From out of nowhere into the iTunes albums Top 10 arrives Cubby V and LP with the nice long title, If This Is Life, It Might Get Strange from Now On. The work was released March 24 through Hopeful Tragedy Records (Your Favorite Enemies). Cubby V, like Grimes, was a dabbler in the thriving Montreal club scene. She developed a knack for remixing songs and embarked on a path to create her own. The fruit of her labours is this album of instrumental electronica. Cubby V cites as inspirations Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarré, and ABBA. It’s quite an amazing work, and we at Canadian Music Blog are thrilled that it’s a hit. iTunes
Honestly speaking, there is no competition when it comes to recording artists; all make contributions to the great pool of music from which we all draw. But in the spirit of fun, let’s just say that Grimes has pretty much decimated everything and everyone around her.
Vancouver’s Claire Boucher, known by her stage name Grimes, can now add to her CV, which includes critically acclaimed recording artist and music producer, one of the world leaders in making music videos. Her newly released MV for “Venus Fly”, which she herself directed, is just about the most dazzling and artistic music video ever made. It features U.S. singer Janelle Monáe.
Grimes who legitimately expressed dissatisfaction with the male-heavy nominations at the 2016 JUNO Awards now finds herself nominated for three trophies at 2017’s: album Art Angels, which includes “Venus Fly” as one of the tracks, is up for Alternative Album of the Year and Recording Package of the Year. Her music video for another track, “Kill vs Maim”, is up for Best Video and also received a Top 20 nod from the Prism Prize. We all need to really acknowledge the amazing work that this Canadian recording artist is doing. Go Grimes!
We are counting down our favourite music videos of 2016. A good music video is one that keeps your attention even with the sound turned off. We admire MVs that are cinematic, adventurous, fun, sentimental, clever, artistic, original, that have attractive wardrobe choices, breathtaking shots, architectural or natural wonders, or a stellar message. With high standards, we prefer MVs that are low on violence, lechery, expletives, self-mutilation, and do not display the use of toxic substances, all of which are ugly to us. We select videos that are beautiful to look at, colourful, with crisp, clear photography and brightness/contrast controls properly balanced. Below is a list of our 15 favourite Canadian MVs released in 2016. As YouTube often changes the addresses of videos, we have not embedded the MVs here but have provided links to them for your convenience. (Do note that these may become invalid in the future). As usual, we allowed only one entry per artist on the list and have provided a screen capture for each video below.
New Canadian singer and dream pop specialist Amaara, based in Toronto, launched debut single “Black Moon” complete with a music video that is filled with mystical themes and dark ambience. Find Amaara near a misty forest joined by some real animals—horse, wolf dog, and owl—lightning, and a rising supermoon. The MV was shot in Alberta. Link
Time is a subject many recording artists like to address. Country superstar Dean Brody does a fine job especially when singing about how time can alienate generations. “He takes her fishing but he feels bad; she can’t take her eyes off that Facebook page”. And then speaks of how taking time for granted will result in missed opportunities. “But someday soon, who knows how long, she’ll look up from that phone and he’ll be gone.” The wonderful music video does the song justice with many beautiful, related shots that are often dark, damp, and leafy. Link
Alessia performs the song from the Disney animated film Moana on the beach. She has the mother of all sticks and has fun drawing intricate patterns in the sand. Link
The Calgary twins put out a number of impressive MVs for tracks off the Love You to Death album. We liked this one best. It features a number of music fans dressing up as their favourite icons with suitable backdrops. Included are Madonna, Elvis, David Bowie, and more. Link
Michelle Treacy was one of the breakout artists of the year; her song “Armageddon” made the Billboard Hot 100. She’s from Ottawa. In the MV, she takes notes in her big journal with a plume and decks herself in colourful attire surrounded by a crowd of teddy bears. Can she make it through the Armageddon? Link
Quebec City’s Automat knew just where to find some picturesque landscapes heading over to Iceland for the shoot. It’s always a good idea to use a decent camera to take advantage of the climes which the band has done here. Exploring a new land is always fun and the MV perfectly captures that spirit. Link
Pop-rock platinum superstar Marie-Mai released this MV at the end of last year after we published our best MVs of 2015 list, so we’ve given it a home on 2016’s. The song is a supercharged rock juggernaut with electronic pulses and a cool oriental vibe; the MV is a feast for the eyes. Link
Vancouver’s Grimes treated us with a number of music videos in 2016 and just about any of them could be placed here. We like this one best with its raindrops falling on green grass next to a dilapidated castle and footbridge backed by great architecture among other sights. Link
This popular Edmonton indie pop whiz delighted us with 4 music videos for the 4 tracks on her 2016 EP, Shore. They are all spectacular, shot in Canada, Cuba, and Morocco. We settled on the MV for title-track “Shore”. Link
One of the year’s best bilingual version songs came from Bridgeway and features Drummondville, QC’s Stéphanie Bédard. It has a nice pop/rock feel with rich textures reminiscent of Take That. The MV for “So Far Away” presents some spectacular views of snowy land surrounding a tower. Link
Newcomer Gelsea Mae from Vancouver Island put out the perfect video for pop song “Need You Now” as she dances amidst jiving neon lines, kaleidoscopes, and flashes of glitter. Link
One of the cleverest videos of the year, one can only imagine how much work went into it. A model with various rooms and sets showcases the goings on with the animated figures. Zeds Dead is from Toronto. Link
This music video deserves an award. Inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s classic movie Princess Mononoke, we watch a little one journeying through vast terrain to find something or perhaps hoping to be found. The group filmed 4,000 km around Japan. This is pretty amazing. Link
Making effective use of contrasts between shadowy turquoise verses and a glittering peachy chorus, as well as adding a mixed emotion pink/blue combo for the bridge before going for the kaleidoscope at the close, this is fabulous music video art that complements an artistic pop track perfectly. A delicious dessert for both the ears and eyes. Link
Canadian Music Blog’s 2016 Music Video of the Year
The iceman cometh. When grief-stricken in a cold and very sad, blue world, one must be careful lest the sudden arrival of the warmth of love cause the heart to melt and the body too! Being thrown from one world to the opposite one may be a relief but sometimes the change is too much. Our protagonist is melting like wax and his beautiful companion is rushing to save him with a bag of ice. But will it be too late? However you may interpret it, what an amazing music video, beautifully shot, and with all kinds of meanings. Canadian Music Blog declares “Demain vendredi” from Jason Bajada as 2016’s music video of the year! Link
Avril Lavigne TO VOICE Snow White
Rock queen Avril Lavigne announced today that she will be the voice of Snow White in the upcoming Hollywood animated feature Charming. The film is being produced by John H. Williams who was behind the Shrek series. Charming will bring classic princess protagonists together: Snow White (Avril Lavigne), Cinderella (Ashley Tisdale), and Sleeping Beauty (G.E.M.). The latter is the stage name (standing for Get Everybody Moving) of Hong Kong pop superstar Gloria Tang. Coincidentally, G.E.M. was first discovered by the music industry in 2006 at a singing competition, the name of her self-penned song performed being “Sleeping Beauty”. Demi Lovato will voice the lead character of Lenore in the film. The plot revolves around all princesses being engaged to Prince Charming who has not yet been cast. With singers taking on the roles, we can expect the animated comedy to break out into song. This should be a fun film for all ages to enjoy in 2016.
Michael Bublé in Upcoming Elvis Presley Album
Sony Music will be releasing album If I Can Dream October 30 in which Elvis Presley’s music is given an orchestral makeover thanks to the Royal Philharmonic. Included will be duets with operatic group Il Volo on track “It’s Now or Never” and Burnaby, BC’s Michael Bublé on “Fever”. iTunes
The Weeknd First Performer Confirmed at VMAs
The Weeknd has announced that he will be performing at this year’s MTV video awards on August 30, 2015. He is the first performer to be confirmed. The R&B star from Toronto has dominated the singles charts in 2015 with double-platinum certified “Earned It” and current #2 smash “Can’t Feel My Face”. His album Beauty Behind the Madness will be out on August 28.
Raghav Lyric Video Surpasses Half a Million Views
After only its first week of release, Calgarian JUNO nominee Raghav has attracted over half a million views for the lyric video of his latest single “Until the Sun Comes Up” which features American RnB A-lister Nelly and Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan. The formal music video will be out August 12 and showcases the introduction of electricity and light to a locale in Africa, a humanitarian project with which Raghav has become involved. We have embedded the teaser trailer below. In an interesting note, Raghav stated during a recent BBC interview that when Canadian radio program directors were faced with a choice between versions of the song with Hindi versus English intros and outros, they all chose the Hindi version, a sign of the Canadian broadcast industry’s maturation in the midst of one of the most multicultural countries in the world.
Grimes MAKES THE COVER OF Fader Magazine
Vancouver raised electronic artist Grimes (Claire Boucher) is the cover story in the August/September issue of New York based Fader magazine which specializes in cutting-edge music, fashion, style, and culture. In a piece of trivia, The Fader was the first print publication to be launched through iTunes and has been credited with giving exposure to artists prior to mainstream success, including Drake. You can view the full article on Grimes here.
Drake’s OVO Fest 2015 Marred By Two Shooting Deaths
On to some bad news. OVO Fest is an annual concert hosted by Canadian rapper Drake in Toronto, which began on August 2, 2009, and is held during the civic holiday long weekend. Although the timing coincides with Toronto’s Caribana festival which celebrates Caribbean culture, OVO Fest features artists more inclined towards American urban music than Caribbean soca, calypso, zouk, and reggae. OVO Fest is named after Drake-created record label OVO (October’s Very Own) Sound.
2015’s two-day OVO Fest, headlined by acts such as Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, was marred by an after-party shooting that killed Duvel Hibbert, 23, of Brampton and Ariela Navarro-Fenoy, 26, of Toronto. As of late, Drake’s public squabbles with American rapper Meek Mill, whether staged or genuine, have resulted in an upsurge of record sales for both parties. Police have some leads in the murders, but no arrests have been made thus far in the investigation. We offer our condolences to the family and friends of the two young victims.
New CSHF Song Inductees
Back to the good news, The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) recently inducted two classics. “When My Baby Smiles at Me” was composed by Montrealer Billy Munro. The song made big band leader Ted Lewis an international star and inspired the eponymous 1948 Oscar-nominated film that starred Betty Grable. This ragtime piece has been recorded many times by such notables as Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller.
“Vivre en Amour” was Luc Cousineau’s first hit as a soloist. He co-wrote the song with lyricist Roger Magnan. It was released in May 1976 and championed the Franco radio charts. It was awarded by SOCAN in 1995 for achieving 25,000 spins.
Jill Barber freshens up these two vintage pieces for a modern audience. We have embedded the two videos from CBC music below.
While still awaiting followup to her JUNO winning song “You and I”, we can at least enjoy some songs Oakville, ON’s Anjulie has written for others. The latest is track “In the Blue” which appears on the deluxe edition of Kelly Clarkson’s latest album, Piece By Piece. The album debuted at #4 last week. Link
NFL American football cornerback Prince Amukamara decided to show his support for the Canadian Music Industry by swinging up north to attend the JUNO Awards! In an interview with Lauren Toyota on the red carpet, he stated that he was attending out of his love for Canadian music, especially his favourite artists Drake, Justin Bieber, and Michael Bublé. He said his wife loves Canadian artists too, including Alanis Morissette and The Weeknd. Link
The United Kingdom has unveiled its best-selling albums of the new millennium so far, and a Canadian artist is at #7: Michael Bublé for Crazy Love. His Christmas is at #28. Those are the only Canadian albums in the Top 50. Link
Here at home, deadmau5 has scored his very first platinum single. Music Canada recently gave the certification to “Seeya”, marking sales of 80,000 units. Album 4×4=12 was also a platinum seller. Link
Louis-Jean Cormier, creative genius and lead singer of Polaris Prize winning band Karkwa, and the man who won all those Félix awards (and a JUNO!) for his debut solo album Le treizième étage, is following up with album Les grandes artères which is due out next week! Also expected out by the end of the month are new albums from Hayden, Mia Martina, Ron Sexsmith, Dear Rouge, Alex Cuba, Three Days Grace, and more! Link
We leave you with recently released music video from Grimes. She says that this song, “REALiTi” will not be included on her next album and that the MV is a montage of her travels through Asia.
Vancouver’s Claire Boucher, better known as Grimes, wooed many music writers with her JUNO award winning eclectic electronic album Visions. AllMusic named it the #1 album of 2012. A new album from Grimes is expected out later this year. In the meantime, you can enjoy her latest single “Go” via its music video embedded below. It is perhaps the most sumptuous desert themed MV since Gigi Leung’s “Price of Love” and has thus far accumulated over a million views.
This week, at least half a dozen maple dipped singles materialized on the digital shelves of online retailers. Hopefully, at least one of them will hit the spot for you. Montréal EDM wizard and music producer Tiga has released “Bugatti” showing that he still has the magic that helped him win a JUNO award back in 2007. Speaking of JUNO award winning artists, Vancouver’s Grimes has a new song out called “Go“. This one, which features Canadian producer Blood Diamonds, is more mainstream than her previous avant-garde efforts. This owes to its being originally written for Rihanna.
Austin Belle is a new country duo from Vancouver. Singer-songwriter Stacey McKitrick was part of chart-topping supergroup Young Artists For Haiti. The other half of Austin Belle is Jesse Wainwright, a member of multiplatinum rock band State of Shock. The duo released a single earlier in the year. “Just Drive” is the followup.
Diamond veteran Tom Cochrane‘s latest tune is “Sunday Afternoon Hang” which proves that the Manitoban still has it. Alberta’s Raghav, after Hot 100 charting single “WooHoo” and writing music for Hollywood feature films, has a new feel-good dance anthem for the summer entitled “Take Me Away“. Finally, Hot 100 charting Vernon BC singer Andrew Allen isn’t just thinking about anyone; he’s … “Thinking About You“.
Links – Pick Your Summer Anthem(s)
Electronic music seems too broad to be a genre in itself. It is like having a category called “acoustic music” which could include a symphony orchestra, a jazz ensemble, a gospel choir, a honkytonk pianist, a Caribbean steel drum band, or a yodeller on a banjo. Similarly, electronic music would encompass the classical cinematic style of Vangelis, the techno dance vibes of deadmau5, the industrial sounds of Nine Inch Nails, the jazzy Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, the pop sensibilities of The Human League, the lounge flavourings of Air, or the trip hop of Tricky. But, because there are relatively less Canadian musicians keying the synths, it does make sense for now to round them all up under one umbrella. Below are the five 2013 JUNO-nominated works for Electronic Album of the Year.
Crystal Castles III
Toronto’s Crystal Castles is an experimental electronic duo consisting of Alice Glass and Ethan Krath. This is their third JUNO nomination. This work, their third album, was recorded in Warsaw and mixed in London, England. The album is all about the concept of oppression which one can tell from a cursory glance at the song titles. Crystal Castles began their musical odyssey by converting classic video game sounds to song. Their new album takes us on a night visit to the damp, cobweb-laden corridors of Dr. Frankenstein’s castle. Glass’ scream-wailing singing sounds as if it’s echoing out from a dungeon behind a wall of synthesizers possessed by ghosts. A good, solid album. But beware: crankin’ it up just may shatter any crystal you’ve got at home.
Jiaolong by Daphni
The man behind JUNO award winning Caribou, Dan Snaith, has vectored out a beat-oriented side project called Daphni, and this is the first album to shake up the dance floor under that moniker. Dan is from the Hamilton suburb of Dundas and holds a PhD in mathematics. Thus, technically, we should be calling him Dr. Snaith. If electronic music could be “stripped down”, a term overused in so-called unplugged music, Jiaolong (Chinese for dragon), does just that. Daphni gets down to basics focussing on samples, beats, grooves, and synth riffs, the common unifier being repetition delivered with mathematical precision. You will need a set of subwoofers to give this album its just desserts.
Visions by Grimes
Allmusic named this as the #1 album in the world of 2012, and it was shortlisted by Canada’s Polaris Prize group. Former ballerina Claire Boucher is a Vancouverite of French Canadian descent and launched her music career while studying Russian literature and neuroscience at McGill University in Montréal. Inspired by the Cocteau Twins and concerts put on by local musicians at Lab Synthèse, an abandoned textile factory, she began experimenting with musical cocktails like a mad scientist mixing chemicals beamed down to earth from an alien planet. Grimes has released four albums in the past two years. Visions was released in early 2012. Her vocals are as ethereal as the soundscapes but add ambient newage priestess panache to the heavy gothic darkwave synths generating the music. The result is weird and brilliant.
Shrines by Purity Ring
Purity Ring is a duo from Edmonton consisting of vocalist Megan James and Corin Roddick. The band formed in 2010 and released several singles leading up to the launch of debut album Shrines in 2012. Each song emphasizes a full spread of sounds and effects more than melody. Their sound is crisp, clear, experimental, bright, playful, and airy with pockets of both warmth and chill. Shrines includes their debut single from January 2011, “Ungirthed”, as well as what is perhaps their signature song “Fineshrine”. I would love to walk into a trendy late night restaurant with black and neon lights and hear this playing at a volume just high enough to drown out conversation. This is a delightful work of art.
TRST by Trust
This is our favourite of the batch and we ranked it as the 3rd best album of 2012. Their sound is dark and atmospheric, dreamy and hypnotic, sombre and intense, with sparkles of space dust from some eerie planet on a collision course with Earth. This is gothic electronic rock at its very best with synth grunts, blips, and pulses, and melodies taking on unexpected twists and turns on a joy ride to the edge of the unknown. Put this record on and you will instantly enter a cave lit with torches and neon lights, a flying saucer half buried in a wall, and a secret chamber at the back containing a stargate. JUNO-nominated Toronto band Austra’s Maya Postepski met Winnipeg’s Robert Alfons in 2009, and they experienced musical chemistry. They began writing songs and formed the band Trust the following year. TRST is the duo’s debut LP.
Ballerina Claire Boucher graduated from Lord Byng Secondary in Vancouver, situated in the posh West Point Grey neighbourhood, where the most expensive houses in the city lie. Being of French Canadian descent, she decided to explore her roots and attend McGill University in Montréal where she studied Russian literature and neuroscience. When she was not busy with academics, she attended concerts put on by local musicians at Lab Synthèse, an abandoned textile factory. She fell in love with music, especially the Cocteau Twins, and began making some of her own, adopting the stage name Grimes.
She also fell in love with a man from the United States. They built a boat together deciding to sail down the Mississippi River. The houseboat was christened the “Velvet Glove Cast in Iron” and was stocked with sacks of potatoes, chickens, a typewriter, and a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. They renamed themselves Varuschka and Zelda Xox. In the midst of their journey, the chickens caught a virus and perished. They suffered engine trouble and were confronted by the police. Ah, the adventures of youth.
Grimes has released four albums in the past two years, her latest earlier this year (Visions) which has been shortlisted for the Polaris prize. Garbed in priestess attire and backed by smoke machines, she performed “Genesis” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Her videos have been described as “weird” but we all know that this is another word for creative. Most of her MVs have achieved views well into seven-digit figures. The vid for “Oblivion” is a little more mainstream. Enjoy the work of the very talented Grimes – a mix of dark wave and new age or as she describes it “goth/ambient”.