Early August 2017 Releases and Other News

New releases have trickled in the past couple of weeks. We summarize them in the table below. The highest profile releases are probably Calgarian country star Lindsay Ell’s and BC rapper SonReal’s. Winnipeg’s Slow Leaves (i.e. Grant Davidson) is getting ample press with his folky album.

Some nifty singles have come out as well. There is one in particular we wish to highlight because it’s so good. When you’re from Calgary, country music is in your blood, and few do it better than Bobby Wills. His new single “In Comes the Night” heralds a mini album of the same name set for a September 8 release.

Speaking of country music, it was announced earlier today that Shania Twain will headline the 2017 Grey Cup (Canadian football championship) half-time show November 26 in Ottawa. Organizers have not gone with a Canadian act since 2013 (Hedley). Shania performed at the event in 2002, Edmonton.

Shania’s new album Now is out September 29. Her last album Up! Came out in 2002. Many new Canadian country artists have emerged since then, and we do wonder if she has had a chance to listen to them and if there is anything that impresses her … much.

A slew of international singers will be flying into Vancouver for the culturally rich Albatross Music Festival September 14-15 at the Hastings Racecourse. Canadians will be participating as well. Booked are Canadian Hot 100 charting JUNO nominee Elise Estrada, Nettwerk Productions’ Wanting (Qu), The United States’ Far East Movement, Mongolian traditional music group Nair Band, and South Korean superstar Tae-yeon (Girls’ Generation). We love to see events like this happening. More please!

TITLE ARTIST RELEASE STYLE ORIGIN
The Album Johnson Crook Aug-04 Country Toronto
Infinite Punishment Get the Shot Aug-04 Metal Quebec City
Small World Def3 Aug-04 Rap Regina
Hamtramck ’16 (EP) Moon King Aug-04 Pop Toronto
Liquid Unbuttoned Aug-08 Alternative Toronto
Enough About Me Slow Leaves Aug-11 Folk Winnipeg
Go Getters Jon Cohen Experimental Aug-11 Alternative Montreal
One Long Dream SonReal Aug-11 Rap Vernon, BC
The Project Lindsay Ell Aug-11 Country Calgary
One Lands (EP) Ghost Love Aug-11 Alternative Montreal

Mappe Of Taps A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone

Whitby, Ontario’s Tom Meikle, through Paper Bag Records, presents his debut album A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone under moniker Mappe Of. Lyrically, he populates the disc with an interesting gang of characters: a disturbed boy setting fire to his family’s home, a vagabond in Australia who’s disavowed all family ties, a Canadian youth figuring life out overseas, and an elder dying from Alzheimer’s who can’t recognize his family.

Musically, the album is a dreamy, meta-dimensional sequence of alternative folk masterpieces. Mappe Of blends synthesizers with organic instruments including guitars (both acoustic and electric), trumpets, violins, kalimba, and autoharp. Tom says, “I’d like the music to be grounded in reality while simultaneously feel like it’s from somewhere else … I want to create a setting in which you can lose yourself. The ideal record for me is one where you can lie back on your bed, listen to the thing front to back and be taken somewhere.” Where you allow this album to take you is entirely up to you; it’s filled with sonic magic.  iTunes

New Wave Handled Nicely at Midnight for a While by Walkwaves

Markham, Ontario group Walkwaves is pleased to introduce its new album Midnight for a While. The band goes beyond the popular pool of smooth synth pop into the rougher seas of new wave and succeeds. At times funky, at others gritty, but always with catchy beats and expressive vocals, Walwaves strikes us as a more organic Depeche Mode. Opener “Get You Out” burbles along carefully before switching on some rumbling bass pulses; it’s a delicious track. The catchy “Girls on Snapchat” (see MV below) combines vocal crooning with detailed instrumentation.

While modern electronic musicians seem to perpetually use the same few synth/computer voices when there are thousands available, you’ll find a nice variety through the Walkwaves disc; find many on track “T.T.T.L.”. For something different, check out the atmospheric “Friend” one of the more experimental tracks which satisfies by throwing in unexpected musical twists. Closer “Nightfall” packs a nice punch to cap things off with a bang.  iTunes

Selected New Releases: July 28, 2017

Montreal electronic group Raveen takes us on a soulful ride in new album Always. A beautiful music video of the opener and title-track has been launched. We embed it below to give you a taste.

North Vancouver’s JUNO nominated Madchild is back at it rapping in his nasally way about The Darkest Hour on his new album. It’s doing quite well – in the iTunes Top 20.

Celebrated Montreal collective Arcade Fire presents fifth album Everything Now co-produced by Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter and Pulp’s Steve Mackey. It has fired up to #1 in the iTunes arcade. The alternative music group has sold multiplatinum and won multiple JUNO awards.

The Ruffled Feathers from Vancouver, though essentially doing adult contemporary on album Hand-Me-Down Centuries, blend AC with some singer-songwriter vibes and alternative sweets.

Toronto JUNO nominated alt-jazz group BadBadNotGood remixes songs from other folks on the sumptuous Late Night Tales. Included are tracks by Stereolab, The Beach Boys, River Tiber, Boards of Canada, and Charlotte Day Wilson!

This week’s standout, especially for those who love alt-folk music, belongs to Mappe Of, the project of Whitby, Ontario’s Tom Meikle. The artistic music on A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone is filled with intricate details and rich atmospherics. Live performance of track “Cavern’s Dark” from Massey Hall embedded below.

Looking for rock? Check out the fine self-titled album from Toronto’s Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs.

Indie on the melancholy rocks comes by way of superb EP Memorial by Western Jaguar. The group is from Carly Rae Jepsen’s hometown of Mission, BC.

Lastly, we imagine most of you have seen the new Shania Twain video by now, but in case not we embed “Life’s About to Get Good” below. It has surpassed a million views. We think it makes a good song even better.

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