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.

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Mid-June 2017 Hot Canadian Tracks

We’re closing in on summer, upon Canada’s 150th, and upon us is a tasty batch of new tracks which we present. Hopefully at least one of these will do it for ya.

Quebec’s Arcade Fire has decided to release a second track off upcoming album Everything Now. “Creature Comfort” offers a style that is punchier than the bouncy title track released not too long ago. An ultra widescreen MV complete with lyrics is out, the coolest part of which is to see Régine pull a LIGHTS and wield a keytar.  iTunes

The Great White North’s most popular pop group, British Columbia’s Hedley, has wrapped up the Hello era to launch a stand-alone single, “Love Again”. A new album is undoubtedly in the works.  iTunes

Montreal alternative group Stars releases a traditional two-track single as A-Side: “Privilege”, B-Side: “We Called It Love”.  iTunes

Ontarian Donovan Woods has crafted a super catchy singer-songwriter ditty called “All Mine”. He sounds a bit like John Mayer which we mean as a compliment. Wonderful track!  iTunes

The incomparable Pierre Lapointe cranks up the artistry on “La science du cœur” which builds to a satisfying climax. The music video (subtitled in English) has the camera slowly pulling back as Pierre stands before a beautiful set design.  iTunes

Nova Scotian Ria Mae is back with a bite on wonderful new pop song “Bend”. If she can consistently come up with songs this good, the platinum singer and songwriter has a great career in store.  iTunes

The production on Toronto’s Alvvays‘ last effort pushed Molly’s beautiful vocals into the background drowning them out into a muffle which disappointed us. Hopefully, a smarter job will be done on upcoming album Antisocialites. Lead single “In Undertow” is … in tow.  iTunes

Death from Above 1979 casts forth new song “Freeze Me”, a boss alternative rock track. The outfit has a JUNO and a gold-certified disc.  iTunes

Metric singer Emily Haines echoes the beautiful piano balladry of Emm Gryner (21st Century Ballads) while filling it with alternative ornamentation. The new track is “Fatal Gift” in which she addresses extremes of wealth and poverty.  iTunes

Selected New Releases Jun 2, 2017

The highest-profile release this week is Little Army by Kingston’s Headstones, a platinum rock band that has been nominated four times at the JUNOs. Outselling the veterans at iTunes (currently #5 overall) however is the debut album from Roxane Bruneau, a singer-songwriter effort. Roxane has gained a large following becoming a web star first with her songs and good sense of humour. Album Dysphorie is red hot. Aliocha was born in France but grew up in Canada. He has done a lot of acting work and now launches debut LP entitled Eleven Songs, a splendid alternative music job. JUNO nominated PartyNextDoor contributes his latest urban EP, Colours 2. Both the Aliocha and PND works are currently Top 25 at iTunes.

Jean-Willy Kunz is a JUNO winning organist and presents Au grand orgue Pierre-Béique containing his sensitive interpretations of works by various composers. JUNO-nominated country group Cold Creek County from Brighton, ON releases Homemade. Also JUNO-nominated is roots duo Madison Violet serving The Knight Sessions this week.

Among this week’s releases, we at Canadian Music Blog like Aquatic by Toronto’s Adaline, a very well done alternative album. Ashleigh Ball is the frontwoman of Vancouver outfit Hey Ocean, and she delivers boss pop album Gold in You. A pleasant surprise for us is Sugar at the Gate by TOPS, a captivating, mature, laid-back indie pop disc. Sans is a beautifully done R&B EP from Toronto’s Merna.

Below is a table summarizing a selection of this week’s Canadian artist releases. Below that we have embedded two music videos. The first is the latest from Alberta’s Kiesza who is featured in new track “Don’t Want You Back” from Netherlands’ DJ/producer Bakermat. Below that is the music video for “Everything Now”, title-track off the upcoming album from Quebec’s Arcade Fire.

Enjoy the new music.

TITLE ARTIST STAGE ORIGIN GENRE
Au grand orgue… Jean-Willy Kunz 1JA Montreal classical
Aquatic Adaline Toronto alternative
Broken Sky Declan O’Donovan Whitehorse alt-folk
Controle Lary Kidd Montreal rap
Dysphorie Roxane Bruneau Laprairie s-s
Eleven Songs Aliocha Montreal alternative
Gold in You Ashleigh Ball Vancouver pop
Homemade Cold Creek County 1JN Brighton country
The Knight Sessions Madison Violet 1JN Toronto s-s
Little Army Headstones 4JN, PLAT Kingston rock
Mad Season Obey the Brave Montreal metal
Mon party Country Veronique Labbe Thetford Mines country
Sugar at the Gate TOPS Montreal indie pop
Colours 2 (EP) PartyNextDoor 1JN Mississauga urban
Hard Way Road (EP) Young James Saskatoon rock
Sans (EP) Merna Toronto R&B

JA=Juno Award; JN=Juno Nomination; PLAT=platinum artist; s-s=singer-songwriter; title in red text=disc in iTunes Albums Top 25.


2017: The Year of the Automat and More

automat-1

Automat will be releasing its second LP on January 27, 2017, entitled Pandora. While the Quebec City band’s first album in 2012 was a pop-rock affair, Pandora shifts more into pure pop territory. With catchy melodies, pleasant vocals, and very addictive beats, it is already one of the standout releases of the year. The group has opened for Carly Rae Jepsen and had one of its songs selected by the Canadian Olympic Committee for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

austra-rejected-album-cover

Other confirmed album releases in early 2017 are works from The Katherines, USSAustra (see a rejected album cover pictured above), Japandroids, Alejandra Ribera, Le Trouble, Courage My Love, Louise Burns, Big Wreck, Mother Mother, Joel Plaskett & Bill Plaskett, and Nelly Furtado. Arcade Fire, Kiesza, Voivod, and Shania Twain are rumoured to be releasing new albums or at least new music in 2017. On Christmas Day, thanking her fans for supporting her during her two-year battle with Lyme disease, Avril Lavigne stated in a message that she intends to release a new album in 2017.

avril-2017-album

Earlier in December, Automat released a gorgeous music video for track “Mea Culpa” off the Pandora album. It has lots of amazing landscape shots filmed in Iceland. We have embedded the MV below.

Ice Conduit to the 2015 JUNOs: JUNO Fan Choice Nominees

The 10 nominees for JUNO Fan Choice are listed below. The selection of nominees is determined according to the following statement from the JUNO Awards:

“The top 20 selling Canadian artists are determined based on album and singles sales from January 1-December 31 of the previous calendar year. The results are then reviewed by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the Official Ballot Accountants of The JUNO Awards. Next, the top 20 selling artist are evaluated by Next Big Sound, which uses online music analytics and insights to measure growth and popularity of artists and bands across social networks and streaming services. Finally, each artist receives a rank after combining album sales and online media buzz to determine the top 10 artists – The 2015 JUNO Fan Choice nominees!”

Unfortunately, the result of the selection is that no Canadian female soloist appears this year. Régine Chassagne is the only Canadian female (via Arcade Fire) included in this year’s JUNO Fan Choice nominations. Two entries are partially Canadian acts.

We have assembled some statistics on the ten nominees (see below): the origin of the artist, the year of the artist’s debut, the number of Billboard Canadian Hot 100 singles as the main artist (note that the artist may have scored more hit singles prior to mid-2007 when the chart was launched), the number of studio albums the artist has released to date, the number of those studio albums that have been awarded gold or higher certification from Music Canada, and the number of JUNO awards the artist has won to date. We did not include stats for other projects in which the artist has been involved in the past (e.g. Harmonium stats for Serge Fiori).

Below the list, check out the previous winners of the JUNO Fan Choice Award since it was established in 2003. You can vote for the JUNO Fan Choice Award here.

JUNO Fan Choice

PAST JUNO FAN CHOICE AWARD WINNERS:

2003: Shania Twain
2004: Nickelback
2005: Avril Lavigne
2006: Simple Plan
2007: Nelly Furtado
2008: Michael Buble
2009: Nickelback
2010: Michael Buble
2011: Justin Bieber
2012: Justin Bieber
2013: Justin Bieber
2014: Justin Bieber

5 Canadians Nominated For 2014 MTV EMAs

MTV EMA 2014 KieszaTrinidadian rapper Nicki Minaj will be hosting 2014’s MTV Europe Music Awards (the EMAs) gala which is happening just a few hours from now. A number of Canadians have been nominated for awards. Kiesza leads with three including for best video. Justin Bieber has two. Drake, Simple Plan, and Arcade Fire have one each. Kiesza will be performing at the show which is taking place in Glasgow, UK. We will let you know via an update to this post whether any Canadians win. For best video (“Hideaway”), Kiesza is up against Iggy Azalea’s “Black Widow,” Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” and Sia’s “Chandelier”. Kiesza is also nominated for Best New Act and Best Push Act.

Update: The only Canadian to win was Justin Bieber for Best Male. Best Video was Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse”. You can watch Kiesza’s performance of “Hideaway” here.

Ice Conduit to the 2014 JUNOs: Single of the Year Nominees

Single of the Year Nominations copy

Fact #1: All nominees in the category are from different provinces.

Fact #2: One of the five nominees has never won a JUNO award.

Fact #3: All five singles were Top 20 hits (Billboard Canadian Hot 100) and four made the year-end Top 100 of 2013.

“Reflektor” by Arcade Fire (Montréal, QC)

Arcade Fire - ReflektorAfter all the international awards, plus six JUNO wins, and multiplatinum sales of the band’s albums, the last hurdle to overcome was to score a hit single. Title-track off album Reflektor achieved this spending 14 weeks on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 from September to December 2013, peaking at #20. Although it did not make the year-end Top 100 or achieve gold/platinum certification, it gave the group its first Top 40 hit. The least successful of the singles here, Arcade Fire has been industry favourites and therefore may take the award.

“Inner Ninja” by Classified ft. David Myles (Enfield, NS)

Classified David Myles - Inner NinjaSimply put, this is one of the most successful Canadian singles of the digital era, achieving quadruple platinum sales. It spent 38 weeks on the charts from November 2012 to August 2013, peaking at #5. It was the overall 17th biggest hit of the year. At the 2013 JUNOs, “Inner Ninja” won Rap Recording of the Year giving rapper Classified his first award. If the industry were to give the award in this category to the most successful single, this would take it; however, having already won a JUNO, they may give the Best Single award to one of the other tunes.

“It’s a Beautiful Day” by Michael Bublé (Burnaby, BC)

Michael Buble - It's a Beautiful DayMichael is without a doubt one of the JUNO favourites, having won 11 awards already. This song was a chart topper on adult contemporary radio. It graced the Canadian Hot 100 for 20 weeks from March to July 2013 peaking at #20. It also made the year-end chart at #86. It did not, however, receive a gold/platinum award. When it comes to the Burnaby crooner, though, fans prefer to buy his albums than his singles. To Be Loved, the album which showcases the song (up for an album of the year JUNO) has attained double platinum status.

“What I Wouldn’t Do” by Serena Ryder (Millbrook, ON)

Serena Ryder - What I Wouldn't DoThis was the second single released from Serena’s 2012 JUNO-award winning album Harmony. First single, triple platinum “Stompa”, was up for this same award at last year’s JUNOs, losing naturally to Carly Rae Jepsen’s mega hit. Serena has won four JUNO awards to date. “What I Wouldn’t Do” charted for 30 weeks from May to December 2013, peaking at #8 and was the 30th biggest song of the year. It was certified a platinum single by Music Canada. Because “Stompa” was unable to win last year, the industry may want to reward this song in 2014.

“Closer” by Tegan and Sara (Calgary, AB)

Tegan and Sara - CloserThis synth pop tune enjoyed a chart run of 32 weeks from October 2012 to May 2013, peaking at #13. It also made the year-end Top 100 of the year at #46 and has achieved platinum certification. Tegan and Sara have never won a JUNO award, though the twin sister duo has received nine nominations since debuting in 1999. Because of this, plus the international acclaim garnered by album Heartthrob, and breakout chart success from its singles, including this one, they are expected to win this year at the JUNOs, whether in this category or another.

Gold/Platinum Certifications January – March 2014

Here are the latest certifications from Music Canada. Congratulations to the artists and a big thank you to Canadians for continuing to support them by buying their music. Dean Body has a pair. His 2012 single “Canadian Girls” has been certified platinum and 2013 single “Bounty” gold. Other singles are “Feeling Good” by The Sheepdogs from 2012 at gold and current hit singles “Rude” by MAGIC! and “Goodbye” by Glenn Morrison (featuring Islove), both platinum. Arcade Fire has the latest multiplatinum certification; Reflektor has been awarded triple platinum status. Hedley’s Wild Life album is now platinum as is City and Colour’s The Hurry and the Harm. Serge Fiori’s self-titled LP released just last week has become the first gold Canadian album of 2014, and Valerie Carpentier’s L’ete des orages, released at the end of 2013 has also gone gold.

2014 - 01 - 14

DEFINITIONS

For both albums and digital singles, current definitions are: Gold = 40,000 units sold. Platinum = 80,000, 2x Platinum = 160,000, 3x Platinum = 240,000, 4x Platinum = 320,000, etc. Diamond is equivalent to 10x platinum or 800,000 units sold.

Ice Conduit to the 2014 JUNOs: Album of the Year Nominees

Album of the Year Nominations copy

Reflektor by Arcade Fire (Montréal, QC)

Arcade Fire - ReflektorKnown for creative workmanship, the organic quality of their music, and half-whispered vocals, the 6-time JUNO award winners from Canada’s second biggest metropolis have also won Grammy and BRIT awards, one of the few Canadian acts ever to do so. This, the sextet’s fourth studio LP, and a double album, has the group becoming more electronic in sound. Legendary British icon David Bowie is featured on the refreshingly bilingual title track which became the band’s first Top 40 hit single and sported a flashy music video.

Loved Me Back to Life by Céline Dion (Charlemagne, QC)

Celine Dion - Loved Me Back to LifeLike all superstars who manage to continue their popularity, the most successful Canadian recording artist of all-time is able to keep up with the changing trends in musical style while never losing her foothold on the foundation of her persona. This was 2013’s best-selling album at quadruple platinum sales. The vocal excellence is a given, but here Céline pulls off a surprisingly masterful handling of genuine modern pop music while at the same time never losing sight of her AC roots, and giving the R&B tracks first-rate class. She has won 20 JUNO awards.

Nothing Was the Same by Drake (Toronto, ON)

Drake - Nothing Was the SameThe “Drizzy” one is without a doubt the most successful Canadian rapper both within and without the country. He has won three JUNOs to date. His platinum, third album, Nothing Was The Same, once again offers his introspective, nasally discourse, mood swings, and occasional singing, atop lavish percussion, ghostly loops, and melancholic-claustrophobic soundscapes. At times, he pours some vibrant new wave and off-kilter R&B into the mix broadening the music’s appeal. Guests appearing on the work include Jay Z, 2 Chainz, Detail, Big Sean, Majid Jordan, and Jhene Aiko.

To Be Loved by Michael Bublé (Burnaby, BC)

Michael Buble - To Be LovedWorking with Bob Rock (who co-produced his previous two albums), the production on Bublé’s latest studio album is crisp and slick. There are 10 covers and four originals, recorded in Vancouver and Los Angeles. It contains hit single “It’s a Beautiful Day” as well as collaborations with Jann Arden and Bryan Adams. While the album marks familiar Bublé territory—swinging jazz-pop—some peppering with soulful Motown and rock have served to broaden its appeal. This became a double platinum album. Michael has seen 11 previous JUNO wins and has five nominations this year.

Harmony by Serena Ryder (Millbrook, ON)

Serena Ryder - HarmonyThis platinum album already won a JUNO: Adult Alternative Album of the Year in 2013. Serena has won 4 JUNO awards in total to date. With Harmony, she switched from her previous introspective folk to boot-stomping, upbeat popular rock, and the album has spawned three Top 40 hit singles: “Stompa”, “What I Wouldn’t Do”, and “Fall”. The first, at triple platinum certification, is one of the most domestically successful digital singles in history from a Canadian artist. Although Serena has seen success since her debut in 1999, Harmony launched her into major stardom.

Arcade Fire and Drake Nominated For 2014 BRIT Awards

TrophyThe BRIT Awards, i.e. the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the JUNOs, has unveiled its list of nominations for the 2014 gala to celebrate the music of 2013. The gala will take place February 19. Like the JUNOs, the BRITs nominate local artists for most of the categories and have a few international categories for artists from foreign countries. What may surprise some is that the JUNOs actually predate the BRITs; the latter held their first gala in 1977 and did not become an annual event until 1982. The United Kingdom ranks 3rd in world for the music market (after the U.S. and Japan). There are only five Canadian artists who have ever won BRIT awards. Throughout the first decade of the new millennium, Nelly Furtado was the lone Canadian winner. Other winners since the inception in 1977 are The Arcade Fire, Justin Bieber, k.d. lang, and Alanis Morissette. Michael Bublé was the lone Canadian nominee last year, and this year there are two Canadian entries.

Drake has been nominated in the International Male Solo Artist category and The Arcade Fire in International Group. No Canadian made the International Female Solo Artist listing this year. American acts make up most of the international nominees with the exception of New Zealand’s Lorde and France’s Daft Punk. You can view a full list of nominees at the BRIT Awards official website HERE.

2014 BRIT AWARD NOMINEES, INTERNATIONAL CATEGORIES

International Female Solo Artist Nominees:
• Janelle Monae (USA)
• Katy Perry (USA)
• Lady Gaga (USA)
• Lorde (New Zealand)
• Pink (USA)

International Group Nominees:
• Arcade Fire (Canada)
• Daft Punk (France)
• Haim (USA)
• Kings of Leon (USA)
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (USA)

International Male Solo Artist Nominees:
• Bruno Mars (USA)
• Drake (Canada)
• Eminem (USA)
• John Grant (USA)
• Justin Timberlake (USA)

Reflections on The Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire - ReflektorSilicon Valley computer genius Donald Gelman disappeared shortly after inventing the internet, and it was rumoured that he was working on artificial intelligence. Apparently, he succeeded, and uploaded it onto the web in early 1998. He programmed barriers to keep it contained; however, it managed to decipher and remove them, and Gelman had no choice but to destroy it with an encrypted program on a CD he called the kill switch. To remain anonymous, he brought his laptop to the Metro Diner on 14th and Arlington in Washington D.C. The AI, through various means, knew what he was up to and made phone calls to a number of drug dealers in the area telling them that their rival competitors were at the Metro Diner. The U.S. marshals received a similar phone call tipping them off about the whereabouts of an escaped prisoner. The result was a massive shootout at the venue with Gelman killed in the crossfire before he was able to upload the kill switch. Arriving on the scene were federal agents. When they popped the kill switch CD into their car stereo, music began playing: The Platters’ “Twilight Time”.

SONY DSCThis episode of TV series The X-Files was filmed in metropolitan Vancouver. There was a scene where a laptop had to be tossed off a bridge because the AI tracked the whereabouts of the kill switch and programmed an orbiting satellite to fire a pulse beam. The scene was filmed on the wood-deck truss bridge which passes over Canoe Pass in the Fraser River estuary connecting Ladner with Westham Island. Local authorities did not want a laptop or anything else for that matter tossed into the river, so the film crew embedded netting below the bridge. Apparently the laptop missed the netting and ended up at the bottom of the river. Efforts to retrieve it were unsuccessful.

A little while later, fisherman Dougie Butler reeled in something to his vessel off the coast: a laptop computer. He took it home and gave it to his son who discovered that there was a CD in the drive with the word “Supersymmetry” written on it. The CD contained encrypted data which even the most gifted hackers could not decipher. We don’t know what transpired since. But rumour has it that this data is contained within a hidden track on The Arcade Fire’s new album Reflektor.

Reflektor on iTunes     The Arcade Fire’s Official Website

Reflectors Are Firing Up the Arcade

ReflektorThe Arcade Fire must be doing something right. They are one of the few acts to win JUNO, Grammy (US), and BRIT (UK) awards. They have also managed to sell a few records, as their last album, 2010’s The Suburbs, was awarded double platinum certification. The only milestone left for the Montréal art rock ensemble is to score a hit single. This may change with the release today of the 7.5-minute, refreshingly bilingual title-track of Reflektor, or if you prefer, Rückstrahler, their fourth studio album coming out on October 29. The new album is being produced by James Murphy, the captain of dancetronic group LCD Soundsystem. Also helping out is British legend David Bowie whose song “Let’s Dance” topped the charts internationally in 1983. Bowie has added a dash of backing vocals to the new Arcade Fire single.

The music video (see below) for “Reflektor” has also been launched, a black and white affair that features head masks, a truck with a disco ball as a hood ornament, a mysterious figure made of mirrors, racoon makeup, and dolls in a coffin.