Selected New Releases April 21, 2017

As we’ve reported, Toronto’s Fiver releases her roots album Audible Songs from Rockwood telling stories of women who were locked up in the Kingston asylum in the 19th century.

Edmonton country ace Alee is proud to offer her debut album Bad Habit with a fresh, uptempo sound that will shake the dust off the wagon wheels.

Montreal duo Elsiane gurgles the creative juices on electronic album Death of the Artist. It’s not as dark as it seems; there is a clean tranquility though the journey.

Quebec City pop group Final State presents its eponymous album, a choice bilingual effort. Jam packed with good tunes, this one’s a winner.

Three-time JUNO winner and platinum children’s entertainer Fred Penner of Winnipeg launches Hear the Music with a number of album guests including Ron Sexmith and Basia Bulat.

Speaking of Ron Sexsmith, the St. Catharines native is back with his latest effort The Last Rider which is, as one would expect, a boss singer-songwriter disc. Ron has won three JUNO awards to date.

Saskatoon has an impressive alternative group called Close Talker. Album Lens, which follows the very well received Flux from 2014, furthers the band’s mastery of the genre.

For those who love instrumental classical piano, Canada’s own Julien LeBlanc hammers up some Mélancolies with his gorgeous interpretations of pieces mainly by the late French composer Francis Poulenc.

Vancouver’s Matt and Sam’s Brother is actually the alias of JPNSGRLS’ lead vocalist Charlie Kerr. His solo album is My Brain Hurts a Lot, an indie rock extravaganza.

Multiplatinum JUNO nominee Maxime Landry contributes the fabulous Nos histoires to this week’s pool of music. Dressed with his handsome vocals, the exquisitely penned songs were inspired by real life stories of people he’s met. Plus … Lynda Lemay is featured on a track!

The Riddle appears from Montreal based duo Coco Méliès. Don’t let the fancy name fool you; this is an Anglo album. The folky singer-songwriter affair kept us engaged throughout with a hearty performance of nicely written tracks.

Stewart Legere‘s album cover may or may not have been inspired by … TRST. The Halifaxer’s debut solo album Quiet the Station is another splendid singer-songwriter work. Stewart has served as vocalist for orchestral pop outfit The Heavy Blinkers.

A number of EPs come out this week. Selling like hotcakes (into the iTunes Top 10) is Game On by Woodville, Ontario’s James Barker Band. The country act is fresh off a Canadian Radio Music Award win, and the EP is fabulous. Nova Scotian rocker Matt Mays reminisces over Once Upon a Hell of a Time. Last but not least, Quebec’s Sergio Ouellet releases upbeat folk EP Quand je serai un homme for some knee-slappin’ tunes.

Audible Songs from Rockwood by Fiver

Fiver: Audible Songs from Rockwood. A project of Simone Schmidt, her new album of roots music contains songs about women who were incarcerated in Kingston, Ontario’s Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane. After lengthy processing of her application, Simone finally gained access to the province’s archives and delved into case reports inspiring her to sing from the perspective of ten women who were locked up in the facility in the 19th century, why they were admitted, and how they were treated. Below, we embed a mini-documentary with more information on Fiver’s project which will also give you a taste of the music from the album. We can only imagine the amount of work that went into this and offer Simone oceans of thanks for her diligence and dedication.

Laurence Nerbonne Wins a JUNO and Deluxifies XO

No one was more surprised at winning the coveted Francophone Album of the Year JUNO for 2017 than its recipient, Laurence Nerbonne. Laurence is the ex-lead of group Hôtel Morphée. Her debut album as a soloist, XO, took home the JUNO trophy in somewhat of an upset amidst fellow nominees of high profile. In making her album, Laurence had to break through the mould of the heavily entrenched folk-leaning musique Francophone in Canada.

“The hip hop or dance beats, it really was all done in the English language by the Americans,” Laurence says. “We Francophones have a tradition with composition, the French song, the folklore. When you look at it, it is nothing but folk music that is rhythmic. Our musical history is built around the guitar.” To do something more pop,” Laurence comments, “It’s so difficult to write in French! It’s so square, and also it takes a lot of words to convey a simple idea.” As progressive pop music has been handled successfully in the French tongue by artists like Ariane Moffatt, Mylène Farmer and her protégée Alizée, Nerbonne began an intense period of listening carefully to songs from Stromae and Christine and The Queens to see how the music, lyrics, and production all worked to deliver a pleasing modern Franco pop sound.

Laurence Nerbonne boldly left behind the rich tradition of folk, the acoustic guitars, the fiddles, to the colourful field of electropop where artists like Robyn and MØ roam happily. She swam against the current penning empowering lyrics, bold melodies, and danceable rhythms.

“People around me listen to what’s going on internationally: Beyoncé, Disclosure, et cetera. I don’t know if it’s because we [in Quebec] are not game or not ready, but the impression is that we never dare go there. We are very afraid to make pop because of what others will say.”

Nerbonne recently released a deluxe version of her JUNO-winning album XO. It contains three bonus tracks, one of which features Jason Bajada.

Laurence Nerbonne is originally from Gatineau, Quebec. In addition to her Juno Award win, she won the 2016 SOCAN Songwriting Prize in the French-language division for the song “Rêves d’été”. Music video for album opener “Si ton coeur bat” embedded below.  iTunes

2017 Easter Releases

Babins is a jazzy alternative group with members from Saint-Hippolyte and Saint-Jérôme Quebec. The band’s self-titled album, pinecone and all, funks its way into shops. This one’s a delight.

Charles-Antoine Gosselin of Sherbrooke is quite a talented folk artist. Fans of the genre can check out his beautiful new disc Bleu soleil.

Nominated for the New Group of the Year JUNO in 2011, punky alt-rock band Hollerado of Ottawa talks about being Born Yesterday on the its new LP.

Montreal’s CO/NTRY is a synthwave duo, and album Cell Phone 1 comes fully charged with delectable tracks.

For his second project, Montreal jazz saxophonist, composer and arranger Benjamin Deschamps invited trombonist Jean-Nicolas Trottier to join his usual quartet of players: Charles Trudel, piano; Sébastien Pellerin, double bass; and Alain Bourgeois, drums. The quintet’s beautiful instrumental jazz album Demi-nuit greets us this week. (Not pictured above).

Diamond jangle pop group Barenaked Ladies joins New York’s The Persuasions on album Ladies and Gentlemen with the latest penned batch of smile-inducing lyrics.

Vancouver punk group Isotopes contributes disc 1994 World Series Champions for those who like music that moves as fast as baseballs being knocked out of the park.

Toronto’s Graham Ko gets the indie rock rolling, at times folky and at others funky, on Outside Looking In. (Not pictured above).

Lakefield, ON’s Luke Nicholson popifies the folk with catchy tunes on album Shape and Sound. From the sounds of it, Luke is as talented as they come.

Vincent Boucher is a classical organist. He interprets the compositions of French composer Charles Tournemire on Tournemire: Mariae Virginis. This one’s gorgeous especially for those who love organ music.

There’s no shortage of rap these days. Montreal’s MC June explores the Vérités on his fresh LP. His voice is much easier on the ears than your usual MCs.

In lieu of the fifth season of La Voix (The Voice), a various artists’ album featuring the contestants and coaches has appeared. It is bilingual, and the players cover all sorts of big numbers including Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” Bryan Adams’ “Somebody,” and Stromae’s “Papaoutai”. The album currently sits in the iTunes Top 10. (Pictured below).

Serena Ryder’s Utopian Electric Love

Peterborough, Ontario folk-rock superstar Serena Ryder is gearing up for the release of a new album; Utopia will hit the shops on May 26. This will be her sixth studio LP. In reviewing Serena’s ryde through success so far, her breakout came with album #3, If Your Memory Serves You Well (2006). The disc contained song “Weak in the Knees”. Though it came out prior to the launch of the Canadian Hot 100 in mid-2007, the fact that the single went gold would indicate it was a fairly big hit. Ryder’s fourth album Is It O.K. (2008) also went gold. It was not responsible for any huge hits; “Little Bit of Red” peaked at #82. The album won the 2009 JUNO for Alternative Album of the Year and the song won 2010’s Music Video of the Year, Serena had snatched up the New Artist of the Year JUNO in 2008.

Four years following the release of album #4, Serena catapulted her juggernaut Harmony which went platinum and spawned some blistering hits. “Stompa” (#8) smashed 3x platinum, “What I Wouldn’t Do” (#8) platinum, and “Fall” made the respectable chart position of #27. More JUNO trophies were awarded to her. Harmony was 2013’s Adult Alternative Album of the Year. And in 2014, Serena Ryder was named both Songwriter of the Year and Artist of the Year.

Testing the waters prior to release of Utopia, single “Got Your Number,” though reaching only #62 has been certified gold. The official lead single “Electric Love” is now up for grabs. As well, she has decked it with a music video that is quite a feast for the eyes showcasing a number of fashionably clad people, face paint, and colourful geometric patterns, most notably, triangles. Could she be hinting at a “bizarre love triangle”? In an interview with People Magazine, Ryder says, “‘Electric Love’ is a song about feeling the magnetic energy between two people,” and she states on her Facebook page that the video was shot over a 3-month period.  iTunes

Newcomer Cubby V Lands a Top 10 Album

From out of nowhere into the iTunes albums Top 10 arrives Cubby V and LP with the nice long title, If This Is Life, It Might Get Strange from Now On. The work was released March 24 through Hopeful Tragedy Records (Your Favorite Enemies). Cubby V, like Grimes, was a dabbler in the thriving Montreal club scene. She developed a knack for remixing songs and embarked on a path to create her own. The fruit of her labours is this album of instrumental electronica. Cubby V cites as inspirations Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarré, and ABBA. It’s quite an amazing work, and we at Canadian Music Blog are thrilled that it’s a hit.  iTunes

Selected New Releases: April 7, 2017 – Part 3/3

More than 24 new works by Canadian recording artists released this past Friday have come to our attention. We’ll give our usual capsule reviews but are dividing the big lot into three parts alphabetically by title. Below are the stately eight of Part 3.

After hearing Toquade, violinists may be inspired to switch to the viola. Montreal’s Marina Thibeault plays it beautifully on works written for the instrument. There are covers and originals, and she is joined by expert pianist Janelle Fung on some of the tracks. CBC Music recently wrote a nice summary of this exquisite classical album.

Ottawa’s Lynne Hanson dispenses roots-inspired singer-songwriter album Uneven Ground. She is known as playing “porch music with a little red dirt” and her talent on this will brush off any dirt from your boots.

Allophone world music veteran Alex Cuba is back at it. We acquired him from, yes, Cuba, as he settled in Victoria, BC. The two-time JUNO winner contributes to the pool of music this week new album Lo Único Constante. This one is a laidback café music affair, mainly just voice and guitar with some delicate percussion and occasional backup singers.

Hailing from Lafontaine, ON, everybody’s favourite Franco-Ontarian (well, that’s debatable) Damien Robitaille returns with Univers parallèles. The album puts the swag in swagger with an upbeat pop that adds some rockin’ and dancey vibes here and there.

Montreal alternative trio Barry Paquin Roberge gets stranded on the Avalon after finding a pawn shop bargain. A-ha-ha. Voyage Massage is the name of the album. It’s actually an Anglo work that is quirky, funky, and fun. We dig it.

Vancouver alternative band The New Pornographers, still in the running, gift the world with album number seven, Whiteout Conditions. The band won a JUNO back in 2001. As one would expect, the new album is a strong one with lots of good songs.

A couple of EPs came to our attention this week. Jennifer Gélinas from Shawinigan dabbles in world music using multiple languages including French and Spanish on disc D’Kana. It features Antonio Idiaquez. Montreal’s Black Sails for Red Seas offers wall-of-sound alternative rock on EP Wave II.

Selected New Releases: April 7, 2017 – Part 2/3

More than 24 new works by Canadian recording artists released this past Friday have come to our attention. We’ll give our usual capsule reviews but divide the big lot into three parts alphabetically by title. Below are a stately eight of Part 2.

Born in Victoria, BC, and now in Lethbridge, AB, Leeroy Stagger releases sumptuous new roots-leaning singer-songwriter album Love Versus. It is easily one of the best albums this week filled with rich engaging music.

Also exquisite is Sarah Slean‘s Metaphysics. Sarah’s from Shawn Mendes’ hometown of Pickering, ON and is a 3-time JUNO nominee. The new album is a beauty, essentially alternative adult contemporary with creative panache, first-rate production, and of course ear-soothing vocals. If Kate Bush, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Sarah Brightman made an album together, it might sound something like this.

From Bonaventure, QC, we have duo Alex & Caro and country album Saisir le temps. The pair is very popular with wholesome, upbeat music spawning international tours. The new album is lots of fun.

Darling of the indie scene, Timber Timbre presents new alternative album Sincerely, Future Pollution. With members from around Ontario and Quebec, the group has been nominated twice at the JUNOs. The new album should resonate with those who dig things a little offbeat.

Alternative pop songstress Lou Canon of Toronto launches spacious sonics on album Suspicious. She has worked as an elementary school teacher and is the sister-in-law of Hayden. The quality of the disc means her music career is a promising one.

Alternative rock group The Wooden Sky, also from Toronto, is back with another winner, Swimming in Strange Waters. Some of the songs on here are instantly swoon-inducing. The band has received a JUNO nomination. This one should attract another.

Winnipeg has quite a good folk group called Casati. Album There Will Be Days will delight you. The trio describes its sound as “A mix of folk, jazz and pop. Spaghetti western meets a Parisian cafe. An intimate performance featuring intricate arrangements from 3 acoustic instruments.” Those instruments are ukulele, guitar, and bass.

Finally, Toronto’s Del Bel contributes III. The Toronto Star described the band as “Harrowing, cinematic, downtempo pop noir as artfully sculpted and gorgeous as it is unsettling. Del Bel is the most intriguing young Canadian band you haven’t heard of. Yet.” The new album, from this very talented bunch, contains an opulent concoction of just about every style you can think of and is definitely worth checking out.

Selected New Releases: April 7, 2017 – Part 1/3

More than 24 new works by Canadian recording artists released this past Friday have come to our attention. We’ll give our usual capsule reviews but divide the big lot into three parts alphabetically by title. Below are a stately eight.

French-Canadian recording artist Mylène Farmer released an album a few years back called Monkey Me. Montreal’s Richard D’Anjou puts a monkey on the cover and goes with the title Beautiful Me. Formerly in Sherbrooke rock band with Dan Georgesco Too Many Cooks (80s-90s), this is Richard’s first solo album, a spicy, blues-tinged rock charmer.

Another story of a band member dishing out a solo work involves Montreal’s Speedy Johnson, bluesman of Ol’ Savannah. Before It’s Dark combines blues, folk, and rock dressed with Speedy’s Wolfman Jack styled vocals.

Fans of rock on the harder side can check out Calgary’s Woodhawk and album Beyond the Sun which promises to punch a few cracks and cast some spells over the Rocky Mountains with its riff-rock exploration of sci-fi, swords & sorcery.

For something completely different, acclaimed classical pianist Janina Fialkowska, OC, of Montreal continues her interpretation of works by Chopin on Chopin Recital, Vol. 3.

Youthful Montreal blues ace Samuele presents an album with a long title: Les filles sages vont au paradis, les autres vont où elles veulent. The work oscillates between folky gentleness and distorted rock in a captivating universe of sound.

Annie Villeneuve, one of the highest profile Francophones at the 2010 Winter Olympics, has released her fifth album, entitled 5, a pop effort. It is the top musique Francophone seller at iTunes and #25 overall which is a strong showing. Annie was a finalist at the first season of Star Academy. Her new album is an absolute beauty.

Exco Levi may be the nation’s leading reggae artist (he has won the Reggae JUNO five times since 2012) but there is lots more Canadian reggae out there. Montreal based Okapi presents Hot Sauce piquante. This is reggae a little over on the more alternative side and is a fun record.

Punk rock, JUNO-nominated Toronto group The Flatliners and album Inviting Light cap off Part 1. The album, the band’s fifth, is doing quite well, and the players’ experience matches the honed quality of the disc’s sound.

Selected New Releases: March 31, 2017 – Part 2/2

We’re profiling 16 newly released albums this week which will cap things off for March. Here in Part 2, we look at eight more of them.

Find sumptuous world music on album ID from Maz. It’s a fusion effort of folk, jazz, electronic, you name it. A very nice work. Based in Quebec, Maz received a JUNO nomination in 2012.

Those of you hungry for some decent roots rock can check out Nonsense and Heartache from Toronto’s Jerry Leger. Those of you who are famished can rest assured; it’s a double album!

If you need something on the harder side, Sever (Skye Sweetnam) and her Hamilton metal banging band Sumo Cyco play like there’s no tomorrow on Opus Mar.

The highest profile release this week (besides Roch Voisine’s) is The Ride from Victoria, BC multiplatinum, multiple JUNO winner Nelly Furtado. She goes for a more alternative synth ride on her new record which is quite good.

A fine voice decks Pierre-Luc Lessard, and he does a great job at heartland flavoured pop-rock on Soyons géants, definitely worth checking out.

Westbourne, Manitoban country group Doc Walker, who won a JUNO award in 2009, releases its latest disc, Weathervane.

For those of you more into traditional country, treat your ears to Wide Awake Dreamin’ from Richmond Hill, ON’s The Good Brothers, a very talented group; in fact, the outfit has won 8 JUNO awards!

Indigenous artist Matiù treats us with a great folky singer-songwriter self-titled EP. He has a husky voice and the tunes are good.

Selected New Releases: March 31, 2017 – Part 1/2

We’re profiling 16 newly released albums this week which will cap things off for March. Here in Part 1, we look at eight of them.

Mathieu Lippé, originally from the Sherbrooke area, releases Les amants de l’aube, a folk-pop effort with some nice beats and funky grooves.

Vancouver JUNO-nominated alternative group Said the Whale conjures up some vocal harmonies in its latest fuzz-pulse driven album As Long as Your Eyes Are Wide.

Karkwa member Julien Sagot returns with his brand of creative, unique alternative in Bleu Jane. It’s the sort of album that gets the Polaris jury drooling.

Legendary multiple JUNO nominated refined country artist Patrick Norman is back with an album that features a batch of guest vocalists. This one’s called Bonheurs partagés.

Toronto’s JUNO nominated Lydia Ainsworth, with Darling of the Afterglow, has one of the best albums this week. It’s electronic pop with a bit of an R&B vocal style and includes a cover of “Wicked Game”.

Another standout is album Devant nous, but given that its artist is Edmundston, New Brunswick’s Roch Voisine, that’s a given. The multiplatinum, multiple JUNO winner adds his handsome vocals to some upbeat AC/pop tunes.

Highly successful Gabrielle Goulet (she made the CKOI Top 25 of 2016) from Ottawa delivers Elle sait, a delicious folk-pop record.

Finally, Toronto’s Prozzäk is gunning for a comeback with brand new pop album Forever 1999. Some of you may remember the duo from the early noughties who nabbed four JUNO nominations.

Selected New Releases: March 24, 2017, Batch 2/2

We begin Batch 2 of our two-parter with La palabra by Zal Sissokho & Buntalo. Zal, based in Montreal, is from the African country of Senegal which has a rich tradition of music, and a style that is quite possibly the continent’s most savory. This is a beautifully arranged album of world music.

The best-selling album among all new Canadian releases this week, according to iTunes, belongs to Geneviève Leclerc. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, the House of Leclerc reigns supreme in the field of making music. Geneviève is from the Gatineau and was a finalist in Season 4 of The Voice Canada. Her album Portfolio is adult contemporary with a mixture of covers and originals showcasing her earthy vocals.

Toronto is the origin of guitarist Matthew Stevens, a craftsman of alternative jazz and very good at it which his new album Preverbal confirms. We have quite a cinematic delicacy with this disc; very enjoyable.

Montreal group Blood and Glass examines Punk Shadows in its new album. Don’t let the title mislead you; it is an alternative album. The group has a sound it can call its own, as juices from various fruits are creatively mixed together offering a rich cocktail that is both spacious and focussed.

Michèle Losier & Olivier Godin contribute classical vocal album Temps nouveau performing songs by Charles Gounod, Jules Massenet, César Franck, Georges Bizet, and Camille Saint-Saëns. Expertly arranged and professionally done, enthusiasts of the genre should find themselves a little spellbound by this.

Guy Bélanger is … a harmonicist! As such, he assembles a band of musicians to spin out impressive blues album, Traces & Scars. The musicianship is top notch, and the atmospheric and lighter presentation of the genre should give it a more universal appeal. Mostly instrumental, he brings in a couple of singers for the vocal tracks. All in all, a really beautiful album.

Moving onto the EPs, we have three to discuss.

Montreal’s Angee Wings does a nice job on her self-titled disc; it’s punchy and fun pop. What You See from Ghostly Kisses is a very pleasant alternative EP; things move along at a comfortable, measured pace with airy vocals and dreamy vibes. Finally, Calgary country star Lindsay Ell releases an EP that was … Worth the Wait. She’s a Billboard Hot 100 charting artist, has scored five Top 25 hits at Canadian country radio, and three Top 50s in the States. Need we say more?

Selected New Releases: March 24, 2017, Batch 1/2

There are enough Canadian releases this week to separate things into two batches. We’re going to take a look at 9 in each. In this first part, we have three JUNO nominated artists, one of which is platinum.

Vancouver blues-rock duo The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer leave the chapstick in the chapel to smear on some Apolcalipstick. As one would expect, the JUNO-nominated act expertly delivers tunes that make classic grooves relevant. Hamilton’s Brielle Goheen, under project name Calcedon, does Echo In a new album. It is a great effort of electronic art pop, half the album with her beautiful vocals, the 2nd half instrumental versions. A specialist of the kingdom of quirk, Kingston’s Devon Sproule releases alternative album The Gold String. Those eager for something a little different should dig it.

The next of our JUNO nominees, and 3 have come his way, is gifted Montreal vocalist Nicola Ciccone. He’s a platinum recording artist and treats us to an adult contemporary album of covers called Les immortelles. It was unsurprisingly a Top 10 iTunes album upon release. Nicely done. From Drummondville, country artist Pascal Allard confesses, alas, Je voulais marier Renée Martel. She’s from the same city too. Vancouver’s I M U R is a trio, and album Little Death does a noble job at electronic R&B.

Also from Vancouver, Jesse Waldman creates a beautiful singer-songwriter album of the folky persuasion entitled Mansion Full of Ghosts. Piano enthusiasts can check out Jeannot Bournival‘s Musique mécanique. Find classical choir music on the gorgeous album Orlando di Lasso: Laudate Dominum from 3-time JUNO nominee Studio De Musique Ancienne De Montreal & Andrew McAnerney. Yes, you know it’s a classical album when the album title and artist are lengthy.

That wraps up Batch 1. Stay tuned for Batch 2.

New Releases: St. Patrick’s Day 2017 – Part 2/2

David Letterman bandleader and sidekick Paul Shaffer claims to front … the world’s most dangerous band. Paul is from Thunder Bay and has helped break a number of Canadian acts south of the border thanks to his influential position on the late-night chat show. On his new album, Paul brings in vocalists as diverse as Shaggy, Darius Rucker, and Bill Murray to deliver a wholesome banquet of adult contemporary with flashy musicianship.

Quite possibly the most eclectic album of the year belongs to The Cousins (Toronto), a duo of Barenaked Ladies’ Kevin Hearn and actor/comedian Harland Williams. And, yes, they are real life cousins. There are all kinds of flavours on Rattlesnake Love, from Utah cliff-dangling westerns to booming electronica, the common thread here being the delicious tongue-in-cheek lyrics. The title-track should succeed in etching a wily grin on your face. Jacques Jacobus of Clare, Nova Scotia’s Radio Radio completes solo project Le retour de Jacobus which is, as one would expect, a super fun hip hop masala.

Michel Robidoux has been an important behind-the-scenes figure in the Canadian music scene over the years. There is no way to do it justice by summarizing things here, but we will take a stab at it. In 1967, Michel Robidoux met Robert Charlebois and joined the troupe of L’Osstidcho. He then composed some of the most famous songs of the 70s, putting into music the lyrics of Luc Plamondon, Claude Gauthier and others. He lent his talents to shape the music of Jean-Pierre Ferland. He co-produced Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man album. Modern recording artist Pierre Lapointe decided to spearhead a project to honour Michel. Album Robidoux premier boasts a roster of front-ranking artists covering his songs presented in a more-or-less adult contemporary style.

After that weighty subject, we need to take a breather, and why not do so by heading over to Room 29. That’s where Chilly Gonzales cooked up some jazzy new tunes with Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of former British band Pulp. Moving to Waterloo, we can take a look at country artist Scotty James and his new record Streets which is a very pleasant disc, the fruit after the labour of a number of single releases.

Heading on up to Sherbrooke, we take in the sights of the hometown of platinum recording artist Vincent Vallières. His latest folky singer-songwriter album is Le temps des vivants, and it is the best-selling Canadian artist album at iTunes as of this writing. Need we say more? Finally, there is an EP this week. Til the Goin’ Gets Gone is the latest from acclaimed roots country artist Lindi Ortega (Toronto). All her discs are winners, and this one keeps things at a perfect score.

New Releases: St. Patrick’s Day 2017 – Part 1/2

Lots to talk about regarding the St. Patrick’s Day releases of 2017, so we’ve divided them into two batches. Below is an overview of eight releases in our Part 1 of 2.

High calibre vocalist Mario Pelchat (Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC), with three platinum albums under his tuque, teams up with cleric singing group Les Prêtres to deliver some heavenly songs of inspiration in album Agnus Dei. From the same province as Mario, folky singer-songwriter Mat Vezio contributes album Avant la mort des fleurs cueillies (Mmm… Before the Death of Picked Flowers) after the release of a couple of leaf-stirring singles. Mat is actually a drummer who flailed out the beats for some high-profile artists. He proves on the album that he deserves to be a soloist in his own right. Swinging down to Hamilton, rock band Radio Free Universe visits Casa del Diablo (that should be Spanish for Devil’s House). It’s an Anglophone work and for those who want something that’ll crack some boulders.

Acclaimed pianist Jean-Michel Blais joins forces with CFCF (alias of Montrealer Mike Silver) on album Cascades. This is for those who love keyboards of any sort. Blais provides the pretty acoustic piano part and CFCF some atmospheric synths. The album is smartly produced in that the latter don’t drown out Jean-Michel’s impressive finger-work but simply add some flavourful textures to give the finished product a dynamic, full sound. Very nice. For those who want full-blown ambient electronica, you will not believe your ears when they take in the sounds of North Atlantic Drift‘s Departures, Vol. I. This is a duo from Toronto. It’s one of the best albums in the genre that we’ve heard in a long time. Also electronic but vocal and more in the new wave kingdom, Toronto’s Honey Beard offers excellent album Dreamless Sleep. This is a duo who cite Depeche Mode as an influence.

Anyone hungry for some vocal jazz? How about a new album from Johanna Sillanpaa. She is originally from Sweden but now based in Calgary and has made trips out to perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival. From This Side is a beautiful record. Finally, we cap Part One off with a soundtrack. CuréLabel is a five-member group from Quebec. Kona is the soundtrack for the video game of the same name, an “interactive and episodic never ending story, which takes place in Northern Quebec in 1970”. When the soundtrack of a video game gets released on CD, you know it’s good, and in this case, it certainly is.