Choice Indie Rock: Lubik Presents Vivant

Indie rock four-piece band Lubik presents sophomore album Vivant. The group is from La Sarre, QC. The new album puts distorted guitar riffs in your face and supercharges your nerves with its energy. Slipped into the cage cracking sound are catchy feel-good melodies making it an attractive package of tunes. Lubik allows for a respite care of tenth offering “L’infarctus”, a thriller-chiller performed on piano, before capping things off with “Apocalypse” which slices and dices the atmosphere like an untamed Tasmanian devil. Very cool stuff.  iTunes

Let’s Go John Welsh Band

Mission, BC’s John Welsh Band serves a dish of world music treats on new album Vamonos Mi Chica! (Spanish for Let’s Go My Girl!). It is a bilingual work in – you guessed it – English and Spanish. The songs capture a variety of styles from Spanish to regular Anglo pop to reggae and will have you chuckin’ and jivin’ in no time. It may remind you of hot summer nights feasting on tortillas and chilli peppers at an outdoor snack bar under bug zapping lamps or just chilling on the beach. This one is a lot of fun and we recommend checking it out.  iTunes

Eleanor McCain Explores the True North

True North: The Canadian Songbook is a new double-album project from Eleanor McCain of Toronto. As the title suggests, she covers classic Canadian songs, all presented in an easy listening style. She teamed up not with one but many different symphony orchestras across the country. You will find songs by Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell which should satisfy the boomers and Bryan Adams and Roch Voisine to hit the spot for Gen-Xers. She tackles Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel”. Shall we go on? This is a gem for any lover of Canadian music, certainly for those who appreciate the songwriting that shines through more clearly in this softer presentation.  iTunes

Renee Wilkin Celebrates 1967 Soul

Finalist of The Voice Season 2, Renée Wilkin of the Gatineau, gets thick soul pumping through her veins to deliver her second opus, Soul ’67. What a great singer. Wilkin selected a dozen songs from 1967, Canada’s centennial anniversary of Confederation, and covers them beautifully, complete with energetic beats, dancing keys, and sassy horns. Find such classics as “Knock on Wood”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “You Keep Me Hanging On”, and “A Natural Woman”. If soul music is your thing, you will dig it.  iTunes

This Week’s Charts and Other News

The Prism Prize has awarded Martin C. Pariseau $15,000 for directing the organization’s favourite music video of the year, Kaytranada’s “Lite Spots” an MV that features a dancing robot.

Albertan country duo High Valley lands a number one single, its first. “I Be U Be” boots Sam Hunt from the summit to become the #1 song in the land at country radio. The song debuts on the Billboard Hot 100 at #92.

Also new to the Hot 100 is “Selfish” from Ontario’s Virginia to Vegas, at #88. Allophone song “Despacito” featuring Anglophone Justin Bieber takes the top spot. Last week’s number one, which also features the Biebs – among many other featured artists – slips to #3, that being “I’m the One” by DJ Khaled. “Reminding Me” by Shawn Hook featuring Vanessa Hudgens vaults from #92 to #74. Vanessa will be co-hosting the Billboard Music Awards with performances by Céline Dion and Drake. The hope would be that Vanessa’s return to the spotlight will shine some light on the new song and onto our wonderfully talented Shawn Hook.

Diana Krall‘s new album Turn Up the Quiet debuts at #8.

Featured in the Nielsen newsletter is Barrie, Ontario country singer Dani Strong for her song “Wild One”. It is bubbling under the Country airplay chart and the Canadian Emerging Artists chart. Dani was the only Canadian to make the top 50 in US TV show “Nashville Star.” She has opened for Eli Young Band and Jess Moskaluke and released her debut album Time to Breathe in October.

At rock radio, Arkells enter into the #1 room after “Knocking at the Door”.

The Road Hammers Feel the Squeeze

The Squeeze is album number five for The Road Hammers, platinum trio, decorated with a JUNO, and specializing in trucker themed country music. Frontman Jason McCoy says of the new album, “The band keeps growing and getting better. This record is little bit different, but we still have the edge the makes the Hammers’ sound what it is. And we had some great production work on it as well. We had Gavin Brown who produced Metric, Tragically Hip and Barenaked Ladies as well as Scott Baggett who worked with Alison Krauss, Buddy Guy, and Bonnie Raitt. So there is some diversity there and definitely some pedigree there.” The always-fun band is done playing in the “Mud” (a gold single) but still getting “Down and Dirty”. The album presents an energetic, rollicking ride through party-clad roadsides. Fellow platinum artist Tim Hicks closes out the 10-track disc with a feature in “One Horse Town”.  iTunes

The Velveteins Ride a Slow Wave

The city of Edmonton has been flexing its musical muscle as of late. The latest edition to the northern squad is alternative rock band The Velveteins and debut album Slow Wave which combines lo-fi vocals, gritty guitars, and spaced out effects. The LP follows a couple of EPs. You will hear a touch of hazy 60s influence, and the disc maintains a tight sound while conjuring feelings of meandering. The Velveteins’ players are frontman Spencer Morphy, bassist Dean Kheroufi, and drummer Addison Hiller.  iTunes

Boogie Patrol Witnesses a Man on Fire

Edmonton blues group Boogie Patrol releases its first album in six years following a couple of lineup changes and a live album last year. The band’s core three, Dan Shinnan (vocals), Yuji Ihara (guitars), and Nigel Gale (bass) have been playing together for about a decade. Joining them on the disc are drummer Emmet VanEtten and guitarist Chad Holtzman. Shinnan says the players wanted to spice things up for the new album and present a fuller sound. A horn section was brought in to add a dash of late 60s – early 70s soul. Man on Fire was recorded in Winnipeg and produced by Murray Pulver (Crash Test Dummies and Doc Walker). The album is first rate for those who enjoy blues music. Below we embed a live version of opening track “Players Blues” that shows the band in action.  iTunes

CMB Reviews Scott Helman’s Hôtel de Ville

Young platinum recording artist and two-time JUNO nominee, Scott Helman follows up his popular mini album Augusta with full-fledged full-length disc, Hôtel de Ville. With very slick production from the highly competent Tawgs Salter (Lights, Walk Off the Earth), Scott manages to churn out a delightful pop album with trickles of influence by such notables as Paul Simon and Bon Iver. The album follows the launch of singles “21 Days” and “Kinda Complicated”. Scott’s sweet and salty vocals guide Kites through a Ripple Effect of pleasing ditties like “Origami”, clapping anthems such as “You Made Her”, and driving pleasers like “Gaslight”. He makes the songwriting seem ever so easy and is as talented as they come. Check in to the Hôtel de Ville today!

Slab City, located in the Sonoran Desert of the California Badlands in the United States, is a locale often used by both recreational vehicle owners and squatters from around the land. It took its name from left-over concrete slabs from deserted World War II Marine Corps barracks of Camp Dunlap. Slab City provides the scene for Helman’s “Kinda Complicated” MV (embedded below) which was directed by Call Me Maybe’s Ben Knechtel.  iTunes

CMB Reviews René Turgeon’s Héritage

Country slicker René Turgeon is up to album #13 already! Supported by Paul Daraîche, the artist from the south shores of Quebec City offers a bilingual album that combines covers and original compositions. Besides collaborating with Paul, René presents two other duets on the record, one with Annie Blanchard and the other with his daughter Alyson. René plays his favorite country tunes including John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, “Ils parlent de nous” from Irvin Blais, and “La théière” by Tex Lecor. He pens the lyrics and music for new composition “Reste un peu grand-papa”. For those who enjoy wholesome country music, René Turgeon’s Héritage is lots of fun.  iTunes

CMB Reviews Philippe B’s La grande nuit vidéo

Everybody enjoys a big video night. JUNO nominee and collaborator of such aces as Pierre Lapointe, Groenland, and Salomé Leclerc, Philippe B dazzles on fifth album, La grande nuit vidéo. With a meticulous attention to detail and a knack for penning masterful tunes with immaculate arrangements, Philippe is the sort of fellow who makes music critics drool copiously. The new album is as good as, if not better than one would expect from the Montrealer. Unsurprisingly, the disc has topped the musique francophone charts at iTunes.

The champion of folk, singer-songwriter Philippe B, who also serves as musical director for Les Sœurs Boulay, explores the bygone age when couples would spend the night together before cathode-ray screens watching television series, movies, and everything presented by the intelligent box of communication. The nostalgia abounds with orchestral arrangements and is augmented by the sweet guest vocals of Milk & Bone’s Laurence Lafond-Beaulne. If you want a work of art, this is it. Official audio for opener “Explosion” embedded below.  iTunes

CMB Reviews David Bontemps’ Gede Nibo

Montreal’s David Bontemps presents gorgeous disc of instrumental piano music, Gede Nibo. Dave is also leader of creole jazz quintet Makaya. Under the Gede Nibo designation are 12 variations on the famous theme of renowned Haitian composer Ludovic Lamothe. Dave translates the disappointments, the strength, and the hopes of the Haitian people, captured in his exquisite pieces of music. The album closes with the dramatic “Ankh”. Album Gede Nibo will quench the thirst of piano enthusiasts everywhere.  iTunes

CMB Reviews Valérie Lahaie’s Étoile anonyme

Hailing from the quaint, very southern Quebec municipality of Lacolle, Valérie Lahaie charmed audiences as a participant in second season of The Voice. She released her very popular debut album Vertige in 2015. Val is back with a beautiful adult contemporary album entitled Étoile anonyme (Anonymous Star). It’s a change of pace, a shift away from the more rock-tinged former work into softer climes. The album opens sweetly with “Le premier”, a track of graceful piano and Val’s velvety but sturdy vocals, then presents the upbeat, spirited, and bluesy “J’y vais” (see MV below), bursting an opening to the highway of freedom on the agile “Tu n’as rien dit”. Hear some delicious piano accompanied beats on “On dit qu’on l’a pas dit”. She slows things down for musing on the pensive “Laisser tomber” and caps things off with subtle funk on “C’est fini”. If Valérie Lahaie were an anonymous star, she’d still be one of the brightest in the skies.  iTunes

CMB Reviews Shawn Jobin’s Éléphant

We have Shawn Desman, Shawn Mendes, Shawn Hook, and now a fourth to bear the given name. What could be cooler than a Franco rapper from Saskatchewan addressing elephants, the worldwide web, and double-O zero? Shawn Jobin was born in the province of Quebec but moved to the flatlands of wheat and canola during his teenage years. Thus, we get to use a choice Canadianism: Fransaskois. With his texts denouncing injustices and expressing his concerns, Shawn has left his mark in the Canadian hip-hop landscape for some years. His sought-after style, complete with electrifying tones delivered in a flow of precision, propelled him to the semifinals of the Francouvertes this year. Album Éléphant (released May 12, 2017) is the fruit of his labours, and is now available for consumption.  iTunes

Falling with Cat Thomson

Vancouver based singer-songwriter Cat Thomson returns to dress with her rich vocals new dramatic adult contemporary pop ballad “Falling”. Now a fully independent artist, Cat has honed her skills from a dynamic background of classical piano training, choir participation, and voice lessons. She majored in opera at Louisiana State University from a full scholarship and tacked on production and music engineering instruction at a local school in Vancouver. This has elevated her to the level of writing, recording, and producing her own music. She’s a little bit of Annie Lennox, a dash of Sarah Brightman, a slice of Sarah McLachlan, and a whole lot of Cat Thomson.

Cat penned song “Falling” following a darkly beautiful past relationship where she found herself falling in and out of love at the same time. Trying to cling onto the elements of goodness, she ultimately succumbed to the realization that it was not going to work out. The music video plays on this concept and was inspired in part by the film Groundhog Day in which the protagonist continually awakens to the same day on repeat with the opportunity to change a cause in order to alter the effect. The MV plays forwards and backwards, as in the love game the perception of time is often bent. Cat herself opted not to star in the video feeling it would “hit home too hard”. Instead, she enlisted the assistance of two local actors, Amelia Morris and Darcy Stobbe. The video was shot in one day and is directed by Matthew Popp. Have a look below. “Falling” seethes with raw emotion, as time warps, heartbeats crackle, and reality folds into a beacon of glory.  iTunes