Jamison Isaak in Top Form on EP2

Jamison Isaak has the music factory switched to overdrive, as he champions prolific output this year. From Abbotsford, BC, Isaak is the lad behind ambient project Teen Daze. His EP1 released in February harnessed a neoclassical piano-driven swish, while EP2 sees 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. A great disc for 2018.  iTunes

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Canadian Releases Late July 2018: Massari, Raffi, Goldilox

Catching up with … Depeche Mode? No, with the new Canadian artist releases, including the batches from July 20 and 27. Whether these are as savory as a Tim Hortons maple-dip doughnut or as unpalatable as Hope, BC truck-stop coffee is up to you. JUNO recognized artists include Raffi, one of the finest crafters of children’s music in the world. The two-time award winner returns with the folky Dog on the Floor. Find a choice cover of “Here Comes the Sun”.

JUNO winning rapper Jazz Cartier releases Fleurever available in both clean and filthy (i.e. “explicit”) versions. The Canadian media seems fixated on breaking Canuck urban artists in the United States these days, so expect lots of chatter surrounding this album.

Successful R&B star Massari (a JUNO nominee) treats fans to an EP; Tune In is heavily influenced by reggae vibes and includes featured guests like Shaggy and Beenie Man.

Twice nominated at the JUNO’s, Canadian producer Gus Van Go has a new personal project, band Megative (yes, with an M). We are presented with a very good reggae inspired self-titled disc by the band.

Goldilox is an up and comer championing the cause of alternative pop. From Cape Breton, she is perhaps Atlantic Canada’s answer to Grimes. Her album Very Best is a winner.

Ontario’s Claire Coupland contributes a beautifully done singer-songwriter EP called On the Other Side worth checking out for enthusiasts of the genre.

Find these and a few more in the table below.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Dog on the Floor Raffi Children’s
Fleurever Jazz Cartier Rap
Fond Fond Alternative
Hypocritic Oath Not Of Alternative
Koba World Prime Boys Rap
Megative Megative Alternative
Very Best Goldilox Alternative
On the Other Side (EP) Claire Coupland S-S/Folk
Sky Parallel (EP) Sky Parallel Pop
Tune In (EP) Massari Reggae

Early July 2018 Releases: Cowboy Junkies, Jessicka, The Lovelocks

There were only a few releases last week, so we’ve combined them with this week’s. Before we get to them, some news.

As most of you have heard by now, Justin Bieber is engaged. The lucky lady is Hailey Baldwin. Which of the Baldwin brothers is her father you may ask? That would be Stephen. We hope the transition from soul mates to spouses, often a treacherous path for celebrities, is a smooth one.

Excitement is attempting to flare up en route to this year’s Much Music Video Awards (MMVAs), still a thing despite major funding cuts to Canadian music video makers and the mutations of the Much Music channel itself. You will have to wait a while for this year’s shindig which doesn’t go down until August 26. Alessia Cara is a locked in performer in addition to international artists Halsey (US) and Marshmello (US) ft. Anne-Marie (UK).

Shawn Mendes performed onstage for SiriusXM Live at The Roxy Theatre on July 13, 2018 in West Hollywood, California, USA. And guess who he bumped into?

mendes lavigne

As we mentioned previously, nominations are out of the bag for 2018’s CCMAs recognizing the best in English-language country music in Canada. Alberta’s Brett Kissel and Saskatchewan’s Jess Moskaluke lead the pack with six nods each. Hosted by Shania Twain in Hamilton, the September 9 gala will feature performances by Dallas Smith, High Valley, Keith Urban, Lindsay Ell, Mason Ramsey, and Terri Clark. You can vote for the Fan Choice Award here: https://www.ccmafanvote.com/.

This week sees the release of country EP 20 Dollars in My Pocket from The Lovelocks. The title track is easily one of the catchiest country pop songs of the year. Eric Ethridge launched a popular country EP last week, a self-titled effort. For those of you who like the more traditional country, Thomas Stajcer contributed LP Will I Learn to Love Again? last week.

Vancouver’s Jessicka gifts the world with choice alternatives on EP Happy Place. Along similar avenues, Metric serves its latest single, the gritty “Dark Saturday”. Deadmau5 poofs out of the blue to drop the smooth EDM sparkler “Monophobia”.

As far as the full-lengths go, the highest profile release is certainly All That Reckoning from celebrated roots outfit Cowboy Junkies.

Find selected Canadian artist releases below from the past two weeks. We are now at over 300 LPs this year.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Goosebump Goosebump Alternative
Will I Learn to Love Again? Thomas Stajcer Country
All That Reckoning Cowboy Junkies Roots
Death Lust Chastity Alt Rock
In Our Time AHI S-S/Folk
Pain & Pleasure Black Atlass R&B
Reckless Ways Alex Brown/Hepcats Rock-a-billy
Reels d’en premier  Johnny Comeau  Folk
Sous la capuche  BRH Rap
Spring Patterns 1 Jamison Isaak Ambient
Dimmed In My Display (EP) Vallens Alternative
Eric Ethridge (EP) Eric Ethridge Country
Hounds (EP) Lié Punk
Magic (EP) Colin Weeks AC
Happy Place (EP) Jessicka Alternative
20 Dollars in My Pocket (EP) The Lovelocks Country
La Zayte (EP) FouKi Rap

Canada Day 2018 Releases: Drake, Diversion…

New releases are light this week, so you will have less to choose from in picking a theme album for your Canada Day weekend: four LPs and two EPs. Better Human is a really good singer-songwriter album from Ben Kunder. Besides penning some dapper tunes, he doesn’t shy away from adding some progressive touches here and there. For those who like things extremely progressive, Connection, the debut from Diversion – four years in the making – is, for lack of a better description, a shoe-in for frontrunning EDM album of the year. Besides amazing atmospheric pieces – some upbeat and others downtempo – he recruits some dazzling vocalists to add that extra charm. What a winner!

Swinging to the opposite end of the spectrum, hearty sing-along folk songs, in a traditional style, are very nicely done by Claude Cormier on the frolicking Garde ton accent. The fourth LP in the new releases batch is the one that is no doubt attracting all the media attention, the latest from Drake. Scorpion is released only on digital at this point. It’s a double album, the first “side” more rappy and the second more R&B-ish. Paul Anka assisted him in re-crafting an unreleased Michael Jackson song. Besides the late king of US pop, album guests include Jay-Z.

Find fine folk-rock on EP I Won’t Forget You by Steph Morin. And find the latest from JUNO winning rapper Classified, Tomorrow Could Be. Featured on this extended play disc is Anjulie.

June 22, 2018 Releases: Barber, Hicks, Yukon Blonde…

A baker’s dozen new maple-glazed discs hit the shelves this week: 12 LPs and an EP. Bravestation has managed to create a very impressive album of feel-good new wave entitled Goddess. Triple JUNO nominee Jill Barber contributes singer-songwriter extravaganza Metaphora. Also a three-time nominee at the JUNOs, hot country quick-draw Tim Hicks surfs up a sailor’s mark, New Tattoo; it includes a track featuring the sizzling Lindsay Ell. And if all that isn’t enough, BC’s JUNO nominated Yukon Blonde scores a Critical Hit, another new wavy album this week. Find these and more in the table below.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Blues on the Brain Frankie & Jimmy Blues
Critical Hit Yukon Blonde Alternative
Emperor Twilight The Autumn Stones Alternative
Goddess Bravestation Alternative
Have a New Name Wax Mannequin S-S/Folk
Metaphora Jill Barber S-S/Folk
New Tattoo Tim Hicks Country
Seeing Green Dumb Punk
Shadowlands Matt Epp S-S/Folk
Take Me Sean Jones R&B
The Becoming Isla Craig Alternative
Un dernier shooter Sir Pathetik Pop
Sweet Nothing (EP) Summerteeth Punk

June 15, 2018 Releases: Alyssa Reid, Chromeo…

Talented star Alyssa Reid, Edmonton-born, Brampton-raised, follows up her acclaimed acoustic album Phoenix from 2015 with pop EP Burnout, a smashing disc. The JUNO nominee has placed seven songs on the Hot 100 (including two as a featured artist). Among them all is the delicious “Satisfaction Guaranteed”.

Four years ago, “Jealous” by Chromeo was at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Quebec dance-funk duo returns with album Head Over Heels. It features celebrated fretless bassist Pino Palladino who has done work with Gary Numan, Tears for Fears, and many others. Chromeo has received four JUNO nominations to date. The new album is splendid.

Don’t underestimate the self-released albums this week; they are impressive to say the least. Below is a table of this week’s Canadian artist releases. After that is the lyric video for Alessia Cara‘s highly anticipated new single, “Growing Pains”. Enjoy.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Atlas Bears in Hazenmore Alternative
Brianology Brian Gladstone S-S/Folk
Golden Hour Quote the Raven S-S/Folk
Good Place to Start Drew Gregory Country
Head Over Heels Chromeo Dance
Keeping Time The Ennis Sisters S-S/Folk
Old Stock Ben Caplan S-S/Folk
Queen City Jubilee The Slocan Ramblers S-S/Folk
Screamo Sean Nicholas Savage Alternative
Wolves! Cried the Maid Oxlip S-S/Folk
Burnout (EP) Alyssa Reid Pop
Homemade (EP) Matthew Chaim Pop
J’espere que tu vas mieux (EP) Ariane Zita S-S/Folk
Meditations I (EP) Foxtrott Alternative
Scout (EP) Calpurnia Alternative

June 8, 2018 Releases: MAGIC!, Catlow, Bend Sinister…

The number of weekly album releases is cooling down as we head into summer which is the usual order of business. This week, we have five Canadian artist long plays plus an EP. Perhaps the highest profile release however is a single and MV by the first Canadian band to ever top the British singles chart. Before we get to those, here are some stats.

Number of 2018 Canadian artist studio albums so far (to June 8): 267
Number of 2018 Canadian artist EPs so far (to June 8): 71
Total: 338

Vancouver group Bend Sinister contributes a delightful album called Foolish Games. It’s a combo of progressive rock and power pop. Montreal’s Ragers gets down and rappy on Raw Footage. Toronto singer and songwriter Emilie Mover folkifies the landscape with Night Owl while Mt. Pearl, NL’s Dave Whitty shuffles along similar avenues in Talkin’ Back Fool. For a country-folk-rock extravaganza, check out Romaine from Mack et Ro. We place all our chips on the square owned by Vancouver’s Catlow (alias of Natasha Thirsk) and first-rate EP Main of Nowhere, an alternative pop/rock disc.

MAGIC! with global smash “Rude” became the first Canadian band to top the British singles chart in all history. The outfit has been a favourite of Canadian radio managing to place five additional songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Besides “Rude”, the most successful was “Let Your Hair Down” which peaked at #20 and spent a strong 25 weeks on the chart. Well, the reggae-pop specialists led by Nasri are back with new single “Kiss Me”. We embed the MV below.

My All to You Offered by Beatrice Deer

Beatrice Deer is a Canadian recording artist 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 latest LP My All to You (2018), 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

New Releases June 1, 2018: Coeur de pirate, Florence K

Ten long plays and five extended grace the shop shelves of maple this week. Highlights are as follows.

Platinum singer and triple JUNO nominee Coeur de pirate leads the sales pack. Her fourth album en cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé, arguably the best of her decade-long career, is a gorgeous offering of adult contemporary jewels.

Pietro Amato of The Luyas and Mathieu Charbonneau of Timber Timbre (3 JUNO nominations) as well as Avec pas d’casque team up to give us a sizzling disc of instrumental electronica in Synth Works Vol. 1.

Heavy metal complete with laser burning guitars and mangled up vocal growls rips forth from JUNO winning group Kataklysm and album Meditations. It is the death metal outfit’s 13th studio album since its career launch in 1995.

Wold music champ and multilingual double JUNO nominee Florence K returns with mini album Estrellas, her first since joining forces with Matt Dusk on 2016’s Quiet Nights. Three of her albums have gone gold.

Find these and other new releases in the table below.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Cite d’or Funk Lion  Rock
Dissident Saye Rap
en cas de tempete… Coeur de pirate AC
La Jeunesse Animal Parts S-S/Folk
Meditations Kataklysm  Metal
Ride Out the Storm Bodh’aktan  Celtic Rock
Sassafrass! Tami Neilson Rockabilly
Spirit Mode, Vol. 1 Kris the Spirit Rap
Synth Works Vol. 1 Charbonneau / Amato Electronic
Tantramar Eamon McGrath Rock
Estrellas (Mini Album) Florence K World
Control Freak (EP) Monowhales Alternative
Freewheelin’ Walking (EP) The Brooks Funk
Island Time (EP) Yitzy S-S/Folk
Le shack a souvenirs (EP) Jeando S-S/Folk

And the first 2018 Canadian artist album to go gold is …

Roots specialist Jim Cuddy, boogie rock outfit The Sheepdogs, JUNO no-show rapper Tory Lanez, pop/AC ace Jann Arden, and international R&B superstar The Weeknd have all released albums in 2018, and not one of these has been certified gold to date. To figure out who has beat them all to the gilded disc award, you have to think of the realm of rock and a veteran of the genre. With his own eponymous band whose sound is punctuated by guitarist Stéphane Dufour’s signature riffs, the man has sold in excess of a million albums since his first, Obsession, in 1994. Returning with his 8th LP, Délivrance, his first since 2013, Éric Lapointe strikes gold. Lapointe’s work is featured on movie soundtracks such as Les Boys and the ever-popular Bon Cop, Bad Cop. He has also served as a coach on The Voice.

At 48 years of age, Éric retains a teenage heart singing of hopes and dreams, conflicts and desires. He says fatherhood has taught him much about himself. “With children,” he points out, “We rediscover life and see it differently through their eyes.” The 2018 album is varied in style having power ballads juxtaposed with nuggets of hard rock. Opening things up with “La nuit,” his extra gruff vocals wash in like whitecaps on oceanic guitar riffs. “Belle folie,” released as a single back in March, calmly and confidently surfs upon the waves setting things up for a wild ride offered by “Ma rose”. In the middle of the album, find some string arrangements and Tom Petty chords on “Besoin de toi” and “Rien ne s’endort” respectively. Lapointe mellows at the album’s close with a couple of ballads including piano-led finale “Sans vous”. On Délivrance, Éric Lapointe has delivered the goods.  iTunes

May 25, 2018 Releases: Shawn Mendes, Fortunate Ones…

What’s Hot

Shawn Mendes is only 19 years old, and he has already released his third studio album. The May 25, 2018 release is a self-titled affair and has topped the iTunes albums chart. The acoustic pop superstar from Pickering, Ontario has won three JUNO awards including single of the year for “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” which has been certified quintuple platinum by Music Canada. Mendes’ previous two albums have both achieved platinum. Critics have given the new disc generally favourable reviews.

Hailing from St. John’s, singer-songwriter duo Fortunate Ones would like to Hold Fast. The album is doing quite well … fortunately. One JUNO nomination has helped bolster the duo’s credibility.

A major name in Canadian country music is back with a new one: Southside of Heaven by Nova Scotia’s George Canyon. He has three gold albums and two JUNO trophies under his cowboy tuque.

What’s Cool

One of the coolest synthpop acts around, For Esmé, releases Righteous Woman. Lead singer Martha Meredith, whose voice is a perfect fit for the genre, explores the effects of sex role socialization through the album based on her observations in the world around us and studies in psychology at Queen’s University.

BC’s champion of electronic mood music sheds his alias Teen Daze for his real name Jamison Isaak for EP2. He is continuing to manage ample quality output. This one’s yet another winner.

Another electronic EP that shines is It Says New Chance from … New Chance, an up and coming female DJ. Chill out with this ethereal and downtempo delicacy.

Reinterpretations

Not included in the table below are some albums of cover material worth mentioning. Country superstar Lindsay Ell reinterprets a John Mayer album on The Continuum Project. The talented Annie Blanchard, on Welcome soleil, opens her disc with a Franco version of The Bellamy Brothers’ “Let Your Love Flow”. Find lots more treats therein.

Building an Empire

Marie-Mai sounds great and looks fabulous in her new music video for “Empire”. We embed it below. After that, find a table of selected Canadian artist releases this week.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
D’ou je viens DawaMafia Rap
Found the Setting Sun Long Branch Alternative
Good Luck Rassco Lost Love Punk
Hold Fast Fortunate Ones S-S/Folk
Insecurities in Being L Con Alternative
Lavabo Lavabo S-S/Folk
Love, Heels The Heels Country
Lush Life Bonjay R&B
Natural Weather Michael Feuerstack S-S/Folk
Puff: In the Air Without a Shape Bernice Alternative
Ranger Ensign Broderick Alternative
Righteous Woman For Esme Alternative
Shawn Mendes Shawn Mendes Pop
Soufflette Obia le Chef Rap
Southside of Heaven George Canyon Country
Their Prime Jo Passed Alternative
Toutes les libertes Vol. 2… Jamil S-S/Folk
Tumeur a l’ego Maggie Savoie  S-S/Folk
EP2 Jamison Isaak Alternative
It Says New Chance (EP) New Chance Alternative
Opale (EP) Claudelle S-S/Folk
The Story (EP) Leah Daniels Country
You’ve Heard the Noise (EP) The Bright Road  Alternative

Alfa Rococo Synthpops into Love and Chaos

Justine Laberge and David Bussières are duo Alfa Rococo. The recently released L’amour et le chaos is the pair’s fourth album and continues a brand of synthpop that is a little sparse, perky, funky, and always enjoyable. “Danser dans l’ombre” captures the classic Alfa Rococo style complete with a glittering bridge. Austra-esque “Monde idéal” lets things fly with punctuated beats and irresistible grooves. “Le temps qu’il faut II”, another standout, benefits from a nicely done instrumental segment. Hear some choice bass that plays as if in hot pursuit on “Éthyle”. You want good Canadian Franco pop? Alfa Rococo is your best bet. Embedded is a clip from the album launch featuring popular track “Incendie”.  iTunes

Andrew Rathbun Does Big Band Jazz Right on Atwood Suites

Toronto’s Andrew Rathbun recently released a remarkable big band jazz album, Atwood Suites, which features the poetry of famed Canadian author Margaret Atwood. Already a great saxophonist and composer, Andrew proves highly adept as a large ensemble band leader here. Atwood’s poetry, more on the evocative side than the literary penning of Canada’s most hailed bards like Archibald Lampman and EJ Pratt, works perhaps better as vocalized lyrics. The album does contain instrumental pieces with some discreet scatting for those who prefer wordless jazz.

Most tracks have been given a generous length which allows players of various instruments to take turns in the lead (with some spine-tingling solos) and the backing music to be sculpted into dynamic, rich layers. Rathbun brought in vocalists Luciana Souza and Aubrey Johnson, trumpeter Tim Hagans, and drummer Bill Stewart. Also find clarinets, flute, flugelhorns, trombones, piano, rhodes, guitar, bass, and of course saxophones. The album is a double CD set containing three suites and a total of 10 tracks. Enjoy the featurette below, with snippets of the tracks, as Andrew describes his work and introduces the orchestra. Atwood Suites is a beauty.

15 New Canadian Artist Albums, May 18, 2018

We have 15 full-length Canadian artist albums released May 18, 2018. Find them in the table below. So far this year, there are 232 plus 58 EPs.

ALBUM ARTIST GENRE
Angels of Death Jennifer Castle S-S/Folk
Canyon Diablo Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite Alternative
In Bad Faith Feel Alright Alternative
It’s a New Day Tonight Michael Rault Alternative
Let’s Be Wilderness POSTDATA Alternative
Mystic Rain Junior Bourcier  Classical
Phase of the Moon Matthew Barber S-S/Folk
Presse-jus Donzelle Alternative
Reckless NAV Rap
Run to Waters Justin Nozuka S-S/Folk
Strange Prison Astral Swans S-S/Folk
Sweet Old Religion Pharis & Jason Romero S-S/Folk
Trick of the Light Dana Sipos S-S/Folk
Valery Vaughn Valery Vaughn Alternative
Violet Psalms Frog Eyes Alternative

May 11, 2018 Releases: Loreena McKennitt, Beatrice Deer…

Marie-Mai has a hot new single out – “Empire”. The Barbers (Jill and Matthew) will each be releasing new albums in the next little while. Coeur de pirate‘s upcoming disc (June 1) is titled en cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé (roughly, The garden will be closed in case of a storm). Shawn Hook will be embarking on a headlining tour in the autumn, joined by Neon Dreams. And lest we forget, soul singer Yama Laurent won The Voice Season 6 (2018).

Some good releases are out this week. Highlights are as follows.

Fresh country music artist Jessica Mitchell launches Heart of Glass, her debut full-length. (No, it doesn’t contain a cover of a Blondie song.) The album’s a beauty.

World music specialist Loreena McKennitt‘s latest is Lost Souls. It is the two-time JUNO winner’s 10th album and first in eight years.

JUNO winning jazz vocalist Molly Johnson contributes the splendid Meaning to Tell Ya.

Referring to her style as Inuindie, Montreal-based Inuk recording artist Beatrice Deer has perhaps the most enjoyable album this week. She mixes English and Inuktitut and pop/rock with indie folk making it accessible enough for the mainstream but different enough to draw interest. The ace songwriting is what makes everything engaging. Check out the catchy title-track “My All to You”.

Finally, let’s talk about Kandle. She’s a JUNO nominee originally from BC and offers up EP Damned If I Do of fine indie rock with a touch of blues.

Find these and more in the table below.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Boomtown Café Abbittibbi S-S/Folk
Dans ma main Jean-Michel Blais Classical
De ville en aiguille Dave Harmo  S-S/Folk
Heart of Glass Jessica Mitchell Country
Hi Little Junior Alternative
Laisse aller Nos Deux  S-S/Folk
Lost Souls Loreena McKennitt World
Meaning to Tell Ya Molly Johnson Jazz
My All to You Beatrice Deer World
Nick&Astro’s Guide to the Galaxy Potatohead People Alternative
Portrait Julie Kim R&B
Shoddy, GLD, L Nino Bardy Boyz Rap
Spoiled Sunday Greg Ball Rock
Born to Do This (EP) Angee Wings R&B
Damned If I Do (EP) Kandle Alternative
Stay (EP) Drew Thomson Foundation Alternative