The 15 Best Albums of 2018

The Canadian Music Blog tracked a total of 579 Canadian artist studio albums released in 2018. Below is a ranking of our 15 favourites of these regardless of genre, language, region, and popularity of the artist. These 15 represent 2.6% of the albums. We did not consider live, various artist, Christmas, and compilation albums, none of which are included in the 579. For EPs we published a separate list. At the CMB, we like music that is sophisticated with catchy melodies and pleasing vocals (unless it is instrumental). Though fairly eclectic, this list reflects Canadian artists becoming world leaders at progressive music. Find below our 15 favourite Canadian artist albums of 2018 including our Album of the Year!.

15Blackout Summer by Dusted


Dusted is a pet project of Brian Borcherd, and Blackout Summer the sophomore record. Essentially a work of alternative rock, its strong suit lies in the writing. Songs often begin discreetly and grab attention when the bass and drums enter the picture. Opener “Seasons” welds the brooding hypnosis of The Psychedelic Furs’ “Sister Europe” with the ghostly yodels of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”. The more experimental “Dead Eyes” pairs subdued vocals with perky guitars oscillating between simpler arrangements and ones more sophisticated. The swaggering “No Prison” beautifully captures the jangly guitar sound of the 60s from such aces as The Byrds and beefs things up with some pleasurable pulses. Well done!  iTunes

14Undefined by Kelly Yu

Scoring huge Mandopop hit “Ti Mian” (Decent) this year, theme song of Chinese feature film Ex-Files 3: Return of the Exes, Canadian singer and actress Kelly Yu followed up with her first album in four years after debut LP Spirits. Though the Vancouver raised star gained fame with her roles in TV series One and a Half Summers and blockbuster film Ex-Files 3, Yu in fact graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music and was guitarist in a backing band before launching her own solo career in music. The legend who is Peter Frampton was so impressed with her guitar skills, he had her perform with him on stage.

Kelly’s 2018 album, entitled Undefined, consists of ten soothing ballads including previous hits “Can’t Steal Now” (Track 1), “Past” (Track 4), and of course “Decent” (Track 8). The album also contains English language number “Save Me”. Undefined’s standout track, though is possibly, “Accompaniment” (Track 7) which does what Mandopop does best, hooks us onto an irresistible melody with soul-piercing vocals over some killer piano. Hear some heart-melting keys and strings on concluder “You Are Mine”.  iTunes

13My All to You by Beatrice Deer


Beatrice Deer is originally from Quaqtaq, QC and now based in Montreal. She is of Inuit and Mohawk descent and in the past 14 years has become a natural at blending Indigenous flavours with contemporary pop-rock. She refers to her resulting folk-rock style as Inuindie. Beatrice’s 2018 LP My All to You, her fourth, showcases such a marvellous sound with songs performed in three languages: English, French, and Inuktitut. Being more involved in the songwriting herself, than on previous works, she still managed to pull in some high-profile collaborators including members of The Barr Brothers, Land of Talk, Stars, and Timber Timbre.

Hear modern alternative rock and folk with traditional throat singing and the stuff of Inuit legend. My All to You is a collection of eight original pieces with Beatrice Deer’s interpretation of two traditional songs. Thematically, it is, in the author’s words, about reconciliation with oneself, “the hardest thing to do.” The wistful “1997” contains some nostalgic guitar strums that might remind one of Travis or Smashing Pumpkins. Title-track “My All to You” asserts an irresistible, steady beat. Closer “You’re with Me” acknowledges the importance of companionship along life’s treacherous journey. On My All to You, Beatrice Deer, embarked on a voyage of personal reconciliation, and sounds as if she came out of it with pure resilience.  iTunes

12Plus que vive by Maïa

Roots music outfit Ladies of the Canyon was a successful quartet, nominated for the CCMA Rising Star Award in 2011. After two albums, the group felt it had reached a crossroads, its members wanting to embark on separate paths. Maïa Davies had already released solo album Héritage paying homage to the Francophone side of her bilingual roots. But her path eventually began to veer in a more progressive direction, and at some point along the way she bumped into JUNO award winning producer Gavin Brown who has crafted works from Mother Mother, Metric, The Tragically Hip, Sarah Harmer, and Three Days Grace. Maïa’s penning catchy songs began to attract more stellar names to join her team: Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies and JUNO nominated recording engineer Gus Van Go.

The 2018 album, Plus que vive, marks Maïa‘s first foray into the exciting kingdom of pop music with electronic trimmings. You will also hear some choice nuggets of progressive rock, some of which outshine even the immediately catchy pop charmers like “Alléluia” and “Échos”. Opening with the electronic boom of atmospheric “Années-lumière”, a piece that smartly combines Maïa’s angelic vocals with processed vocoder backups, we were immediately hooked. Fortunately, her songwriting skills come complete with big, satisfying choruses heard in cuts like “Éternellement”.

Maïa also has a knack for creating addictive beats – in “Folie” for instance – a track that is drenched in a dizzying wall of sound. The driving “Les couleurs me reviennent” presents another example of an exhilarating chorus. It’s not all a high wattage pop electronica however, as “Seule comme une étoile” injects a cool dose of soul-stirring piano, haunting like a Sarah Brightman song. Oh, and feel free to clap along to “Içi dans les nuages” – good music is meant to inspire you to do so. We come to closer “Comme un homme” with electric guitar themes that remind us of Gary Numan’s “Ancients” (that’s meant as a huge compliment by the way). Her vocals on the track are simply delicious.

The great voice, songwriting, and production make this thing a triple threat that should unravel the prowess of all A Listers.  iTunes

11Expectations by MAGIC!


The group hardly needs an introduction, but reggae pop act Magic holds the overlooked distinction of being the first Canadian band to top the British charts … ever! Two JUNO wins punctuate its status, plus of course global smash hit “Rude”. Expectations is the outfit’s third studio album, and despite “Kiss Me” becoming a certified hit, the album should have received much more attention because the quality of the music is outstanding. Although there is still some reggae seasoning, the players shifted to a more mainstream pop sound that is richer than on its previous discs. Expectations by MAGIC! is one of the finest pop releases of 2018.  iTunes

10Petites mains precieuses by Ariane Moffatt


Originally from Saint-Romuald, QC which has now been amalgamated with Lévis, Montreal-based electropop ace Ariane Moffatt released her sixth studio album in 2018, Petites mains précieuses. Her debut album, Aquanaute (2002), went platinum, and her third, Tous les sens (2008), won a JUNO award. The new album is perky with some dark patches and is modern sounding with occasional tips towards 1970s grooves. It is always a pleasure to listen to her velvety voice which wisps through the tracks gracefully. Popular cuts include stringy opener “Du souffle pour deux”, funky “Les apparences”, and the driving “Pour toi”. As interesting musically as its title, we enjoyed the fluttering “Cyborg” and more heavily electronic “ONO” which stands for One Night Only. Not many artists can boast six solid albums, so Ariane Moffatt is among the elite.  iTunes

9Nightcrawler by Simon Daniel


After launching an EP in 2015, which allowed him to play more than a hundred shows in Canada and Europe and to win numerous prizes and accolades, Moncton, New Brunswick’s Simon Daniel launched in 2018 full-length album Nightcrawler, and it’s a beauty. Of the disc’s title and theme, Daniel states, “Myself, being a night owl, that’s when my imagination lets loose and when I’m most creative.” Nightcrawler exposes his creative genius in concocting a fresh sound with funky bass grooves and punchy trip hop beats intertwined with crackling guitars and whirls of analog synthesizers. The tracks lead off with simplicity and gradually evolve into sophisticated soundscapes, often with towering choruses. It’s both a nocturnal road trip and an intergalactic odyssey. Simon Daniel’s Nightcrawler could well be 2018 alternative pop’s finest hour.  iTunes

8All the Hours… by Sarah MacDougall


With a voice as enticing as Coeur de pirate’s and as enchanting as Anna of the North’s, The Yukon’s Sarah MacDougall scored a winner in 2018 new wave folk album All the Hours I have Left to Tell You Anything. By her own telling, the lyrics deal with “strength, identity, death, the breakdown of relationships, birth, and the ghosts we honor and carry throughout”. These themes were influenced by the passing of her grandparents, birth of her niece, and a breakup. The music’s atmospherics were shaped by the vast and desolate Yukon terrain as well as the shadowy splendour of her country of origin: Sweden. One of the disc’s chief strengths lies in Sarah’s ability to craft surging choruses that do more than satisfy. Listen too for some savoury electric guitar solos. All the Hours… was heralded by singles “Empire” and “We Are Fire” but has much more to offer, such as the slow-burning drive of “Bleeding on the Dancefloor”, stabbing thrill of “Animal”, and synth tingles of “Cruel Spring”.  iTunes

7La Hoo La La by Brave Shores


Via Universal Music, Toronto synth pop duo Brave Shores released sophomore LP La Hoo La La following EP La Hoo earlier in the year. It is an album that just might knock you off your feet, as the dense wall of sound is a hard-hitting scoop that elevates the listener up to planes of euphoria, especially with such an array of bristling, ethereal synth voices. But even electric guitars make grand entrances from time to time packing a spicy jolt. Some of the earlier tracks on the album do something which may sound impossible to the imagination: combine 70s progressive rock with 80s synth pop. The two styles merge into a whole new animal which is a charming one. La Hoo La La also presents nuggets that are completely unique. The album was expertly produced by personnel behind Bjork, Future Islands, and Canadian acts Dear Rouge and Said the Whale. Brave Shores is brother and sister duo Jay and Stefanie McCarrol.  iTunes

6C U Again by Adrian Underhill


Adrian Underhill launches his debut album C U Again. It is smooth, mellow R&B inflected adult contemporary with splashes of alternative. Adrian is originally from Vancouver but now based in Toronto via Montreal. Pastel grooves swish through the disc ever so naturally. The gentle earworm “I Want It All” harnesses a simple melody that is oh so catchy. “Cruel” flows along nicely before breaking out into a funky conclusion. “As I Think of Something Different” makes effective use of vocal harmonies, and “How to Make a Life Count” includes some dazzling keyboard work. Find pleasant reggae peppering on “I Could”. As far as R&B goes, Adrian Underhill’s C U Again album is the surprise charmer of 2018!  iTunes

5Demagogue by The Coriolis Project

British Columbian outfit The Coriolis Project returned in 2018 with album Demagogue presenting its brand of ambient music with a driving edge. Unsealing track “Branches” switches on an atmosphere that swings coolly thanks to some nice ride cymbal percussion and ultimately excites with bristling guitars and ultra spicy synth riffs. Another standout for us is “Mephistopheles” opening with icicle clicks, wind chimes, and Gregorian type background chanting, augmented with electrifying guitar strums, haunting bells, and thunderclaps. Past the halfway mark enter electronic bass pulses to bring things to a glorious climax. Brilliant.  iTunes

4Departures, Vol. 2 by North Atlantic Drift


Toronto based Mike Abercrombie and Brad Deschamps are back again with another stellar album of ambient electronica. Recording under project name North Atlantic Drift, the followup to last year’s excellent Departures Vol. 1 was released this year, the second volume. If you ever wanted to depart for a seafaring adventure in the North Atlantic but felt it was too dangerous, the waves of electronic drones and shimmers on this recording will transport you into a dreamworld that involves basking in the sun on the deck of some modest craft, adrift in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by nothing but dark blue water. With Departures Vol. 2, North Atlantic Drift is on its way of becoming one of Canada’s finest acts of the genre that include Tim Hecker, Loscil, and the aforementioned Coriolis Project.  iTunes

3Down Time by Young Galaxy

Electronic group Young Galaxy formed in Vancouver but relocated to Montreal where prolific album releases – six so far – have ensued since 2007. A few of these have been long or shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. After going through a number of membership changes, YG is essentially down to the duo now of Catherine McCandless and Stephen Ramsay. 2018’s Down Time is the outfit’s first fully independent release. Stuffed with often lengthy tracks of warm, dense, mesmerizing electronic soundscapes and sophisticated percussion and effects, the disc picked up strong reviews.

Down Time opens with the haunting bleeps and burbles of “Under My Wing”, complete with veiled vocals. Glittering synths animate “Show You the Valley”. The lively percussion and layered vocals on “River” feel like a Caribbean cruise while the long instrumental prologue of ethereal wisps in “Frontier” gently blow the listener up and up and outside the atmosphere. “Stay for Real” released last year was ranked by the CMB as the 14th top track of 2017. It is the album’s strongest track as far as single-suited material goes. Young Galaxy’s Down Time is very cool stuff.  iTunes

2Echoes from Afar by Viñu-vinu


Following up 2017 album Encounters, Canadian electronic act Viñu-Vinu dropped Echoes from Afar, a sweeping tapestry of ambient soundscapes reminiscent of the best cuts from Tangerine Dream. More remarkable is that the album was recorded live off the floor (in Banff, AB and Montreal), capturing a spontaneous organic process that circumvents modern proclivities towards repetitive loops. Chillout vibes, downtempo beats, and ethereal synthesizers merge to create an enjoyable waking dream. We particularly liked track “Afar”, a deliciously dreary ride through spook and calm. Also savory is the droning whirl of “Deep Forest” something in which we would not mind getting lost with a soundtrack like this booming through the trees! Brilliant album.  iTunes

1

Canadian Music Blog’s 2018 Album of the Year

What do you call an album that is among the best you have ever heard, but no one has heard of it, nor the artist? Concealed from the ears of the land, the most priceless jewel among all 579 Canadian artist studio albums released in 2018 is the best EDM record we have ever heard. This project, released through Colorize, delves into trippy, chillout house electronica. Think of Kaskade’s early stuff but a little richer, dreamier, and more ethereal. The album mixes instrumentals with some vocalized pieces, and the vocals are astounding. While the soothing ambient surf of tracks like “Get Closer” caresses the soul, the disc also bristles with energetic beats heard on cuts like “Knockdown” and “Would You Just”. Importantly, hypnosis is also a factor, most evident on “Falling”. Four years in the making, this masterpiece contains not a single weak moment; it is a solid joyride from start to finish. The album had us speechless. The Canadian Music Blog declares Connection by Diversion as 2018’s Album of the Year!  iTunes

The 7 Best EPs of 2018

An extended play record (EP), as far as we are concerned, is one with at least three original tracks that have a combined run time of less than 25 minutes. In some cases, remixes of one or more tracks on the EP result in a disc run time of over 25 minutes. We still consider these to be EPs. We do not count as an EP a disc with only one or two original songs plus various remixes of them. We may consider as an EP a collection of bonus tracks released as an addendum to a studio album even if it runs over the 25-minute mark.

Through the year, we tracked 178 qualifying extended play records from Canadian artists released, which is 50 more than last year. This number does not include various artist, Christmas, or live discs which we do not consider for year-end lists. We listened to all 178 and settled upon a year-end ranking of the 7 best regardless of genre. We did not choose a rounder number like 5 or 10 for the list this year because we found these 7 to be a significant cut above all the rest in terms of the quality of the music.

Find below our 7 favourite Canadian artist EPs of 2018 including our 2018 Extended Play Record of the Year!

7.

EP2 by Jamison Isaak

Jamison Isaak had the music factory switched to overdrive this year, as he championed the cause of prolific output. From Abbotsford, BC, Isaak is the wonder behind ambient project Teen Daze. His EP1 released in February harnessed a neoclassical piano-driven swish, while EP2 saw him swing back into the electronic serenity he is perhaps best known for. Cinematic and mood-conjuring, EP2 relaxes the mind while sharpening the senses. If nothing else, this brilliant work of art brings the Zen to the lounge and will have you feeling refreshed by its close.  iTunes

6.

Lesser Evil by Lesser Evil

Lesser Evil is a new “college rock” duo from Montreal dropping its debut, eponymous four-track EP this year. The disc opens with “V.W” where a smoky jazz & blues bar croon from some sort of film noir yields to hauntingly cool synthesizers. The more raucous “Caution” provides paranoid horns and keys gone berserk. “Sight Of” is an instantly likeable chillout nugget teasing some funky grooves. Closeout number “Cobra Effect” combines warm vocals with eerie musicianship. Lesser Evil is pure pleasure.  iTunes

5.

Joseph by Birthday Boy & Trish

Following singles “Magic” and “Chance to Go Far”, Toronto producer Birthday Boy and singer Trish teamed up to release EP Joseph. The disc paves a dreamy ride through chillout R&B / house terrain with some occasional funk, feel-good beats, sunny horns, and electronic bells and whistles. It is both retro and current – King meets Majid Jordan perhaps. Both Complex and Noisey magazines gave the work glowing reviews; you can add CMB to the list.  iTunes

4.

To the Trees by To the Trees

Waterloo, Ontario band To the Trees impressed us with its eponymous EP. With it, the group contributes more choice cuts to the genre of synthrock that sadly is a little on the depleted side these days. The disc offers six beautifully crafted songs, and though independently released can boast a very professionally sounding production. The vocals are lovely, musicianship pleasing, and writing top notch. We are very excited to watch the career of this talented group unfold.  iTunes

3.

Delmano by Munya

Munya is the alternative pop music project of Josie Boivin. She intends to kick things off with three extended play releases. The first, released May 5, 2018, was a delightful three-track offering entitled North Hatley, a village located close to and southwest of Sherbrooke. Her second, Delmano (Oct. 5), revolves around Hotel Demano, an establishment situated in Brooklyn, New York. We slightly preferred this second effort though the six tracks from these first two discs are all superb and present a breezy sound that is dreamlike and slightly haunting in effect. We definitely look forward to Munya’s third outing.  iTunes

2.

Super Sunset by Allie X

One of our finest pop talents, Oakville, Ontario’s Allie X treated us with slickly produced EP Super Sunset this year. With the catchy “Not So Bad in La”, she muses on happenings in her adoptive city. Seductive beats abound on the adorable Robyn-styled entry of “Little Things”. 80s themed “Science” dreamily wallows up to the playful “Girl of the Year” where Allie X, like a chameleon, slips her vocals into a grand … Ariana Grande pose. “Can’t Stop Now”, another catchy nugget, sets things up for the funky, nocturnal closer that is “Focus”. Super Sunset by Allie X is warm, charming synth pop to drool over.  iTunes

1.

Canadian Music Blog’s 2018 EP of the Year

He is relatively new at the game, though a raw sounding EP came out in 2014. Four years later, this talent emerged from the wilderness to deliver a winner where grief is presented as a season. It came out very early in 2018, and we declared it as frontrunner for EP of the year. Nothing else came out that was quite this good. Produced by Éric Goulet, it is a much richer effort than his previous disc: finely crafted, catchy, and coherent adult electropop. He reminds us a little of Jason Bajada – very pleasant to listen to. Here are five songs, all perfectly constructed and expertly delivered. The Canadian Music Blog declares La tristesse n’est qu’une saison by Éric Charland as 2018’s EP of the year!  iTunes

December 7, 2018 Releases: Jérôme Minière, 1five1…

New releases are trickling in during the slower change of the year season. Find eight Canadian artist LPs and four EPs summarized in the table below. The highest profile artist among the batch is JUNO award nominee Jérôme Minière with his latest album Dans la forêt numérique. He specializes in alternative and electronic music. Speaking of the latter, find a delicious self-titled, downtempo, mainly instrumental EP from 1five1.

Our running tally of Canadian artist studio album releases for 2018 is up to 576 LPs and 176 EPs. We expect a few more next week before things dry up until mid to late January 2019.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Blues, Vol. 1 Seb’s Music Shop  Blues
Christian Aubin  Christian Aubin  S-S/Folk
Dans la forêt numérique  Jérôme Minière (1 JN) Alternative
Distancing Twist Alternative
La nuit des temps  OB1 Rap
Mme Élodie  Mme Élodie  S-S/Folk
Ocean Potion Ocean Potion Alternative
Residuals The Del Fi’s S-S/Folk
1five1 (EP) 1five1 Alternative
Come and Go (EP) Cal Johnson S-S/Folk
Temporary Her (EP) Blaise Moore Pop
Time & Place (EP) Beach Season R&B

The Sight of Lesser Evil Grants a Cobra Effect

Lesser Evil is a new “college rock” duo from Montreal recently dropping its debut, eponymous four-track EP. The disc opens with “V.W” where a smoky jazz & blues bar croon from some sort of film noir yields to hauntingly cool synthesizers. The more raucous “Caution” provides paranoid horns and keys gone berserk. “Sight Of” is an instantly likeable chillout nugget teasing some funky grooves. Closeout number “Cobra Effect” combines warm vocals with eerie musicianship. Chances are you will enjoy at least a couple of these. Lesser Evil is pure pleasure and one of 2018’s best EPs.  iTunes

Electronic Brilliance Abounds on Viñu-Vinu’s Echoes from Afar

Following up 2017 album Encounters, Canadian electronic act Viñu-Vinu recently dropped Echoes from Afar, a sweeping tapestry of ambient soundscapes reminiscent of the best cuts from Tangerine Dream. More remarkable is that the album was recorded live off the floor (in Banff, AB and Montreal), capturing a spontaneous organic process that circumvents modern proclivities towards repetitive loops. Chillout vibes, downtempo beats, and ethereal synthesizers merge to create an enjoyable waking dream. We particularly liked track “Afar”, a deliciously dreary ride through spook and calm. Also savory is the droning whirl of “Deep Forest” something in which we would not mind getting lost with a soundtrack like this booming through the trees! Brilliant album.  iTunes

November 30, 2018 Releases: Alessia Cara, Kaytranada…

It is the final stretch of releases before things quiet down for the season. This week’s batch of a dozen albums and half a dozen EPs puts the 2018 running total at 563 LPs and 171 extended plays. Highlights of this week’s fresh discs are as follows.

Tush dishes out old school soulful dance album Do You Feel Excited? with nice lengthy tracks ripe for the disco.

Folk-infused singer-songwriter works, both of which are amazing, are put forth by Will Whitwham (End of Dreams) and two-time JUNO nominee Daniel Romano (Finally Free).

This week’s big release is of course LP number two from JUNO and Grammy winner Alessia Cara, The Pains of Growing, an R&B album with both some progressive and throwback leans. At this writing, it is #4 on the iTunes albums chart.

This week’s pleasant surprise is the progressive self-titled EP from Lesser Evil, worth checking out for alternative music fans.

Montreal JUNO and Polaris winner Kaytranada contributes three song EP Nothin Like U / Chances with instrumental versions of a couple of them.

Also good is the dark, dreamy folk album Quiet as Fire from Lila.

Find these and more in the table below.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Dans ‘univers Les Petites Tounes  Children’s
Do You Feel Excited? Tush Dance
Empire Izzy-S  Rap
End of Dreams Will Whitwham S-S/Folk
Finally Free Daniel Romano (2 JN) S-S/Folk
Foxwarren Foxwarren Alternative
Les marches lentes Bruno Marcil  S-S/Folk
Monument du non-être… Milanku  Alternative
1995 Kinkead Rock
Only One Left Daniel Isaiah Alternative
Opus 1 Locals Only Sound Alternative
The Pains of Growing Alessia Cara (2 JW) R&B
Je n’irai plus aux bois (EP) Guillaume Lecompte  S-S/Folk
Lesser Evil (EP) Lesser Evil  Alternative
Newave (EP) Mike Shabb  Rap
Nothin Like U/Chances (EP) Kaytranada (1 JW) Alternative
Quiet as Fire (EP) Lila Alternative
starlight (EP) nehiyawak Alternative

November 23, 2018 Releases: Kira Isabella, Northern Haze…

Nunavut rock band Northern Haze has burned into the iTunes Top 10 with new album Siqinnaarut. Swinging down to Ontario, JUNO nominee Splash ‘N Boots, one of the nation’s finest when it comes to folky children’s music, drops You, Me and The Sea. Sojourning on over to Quebec, electronic music shines brilliantly on Echoes from Afar, the new disc from Viñu-vinu, easily one of the best works of the year in the genre.

Speaking of progressive music, the batch of EPs this week has much to offer. The City Holds My Heart from Ghostly Kisses is a very well done folky atmospheric record on the mellow side. The delightful self-titled disc from Lucill captures a new wave style with perky bass, choppy percussion, and synth glides. Reverie, the choice four-track EP from Honey Beard, is more heavily electronic.

Last but not least, two-time JUNO nominee and CCMA winner Kira Isabella champions country music with EP Side A containing, among other cool cuts, her Top 20 radio hit “Little Girl”.

We have only a couple more weeks of releases to go before things dry up over the Christmas – New Year season. Find a summary of this week’s batch in the table below.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Barzzz LeMind  Rap
Bayou Saint-Laurent Raphaël Dénommé  S-S
Echoes from Afar Viñu-vinu  Electronic
88 Cédric D. Lavoie  Piano
Endrick and the Sandwiches  Endrick and the Sandwiches  Blues
French Amerikkka Sans Pression  Rap
Silence Will Driving West  Rock
Siqinnaarut  Northern Haze Rock
You, Me and The Sea Splash’N Boots (1 JN) Children’s
The City Holds My Heart (EP) Ghostly Kisses  Dream Pop
Lucill (EP) Lucill  New Wave
Miwa (EP) Nomadic Massive  Rap
Reverie (EP) Honey Beard Synth Pop
Side A (EP) Kira Isabella (2 JN) Country

November 16, 2018 Releases: Michael Bublé, Fred Pellerin…

Multiplatinum 2x JUNO nominee Fred Pellerin returns with nicely done singer-songwriter LP Après, his fourth work as a soloist. Fred is known for his exquisite storytelling, and the album takes us to peaceful realms.

Going Late is the new disc from JUNO nominated Vancouver band Humans, a funky electronic excursion through alternative territory.

Allan Rayman was nominated for the Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the 2018 JUNOs. His song “13” from last year was very popular. Allan has a unique singing style which you may or may not like, but there should not be too many voices of dissent for the musicality of his new album despite the risqué name Harry Hard-On. Check out track “Never any no good” for something … good.

Burnaby’s Michael Bublé swings out his 10th studio album, Love. The 13-time JUNO award winning diamond recording artist co-produced the new disc with Canadian producer David Foster. It contains mostly covers arranged into his signature peppy vocal jazz sound.

Jules engages in People Watching, a pleasant surprise of a pop album. The Oakville native grew up loving the music of Pink and Avril Lavigne dreaming of one day making good music of her own. With this debut album of hers, she has done so.

World music is done incredibly well by JUNO nominated group Ayrad on new album Zoubida. The collective manages to tighten up south Asian, west Asian, flamenco, and reggae styles into catchy numbers tasty to Canadian ears.

Nova Scotian R&B star JRDN, a JUNO award winner, serves his latest concoction via EP Supply & Demand. He has managed to place five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 over the years.

Find these and more in the table below.

Other goodies this week include various artists EP mau5ville: Level 2 helmed by deadmau5. Lights is featured on track “Drama Free”.

Simple Plan, Garou, and Lara Fabian are just three of the stars with tracks on the soundtrack LP La course des Tuques (La trame sonore).

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
88Glam2 88Glam Rap
A Grand Façade Old Man Canyon Alternative
Apres Fred Pellerin (2 JN) S-S/Folk
Ca va aller Denis Levesque S-S/Folk
En pays lointains Ellemetue  Alternative
Going Late Humans (1 JN) Alternative
Harry Hard-On Allan Rayman (1 JN) Alternative
La vraie nature Pilou S-S/Folk
love Michael Buble (13 JW) Jazz
Midnight, Let’s Get a Hot Dog The Seasons Alternative
Oath of the Storm Trollwar Metal
People Watching Jules Pop
Roses on the Vine Christine Fellows S-S/Folk
Zoubida Ayrad (1 JN) World
Blackball (EP) The Tallest 3’s R&B
Don II (EP) Just John & Dom Dias Rap
Higher Self (EP) Naya Ali Rap
Je suis a l’ame (EP) Danny Boudreau  S-S/Folk
Supply & Demand (EP) JRDN (1 JW) R&B

KEY:

JW – JUNO award wins

JN – JUNO award nominations

S-S – Singer-songwriter

Kelly Yu Launches Album Two, Undefined

Scoring major Mandopop hit “Ti Mian” (Decent) this year, theme song of Chinese feature film Ex-Files 3: Return of the Exes, Canadian singer and actress Kelly Yu follows up with her first album in four years after debut LP Spirits. Though the Vancouver raised star gained fame with her roles in TV series One and a Half Summers and blockbuster film Ex-Files 3, Yu in fact graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music and was guitarist in a backing band before launching her own solo career in music.

Kelly’s new album, entitled Undefined, consists of ten soothing ballads including previous hits “Can’t Steal Now” (Track 1), “Past” (Track 4), and of course “Decent” (Track 8). The album also contains English language number “Save Me”. Undefined’s standout track, though is possibly, “Accompaniment” (Track 7) which does what Mandopop does best, hooks us onto an irresistible melody with soul-piercing vocals over some killer piano. Hear some heart-melting keys and strings on concluder “You Are Mine”. See the newly released MV below of track 7 with some nice shots from The Bund in Shanghai.  iTunes

All the Hours with Sarah MacDougall

With as voice as enticing as Coeur de pirate’s and as enchanting as Anna of the North’s, The Yukon’s Sarah MacDougall scores a winner in recent new wave folk album All the Hours I have Left to Tell You Anything. By her own unveiling, the lyrics deal with “strength, identity, death, the breakdown of relationships, birth, and the ghosts we honor and carry throughout”. These themes were influenced by the passing of her grandparents, birth of her niece, and a breakup. The music’s atmospherics were shaped by the vast and desolate Yukon terrain as well as the shadowy splendour of her country of origin: Sweden. One of the disc’s chief strengths lies in Sarah’s ability to craft sky-scraping choruses that do more than satisfy. Listen too for some savoury electric guitar solos. All the Hours was heralded by singles “Empire” and “We Are Fire” but has much more to offer, such as the slow-burning drive of “Bleeding on the Dancefloor”, stabbing thrill of “Animal”, and synth tingles of “Cruel Spring”.  iTunes

Allie X Witnesses a Super Sunset

There is no question that Allie X has delivered one of the best pop albums of 2018 (technically, it is an EP) with the slickly produced Super Sunset. Although none of the tracks could boast a stroke of genius in the songwriting department propelling it up into the heights of Hot 100 hits (yet), everything on the disc is a savoury treat of pop song magic. Allie’s early single “Catch” scaled up to #55 in May 2014 before streaming data was incorporated into the chart in September of that year. The Oakville, ON native continues her fascination with plastic legs and saves the year that was bypassed by the A-listers of the genre who delayed their album releases to 2019.

We would venture a guess that “Not So Bad in La” is not a reference to the U.S. “province” of Louisiana but contains her musings on happenings in her adoptive city of Los Angeles. This one could qualify as the catchiest tune on the disc. Most adorable though is the Robyn-styled entry of “Little Things”; it comes complete with some seductive beats. 80s themed “Science” dreamily wallows up to the playful “Girl of the Year” where Allie X, like a chameleon, slips her vocals into a grand … Ariana Grande pose. “Can’t Stop Now”, another catchy nugget, sets things up for the funky, nocturnal closer that is “Focus”. Super Sunset by Canadian recording artist Allie X is warm, charming synth pop to drool over.  iTunes

November 9, 2018 Releases: Marie-Mai, Paul Brandt

2018 Canadian artist LPs tracked to date: 529
2018 Canadian artist EPs tracked to date: 152

This week we look at 17 newly released Canadian artist albums and 10 EPs for a total of 27 discs. Find them in a table below, but let us highlight a few.

Ensign Broderick, alias of Jason Sniderman and a member of Blue Peter, has put out several albums of unreleased material this year thanks to Six Shooter Records. BloodCrush is his first album of strictly “new” material. He describes his music as “glam and rock opera-wattage sparkle”.

Geneviève Leclerc gifts us with perhaps the year’s most beautiful vocal album, Celle que je suis. It contains a mix of vocal jazz and adult contemporary treats expertly arranged and produced and dressed to a T with her gorgeous vocals. She also joins the growing trend of artists tacking on a Christmas song to albums released late in the year.

– Platinum superstar Marie-Mai launches her sixth studio album, Elle et moi following a change of long-time musical partnerships. Onboard are British producer Oliver Som and Canadian aces Koriass, Ingrid St-Pierre, Tawgs Salter, and more. Gone in the new sound are the rock guitar riffs as she delves into techno pop complete with those clicky, snappy things that have animated many pop songs these past couple of years. The boss new album leads this week’s Canadian artist discs in terms of digital sales, currently sitting at #3 on iTunes.

– JUNO winning rapper Jazz Cartier drops Fleurever. All 16 tracks run under four minutes, and the work is available in both clean and dirty language versions.

– Twice JUNO nominated Toronto group The Philosopher Kings, a brainchild of hitmaker Jon Levine, has been the focus of media hype for a year and a half regarding a new album in over a decade; Return of the Kings is finally out.

– Rock group Caravane can boast one of the best discs of this week’s batch, Supernova. Tracks range from the noisier to more moderate synth dressed modern rock to dreamier burbles.

– Female rappers are in short supply, which is why Tommy Genesis‘ eponymous debut album is a cool breeze of fresh surf. This ultra talent is originally from Vancouver, and the album sounds better than most 2018 works of the genre.

– Vancouver’s Kelly Yu, after scoring one of the year’s biggest Mandopop hits, releases full-length album Undefined, a soft, breezy effort of beautiful adult contemporary numbers.

– A strong contender for the year’s most delicious jazz album is Volume 2 from John MacMurchy’s Art of Breath: sophisticated musicianship, the occasional inclusion of synthesizers, a chillout vibe, and soft soulful vocals make this one not to be missed.

Barbra Lica is a JUNO nominated jazz artist. Arguably, her new album You’re Fine takes a seat in the adult contemporary realm. But pigeonholing aside, this one’s a winner.

Dear Denizen has the week’s best synthpop effort, a four-track EP entitled BEC.

– EP Coup d’coeur appears from JUNO nominated folk artist Vilain Pingouin, pure fun.

– For those of you wishing more artists would make that shoegazy dream-pop stuff that Alvvays does so well, you’re in luck. Entering the arena is Ellis and very good EP The Fuzz.

– Last but not least, Calgarian country superstar Paul Brandt delivers his latest disc, EP The Journey BNA: Vol. 2.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
BloodCrush Ensign Broderick Alt
Celle que je suis Genevieve Leclerc AC
cursed Seas Alt
Elle et Moi Marie-Mai Pop
Fleurever Jazz Cartier (1JW) Rap
Helas Vegas David Marin S-S/Folk
Le cauchemar de l’amerique SF34  Rap
Les Matricides Fuudge Rock
Quand qu’on s’est rencountry La Famille Day  S-S/Folk
Return of the Kings Philosopher Kings (2JN) Pop
Sing the Winter Away Naming the Twins Holiday
Supernova Caravane Rock
Tommy Genesis Tommy Genesis Rap
Trioliloquy A/B Trio Jazz
Undefined Kelly Yu AC
Volume 2  John MacMurchy’s Art of Breath Jazz
You’re Fine Barbra Lica (1JN) AC
BEC (EP) Dear Denizen  Alt
Coup d’coeur (EP) Vilain Pingouin (1JN) S-S/Folk
Everything, All at Once (EP) Shagabond & Noah R&B
More Honey (EP) Goodbye Honolulu Alt
Prelude/ Impending Outcome (EP) Fractal Cypher Metal
Roaming (EP) Langston Francis Pop
Spadina (EP) Patrik Rap
The Fuzz (EP) Ellis Alt
The Journey BNA: Vol. 2 (EP) Paul Brandt (8JW) Country
Thinkin’ (EP) The Denim Daddies Country

KEY:

JN – JUNO award nominations

JW – JUNO award wins

S-S – Singer-songwriter

AC – Adult Contemporary

Alt – Alternative

Ariane Moffatt Holds Precious Little Hands

Originally from Saint-Romuald, QC which has now been amalgamated with Lévis, Montreal-based electropop ace Ariane Moffatt recently released her sixth studio album, Petites mains précieuses. Her debut album, Aquanaute (2002), went platinum, and her third, Tous les sens (2008), won a JUNO award. The new album is perky with some dark patches and modern sounding with occasional tips towards 1970s grooves. It is always a pleasure to listen to her velvety voice which wisps through the tracks gracefully. Popular cuts include stringy opener “Du souffle pour deux” (see MV below), funky “Les apparences” (see MV below), and the driving “Pour toi”. As interesting musically as its title, we enjoyed the fluttering “Cyborg” and more heavily electronic “ONO” which stands for One Night Only. Not many artists can boast six solid albums, so Ariane Moffatt is among the elite.  iTunes

With Maïa, Pop Music Is More Than Alive

Roots music outfit Ladies of the Canyon was a successful quartet, nominated for the CCMA Rising Star Award in 2011. After two albums, the group felt it had reached a crossroads, its members wanting to embark on separate paths. Maïa Davies had already released solo album Héritage paying homage to the Francophone side of her bilingual roots. But her path eventually began to veer in a more progressive direction, and at some point along the way she bumped into JUNO award winning producer Gavin Brown who has crafted works from Mother Mother, Metric, The Tragically Hip, Sarah Harmer, and Three Days Grace. Maïa’s penning catchy songs began to attract more stellar names to join her team: Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies and JUNO nominated recording engineer Gus Van Go.

The new album, Plus que vive, marks Maïa‘s first foray into the exciting kingdom of pop music with electronic trimmings. You will also hear some choice nuggets of progressive rock, some of which outshine even the immediately catchy pop charmers like “Alléluia” and “Échos”. Opening with the electronic boom of atmospheric “Années-lumière”, a piece that smartly combines Maïa’s angelic vocals with processed vocoder backups, we were immediately hooked. Fortunately, her songwriting skills come complete with big, satisfying choruses heard in cuts like “Éternellement”, something with which other renowned pop artists seemed to struggle in 2018.

Maïa also has a knack for creating addictive beats – in “Folie” for instance – a cut that is drenched in a dizzying wall of sound. The driving “Les couleurs me reviennent” presents another example of an exhilarating chorus. It’s not all a high wattage pop electronica however, as “Seule comme une étoile” injects a cool dose of soul-stirring piano, haunting like a Sarah Brightman song. Oh, and feel free to clap along to “Içi dans les nuages” – good music is meant to inspire you to do so. We come to closer “Comme un homme” with electric guitar themes that remind us of Gary Numan’s “Ancients” (that’s meant as a huge compliment by the way). Her vocals on the track are simply delicious.

Front runner for 2018’s pop album of the year? No need to look at anything released before Maïa’s Plus que vive. The great voice, songwriting, and production make this thing a triple threat that should unravel the prowess of all A Listers.  iTunes

The Coriolis Project Examines a Demagogue

British Columbian outfit The Coriolis Project is back in 2018 with album Demagogue presenting its brand of ambient music with a driving edge. Unsealing track “Branches” switches on an atmosphere that swings coolly thanks to some nice ride cymbal percussion and ultimately excites with bristling guitars and ultra spicy synth riffs. Another standout for us is “Mephistopheles” opening with icicle clicks, wind chimes, and Gregorian type background chanting, augmented with electrifying guitar strums, haunting bells, and thunderclaps. Past the halfway mark enter electronic bass pulses to bring things to a glorious climax. Brilliant.  iTunes