Louise Burns in Top Form on Young Mopes

louise-burns-young-mopesSigned to Madonna’s Maverick label when she was just 15, Louise Burns of Cranbrook, BC co-founded all-female, JUNO-nominated rock group Lillix serving as its bass player. Now based in Vancouver and signed as a soloist to Light Organ Records, always ready to participate in various projects including new wave band Gold and Youth, Louise recently released her third solo record Young Mopes. Her 2011 jangle-pop debut album as a soloist earned a Polaris nomination. The new record is introspective, guitar-oriented new wave with some strokes of synth, New Orderesque high-pitched bass pulses, tight drumming, and includes a cover of the Blue Nile’s “Downtown Lights”. Track “Strange Weather” sees Burns master the country-inspired genre complete with lap steel. The tunes are deliciously shadowy, and Burns’ bright vocals and energetic delivery give it a sunny glaze. Young Mopes embodies the spirit of an old soul with a teenage heart. It is yet another ace for one of Canada’s most underrated talents, Louise Burns. Catch her on tour in March and April supporting The Zolas.  iTunes

Canadian Music Blog’s Top 20 Song Faves of 2013: #10 to #1

Canadian Recording Artists

(See Part 1 – Songs #20 to #11 – which also includes eligibility rules and our selection process HERE.)

#10. “Love Ocean” by Wanting

Wanting - Love OceanSome of our favourite tunes are Allophone ones, and this incredible composition is performed in Mandarin Chinese, one of our favourite languages for music. While many artists throw together sounds and then try to create a melody to support them, British Columbia’s Wanting constructs music that surrounds and elevates a perfect melody. We prefer the latter. If we could, we would detach our ears and let them sink to the depths of the ocean of Wanting’s music, where they would stay for eternity. Check out the beautiful music video as well.

#9. “The Lodger” by Louise Burns

Louise Burns - The LodgerWhen we play Louise Burns’ music, we see shadows fall and omens open their eyes. It’s all about switch and glide. Louise is a both a very talented songwriter and a solid singer as she proves on her latest album, The Midnight Mass. Track “The Lodger” opens with a delicious pounce of drums and keys which pause as she delivers her opening address to launch this wicked tune of slow-burning glory. The bass flickers as peals of something lunge forward. All these pathways of spook lead to a chorus which cruises like a swamp thing with an itchy foot.

#8. “Daylight Colours” by Gold & Youth

Gold and Youth - Daylight ColoursVancouver and Toronto have married and given birth to this electronic rock band that released its first album, Beyond Wilderness, in 2013. We concur with others that their live performances are worth their weight in gold. After providing additional vocals for them, the aforementioned Louise Burns joined the group as a permanent member, and we love especially the tracks that feature the male-female vocal combo and sophisticated guitar work. Besides the band’s previously released singles, the playful “Daylight Colours” impressed us most.

#7. “Breathing Underwater” by Metric

Metric - Breathing UnderwaterThis was the most successful single from JUNO-winning 2012 album Synthetica. It made the Hot 100 in December 2012 for one week and then remained dormant. After a CHR summer remix version was released, the song resurfaced on the charts in June 2013, eventually peaking at #22. Emily’s voice is a given, but we just love how it breaks out into its electro-rocking chorus. This is one of those songs that grows on you. After several listens, its brilliance finally grabs hold, seizes and possesses, and pulls you into the sea. No scuba gear required.

#6. “Here’s to Never Growing Up” by Avril Lavigne

Avril Lavigne - Here's to Never Growing UpAfter debuting on US DJ Ryan Seacrest’s radio show, this became a platinum single heralding a comeback for Avril Lavigne this year, and it succeeded in sales better than radio airplay, as broadcasters seemed to wait until her collaboration with husband Chad Kroeger before giving the dynamite singer and songwriter some spins. The energetic song perfectly encapsulates a celebration of youth and effectively responds to those who show them contempt. Its music video features Avril dressing in the fashion style from her skater days.

#5. “Vacances de 87” by Le Couleur

Le Couleur - Vacances de 87Featuring French Horn Rebellion, this requisite staple of the dance club gets the bongos sounding, the cymbals tinkling, the beat pounding, and most importantly the bass funking. It fires up the synths, begins tickling the guitars, pairs the American boy with a Canadian girl, and alternates between plain male Anglo and sultry female Franco vocals. What could serve as a more addictive treat? We absolutely adore how the song’s grand finale provides that extra bass hook. We named Le Couleur’s Voyage Love as the year’s best EP, and this is its finest track.

#4. “I Was a Fool” by Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara I Was a FoolThis serene, breezy Top 20 hit and gold single was the second released from Heartthrob, our favourite album of 2013. It sizzles and swaggers its way back to a retro 80s new wave vibe. “I Was a Fool” opens with piano, provides a solid backbeat, is delivered with the sweetest of vocals, and burns into the grooviest of choruses in natural stereo sound from the duo. We are convinced that Calgary’s Tegan and Sara are the coolest twin sisters on the planet, and they have made all of our year-end albums, music videos, and songs lists.

#3. “Cover Me” by Jonas & the Massive Attraction

Jonas and the Massive Attraction - Cover MeLive Out Loud was one of our favourite albums of 2013, a rock tour de force containing both harder and softer delights. As far as track “Cover Me” goes, “Wow!” is all we can say. This killer tune should have been a massive hit, as it is simply a progressive pop/rock masterpiece both musically and lyrically. It makes the heart feel as if it is soaring through dense material, backed with invigorating power and restorative juices, a feel-good anthem with a wall of sound that is rich, intricate, and plentiful. Jonas Tomalty is for sure one of Canada’s finest rock vocalists.

#2. “This Is What It Feels Like” Featuring Trevor Guthrie

This Is What It Feels Like - Armin Van Buuren ft Trevor GuthrieGrowing up in North Vancouver District, Trevor became lead singer of soulDecision which scored massive hits “Faded” and “Ooh It’s Kinda Crazy” circa Y2K. After the group disbanded, he hooked up with Dutch EDM master Armin van Buuren and wrote and sings this song about his neighbour who had a brain tumour. Making it up to #6 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100, it was certified double platinum and finished the year as its 19th biggest hit. It is one of the most uplifting tracks we have ever heard, striking the sky with towering elation.

Canadian Music Blog’s 2013 Song of the Year

Putting things into perspective, we listened to several thousand songs by Canadian artists released through 2013—all songs on all albums, EPs, as well as individual singles. We listened to everything from the most popular Top 40 hits to the most obscure indie tunes. And of all these songs, the one we loved most was this one from an emerging artist in Canada’s second westernmost province. This is a female solo artist who, in 2012, won the Virgin Radio Star contest in Edmonton, and was flown out to Vancouver to record (thus far) three singles. The first of these bubbled under the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. The second of these was featured in TV series Beauty and the Beast. The third of these is our selection for 2013’s Song of the Year, a track she created with the Milk Music team of Mike James (Kelly Rowland, Kreesha Turner), Davey Badiuk (Dragonette), and vanguard BC indie artist Stef Lang.

This is a jewel of songwriting and expert production, an intelligent dance track filled with complex percussion, bright keyboards, and a galvanizing chorus. But what makes it so exquisite, what pushes it past the magic of Metric, the allure of Avril Lavigne, the appeal of Tegan & Sara, and even the ecstasy of the Armin van Buuren produced masterwork is the voice, a voice which is so uniquely gorgeous, so soulfully spicy, and so very, very charming. The Canadian Music Blog declares “All For You” by Lexi Strate as 2013’s Song of the Year.

Lexi Strate - All For You - Canadian Song of the Year 2013

Burning the Midnight Oil Listening to Louise Burns at The Midnight Mass

Louise Burns - The Midnight MassOur story begins in Cranbrook, a city of 20,000 in southeastern BC. With a highly effective hockey program, the city has churned out some notable NHL players, like Steve Yzerman. But like all Canadian cities, hockey was only half of the equation to sell out its arenas. Cranbrook was in need of a local rock band. While in high school, the Duo-Tang wielding Evin sisters with Louise Burns and Sierra Hills came to the rescue forming Tigerlily in 1997. This all-girl group displayed enough talent to be signed by Madonna’s Maverick Records, and they changed their name to Lillix. Not only did they enjoy success across the country, but internationally, most notably in Japan. In 2004, the band received a pair of JUNO nominations.

Louise BurnsHere we are concerned with the band’s bass player, Louise Burns, who eventually went solo. In 2011, this incredibly talented singer-songwriter released her debut album, Mellow Drama, infused with fuzzy, tambourine-jingling, head-bobbing pop. With such delicious tracks like “Drop Names Not Bombs” and the beautiful, electro beat capped “Ocean Grey”, the album was long listed for the Polaris Prize. Louise’s captivating voice was compared to Stevie Nicks’ and Chrissie Hynde’s. While enjoying a solo career, Burns joined the new Vancouver-based electronic rock band Gold & Youth who released their dazzling debut album, Beyond Wilderness, earlier this year.

Louise Burns1And now, Louise has dropped her sophomore solo album, The Midnight Mass. In her own words, on this work, she wanted to create music that was “coherent and cinematic and beautiful and dark” like the products of John Foxx, the British electronic rock pioneer she admires greatly. Burns’ new album reminds us of Siouxsie and the Banshees with some added synth textures. Most importantly, it effectively showcases her songwriting genius. The lead single, “Emeralds Shatter” was launched back in April. It unseals the album with its cinematic, nighttime opening followed by twangy, Twin Peaks bass, jamboree percussion, and heightened vocal reverb. The sweeping, melodic “Ruby” follows, the album’s new single. A driving beat opens “San Andreas” where matter-of-fact, ominous storytelling bursts into an irresistible, perfectly-constructed chorus. A rocking chair on a hot, dusty porch at a country home comes to mind with spaghetti western influenced “He’s My Woman”. “Jasper’s” determined beat breeds addiction, while “Heaven” glides gracefully, leading up to the slow burning glory of “The Lodger”. The album concludes with a dark wave cover of the Gun Club’s “Mother of Earth”.

The Midnight Mass was produced by Colin Stewart (Dan Mangan, A. C. Newman) and the Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner. We’ll be burning the midnight oil listening to this gem for a long time.

The Midnight Mass on iTunes     Louise Burns’ Website

Great 2013 Albums: Gold and Youth’s Beyond Wilderness

Gold and Youth - Beyond WildernessGold and Youth are serious about making great music. They are a highly talented progressive rock band from Vancouver and Toronto consisting of four members: Matthew Lyall, Louise Burns, Murray McKenzie, and Jeff Mitchelmore. (Louise was with Lillix and released a Polaris-nominated solo album in 2011). Gold and Youth’s music conjures to our minds the exciting British new wave and electronic rock of the 80s as well as current Canadian acts Diamond Rings and English Words. Their sound is melodic, sweeping, dreamy, with male and female vocals taking turns at the mic. They released their debut album this year, Beyond Wilderness, with compositions inspired and diverse enough to make for a magnificent little album. And as a live band? Well, we dare you to view the video below and not get goose bumps. And just wait ’til you hear the rest of the album!

Beyond Wilderness on iTunes    Gold & Youth’s Official Website