New Releases Sep 15, 2017: Kain, Haines, Cook, Cockburn

Find below a table of September 15, 2017 releases (sorted in random order) which includes 24 LPs and a pair of EPs. Some highlights are as follows.

What’s Hot

Leading the pack for iTunes sales is Welcome Bonheur from Drummondville, Québec JUNO nominated and platinum selling folk-rock group Kaïn. Metric frontwoman Emily Haines of Toronto returns to her Soft Skeleton solo project with Choir of the Mind, a softer presentation than the high centigrade leanings of Metric; the album is selling well. Emily earned a JUNO nomination in 2010 for Songwriter of the Year thanks to work on tracks from Metric’s album Fantasies. For those who dig world music, Toronto’s Jesse Cook has a treat for you. The new album is called Beyond Borders. His album Free Fall took home the Instrumental Album of the Year JUNO in 2001 and went platinum. Ottawa’s Bruce Cockburn adds another disc to his mammoth catalogue: Bone on Bone. Interestingly, of all his creative works and fabulous poetry, his 1993 Christmas album was by far his best-seller at 6x platinum. Bruce has chocked up an impressive 12 JUNO awards.

What’s Cool

Our favourite LP of the week is Across the Dark from Toronto’s JUNO nominated The Wilderness of Manitoba, the brain child of Will Whitwham. Combining roots music with smatterings of progressive sauces and reminding us at times of so-called yacht rock, it is quite an impressive disc. JUNO winner and one of the nation’s finest when it comes to roots music is Toronto trio Elliott Brood; the exquisite new album is Ghost Gardens. Fredericton’s Alicia Toner presents beautiful atmospheric country album I Learned the Hard Way worth checking out. As far as EPs go, we have the excellent First Move from Toronto’s Stacey with crystal clear vocals and dreamy keyboard sequences.

Table of New Releases

TITLE ARTIST GENRE ORIGIN AWARDS
Intersections Emie R. Roussel Trio Jazz QC  
H.I.M. History in the Making Flawless Gretzky Rap QC  
Spirale Jean-François Groulx Jazz QC  
Joie de vivre Julie Aubé Rock NB  
Vacation Seaway Pop-Punk ON  
There’s a Place Sean McCann Folk NL  
The Great Blue Heron Friendly Rich Alt ON  
Choir of the Mind Emily Haines Alt Pop ON 1JN
Ghost Gardens Elliott Brood Roots ON 1JW
Across the Dark Wilderness of Manitoba Rock ON 1JN
Bone on Bone Bruce Cockburn Folk ON 6xP, 12JW
Real Love David Myles Roots NB  
Talk Is Cheap The Karpinka Brothers S-S SK  
Pure Mind Fake Palms Alt Rock ON  
Follow That Fire Lynn Jackson SS/Folk ON  
Two Sunday Wilde & Reno Jack Blues ON  
Queen of Swords Queen of Swords Alt Rock ON  
À jamais privé de réponses Paupière Alt Pop QC  
Death at More Door The Creepshow Punk QC  
Welcome Bonheur Kain Folk Rock QC P, 1JN
I Learned the Hard Way Alicia Toner Country NB  
Casualties Break the Trend Rock ON  
Cordoba Mudie Alt Rock QC  
Beyond Borders Jesse Cook World ON P, 1JW
Country Sorta Way (EP) Danielle Bourjeaurd Country ON  
First Move (EP) Stacey Alt Pop ON  

Key: Highest certification on a recording (P=platinum), JN=JUNO nominations, JW=JUNO wins.

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Fear / Nothing in The Belle Game

Vancouver group The Belle Game launches 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 (see MV below). 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”. Count this one as a winner.  iTunes

Alvvays Flirts with Antisocialites

Toronto group Alvvays recently pressed its sophomore album, Antisocialites. The band is helmed by Nova Scotian raised Molly Rankin. Its debut album, hyped by certain critics, received a favourable Metacritic score of 78/100. While production on that one tended to drown out Molly’s beautiful vocals, which seemed muffled, the new album production team of O’Hanley and Congleton do a smart job. In keeping with the genre, the mixing 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

Bobby Wills Releases EP In Comes the Night

Calgary’s Bobby Wills is back with a stellar EP, 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 country releases. The EP soothes, exhilarates, and has us cheering as great track follows great track. It’s a fabulous late summer release that will have you welcoming the fall. Bobby Wills won the CCMA Rising Star Award in 2013 and the following year released his music through MDM Recordings.  iTunes

New Releases 8 Sep 2017: Alvvays, Cardin, DFA, Young

We have put together a list of 29 selected Canadian artist discs released yesterday. They represent 3 from New Brunswick, 10 from Quebec, 5 from Ontario, 2 from Manitoba, 5 from Alberta, and 4 from BC. Three EPs are included. There are 11 groups (of 3 or more), 3 duos, 5 female soloists, and 10 male soloists. Of the 29 acts, 6 have been nominated for a JUNO award, 2 of which have won. Four of the albums sit in the iTunes top 10 at this writing. See the table below.

Montreal’s popular and very beautiful Charlotte Cardin has the best-selling Canadian disc of the bunch, new pop EP Main Girl. See the title-track MV below. Another EP to swoon over is In Comes the Night from Calgary’s Bobby Wills; something those not normally into country music can get into, its music is so good.

Antisocialites, the sophomore record from Toronto’s Alvvays is a standout among the LPs and a big improvement over the group’s much hyped debut. Equally impressive as far as alternative music goes is Fear/Nothing from Vancouver’s The Belle Game, less subdued and more electronic than the Alvvays disc. Track “Spirit” is one of the best songs of 2017 released anywhere in the world. Expect in-depth reviews on both albums later.

Winnipeg’s Neil Young is back with an unearthed album of songs recorded in 1976—Hitchhiker; it’s vintage Young displaying his matchless prowess at crafting singer-songwriter jewels. For those who need something that gets the adrenaline flowing, Toronto JUNO winning duo Death from Above 1979 kicks it in overdrive on Outrage! Is Now.

Three JUNO nominations for Calgary’s Chad VanGaalen; he should get more and maybe a win with Light Information, a nice blend of roots and progressive music. Congolese-Canadian Pierre Kwenders makes a rich cocktail that includes African style music, and his efforts attracted a JUNO nomination with his last effort; the new disc is Makanda at the end of space, the beginning of time. Genius songsmith and JUNO nominee Peter Katz returns with Franco album La somme de tous nos efforts.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE ORIGIN JUNOS
Antisocialites Alvvays Alt ON 2N
The Beautiful Laura Sauvage Alt QC  
Canadiana Grotesquica Geoff Berner Folk BC  
Darkside Simon Denizart Jazz QC  
Do the Right Now Lowest of the Low Rock ON  
Fais-moi la musique Andreanne Martin AC QC  
Fear/Nothing Belle Game Alt BC  
Fruit Charles Trudel Jazz QC  
Hitchhiker Neil Young S-S MB 9W
In Search of Lost Time Partner Rock NB  
In 3/4 The Hypochondriacs Rock NB  
Julie & The Wrong Guys Julie & The Wrong Guys Alt ON  
Light Information Chad VanGaalen Alt AB 3N
Makanda at the end of space… Pierre Kwenders World QC 1N
Mon Doux Saigneur Mon Doux Saigneur Alt QC  
The OBGMs The OBGMs Punk ON  
Outrage! Is Now Death from Above 1979 Rock ON 1W
Outsider Comeback Kid Punk MB  
La somme de tous nos efforts Peter Katz S-S QC 1N
Sponsored Content Antwood Alt BC  
There Goes the Neighbourhood Nice Horse Country AB  
Try Faith Healer Alt AB  
Uncommon Good Busty and the Bass R&B QC  
Walk in the Dark Rob Lutes Folk NB  
Wildflower Blues Holland & Parton Roots BC  
Women of Soul Sylvie Desgroseilliers R&B QC  
Grounded Star (EP) Grounded Star Rock AB  
In Comes the Night (EP) Bobby Wills Country AB  
Main Girl (EP) Charlotte Cardin Pop QC  

 

Joseph Has the Mercury Rising

Toronto’s Joseph Salusbury, under stage name Joseph of Mercury, has the thermometer visibly rising with the release of his superb new EP. It’s 80s synth pop combined with 50s velvet 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 is 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. MV for “Find You Inside” embedded below to give you a taste.  iTunes

New Releases Sep 1, 2017: Alexz Johnson, Jason Bajada, …

For those of you sad to see that we are suddenly in September, no worries, there is lots of good music coming out. First, a few bits of news…

Diamond certified Ontarian rocker Avril Lavigne is back in good spirits after her battle with enervating Lyme disease and is working feverishly on her sixth studio album. The seven-time JUNO award winner issued a statement thanking fans for their patience, explaining she wants the music to be perfect, and promising the album will be done “before you know it”.

Rapper Drake has donated 200 thousand dollars to the Hurricane Harvey relief fund in Houston.

The Biebs is playing catchup to Katy Perry. The latter became the first to surpass 100 million followers on Twitter; Justin Bieber has now achieved the milestone.

Skip Prokop, Hamilton drummer and co-founder of group Lighthouse has died at age 74. Skip saw success in early 60s group The Paupers which dissolved and left him as a studio musician for such A-listers as Carlos Santana; Janis Joplin; and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Prokop envisioned rock music backed by an orchestra and was assisted in realizing its creation through meeting jazz pianist and soundtrack composer Paul Hoffert. The two co-founded Lighthouse in 1968 adding guitarist Ralph Cole and drawing 10 other musicians from the jazz, rock, and classical fields. Lighthouse is best known for hits “One Fine Morning” (#30 of 1971), “Hats Off” (#88 of 1971), and “Pretty Lady” (#60 of 1973).

A torrent of new releases is set to come out September 8. This week, there are just a few to talk about.

Jean-Fernand Girard of Jonquière, QC contributes a fine instrumental jazz album entitled Jazz Waves. Perky, brisk, and alert, the album is set to add some sparkle to any atmosphere.

Jason Bajada is a wonder. The man has a handsome voice on him and is never short of ideas, as evidenced by the volume of music he is making. He follows up 2016’s excellent Volcano with Blondie & the Backstabberz, a 20-track singer-songwriter sequel to his 2008 album.

From Montreal, we swing over to the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam, hometown of multi-talent Alexz Johnson. A Stranger Time veers over to the singer-songwriter genre a little and is as engaging as one would expect from the expert songstress.

Fans of folk ought to be very impressed with Topaz, the new set from Toronto’s Shawn William Clarke: captivating poetry sung clearly with clever playing and nice writing.

More jazz as we head back to Canada’s capital of jazz—Montreal. Rachel Therrien Quintet presents the rollicking Why Don’t You Try, a blast for lovers of the genre.

This week’s pleasant surprise is the self-titled EP from Toronto’s Joseph of Mercury. This ace in the hole will have fans of alternative music done right dancing and drooling: theatrical vocal delivery, catchy beats, and some unexpected twists.

Late August 2017 Releases: Liona Boyd, Alice Glass, Daniel Caesar

Find below a table of Canadian artist releases over the past two weeks.

Premier guitarist Liona Boyd releases her latest adult contemporary work, No Remedy for Love. The former frontwoman of electronic band Crystal Castles, Alice Glass, serves up her eponymous debut solo EP. Both releases from last week’s batch were popular. This week, the hottest discs are Freudian from R&B specialist Daniel Caesar and La joie from rap duo Eman X Vlooper. A standout work for us is Car Ride from Guy Bergeron & Christelle Cotnam. The former wrote the tracks and plays acoustic guitar, the latter accompanies with violin. The arrangements are simple, and yet the writing and playing are so good, the new age disc will captivate you with its beauty and charm. Most of the albums below are quite good especially the alternative discs. We wanted to give a special shout out to R&B up and comer Chris LaRocca for his surprisingly exquisite EP Voila which is one of the better works of the genre in quite some time. It’s a little bit 80s, deep, rich, and dreamy.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE ORIGIN
Lost in Your Head The Royal Foundry Alternative AB
Music on the Grey Mile Camille DeLean Folk QC
No Remedy for Love Liona Boyd AC ON
The Siren’s Song Kacy & Clayton Folk SK
Sweeter Dreams Ramriddlz Urban ON
Alice Glass (EP) Alice Glass Alternative ON
Voila Chris LaRocca R&B ON
Alaska Lily K.O. Pop QC
Aron D’Alesio Aron D’Alesio Alternative ON
Car Ride Guy Bergeron & Christelle Cotnam New Age QC
Chrome Betty Moon Pop ON
Deserve to Die Woolworm Rock BC
Freudian Daniel Caesar R&B ON
Hochelaga Nicolet Alternative QC
La joie Eman X Vlooper Rap QC
EP2 Les Chiens Rock QC

Early August 2017 Releases and Other News

New releases have trickled in the past couple of weeks. We summarize them in the table below. The highest profile releases are probably Calgarian country star Lindsay Ell’s and BC rapper SonReal’s. Winnipeg’s Slow Leaves (i.e. Grant Davidson) is getting ample press with his folky album.

Some nifty singles have come out as well. There is one in particular we wish to highlight because it’s so good. When you’re from Calgary, country music is in your blood, and few do it better than Bobby Wills. His new single “In Comes the Night” heralds a mini album of the same name set for a September 8 release.

Speaking of country music, it was announced earlier today that Shania Twain will headline the 2017 Grey Cup (Canadian football championship) half-time show November 26 in Ottawa. Organizers have not gone with a Canadian act since 2013 (Hedley). Shania performed at the event in 2002, Edmonton.

Shania’s new album Now is out September 29. Her last album Up! Came out in 2002. Many new Canadian country artists have emerged since then, and we do wonder if she has had a chance to listen to them and if there is anything that impresses her … much.

A slew of international singers will be flying into Vancouver for the culturally rich Albatross Music Festival September 14-15 at the Hastings Racecourse. Canadians will be participating as well. Booked are Canadian Hot 100 charting JUNO nominee Elise Estrada, Nettwerk Productions’ Wanting (Qu), The United States’ Far East Movement, Mongolian traditional music group Nair Band, and South Korean superstar Tae-yeon (Girls’ Generation). We love to see events like this happening. More please!

TITLE ARTIST RELEASE STYLE ORIGIN
The Album Johnson Crook Aug-04 Country Toronto
Infinite Punishment Get the Shot Aug-04 Metal Quebec City
Small World Def3 Aug-04 Rap Regina
Hamtramck ’16 (EP) Moon King Aug-04 Pop Toronto
Liquid Unbuttoned Aug-08 Alternative Toronto
Enough About Me Slow Leaves Aug-11 Folk Winnipeg
Go Getters Jon Cohen Experimental Aug-11 Alternative Montreal
One Long Dream SonReal Aug-11 Rap Vernon, BC
The Project Lindsay Ell Aug-11 Country Calgary
One Lands (EP) Ghost Love Aug-11 Alternative Montreal

Are You Listening? LIGHTS Pedals into Platinum

Canadian recording artist LIGHTS, a multiple JUNO award winner, had her status upgraded today from gold to platinum. Music Canada has certified her debut LP The Listening a platinum album for sales in excess of 80,000 copies. The album contains her Top 40 hits “Drive My Soul” and “Saviour”; a total of five tracks from the album appeared on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. She wrote all tracks herself, some co-written with Canadian producers Thomas “Tawgs” Salter and Dave “Dwave” Thomson. LIGHTS specializes in electronic, synthesizer driven pop/rock and has also released acoustic versions of her songs. The Listening has a five-star rating on iTunes with 900 casting votes (a high number for Canada). LIGHTS is currently working on her fourth album Skin & EarthThe Listening is a must-buy for those who love progressive pop music. Below is the music video for track “Saviour” with the iconic scene of LIGHTS playing keytar. Below that is “Drive My Soul” with its classic hair-raising vocals at 2:18.

 

Mappe Of Taps A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone

Whitby, Ontario’s Tom Meikle, through Paper Bag Records, presents 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. Tom says, “I’d like the music to be grounded in reality while simultaneously feel like it’s from somewhere else … I want to create a setting in which you can lose yourself. The ideal record for me is one where you can lie back on your bed, listen to the thing front to back and be taken somewhere.” Where you allow this album to take you is entirely up to you; it’s filled with sonic magic.  iTunes

New Wave Handled Nicely at Midnight for a While by Walkwaves

Markham, Ontario group Walkwaves is pleased to introduce its new album Midnight for a While. The band goes beyond the popular pool of smooth synth pop into the rougher seas of new wave 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” (see MV below) 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

Selected New Releases: July 28, 2017

Montreal electronic group Raveen takes us on a soulful ride in new album Always. A beautiful music video of the opener and title-track has been launched. We embed it below to give you a taste.

North Vancouver’s JUNO nominated Madchild is back at it rapping in his nasally way about The Darkest Hour on his new album. It’s doing quite well – in the iTunes Top 20.

Celebrated Montreal collective Arcade Fire presents fifth album Everything Now co-produced by Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter and Pulp’s Steve Mackey. It has fired up to #1 in the iTunes arcade. The alternative music group has sold multiplatinum and won multiple JUNO awards.

The Ruffled Feathers from Vancouver, though essentially doing adult contemporary on album Hand-Me-Down Centuries, blend AC with some singer-songwriter vibes and alternative sweets.

Toronto JUNO nominated alt-jazz group BadBadNotGood remixes songs from other folks on the sumptuous Late Night Tales. Included are tracks by Stereolab, The Beach Boys, River Tiber, Boards of Canada, and Charlotte Day Wilson!

This week’s standout, especially for those who love alt-folk music, belongs to Mappe Of, the project of Whitby, Ontario’s Tom Meikle. The artistic music on A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone is filled with intricate details and rich atmospherics. Live performance of track “Cavern’s Dark” from Massey Hall embedded below.

Looking for rock? Check out the fine self-titled album from Toronto’s Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs.

Indie on the melancholy rocks comes by way of superb EP Memorial by Western Jaguar. The group is from Carly Rae Jepsen’s hometown of Mission, BC.

Lastly, we imagine most of you have seen the new Shania Twain video by now, but in case not we embed “Life’s About to Get Good” below. It has surpassed a million views. We think it makes a good song even better.

Cageless! Hedley Releases 360-degree MV for “Love Again”

In 2017, it’s a tough go getting on the radio if you’re a Canadian female. It’s also tough if you’re not from Ontario. The only Canadian artist outside of that province to score a Top 40 hit so far in 2017 is none other than … Shawn Hook. Shawn is from British Columbia, and so is a pop group no stranger to landing hits called Hedley. Two JUNO awards have been won by the band, and two albums have struck the double platinum mark. Hedley began releasing music in 2005 scoring a few hits prior to the launch of the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 in mid-2007. On this chart, the band has placed an impressive total of 24 songs, 16 of which have made the Top 40, and nine the Top 10. “Kiss You Inside Out” is the biggest Billboard hit at #2.

Hedley is one of the few bands from the mid-noughties still successful at making music today. The group is launching seventh studio album Cageless at the end of September. Lead single “Love Again” is up to #56 on the charts, and the group presents its nocturnal neon themed music video complete with a robot which we embed below. The video is a “virtual reality” which you can rotate around 360 degrees. (It works on some browsers and not others.) The new album is now available for pre-order.  iTunes

Selected New Releases Mid July 2017

Due to new releases trickling in during the summer months, we have combined new discs from last and this week.

We begin with Country, Music from Ontario’s Joey Wright. The comma is important here, as the album is more of a singer-songwriter affair. Joey is a JUNO nominee. His Jalopy was up for Instrumental Album of the Year in 2008. The new album goes for a mostly relaxing feel and is quite good.

A fellow JUNO nominee is Burlington punk group Silverstein which releases Dead Reflection. As you might guess, this one is not for relaxing.

Let’s make it three with the JUNO nominees. Album Times Infinity Vol. 2 follows 2015’s Vol. 1 from Montreal alternative group The Dears.

When I Get Better is the impressive debut LP from Vancouver’s Sarah Jickling and Her Good Bad Luck. The pop album, a little quirky, a bit theatrical, chronicles her own path in trying to deal with disorders of the central nervous system.

Dundas, Ontario JUNO nominated Daphni, a project of Dan Snaith, contributes 28-track dancey electronic album Fabriclive 93.

Toronto’s allie is getting rave reviews (count us among them) for her deep, rich, electro R&B/soul album Nightshade, a stunner.

Duo Goldtop from Edmonton launches alternative disc You Possess Me for those who like something with a variety of flavours.

As far as EPs go, Benoît Martin‘s three track disc Ailleurs presents beautiful heartland pop. Rap enthusiasts can check out 20/20 from Winnipeg’s Dele O. And finally July Talk’s Josh Warburton teams up with a producer to create side project White Hot Guilt, a pop-rock self-titled EP.