March 22, 2019 Releases: Ruth B., Spoons, Sef Lemelin…

Multiplatinum JUNO award winner Ruth B. of Edmonton releases her latest EP – a five-track affair – Maybe I’ll Find You Again. Find beautifully crafted tunes of adult contemporary, R&B, pop, and even some alternative seasonings. For those who like soft pop, AC, vocal leaning music, another one to check out is Le long chemin from JUNO nominee Nicola Ciccone.

A couple of exquisite new wave full-length albums are out. First off, JUNO nominated Burlington, Ontario band, active since the 80s, Spoons delights us with the first disc in eight years, New Day New World. The group’s last offering, 2011’s Static in Transmission, was well received. This one is just as solid from our reckoning. For those who dig the genre, another winner is Van Carton‘s Des choses qui tiennent debout.

In the singer-songwriter department of sound, Vancouver’s Reid Jamieson more than satisfies on the beautiful, soothing album Me Daza.

For rap, just one notable release this week as JUNO nominee NAV talks about Bad Habits. The Weeknd is featured on one of the tracks.

Outselling all these new releases at iTunes is however an instrumental electronic album, and that is Deconstruction from Sef Lemelin (currently #1!).

Finally, country music princess MacKenzie Porter has released five brand new singles you can check out and settle upon your favourite.

Find these plus many more in the table below.

Bad Habits NAV (JN) Rap
Badlands The Standstills Rock
Deconstruction Sef Lemelin  Alternative
Des choses qui tiennent debout Van Carton Alternative
Diamonds & Dynamite Donna Grantis Jazz
Full Vol. Dead Tired Punk
Halfway Home by Morning Matt Anderson Blues
Le long chemin Nicola Ciccone (JN) AC
Me Daza Reid Jamieson S-S/Folk
New Day New World Spoons (JN) Alternative
Rechauffe Mononc’ Serge S-S/Folk
Run the Wrong Way Howlin’ Circus Rock
Secret Republic Ian Daniel Kehoe Alternative
Toi Moi Kristina & A. Stanké  S-S/Folk
For the Good Guys/Bad Guys (EP) Hanorah R&B/Soul
Maybe I’ll Fnd You Again (EP) Ruth B. (JW) AC
Soul & Sister (EP) Soul & Sister Alternative

New Releases for the Ides of March 2019

It being JUNO Awards weekend, new releases are scant. In fact, just five discs have come to our attention, and all are EPs. JUNO Award winner Dallas Smith recently scored his 7th number one country radio hit (“Rhinestone World”)! He has tucked it along with previous chart topper “Make ‘Em Like You” into new EP The Fall. Dallas’ fellow BC artist Sleepy Tom, a JUNO nominee, follows up single “Amateurs” featuring Lights with an EP bearing the same title. Pop sensation Johnny Orlando addresses Teenage Fever in his new disc. He is nominated at the JUNOs this weekend for Breakthrough Artist of the Year. For pop with some alternative and electronic undercurrents, have fun with Partir à point, Vol. 1 from Gaële, and for R&B lovers, Young Clancy has released Friends. On a side note with particular emphasis on side, Kira Isabella has combined her last two EPs into LP Sides with two additional tracks.

March 8, 2019 Releases: Elijah x Jamie + Ria Mae

This week’s batch of releases includes discs from four JUNO nominees.

Nova Scotia’s platinum pop powerhouse Ria Mae is back with new album Stars. Two previous JUNO nominees for the Roots and Traditional album award contribute new discs: Madison Violet with Everything’s Shifting and Dave Gunning with Up Against the Sky.

8:47, the formal debut EP from Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine includes smash hits “Ain’t Easy” (double platinum) and “Better Off” (gold). Third single “You” is moving up the radio charts.

Topping the iTunes songs chart is “Tu trouveras la paix from eleven Canadian singers including Céline Dion. It is a cover of the 70s song from Renée Claude. The latter has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Season 2 of The Launch has wrapped up. The final single of the series, arguably the best, is “Emotional” from Billboard Hot 100 charting singer Michelle Treacy. She was mentored by the legendary Nile Rodgers and new sensation Bebe Rexha. A piece of trivia: the guitar on the track is the same one Nile used on David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”.

Lights is busy with collaborations, especially British Columbian crafters of EDM. “Love Me” is her new one with Felix Cartal. She also treats us to slick number “Amateurs” with Sleepy Tom.

Stars Ria Mae (JN) Pop
Zig Zag Zydeco Zoo Le Winston Band World
Rel8te Locklyn Pop
Everything’s Shifting Madison Violet (JN) S-S/Folk
Up Against the Sky Dave Gunning (JN) S-S/Folk
Le fruit du HASARD  Stefie Shock  Pop
Nos repaires  Rayannah  Alternative
Correspondance Olivier Hébert & LoFi Octet  Jazz
L’habit de plumes Musique à bouches  Vocal
Mon mammifere prefere Juste Robert  S-S/Folk
8:47 (EP) Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine (JN) Pop
Blue Pine (EP) MUNYA Alternative
Mi-tronc, mi-jambe (EP) Victime  Punk

Feb 22 – Mar 1, 2019 Releases: Bryan Adams, Marianas Trench…

Among our latest batch of new Canadian artist releases comes Yellowstone from JUNO nominee Digawolf from the N doubya T. British Columbia flexes its muscles with the latest disc from Bryan Adams, Shine a Light, a return to form for him. Jennifer Lopez is featured on one of the tracks. Bryan has won 19 JUNO awards and is a diamond certified recording artist. Vancouver pop group Marianas Trench dishes up its latest, Phantoms. It currently haunts at the iTunes top spot. Boasting a pair of JUNO trophies from 2002 is singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman who contributes Media Age Wasteland. With a savoury EP, JUNO winner Tanya Tagaq is back in top form; she gets bonus points for the coolest title of the batch—Toothsayer. Check these and lots more in the tables below, but first …

A number of choice singles have come out in the past bit. Among them are “Now That I Found You” / “No Drug Like Me” from pop wonder Carly Rae Jepsen. Tenille Townes has dropped the country single of the year so far with the instantly lovable “White Horse”. New signee to Universal Music Rosemary Fairweather has opened up about suffering a concussion from an accident and experiencing disheartening symptoms in its aftermath. We pray for her recovery. She has managed to release new single “Superstar” which is very good.

February 22, 2019 Releases:

Hear Me Out Murray A. Lightburn S-S/Folk
Radio Batata Mehdi Cayenne Alternative
Multicolore Marie-Eve Roy S-S/Folk
Outro Emilie Kahn Alternative
Reverie Flying Horses Classical
Fireworks Don Brownrigg S-S/Folk
Gathering Storm Buckman Coe Reggae
Stay Tuned! Dominique Fils-Aimé  R&B
L’eternel retour Barrdo  S-S/Folk
Ricochet (EP) Stephanie Bedard AC
Wait (EP) Cotis R&B
L’accro du trippe (EP) Sir Pathetik Rap
Yellowstone (EP) Digawolf (JN) Alternative
Nuits blanches (EP) Tilda  Pop
Le doute au milieu (EP) Sarah Cochrane AC

March 1, 2019 Releases:

Phantoms Marianas Trench (JW) Pop
Coucou Passe-Partout Passe-Partout Children’s
Shine a Light Bryan Adams (JW) Rock
Media Age Wasteland Hawksley Workman (JW) S-S/Folk
Wildfire Ben Rogers S-S/Folk
Softer Faces Living Hour Alternative
Cheveux humains Christian Jacques Pop
The Same but by Different Means Yves Jarvis Alternative
Optimal Lifestyles Pkew Pkew Pkew Punk
The Glimmer Fredric Gary Comeau S-S/Folk
Toothsayer (EP) Tanya Tagaq (JW) Alternative
Anticorps (EP) Doloreanne Alternative

Feb 15, 2019 Releases: Lavigne, Charlebois, Duffield…

Some high-profile artists have released new discs this week.  Currently #1 at iTunes is studio album #6 from slayer Avril Lavigne, Head Above Water. Platinum champion of pop music Victoria Duffield goes the independent route with Day One, her third album, and it’s a winner. Surprise! The legend who is Robert Charlebois delivers his 25th studio album, Et voilà! JUNO winning folk group Le Vent du Nord offers latest LP Territories. Find a fabulous country album from Ottawa JUNO nominee Amanda Rheaume – The Skin I’m In. Parce qu’on aime is another stunning effort from R&B JUNO nominee Corneille. Among the EPs is a new one – Let’s Try the After (Vol. 1) – from JUNO winning collective Broken Social Scene. Find a list of selected new Canadian artist releases below.

Beat My Distance Anemone Alternative
Casual Island Jane’s Party Rock
Day Won Victoria Duffield (JN) Pop
Dead Dead Obies Rap
Et voilà  Robert Charlebois Rock
Head Above Water Avril Lavigne (JW) Pop
Helium Homeshake  Alternative
Journal de bord Cent-C  Rap
Parce qu’on aime Corneille (JN) R&B
Starts and Fits Andrew Austin Pop
Territories Le Vent du Nord (JW) S-S/Folk
The Skin I’m In Amanda Rheaume (JN) Country
Town Long Range Hustle Rock
V Aaron Goodvin Country
Why Make Sense Heartstreets  R&B
Fairplay (EP) Zagata  Pop
Les inédites (EP) Miss Sassoeur et les Sassys  Pop
Let’s Try the After (EP) Broken Social Scene (JW) Alternative
Novel (EP) N0V3L Alternative

Early Feb 2019 Releases: Lara Fabian Said the Whale

The past two weeks have seen some superb releases. Discs from JUNO winners are EP mau5ville: Level 3 from EDM master deadmau5 and Cascadia from squelch rock group Said the Whale. For the JUNO nominees we have pop album Papillon from Lara Fabian and chillout jazz album Montreal from Elizabeth Shepherd. We liked Pourchasser l’aube from Caroline Savoie, Premiere apparition from Laurence-Anne (both alternative works), Jim Brenan 11’s 50/50 (instrumental jazz), surprisingly good synthpop disc Restless from Radiant Baby, and EP When Lightning Strikes from Ottawa’s Grace Lachance. Below are two batches, one for February 1st releases and the second for February 8th.

February 1 Releases:

Pourchasser l’aube Caroline Savoie Alternative
Caviar Jacobus Rap
In Scenery Lost Cousins Alternative
In Line for a Smile Ryan McMahon S-S/Folk
Dead Melodies Jon Samuel Rock
Better Days Len Mizzoni Pop
Getaway Abigail Lapell S-S/Folk
The Wilder Beyond Hillsburn  Rock
Overrun Only Yours Alternative
Surreal Memories Prieur&Landry  Rock
Histoire naturelle Jonathan Personne  Rock
mau5ville: Level 3 (EP) deadmau5 (JW) Dance
23+ (EP) Nate Husser Rap
No Water, No Flowers: Part 1 (EP) Genevieve Racette S-S/Folk
The Know-How (EP) The Matchstick Skeletons Rock
Supernatural Mystics (EP) Wizaard Alternative
AMOS (EP) Kirouac et Kodakludo  Rap

February 8 Releases:

Premiere apparition Laurence-Anne Alternative
C’est la fin du monde… Lou-Adriane Cassidy Alternative
Papillon Lara Fabian (JN) Pop
Cascadia Said the Whale (JW) Alternative
Antoine Lachance Antoine Lachance Alternative
Leave with Me Memphis Alternative
50/50 Jim Brenan 11 Jazz
Montreal Elizabeth Shepherd (JN) Jazz
Restles Radiant Baby  Alternative
Webster & 5 For Trio  Webster & 5 For Trio  Rap
Success Mountain (EP) Le Trouble Rock
All In (EP) Chris Buck Band Country
Maddison Krebs (EP) Maddison Krebs Country
When Lightning Strikes (EP) Grace Lachance Pop
The Light I Can’t Block Out (EP) Post Script  S-S/Folk

Jan 25, 2019 Releases: deadmau5, Ingrid, and a Canoe

The number of album releases is picking up now that we’re near the end of January. Judging by the quality of the music, we’re in for a good year, if these early stages are any indication. Multiple JUNO award winner and specialist of electronic music deadmau5 launches soundtrack to the stylish action-crime Netflix film Polar which stars Shawn Hook collaborator Vanessa Hudgens. The closing track of the disc, “Drama Free” features Lights, and it graces the film’s official trailer. More electronic music enters the fold care of JUNO nominee Kid Koala and Music to Draw To: Io.

Adult contemporary ace Ingrid St-Pierre of Quebec releases her latest, Petite plage, and State of Mind appears from hot Saskatchewan country group Hunter Brothers. Manitoba joins the banquet thanks to JUNO nominee Royal Canoe who seasons Waver with some reggae vibes. Ontario, always reliable, contributes exquisite roots album Mohawk from JUNO nominee Lee Harvey Osmond. All of these albums deserve to make it onto a year end list.

Two EPs come out, both being fabulous. Soul music that tantalizes graces La Musica Popular de Verdun from Clay and Friends, and the gorgeous chillout of Shallow Waters from Fjord is not to be missed.

The Academy John River Rap
Petite plage Ingrid St-Pierre AC
Maison ouverte Simon Kearney Pop
Polar deadmau5 (JW) Soundtrack
State of Mind Hunter Brothers Country
Waver Royal Canoe (JN) Alternative
Perfecto Bleu Jeans Bleu  Rock
Hazards of Glitter Chris Houston Rock
Elizabeth Harvest Rachel Zeffira Soundtrack
Music to Draw To: Io Kid Koala (JN) Alternative
Mohawk Lee Harvey Osmond (JN) S-S/Folk
Galapagos, Vol. I The PepTides Alternative
Shallow Waters (EP) Fjord Alternative
Musica Popular de Verdun (EP) Clay and Friends R&B/Soul

News and Releases Early 2019

Nominations for the 2019 JUNO Awards, the main gala to take place in London on Saint Patrick’s Day, will be announced January 29 at 8 am PT. Already booked to perform is successful duo Loud Luxury. CARAS has made a few announcements surrounding the JUNOs in recent times as below.

Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award Recipient – Duff Roman

Originally from Swift Current, SK, Duff Roman began as a radio DJ for stations in the Prairies before landing a position at Toronto’s top adult rock station CHUM. He worked his way up to program director and station manager. With his brother, he founded Roman Records in the early 60s, and as an artist manager, he produced Little Caesar and The Consuls and the first recordings of Levon and the Hawks, who went on to become The Band. He was also involved in launching the careers of The Paupers and David Clayton-Thomas. In 1982, Roman led the creation of FACTOR, the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Recordings.

Humanitarian Award Recipient – David Foster

Canadian super producer David Foster will be receiving the 2019 Humanitarian Award (formerly named after Allan Waters). The organization writes, “The award honours Foster’s lifelong dedication to philanthropy through his support of hundreds of charities, including his own non-profit organization, The David Foster Foundation, which raises organ donation awareness and provides financial support to Canadian families in need of life-saving transplants.” Over the years, Foster has made hit songs for the likes of Diana Krall, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder; launched the careers of Céline Dion, Josh Groban, and Michael Bublé; and created blockbuster soundtracks like The Bodyguard, Urban Cowboy, and St. Elmo’s Fire. David Foster has won six JUNO Awards, 16 Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe and has received three Oscar nominations for “Best Original Song.” He has been inducted into the Music Hall of Fame, Walk of Fame, Hollywood Walk of Fame, and both the Canadian and American Songwriters Halls of Fame.

Music Hall of Fame Inductee – Corey Hart

From his career launch in 1983, Montrealer Corey Hart has scored 18 Top 40 hits including his buzz single “Sunglasses at Night” and his 1985 year-end chart topper “Never Surrender”. The album on which the latter song appeared, Boy in the Box, became a diamond seller with a million copies snatched up in Canada alone. Incredibly, Hart only won two JUNO awards despite being nominated for 21. He often lost out to Bryan Adams. The two trophies went to Best Video (“Sunglasses at Night”) and Single of the Year (“Never Surrender”). In the American Republic, Hart landed nine songs in the Top 40; “Never Surrender” peaked at #3. Corey married fellow Canadian recording artist Julie Masse, and in 1999 he decided to take a hiatus from his music career to focus on raising their children. His induction into the Hall of Fame coincides with the release of a new EP and an upcoming cross-Canada tour. Corey Hart has sold an estimated 16 million records worldwide.

New Releases

New discs are beginning to trickle in. Country music JUNO nominees Kira Isabella and Aaron Pritchett have released new EPs. JUNO winning Folk rock group Whitehorse contributes The Northern South Vol. 1. Find these and more in the list below.

Tallies by Tallies, Jan 11, Alternative
The Northern South Vol. 1 by Whitehorse (JW), Jan 18, Folk Rock
Insert Disk 02 by Game Genie Sokolov Jan 18, Electronic
12 jours by Jordane, Jan 18, S-S/Folk
Barokan by Djely Tapa, Jan 18, World
Comme June aime Johnny by Alicia Deschenes, Jan 18, S-S/Folk
Out on the Town (EP) by Aaron Pritchett (JN), Jan 11, Country
Side B (EP) by Kira Isabella (JN), Jan 11, Country
Extravaganza (EP) by Alexandre Desilets, Jan 18, Pop

Sarah Cogan and Tallies Land a Winning Debut

If there was any doubt about 2019 being a great year in music, in addition to Kira Isabella‘s excellent new EP Side B, we have another winner care of a debut album from Toronto band Tallies. The self-titled work presents a blend of Alvvays shoegaze and Mode Moderne new wave. It is however more guitar oriented – Dylan Frankland‘s playing is highly engaging – and at times we can hear some surf rock bubbling up. Unlike many other players of the extended genre, Tallies chooses to keep things upbeat and positive rather than wallow in melancholia. Sarah Cogan‘s vocals are distinctive and rich, reminding us a little of Jonna Lee’s (iamamiwhoami). These prove strong on tracks like “Midnight” and “Not So Proud”. With this solid album, Tallies becomes a welcome addition to Team Canada.  iTunes

Kira Isabella Opens 2019 with an Ace

Canadian Country Music Association award winner and two-time JUNO nominee Kira Isabella has placed four songs on the Billboard Hot 100. The Ottawa native is one of the hottest names in country music and of all the big names is the one to kick off 2019 in music with the release of a brand new EP. Side B is the accompanier of 2018’s Side A and is a winner.

As is common practice with EPs, variety rather than cohesion is the name of the game. An EP allows the artist to try her hands at various styles, something designed to impress, and Kira Isabella impresses here.

Side B opens with hit single territory in the absolutely delicious “We Should be Together”, an instantly likeable number that deserves to top the charts at country radio. Yes, it’s that good! Stronger country flavourings are added to Track 2, “Holiday”, a funky teasing tune that bounces along with an irresistible chorus. Feel your heart melt with the beautiful piano ballad “XGF”; every disc needs one in our opinion. Isabella cranks up the retro vibes in “Soon”, a hazy, lazy afternoon feel good tune. The interesting title “Sleep When We’re Dead” caps off the disc, a slow-burning, sing-along song with the most lucid lyrics of beautiful poetry on the EP.

With Side A, we had already heard some of the tracks which had previously been released as singles. The exciting aspect of Side B is that all songs are new. If 2019 begins with an EP this good, we hope it means a year of the best music we’ve heard in a while.  iTunes


The 15 Best Albums of 2018

The Canadian Music Blog tracked a total of 579 Canadian artist studio albums released in 2018. Below is a ranking of our 15 favourites of these regardless of genre, language, region, and popularity of the artist. These 15 represent 2.6% of the albums. We did not consider live, various artist, Christmas, and compilation albums, none of which are included in the 579. For EPs we published a separate list. At the CMB, we like music that is sophisticated with catchy melodies and pleasing vocals (unless it is instrumental). Though fairly eclectic, this list reflects Canadian artists becoming world leaders at progressive music. Find below our 15 favourite Canadian artist albums of 2018 including our Album of the Year!.

15Blackout Summer by Dusted

Dusted is a pet project of Brian Borcherd, and Blackout Summer the sophomore record. Essentially a work of alternative rock, its strong suit lies in the writing. Songs often begin discreetly and grab attention when the bass and drums enter the picture. Opener “Seasons” welds the brooding hypnosis of The Psychedelic Furs’ “Sister Europe” with the ghostly yodels of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”. The more experimental “Dead Eyes” pairs subdued vocals with perky guitars oscillating between simpler arrangements and ones more sophisticated. The swaggering “No Prison” beautifully captures the jangly guitar sound of the 60s from such aces as The Byrds and beefs things up with some pleasurable pulses. Well done!  iTunes

14Undefined by Kelly Yu

Scoring huge Mandopop hit “Ti Mian” (Decent) this year, theme song of Chinese feature film Ex-Files 3: Return of the Exes, Canadian singer and actress Kelly Yu followed up with her first album in four years after debut LP Spirits. Though the Vancouver raised star gained fame with her roles in TV series One and a Half Summers and blockbuster film Ex-Files 3, Yu in fact graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music and was guitarist in a backing band before launching her own solo career in music. The legend who is Peter Frampton was so impressed with her guitar skills, he had her perform with him on stage.

Kelly’s 2018 album, entitled Undefined, consists of ten soothing ballads including previous hits “Can’t Steal Now” (Track 1), “Past” (Track 4), and of course “Decent” (Track 8). The album also contains English language number “Save Me”. Undefined’s standout track, though is possibly, “Accompaniment” (Track 7) which does what Mandopop does best, hooks us onto an irresistible melody with soul-piercing vocals over some killer piano. Hear some heart-melting keys and strings on concluder “You Are Mine”.  iTunes

13My All to You by Beatrice Deer

Beatrice Deer is originally from Quaqtaq, QC and now based in Montreal. She is of Inuit and Mohawk descent and in the past 14 years has become a natural at blending Indigenous flavours with contemporary pop-rock. She refers to her resulting folk-rock style as Inuindie. Beatrice’s 2018 LP My All to You, her fourth, showcases such a marvellous sound with songs performed in three languages: English, French, and Inuktitut. Being more involved in the songwriting herself, than on previous works, she still managed to pull in some high-profile collaborators including members of The Barr Brothers, Land of Talk, Stars, and Timber Timbre.

Hear modern alternative rock and folk with traditional throat singing and the stuff of Inuit legend. My All to You is a collection of eight original pieces with Beatrice Deer’s interpretation of two traditional songs. Thematically, it is, in the author’s words, about reconciliation with oneself, “the hardest thing to do.” The wistful “1997” contains some nostalgic guitar strums that might remind one of Travis or Smashing Pumpkins. Title-track “My All to You” asserts an irresistible, steady beat. Closer “You’re with Me” acknowledges the importance of companionship along life’s treacherous journey. On My All to You, Beatrice Deer, embarked on a voyage of personal reconciliation, and sounds as if she came out of it with pure resilience.  iTunes

12Plus que vive by Maïa

Roots music outfit Ladies of the Canyon was a successful quartet, nominated for the CCMA Rising Star Award in 2011. After two albums, the group felt it had reached a crossroads, its members wanting to embark on separate paths. Maïa Davies had already released solo album Héritage paying homage to the Francophone side of her bilingual roots. But her path eventually began to veer in a more progressive direction, and at some point along the way she bumped into JUNO award winning producer Gavin Brown who has crafted works from Mother Mother, Metric, The Tragically Hip, Sarah Harmer, and Three Days Grace. Maïa’s penning catchy songs began to attract more stellar names to join her team: Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies and JUNO nominated recording engineer Gus Van Go.

The 2018 album, Plus que vive, marks Maïa‘s first foray into the exciting kingdom of pop music with electronic trimmings. You will also hear some choice nuggets of progressive rock, some of which outshine even the immediately catchy pop charmers like “Alléluia” and “Échos”. Opening with the electronic boom of atmospheric “Années-lumière”, a piece that smartly combines Maïa’s angelic vocals with processed vocoder backups, we were immediately hooked. Fortunately, her songwriting skills come complete with big, satisfying choruses heard in cuts like “Éternellement”.

Maïa also has a knack for creating addictive beats – in “Folie” for instance – a track that is drenched in a dizzying wall of sound. The driving “Les couleurs me reviennent” presents another example of an exhilarating chorus. It’s not all a high wattage pop electronica however, as “Seule comme une étoile” injects a cool dose of soul-stirring piano, haunting like a Sarah Brightman song. Oh, and feel free to clap along to “Içi dans les nuages” – good music is meant to inspire you to do so. We come to closer “Comme un homme” with electric guitar themes that remind us of Gary Numan’s “Ancients” (that’s meant as a huge compliment by the way). Her vocals on the track are simply delicious.

The great voice, songwriting, and production make this thing a triple threat that should unravel the prowess of all A Listers.  iTunes

11Expectations by MAGIC!

The group hardly needs an introduction, but reggae pop act Magic holds the overlooked distinction of being the first Canadian band to top the British charts … ever! Two JUNO wins punctuate its status, plus of course global smash hit “Rude”. Expectations is the outfit’s third studio album, and despite “Kiss Me” becoming a certified hit, the album should have received much more attention because the quality of the music is outstanding. Although there is still some reggae seasoning, the players shifted to a more mainstream pop sound that is richer than on its previous discs. Expectations by MAGIC! is one of the finest pop releases of 2018.  iTunes

10Petites mains precieuses by Ariane Moffatt

Originally from Saint-Romuald, QC which has now been amalgamated with Lévis, Montreal-based electropop ace Ariane Moffatt released her sixth studio album in 2018, Petites mains précieuses. Her debut album, Aquanaute (2002), went platinum, and her third, Tous les sens (2008), won a JUNO award. The new album is perky with some dark patches and is modern sounding with occasional tips towards 1970s grooves. It is always a pleasure to listen to her velvety voice which wisps through the tracks gracefully. Popular cuts include stringy opener “Du souffle pour deux”, funky “Les apparences”, and the driving “Pour toi”. As interesting musically as its title, we enjoyed the fluttering “Cyborg” and more heavily electronic “ONO” which stands for One Night Only. Not many artists can boast six solid albums, so Ariane Moffatt is among the elite.  iTunes

9Nightcrawler by Simon Daniel

After launching an EP in 2015, which allowed him to play more than a hundred shows in Canada and Europe and to win numerous prizes and accolades, Moncton, New Brunswick’s Simon Daniel launched in 2018 full-length album Nightcrawler, and it’s a beauty. Of the disc’s title and theme, Daniel states, “Myself, being a night owl, that’s when my imagination lets loose and when I’m most creative.” Nightcrawler exposes his creative genius in concocting a fresh sound with funky bass grooves and punchy trip hop beats intertwined with crackling guitars and whirls of analog synthesizers. The tracks lead off with simplicity and gradually evolve into sophisticated soundscapes, often with towering choruses. It’s both a nocturnal road trip and an intergalactic odyssey. Simon Daniel’s Nightcrawler could well be 2018 alternative pop’s finest hour.  iTunes

8All the Hours… by Sarah MacDougall

With a voice as enticing as Coeur de pirate’s and as enchanting as Anna of the North’s, The Yukon’s Sarah MacDougall scored a winner in 2018 new wave folk album All the Hours I have Left to Tell You Anything. By her own telling, the lyrics deal with “strength, identity, death, the breakdown of relationships, birth, and the ghosts we honor and carry throughout”. These themes were influenced by the passing of her grandparents, birth of her niece, and a breakup. The music’s atmospherics were shaped by the vast and desolate Yukon terrain as well as the shadowy splendour of her country of origin: Sweden. One of the disc’s chief strengths lies in Sarah’s ability to craft surging choruses that do more than satisfy. Listen too for some savoury electric guitar solos. All the Hours… was heralded by singles “Empire” and “We Are Fire” but has much more to offer, such as the slow-burning drive of “Bleeding on the Dancefloor”, stabbing thrill of “Animal”, and synth tingles of “Cruel Spring”.  iTunes

7La Hoo La La by Brave Shores

Via Universal Music, Toronto synth pop duo Brave Shores released sophomore LP La Hoo La La following EP La Hoo earlier in the year. It is an album that just might knock you off your feet, as the dense wall of sound is a hard-hitting scoop that elevates the listener up to planes of euphoria, especially with such an array of bristling, ethereal synth voices. But even electric guitars make grand entrances from time to time packing a spicy jolt. Some of the earlier tracks on the album do something which may sound impossible to the imagination: combine 70s progressive rock with 80s synth pop. The two styles merge into a whole new animal which is a charming one. La Hoo La La also presents nuggets that are completely unique. The album was expertly produced by personnel behind Bjork, Future Islands, and Canadian acts Dear Rouge and Said the Whale. Brave Shores is brother and sister duo Jay and Stefanie McCarrol.  iTunes

6C U Again by Adrian Underhill

Adrian Underhill launches his debut album C U Again. It is smooth, mellow R&B inflected adult contemporary with splashes of alternative. Adrian is originally from Vancouver but now based in Toronto via Montreal. Pastel grooves swish through the disc ever so naturally. The gentle earworm “I Want It All” harnesses a simple melody that is oh so catchy. “Cruel” flows along nicely before breaking out into a funky conclusion. “As I Think of Something Different” makes effective use of vocal harmonies, and “How to Make a Life Count” includes some dazzling keyboard work. Find pleasant reggae peppering on “I Could”. As far as R&B goes, Adrian Underhill’s C U Again album is the surprise charmer of 2018!  iTunes

5Demagogue by The Coriolis Project

British Columbian outfit The Coriolis Project returned in 2018 with album Demagogue presenting its brand of ambient music with a driving edge. Unsealing track “Branches” switches on an atmosphere that swings coolly thanks to some nice ride cymbal percussion and ultimately excites with bristling guitars and ultra spicy synth riffs. Another standout for us is “Mephistopheles” opening with icicle clicks, wind chimes, and Gregorian type background chanting, augmented with electrifying guitar strums, haunting bells, and thunderclaps. Past the halfway mark enter electronic bass pulses to bring things to a glorious climax. Brilliant.  iTunes

4Departures, Vol. 2 by North Atlantic Drift

Toronto based Mike Abercrombie and Brad Deschamps are back again with another stellar album of ambient electronica. Recording under project name North Atlantic Drift, the followup to last year’s excellent Departures Vol. 1 was released this year, the second volume. If you ever wanted to depart for a seafaring adventure in the North Atlantic but felt it was too dangerous, the waves of electronic drones and shimmers on this recording will transport you into a dreamworld that involves basking in the sun on the deck of some modest craft, adrift in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by nothing but dark blue water. With Departures Vol. 2, North Atlantic Drift is on its way of becoming one of Canada’s finest acts of the genre that include Tim Hecker, Loscil, and the aforementioned Coriolis Project.  iTunes

3Down Time by Young Galaxy

Electronic group Young Galaxy formed in Vancouver but relocated to Montreal where prolific album releases – six so far – have ensued since 2007. A few of these have been long or shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. After going through a number of membership changes, YG is essentially down to the duo now of Catherine McCandless and Stephen Ramsay. 2018’s Down Time is the outfit’s first fully independent release. Stuffed with often lengthy tracks of warm, dense, mesmerizing electronic soundscapes and sophisticated percussion and effects, the disc picked up strong reviews.

Down Time opens with the haunting bleeps and burbles of “Under My Wing”, complete with veiled vocals. Glittering synths animate “Show You the Valley”. The lively percussion and layered vocals on “River” feel like a Caribbean cruise while the long instrumental prologue of ethereal wisps in “Frontier” gently blow the listener up and up and outside the atmosphere. “Stay for Real” released last year was ranked by the CMB as the 14th top track of 2017. It is the album’s strongest track as far as single-suited material goes. Young Galaxy’s Down Time is very cool stuff.  iTunes

2Echoes from Afar by Viñu-vinu

Following up 2017 album Encounters, Canadian electronic act Viñu-Vinu dropped Echoes from Afar, a sweeping tapestry of ambient soundscapes reminiscent of the best cuts from Tangerine Dream. More remarkable is that the album was recorded live off the floor (in Banff, AB and Montreal), capturing a spontaneous organic process that circumvents modern proclivities towards repetitive loops. Chillout vibes, downtempo beats, and ethereal synthesizers merge to create an enjoyable waking dream. We particularly liked track “Afar”, a deliciously dreary ride through spook and calm. Also savory is the droning whirl of “Deep Forest” something in which we would not mind getting lost with a soundtrack like this booming through the trees! Brilliant album.  iTunes


Canadian Music Blog’s 2018 Album of the Year

What do you call an album that is among the best you have ever heard, but no one has heard of it, nor the artist? Concealed from the ears of the land, the most priceless jewel among all 579 Canadian artist studio albums released in 2018 is the best EDM record we have ever heard. This project, released through Colorize, delves into trippy, chillout house electronica. Think of Kaskade’s early stuff but a little richer, dreamier, and more ethereal. The album mixes instrumentals with some vocalized pieces, and the vocals are astounding. While the soothing ambient surf of tracks like “Get Closer” caresses the soul, the disc also bristles with energetic beats heard on cuts like “Knockdown” and “Would You Just”. Importantly, hypnosis is also a factor, most evident on “Falling”. Four years in the making, this masterpiece contains not a single weak moment; it is a solid joyride from start to finish. The album had us speechless. The Canadian Music Blog declares Connection by Diversion as 2018’s Album of the Year!  iTunes

The 7 Best EPs of 2018

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. In some cases, 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.

Through the year, we tracked 178 qualifying extended play records from Canadian artists released, which is 50 more than last year. This number does not include various artist, Christmas, or live discs which we do not consider for year-end lists. We listened to all 178 and settled upon a year-end ranking of the 7 best regardless of genre. We did not choose a rounder number like 5 or 10 for the list this year because we found these 7 to be a significant cut above all the rest in terms of the quality of the music.

Find below our 7 favourite Canadian artist EPs of 2018 including our 2018 Extended Play Record of the Year!


EP2 by Jamison Isaak

Jamison Isaak had the music factory switched to overdrive this year, as he championed the cause of prolific output. From Abbotsford, BC, Isaak is the wonder behind ambient project Teen Daze. His EP1 released in February harnessed a neoclassical piano-driven swish, while EP2 saw him swing back into the electronic serenity he is perhaps best known for. Cinematic and mood-conjuring, EP2 relaxes the mind while sharpening the senses. If nothing else, this brilliant work of art brings the Zen to the lounge and will have you feeling refreshed by its close.  iTunes


Lesser Evil by Lesser Evil

Lesser Evil is a new “college rock” duo from Montreal dropping its debut, eponymous four-track EP this year. The disc opens with “V.W” where a smoky jazz & blues bar croon from some sort of film noir yields to hauntingly cool synthesizers. The more raucous “Caution” provides paranoid horns and keys gone berserk. “Sight Of” is an instantly likeable chillout nugget teasing some funky grooves. Closeout number “Cobra Effect” combines warm vocals with eerie musicianship. Lesser Evil is pure pleasure.  iTunes


Joseph by Birthday Boy & Trish

Following singles “Magic” and “Chance to Go Far”, Toronto producer Birthday Boy and singer Trish teamed up to release EP Joseph. The disc paves a dreamy ride through chillout R&B / house terrain with some occasional funk, feel-good beats, sunny horns, and electronic bells and whistles. It is both retro and current – King meets Majid Jordan perhaps. Both Complex and Noisey magazines gave the work glowing reviews; you can add CMB to the list.  iTunes


To the Trees by To the Trees

Waterloo, Ontario band To the Trees impressed us with its eponymous EP. With it, the group contributes more choice cuts to the genre of synthrock that sadly is a little on the depleted side these days. The disc offers six beautifully crafted songs, and though independently released can boast a very professionally sounding production. The vocals are lovely, musicianship pleasing, and writing top notch. We are very excited to watch the career of this talented group unfold.  iTunes


Delmano by Munya

Munya is the alternative pop music project of Josie Boivin. She intends to kick things off with three extended play releases. The first, released May 5, 2018, was a delightful three-track offering entitled North Hatley, a village located close to and southwest of Sherbrooke. Her second, Delmano (Oct. 5), revolves around Hotel Demano, an establishment situated in Brooklyn, New York. We slightly preferred this second effort though the six tracks from these first two discs are all superb and present a breezy sound that is dreamlike and slightly haunting in effect. We definitely look forward to Munya’s third outing.  iTunes


Super Sunset by Allie X

One of our finest pop talents, Oakville, Ontario’s Allie X treated us with slickly produced EP Super Sunset this year. With the catchy “Not So Bad in La”, she muses on happenings in her adoptive city. Seductive beats abound on the adorable Robyn-styled entry of “Little Things”. 80s themed “Science” dreamily wallows up to the playful “Girl of the Year” where Allie X, like a chameleon, slips her vocals into a grand … Ariana Grande pose. “Can’t Stop Now”, another catchy nugget, sets things up for the funky, nocturnal closer that is “Focus”. Super Sunset by Allie X is warm, charming synth pop to drool over.  iTunes


Canadian Music Blog’s 2018 EP of the Year

He is relatively new at the game, though a raw sounding EP came out in 2014. Four years later, this talent emerged from the wilderness to deliver a winner where grief is presented as a season. It came out very early in 2018, and we declared it as frontrunner for EP of the year. Nothing else came out that was quite this good. Produced by Éric Goulet, it is a much richer effort than his previous disc: finely crafted, catchy, and coherent adult electropop. He reminds us a little of Jason Bajada – very pleasant to listen to. Here are five songs, all perfectly constructed and expertly delivered. The Canadian Music Blog declares La tristesse n’est qu’une saison by Éric Charland as 2018’s EP of the year!  iTunes

December 7, 2018 Releases: Jérôme Minière, 1five1…

New releases are trickling in during the slower change of the year season. Find eight Canadian artist LPs and four EPs summarized in the table below. The highest profile artist among the batch is JUNO award nominee Jérôme Minière with his latest album Dans la forêt numérique. He specializes in alternative and electronic music. Speaking of the latter, find a delicious self-titled, downtempo, mainly instrumental EP from 1five1.

Our running tally of Canadian artist studio album releases for 2018 is up to 576 LPs and 176 EPs. We expect a few more next week before things dry up until mid to late January 2019.

Blues, Vol. 1 Seb’s Music Shop  Blues
Christian Aubin  Christian Aubin  S-S/Folk
Dans la forêt numérique  Jérôme Minière (1 JN) Alternative
Distancing Twist Alternative
La nuit des temps  OB1 Rap
Mme Élodie  Mme Élodie  S-S/Folk
Ocean Potion Ocean Potion Alternative
Residuals The Del Fi’s S-S/Folk
1five1 (EP) 1five1 Alternative
Come and Go (EP) Cal Johnson S-S/Folk
Temporary Her (EP) Blaise Moore Pop
Time & Place (EP) Beach Season R&B

The Sight of Lesser Evil Grants a Cobra Effect

Lesser Evil is a new “college rock” duo from Montreal recently dropping its debut, eponymous four-track EP. The disc opens with “V.W” where a smoky jazz & blues bar croon from some sort of film noir yields to hauntingly cool synthesizers. The more raucous “Caution” provides paranoid horns and keys gone berserk. “Sight Of” is an instantly likeable chillout nugget teasing some funky grooves. Closeout number “Cobra Effect” combines warm vocals with eerie musicianship. Chances are you will enjoy at least a couple of these. Lesser Evil is pure pleasure and one of 2018’s best EPs.  iTunes

Electronic Brilliance Abounds on Viñu-Vinu’s Echoes from Afar

Following up 2017 album Encounters, Canadian electronic act Viñu-Vinu recently dropped Echoes from Afar, a sweeping tapestry of ambient soundscapes reminiscent of the best cuts from Tangerine Dream. More remarkable is that the album was recorded live off the floor (in Banff, AB and Montreal), capturing a spontaneous organic process that circumvents modern proclivities towards repetitive loops. Chillout vibes, downtempo beats, and ethereal synthesizers merge to create an enjoyable waking dream. We particularly liked track “Afar”, a deliciously dreary ride through spook and calm. Also savory is the droning whirl of “Deep Forest” something in which we would not mind getting lost with a soundtrack like this booming through the trees! Brilliant album.  iTunes