The 10 Best EPs of 2016

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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. One exception is a disc over 25 minutes that is an addendum to an album, i.e. a collection of bonus tracks or outtakes from an album’s recording sessions. Another exception is one in which a remix of a track on the disc puts it over 25 minutes. We did not include remix EPs (i.e. a disc containing several remixes of one or two songs). Below is a list of our 10 favourite Canadian artist EPs of 2016 among the 136 that came to our attention through the year.

10Heliocentric by The Coriolis Project

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Vancouver’s The Coriolis Project concocts ambient atmospheres in Heliocentric, a disc that takes us on a cinematic ride through beauteous anthems dedicated to the four directions of the compass. Chirps, thunder, and lasers animate the north, chants and mystical brews deck the east, burbles and tinkling adorn the west, and in our favourite track “South” find oceanic chimes and hypnotic hymns. Very cool stuff.  iTunes

9Kaylee Johnston by Kaylee Johnston

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Vancouver up and coming pop artist Kaylee Johnston on her second, self-titled EP provides six original songs plus a remix of one all dressed with her vocals of honey. The writing is particularly strong and thus it comes as no surprise that Kaylee has opened for such acts as Ace of Base and has shared the stage with One Republic and Joe Jonas. Don’t miss out on this exquisite pop EP.  iTunes

8Beaches by HWYS

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Progressive Montreal duo HWYS released debut EP Beaches following some buzz generated by singles “Bliss” and “Stranger”. This superb disc combines modern synthpop with old school romantic pop. The analogue synths provide a welcome nostalgic feel while the melodies are catchy. A pleasant addition to your music library.  iTunes

7Weightless by Olivia Penalva

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Weightless by Vernon, BC’s teen ace Olivia Penalva contains wonderful, mature or AC pop songs, and the singer herself sports a voice as sweet as Alessia Cara’s. Track “Skyline” gained some traction at radio, and she received a feature in Nielsen Music’s weekly newsletter. The EP contains nuggets of pizzazz making it sound both fresh and experienced. This one is just wonderful.  iTunes

6Arto Arto by Elliott Vincent Jones

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Toronto’s Elliott Vincent Jones has a knack for making good things along the artery of new age and art pop and has performed and recorded in various locales around the world. He has opened for such acts as Tame Impala, Blood Orange, and Majical Cloudz. Debut EP Arto Arto does an excellent job at providing well-written songs with an 80s synthpop vibe reminiscent of an act like Blancmange with some Brian Eno glaze.  iTunes

5CDW by Charlotte Day Wilson

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Praises from all over wafted in for the debut EP from Toronto’s Charlotte Day Wilson, another smoking hot R&B singer like Julie Crochetière. When we say R&B, we mean the classy, smooth style that acts like Sade did so well. This is mellow, sultry soul done right. Charlotte has worked with Badbadnotgood as well as River Tiber. Disc CDW is mood music at its best.   iTunes

4Every Last Chance by Every Last Chance

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“Spotlight” featuring the vocals of Crystalyne’s Marissa Dattoli was the most infectious EDM track since “This Is What It Feels Like” by Armin van Buuren featuring North Vancouver’s Trevor Guthrie. This CMB 2015 song of the year by project Every Last Chance gained some traction at radio. Its followup “Roll the Credits”, with vocal duties handled by Toronto singer-songwriter David Spekter, debuted on the Mainstream AC Billboard chart at #37. Every Last Chance put these two charmers along with three more pearls of EDM on its self-titled EP, a must for enthusiasts of the genre.   iTunes

3Arrows Part 2 by Stef Lang

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A multiple Billboard Hot 100 charting artist, Vancouver Island’s Stef Lang releases the much-anticipated sequel to her Arrows EP Part 1. Part 2 is just as delicious. It offers perhaps a tighter, more hastening sound with a nice edge to it. Opener “Warrior Face” will get you a-chuckin’ and a-jivin’ right away. The following two tracks keep the pace exciting before “Toxins” pulls back allowing for a nice sensation of gliding. “Face the Arrows” takes a reflective, almost dreamy stance which finishes things off beautifully. The incomparable indie champ Stef Lang wrote and produced the entire disc. Arrows Part 2 is simply boss. iTunes

2Emotion: Side B by Carly Rae Jepsen

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Mission, BC’s Carly Rae Jepsen became a darling of the critics who placed her third studio LP Emotion at the top of their 2015 best album lists. Carly decided to release a companion volume of album outtakes and throwaways most of which were hailed as better than 90% of the pop songs of 2016. And that’s quite impressive. This jewel of an EP, hailed as the best one of the year by U.S. music blog Idolator, is a must-acquire disc for fans of tasty pop music.   iTunes

1Canadian Music Blog’s 2016 EP of the Year

Following the release of six singles, this Albertan recording artist launched her debut EP. And with that she won Pop Artist of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards. The Calgary Herald called her the perfect combination of sensitive singer-songwriter and flashy pop star. The disc, which showcases some delicious flavours of pop delivered perfectly by her seductively spicy vocals, was released through Hands Up! Records. Opening with the shimmering electronic sparkle of “Diamond Eyes”, Waves continues to splash up savoury treats from soul bop anthem “Out of My Head”, through the dreamy Caribbean smooth of “Tattoo”, alt-pop charmer “Miss Me” (plus an upbeat remix), peppy cool of “So Simple”, to the punchy, fun waddles of “Antidote”. The Canadian Music Blog declares Waves by Lexi Strate as 2016’s EP of the year.   iTunes

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2016’s Most Delicious, Best EPs So Far!

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We have listened to 71 extended play records from Canadian artists released from January 1 to June 30, 2016, and settled upon our 16 picks for the best. We add capsule reviews of each of them below sorted alphabetically by title. Before we do this, we would like to list some honourable mentions: Help Me Help You by Kieran Mercer, Nord-est by Rosie Valland, Hold Onto the Light by Jessica Mitchell, EP4 by Wolf Parade, L’amour violet by Michèle O, and Live au Treatment by Salomé Leclerc. We consider an EP as having at least 3 original tracks with a run time of less than 25 minutes.

Arto Arto by Elliott Vincent Jones does an excellent job at providing well-written songs with an 80s synthpop vibe reminiscent of Blancmange or The Human League.

Chassés-croisés by Bronswick fires up the synths in this delightful excursion into alternative pop territory. Catherine’s silky vocals are a delight and Bertrand takes some turns at the mic as well. The ride is a relaxed one with lots of electronic glitter to keep things interesting.

The Export, Vol 1 by Karl Wolf has the Montreal multiplatinum R&B specialist shine brightly from his new home at a Victoria, BC record label presenting this sumptuous mini album, more than worth checking out.

Heliocentric by The Coriolis Project adds some ambient Vancouverite atmosphere in a cinematic ride through beauteous anthems dedicated to the four directions of the compass.

Here Now by David Myles is essentially a pop record but infused with the Fredericton multiplatinum wonder’s characteristic folky reggae style.

Jeunes instants by Paupière has the trio offer some fine synthpop through expert record label Lisbon Lux and received a very positive feature in Exclaim magazine.

J’orage by Ponteix sheds some shimmer onto Saskatoon, a dazzling array of bilingual alternative soundscapes of electronica tinged with funky grooves.

Kaylee Johnston by Kaylee Johnston grants strong impetus to the west coaster as a pop singer destined for stardom.

Love Has No Language by Alx Veliz placed the Toronto singer on the Hot 100 and gave him an appearance at this year’s MMVAs. The pop EP comes in two language versions: English (red) and Spanish (turquoise).

No Place to Call by Gillian Nicola adds a very beautiful voice to pleasant singer-songwriter breezes emerging from Hamilton.

Rois de nous by La Bronze, i.e. Moroccan-Canadian Nadia Essadiqi, is a well-written alternative pop record with catchy beats, atmosphere, pop charm, and occasional theatrics.

She-Devils by She-Devils created much buzz with opener “Come” a very catchy surf anthem, but the other two tracks are equally invigorating, meandering through groove and dream.

Songs About a Girl by David James is a brilliant Winnipeg country record that attracted a Canadian Radio Music Award nomination!

Tomorrow by Pastel gives folk pop the treatment it deserves from a singer who appeared on The Voice and with songs that will immediately engage you.

Waves by Lexi Strate is easily the year’s best EP to date with amazing pop jewels and some rich, alternative sprinkles all made very professionally in Alberta.

Weightless by Olivia contains wonderful, mature or AC pop songs from the Vernon, BC native sporting a voice as sweet as Alessia Cara’s.

New Releases: 10 June 2016

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This week’s new Canadian albums by alphabetical order of the artists begin with the beautiful Les moments parfaits from Amélie Veille who hails from Saint-Georges de Beauce, QC. Among the gems on this is a Franco cover of “Do You Know Where You’re Going To?” entitled “En courant”. Very beautiful album of adult pop.

From the same province, Cynthia Harvey‘s self-titled album leans a little more toward the folk side, though she does try her hand at rock on a couple of tracks, and her burly voice sounds splendid on all.

For those who feel the need for dance-move busting, Dan’s the man. Yes, remix specialist Dan Desnoyers butters up songs by various artists for the dancefloor on his latest compilation album Summer Sessions 2016.

Erik West-Millette continues his love for train travel on project West Trainz. This time, Train Songs has various guest vocalists add their pipes to mainly cover songs about trains with an old-time jazz-pop feel.

Country artist Guylaine Tanguay of Lac St-Jean, QC covers country songs on Classique Country like “Ring of Fire” and also countrifies popular pop and rock songs. It is a bilingual album too which is even better.

Sessions: Brooklyn is a very nice traditional pop album from Montreal’s Les Handclaps which is worth checking out.

Toronto’s The Highest Order does a surprisingly good job at 60s style rock on album Still Holding.

For punk, we need a repetitive quirky band name, and we have one: Pkew Pkew Pkew. The group is from Toronto and the album is a self-titled affair.

Very talented Toronto rock band Sate has released Red, Black, and Blue which should get your blood flowing.

Rap lovers shall swoon at the announcement of a collaboration between Souldia & Rymz. Amsterdam is the new album.

As far as EPs go, Elliott Vincent Jones does an excellent job at writing songs with an 80s synthpop vibe reminiscent of Blancmange or The Human Leage on Arto Arto. Alternative rock is captured well on Slush from Frigs. Both artists are from Toronto.