Celebrate Halloween with the Killer Queen, Zombie Girl

zombie-girl-killer-queenAround Halloween, there are a few tracks you can count on that will sell well, such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “The Monster Mash”, and Ray Parker Junior’s “Ghostbusters”. Spooky themes from scary movies are often hard to find: “Rocky Mountains” by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind from The Shining soundtrack and “The Unborn” from Gary Numan and Michael R. Smith are two standouts. Some are more available like “Suspiria” by Goblin. If you prefer your spook more on the IDM side, as if to dance under blood sprinklers Blade style, Canada’s Renee Cooper, who records under Zombie Girl, should do the trick. From her excellent Killer Queen album released last year, here is some Halloween techno; opener “Thorazine” is embedded below. Lots of good tracks and remixes on the deluxe version of the album.  iTunes

Canadian Music Blog’s Top 25 Album Faves of 2015

top 25 chartA total of 661 albums released in 2015 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 469 (i.e. 71%) of them in some form. Of the 661 LPs, 58 were greatest hits, various artist compilations, live albums, holiday releases, etc., and we did not count them towards contention for our Top 25 of the year. We ranked our top 25 of the remaining 603 after many listens regardless of genre, language, region, and relative popularity of the artist. The chart on the left shows just how elite this group is (click to enlarge).

25Tears Along the Road by Tim Isberg

Tim-Isberg-Tears-Along-the-Road
Singer-songwriter Tim Isberg’s beautiful record Tears Along the Road was 10 years in the making. He was busy with military operations as a soldier in the Canadian Army. From his experiences, he tells intriguing stories in his songs. The pieces, delivered in a folk style, are very catchy and well-written musically, and Tim has a nice voice on him. He is originally from Fort Macleod, Alberta.  iTunes

24Vieux Loup by The Acorn

The Acorn - Vieux Loup
Describing its music as “valley soul”, Ottawa’s The Acorn was birthed by Rolf Klausener in 2002. Inspired by the close proximity to the urban centre of the rural pastures of the Ottawa valley, electronica and folk were joined giving the music a rustic-modern feel. 2015’s Vieux Loup was the fruit of 3 years of writing and experimenting with various mixtures of “dark electro soul” and “minimalist dirge folk”. It is a hypnotic work of art that stands out among 2015 releases.  iTunes

23Let It Storm by Scott Shea

Scott Shea - Let it storm
British Columbia’s Scott Shea graced 2015 with Let It Storm, his debut solo LP, and the writing is first rate. The singer-songwriter’s style of choice is folky roots music. Scott’s father Red Shea was guitarist for such legends as Gordon Lightfoot and Ian and Sylvia, so the greatness that is Scott’s is definitely in his blood. Some impressive players joined him on the album including Willie Nelson’s sister Bobbie and Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar). Beautiful album.  iTunes

22Suuns & Jerusalem in My Heart

Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart
Montreal band Suuns bonds with Jerusalem in My Heart, a project of producer Radwan Moumneh, and the result is music that is undefinable and fairly glorious. Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart is a mostly instrumental album of heavily spicy rather than light and sweet electronica injected with Middle Eastern flavours and chants. The atmosphere is dense, gritty, and ethereal as if we are stranded in the midst of a desert sandstorm brightened by fluorescent lights. This album will perk up your ears and get your heart pumping. It’s pretty wonderful stuff.  iTunes

21The Loodies

the loodies
Back at it with album number two is Montreal quintet The Loodies. This self-titled weird and wonderful work of genius crafts inspired songwriting and wraps it in experimental alternative arrangements. The band’s competence has found followings as far away as Germany and Switzerland. Nine delicate melodies flow in accents of indie, pop, and folk. Sweet, romantic melancholy animates rich instrumentation and exquisite vocals. Composing good songs is not easy, and The Loodies’ album gives us a batch of charmers.  iTunes

20The Origin by Peter Henry Phillips

Peter Henry Phillips - the origin
Peter Henry Phillips’ The Origin is gorgeous. It has that City and Colour quality with rich, detailed textures and a dense cinematic sweep. While many of the tracks are roots-oriented, he also includes some progressive touches making the whole work an exciting one to unearth and explore. Give your ears something to cheer about with this instant winner! Citing his hometown as Saint-Adrien, Quebec, the singer and songwriter has previously collaborated with many stars from the province: DJ Champion, Elisapie Isaac, Jorane, and JUNO winner Ariane Moffatt. He has done work for advertising, most notably Elizabeth Arden, and soundtrack work for Oscar winning Canadian director Denys Arcand.  iTunes

19The Gates by Young Empires

Young_Empires_The-Gates_1000_1000
Toronto’s Young Empires, the alternative trio of Matthew Vlahovich, Jacob Palahnuk, and Taylor Hill, released its debut album The Gates, which sounds splendid. The music is taut, with rich textures, and skyscraping choruses. International reference points might be The Killers or Coldplay, but as it is often said internationally, “Canadians do it better”.  iTunes

18Carousel One by Ron Sexsmith

ron sexsmith - carousel one
Ron Sexsmith added to his beefy repertoire with 14th studio album Carousel One. The name comes from the conveyor dock for Toronto luggage at the Los Angeles airport. The album was produced by Jim Scott (The Tragically Hip), and the veteran players make the instrumentation refreshingly taut as in comparison to other scattered sounds of the genre. The beautiful compositions and sensitive delivery bring to mind some of the Beatles balladry circa the Rubber Soul phase. There is a nice mixture of tempos here, and some very clever lyrics.  iTunes

17Missa Campanula by Karen Young

Missa Campanula
There is perhaps no musical instrument more beautiful than the human voice. And when many voices are brought together in choir, it is music’s finest hour. Montreal JUNO nominee Karen Young dropped this remarkable album of classical music entitled Missa Campanula. It is an album of original compositions, sung in sacred style, a cappella, in Latin, by a choir, and is dedicated to her mother who died of Alzheimer disease. The vocal latticework was accomplished by a tiered foundation choir of sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses interplaying with a solo quintet while Karen joins two others in the treble choir. The overall performance was conducted by François Ouimet. The full-blown mass was recorded in Old Montreal at the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel.  iTunes

16Key Change by Mocky

mocky- key change
Originally from Saskatchewan, Dominic Salole who records under the alias Mocky has in the past worked with a host of artists including Peaches, Chilly Gonzales, and Feist. His brilliant fifth album Key Change could be described as a fusion of film score, jazz, and easy listening. You will hear some cool jazz, 60s-flavoured flute-driven whistlers, Bacharach strings, and Shibuya-kei grooves. The album was recorded in four different countries and includes mostly instrumentals with a few vocalized pieces, whether scatting or with lyrics.  iTunes

15Colorythmie by Eli et Papillon

Eli et Papillon - colorythmie
Eli et Papillon is a pop duo from Montreal consisting of Elise Larouche and Marc Papillon-Ferland. Colorythmie’s music is colourfully upbeat and positive with bright electro-tinged accents and vocals sweeter than crème brûlée, thanks to Elise. She is in addition a very talented songwriter having composed songs for finalists in The Voice (France) and Star Academy (Canada). The delightful songs on Colorythmie certainly attest to her prowess. Marc, meanwhile, has worked with a slew of A-listers including Coeur de Pirate and Isabelle Boulay. Together they create a fabulous album.  iTunes

14Félix Dyotte

Félix_Dyotte
In the Canadian music scene for 15 years, Félix Dyotte has both sensitive talent and seasoned experience. He made his debut in 1997 in the group The Undercovers who recorded an album with producer Gus Van Go and then transformed into 2-time JUNO winning group The Stills. In 2006, Felix formed Chinatown who released a couple of discs. The success of the group’s music enabled Dyotte to work with a number of high profile artists including Jean Leloup, Pierre Lapointe, and Valérie Carpentier. Under Coyote Records and with support from Malajube’s Francis Mineau, Philippe Brault, and new recording artist Kandle Osborne (daughter of 54-40’s Neil Osborne), Félix Dyotte launched this self-titled solo album, and it is absolutely brilliant. The album very cleverly blends 60s baroque pop, orchestral flourishes, carnival pep, good bass grooves, and shimmering synth accents. This is a fine work of art.  iTunes

13We Are the Reckoning by Peter Katz

peter katz - we are the reckoning
Ace songwriter and JUNO nominee Peter Katz from Toronto launched We Are the Reckoning through Maple Music Recordings / Fontana North, and it is a winner. We have folky adult contemporary compositions along the lines of Royal Wood who makes a guest appearance on the album. Peter’s pleasant vocals and ability to pen engaging tunes have won him a significant international following. If music that elicits goosebumps receives award nominations, this work should reap a batch through the next year.  iTunes

12Young/Old… by Elliot Maginot

Elliot Maginot - Young Old Everything
Montreal newcomer Elliot Maginot delivered this wonderful album entitled Young / Old / Everything . In . Between. Although you may hear elements of Half Moon Run, The Grapes of Wrath, and even Men at Work, the singer-songwriter has sculpted a style he can call his own. Besnard Lakes producer Jace Lasek helped add some dreamy ambiance into things. The music is sophisticated and beautiful; check out for example “Still Alive”.  iTunes

11Partir avant by Rosie Valland

rosie valland - partir avant1
Originally from Saint-Césaire, QC, just east of Montreal, Rosie Valland’s Partir avant contains rich, atmospheric singer-songwriter tunes, a little reminiscent of Salomé Leclerc but perhaps on the lighter side. Her beautiful voice seeks in the poetry to uncover some secrets of the universe as well as explore some home-turf geography while overcoming the torments of love. The spellbinding melancholy and occasional eeriness help build clouds of mystery which keep the ears engaged.  iTunes

10Dashboard Renegade by Livy Jeanne

Livy Jeane - dashboard renegade
Edmonton’s award winning country music star Livy Jeanne released her first full-length album Dashboard Renegade. It contains country radio hits “Wrong Side of the Dirt” and “All Kinds of Crazy”. Ensuring excellence in all 10 tracks, she co-wrote with ace hit-makers Brian White (Rascal Flatts, Tim Hicks) and Jeff Cohen (Sugarland, The Band Perry). We have a welcome mix of upbeat and slow songs, some leaning more toward country–rock grounds. We were immediately taken by “Fake It Past Goodbye” and “I Got Your Number”. When we began listening to Dashboard Renegade, we experienced severe problems with memory: we forgot who Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Blake Shelton were. In our humble opinion, Livy Jeanne’s Dashboard Renegade is the best country album of 2015, worldwide.  iTunes

9Night Eyes by Savvie

Savvie - Night Eyes
Vancouver’s Savannah Leigh Wellman proves her songwriting genius on new solo album, Night Eyes. She previously led folk act Redbird, and now as a soloist shifts gears into a rich and tasty brew of catchy alternative rock delights complete with gritty vibes, punchy beats, reverb-drenched electric guitars, and fuzzy bass throbs. Little splashes of new wave appear at times to add extra charm. “Trust the In Between”, “Gravity”, and “The Tower” are fine examples of very sharp composition.  iTunes

8Rosa

rosa - rosa
Exotic would be an apt word to use in Rosa Laricchiuta’s path to this debut album. A Montreal-born singer of Italian descent discovered in a karaoke venue which led to a tour of Asia performing in the poshest of venues who wound up as a finalist in Canada’s The Voice. But that’s not all. Melissa Etheridge was so impressed with her that she invited Rosa to join her on tour. Meanwhile, king of Francophone rock, Éric Lapointe, took it upon himself to get her debut album launched under the auspices of Sylvain Cossette’s record label! And of all genres of music, the powerhouse vocalist has selected rock, and we are grateful. The self-titled album has fantastic guitar work, powerful rock drumming, and well-written nuggets of catchiness. All surround an amazing voice. We pick this as the year’s finest rock album.  iTunes

7Le chaos & le temps by Lily K.O.

lily k.o. - le chaos and le temps 900x900
Montreal duo Lily K.O. launched this knockout debut album, Le chaos & le temps. To summarize things with a single word, the album is cute. The duo is singer Sélène Bérubé on keys and Raphael Rioux handling ukulele, guitalele, guitar, keyboards, backing vocals and bass. The two brought in Misteur Valaire’s drummer Julien Harbec to get the beats going. What we have is electro pop and rhythmic amusement, all wrapped up in world music vibes. Sélène’s attractive vocals are an added bonus. The bopping tunes will put a big smile on your face. We particularly like tracks “Une mélodie” and “Septembre”. This was a very pleasant surprise, so much fun!   iTunes

6I Become a Shade by Seoul

seoul - i become a shade
Montreal synth-tickling trio Seoul pruned the roadside foliage providing for a picturesque, velvety drive through shady climes. I Become a Shade is the band’s debut LP, a seamless merging of the organic and the ambient, a sombre ride that never falls into despair. We feel as if we are cruising at high speeds on petrol fumes alone or perhaps aboard a Maglev train. It is a solid album throughout, all tracks hitting the mark, whether they pause for a bit of reflection or decide to get a bit funky. Ethereal closer “Galway” is a nice bonus treat.  iTunes

5Une île by Jérôme Minière

jerome miniere - une ile

Jérôme Minière finished dancing with Henri Kopter and got ready to journey to a mysterious island. We are lucky to have acquired the JUNO nominated artist from France. On Une île, as with his past works, he gives us something different: quirky, charming, and elegant. This is music fit for the brightly-lit, futuristic, and trendy lounge. Although essentially electropop, Jerome blends in an assortment of instruments with an organic sound. It often reminds us of jazzy 60s party music with a progressive sheen. Curve balls get thrown in to make everything very engaging. He has eastern arrangements, hip hop beats, German dubstep, you name it. We adored this.  iTunes

4Reminisce by Etiquette

Etiquette - Reminisce
Julie Fader and Graham Walsh (the latter worked on LIGHTS’ Siberia album) are duo Etiquette, releasing debut album Reminisce. Avoid the danger of lumping the act in with other electronic outfits. The style ditches the spirit of wooden elation for animated melancholy. The hooks dangle in abundance as the music waddles its way through raw climes decked in some of the experimental garments worn by such predecessors as The Legendary Pink Dots and Cabaret Voltaire. It’s not all subdued; there are a couple of peppy inclusions that twinkle like stars. Overall, on Reminisce, the ethereal drones effectively hypnotize in ways that will leave you reclining in satisfaction.  iTunes

3Analog Love by Shawn Hook

Shawn Hook - Analog Love
The JUNO-nominated South Slocan BC native, no stranger to the Billboard Hot 100,  applied his talents into dance, pop, R&B, soul, funk, and electronica, making for a bigger, all-encompassing sound on the sophomore album. “Million Ways” which he co-wrote with Grammy winning songwriter Victoria Horn, generated the buzz required for threshold surmounting momentum. It scaled up to #44 on the Hot 100. Followup single “Sound of Your Heart” did even better going platinum in 2015. These two songs joined a batch of charmers on Shawn Hook’s Analog LoveiTunes

2Love Life by Tamia

Tamia-Love-Life-2015-1200x1200
While it was Canada’s male R&B artists who attracted all the attention in 2015, we were far more in love with this work by Windor, Ontario’s Tamia. She began recording in 1998 and has five JUNO nominations to date. Love Life is a big, anthem-drenched work. You will hear the finest examples of all elements of the recording process: writing, singing, arrangement, and production. There is not a weak moment on the entire disc; every track oozes with class and charm. Deep grooves, nocturnal ambiance, romantic vibes, and warm sparkles abound. The songs contain meticulously crafted, catchy details like little electronic riffs which make the music highly engaging.  iTunes.

1

Canadian Music Blog’s 2015 ALBUM of the Year

As much a retroblast as a celebration of the cutting edge of pop, this straddler of both mainstream and alternative worlds balances out the mix. The album opens like a safari sunrise, switches on super catchy beats, and explodes into kaleidoscopic choruses. Hooks flourish as in a fishermen’s convention, and the album spawned a gold single. There are wafts of soft, romantic glow and dream sequences. What makes the whole album a treat is the vocal delivery. Our singer does not have the vocal chops of someone like Celine Dion or Michael Buble but personalizes things by singing in whispers, giggles, teases, and … emotional … intonations. With this solid ride all the way through, the artist slayed like none other. Canadian Music Blog declares Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion 2015’s album of the year.  iTunes

Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion 2015 album of the year

Canadian Music Blog’s Top 10 EP Faves of 2015

An extended play record (EP), as far as we are concerned, is one than has a total run time of less than 25 minutes and has at least three unique 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 10 favourite EPs of 2015 among the 150 that came to our attention through the year.

10Dolce désir by Le Couleur

Le Couleur - Dolce DesirThe Montreal sweethearts of Le Couleur followed up their press-acclaimed EP Voyage Love with a new one in 2015 entitled Dolce Désir. Falling somewhere between Italo disco and electro-pop, the EP anchored the group as the dance floor captain while lead singer Laurence Giroux-Do caressed the ears, analogue synths electrified the spine, and the bass groove got our feet shuffling.  iTunes

9Where the People Are by Glory Glory

glory glory - Where the People Are

Progressive waves splashed up on Maritime shores, as Halifax synthpop quartet Glory Glory released three-track EP Where the People Are. Shimmering keys and funky grooves done right gave the band some impetus in a maiden voyage to national renown.  iTunes

8Claire by Rolemodel

rolemodel claire

Toronto’s RLMDL stirred up some buzz with spellbinding song “Bilingual” and debut LP Before Then Was Now from 2013. The Toronto electronic dream pop outfit decided to add the vowels to its name, rechristening itself as Rolemodel. Six-track EP Claire appeared in 2015 through label Hand Drawn Dracula. Lead singer Jordan Allen is joined by members Luke Duross, Lisa Lorenz, and Michael Laing to dish out blue music that successfully avoids becoming excessively dismal. Synth pop enthusiasts should enjoy this wonderland of misty dream sequences.  iTunes

7Fox by Beatrice Deer

Beatrice Deer - Fox

Beatrice Deer, from Quaqtaq, QC, is an Inuk songstress who has released two albums plus a holiday LP. She returned in top form on EP Fox. The neo-trad effort seamlessly combines some throat singing and traditional Inuit chants with surprisingly effective modern rock. She proves here that she is a largely undiscovered Canadian gem. The songs pack quite a wallop and flow with a genuineness that kept us engaged. Beatrice’s beautiful voice helped her win an Aboriginal Music Award back in 2005.  iTunes

6Pivotal by Kayd

kayd - pivotal

Pivotal is the stellar debut from Niagara Falls rookie rocker Kayd. Well-constructed songs abound with a presentation that continues the legacy of the genre ignited by the Headpins and Toronto. Kayd is a treasure beneath the waves waiting to be discovered by the masses. She cites Janis Joplin, Paramore, and Chantal Kreviazuk as influences. Don’t miss out on this ripper of an EP!  iTunes

5Arrows, Part 1 by Stef Lang

stef lang - arrows part 1

Stef Lang is a Billboard Hot 100 charting artist thanks to 2010’s “Mr. Immature” and her feature in iSH’s “Rollin’” in 2013. A number of other songs from the native of Vancouver Island have fluttered around on the radio airwaves. She sings, she writes, she plays, and she produces. This gal can do it all. Now based in Brooklyn, New York, Stef released the first of a two-part EP initiative entitled Arrows. She describes her new music as “pop with an R&B undertone with some hip-hop elements”. To our ears, the songs on the new EP, Arrows Part 1, are very catchy, delicious jams!  iTunes

4Avalanche by Kalle Mattson

Kalle Mattson - Avalanche

Ontario singer-songwriter Kalle Mattson followed up his 2014 album Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold with superb EP Avalanche. The 6-track work was signalled by its title-track single, the MV for which generated some media buzz with its clever set creation of 35 classic album covers. The EP is studded with beautiful gems. The catchiest is perhaps track 2, “Lost Love” which bristles with crisp upbeat tones. There are some stripped down ballads where the poetry shines through more clearly and some ambient shimmers providing auditory captivation. At the core of all tracks is a songwriting prowess which, with a little luck, will summon recognition for Kalle as one of our aces.  iTunes

3V by Bravestation

bravestation - v

Originally from the Thousand Islands region, Toronto-based Bravestation is a new wave trio consisting of brothers Devin and Derek Wilson and childhood friend Jeremy Rossetti. They named their band after Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World and Robert J. Hasting’s inspirational essay The Station. The group has been releasing music since 2012. Earlier on, Bravestation was finding its way, experimenting with various feels. With brand EP V, the band hit its stride, with a solidified sound that is very impressive. V contains four sizzling tracks of 80s inspired music. Be sure to check this one out!  iTunes

2Caveboy by Caveboy

caveboy

Michelle, Isabelle, and Lana are marvellous Montreal female trio Caveboy (formerly Diamond Bones), creators of superb synthrock songs. The self-titled, six-track debut EP includes some dreamy, shoegazing, and funky grooves that add extra gusto to the already dark, dense, addictive sound. The EP was produced by Patrick Krief, guitarist of The Dears, and mixed by Jace Lasek, of Besnard Lakes. Closing track “Muscle Memory” is not a cover of the LIGHTS song but an instrumental spaceflight trip that caps off a great disc.  iTunes

1Canadian Music Blog’s 2015 EP of the Year

We are super delighted to be able to declare a Francophone work as 2015’s EP of the year. It contains only three tracks, but they are so wonderful, that we enjoyed the disc more than any of the 150 released through the year.  The artist was a finalist in Season 1 of The Voice, and this debut EP of hers introduced us to the exquisite pop music she is capable of creating. The title track became a Top 10 CKOI hit. We love all three tracks, especially opener “Couleurs”. Rather than pressing the placebo that is the intersection walk signal button, we ended up pressing the ‘play’ button or simply had this marvellous EP on repeat. The Canadian Music Blog declares Placebo by Alexe Gaudreault 2015’s EP of the year!  iTunes

alexe gaudreault - placebo EP of the Year copy

Two British Columbian Women Woo the Critics in 2015

carly and grimes

They both have names beginning with the letter C and are both originally from British Columbia. Carly Rae Jepsen and Claire Boucher, the latter known better by her stage name Grimes, released albums in 2015 that ended up on a slew of year-end best album lists published by high profile magazines and newspapers. Interestingly, Grimes shifted from her usual off-beat alternative sound more towards the mainstream on her album Art Angels while Carly Rae Jepsen did the opposite, swinging from mainstream dance pop to a more alternative vibe on her album Emotion. Both women, then, ended up charting territory in-between the realms of alternative and pop. While Carly’s album ended up on more lists, Grimes’ tended to place higher on those that included hers. Emotion was named pop album of the year by Cosmopolitan, 2nd album of the year by Entertainment Weekly and Baeble, 3rd of the year by Noisey, Stereogum, and Variance, and 4th of the year by Time Magazine. Art Angels was hailed album of the year by Idolator, Stereogum, NME, Gorilla Vs. Bear, and best pop/rock album by Exclaim. See the table below for a list of positions on the year-end lists by magazine. An ‘x’ means the album did not make the list. This is by no means a complete inventory of magazines but gives a taste. The point of all this is of course that these two albums, in the opinion of the music gurus, are both smashing.

MAGAZINE EMOTION ART ANGELS CATEGORY
Stereogum 3 1 Album
Idolator 5 1 Album
Exclaim 5 1 Pop/Rock
Baeble 2 5 Album
Noisey 3 5 Album
Spin 4 5 Pop
Variance 3 7 Album
Vulture 6 5 Album
Slant Magazine 12 3 Album
PopMatters 11 15 Album
Consequence of Sound 24 3 Album
NME 36 1 Album
The 405 27 24 Album
Cosmopolitan* 1 x Pop
Gorilla Vs. Bear x 1 Album
Entertainment Weekly 2 x Album
Time 4 x Album
A.V. Club x 4 Album
Newsweek 9 x Album
Complex 41 28 Album
Rolling Stone 48 x Album

* Cosmopolitan has not published a list of best albums but simply named Carly’s the best pop album of 2015.

Ivana Santilli Provides Late Night Light

Ivana Santilli - Late Night LightPraises are shining in for Late Night Light, the fifth solo album from Toronto’s Ivana Santilli, formerly with outfit Base Is Base. She has been nominated thrice at the JUNOs. The album does a proper job to freestyle R&B helped in part by her recent mastering of the Prophet synthesizer. Throwing back while pushing forward results in a bag of delicious tricks often volleyed by the backhand and making the whole record interesting. Ivana’s partners in crime on the work are a wicked band of cutthroats: producer Mike Rocha (Electric Youth), Bedouin Soundclash’s Eon Sinclair, Level 42’s Mike Lindup, and Sade’s Stuart Matthewman. Keep your ears peeled for some French language verses nicely tucked into the album.  iTunes

Vocal Pianist Ingrid St-Pierre Presents Tokyo

ingrid st-pierre - tokyo

Piano and voice specialist Ingrid St-Pierre, born in Cabano, QC, has released her third album, Tokyo. The adult contemporary work is exceptionally delicate with romantic and beautifully orchestrated songs. Carefully embroidered into the arrangements by producer Philippe Brault are trombone, guitar, harp, and percussion. The title was inspired by her trip to the country last year. Lyrically, it has been said that St-Pierre presents an incomparable talent for describing love and its collateral effects. Vocally, Ingrid skillfully sculpts the contours of the delivery on each piece. She will set off on a 30-city tour in the spring of 2016.  iTunes

Alyssa Reid Releases Third Album Phoenix

Alyssa Reid - Phoenix

Born in Edmonton and raised in Brampton, Ontario, Alyssa Reid was a finalist in YTV’s The Next Star in 2008. Sometime amid serving coffee and doughnuts at Tim Hortons, she secured a recording contract with Wax Records and launched “Alone Again” with rapper P. Reign, a reworking of Heart’s “Alone” from 1987. The track rocketed up to #11 on the Canadian charts in 2011 and later hit #2 in Britain. It attracted a JUNO nomination for the singer as New Artist of the Year. Album The Game followed the title track of which was a Top 40 hit. Alyssa’s second album Time Bomb in 2014 spawned gold single “Satisfaction Guaranteed”. Altogether, Alyssa has made the Billboard Hot 100 with five entries as the main artist. She was a featured artist in Virginia to Vegas’ #14 hit “We Are Stars” and Jesse Labelle’s charting gold single “Heartbreak Coverup”.

For album number three, Phoenix, Alyssa strips down the music for a nice change of pace. Working mainly with piano and voice on most tracks, the shift to a more singer-songwriter vibe allows us to hear more clearly her exquisite vocals and ace songwriting. The LP does offer a couple of bolstered pop tracks for those eager to bust a few moves. In particular, the album contains both the acoustic and CHR versions of charting single “Dangerous” as well as “Tomorrow”. All in all, Phoenix is a beautiful album and proves once again that Alyssa Reid is a precious artist aboard team Canada.  iTunes

New Releases 27 November 2015

new releases bannernew releases 27 nov 2015 copy

This week, we look at eight new LPs and three EPs. Children’s album Annie Brocoli autour du monde appears from the Montreal JUNO nominee who has achieved multiplatinum certification for her videos. Plessisville, QC’s William Deslauriers, who has previously scored a gold album, contributes the beautiful singer-songwriter work Le courant passe. Toronto R&B singer Ivana Santilli, who has attracted three JUNO nominations, returns in top form with Late Night Light. La parade is a wonderful holiday-themed chamber pop album from Maryse Letarte of St-Hyacinthe, QC.

Brampton, Ontario pop superstar Alyssa Reid releases her latest album Phoenix. She has scored a JUNO nomination plus two gold singles. Her new album is a little more stripped down unveiling some glorious songwriting and allowing her vocal prowess to shine. Garage rock outfit I.D.A.L.G. of Montreal is into some Post dynastie. Montreal’s Bless raps about the Spoils of War. And adult contemporary vocal pianist Ingrid St-Pierre, originally from Cabano, QC, dazzles with the delightful Tokyo.

Three EPs worth checking out are country superstar Paul Brandt‘s Borderlines which includes his recent hits. Paul has won eight JUNO awards and has scored a triple platinum album. Ruth B. is a new artist from Alberta and contributes singer-songwriter EP The Intro. Fred Penner’s daughter W. Darling launches Lost Girls: Chapter Two essentially a pop EP.

Platinum Albums Released In 2015

2015 platinum albums copy

More detailed information should be coming out next month from Nielsen regarding the best-selling albums in Canada through the year. A preamble is that five albums released in 2015 have thus far been certified platinum sellers, and four of them are from Canadian artists (see below). Platinum in Canada is currently set at 80,000 pure sales, be they physical or digital.

À Paradis City, Jean Leloup
Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Drake
Yoan, Yoan
Wilder Mind, Mumford & Sons

With big sellers recently launched from Justin Bieber, One Direction, and Adele on the eve of the year’s biggest retail season heading into December 25, more certifications will undoubtedly be announced by year end. Justin Bieber’s Purpose and its tracks have broken a number of records. The album itself sold 77,000 copies (just 3,000 shy of platinum) in its first week.

Adele pulled a Taylor Swift by keeping her new album 25 off streaming services. It sold a staggering 216,000 copies in its first four days making it the fastest selling album since 1997 when Céline Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love sold 230,000 in 7 days. This has brightened the spirits of the music industry oppressed by despondency in the midst of piracy, digital music, and now online streaming. It proves that a really good album marketed and released in the right way does have a shot at reaching sales comparable to the industry peak experienced in the 1990s. In any event, many assumptions that have been made have been exposed as erroneous by a single stroke, and strategies may now be re-examined.

New Releases 20 November 2015

new releases bannercollage

Eight Canadian albums deck the halls of record shops this week. Surprise, surprise, while fresh releases by Adele and Enya are eating up the charts and Bieber and 1D are still going strong from last week, a couple of Canadian acts are giving them all a run for their money with new albums. In the lead of these on iTunes is Manu Militari, a popular Francophone rapper from Montreal. Océan is the name of his album. Right behind him is two-time JUNO nominated Les Trois Accords from Drummondville, QC. Continuing to mix rock with often humorous lyrics, the new album is called Joie d’être gai.

More Montreal rap appears in the form of Reality Check by Vendetta. Released back on the 17th is a delicious self-titled rock album from Winnipeg’s amazing Brandy Zdan. Alternative artist Foxtrott from Montreal launches the very cool A Taller Us.

For album N’we Jinan the Gathering, Vol. 2, Quebec-based label N’we Jinan produces a various artists compilation of songs by First Nations youth all across Canada and in a few different genres. In Tous en choeur, legendary country singer-songwriter Patrick Norman performs some of his greatest hits with the accompaniment of a choir. Finally, ten-time JUNO winning multiplatinum rock group Rush treats us with live album R40 Live in celebration of 40 years in music.

The Canadian album count for 2015 to date is 626 LPs and 140 EPs. There will be a few more releases next week. Not much is expected in December. Last year the whole month saw only seven LPs.

Alessia Cara Challenges Know-It-Alls

alessia cara - know it all

She is being called a heroine for wallflowers and misfits, a rebel with a cause, a poised contrarian, a little ball of cuteness, and a voice of clarity for a generation silenced by a confusing world. “Here”, a gold single and Top 20 hit on both sides of the 49th parallel by Brampton, Ontario’s 19-year-old Alessia Cara preceded EP Four Pink Walls, and now she drops her debut full-length album, Know-It-All. Inspired by her idols Amy Winehouse and Lorde, Alessia makes sense of the puzzling issues of her generation and presents them with sobering candour. She challenges the illogic of playing along with the bread and circus routine. The aforementioned “Here” expresses feeling out of place at modern teen parties and exposes some of the absurdities they expect us to overlook. “I’m Yours” has her putting a stop to falling in love, as she wonders if it is really worth it. “Wild Things” is about the courage of finding and being one’s true self even if it is rejected after public scrutiny. Musically, the album is a rich presentation of electropop and R&B with some beautiful acoustic ballads all led by Alessia’s spectacular vocals. Those vocals have won over such names as Jimmy Fallon, Ellen DeGeneres, and Taylor Swift. Cara was invited to perform on the two U.S. chat shows and mount the stage with the latter superstar on the final show of her 1989 World Tour. Know-It-All is available now!  iTunes

The Voice III Winner Kevin Bazinet Launches Talk To Me

talk to me kevin bazinet

Winner of The Voice III, Kevin Bazinet, has launched Talk To Me, his new album! It follows his debut on the Billboard Hot 100 this year. The album is a balanced blend of adult contemporary and CHR pop with the gifted vocalist injecting a dose of soul into the songs. Talk to Me contains 11 tracks in English, and in true Canadian fashion he adds three French ones as well. We found that listening to the latter beautiful songs turned our hearts to France in the wake of the recent Paris attacks.

While many great vocalists stand in need of composers to pen the songs for them, Kevin wrote the music and/or lyrics on at least 10 of the tracks. The artistic direction on the album was steered by the trio of Kevin, Tino Izzo, and Marc Dupré. The latter co-wrote “Come to Me” on the album with none other than Céline Dion! Another big name on the LP is YTV: The Next Star winner Alicia Moffet who is featured on track “Surrendered”. Kevin Bazinet is the younger brother of platinum recording artist Bobby Bazini but with a different style is venturing on his own path. Talk to Me debuted in the iTunes Top 10 albums securing Kevin as one of the Canadian breakout stars of 2015.  iTunes

Justin Bieber Discovers His Purpose

Justin Bieber - Purpose

Before reviewing Justin Bieber’s new album, Purpose, here are 5 impressive facts on the Ontario recording artist.

1. Justin Bieber holds the record for the number of songs a Canadian artist has placed in the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. That number is 45, or 50 when including entries as a featured artist. To date, 31 (or 35 including featured entries) of them have made the Top 40, also a record.

2. Justin Bieber is the only Canadian artist to score triple platinum or higher certification on more than one single in the digital era. “Boyfriend” and “Beauty and a Beat” both went 3x platinum.

3. Justin Bieber has scored two #1 hits on the Hot 100: “Boyfriend” and “What Do You Mean”. The only other Canadian to accomplish this is The Weeknd. (Carly Rae Jepsen hit #1 twice, the second time via her collaboration with Owl City.)

4. Thanks to “Boyfriend”, Justin Bieber is one of only 20 teenage soloists globally in the history of the Canadian charts (since 1964) to hit #1 with a single.

5. Justin Bieber has scored 6 number one albums in Canada: My World (EP), My World 2.0, Never Say Never: The Remixes, Under the Mistletoe, Believe, and Believe: Acoustic.

Purpose

Purpose is the new album from Justin Bieber. Excluding EP, remix/acoustic, live, holiday, and compilation albums, it is formally Justin Bieber’s third album following My World 2.0 (2010) and Believe (2012). Purpose’s release on November 13, 2015, was preceded by four singles: “Where Are U Now” (featured), “What Do You Mean”, “Sorry”, and “I’ll Show You”. The first two of these have achieved double platinum certification for sales of 160,000. “What Do You Mean” debuted at #1. “Sorry” peaked at #2 and has just gone gold.

While the last album Believe was a densely sculpted pop tour de force, albeit with some stripped down ballads, the flavour of Purpose is downtempo electronic beat music. It is sparser with Justin’s breath intensive vocals depicting lyrical reflections on his life in the limelight of fame and the challenges it presents. As such, there is a good match in delivery and sentiment which makes the whole package come through as genuine.

The Promo

Justin Bieber launched the album with a show at The Staples Centre in Los Angeles. He premiered the film Purpose: The Movement made up of music videos for all tracks on the album. Today, he is releasing one new MV per hour. Next year, 2016, The Biebs will be embarking on a world tour to promote the album.

The Tracks

On opener “Mark My Words”, which the Biebs has hinted may be about his ex-GF, the singer croons promises and apologies over pitch-bend backing vocals. “I’ll Show You” is a sweeping ballad of strong beats and an icy synth refrain. “What Do You Mean” gets things woozy with its cute lyrics and is perhaps the album’s most infectious jam. With giddy up beats, “Sorry” is Purpose‘s party anthem. A break from the electronic bleeps is “Love Yourself” written with Ed Sheeran, a minimalist affair. From there, prepare for some ground shaking, as “Company” cranks up the bass funk. The three tracks following are with featured artists. Sitting between them and his big hit “Where are U Now” with Skrillex and Diplo is piano charmer “Life Is Worth Living”. Purpose is capped off by clap-along “Children” and the piano ballad title track which morphs into a spoken word segment of reflection on Bieber’s journey so far.

The Verdict

Purpose gets top marks for innovation, largely due to Skrillex’s on-the-mark dabbling, and stands as one of the better pop albums of 2015. Justin Bieber himself is the Rudolph of the modern era. He now leads the team. Purpose currently claims the throne on iTunes albums. iTunes

New Releases 13 November 2015

new releases bannernew releases 13 nov 2015 copy

High Profilers

Stratford, Ontario’s Mr. Entertainment Justin Bieber launches new album Purpose filled with R&B inflected electronic beat music. It debuts at #1 on iTunes and contains two double-platinum singles “What Do You Mean” and “Where Are U Now”. Brampton, Ontario red hot teen sensation and R&B specialist Alessia Cara releases her debut LP, Know It All. Also from Brampton, soul singer Johnny Reid tells us What Love Is All About. Urban artist Kardinal Offishall guests on one of the tracks. Blending soul with pop and adult contemporary, this year’s winner of The Voice Kevin Bazinet contributes Talk To Me. YTV Next Star winner Alicia Moffet is featured on one of the songs. A slew of A-list singers cover hits from 70s superstar Diane Dufresne on tribute album Intemporelle including Roch Voisine, Ariane Moffat, Pierre Lapointe, and Marie-Pierre Arthur!

Choice Alternatives

Five albums that could be considered as falling into the alternative genre are the following. Toronto duo Beliefs cooks up some delicious dreampop/ shoegaze works on Leaper. Also from the city that rhymes with piranha is The Most Serene Republic. Album Mediac is a nice eclectic mix of funky grooves and orchestration. Those into more experimental vibes can check out We Are the City by Vancouver’s Above Club. More raw and reflective is Nous sommes le feu from Montreal’s Maude Audet. Very well written tunes abound on Like a Whisper by Equse.

Cushioned Seat

Those looking for music easier on the ears can enjoy some vocal a cappella thanks to Musique à bouches and album Jusqu’aux oreilles. The group is from Sherbrooke. Trois Rivières’ Guy Brière has recorded fine singer-songwriter album Heille mais là with some blues rock on some of the tracks. You will find beautiful singer-songwriter landscapes on Mille ÎlesLe Bouquet and pleasant vocal folk on The Wainwright SistersSongs in the Dark, both artists being from Montreal.

Stool of Rock

For more standard rock, Quebec City’s Les Respectables present a self-titled album. For headbangers, Toronto’s Black Lungs celebrate a Pagan Holiday. For those who prefer the other R, Montreal’s Cobna gets the rap going on album Realise.

Festive Mood Generators

Three holiday albums appear this week: classical flavoured Secrets of Christmas by the award winning Gino Quilico, nuage seasonings on Claire Pelletier‘s Noël Nau, and Noël by Nanette Workman and Yvon Bellemare.

And with that, we now have over 600 Canadian albums released so far in 2015! What’s the best one? Well, it depends whom you ask, but we will countdown our faves at the end of the year. Next week a new album is out from comedic rock group Les Trois Accords and November 27 will see new works from singer/pianist Ingrid St-Pierre and pop superstar Alyssa Reid!

Lara Fabian Serves Album Number Twelve

lara fabian - Ma vie dans la tienne

What would be the musical equivalent of Belgian waffles drenched in pure Canadian maple syrup? Well, one of the most beautiful voices of our time belongs to Lara Fabian. International slaughterdom, Canadian multiplatinum status, a household name since 1994, recordings in nine languages, global sales of 20 million, the Belgian born Canadian is back with her 12th studio album, Ma Vie Dans La Tienne. It’s worth checking out for the beautiful title-track alone; see the MV below. Making the music with her on this one are David Gattegno and Élodie Hesme who smartly arrange piano, guitar, and violin so as to buoy not drown the centerpiece of her vocals. The instrumentation echoes the relative intensity and type of emotion. For example, more rock guitar accompanies angry lyrics while the accordion is used for nostalgia. Lyrically, the album explores male-female relations in the form of a diary. Lara will be following this with an English album which we are sure will be just as delightful!  iTunes