Unique Sounds Abound on New Releases for March 3, 2017

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Carleton Place, Ontario singer-songwriter Brock Zeman treats us with a unique concept album about the travelling carnival phenomenon that brought excitement to the peoples of the 1930s. The Carnival Is Back in Town is his 13th career album filled with stories and colourful character depictions. Karen Young and Coral Egan team up on Montreal production Dreamers that defies description, combining say baroque style music with adult contemporary. It is light and pleasant, another unique work this week. After a few singles, Shaunavon, Saskatchewan’s Hunter Brothers present full-length album Getaway, jam-packed with good, solid country tunes.

The ever popular and talented Jenn Grant returns with new album Paradise, giving us quality singer-songwriter songs. The native of Lake Echo, Nova Scotia has a hat trick of JUNO nominations to her credit. No surprise there. Toronto’s Mad Ones give alternative rock a whirl on Regretless, and we do not regret in any way the trio making a contribution to the pool of great Canadian music. The clan of Lemieux has more to offer than highly skilled puck handling, as JUNO winner Marie-Nicole Lemieux proves on classical work Rossini: Opera Arias & Duets (Live) with wonderful interpretations, arrangements, and performance of Rossini the great one.

Speaking of greats, Toronto’s The Great Novel cranks up folkified indie rock that will make you shed your … Skins? Absolutely! Gifted Vancouver eight-piece JUNO-nominated band Five Alarm Funk reminds us that skins are often drenched with Sweat. With a sound the group can call its own, a fusion of world music and jazz, all played on acoustic instruments, the album is a joy ride through all things superb. Also from Vancouver cometh The Real McKenzies, experts on Celtic punk/rock; Two Devils Will Talk is the album. Find straight-up rock on Wild Cat, the latest from Toronto JUNO nominated group Danko Jones.

There are a couple of EPs to talk about this week. Kendall Patrick of Ladysmith, BC explores the Peaks and Valleys of life on her exquisite new singer-songwriter disc. Synthpop that rivals Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob album, it’s so good, appears on self-titled EP by Toronto’s Ralph. If nothing else, track “Tease” is a must-grab.

Selected New Releases, 10 February 2015

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Heads up! The quality of music on this week’s releases is even better than usual. Del Bel is a collective from Toronto/Guelph. The new self-titled album is very good with cinematic, alternative music that would serve as fitting soundtrack for a noir, spy flick. Hard rock, 4-time JUNO nominated outfit Danko Jones is back with Fire Music. Hearts is the latest album from Calgary alt-pop duo Sidney York. The highly anticipated debut album Kings of Nowhere from Toronto rock band The Mohrs is finally out! Singer-songwriter Savannah Leigh Wellman from Vancouver, under project name Savvie, gets the alt-rock going on excellent new album Night Eyes.

Montreal based artist Vernier, is the invention of songstress Gen Vernier Blouin. Album Things We Do For Love is described by the artist as “melancholy grunge pop” and another winner this week. While on tour in Europe, platinum 3-time JUNO nominee Pierre Lapointe swung into a Paris studio and recorded a batch of songs, mainly piano and voice. The result is the beautiful Paris tristesse. Neuville, QC’s Carotté gives us something different by combining fiddles and folk music with punk on new album Punklore et trashdition. Lynn Lake, MB’s Tom Cochrane needs no intro. The diamond 8-time JUNO winner delivers his first offering in nine years, Take It Home. Finally, Montreal’s Elliot Maginot churns out an alternative, folky, artistic charmer, Young/Old/Everything.In.Between.

This week’s single releases include Shawn Desman’s “Victoria”, Dean Brody’s “Upside Down”, Tyler Shaw’s “House of Cards”, and Bryan Finlay’s “Rich”.

Enjoy the music!

New Album Releases, Batch #12-1019

Country, God or the Girl by K’Naan

With a triple platinum single under his toque and 3 JUNO awards, naturalized Canadian rapper K’Naan (originally from Somalia) has yet to score a GOLD album. This may change, however, with the release of his new LP (his 4th), Country, God, or the Girl. The album includes his current hit, “Hurt Me Tomorrow” and his previous Top 20 collaboration with Nelly Furtado, “Is Anybody Out There?” The album features other big name artists including U2’s Bono (Ireland), The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards (U.K.), and will.i.am (U.S.).

Official Website     iTunes

It’s Easy If You Try by Len

Len is best known for its international hit “Steal My Sunshine” back in 1999 and have been called one-hit wonders. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that; Pink Floyd were one-hit wonders … well, almost (I think “Money” made the Top 40). Len received 3 JUNO nominations, one of them being for Best Alternative Album. A followup LP took a while to surface (2005’s Diary of the Madmen) and we haven’t heard much from them for the past several years. But a new album has just been released entitled It’s Easy If You Try that is definitely worth checking out, especially given that such a nifty work is in danger of passing unnoticed, their not being on the scene for a while.  This is a very good album!

Official Website     iTunes

Omnipresent by Damien Robitaille

Damien Robitaille has received some 11 Félix nominations, winning one. He’s also been nominated for a JUNO. From Ontario, he released an independent album while in high school and then studied classical music at the University of Waterloo. He won a scholarship to study music in Québec via a competition in Ontario. In Montréal, he won first prize in the Francouvertes Festival leading to a record deal. His first major album came out in 2006. His latest work Omnipresent is his third, freshly released. It’s upbeat AC/pop with some nice Latin rhythms and reggae vibes in the mix, not to mention a cool turquoise album cover.

Official Website     iTunes

Come Home to Mama by Martha Wainwright

JUNO-nominated Canadian-American folk-pop songstress Martha Wainwright (yes, she is Rufus’ sister) has just released her latest album, Come Home to Mama. This is a brutally honest personal album where she addresses marriage, giving birth, and the death of her mother of cancer in 2010. One of the songs, in fact, was written by her mother, Canadian folk singer Kate McGarrigle. Though she deals with heavy subject matter, her vocals come off strong and vibrant. The album was recorded at Sean Lennon’s home studio in New York and is her third major release. Critics consider this Martha’s best album to date.

Official Website     iTunes

Seule ce soir by Emilie-Claire Barlow

There really is much more to Canadian jazz than Oscar Peterson and Diana Krall. One of jazz’s biggest names is Toronto’s 4-time JUNO nominee Emilie-Claire Barlow. Her style is more laid back and sweet compared to Krall’s more intense delivery. Her new, ninth album, Seule ce soir, is her first French-only release, and consists of a collection of her previous French recordings, rearranged and re-recorded plus six new ones, including jazz arrangements of songs by Sting and Ginette Reno. In my opinion, cool jazz sounds better in French than in English. This is one of the finest jazz records I’ve heard in a while. Put it on at 9 o’clock at night, and it will brighten the room.

Official Website     iTunes

Rock and Roll is Black and Blue by Danko Jones

Another 4-time JUNO nominee is metal rockers Danko Jones, a simple 3-man outfit from Toronto, named for the lead singer. Around since 1996, the band has just released Rock and Roll is Black and Blue, their sixth LP. This is in-your-face, menacing guitar mangled pulp that’ll pelt your senses until they are … black and blue. The ultra-fast tempoed “Just a Beautiful Day” is the first single. They have been compared to AC/DC but their sound has more of a bluesy vibe, like roots rock that has been injected with a highly concentrated dose of caffeine.

Official Website     iTunes