New Releases 20 November 2015

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Eight Canadian albums deck the halls of record shops this week. Surprise, surprise, while fresh releases by Adele and Enya are eating up the charts and Bieber and 1D are still going strong from last week, a couple of Canadian acts are giving them all a run for their money with new albums. In the lead of these on iTunes is Manu Militari, a popular Francophone rapper from Montreal. Océan is the name of his album. Right behind him is two-time JUNO nominated Les Trois Accords from Drummondville, QC. Continuing to mix rock with often humorous lyrics, the new album is called Joie d’être gai.

More Montreal rap appears in the form of Reality Check by Vendetta. Released back on the 17th is a delicious self-titled rock album from Winnipeg’s amazing Brandy Zdan. Alternative artist Foxtrott from Montreal launches the very cool A Taller Us.

For album N’we Jinan the Gathering, Vol. 2, Quebec-based label N’we Jinan produces a various artists compilation of songs by First Nations youth all across Canada and in a few different genres. In Tous en choeur, legendary country singer-songwriter Patrick Norman performs some of his greatest hits with the accompaniment of a choir. Finally, ten-time JUNO winning multiplatinum rock group Rush treats us with live album R40 Live in celebration of 40 years in music.

The Canadian album count for 2015 to date is 626 LPs and 140 EPs. There will be a few more releases next week. Not much is expected in December. Last year the whole month saw only seven LPs.

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Ice Conduit to the 2013 ADISQ Gala: Rock Album of the Year Nominees

Chic de ville by Daniel Bélanger

Daniel Belanger Chic de VilleThis rich blend of rockabilly and country from multiple JUNO-winning, double-platinum Daniel Bélanger made it to #2 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart. Daniel has sold over half a million records since his debut in ’92. He provides a number of vocal styles through the album, whether it’s Roy Orbison reverb, 5th gear falsetto, letting loose, or lullabying. On this fabulous disc, Daniel masters the music of train chugging bass, Brylcreem-haired guitar playing, Hawaii 5-0 drumming, and play-it-again-Sam piano, all garnished with intricate string arrangements.

Le treizième étage by Louis-Jean Cormier

Louis-Jean Cormier - Le Treizieme EtageThis stunning piece of work is the front man of Karkwa’s first solo album, and it nabbed the JUNO for Francophone Album of the Year in April. It is melancholy, reflective, introspective, and at times psychedelic, centered on acoustic guitar with some electric jolts and electronic ambiance to make the listener feel as if he is waddling through dust on the dark side of the moon. Cormier’s singing style of half-whispered determined calm is a perfect match for the soft strums of the guitar that seem to come at you as if from the no-zone space of the thirteenth floor.

Si tel est ton désir by Jean-Marc Couture

Jean-Marc Couture - Si tel est ton desirWinner of last year’s Star Académie, New Brunswick’s Jean-Marc Couture released his debut (bilingual) album this year, the product of the songwriting and production talents of Québec’s elite including Daniel Bélanger, Michel Pagliaro, Coeur de Pirate, Éric Lapointe, Marc Dupré, and Fred St-Gelais. Jean-Marc threw a performance-based album release party at the Olympia in Montréal to an enthusiastic crowd of 2,000 strong. His vocal cords and guitar strings seem to be soul mates breaking down the barriers of time to link the classic with the contemporary on this fine work.

Du plaisir et des bombes by Keith Kouna

Keith Kouna - Du plaisir et des bombesKeith won the SOCAN Songwriting Prize this year for his folky “Batiscan” receiving the highest number of votes from the public among the five nominated works. This is his second album (his first appeared in 2008). In general, this is a harder and punkier brand of rock than on the other albums in this ADISQ category; however, there is quite a bit of variety. Keith does a pretty good job at rapping on “Pas de panique” and dishes out some creepiness on “Anna”. He cooks up a serious piano ballad, “Napalm” and gets our funny bones jiggling with the jestful “Les pouliches”.

J’aime ta grand-mère by Les Trois Accords

Les Trois Accords - J'aime ta grand-mereAlternative rock band Les Trois Accords have scored a number of big hit singles and have opened for The Rolling Stones. They have won multiple Félix awards and been nominated for a JUNO twice. The band has always emphasized art over logic adding dashes of humour and idiosyncrasy bordering on the absurd helping them to score one gold and one platinum album. J’aime ta grand-mere, their fifth LP, pays tribute to some indie and garage rock, punk, and British new wave. As well, country legend Renée Martel makes an appearance on one of the tracks.

Toque Dynamos of 2012

Lily C.

Lily COpting to dabble in the realm of adult contemporary / easy listening which offers us music that is delicate, sweet, light, and fun is new Toronto singer-songwriter Lily C. (the C stands for Cheng). Lily began her musical career on a trip to east Asia undertaken to get in touch with her ancestral roots. She began writing and performing her songs drawing large audiences, released an independent album, Perfect Moment, and worked as a DJ and TV host. When ill health struck her family, she returned to Canada in 2007 touring Ontario and writing new songs. In 2012, Lily released her first album in Canada, Reaching for Sunlight, which was featured on the CBC. “Take Your Shoes Off” was the most popular track while “I Am a Bee” was named by The Canadian Music Blog as one of the ten best songs of 2012.

Johnny Reid

Johnny ReidJohnny is a naturalized Canadian adult contemporary singer originally from Scotland. He has won several JUNO awards. Although he has scored a number of hit singles on the country charts, he has done best in terms of sales in the albums department. All of his last 5 LPs have been certified platinum or better. His first album, Another Day, Another Dime came out in 1997. He began receiving attention with his second self-titled work with radio airplay. It was his third album, Born to Roll, in 2005 and lead single “You Still Own Me” (later covered by Emerson Drive) where things took off. Reid released Fire It Up in 2012, three of its tracks making an appearance on the Canadian Hot 100. The album itself went platinum making it one of the most successful Canadian albums of the year. 2015 album What Love Is All About debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts.

Massari

MassariTrilingual Massari is a very talented Canadian R&B singer from Ottawa known for his culturally rich sound. His debut, JUNO-nominated, self-titled 2006 album was certified gold and spawned several hit singles including “Be Easy”. But before that Massari had started out in the early years of the new millennium releasing singles. “Spitfire” was aired on radio stations in Ottawa. Massari’s songs have been popular internationally many recorded under local record label CP Records. In 2012, Massari released new single “Brand New Day” which came within a hair’s breadth of the Top 40 (#41 on the Canadian Hot 100). Massari has collaborated with label mates Belly and Mia Martina.

Les Trois Accords

Les Trois AccordsDrummondville, Québec’s alternative rock band Les Trois Accords have scored a number of big hit singles; to date eight have appeared in CKOI’s year-end Top 50. They have been nominated for 19 Félix awards winning 4 of them and been nominated for a JUNO twice. The band has always emphasized art over logic adding dashes of humour and idiosyncrasy bordering on the absurd. Their debut studio LP was released in 2003 and then re-released as Gros mammouth album turbo the following year with 2 bonus tracks. It was a platinum album. In 2005 it was nominated for a JUNO and won the Félix for Best-Selling Album of the Year, the band being named Group of the Year. Les Trois Accords’ second album went gold and won the Félix for Rock Album of the Year. Their fourth album secured their second JUNO nomination in 2010. The band released its fifth studio album, J’aime ta grand-mère, in 2012. It pays tribute to some indie and garage rock, punk, and British new wave. As well, country legend Renée Martel makes an appearance on one of the tracks.  The album’s title track made the weekly Canadian Hot 100 at the end of December. Album Joie d’etre gai followed in 2015.

Elisapie

ElisapieThe northern third of Québec is known as Nunavik, 90% of whose inhabitants are Inuit living in some 14 villages around the coast. The second northernmost of these is Salluit, on the Sugluk Inlet, with a population of about 1,350 and apparently rapidly growing. It is not accessible by road, only by air. This is where Canadian recording artist Elisapie Isaac grew up. Her mother was Inuk and father from Newfoundland. Adopted at birth, she was raised by an Inuit family and was no doubt enriched by learning this beautiful culture. She is now based in Montréal. The press has commented that, although from the icy north, she has a voice and a stage presence that succeeds in melting the hearts of her audience. Elisapie first appeared in a duo with Alain Auger called Taima whose self-titled (and only) album won the JUNO for Aboriginal Recording of the Year in 2005. Her solo debut, trilingual, jazzy folk album, There Will Be Stars, was released in 2009 and sold 25,000 copies which was enough to attract attention south of the border. For her second work, Travelling Love, in 2012, Elisapie decided to move to a more pop/rock sound while retaining some of her folk roots. Track “The Love You Gave” was named by iTunes as “single of the week”.

Karl Wolf

Karl WolfKarl is a naturalized Canadian (originally from Lebanon) based in Montreal. He sings, composes, and produces as well. He began his musical odyssey as backup singer for Felix award winning band Dubmatique and then went on as the new lead singer for popular band Sky. His debut solo album Face Behind the Face was released in 2006 and 3 subsequent LPs came out thereafter, including 2012’s Finally Free. He has been nominated for 3 JUNO awards. Thus far, his greatest success has been in the singles department. He has scored 4 gold songs, and his 2008 reworking of Toto’s “Africa” was certified triple platinum. In 2012, Karl Wolf’s “Mash It Up” was the 94th biggest hit of the year.

New Album Releases, Batch #12-1025

Pour Toi by Nicola Ciccone

Félix-winning, JUNO-nominated Italian-Canadian Nicola Ciccone, based in Montréal, has released his 7th album, Pour Toi.  Evviva!  This gifted adult contemporary singer has already scored one platinum and two gold albums.  For his new work, he teamed up with producer Louis Côté who has worked with Shym and K-Maro.  The title-track has already been released as a single complete with a music video.  The video was filmed at the Pont des Arts in Paris showing love locks on a chain-link fence.  This is a ritual popular in France and some other spots around the world in which padlocks bearing names of lovers engraved are attached to a public fixture as a symbol of everlasting love.

Official Website     iTunes

J’aime ta grand-mere by Les Trois Accords

Alternative rock band Les Trois Accords have scored a number of big hit singles and have opened for The Rolling Stones for some of their Canadian shows.  They have won multiple Félix awards and been nominated for a JUNO twice.  Although originally from Drummondville, QC, they have shown some Canadian love by writing a song about Saskatchewan.  The band has always emphasized art over logic adding dashes of humour and idiosyncrasy bordering on the absurd.  With one gold and one platinum album, they have just launched studio album number 5, J’aime ta grand-mere.  The new album pays tribute to some indie and garage rock, punk, and British new wave.  As well, country legend Renée Martel makes an appearance on one of the tracks.

Official Website     iTunes

Free Dimensional by Diamond Rings

Diamond Rings is in fact a solo artist named John O’Regan from Toronto.  His debut album earned him a JUNO nomination for New Artist of the Year and enabled him to open for Robyn.  For his second album, he recruited producer Damian Taylor who has worked with Bjork and The Killers.  For those of you who grew up in the early 80s and are pining for some new music that echoes those new wave synths of Blancmange and Simple Minds look no further than Free Dimensional.  “I’m Just Me” is the first single, the music video showcasing his glittery space cadet wardrobe, square shades, Bowie haircut, dry ice, green laser beams, and black lights.  But his flashy stage persona is not all that is to be admired.  The music on this album is a big move forward from his last work.

Official Website     iTunes

Modern Superstitions by Modern Superstitions

The band describes going through quite a bit of sweat, toil, and turmoil cooking up the tracks that made the final cut, changing jobs, homes, lovers, and seasons.  The result is that Toronto’s new alternative rock band Modern Superstitions has released its debut (self-titled) album as followup to an EP two years ago.  This is actually a very good album presenting a jingly indie rock quality like Siouxsie and the Banshees after swallowing a mouth-full of vitamins.  The album was tweaked by a pair of JUNO-nominated producers: Brian Borcherdt and Ben Cook.  The band is led by singer Nyssa Rosaleen who on tracks like “String to the Sun” proves she has the vocals to stir up a board room of corporate executives. 

Official Website     iTunes