Alexe Gaudreault Creates an Echo

Canadian pop artist Alexe Gaudreault, a native of Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC, has released a new music video for her current hit single “Echo” off her debut, eponymous album. The LP received praises from iTunes staff and was named by Canadian Music Blog as 2016’s Album of the Year among 570 releases, beating out Drake and Céline Dion.

Alexe came to the attention of the masses in 2013 when she was selected as a contestant on The Voice Season 1. While the JUNO Awards often struggle to attract more than 1.2 million viewers, Alexe Gaudreault’s performance of Jacques Brel’s classic “Quand on a que l’amour” on The Voice was watched by two million strong.

Gaudreault hooked up with musical director and composer John Nathaniel and lyricist Mariane Cossette-Bacon releasing a three-track EP which contained the song “Placebo”. The song went ballistic: a BDS Top 10 hit for 47+ weeks, striking number one in the fall of 2015 where it remained for seven weeks. This was a first in 15 years for an independent artist. The song won for Alexe the No. 1 SOCAN Award.

On May 20, 2016, Alexe Gaudreault released her debut, self-titled LP. Track “Éclat” broke into the BDS Top 3. In June, she performed at home of The Habs, The Bell Centre, opening for Marc Dupré.

With very well written songs, expert production, and savory vocals, Alexe’s album is a winner, one of the best pop albums to come out of Canada in the last few years. The current hit single is “Écho” and a music video has been released which we have embedded below. The MV was shot in New York. This gal’s on fire.  iTunes

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2016’s Most Glorious, Best Albums So Far!

early 2016 best albums collage copy

We have listened to 282 albums from Canadian artists released from January 1 to June 30, 2016, and settled upon our 18 picks for the best. We add reviews of each of them below sorted alphabetically by title. Before we do this, we would like to list some honourable mentions: Armour by Rae Spoon, Cimetière d’avions by Antoine Lachance, Hard Sail by Chantal Kreviazuk, The Hills by Nicholas Krgovich, Ideas of Order by Adam Strangler, Love You To Death by Tegan and Sara, Palace Blues by JF Robitaille, and II by Jean-Michel Blais.

ALEXE GAUDREAULT BY ALEXE GAUDREAULT
Complete with flowing copper curls, she’s all dolled up and ready to sing. Finalist of The Voice, Season 1, Canadian recording artist Alexe Gaudreault released her debut, self-titled album in 2016. It follows a three-track EP that spawned the big Franco radio hit “Placebo”. The album is a pop tour de force with catchy beats, peppy swagger, sonorous choruses, and a fabulous, creamy voice leading it all. “Mirage” and “Couleurs” had us hooked immediately. The delicately played “Éclat” is currently glowing its way up the charts. Staff over at iTunes Canada have praised the atmospheric “Tempête” for Alexe’s “breathy coo piercing through like a ray of sunshine”. With this gem of an LP, Alexe Gaudreault has the front-runner for album of the year, across all genres, across all provinces of origin.

ALL LIT UP BY REPARTEE
With Meg on vocals, Josh on keys, Robbie on guitar, and Nick on drums, St. John’s quartet Repartee launched debut, pop album All Lit Up. Showcased at Canadian Music Week, featured at Halifax Pop Explosion, and highlighted at the East Coast Music Awards, the apt little unit of clever crafters is named by The Newfoundland Herald as the band to watch and by The Scope as the best new band and best pop band. Repartee is Atlantic Canada’s answer to Toronto’s Dragonette, Calgary’s Tegan and Sara, and Vancouver’s Carly Rae Jepsen. In 2012, the band won all five Music Newfoundland and Labrador awards for which it was nominated. With a tightly kneaded album, the group is set to electrify crowds across the country and around the world. The title-track opener immediately had us hooked, and by the time our ears worked their way to lead single, “Dukes”, we were sold!

BLEU NELSON BY MARIE-EVE ROY
Alternative music that swings from the dreamy subdued side to the driving upbeats of cool comes to us from Granby, QC’s Marie-Eve Roy and album Bleu Nelson. She was a member of Vulgaires Machins, a popular band which announced an “indefinite break”. That group performed a punky style of indie rock, so it stands to reason that Roy’s album harbours some new waves of post-punk. Bleu Nelson is so good, we wonder why she waiting so long to go solo! The album title was inspired by a city in New Zealand by the blue ocean where she began writing the tracks.

BUBBLE BATH & CHAMPAGNE 2 BY FRANCE D’AMOUR
Having attracted a pair of JUNO nominations and scored a pair of gold albums, France d’Amour is back with the second disc in her jazz-themed Bubble Bath and Champagne project. The bilingual (mostly English) album is just beautiful, and most impressive is that all tracks are original compositions. France co-produced the album and played all guitars. This is the perfect album to unwind after work to fill an evening with soothing romantic, mind-clearing sparkle. Not too many singers are gifted with a voice so alluring.

CATHERINE SERVEDIO BY CATHERINE SERVEDIO
We couldn’t get enough of the beautiful self-titled singer-songwriter album from Montreal’s Catherine Servedio. The gentle but rich music does a fine job in underscoring her fabulous vocals, and there are unexpected twists in the instrumentation which keep the ears engaged. The album effectively elicits a nostalgic mood with its delicate melancholy.

A FINE LINE BY HEATHER RANKIN
Canadian adult contemporary wouldn’t be the same without a Rankin at the helm. Mabou, NS’s Heather released A Fine Line which is wonderful. Amidst the finely-crafted originals performed with the sweetest of voices, find an impressive cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”. The album is very strong from start to finish.

FIRE IN THE FLAME BY THE MARRIEDS
This is a gorgeous folk album by award winning London, ON duo Jane Carmichael and Kevin Kennedy who have crafted very catchy melodic tunes that even those not into the folk kingdom can sink their teeth into. Wonderful writing and delivery make this easily one of the best albums of 2016.

LOVE & LUST BY JADEA KELLY
Toronto singer-songwriter Jadea Kelly has bounced from providing vocals to metal group Protest the Hero to charming critics with her previous folk albums. Her latest, Love & Lust, ups the ante boasting a legion of some of the finest songwriters and musicians in the business, as well as expert production. Jadea co-wrote these beautiful songs with Jeremy Fisher, Peter Katz, and Robyn Dell’Unto. She co-produced the disc with Stew Crookes (Hawksley Workman) and Tom Juhas (Royal Wood) and spent a long time perfecting the recordings at Noble Street Studios and The Woodshed in Toronto. The recording process was done live off the floor which nicely complements the lyrical intimacy and adds a sense of genuineness to the expressive sentiment of her vocals.

LOVE STREAMS BY TIM HECKER
Vancouver JUNO award winner Tim Hecker is one of the world leaders in experimental electronica. He released album Love Streams in 2016. Characteristically, he not only reinvents the genre but his own style at it. The album sculpts ethereal soundscapes with enough detail that we are taken through a fresh experience with each listen.

MAGNOLIA BY MEGAN BONNELL
Toronto’s Megan Bonnell released a very impressive sophomore LP, Magnolia, following her getting hooked by Maple Music (now Cadence). On the production side are Chris Stringer (the Wooden Sky, Holly McNarland, Timber Timbre) and Josh Van Tassel (David Myles, Christine Bougie). She is essentially a roots artist, though the detailed writing, neo-trad instrumentation, and production coatings on these songs are so strong that give the finished product a very wide appeal. The work is as soft as clouds, flowing as water, and detailed as a landscaped garden.

NEITHER IN HEAVEN BY HUIS
Montreal’s 70s-style progressive rock outfit Huis is assuredly one of the best in the world at the genre. The band name is Dutch for house. Find complex musicianship, keyboard and guitar solos, sampled sounds of nature and civilization, classic moog, Hammond, and Mellotron keys, luxurious textures, unpredictable tempo and chord changes, pleasing vocals, and a music the moves along very naturally from the subdued to the theatrical and back again.

RIA MAE BY RIA MAE
Clothes Off”, now certified gold, spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 from early August to mid-December 2015, reaching a peak position of #31 on August 31. It gave Halifax’s Ria Mae breakout success and a JUNO nomination, a singer who had turned to her first love of writing songs after a brief postsecondary stint at construction management. Ria released independent music, an EP in 2009 and debut LP Under My Skin two years later. Her talents were profound enough to attract attention from Sony Music Entertainment who signed her. This is her first major label album. The disc provides a welcome balance between her folky roots and modern electro-tinged funk pop. The overall effect is one of earthy wholesomeness and catchy riffs carried by a very pleasant voice. There are lots and lots of good songs on this one!

RITES AND RITUAL BY TRAITRS
Toronto has an exciting new post-punk duo that effectively licks the champions of mediocrity. Rites and Ritual is the album from Traitrs, one whose penned verses explore the dark gallows and shambled stone shacks of witch trials, youth cults, and burnt offerings. Musically, the duo presents a sound that echoes The Chameleons UK and composition on par with The Spoons. The post-punk cold wave, with atmospheric guitars, boldly sashays itself in with a great wall of sound that will fill your spine with a delicious cacophony of shivers. Rites and Ritual packs an impressive bite and is a welcome addition to the best works of 2016.

THE SCORE BY AARON PRITCHETT
This country album by BC’s Aaron Pritchett, who has two JUNO nominations to his credit, stands from our perspective as one of the finest country music releases of the year. A side note is that when we heard Keith Urban’s “Wasted Time” (#1 on the Canadian country charts), we thought it would be neat for some Canadian artists to try their hand at progressive country. Aaron’s song “Love On” from the album answers our thought. There are plenty of more standard and traditional country tracks on the album as well to give a nice variety of atmospherics.

STELLA BY ARIANE BRUNET
Montreal’s Ariane Brunet floored us with her previous album and provided a wonderful followup in 2016 called Stella, a fusion of sizzling electro and acoustic groove. As always, she concocts a fun adult contemporary work that charmed the folks at iTunes Canada into giving it a big thumbs up review. Our thumbs are up as well.

TASTE BY ISLANDS
We weren’t sure what to make of the album cover, but putting on this savoury synthpop made our own mouths drool. Montreal alt-rock band Islands has grown in popularity and accomplished an awesome feat this year, releasing not one but two albums at the same time. Should I Remain Here at Sea is more guitar oriented while Taste is more synth heavy. Both are great but we dig Taste best.

VOLCANO BY JASON BAJADA
Jason Bajada launched album number 6, Volcano. The music is rich, well-written, and brilliantly executed. We love how he tenses up the verses to burst into eruptive choruses, not so much in terms of noise and fury, but rather dreamy, hair-raising gleams of infectious melodies. His soothing vocals take us on a pleasant ride through the disc with the perfect tempo to keep our ears perked, and he throws in some molten hot guitar solos that flow like lava, most notably in opener “Pékin (les amitiés)”; we haven’t heard a jam that good in quite some time. Other standouts for us include “Si je craque” which begins with folky, flat-plain guitar strums combined with bouncy vocal notes and then bursts into a gorgeous chorus. “Busky” begins with minimalist keys and a funky bass and then yields to an irresistibly delicious wall of sound. Yup, Jason Bajada got our wow factor on automatic repeat with Volcano.

YOU SAY PARTY BY YOU SAY PARTY
Abbotsford, BC post-punk / new wave group You Say Party released its self-titled LP on February 12, 2016, which is album #4 since debuting in 2005. Members are Krista Loewen, Becky Ninkovic, Stephen O’Shea, and Derek Adam. Sadly, the band’s drummer Devon Clifford is no longer with us. Dealing with the tragedy, You Say Party went on hiatus from 2011. The eponymous disc is the band’s first in six years. Rather than hire a new drummer, the core four decided to go with drum machines, which effectively give the music a more emotionally drained sound, as the album tries to make sense out of loss and uncertainty. The cover is an accurate reflection of the gloomy atmospherics the disc explores. It’s an honest and authentic representation of the dark detour the band was forced to take, slightly experimental, as the four players explored unfamiliar terrain but emerged with an impressive work of art.

Alexe Gaudreault Glows Through the Stormy Mirage

alexe gaudreault

Complete with flowing copper curls, she’s all dolled up and ready to sing. Finalist of The Voice, Season 1, Canadian recording artist Alexe Gaudreault has just released her debut, self-titled album. It follows a three-track EP that spawned the big Franco radio hit “Placebo”. The album is a pop tour de force with catchy beats, peppy swagger, sonorous choruses, and a fabulous voice leading it all. “Mirage” and “Couleurs” had us hooked immediately. The delicately played “Éclat” is currently glowing its way up the charts. Staff over at iTunes Canada have praised the atmospheric “Tempête” for Alexe’s “breathy coo piercing through like a ray of sunshine”. With this gem of an LP, Alexe Gaudreault has the front-runner for album of the year, across all genres, across all provinces of origin.  iTunes

New Releases 20 May 2016

new releases banner

We begin with the debut LP from the amazing Alexe Gaudreault, a finalist from Season 1 of The Voice. We named her 2015 work as EP of the year, so you can bet CMB editors were stoked for her debut album, and my goodness it’s good! iTunes staff give it a very favourable review. Look for ours in the next few days.

For the headbangers, there are two albums to choose from, both atmospheric and monstrous, both bands hailing from Rimouski, QC. Purgatoire releases Passe Decompose and Vortex The Asylum. For something completely different, Barenaked Ladies offer live album BNL Rocks Red Rocks. Country music fans can check out Ma vie de musician from Gerald Delhunty.

Vancouver’s No Sinner is back in top form on rock album Old Habits Die Hard. The Party is a very good singer-songwriter album from Saskatchewan’s Andy Shauf. On a parallel avenue is Terre originelle from Montreal’s Sylvie Paquette.

Five EPs this week include a country disc from Kingston, Ontario’s The Abrams. Both from Val d’Or, QC are very good alternative work L’amour violet from Michèle O and singer-songwriter À hauteur d’homme from Chantal Archambault. Ariane Laniel releases the nice adult pop work Mon bordel while La Bronze returns with the splendid alternative EP Rois de nous.

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

Alexe Gaudreault Has the Placebo

alexe gaudreault - placeboAlexe Gaudreault was a finalist in Season 1 of The Voice and recently dropped a 3-track EP to introduce us to what she is capable of creating. The EP is Placebo, and the title track is now a Top 10 CKOI hit! We love all three tracks, especially opener “Couleurs”. Last week a live performance video of track “Placebo” came out which we have embedded below. Therein, Alexe has the looks of Britain’s Katy B, but her style is more mainstream pop – rock. Rather than pressing the placebo that is the intersection walk signal button, we vow now to press the ‘play’ button for Alexe’s marvellous EP.  iTunes