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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Take HWYS to the Beaches

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HWYS - Beaches EPDuo HWYS is excited to have just released EP Beaches through Lisbon Lux Records, a label that specializes in progressive music. This follows some buzz generated by singles “Bliss” and “Stranger” which are included on this superb disc. Sharing a love of modern synthpop and old school romantic pop, like Phil Collins, HWYS gift the world with the debut extended play. The analogue synths provide a welcome nostalgic feel while the melodies are catchy. This is like the music of Lights or Tegan & Sara with the vocals of Coleman Hell. In other words very much worth checking out. You can stream the disc in full at Bandcamp or YouTube. Very nice EP!  iTunes

New Releases: Late August 2016

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As we celebrate coming off of a successful summer Olympic games and our athletic heroes, most notably Penny Oleksiak, Rosie MacLennan, Erica Wiebe, and Derek Drouin and as some of us prepare to return to school, some fantastic new music has been released these last two weeks of August 2016 to serve as the soundtrack of our journey into September and beyond.

On August 16, Vancouver Island native Stef Lang gifted the world with EP Arrows Part 2, a sequel to last year’s extended play record. If nothing else, the new pop EP confirms our belief that she is incapable of writing a subpar song.

On August 19, dark wave electronic duo Crystal Castles of Toronto launched full-length album Amnesty (I). It is filled with hauntingly chilling anthems sounding like they were recorded in a dark, mouldy dungeon (that’s meant as a compliment). Also from Toronto, urban music specialist Tory Lanez, a Billboard Hot 100 charting artist, released LP I Told You which is selling well. Vancouver project Every Last Chance rewarded us with self-titled EP containing a couple of singles which created some buzz and one of which we named the best song of 2015. This is essential fresh sounding EDM that will pump up your day.

On August 26, a batch of gems, plugged as back to school releases no doubt, grants us pure pleasure. We begin with Allan Hurd. He’s from off-island Montreal suburb Saint-Bruno-de-Montarvill. In Tdah Vol I. he presents some delightful, folky singer-songwriter tracks. His fellow Canadian Céline Dion, as promised, gets the world’s oceans a-swirl with her latest album Encore un soir currently at the summit of the iTunes chart. The Charlemagne, QC singer has done it again with mostly original tracks composed by both Canadian and international songwriters.

Those who like to lap up the rap can check out Ça vient du Coeur by Montreal’s Fuccè as well as Résiste by Psycadelick. Well, yes, Whitehorse, YT is a team player, thanks to Old Cabin. Mini-album Saturn Return is a nicely done eclectic blend of good tunes. Selling quite well is the self-titled album by Toronto’s Tuns replete with catchy Beatles-esque tunes or more generally 60s pop. Also from Toronto, but more interested in making shoegazing alternative rock is duo Twist presenting new album Spectral. Remarkably good is the new disc from Montreal DJ, whom we acquired from Venezuela, Vito V. The dance album is entitled Illusions of Grandeur and is very much worth checking out.

Neither a studio album nor an EP is Emotion Side B by Mission, BC’s Carly Rae Jepsen, a companion disc to her Polaris shortlisted, critically acclaimed 2015 album Emotion. As has been said, though the tracks are album outtakes, any one of them is better than 90% of the pop songs of 2016. It is currently sitting in the iTunes Top 10.

Another beautiful work is the very classy R&B inflected EP CDW by Toronto’s Charlotte Day Wilson. New wave synth pop is done exquisitely by Montreal’s HWYS on new EP Beaches.

No country discs out this week so we leave you with the lyric video from talented Edmonton indie artist Andrea Nixon, “Innerglow” hot off the video press. Over the next week we will provide more in-depth reviews of some of the LPs and EPs above.