Theo: The Idol Who Decided to Stay

Theo Tams - StayBest known as the Canadian Idol winner of Season Six (the final one), Coaldale, Alberta’s Theo Tams has decided not to open a restaurant or attend a business school but to continue to make music. We’re glad for that. Burton Cummings has commented that longevity depends on one’s ability to write his or her own songs. Great singers are everywhere now because of television, and poor Max Martin cannot pen tunes for everyone. Theo has teamed up with Slaight Music and dropped his surname. He released a new EP last year called Back Pocket and released track “Stay” as a single which shows just how talented a songwriter he has become. Combine that with his amazing vocal prowess, and we have a winner. In terms of style, the song echoes the power ballad brilliance of his previous hit, “Sing“. We have embedded the lyric video below. There is also a live video of an acoustic performance (voice and piano only), a version also included on the EP.

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Canadian Music Blog’s Top 30 Album Faves of 2014

Top 30 Cdn albums of 659 of 2014A total of 659 albums released in 2014 by Canadian artists came to our attention. We tried to feature as many of them on the blog as we could. We ended up making mention of 470 (i.e. 71.3%) of them in some form. Formal reviews were given to 191 or 29% of them. Of the 659 LPs, 39 were greatest hits, various artist compilations, live albums, etc., and we did not count them towards contention for our Top 30 of the year. There were only 9 albums that we entirely disliked. The vast majority, at 407, we deemed run of the mill Canadian majesties. A cut above were 106. Great albums numbered at 36. Masterpiece works at 62 (9.4% of the total) were marked as contenders for the CMB favourites of the year. We ranked these after many listens and came up with the top 30 which we have listed below. The chart on the left shows just how elite this group is (click to enlarge).

badbadnotgood-iii#30. III, Badbadnotgood. Though the third album from the Toronto fusion jazz trio, this is the first disc of entirely original compositions. They are instrumental, cinematic, jazzy electronic jewels with big boom beats. Fresh and fun, perhaps a motion picture can be created from scratch for the express purpose of using this as the soundtrack. Then again, the music is so fine, viewers may well prefer it to the film.

Secret Sun - Cold Coast#29. Cold Coast, Secret Sun. This is a new electronic group from Montreal helmed by Simon Landry and vocalist Anne-Marie Campbell, the latter reminding us a little of Propaganda’s Susanne Freytag. Debut album Cold Coast is remarkably good. The strong writing with complex instrumentation constantly drops unexpected things into the mix and puts simpler arrangements from other acts to shame.

The Wilderness of Manitoba - Between Colours#28. Between Colours, The Wilderness of Manitoba. This Toronto band was nominated for a JUNO thanks to its previous album and released its fourth in 2014: Between Colours. What we have on this wonderful work is a desirable turn-taking of male and female lead vocals and a less roots and more progressive overall sound, or we can say a blending of folk rock and dream pop.

Stephanie Lapointe - Les amours paralleles#27. Les amours parallèles, Stéphanie Lapointe. This Montréal Star Académie alumnus was nominated for a JUNO for album Sur le fil in 2006. Les amours parallèles is a beautiful work hailing back to classic 1960s French pop with occasional new age sprinklings. The album’s strength is in its refreshing gentleness, a rare attribute, that combines nicely with a genuine and sweet melancholy.

In-Flight Saftey - conversationalist album#26. Conversationalist, In-Flight Safety. This is album number three from Halifax’s JUNO-nominated band, now down to a duo of singer / guitarist John Mullane and drummer Glen Nicholson. Conversationalist is attractively coated with a new wave tint, atmospheric glitter, and plays like a good book that you can’t put down. This should hit the spot for fans of Travis, Coldplay, and Snow Patrol.

Made Them Lions#25. Made Them Lions, Made Them Lions. On its second album the Montreal band shows it has developed a full, rich, modern pop/rock sound with dashes of reggae like “Light Up the Dark”. Other standouts are hit single “Crazy”, Down With Webster type feel-good anthem “Tidal Wave”, thumping ballad “Hyde”, charming David Myles-like “Love, Love, Love”, and “Forgotten How To Dream”.

Chocolat - Tss Tss#24. Tss Tss, Chocolat. After Félix winning solo work, Jimmy Hunt returned to the chocolate helm, and new album Tss Tss sees the outfit flip over from the roots rock leanings of past album Piano Élégant to full-on synth inflected progressive rock, and it is wonderful. The energy never wanes and is surrounded by theatrical atmospherics, strong writing and ripples through the airwaves in a laser light jam.

Sylvain Cossette - Accords#23. Accords, Sylvain Cossette. Platinum JUNO-nominated bilingual artist Sylvain started out with the band Paradox that scored #24 hit “Waterline” in 1989. In 2014, he returned in top shape with album Accords with powerful vocals and guitars containing a little bit of everything: Francis Cabrel type ditty “Je t’écris”, sky-scraping lead single, “Seul”, and alternative rock nugget “La fin de notre histoire”.

Mara Tremblay - A la maniere des anges#22. À la manière des anges, Mara Tremblay. Essentially an alternative work, the sixth album from the Hauterive, QC multiple Félix winner blends melancholic and chipper moods and is a little more energetic than some of the more laid back releases in the same category this year. The album merges alternative rock with both electronica and folk and contains both densely rich soundscapes and wispy climes.

Alyssa Reid - Timebomb#21. TimeBomb, Alyssa Reid. This solid pop album has a few snippets of funky narrative crowning it as the stylish jam it is. Alyssa Reid proves herself adept at blending urban grooves, dance beats, pop hooks, and electronic punches that make the whole package very luxuriant and current. Through all the sonic flourishes, her crisp, robust voice shines through making TimeBomb one of the year’s hippest records.

Paige Morgan - Golden#20. Golden, Paige Morgan. After the release of three singles, this debut LP from the new Vancouver singer is a joy to listen to from start to finish and was crafted by a pool of the local elite who managed to turn over all the colours of Paige, a bona fide musical chameleon who easily handles all facets of the musical spectrum. This is the most eclectic pop album of the year and as such is a real treat for the ears.

Jonathan Li - Our Stories Matter#19. Our Stories Matter, Jonathan Li. This is album #2 from the independent artist whose style ranges from folk pop to rock. The album’s first two super catchy tracks, like a one-two hook, draw you right into a disc that is delightful throughout. We named “One Life” as the 3rd best song of 2014, one the catchiest songs we have ever heard. Jonathan Li is a natural and one of the best performers in the city of Calgary.

PyPy - Pagan Day#18. Pagan Day, PyPy. Montreal punk rock quartet PyPy stunned us with their frenetic debut album Pagan Day. The driving, electrifying energy fans out the mohawks, female vocals wail, relentless Tones on Tail bass struts itself, black polished finger nails scratch along the echoing guitar strings, and vocal distortion effects chill us to the bones. Pagan Day is a totally decadent and so very delicious jam.

LIGHTS - Little Machines#17. Little Machines, LIGHTS. After a JUNO award, 2 gold albums, and 9 Billboard Hot 100 hits, Toronto electronic rock virtuoso LIGHTS returned with album #3, Little Machines. In terms of style, the album merges the synth pop catchiness of debut The Listening with the gritty experimental brilliance of Siberia. This is a host of infectious anthems all decked in handsome electronica and endearing vocal delivery.

doomsquad - Kalaboogie#16. Kalaboogie, Doomsquad. Sibling Blumas trio created ambient moods from original textures qualifying them as archaeologists unearthing relics from both tribal villages and radically advanced metropolises on foreign planets. The robust hypnotic music proceeds from grunts and grinds through droning shimmers in some form of a Suspiria-based X-file. It’s dark and dense and absolutely brilliant.

Alfa Rococo - Nos coeurs ensemble#15. Nos cœurs ensemble, Alfa Rococo. The fabulous, multiple Félix Award winning electropop duo gets better with each release. This third offering is chock full of irresistible hooks and unanticipated detailed techniques. The electro pulses and gritty guitars on “Le sexe des anges” are as addictive as the smooth guitar plucks and whistling keys on “Deux” and the hum-along charm of the title track.

Elise Estrada - Round3#14. #Round3, Elise Estrada. Round 3 continues the JUNO nominee’s expertise in delivering exuberant R&B/pop treasures filled with rhythmic fun, urban beats, and enticing teases. We think she is one of the best singers in the country; her voice is just beautiful. Here we have summer anthems, heart-melting ballads, a New Order sample, a dedication to typhoon victims, and a tribute to Amanda Todd.

Robyn DellUnto - Little Lines#13. Little Lines, Robyn Dell’Unto. It comes as no surprise that the Mississaugan’s music is a favourite among television production entities. On Little Lines, her sweet voice adds colourful sprinkles to ear-pleasing melodies that soothe the heart and edify the spirit. Robyn’s style comfortably straddles pop and adult contemporary kingdoms and snugly perches itself between indie and mainstream grooves.

Catherine Leduc - Rookie#12. Rookie, Catherine Leduc. A key member of Félix Award winning indie pop band Tricot Machine from Trois-Rivières, Leduc’s debut solo album, Rookie, embraces a different style: an artistic, dreamy folk pop and a mixture of the acoustic and electronic drenched with dreamy melancholy and charm. If Catherine considers herself a rookie, we can’t wait to hear what she has planned as a veteran!

Mode Moderne - Occult Delight#11. Occult Delight, Mode Moderne. On its third album, Vancouver outfit Mode Moderne rekindles the spirit of underground 80s new wave found in the dreamy vibes of early New Order and The Cure. It is a division of grief as opposed to joy with quirkily choice vocal style. Occult Delight cleverly blends intricate guitar work with synth textures, higher-pitched bass, and punky percussion which charms and excites.

Stefie Shock - Avant l'aube#10. Avant l’aube, Stefie Shock. Montreal gold certified male soloist Stefie Shock (Stéphane Caron) is a creative genius and has dabbled in various styles of music since he went from a disc jockey to a recording artist in Y2K. Bilingual album Avant l’aube is essentially a new wave gem though he mixes in a few surprises. Some of these cuts are ripe for the dancefloor, all delivered in a cool baritone voice.

Patrick Norman - Apres la tombee du rideau#9. Après la tombée du rideau, Patrick Norman. Canadian legend Patrick Norman, in celebration of his 45 years in music, released his 29th (wow!) album, Après la tombée du Rideau, and it’s profoundly beautiful. Although classified as country, a more accurate description would be 1970s soft rock compositional style, drenched in modern atmospherics, and sprinkled with cowboy country seasoning.

Loscil - Sea Island#8. Sea Island, Loscil. Vancouver’s looping oscillator (i.e. Scott Morgan) has been at it for a while but everything comes together and he hits his stride on Sea Island, one of the greatest ambient electronic albums ever to come out of Canada. Sweeping and airy, it subdues, it captivates, and it tugs the listener into a glorious hypnotic state. Track “Iona” alone is a world-class masterpiece of ambient electronica.

Die Mannequin - Neon Zero#7. Neon Zero, Die Mannequin. JUNO nominated Die Mannequin smoothly slithered from the punk proclivities of its past into full on modern rock and released the finest rock album of the year with plundering beats, measured synth touches, and loud, mangled metal guitars, all led by the glistening vocals of Care Failure. Neon Zero bristles with high octane ecstasy and potent adrenaline throughout.

Salome Leclerc - 27 fois l'aurore#6. 27 fois l’aurore, Salomé Leclerc. Album #2 from this dynamo was hailed by critics all around the world as a masterpiece. Sculpted from folky basics, a latticework of art and electronics was continuously refined with intricate detail. Suspense and atmosphere abound and curve balls get thrown in. This is a hair-raising thrill ride through uncharted territory, always surprising and forever impressing.

bobby-wills-crazy-enough#5. Crazy Enough, Bobby Wills. Calgarian CCMA Rising Star award winner Bobby Wills first landed on the Hot 100 with “Somebody Will” in 2013. We consider his third LP Crazy Enough the best country music album of the year with cleverly poetic lyrics, wonderful vocals, and alluring Building a Mystery guitar riffs. The music’s appeal stretches far beyond the quaint picket fences of country, even to the stars.

Kiesza - Sound of a Woman#4. Sound of a Woman, Kiesza. It’s rare to find an album where all tracks rate from good to excellent, and Kiesza’s Sound of a Woman is one such LP. Opening with her UK #1 and CA platinum smash, “Hideaway,” the Calgarian takes us on a sumptuous journey through deep house infused treasures punctuated by her exquisite vocal talents. If she can pull this off on a debut, her future looks glorious.

Adam Smale - Out of the Blue#3. Out of the Blue, Adam Smale. Originally from Bar River, ON, just east of Sault Ste Marie, Adam is a highly skilled seven-string jazz guitarist now based in New York. We had Out of the Blue, a masterpiece of instrumental jazz, on repeat through most of the year. It simultaneously invigorates and soothes with its highly intelligent sophisticated form. Adam’s guitar work is accompanied by a trio (bass, drums, keys).

Alexz Johson - Let Em Eat Cake#2. Let ‘Em Eat Cake, Alexz Johnson. Demi Lovato has said that it is because of Alexz Johnson that she decided to make a career in music. The 2nd formal LP from the Coquitlam, BC singer-songwriter is adult pop with soulful vocals, progressive undercurrents, a good groove, and crisp and robust drumming that carries everything at an exciting pace. Alexz has both substance and a style she can call her own.

Canadian Music Blog’s 2014 Album of the Year

Starting piano at 4 years old, mastering the guitar, and beginning to compose at age 10, this singer-songwriter from Montreal was inspired by the works of Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones, and Adele. Recognized as a prodigy, the industry felt that, at 15 years of age, it was time for her debut album, and a team was assembled to assist her which included gold-certified artist Dumas. With the voice of an angel, majestic compositions, and stunningly beautiful music, the resulting album is nothing short of a masterpiece of soulful soft rock.

While listening to this, we kept wondering: how could adult contemporary music so mature spring from the heart of someone so young? The hair style featured on the album cover reminds us though that she still has some youthful spunk in her. And we should also mention that she has quite possibly the world’s most beautiful smile.

On the album, keys patter down like spring rain and are joined by some bluesy guitar, sparkling brass, and heart-tugging strings. The extra delicate arrangements and musicianship bring out the finesse of the composition, not to mention the voice. While the blood of the album is melancholy, it is pumped through channels gracefully with occasional intensity. It is as though we are riding on a low-flying raincloud over rush hour traffic, free of stressful gridlock and dry. Title-track opener and “Falling For You” heralded the LP as singles. An MV for the latter was released.

While several household names laid down some powerful poker hands in 2014, it was a 15-year-old newcomer from Montreal who dropped a royal flush.

The Canadian Music Blog declares Something Good by Montreal teen prodigy Azélie as 2014’s Album of the Year!

Azelie - Something Good - Album of the Year copy

The Most Successful Canadian Albums Released in 2014

Domestically, the most successful album from a Canadian artist released in 2014 was Where I Belong by Bobby Bazini. It was 14th on Billboard Canada’s Top selling albums of the year chart surpassed both by albums from foreign artists as well as a couple of Canadian albums released in 2013. It and Serge Fiori’s self-titled work were the only two Canadian albums released in 2014 that were certified platinum by the end of the year.

Internationally, there were no Canadian blockbusters this year. The only album to appear in the United World Chart Top 40 of 2014 was Michael Bublé’s Christmas from 2011. In 2014, it became the first Canadian album release since Avril Lavigne’s Let Go in 2002 to achieve diamond sales and is the first Canadian album to hit diamond since Music Canada downgraded the status from 1 million units sold to 800K in 2008.

Five Canadian albums released in 2014 struck gold by the end of the year: Sarah Mclachlan’s Shine On, Marie-Mai’s M, Various Artists’ La Voix II, Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems, and Fred Pellerin’s Plus tard qu’on pense.

Through the year, five Canadian albums topped Billboard Canada’s weekly Albums Chart: the aforementioned works by Bazini, Fiori, McLachlan, and Cohen, plus Tracks of My Years by Bryan Adams. Albums making the weekly Top 10 numbered 51. By comparison, 2013 saw 10 number one albums, 38 making the Top 10. Billboard’s year-end Top 50 had 11 albums from Canadians. Of these, 7 were released in 2013 and 4 in 2014 (Bazini #14, Fiori #15, Cohen #24, and Marie-Mai #33). By comparison, 2013’s year-end Top 50 had 13 Canadian entries, 7 of which were released that year. The following table compares the last three years of successful albums.

2012 2013 2014
Multiplatinum Albums 3 2 0
Platinum Albums 3 3 2
Gold Albums 8 10 5
#1 Albums 9 10 5
Top 10 Albums 44 38 51
Year-End Top 50 Albums 15 13 11

Not included, though worth a mention, is album Rose Ave. by City and Colour’s international collaboration with Pink as duo You+Me. The album hit #1, was #32 on the year-end chart, and was certified gold by the end of the year.

Below is a comprehensive table of the most successful 2014 Canadian albums domestically. To be included in the list below, an album had to fulfill at least one of the following criteria:

A. Gold certification or higher (CE).
B. Appeared on the Top 50 year-end Billboard Canadian Albums Chart (YE).
C. Peaked in the Top 10 of the weekly Billboard Canadian Albums Chart (WP).

TOP CANADIAN ALBUMS OF 2014

TITLE ARTIST CE YE WP
Where I Belong Bobby Bazini P 14 1
Serge Fiori Serge Fiori P 15 1
Popular Problems Leonard Cohen G 24 1
M Marie-Mai G 33 2
Shine On Sarah McLachlan G   1
La Voix II Various Artists G   2
Plus tard qu’on pense Fred Pellerin G   3
Tracks of My Years Bryan Adams     1
Trauma: Season 5 Soundtrack Coeur de pirate     2
Party For Your Life Down With Webster     2
Everything Almost Jann Arden     2
No Fixed Address Nickelback     2
Lo-Fantasy Sam Roberts Band     3
The Trews The Trews     3
Jerome Couture Jerome Couture     3
High Noon Arkells     3
The Physical World Death From Above 1979     3
Une fleur pour vous Georges Hamel     4
Vivre debout Gilles Vigneault     4
Little Secret Nikki Yanofsky     4
Merci Serge Reggiani Isabelle Boulay     4
Savages Theory of a Deadman     4
Bahamas Is Afie Bahamas     4
Very Good Bad Thing Mother Mother     4
Olivier Dion Olivier Dion     5
Ghosts Big Wreck     5
while(1<2) deadmau5     5
Don’t Kill the Magic MAGIC!     5
The Shawn Mendes EP Shawn Mendes     5
Little Machines LIGHTS     5
Ils chantent Louvain Various Artists     5
On A Tous Quelque Chose Various Artists     5
Blanc Angele Dubeau     6
Sans regret Brigitte Boisjoli     6
White Women Chromeo     6
Between Illness and Migration Your Favorite Enemies     6
We Go Home Adam Cohen     6
Second Sight Hey Rosetta!     6
5:01 Tim Hicks     7
Un homme qui vous resemble Mario Pelchat     7
Highways, Heartaches … Lisa LeBlanc     7
Advanced Basics Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker     8
Brand New Day Swollen Members     8
Oxygen : Inhale Thousand Foot Krutch     8
Switched On Madchild     8
Glory Under Dangerous Skies Moist     8
3e rue sud Maxime Landry     9
Une Seule Fois / Live 2013 Celine Dion     10
Face a l’ouest Kevin Parent     10
Musique & Cinema Bruno Pelletier/Guy St-Onge     10
La dans ma tete Marc Dupre     10

Canadian Music Blog’s Top 10 EP & Mini Album Faves of 2014

We consider an EP to have a total run time of less than 25 minutes. A mini album is one that is called an EP but has a run time a minute or two over 25. For us to consider one of these for our year-end favourites, it had to have at least three original songs. We did not include remix EPs (i.e. a disc containing several remixes of one song). If an LP followed that contained nearly all tracks from the EP, we disqualified it. Below is a list of our ten favourite EPs and mini albums of 2014 among the 157 that came to our attention through the year.

10. Right Direction, Matt Webb

Matt Webb - Right DirectionMatt Webb, lead guitarist of popular Vancouver band Marianas Trench released his second solo EP, entitled Right Direction. The reason for his flying solo on the side is clarified upon listening to his music. While the Trench performs upbeat dance pop, Matt prefers to make mellower, more soothing, adult contemporary tunes. Even the harder selections, like the closing “Lucky Numbers”, is washed with graceful vibes. Matt’s music carries a slight undercurrent of melancholy, or perhaps reflective would be a better term. While the title-track is arguably the most catchy number, the entire EP was a standout among 2014 releases.

9. Pierrot Couleur, Jjanice+

Jjanice - Pierrot couleurAfter a couple of singles, Montréal’s wonderful Jjanice+ (male soloist) launched an exquisite EP entitled Pierrot couleur. On this musical odyssey, you will hear warm vocals, pattering keys, Caribbean bass, and African poetry, all with underlying soultronic depth. This is the richness of Seal combined with the creative charm of David Bowie. The whole disc is one colourful tapestry with breathtaking detail, and it stands as one of the finest EPs of 2014. We look forward to hearing more from this talented recording artist in the future.

8. Naissance d’un Zombie, Das Mörtal

Das Mortal - Naissance d'un ZombieCristóbal Cortes is an instrumental electronic musician based in Montreal. He operates under the moniker Das Mörtal. Three of his EPs were released through Lisbon Lux Records in 2014 including this wonderful soundtrack he scored for the short horror flick Naissance d’un Zombie. The style of music reminds us of some of the choice spooky synth soundtracks from John Carpenter films. If such are up your alley, any of Das Mörtal’s EPs should hit the spot. We choose this one, filled with chills, that is sure to be a hit on zombie radio.

7. My Time, Wolf Saga

Wolf Saga - My TimeLondon, Ontario’s Wolf Saga is an exceptionally talented indie pop/rock musician heavily influenced by 80s music. In 2012, he won the Jack Richardson Award for electronic artist of the year. After winning an AUX.tv/Samsung contest, he was flown out to Vancouver to record his material with Grammy Award winning producers DJ Khalil and Chin Injeti. He was signed by Handsome Boy Records. Wolf Saga’s amazing debut EP My Time dropped earlier in the year, an electronic wonderland of smooth, graceful vibes.

6. Make You Mine, Tim Toishi

Tim Toishi - Make You MineBorn and raised in Toronto, Tim Toishi is a new independent singer, songwriter, and classically trained pianist. After contributing a couple of singles to the great pool of Canadian music, he released his debut EP, Make You Mine. The four (plus a remix) tracks are intended to introduce us to Tim’s range of talent, as he moves comfortably through pop, R&B, and dance territories. In general, the songs are beautiful ballads crafted with real feeling around catchy melodies and serve as a great introduction to a star in the making.

5. I Got This, Vol. 1, Hey Romeo

Hey Romeo - I Got ThisMultiple CCMA award winning Edmonton group Hey Romeo released a six-track EP called I Got This in 2014. It adds credence to our belief that nobody can do country music quite as well as Canadians. The music is balanced, refined, delicately crafted and catchy giving it broad spectrum appeal, hitting the spot for even those who would not consider themselves fans of the genre. Stacie Roper’s beautiful vocals are a huge bonus. Fine fellow Deric Ruttan co-wrote track “Hello Patio”. This was definitely one of the standout EPs of 2014.

4. Mauka, Vogue Dots

VogueDots-MaukaBabette Hayward and Tynan Dunfield are New Brunswick duo Vogue Dots, now based in Halifax. Self-described as performing experimental pop, the sound is melancholy, melodic electronica with deep moods and dark ambiance. The pair churned out 4-track EP Mauka, a strong followup from last offering Toska, released earlier in 2014. The newer record is tightly structured with solid composition, and when Babette’s vocals smack the synth chill, the sonic landscape fills with frozen honey. It’s a great start and we’re excited for Vogue Dots’ future.

3. Quatre, Tristan Malavoy

Tristan Malavoy - QuatreTristan Malavoy started out as a poet publishing three books of verse. His 2006 critically acclaimed debut album saw the poetry, presented mostly in spoken word format, set to music. A followup LP of song came out in 2012. Two years later, Tristan delivered a 4-track EP entitled Quatre. The music is just beautiful: artistic and pleasant. The digital disc was directed by JUNO nominee Jérôme Minière. The concept of four is in the four songs, played by four musicians, and inspired by four colours. Quatre’s opener is a stalwart cover of Alain Souchon’s “La vie ne vaut rien”. “Quelle femme” sets a poem by Jean Désy to music and features JUNO winner Ariane Moffatt on vocals. We love the super catchy last track on the EP, “Un amour si grand que ça”.

2. Pick a Piper, Pick a Piper

Pick a PiperWaterloo, ON’s Brad Weber has done percussion work for Caribou and also been busy at his own electronic project, Pick a Piper. Angus Fraser and Dan Roberts join him. Recently, the outfit released a collaborative 5-track EP with Russia’s Love Cult and Austria’s Squalloscope, sprung from a songwriting circle in New York. The opener is funky, soulful, and trippy. “Ruin” adds more ambient atmosphere like something from Doomsquad or X-Files music man Mark Snow. “Fluency” picks things up and thumps along nicely.

Canadian Music Blog’s 2014 Extended Play Record of the Year

Here is an example of world-class professionalism: a debut EP from a Vancouver-based Calgarian. This is a 6-track adult contemporary affair with some pop/rock in the mix. The singer uses her hair-raising dynamic vocal range to tackle the subtle nuances of adult pop music and her knack for sensitive composition to take advantage of lush arrangements like gorgeous piano and sweeping strings. On top of it all, she adds little creative touches making the finished product deep, sophisticated, and dazzling. This is like Annie Lennox and Sarah McLachlan rolled into one. We were also excited that Louise Burns, one of Canada’s top songwriters, lent assistance on the album: A+ quality work. The Canadian Music Blog declares Puzzle by Cat Thomson as 2014’s extended play record of the year.

Cat Thomson - Puzzle - EP of the Year copy

Harem Scarem’s Thirteen

Harem Scarem - ThirteenFor those of you missing that great arena rock sound, we highly recommend new album Thirteen by Toronto’s Harem Scarem. Believe it or not, this really is the glam metal group’s 13th album. The band launched in the late 80s, called it quits in 2008, and reformed in 2013. Thirteen has that full, rich sound we heard from acts like Van Halen and Journey combining male voices singing and harmonizing together with punchy drumming and abrasive guitars. Variety comes in the form of power ballad “Whatever It Takes” and Saga-esque, progressive vibes care of “Saints and Sinners”.  iTunes

Brad Weber Picks a Piper

Pick a PiperWaterloo, ON’s Brad Weber has done percussion work for Caribou and also been busy at his own electronic project, Pick a Piper. Angus Fraser and Dan Roberts join him. Recently, the outfit released a collaborative 5-track EP with Russia’s Love Cult and Austria’s Squalloscope, sprung from a songwriting circle in New York. The opener is funky, soulful, and trippy. “Ruin” adds more ambient atmosphere like something from Doomsquad or X-Files music man Mark Snow. “Fluency” picks things up and thumps along nicely.  iTunes

Marc Dupré Reveals the Genius in His Head

Marc Dupre - La Dans Ma Tete 2Marc Dupré is doing very well which makes us happy. He has landed five songs on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100, scored a gold certified album, won a Song of the Year Félix (“Nous sommes les mêmes”, 2013), and served as a coach on the Canadian version of The Voice. Marc has just released his fourth studio album, Là dans ma tête, perhaps the most anticipated album of December. The style is pop/rock with splashes of both folk and electro. In keeping with the current trends of musique Francophone, the neo-trad musicianship includes spirited singing and a hearty presentation. Marc however is able to reach a little higher and give the music extra dashes of detail and quality which keep the listener engaged: atmospheric soundscapes, sudden thumps of percussion, and spicy synth pulses. This is a beautiful album.  iTunes

Kevin Hearn Spends Days In Frames

KevinHearn_DaysInFramesKevin Hearn went from member of the Rheostatics to keyboardist for diamond alt-pop band Barenaked Ladies before forming his own band Thin Buckle. He has been carving out a niche for himself as a soloist as well and recently released his third album, Days in Frames. Solid as a songwriter, Kevin’s raspy voice mingles with smooth, rich keys yielding a unique sound. The album was produced by Gavin Brown (Metric, Sarah Harmer) with guest artists Dan Hill and Ron Sexsmith. Dazzling MV for “Gallerina” embedded below will give you a taste.  iTunes

Gold Hat Trick Duo Janvier and Breau Free the Children

Marie-Ève Janvier and Jean-François Breau - LibreLibre is the latest album from sweethearts Marie-Ève Janvier (Roxton Pond, QC) and Jean-François Breau (Hamilton). The duo can now boast three gold albums. Collaborators on the new work include The Barr Brothers, Alex Nevsky, Zachary Richard, Michel Rivard, Diane Tell, Ingrid St-Pierre, and Vincent Vallières. This is a concept album in that all songs embrace the theme of childhood covering various aspects. Musically, however, the style is very adult contemporary with a lean towards folk. Beautifully delivered as always, the 14 original songs could well dig up some more gold for the pair.  iTunes

Get Lifted By Dallas Smith

Dallas Smith - LiftedLangley, BC’s Dallas Smith has released his second LP Lifted which contains all tracks on earlier EP Tippin’ Point (save the live acoustic version of “Jumped Right In”) plus six more. As a single, “Tippin’ Point” was certified platinum by Music Canada. Previously fronting rock band Default, Dallas made the switch to country as a soloist in 2011 and has since then charted nine songs on the Hot 100. His debut album received a JUNO nomination. Lifted’s release was preceded by current hit single “Wastin’ Gas” which debuted just outside the Top 40. The album’s stylish brand of country rock packs a wallop of riveting energy with fiery guitar solos fit for euphoric party crowds. Saddle up with Lifted and enjoy the rocky ride.  iTunes

Today, Dallas Smith, along with Montreal jazz pop sensation Nikki Yanofsky, kick off the 102nd Grey Cup at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium.

Wrapping Up Album of the Month Nods

The Canadian Music Blog has named Loscil’s Sea Island as its pick for Album of November. In 2014, the CMB began selecting its favourite among all albums released in a given month regardless of genre. From January through October, these albums of the month were Mode Moderne’s Occult Delight (January), PyPy’s Pagan Day (February), Adam Smale’s Out of the Blue (March), Catherine Leduc’s Rookie (April), Azelie’s Something Good (May), Bobby Wills’ Crazy Enough (June), Elise Estrada’s #Round3 (July), Made Them Lions’ MTL (August), Salome Leclerc’s 27 Fois l’aurore (September), and Kiesza’s Sound of a Woman (October).

Through the year, a number of albums released by Canadian artists came to our attention months after release. In one case, we came across an album later on that we liked even better than the one we had declared Album of the Month for its month of release. In order to address such contingencies, any such album will be declared a “Dark Horse” album and we will place it in our slideshow header. We have named Alexz Johnson’s Let ‘Em Eat Cake a dark horse album. At the end of 2014, we will rank our top picks of the year. Expect to see any dark horse album make an appearance on it. We are not sure at this point whether we will name an album of December as releases tend to be lean during the final month. Around the winter solstice on December 21, we will present our ten favourite albums of autumn 2014 as well.

Albums of the Month 2014 copy

X Marks the Spot For Jonas & the Massive Attraction

Jonas and the Massive Attraction - Album XOne of Canada’s finest rock vocalists and all-around talent Jonas Tomalty gave us a much anticipated duet this year with Canadian superstar Marie-Mai. Jonas has landed three singles on the Canadian Hot 100 and had two JUNO nominations in 2006 for his gold-certified eponymous album. Since 2010, he has recorded under Jonas & the Massive Attraction. Only a year after brilliant album Live Out Loud, the outfit has released album X to celebrate ten years in music. The album contains seven new songs plus remixes of three. A deluxe version adds four Franco songs/versions. Track “Lifeline” alone is one of the most sumptuous rock songs of the year.  iTunes

Gold Artist Dumas Is Back

Dumas - self-titled album1Dumas (his given name is Steve) comes full circle by releasing an eponymous album like his debut in 2001. It follows on the heels of his work with teen prodigy Azélie on her masterpiece debut album Something Good. Dumas’ sophomore album Le cours des jours was certified gold for selling in excess of 50,000 copies. The new album opens with the super cool “Vaudou” and instantly addictive “Ne me dis pas”. The music is pop/rock with some indie (read: creative) seasoning. He throws in little kicks and tricks to keep things stimulating.  iTunes

Das Mörtal Is Never Forgotten

CDas Mortal - Never Forgotten1ristóbal Cortes is an instrumental electronic musician based in Montreal. He operates under the moniker Das Mörtal. Three of his EPs have been released through Lisbon Lux Records in 2014 including a soundtrack he scored for the short horror flick Naissance d’un zombie. The style of music reminds us of some of the choice spooky synth soundtracks from John Carpenter films. If such are up your alley, any of Das Mörtal’s EPs should hit the spot. The most recent is five-track Never Forgotten. Filled with both chills and thrills, some tracks come with beats too that should be certified hits at the local zombie disco.  iTunes

Selected New Releases 25 November 2014

25 Nov 2014 Albums Collage copy

Platinum country-rocker Dallas Smith releases his second studio album, Lifted. Gold-certified Dumas launches his latest, a self-titled LP. Barenaked Ladies’ keyboardist Kevin Hearn contributes Days In Frames. Album X celebrates 10 years in music from rock band Jonas & The Massive Attraction. In The Hardest Part Is You May Never Know, Paul Cargnello continues his adeptness at mashing up punk rock, reggae, blues and folk. Noem is a five-piece alternative / electronic rock band from Sherbrooke and turns out fine new album Le grand Mensonge. Snowday, a new chillout electronica outfit based in Toronto with members from Ottawa, gives us the exquisite debut, As We Travel. Rap lovers can enjoy new album Sale sud by Saye.

Cristóbal Cortes, operating under the name Das Mörtal, fires off his third 2014 EP, Never Forgotten. He does instrumental electronica on the darker side fit for horror movie soundtracks (which he has done). Molitor is a progressive pop/rock male soloist from Niagara Falls and #lonelypeople_Music is his second EP.

As we get into the busiest retail season of the year, greatest hit packages, holiday albums, and reissues hit the shops. We have previously featured Bryan Adams’ Reckless deluxe reissue and Garou‘s Xmas Blues. Kingston’s Headstones release a fan-selected greatest hits performed on acoustic instruments. EDM wizard deadmau5 celebrates five years with a greatest hits double album which contains remixes and extended versions of his most popular tracks. Finally comes a greatest hits from Jacksoul, a successful Toronto R&B band whose lead singer passed away from cancer in 2009.