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.

Claps for Broken Social Scene’s Hug of Thunder

Toronto collective Broken Social Scene (a.k.a. BSS) has scored two gold albums each of which won a JUNO (Alternative Album of the Year). At the core of the lineup which has gone anywhere from six to nineteen were founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. Though a hit single has eluded the group, critical acclaim has poured in. BSS failed to stay afloat announcing a hiatus in 2010, but now experiences a strong return via superb new album Hug of Thunder. Onboard are such notables as Feist and Metric’s Emily Haines & Jimmy Shaw; 15 members are on the disc.

Track “Halfway Home”, absolutely epic, combines a towering Coldplay anthem with intelligent Arcade Fire facets; this is our favourite cut. Metric’s Emily Haines seems to have set off on a ski jump with a gliding vocal delivery while guitars pump the air beneath her in “Protest Song”. “Skyline” blends the cinematic folk of Grapes of Wrath with the alternative atmospherics of Love & Rockets; we dig the guitar work yielding to boss percussion halfway through. The popular “Stay Happy” is funky, quirky, and bold. Feist takes the mic in title-track “Hug of Thunder” drenched with her signature choppy approach, flickering bass, and subdued boom.  iTunes

Emily Rowed Gets the Electric Heart Pumping

Vancouver’s Emily Rowed was heavily into folk music when EDM wizard Tiësto chose her as the voice on “Say Something”, a reworking of the song by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera. She found the progressive currents exciting and decided to make music that was bigger, more energetic, colourful, and electric. Signed to world renowned label 604 Records, Emily launched her single “Arrows” in May. Presenting a warm vocal delivery, the song is rooted in her acoustic songwriting while brought into fruition by smart alt-pop production. The La+ch remix of the track dresses the music with more ornate electronics. Rowed heralded her EP Electric Heart with the exquisite song “Electric”. Beginning as a boot-stomping bluesy number, it morphs into an advanced sculpture with both electric and electronic grooves. The other tracks on the disc are just as popular: “Burn” flickers, “Swords” cuts to the chase, and “Rubies” dances brightly.  iTunes

We’re Howling with Delight at Amaara’s Black Moon

Triple threat Kaelen Ohm, recording artist, actress, and award-winning filmmaker, recently released album Black Moon under moniker Amaara. Technically an LP (with six tracks, it has a run time of 27 minutes), Black Moon is drenched in dream pop atmospherics. Amaara, having served as a member of Reuben and the Dark, proves she can make just as satisfying music as a soloist. The music frolics airily through lullabies, fantasies, and fairy tale magic. The exceptional title-track perfectly delivers her style. “Dreamcatcher” blends the ominous with the soothing before breaking into a soft flow. Amaara’s Black Moon is a hauntingly beautiful album for those seeking something magical.  iTunes

Kashka Helps Us Relax

Kashka is the project name of Toronto’s Kat Burns who recently released synthpop EP Relax. Standout tracks include the burbling, glittery “Holding Steady”; funky, chiming “Wild Things”; and trippy yet sobering “Reset/Outro” propelled by eerie synths and backed by grieving strings. As its title suggests, this is music to relax to with unprocessed, crystal clear vocals, haunting electronica, and superb songwriting. Kashka’s Relax is among the best synthpop works of the year. Fans of the genre can’t afford to miss out on this one.  iTunes

New Releases, July 7, 2017

Fevers is an alternative group from Ottawa. Album Apologia is essentially electronic with the music swinging between more mainstream pop and alt pop. Dance beats make some appearances at times. This is an impressive album.

Quake Matthews is a talented rapper from Halifax. Find a number of ace guests on album Celebrate the Struggle including JRDN and Ria Mae.

Female rappers are less abundant but there are a few, and one of the best ones at the game is OneNessa. She is based in Montreal. Album Coming Through is for those who love lots and lots of sumptuous bass.

Seasoned country singer Julie Daraîche is the sister of Paul. The Daraîche family is one of the most successful in the country at selling records. Her new one is entitled 50 ans d’amour.

Broken Social Scene‘s Hug of Thunder is the most successful Canadian album released this week, and it deserves to be. The alternative atmosphere it presents is thick enough to be cut by a knife. The large ensemble of players hails from Toronto.

Enthusiasts of alternative music on the quirky side will find much to grin about on Life After Wartime from Toronto’s The Nursery.

Country player Keven Landry has managed to top the iTunes Musique francophone chart with album 94 and its superb musicianship. He’s from Havre-Saint-Pierre, QC.

Hamilton alternative duo Whitehorse submits Panther in the Dollhouse. It’s an album for nighthawks taking a road trip to the Manitoban death star.

Whitehorse may not actually be from the north, but Quantum Tangle is indeed. On album Shelter As We Go…, the Yellowknife duo combines Inuit storytelling, throat singing, and Métis roots and blues.

A couple of EPs to check out are alternative disc Little Fire from Saskatoon’s Too Soon Monsoon and Summer Time Come from Vancouver blues group Ian Campbell Band.

New Releases for Canada Day 2017

Martin Kerr is our lucky acquisition from Britain. He was semi-finalist in Season 6 of Canadian Idol and is now based in Edmonton. Martin presents singer-songwriter album Better Than Brand New with great vocals, expert instrumentation, and nicely written tunes.

Folk music of the most magnificent calibre wafts from Prince Edward Island thanks to Catherine MacLellan. She honours her father Gene on album If It’s Alright with You – The Songs of Gene MacLellan. Arrangements on some of the songs ring of a more traditional folk while others a modern singer-songwriter vibe. Gene was the great Canadian composer who wrote classics like gospel track “Put Your Hand in the Hand” and Anne Murray’s “Snowbird”. Elvis Presley, Joan Baez and Bing Crosby were among the many artists who performed his songs. Who better to present them in review than his daughter?

A hope was that MAGIC!’s breakout success would help pull some reggae tunes from their artists into the mainstream. We cannot say that that has happened, though a number of artists are incorporating reggae threads into modern pop music. Ammoye is a Torontonian acquisition from Jamaica … mon. She has crafted a tightly produced set of northernized (i.e. pop) reggae tunes on album The Light. Some lean more towards reggae and some pop. She is as talented as they come, and this very intelligent work deserves an award. (She has three JUNO nominations so far). Very, very good album.

Mike from Canmore may no longer be with us (R.I.P. John Morgan), but we do have a duo from Canmore, Alberta making peaceful and soothing folk music. Self-titled album The Raven and Fox is described by its authors as “mountain music”.

There are not a large number of artists making funk music these days, but those who dabble are doing a good job at it. One example is Franky Selector with new album Shabby Chic. Described as “organic sounds and vintage instrumentation”, seventies enthusiasts will rightfully dig it.

For those looking for music with more of a kick to it, Manitoba’s Mise en Scene pumps out the energy in indie rock album Still Life on Fire, a combination of razor slashing guitars and delectable vocals.

Versatile artist Lily Frost gifts the world with new EP Rebound. It’s a 60s jazz-pop tour de force that includes spy, surfboard, and bluesman cometh themes. This one is a total blast.

Selected New Releases June 23, 2017

It isn’t a big week in terms of the number of album releases as things begin slowing down for the summer months. Here are three…

Black Moon is a dreamy atmospheric mini-album from Toronto’s AMAARA, solo project of Kaelen Ohm, member of group Reuben and the Dark. The album is a stunning piece of work.  iTunes

Jon Stancer delivers pleasant, mature pop album For the Birds, his first as a soloist. He has served as guitarist for artists around Toronto and in some local bands. The tunes are put together nicely.  iTunes

More on the alternative rock side, we have And the Magic of Horses from Ottawa’s New Swears, a talented group as the disc demonstrates.  iTunes

Folks, a one-bedroom 439 square foot condo (i.e. cavity in a building) in working-class East Vancouver is listed at $725,000. A track at iTunes goes for $1.29. Which one are you going to buy? A host of new singles have come out, music lovers. Here are three…

Saskatchewan’s Jess Moskaluke, platinum country star and JUNO award winner, discharges new song “Kill Your Love”. It is easily the best country song of 2017 so far.  iTunes

Toronto K-Pop specialist Henry drops delicious new track “I’m Good” complete with a music video. See below.  iTunes

Gold-certified JUNO award winning electropop ace LIGHTS launches new mainstream pop single “Giants” from upcoming album (and comic book) Skin & Earth. MV below.  iTunes

Gears Perfectly Aligned on Nickelback’s Feed the Machine

Hanna, Alberta’s post-grunge group Nickelback, recipient of 12 JUNO Awards, releases its ninth studio album Feed the Machine. The current lineup is lead singer Chad Kroeger; guitarist, keyboardist, and backing vocalist Ryan Peake; bassist Mike Kroeger; and drummer Daniel Adair. Nickelback wrote or co-wrote all tracks and co-produced the disc with Chris Baseford. Despite the airwaves being heavily dominated by urbanized EDM these days, the band continues to sell records in impressive numbers. All studio albums to date have achieved gold/platinum certification. Nickelback’s third album Silver Side Up is the group’s best-seller at 8x platinum representing 800,000 units in Canada. Worldwide record sales for the band are estimated at over 50 million.

The price of success for a Canadian act is often defamation from foreign entertainment journalists in larger markets which stems from a mixture of profiteering and xenophobia. In a recent interview with Brooks, Alberta’s Anne-Marie Mediwake, who asked what the band did to turn the negativity around, Chad Kroeger stated:

“Nothing. Didn’t do anything. Just kept doing what we were doing. It had zero relevance on our lives. Half the time I think it’s a good thing because I look at all the other bands that were coming out at the same time that we were coming out, and almost all of them are gone.

“Our manager said something to me recently. He was speaking with somebody in Nashville, and he was talking to someone who worked at a record company for some big artist, and he looked at my manager, and he said, ‘Brian, how much do you guys pay for all that?’ and he’s like, ‘We don’t.’ He’s like, ‘You’re kidding me! You guys just get all that press for free?’ And my manager looks at him, and he goes, ‘Ya, I don’t know if your artists want it quite the way we get it but uh,’ and he’s like, ‘Who cares, you’re in the press all the time.’ And we constantly just turn the other cheek, and we just keep doing what we’re doing, we keep making music, we keep touring.”

On album Feed the Machine, Nickelback has never sounded better. Slickly produced, well-written tracks see the band ripping and roaring like there’s no tomorrow. Not representative of the album’s overall sound is fine power ballad “Song on Fire” which was recently garbed with a music video. We embed it below. iTunes

CMB Reviews Puff by Bernice

Toronto collective Bernice is composed of Diana and Owen Pallett collaborators and has been called one of the country’s most underrated bands. New EP Puff just might blow your indifference down. “St Lucia”, dotted with electronic wops and blips, captures the excitement that underground synthpop generated for seekers in the 80s. “Don’t Wanna Be European” is warmly dressed with summery coos and backed by a hanger of percussion. “David” continues the spirit in a slower pace. Atmospherics come and go through “Talking About Her” while “Gemini” refines experimentation into something inquisitive, magical, and engaging.  iTunes

CMB Reviews Stand Still by Alanna Gurr and The Greatest State

Following up exceptional, critically acclaimed album Late at Night, Guelph’s Alanna Gurr and The Greatest State presents EP Stand Still. Upon listening, we found ourselves being pulled along effortlessly, captivated by the rich, soothing folk music. The players fluently spin out an organic sound that comes together seamlessly even during unexpected twists and turns such as in closer “True for You”. Find sophisticated vocal harmonies, prancing keys, and expert guitar work throughout this very gratifying disc.  iTunes

June 16, 2017 Releases: Nickelback, Shawn Hook, and More

Albertan multiplatinum rock band Nickelback, recipient of a dozen JUNO awards, has never sounded better than on new album Feed the Machine. Remaining true to its popular brand, it rips, it roars, and also pitches sonorous balladry. The album currently sits at #2 on iTunes.

British Columbian platinum pop star Shawn Hook contributes four-track EP My Side of Your Story with relationship themes in focus. Lead single “Reminding Me” featuring Vanessa Hudgens is now a Top 40 hit.

Anela & the Early Hours presents delightful indie album Yesteryear for those who like their music melancholy with sweet vocals. Track “Sweater” is a magnificent composition. The album is worth checking out.

We also like alternative EP Puff by Toronto’s Bernice. It has that quirky electronic underground sound that is always great fun.

Very different but equally choice is new folk EP Stand Still from Guelph’s Alanna Gurr & The Greatest State which somehow manages to both sooth and captivate.

Below is a table summarizing these and more releases this week.

Every Other Night Dylan Ireland Folk Peterborough
Feed the Machine Nickelback Rock Hanna, AB
If It Feels Right Lunch at Allen’s Country Toronto
Oblivion Munroe Folk Hamilton
Yesteryear Anela & the Early Hours Indie Burlington
My Side of Your Story (EP) Shawn Hook Pop Nelson, BC
Puff (EP) Bernice Alternative Toronto
Stand Still (EP) Alanna Gurr & The Greatest State Folk Guelph
Young Ones (EP) Rococode Alt-Pop Vancouver


Shania Twain’s Life’s About to Get Good

Shania Twain is the only recording artist to have scored three double diamond albums (i.e. 20x platinum or 2 million copies); that’s how big she became. From 1996 to 2004, she won a dozen JUNO Awards, and a 13th with her induction into the Music Hall of Fame in 2011. She did release a new song that year; something about which the press has forgotten. “Today Is Your Day” peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Today, Shania releases new song “Life’s About to Get Good”. It is selling well over at iTunes, sitting at #9 at this writing. Twain penned the song herself, while Matthew Koma and Ron Aniello handled production duties. It rings of something Michael Bublé might do with a dash of countrification. The single heralds her September 29 album, Now. It will be her first LP in 15 years and is currently available for pre-order. We’ve embedded the official audio of the new track below.  iTunes

Random Maps on the Palms

Though he started out on guitar, Montreal’s Charles-Alain Roy expertly crafts chillout electronic music under the moniker Aléatoire (French for random) and drops new EP Maps on the Palms containing four tracks all featuring the exquisite vocal talents of Toronto’s Alina Libkind. Track “Immune”, previously released as a single, received a nice writeup in Fader Magazine which stated the song “weaves a crushing set of circumstances into a warm and blissful light at the end of the tunnel”. Indeed, the tracks are each a comfortable cushioned sofa and serve as hypnotic neon lights pushing away the darkness of night with sonic flashes and shimmers all dressed with Alina’s mesmerizing coos. Aléatoire’s Maps on the Palms provides 2017 with one of its finest extended play records.  iTunes