Unique Sounds Abound on New Releases for March 3, 2017


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.


Ice Conduit to the 2015 JUNOs: Adult Alternative Album of the Year

Adult Alternative Album Nominees copy

As difficult as defining Alternative Music is, even harder is Adult Alternative. This is a newer category at the JUNOs, introduced in 2005. CARAS takes a stab at defining it with the following words:

“The Adult Alternative category is represented by a rich and varied tapestry of artists who may be described as singer/songwriter at their core. A submission to AA can cull from the fringe of, or merge sounds from many core genres including but not limited to Pop, Rock, Alternative, Alt. Country, Vocal Jazz, Folk/Roots/Traditional, World Music and Blues. Selections that are suited to AA rather than one of the aforementioned genres might include music that is album oriented as opposed to singles oriented, with stylings and elements that could inhibit broad-based commercial airplay, though radio and video play are not disqualifying factors. Generally music represented in this category would attract an adult listener with diverse tastes just outside the mainstream. As an example, recent JUNO Awards Adult Alternative submissions might have included artists such as Joni Mitchell, Daniel Lanois, Rufus Wainwright, Bruce Cockburn, Leonard Cohen, Kathleen Edwards, Ron Sexsmith, Blue Rodeo, Neil Young etc.”

This year’s nominees are Bahamas Is Afie by Bahamas, Compostela by Jenn Grant, The Lemon Squeeze by Jeremy Fisher, Popular Problems by Leonard Cohen, and Sleeping Operator by The Barr Brothers. All up for the award this year have been nominated in the past. Leonard Cohen is the only one to have won, 6 JUNOs in total. Cohen is also the only one to have scored certifications, the highest being double platinum for album The Future. He is certainly the front runner for the award; however, the JUNOs may decide to reward someone new in the category this year.

Jenn Grant Twinkles In Compostela

Jenn Grant - CompostelaJUNO nominee Jenn Grant is from Lake Echo, NS, and began her recording career in 2005. Her fifth album Compostela is out now, inspired by a trip to Spain. Essentially adult contemporary enriched by an unorthodox approach and creative dabbling, there is much to be admired. Jenn went all out, inviting a legion of instruments to participate in the recording – the charango, congas, flutes, harps, lap steel, piano, violins, and the Wurlitzer. A number of fellows pop up on the disc as well including Sarah Harmer, Buck 65, and Ron Sexsmith.  iTunes

Roundup of Selected New Releases 21 October 2014

21 oct 2014 albums collage copy

One of the most anticipated releases of the year, Kiesza’s Sound of a Woman, is out now. The Calgarian dance/house phenomenon is one of the year’s hottest new stars. New Brunswick’s multiplatinum singer Roch Voisine follows up his greatest hits release with brand new studio album, Movin’ On Maybe. Winnipeg country master Doc Walker who has scored 11 Billboard Hot 100 hits is back with The 8th. Two-time JUNO nominee Oh Susanna drops Namedropper, one of the most beautiful roots albums of the year. Also from Toronto, folk-pop JUNO winner Elliott Brood gives us Work and Love. Great alt rock album Tss Tss is out from Chocolat.

Lake Echo, NS JUNO nominee Jenn Grant returns in top form with alt-AC album Compostela. Blue Volvo is a rap album from Montreal’s Loud Lary Ajust. Hey Rosetta is a JUNO-nominated alt-pop band from St. John’s. The new album is Second Sight. Televised comedy series Les Appendices releases an album of tunes from its cast members covering Season 7.

A couple of magnificent EPs appear this week. Cat Thomson is a brand new artist from Calgary and has been signed to Vancouver label 604 Records. Her excellent debut, Puzzle, is adult contemporary with some pop/rock in the mix. Mauka is the new spine-tingling EP from New Brunswick electronic duo Vogue Dots. Self-titled EP Highs is alt-pop from the new Toronto band.

On a side note, Diana Krall’s Wallflower album under Verve Music Group is delayed a second time. The new release date is February 2015. Diana on her Facebook page explains the reason for the second delay: “I’m deeply saddened that I will have to postpone the release of my new album Wallflower and the Wallflower U.S Fall Tour until next year. I’ve been battling a case of pneumonia and am under doctor’s orders to rest for the next few months in order to regain my strength and good health.” We send our jazz empress our best wishes.

East Coast Music Awards and Canadian Music Week

Confederation BridgeBesides the JUNO Awards and the ADISQ Felix Awards, Canada has a host of niche awards for music. Atlantic Canada is small in population but large in music scene, and the 2014 East Coast Music Awards has wrapped up in PEI. Album of the Year went to Old Man Luedecke for Tender Is the Night, Song of the Year to Jenn Grant for “I’ve Got Your Fire”, Aboriginal Recording of the Year to City Natives for 4 Kingz, and Francophone Recording of the Year to Les Hay Babies for EP Le Folio. You can find a full winners list here.

Moving over to the megalopolis, Canadian Music Week will take place May 6 to 10 in Toronto. We have already provided a list of nominees for the Canadian Radio Music Awards here. Other awards given out are The Crystal Awards for the best in radio programming, The Rosalie Award for an outstanding female radio broadcaster, Industry Awards, and The Indies. The latter awards are given to the best music from artists not signed to one of the three major record labels. The CMW website is here. The cool thing about the Indies is we can all vote for the winners among the nominees. The winners will be decided by a mixture of public votes and the industry (the website does not state the relative weighting of the two). To vote for the winners, go here.

The Day After and Other Releases

While The Hip, 3 Days Grace, Diana K, and deadmau5 are dominating albums sales these days, there have been a few new releases from noteworthy artists that deserve a mention.

Le jour d’apres, Sylvain Cossette

Platinum selling, multiple Félix winning, JUNO nominated, and fluently bilingual recording artist Sylvain Cossette, after ripping through his impressive 1970s cover song albums, has dropped a brand new studio album entitled Le jour d’apres, his first original Francophone album in a dozen years! He had released the single “Je ferai sans toi” back in June. (We’ve embedded the choice music video below). “Pour toujours” is currently the most popular track and includes vocals by his daughter Elizabeth. The album contains mostly power ballads featuring Sylvain’s characteristic warm and robust voice. Sylvain will tour eastern Canada starting in the fall of 2013

iTunes     Official Website

Songs from the Last Day on Earth, David Usher

His days with Vancouver rock band Moist are long gone, but as a soloist, David Usher continues to make music which has achieved platinum sales and won him two JUNO awards. His current style can be described as power-folk. Showcasing popular tunes “See the Stars” (the opener) and “Lonely People”, David has cut his latest studio album, Songs from the Last Day on Earth which revolves around the theme of a group of friends gathering for the last time at the end of the world. Making use of his bilingual talents, the album includes Francophone versions of two of its tracks.

iTunes     Official Website

No. 2, Bernard Adamus

Bernard Adamus plays a style of music which has been dubbed “trash-folk”. Earlier this year, Lisa LeBlanc, who also embraces this genre, scored a hit self-titled album. It involves a boisterous, twangy singing style. This is music that epitomizes the heart of country life, at times embodying an energetic spirit of raring to go milk the cows in the barn in the early morn, and at others overcome with perspiring sluggishness from baking in the sun all day hoeing the fields. Bernard spices things up with dashes of harmonica, honkytonk piano, horns, and bluesy guitar. He also experiments with various vocal reverberations. Some songs sound like he is singing from inside the bathroom, others from right beside your ear, and yet others from atop a haystack. Last week, this fine little work of art debuted on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart at No. 6.

iTunes     Official Website

Spectators, Amelia Curran

In 2010, the JUNO for roots and traditional album of the year by a solo artist went to Amelia Curran (Hunter, Hunter). She has just now released a followup entitled Spectators. It is her fourth release. Amelia is originally from St. John’s but now lives in Halifax. This work was given the big city Toronto treatment by Dan Mangan’s producer John Critchley. She makes ample use of a horn section which adds extra pizzazz, though the strongest element is her soothing voice. You do not need to strain your ears to make out the verses of soulful poetry on this work, as her vocals come through crystal clear in her gorgeous Canadian accent.

iTunes     Official Website

The Beautiful Wild, Jenn Grant

Also from Halifax (and on the same record label as Amelia Curran) is JUNO-nominated recording artist Jenn Grant, originally from PEI. Her new album The Beautiful Wild opens with an orchestral suite and concludes with a “hidden track” at the end—a haunting piano ballad cover of “Eye of the Tiger”. Grant has a unique voice and likes to include prominent and complex percussion on her folk-pop tunes. The album has some sitar, banjos, snare drum rolls, harp, and even a hint of 1950s doo-wop. Jenn likes to paint and usually does her own album covers. She is currently on tour.

iTunes     Official Website