner or any of the other acclaimed crafters of the genre.  iTunes

16There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light by Stars


Twinkling ever so brightly is this one by Quebec group Stars, 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. 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.  iTunes

15Cindy Doire présente: Panorama by Cindy Doire


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. 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

14Hug of Thunder by Broken Social Scene


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 members 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 in 2017 experienced a strong return via this fab new album. 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 was 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

13Black Moon by AMAARA


Triple threat Kaelen Ohm, recording artist, actress, and award-winning filmmaker, released album Black Moon under moniker Amaara. Technically an LP (with six tracks, it has a run time of 27 minutes), the album 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

12L’appartement by Ludovic Alarie


Handsome Canadian singer-songwriter Ludovic Alarie of Montreal gave us his second album L’appartement. Essentially an alternative work, Ludovic writes beautiful folky songs and dresses them with sparkles of electronic hooks. In mood, L’appartement drips with pacifying melancholy. Alarie says the music embodies the “feeling of an apartment in which you lived, how you were, how you evolved, and all the feelings and memories that are attached to it”. He says the musical composition came to him quite quickly but the lyrics not so much, explaining that it took him only 3 or 4 days to finish the music but 3 or 4 months to complete the poetry. Of lyrics, he feels he is completing a puzzle where each word has a precise spot. Overall album production was handled by Warren C. Spicer of locally based group Plants and Animals. Whether you live in an apartment, a condo, or a house, Ludovic Alarie’s L’appartement will fill the rooms with alluring songs. This one’s a keeper.  iTunes

11Human Voicing by The Luyas


Montreal indie alt-rock group The Luyas hit the scene in 2006 and saw a Polaris Prize nomination for third studio album Animator in 2013. The band is known for including some unusual instruments in its recordings. Human Voicing is album number four. The Luyas, currently signed to Paper Bag Records, are four members including lead singer Jessie Stein. The vocals hit the spot, and the music is well-written and intelligent. Our ears remained engaged throughout most of the album. There’s a nice wall of sound, dynamic and stimulating, and edgy without being too noisy. An enjoyable listening experience from one of the world’s better indie bands.  iTunes

10Themes for Dying Earth by Teen Daze


Teen Daze, i.e. B.C. Fraser Valley’s Jamison Isaak, has a formidable work ethic releasing two albums this year. We loved both but were quite taken with this, the earlier disc. It features contributions from Jon Anderson, Sean Carey, Nadia Hulett, Sound of Ceres, and Dustin Wong. The album is a fine banquet of electronic ambient pop that explores themes of nature as a respite from the concrete forest, and the environment as something to be conserved. The album opens with “Cycle,” which begins an exploration of the artist’s personal experience dealing with anxiety and depression, and branches out to examine external forces, like climate change, that affect those moods. Another standout track, “Lost,” gently flutters in like a colourful butterfly before opening up droning vocal harmonies and bringing in Nadia Hulett’s twinkling serenade toward the close. Teen Daze’s Themes for Dying Earth expertly spins a crystalline web of dream and euphoria.  iTunes

9You Don’t Know by Jenna Nation


As far as R&B goes, it doesn’t get much better than Toronto’s Jenna Nation. You Don’t Know was the best album of the genre through the year. It includes her stunning vocal work, ground shaking beats, and a ton of atmosphere, with melodies, sky-scraping choruses, and all the trimmings of a masterful recording. The album’s standout track if there is one is “Can’t Get Over You” with bass to drool over. Electronic pizzazz abounds on “I Love It” and mysterious grooves animate the title track.  iTunes

8La vie qu’il nous reste by Marc Dupré


Canadian superstar Marc Dupré launched his sixth album in 2017 – La vie qu’il nous reste. It swiftly scrambled into the iTunes Top 10. Two of Marc’s previous albums have gone gold. Five of his songs have appeared in the Billboard Hot 100 including Félix song of the year winner “Nous sommes les mêmes” at #47. This album is one of the best pop albums of 2017, chock full of very enticing tracks enhanced by sharp production and an uplifting delivery.  iTunes

7Departures, Vol. I by North Atlantic Drift


When we think of ambient electronica, the Germans come to mind as being world leaders of the genre. Well, guess what, Canadians rank right up there too. You will not believe your ears when you take in the sounds of North Atlantic Drift‘s Departures, Vol. I. This is a duo from Toronto, and it was one of the best albums in the genre that we’d heard in a long time. “Temperance” is an instant classic.  iTunes

6COLLXTION II by Allie X


With this album, Oakville, Ontario’s Allie X earned a pass into the league of extraordinary pop music pros. She hit 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. Strong writing for CollXtion II is enhanced by pristine production. Ideas have been carefully cultivated into perfect fruition.  iTunes

5Future Politics by Austra

Austra is a JUNO nominated electronic pop project from Toronto, created by Katie Stelmanis in 2009 and includes three other players. Future Politics is album number three. It offers a tighter, punchier sound than the previous two with addictive beats and instant likeability. Lyrically, the songs are smart in not offering specific political ideas in a world where a cacophony of entrenched opinions and opposing interests is flourishing fiercely, scattering humanity into different antagonistic camps. Universal themes are touched upon, for example that both exploitation and mendicancy are undeserving of praise. Katie also re-introduces the subject of alienation by technology, certainly truer in today’s world with ubiquitous cell phone finger tapping. She does this, however, with a warmer presentation than grim visions presented by say Ultravox in “Dislocation”. As such, the album has more of a hopeful vision of the future and inspires us to be creative in conjuring up new and better systems of society than the worn-out models of today. And amidst the chaos and the hostile arguments, it reminds us too, via the cover, that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Austra’s Future Politics offers a refreshing cleanse for wearied minds.  iTunes

4Fear/Nothing by The Belle Game


Vancouver group The Belle Game launched Fear / Nothing, its second LP. While the debut was an adventurous trek of a band trying out different things, everything gels on #2, and the group hits its stride. The music packs quite a punch, with its appreciable energy, dreamy crooning from lead singer Andrea Lo, rich, piercing synthesizers, and addictive percussion. Track “Spirit” is one of best songs of 2017 released anywhere in the world; it’s the kind of uplifting number with which any artist would love to close out a show. Onboard the Belle Game team for this album are producers Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene) and Dave Hamelin (The Stills). Fear / Nothing is both dynamic and dramatic encompassing a sound described by the band as “crush pop”.  iTunes

3Noir Éden by Peter Peter


Peter Peter, a synthpop specialist, Quebec City native, and multiple Polaris Prize nominee, cast forth his third studio album, Noir éden. He proves on this record that he is especially good at crafting a catchy and satisfying chorus. We highlight some standout tracks such as delightful keys dancing along in “Damien,” reminiscent of say Gazebo’s “I Like Chopin” or Double’s “The Captain of Her Heart”. “Allégresse” includes a nice touch of aloof vocal work that Phèdre did so well on “Ancient Nouveau”. Hear captivating bass synth on the title track adding nicely to other detailed touches in a very well put-together song. “Loving Game” is pure 80s, a bilingual, pulse-driven standout with French verses and an English chorus. Noir éden is Peter Peter’s best work yet and so much worth checking out for fans of the genre.  iTunes

2The Courtneys II by The Courtneys


Vancouver indie fuzz rock trio The Courtneys debuted in 2013 with a set that impressed on an international scale. In fact, New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records signed the group to oversee the sequel, The Courtneys II. The aloof, sugary singing from drummer “Cute Courtney” binds nicely with “Classic Courtney’s” exciting phaneritic guitar work. Together with “Crazy Courtney” on bass, the trio takes us on a highly engaging ride through lo-fi slacker culture and bubble-gum garage punk. The disc opens with “Silver Velvet”. “Country Song” bursts with a wall of guitars, the album’s standout jam. “Lost Boys” pays tribute to the 80s’ vampire craze while surf rock dresses up “Mars Attacks”. This was easily 2017’s best rock album. No contest.  iTunes

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Canadian Music Blog’s 2017 Album of the Year

Our 2017 album of the year artist is from Cranbrook, BC. When she was just 15, she was signed to Madonna’s Maverick label as bass player of all-girl JUNO nominated rock group Lillix. Now based in Vancouver and signed as a soloist to Light Organ Records, always ready to participate in various projects including new wave band Gold and Youth, this slayer released her third solo record in early 2017. It earned a Polaris Prize nomination. The album is introspective, guitar-oriented new wave with some strokes of synth, New Orderesque high-pitched bass pulses, and tight drumming. But there’s more to the opus. Track “Strange Weather” sees her master the country-inspired genre, complete with lap steel! The tunes are deliciously shadowy, and her bright vocals and energetic delivery give it a sunny glaze. There’s the charming “Pharaoh”, the delicious “Moonlight Shadow”, the dreamy and dazzling “Hyesteria”, and the gliding surf of “Who’s the Madman”, the latter as good as anything done by Echo and the Bunnymen. This is yet another ace for one of Canada’s most underrated talents, and her best work to date: great singer, songwriter, and musician. The Canadian Music Blog declares Young Mopes by Louise Burns as 2017’s Album of the Year!  iTunes

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The 10 Best EPs of 2017

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! 

10Joseph of Mercury by Joseph of Mercury

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

9Beautiful Chaos by Kayla Diamond

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

8Maps on the Palms by Aléatoire ft. Alina Libkind

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

7Electric Heart by Emily Rowed

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

6Natasha Zimbaro by Natasha Zimbaro

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

5Relax by Kashka

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

4In Comes the Night by Bobby Wills

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

3Lolaa by Lolaa

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

2First Move by Stacey

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

1Canadian Music Blog’s 2017 EP of the Year

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

Ten 2017 Christmas Albums Worth Checking Out

It’s been proven that a good Christmas album, even though it contains songs that have been covered hundreds of times over the years, can sell very well. As the folks who celebrate the holiday yearn for fresh interpretations by their favourite artists to listen to while they wrap gifts and decorate the tree, we present 10 Canadian artist Christmas albums released in the past couple of months. These are listed alphabetically by title. Hopefully one of these will appeal to you.

Christmas Caravan by Sultans of String

A trio of JUNO nominations grace this Ontarian string quintet. Beyond string arrangements, the world music group combines shards of traditional Arabic, Cuban, French, and Spanish styles: everything from Flamenco to Gypsy jazz. Christmas Caravan includes a number of prominent vocalists: Crystal Shawanda, Nikki Yanofsky, and Alex Cuba among them. Well-known holiday treats include “Little Drummer Boy” and “Jingle Bells”. Also find Turkishified “Greensleeves”. A culturally rich masterwork. iTunes

Christmas Together by The Tenors

Triple platinum JUNO winning group The Tenors originated from Victoria, BC. The trio is comprised of humble gentlemen with pristine, handsome vocals. This is the second Christmas album to appear from the group. The disc includes two originals and eight classics, the latter including “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. A beautiful production.  iTunes

Coconut Christmas by The Lost Fingers

For something more on the upbeat side, comes this world-flavoured pop charmer. The Lost Fingers struck platinum and attracted a pair of JUNO nominations. It’s interesting listening to the Christmas songs done in tropical style but remember that many people celebrate the holiday in the tropics. It’s only about snow and cold weather in the north. There’s also some Indian folk; check out “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. Find “Sleigh Ride” and “Blue Christmas” but also some comical tracks like Austin-Powers approved “Santa’s Lost His Mojo”. Enjoy as well a cover of U2’s “New Years Day”. This is a fun one. iTunes

Les Gars Du Nord by Les Gars Du Nord

The Acadians are coming! The Acadians are coming! Four popular singers from New Brunswick band together to form this group and create a Christmas album in Acadian folk style. The singers are 2003 Star Academy winner Wilfred Le Bouthillier, Maxime McGraw, Jean-Marc Couture, and Danny Boudreau. Find John Lennon’s “War Is Over (Happy Xmas)” and “Minuit, chrétiens” (“O Holy Night”). Get down to earth in the heartland with this one.  iTunes

Imagine by Heather Rankin

While in the Atlantic, let’s swing over to Nova Scotia to find the hometown of Heather Rankin, a JUNO nominee. With candy cane vocals, she gifts us with this very soothing and peaceful holiday record. The album contains lots of originals and a few covers. “Once in Royal David’s City” and “Picture Perfect” are very well done. Also find an exquisite cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine”. Relax and let this album remove all stress away.  iTunes

Lumieres d’hiver by Emilie-Claire Barlow

This two-time Ontarian JUNO winning jazz vocalist dresses up jazzy piano driven songs with her sumptuous vocals. Find nice string and percussion arrangements on “Le dernier Noël”. Popular singer Ingrid St-Pierre joins her on “Hey Santa” and Mitsou (of “Bye Bye Mon Cowboy” fame) on “As-tu vu le Père Noël?” The latter track has a righteous saxophone solo. If nothing else, this album is the female counterpart to Michael Bublé’s Christmas record. Invigorating.  iTunes

Lux by Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, Jonathan Oldengarm & Jean-Sébastien Vallée

For those who like their Christmas music more on the spiritual side, this work should do the trick. Gorgeous human voices in choir with a church organ is always magical. The album impressed staff at iTunes who put it best: “Imagine a large snow-covered church at Christmas, lit only by candles, the voices of a well-trained choir curling up into the roof.” The album reminds us that the world’s most beautiful instrument is the human voice. “What Child Is This?” just may make you cry. Warm and glowing with cushions of comfort.  iTunes

Noël Ensemble by Mario Pelchat and Les Prêtres

Gifted vocalist, platinum recording artist, and four-time JUNO nominee Mario Pelchat scored a gold album this year when he teamed up with Les Prêtres on Agnus Dei. This holiday season, he presents Les Prêtres in Christmas album Noël Ensemble. A legion of popular singers, besides Mario, guest including legendary Joe Bocan, Cindy Daniel, popular folk duo 2Frères, and Tocadéo. The album has a nice blending of classical and folk flavours.  iTunes

Old School Yule! By Matt Dusk

Triple JUNO nominee Matt Dusk has a gold record among his achievements. The Ontarian serves a swing jazz Christmas album that should do it for fans of old blue eyes and the rat pack. It’s bright and cheerful. Enjoy the perky “Sleigh Ride” and smooth “Do You Hear What I Hear?” For those who like old school adult pop vocal, Matt’s the man – forthright and confident.  iTunes

Peace, Love and Opera by Julien Brody

Twelve-year-olds rejoice! One of your own has become a star. Julien Body’s dream is to become an opera singer, and he’s off to a splendid start. The dapper fellow with the assistance of Giancarlo Scalia drops a real winner that will inspire desires for peace on earth. This is a sweet one.  iTunes

The Best International Music of 2017

As per routine, though our focus is primarily on Canadian artist music, once per year, to show we are not completely insular, we publish our picks for the best international music of the year. We cannot claim to have heard every song and album and viewed every music video released throughout the world, but we do remain inclusive of all popular music regardless of the country and language in which it is recorded. A few honourable mentions are in order like that fabulous R&B album by Britain’s Jessie Ware, the sumptuous instrumental piano track “The Girl with the Sun in Her Eyes” by Sweden’s Jay-Jay Johanson, and perhaps the year’s most overlooked album, Sacred Hearts Club by U.S. alternative band Foster the People.

Best International Music Video of 2017:
Eternal Love by MLTR & Phoebe Yang

Danish soft rock group Michael Learns to Rock (MLTR) which performs in English has had a dramatic career filled with many ups and downs. Of all the places in the world, the band became massive superstars in a most unexpected but supremely populated region—eastern Asia. The band came up with the name in keeping with phrases common at the time (1988), Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Johnny Hates Jazz, hence Michael Learns to Rock. MLTR is considered the most popular international act of all time in China. In 2017, the group reworked a song from a Korean TV drama called Healer and in the track featured up and coming Chinese singer Phoebe Yang. The song is bilingual, sung in English and Chinese, and MLTR released a gorgeous music video (shot in China) which we embed below. The song is called “Eternal Love”.

Rising International Star of 2017:
Kelly Lee Owens

In the modern area, Canadian artists are leading the way when it comes to x-axis far-right field music, i.e. progressive endeavours. It was not so in the 80s. In that decade, especially in the first half, the synth Britannia movement which helmed the second British invasion inspired and influenced Canadians to follow suit. Some Brits even relocated to Canada to show Canadian musicians how to capture that choice new wave sound. How things have changed; in fact, the opposite is happening now. Kelly Lee Owens of northern Wales supplied a track to Tegan and Sara’s The Con tribute album. On her own debut (self-titled) LP, she captures a sound like Grimes and presents an album cover like Lights’ Siberia. The album appears on many best end of year lists including Pitchfork. Kelly Lee Owens is the one to watch.

Best International Comeback of 2017:
Slowdive

The 90s British shoegaze movement was never really allowed to take off, being overtaken and overshadowed by the American presentation of grunge. The less said about the latter style the better. While in Canada, acts like Alvvays were gaining critical acclaim for reintroducing us to the shoegaze genre, the masters of it decided to release a new album, its first in 22 years. Slowdive thrilled fans of that dreamy fuzzy sound with its 2017 eponymous album which made many best albums lists for the year. Track “Star Roving” just may be the crowning achievement of the history of shoegaze.

Best International Song of 2017:
Labyrinth by Mondo Grosso ft. Hikari Mitsushima

Mondo Grosso is Italian for big world and is the stage name of Japanese DJ and record producer Shinichi Osawa. Crafting a variety of EDM flavours over the years – acid jazz, house, etc. – the sound on his 2017 album, Reborn Again and Always Starting New, is an excursion off the beaten path to more creative territory. Grosso is regarded as one of the country’s best DJs. The new album, his first under the Mondo Grosso moniker, sold well in the land of the red sun, cracking its iTunes Top 5, with a couple of tracks that were particularly popular: “Labyrinth” featuring the vocal talents of Hikari Mitsushima is the most delicious track we heard throughout 2017.

Best International Album of 2017:
The Far Field by Future Islands

While it managed a Top 20 placement in both iTunes UK and US, it made the Top 10 in Canada. New wave has often done better in Canada than the United States with songs like “Let’s Go” by The Cars and “Rock Lobster” by the B’52s, both American bands, charting much better in the land of the maple leaf. Post wave group Future Islands’ ability to capture the new wave sound is not just in the instrumentation but the singing style which masters the measured theatrics and pitch down bending techniques used by such acts as Simple Minds (UK), Sniff ‘n’ the Tears (UK), The Cars (US), and The Spoons (Canada). While millennials and boomers may be able to get into this, the Future Islands band is considered a breath of fresh air for Gen X-ers, and it helps too that Blondie’s Debbie Harry is featured on a track. It is very difficult to find an album in which all tracks are good. This is one of those rare jewels. “Time on her Side” is probably our favourite of the bunch. Below is the video for track “Ran”.

Vote for the Best Music of 2017

It’s time to vote for the best music of 2017! We have created three polls. You may vote once daily through the month of December. We will publish the winners of the three polls on New Year’s Day 2018. If you did not like any of the works listed, vote for the one you disliked the least.

You Don’t Know, Jenna Nation

As far as R&B goes, it doesn’t get much better than Toronto’s Jenna Nation. You Don’t Know is the name of her new album. It includes her stunning vocal work, ground shaking beats, and a ton of atmosphere, with melodies, sky-scraping choruses, and all the trimmings of a masterful recording. The album’s standout track if there is one is “Can’t Get Over You” with bass to drool over. Electronic pizzazz abounds on “I Love It” and mysterious grooves animate the title track. Jenna Nation’s You Don’t Know is in the running for R&B album of the year (2017).  iTunes

Dec 1, 2017 Releases: Neil Young, Heather Rankin

What’s Hot

1. Mabou, Nova Scotia’s Heather Rankin scored a JUNO nominated album last time around. Now she delights with a seasonal album called Imagine. It is a mixture of Christmas classics and new holiday songs all dressed up with her sweet vocals.

2. Ottawa’s Daniel Taylor has under his toque a whopping 11 JUNO nominations, yet to win one. He is definitely one of the finest talents in the land when it comes to classical music. The new disc is The Path to Paradise and features the vocal talents of The Trinity Choir.

3. With 9 JUNO trophies, Winnipeg’s Neil Young needs no introduction. The latest album of new material is politically charged The Visitor. Neil is joined by players Promise of the Real. The style on this one is 70s flavoured rock.

4. From St. John’s, Newfoundland is JUNO nominated folk rock group Rawlins Cross presenting new EP Rock Steady.

What’s Cool

1. Classitronic is the name of the game for Marie-Pier. This gifted gal combines electronic lounge music with the soothing vibrations of the cello. Cello Lounge is a beautiful relaxing and invigorating instrumental album, very nicely done.

2. Cinematic arrangements, airy vocals, and downtempo beats, reminding us a little of Delerium, collective Clann serves a fine electronic album in Seelie. It is part of an ambitious multimedia project which combines the music with a number of short movies which is to culminate in a feature film. The album contains the vocal talents of Charlotte Oleena and violinist Chloe Picard.

3. Jenna Nation is back with album You Don’t Know. Simply put, it is one of the finest R&B albums of 2017. Besides being accessible to pop lovers, bursting with choice beats and Jenna’s great vocals, the album is rich in atmosphere making it a winner.

4. Hudson Alexander debuts with an EP to make your party sizzle. This gifted producer is originally from Winnipeg. The disc is called We’re Gonna Have a Party and contains four dancey electronic super jams. Great fun.

Find these and more Canadian releases in the table below.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Cello Lounge Marie-Pier  Classitronic
French Kiss Joe Rocca Rap
Hku Ty-Q Rap
Imagine Heather Rankin Christmas
OMW Gisto Rap
The Path to Paradise Daniel Taylor  Classical
Revolution conservatrice Mononc’ Serge  Rock
Say Less Roy Wood$ R&B
Seelie Clann Electronic
Synergy Rob Tardik Fusion
The Visitor Neil Young & Promise… Rock
You Don’t Know Jenna Nation R&B
We’re Gonna Have a Party (EP) Hudson Alexander Party
Rock Steady (EP) Rawlins Cross Folk Rock

The Grammy Awards Show Alessia Cara the Love

The United States’ flagship of music award galas – The Grammy Awards – unmasked nominations for the 2018 ceremony which will take place January 28 in New York City. A number of Canadian acts have been given nods as follows:

Alessia Cara – 3 nominations – Song of the Year “1-800-273-8255” (as a featured artist), Best New Artist, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance “Stay” (as a co-credited artist).

Alex Cuba – 1 nomination – Best Latin Pop Album Lo Unico Constante.

Arcade Fire – 1 nomination – Best Alternative Music Album Everything Now.

Daniel Caesar – 2 nominations – Best R&B Album Freudian and Best R&B Performance “Get You”.

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque – 1 nomination – Best Latin Jazz album Oddara.

Justin Bieber – 3 nominations – Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance “Despacito” (as a featured artist).

Leonard Cohen – 2 nominations – Best Rock Performance “You Want It Darker” and Best American Roots Performance “Steer Your Way”.

Michael Bublé – 1 nomination – Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Nobody but Me.

Northern Cree – 1 nomination – Best Regional Roots Music Album Miyo Kekisepa, Make A Stand [Live].

Sarah McLachlan – 1 nomination – Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Wonderland.

The Weeknd – 1 nomination – Best Urban Contemporary Album Starboy.

Also of note, Rose CousinsNatural Conclusion is nominated for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. Glenn Gould‘s The Goldberg Variations – The Complete Unreleased Recording Sessions June 1955 is nominated for Best Historical Album. Director Andy Hines is nominated in the best video category for 1-800-273-8255 by Logic. David Hein & Irene Sankoff‘s Come From Away is up for Best Musical Theatre Album. Under Best Choral performance is Handel: Messiah by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.

As far as the snubs go, there is Drake. He did not submit album More Life to the Grammys as we reported earlier. Shawn Mendes, while racking up nominations and winning awards at just about every other music awards ceremony. is passed over by the Grammys.

Headlines and Footdots for November 27, 2017

Shania Twain the Real Grey Cup Champion

If there is one truth in Canadian football, it’s never over ’til it’s over. The Calgary Stampeders had all but wrapped things up for a victory but a fumble close to touchdown territory led to a record-breaking 109-yard TD from the Toronto Argonauts to tie the game, winning minutes later with a field goal. The real victor of the game, however, was Shania Twain who rocked the halftime show. Entering the stadium on a real live dog sled over the field covered in snow to the stage she performed three of her hits: “That Don’t Impress Me Much”, “Life’s About to Get Good”, and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” capping it off by saying, “Man! I feel like a Canadian” to cheers from the bundled up 36,000 attendees.

RIP Patrick Bourgeois

Patrick Bourgeois singer of multiplatinum Canadian band Les BB has passed away from cancer at the young age of 55. We offer our condolences to family, friends, and fans.

CBC Publishes Best Songs of the Year List

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has published a list of its picks for the 100 best Canadian artist songs of 2017. Excluded are songs released after November 1. On the plus side it is a nice mixture of popular songs and underground ones as well as various genres. “Passionfruit” by Drake is placed at #1. While the list includes Allophone tracks, it excludes Francophone ones and states that this is “a task our sister site ICI Musique will be undertaking”. This kind of segregation reminds us of how Black people and White people in the U.S. have been required to go to separate establishments. What the broadcaster should have done is create one list that includes Anglo, Franco, and Allo songs and publish the same list on both sites with English language writeups on the songs at CBC Music and French language writeups at ICI Musique. That would be a nonracist way of doing things.

Justin Bieber Surprises Whistler Hockey Team

Justin Bieber was in Whistler, BC last week, a surprise visit to the members of a local hockey team. He apparently casually slipped in during their practice to join the scrimmage. The coach simply told the players a “new guy” would be stopping by to try out for the team. Of the Biebs’ hockey skills, the father of one of the players wrote on his Facebook page, “The Biebs has pretty good hands and knew exactly where to be. He was super humble and a true gentleman. I gained a lot of respect for him as a result. Thank you JB!!!” Justin scored two goals during the practice. He hung around afterwards to chat with the players and pose for photos.

“He was very humble, he was very polite, and just excited to be there. We gave him a jersey, and he instantly put it on. He just wanted to go play,” said Steve Legge, president of the Whistler Minor Hockey Association.

Ruth B Returns to Her Old High School

Multiplatinum superstar Ruth B returned to her old high school in Edmonton – Ross Sheppard – to help the choir sing her song “Lost Boy”. We leave you with a video of that encounter.

Kayla Diamond Sparkles Through Beautiful Chaos

Toronto’s Kayla Diamond recently 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

24 November 2017 Releases: Kayla Diamond, Julien Brody…

Albums this week range from 12-year-old aspiring opera singer Julien Brody and his Christmas album Peace, Love and Opera to 83-year-old legend Jean-Pierre Ferland and La vie m’émeut, l’amour m’étonne. It’s a diverse batch in terms of style. A standout, and one of the best pop releases of the year, is debut mini album Beautiful Chaos from Toronto’s Kayla Diamond. Her song “Carnival Hearts” received some radio spins this year. Kayla was studying to be a lawyer; we’re glad she made the switch to a music career. Find a list of 15 LPs and 5 EPs/mini albums below. We leave you with “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” from the aforementioned Julien.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Les backroads Daniel Goguen  Country
Blue Smoke… Cousin Harley Country
Fil de fer Mélanie Renaud AC
Give Me That Beat The Achromatics Alt Pop
Intense cité Paul Cargnello  Alternative
Jimmy & The Moon  Stephen Stanley Band Alternative
Menestrel Jeff Dubé  Folk Rock
Nocturne Only Mikey Manville Rock
Pacem Hugh Christopher Brown  S-S
Peace, Love and Opera Julien Brody  Christmas
Rapthor Nordheim Metal
Tarmacadam Les Tireux d’Roches Folk
Underdog Overlord Edward Sayers Alt Rock
La vie m’émeut… Jean-Pierre Ferland  S-S
X-Dreamer LeRiche Alternative
Beautiful Chaos (EP) Kayla Diamond Pop
Geode (EP) Courtney Dubois S-S
Odd Man Rush (EP) Be Astronaut Rock
The Projektor II (EP) Alex St. Kitts R&B
A Strange Curiosity (EP) The Reed Effect Rock

Headlines and Footdots November 21, 2017

Michael Bublé took a rain check cancelling out of hosting the JUNO awards this year. He is now booked to host the event in his home metropolis, Vancouver, March 25, 2018. Tickets for the JUNOs go on sale Friday, November 24, 2017. With the network changeover, it will be broadcast on CBC.

Pop star Suzie McNeil has given birth to a baby boy, Findlay James Mactaggart. The little guy was born Friday, November 17, 2017 in Toronto.

A #5 album is scored by Canadian folk pop duo 2Frères. La Route is the brothers’ second LP.

Shania Twain has recorded a duet with Texas singer Nick Jonas, “Say All You Want for Christmas”. Listen for it at radio. Watch Shania perform at the half-time show at the Grey Cup Sunday, November 26, 2017 in Ottawa, as The Toronto Argonauts take on The Calgary Stampeders. It has been four years since a Canadian act headlined.

Canadians Take Home American Music Awards

On the day that Toronto beat Saskatchewan and Calgary defeated Edmonton in the CFL semifinals, The American Music Awards took place south of the border, and Canadian recording artists took home some hardware.

Shawn Mendes was named Favourite Artist – Adult Contemporary.

Drake took Favourite Artist – Rap.

As a featured artist, Justin Bieber helped ”Despacito” win Favourite Song – Pop/Rock.
He also helped “I’m the One” snatch Favourite Song – Rap.

In the one category in which she was nominated (Favourite Female Artist – Pop/Rock), Alessia Cara lost to Lada Gaga; however, Moana was named Top Soundtrack, and the album contains a track from her (“How Far I’ll Go”).

The Weeknd had five nominations but failed to snag a win in any of them. You can bet he’ll be cheering on the Argos at the Grey Cup.

Hooking a Ryder for Christmas

Fresh Christmas singles are in the works. And we are so happy that BC’s Shawn Hook has teamed up with Ontario’s Serena Ryder in a cover of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”. Find the official audio embedded below. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, the song is a sweet plea for peace on earth, something we all want to see. Shawn Hook is the author of two platinum singles and was recently given the annual Allan Slaight award from Canada’s Walk of Fame which recognizes young talent. Serena Ryder is a multiplatinum recording artist and JUNO award winner. Both Shawn and Serena released albums this year (Shawn’s was an EP). We embed the official audio of the new track below. After that find a recent interview with Shawn Hook on Breakfast Television in Toronto.  iTunes