New Releases Oct 27: Downie, TOAD, Wanting

This week sees at least 26 Canadian artist LPs and 5 EPs bringing our year-to-date totals to 597 LPs and 113 EPs. Before we get to the new discs, there are a couple of newsworthy items to talk about.

Drake Does Not Submit to the Grammys

Drake stirred things up in some media circles recently because he did not submit his album More Life for consideration to the U.S. Grammy Awards. The diamond recording artist also did not submit any tracks from the album. More Life debuted at #1 on the official charts and has gone double platinum spawning four Top 10 hits: “Passionfruit”, “Portland”, “Blem”, and “Fake Love”. Nominations for the flagship U.S. music awards gala will be announced November 28. The rapper from Toronto has won three Grammys to date, and did not attend this year’s show despite winning two. His PR folks haven’t offered comment. It remains to be seen whether the album will be submitted to the JUNOs.

Kristina Maria Explains Her Absence

Highly successful, JUNO nominated Ottawan dance pop star Kristina Maria has been largely absent from social media over the past few years, and fans have been worried, including us. Kristina’s debut album Tell the World spawned an incredible 6 charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100; five of which made the Top 40, and three of which went gold. Maria finally spilled the beans on what has happened in a recent post. We quote it below.

I feel like I’ve been hiding from you guys, and it’s not what I wanted to do, I promise. I spent that last 2 years working on my new album and I had to walk away from the project because somethings weren’t feeling right. I’m not going to go into detail but I left my label to pursue music independently, well at least for now. I’ll be forever thankful for everything my previous label has done but my focus needs to be on me giving my fans 100% of who I am. I’ve hyped you guys up and then left you out in the dark and it hurts me to not be able to share what I’ve worked so hard on. I’m starting over from the ground up and to all my fans that stuck around, honestly I owe you the world!! I’m not going to rush a release or make any promises, all I can say for now is thank you.

New Releases: What’s Hot

His final album, a sensitive double disc effort, is a beauty. Gord Downie‘s Introduce Yerself tops iTunes as fans across the country mourn the Kingstoner’s passing from glioblastoma.

JUNO winning Delta, BC rock band Theory of a Deadman gives us a Wake Up Call on the new album sitting comfortably in the iTunes Top 10.

Toronto R&B duo Majid Jordan examines The Space Between. Between what, we do not know. The album is very impressive, rich and catchy with downtempo grooves and perky beats.

New Releases: What’s Cool

Some of you may remember Pembroke, Ontario’s Blinker the Star‘s nifty brand of alternative rock in the 90s. Well, guess what, the band is still active, presenting fresh album 8 of Hearts which is a treat.

Vancouver based Wanting serves up her third album with the Nettwerk Music Group, LLL, which stands for Love, Loss, Latitude. One of the finest songwriters in the land, Wanting provides a neapolitan flavour disc of singer-songwriter, pop, and adult contemporary.

Toronto jazz group Turboprop wants to Rev things up, and does just that. Ernesto Cervini recruits expert players Tara Davidson, Joel Frahm, William Carn, Adrean Farrugia, and Dan Loomis on this great disc.

Saskatoon double JUNO nominated group The Deep Dark Woods is never short of ideas. Yarrow continues the creative journey in the realm of picturesque alternative folk.

There are a couple of Children’s albums out this week. Three-time JUNO winner Jack Grunsky outdoes himself on the highly engaging Theatro Muppiloo which is super fun for folks of all ages.

Finally, those who dig alternative modern rock will find plenty of savoury treats on Le trésor des bas fonds from Nico Lelièvre.

Lexi Strate

Western Canadian award-winning pop artist Lexi Strate has released brand new single “Going Going Gone” complete with a VHS-themed music video which we embed below. After that, find the above albums plus plenty more in a table of new releases.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE ORIGIN
…Rocheuses Arthur L’aventurier Children’s QC
Winnowing Bird City Folk ON
8 of Hearts Blinker The Star Alt Rock ON
Influence Brain Size 61 Punk Rock QC
Transistor The Brood Alt NS
Apollo Les Chercheurs d’or S-S QC
Gaspericana Dans l’Shed Roots QC
High Times Dan Talevski Pop ON
Yarrow The Deep Dark Woods Alt Folk SK
Introduce Yerself Gord Downie Alt ON
Theatro Muppiloo Jack Grunsky Children’s ON
Post Meridiem Jasper Sloan Yip S-S BC
Cabanon Jean-Marc Couture Rock NB
Priere Kaas Sky Yassong Reggae QC
Working Man’s Blues Kat Goldman S-S ON
Requiem Kristina & A. Stanké World QC
The Space Between Majid Jordan R&B ON
Les Monsieurs Les Monsieurs Rock QC
Le trésor des bas fonds Nico Lelièvre Alt Rock QC
This Trip Petra Glynt Alt QC
Wake Up Call Theory of a Deadman Rock BC
Rev Turboprop Jazz ON
Fifteen Wailin’ Jennys Folk MB
LLL Wanting Pop BC
A Stare Ajar Whimm Punk ON
De Cienfuegos a Montreal Yordan Martinez World QC
Zero (EP) Runaway Angel Country ON
Do You (EP) Pony Alt Rock ON
On a Chain (EP) Heavy Hearts Alt Rock ON
Songs for Georgia (EP) Dan Davidson Country AB
All In (EP) Clay Ravens Folk Rock BC
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The 15 Best Music Videos of 2016

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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.

15Black Moon by Amaara

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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

14Time by Dean Brody

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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

13How Far I’ll Go by Alessia Cara

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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

12Faint of Heart by Tegan and Sara

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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

11Armageddon by Michelle Treacy

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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

10Mea Culpa by Automat

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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

9Je Reviens by Marie-Mai

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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

8World Princess Part II by Grimes

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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

7Shore by Daniela Andrade

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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

6So Far Away by Bridgeway ft. Stéphanie Bédard

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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

5Need You Now by Gelsea Mae

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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

4Too Young by Zeds Dead

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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

3Underside by You Say Party

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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

2Diamond Eyes by Lexi Strate

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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

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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

bajada-badge

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

the-coriolis-project-heliocentric

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

charlotte-day-wilson-cdw

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

stef-lang-arrows-part-2-ep

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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2016’s Most Delicious, Best EPs So Far!

early 2016 best eps copy

We have listened to 71 extended play records from Canadian artists released from January 1 to June 30, 2016, and settled upon our 16 picks for the best. We add capsule reviews of each of them below sorted alphabetically by title. Before we do this, we would like to list some honourable mentions: Help Me Help You by Kieran Mercer, Nord-est by Rosie Valland, Hold Onto the Light by Jessica Mitchell, EP4 by Wolf Parade, L’amour violet by Michèle O, and Live au Treatment by Salomé Leclerc. We consider an EP as having at least 3 original tracks with a run time of less than 25 minutes.

Arto Arto by Elliott Vincent Jones does an excellent job at providing well-written songs with an 80s synthpop vibe reminiscent of Blancmange or The Human League.

Chassés-croisés by Bronswick fires up the synths in this delightful excursion into alternative pop territory. Catherine’s silky vocals are a delight and Bertrand takes some turns at the mic as well. The ride is a relaxed one with lots of electronic glitter to keep things interesting.

The Export, Vol 1 by Karl Wolf has the Montreal multiplatinum R&B specialist shine brightly from his new home at a Victoria, BC record label presenting this sumptuous mini album, more than worth checking out.

Heliocentric by The Coriolis Project adds some ambient Vancouverite atmosphere in a cinematic ride through beauteous anthems dedicated to the four directions of the compass.

Here Now by David Myles is essentially a pop record but infused with the Fredericton multiplatinum wonder’s characteristic folky reggae style.

Jeunes instants by Paupière has the trio offer some fine synthpop through expert record label Lisbon Lux and received a very positive feature in Exclaim magazine.

J’orage by Ponteix sheds some shimmer onto Saskatoon, a dazzling array of bilingual alternative soundscapes of electronica tinged with funky grooves.

Kaylee Johnston by Kaylee Johnston grants strong impetus to the west coaster as a pop singer destined for stardom.

Love Has No Language by Alx Veliz placed the Toronto singer on the Hot 100 and gave him an appearance at this year’s MMVAs. The pop EP comes in two language versions: English (red) and Spanish (turquoise).

No Place to Call by Gillian Nicola adds a very beautiful voice to pleasant singer-songwriter breezes emerging from Hamilton.

Rois de nous by La Bronze, i.e. Moroccan-Canadian Nadia Essadiqi, is a well-written alternative pop record with catchy beats, atmosphere, pop charm, and occasional theatrics.

She-Devils by She-Devils created much buzz with opener “Come” a very catchy surf anthem, but the other two tracks are equally invigorating, meandering through groove and dream.

Songs About a Girl by David James is a brilliant Winnipeg country record that attracted a Canadian Radio Music Award nomination!

Tomorrow by Pastel gives folk pop the treatment it deserves from a singer who appeared on The Voice and with songs that will immediately engage you.

Waves by Lexi Strate is easily the year’s best EP to date with amazing pop jewels and some rich, alternative sprinkles all made very professionally in Alberta.

Weightless by Olivia contains wonderful, mature or AC pop songs from the Vernon, BC native sporting a voice as sweet as Alessia Cara’s.

Lexi Strate Launches Debut EP Waves

Lexi Strate - Waves

Following the release of six singles, Canadian recording artist Lexi Strate has launched her debut EP entitled Waves, and it is excellent. Born in the city which bred such marvels as Kiesza, Jann Arden, and Tegan & Sara, Lexi’s journey began when she won a major radio contest. After working with various production teams, she found a home at Alberta’s Hands Up! Records. The Calgary Herald calls Lexi Strate the perfect combination of sensitive singer-songwriter and flashy pop star. Waves shows off the impressive range of musical styles that the spicy singer is capable of handling while remaining comfortably under the pop-rock umbrella. Opening with the shimmering electronic sparkle of “Diamond Eyes”, Waves continues splashing 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”. Lexi Strate’s Waves is the must-get record of 2016!  iTunes

Lexi Strate Has the Antidote

Lexi Strate - AntidoteRising star Lexi Strate has released new single “Antidote”, and it’s easily one of the most delicious pop songs of the year. She will be performing the song live May 7 during Canadian Music Week at the Hard Rock Café. Following that, she plans to launch her debut EP. Lexi’s charm rests in her voice, unique, spicy, and glorious, and she is building up an arsenal of catchy tunes. She won Edmonton’s Virgin Radio Star contest in 2012, recorded some excellent songs with Vancouver label Milk Music, and last May via “Chances” was named Bell Media’s Future Star. Recently signed by Edmonton based label Hands Up!, Lexi Strate now straddles a rocket that is headed for big things. Don’t miss out on “Antidote”, now available on iTunes.

2014 Christmas and Holiday Canadian Releases

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Below is a selection of some of the Christmas albums and singles that have been recently released. Most of 2014’s holiday releases are from the gentlemen. We have represented each work by a flavour of the season. Grab one of these to add some jingle to your Christmas party whether at home or at the office.

2014 Christmas Albums

David Myles - It's ChristmasThe Gingerbread Album: It’s Christmas by David Myles. Best known for his collaboration with rapper Classified in the quadruple platinum single “Inner Ninja”, the New Brunswick folk pop star made this record to augment his annual Singing for Supper tours. In these, he performs at malls to raise thousands of dollars for food banks. With a Christmas album, he now has the clout to bring the campaign to other provinces. Rather than rehash the same songs the same way, David has chosen a few rarities and decked all with a unique sound. iTunes

Garou_XmasBlues_LRThe Plum Pudding Album: Xmas Blues by Garou. Multiplatinum soul singer Garou has released a blues Christmas album which opens with a great medley of classics. Garou is one of the few Canadian Francophones to achieve extreme success in France: he has broken SNEP records and achieved diamond certification there. This album is a bilingual work and includes such classics as Blue Christmas, Petit Papa Noel, and Jingle Bell Rock. Graced with one of the handsomest voices around, this will put some extra sparkles in the tinsel. iTunes

Blue Rodeo - A Merrie Christmas To YouThe Cinnamon Album: Blue Rodeo’s A Merrie Christmas to You. A band that needs no introduction, this is Blue Rodeo’s first Christmas record and 14th studio album. Being composed of such professional musicians makes the overall sound charming and wholesome. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” alone is very Blue Rodeo and we think one of the best renditions ever done. A cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River” is another highlight. The disc includes Jim Cuddy original “Home to You This Christmas”. iTunes

Joël Legendre - NoelThe Eggnog Album: Joel Legendre, Noël. Born in Sainte-Hélène-de-Bagot, QC, multitalented Joel Legendre is an actor, director, animator, CBC columnist, and singer. He dubs over Leonardo DiCaprio for the Franco version of his films. Joel has a beautiful voice, so we regret his not releasing more albums. But you can hear those pipes shine on the new cheery Christmas album. Noel closes with the Franco version of A Whole New World (Un nouveau monde) from the Disney film, Aladdin. iTunes

joshuamills-christmas miracleThe Cranberry Album: Joshua Mills, Christmas Miracle. Aside from being a singer/songwriter, London, Ontario based Joshua Mills is also an ordained minister which gives him extra credibility in making a Christmas record. Included are both greater and lesser known tunes as well as a couple of originals – “Precious Baby” and “Gift of Love (Heaven’s Kiss)”, the latter being co-written with Joshua’s wife. The style on the album is more upbeat and joyful, certainly one that the whole family can enjoy. iTunes

Various Artists - Tous Ensemble Pour NoelThe Mint Album: Tous Ensemble Pour Noël by Various Artists of Universal Music Canada. Despite the title, most songs are Anglo with a couple of Franco. This fantastic compilation is the perfect Christmas album for Canadians. Most singers are homegrown (Serena Ryder, Bryan Adams, Nikki Yanofsky, Bobby Bazini) with a couple of internationals (Burl Ives, Band-Aid). There are some new songs including Andee’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” which has been released as a single. iTunes

2014 Christmas EPs & Singles

Chic Gamine - Christmas Vol 1 EPThe Chocolate Fondue EP: Christmas, Vol 1 by Chic Gamine. With members from Winnipeg and Montreal, this JUNO-winning folk rock group has launched a fabulous bilingual EP that includes some originals. Filled with vocal harmonies and uncommon musical sounds and combos of instruments, this little heater will no doubt circulate some warm air through to pedestrians ambling about at Portage and Main, St. Catherine and Peel, or just about any intersection where Snow Miser likes to work his icy ways. iTunes

Finlay and Strate - It's Cold Outside SINGLEThe Candy Cane Single: “Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Bryan Finlay and Lexi Strate. The rising Albertan stars have teamed together for this sweet holiday treat. Vocally, the minty freshness of Bryan and spicy cinnamon of Lexi sound superb together. As Edmonton temps have been known to dip as low as -48 in December, this heartwarming single should hit the spot. Both of these stars have won radio competitions in the northern metropolis: Bryan for 91.7 The Bounce and Lexi for Virgin Radio. iTunes

More Singles… “Merry Christmas Everybody” by Eleven Past One”, O Holy Night” by Jonathan Estabrooks, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brett Kissel, “Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas” by Treasa Levasseur, “The Hour Before Christmas” by MacKenzie Porter, “Christmas 2014” by Ali & Theo, “Santa I Need a Miracle” by Sallie Carreon, “I’m Still Waiting For Christmas” by Maya Rae, “All Wrapped Up in Christmas” by The Stellas.

Lexi Strate Is Going To Take Her Chances

Lexi Strate1Emerging Alberta singer Lexi Strate has recorded her fourth single, “Chances,” produced by the competent team at Vancouver’s Milk Music. North Vancouver’s Laurell (Barker) lent a hand in both the writing and production of the track. Laurell is a Billboard Canadian Hot 100 charting artist thanks to “Can’t Stop Falling” in 2010. Lexi has shot her first professional music video for the song which is just wonderful. It’s about the sweet time in one’s life when one experiences the joys of independence and makes choices about apartment decorations, paint colours, car brands, and background tunes. In Lexi’s case, that would be purple walls, a red Mini Cooper, and the Tragically Hip. The video perfectly captures the spirit of young adulthood: before settling down with careers, mortgages, and raising a family, it’s always nice to take some time out to explore and “live a little”. The video contains some beautiful shots of Canadian winter. It’s just fabulous.  iTunes

Update

28 April 2014. Pleased to announce that Lexi Strate won Bell Media’s “Future Star” for May. “Chances” will now receive nationwide radio airplay. Congratulations to her!

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

Lexi Strate and the Rise of Albertan Dynamos

Lexi Strate

When we think of Alberta, we think of cowboys and cattle ranches and assume that, musically, Albertan artists are all about country music. This is no doubt true of some, like Gord Bamford and Emerson Drive. The second image that comes to mind is oil and roughnecks and the requisite hard rock to keep them on their toes lest a waft of sour gas precipitate their demise. Hanna’s Nickelback supplied some of these essential tunes. But musically, Alberta has offered so much more over the years. The province has spawned the 70s rock of the Stampeders, the pop of Jann Arden, the alternative music of Feist, the punk pop of Andrew F, the indie rock of Ten Second Epic, the dance pop of Stereos, the electronica of Purity Ring, and cross-genre Hall of Famer k.d. lang. In fact, after Ontario, Quebec, and BC, Alberta is the next province to flourish in making brilliant Canadian music. Besides the fine artists mentioned above, consider the high quality works being made by Albertan artists Kreesha Turner, Audio Playground, Raghav, and Tegan & Sara.

Lexi Strate - All For YouWe are proud to offer a profile on the newest wonder onboard Team Alberta. Her name is Lexi Strate, and she is churning out dance music so good it makes everything else fit for the garburator. In 2012, Lexi won the Virgin Radio Star contest in Edmonton. They flew her out to Vancouver to record a pair of singles, the first of which, “Turning Point”, debuted on Edmonton radio in September. It created such a stir that the following month it was bubbling just under the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. She was named Astral Media’s Breakthrough Artist. The second single “Unstoppable (We Got That Feelin’)” was featured in TV series Beauty and the Beast. Encouraged by her success, a third single was recorded and released in January 2013, “All For You”. The song was co-written by Mike James (Kelly Rowland, Kreesha Turner), Davey Badiuk (Dragonette), and vanguard BC indie artist Stef Lang.

“All for You” is a highly intelligent dance track filled with such sophistication that it exposes the kindergarten arrangements of what we are accustomed to hearing from other artists. Complex percussion, bright keyboards, and a galvanizing chorus serve as a remarkably perfect fit for Lexi’s soulful and gorgeous voice. Consider that if this very same song had been released by any of the current American or British pop princesses, it would be all over the radio worldwide faster than a Sidney Crosby slap shot. But just because Lexi is a new artist from Alberta, it’s going to take the force of the Canadian masses getting behind her to accomplish such a feat. So, let’s do this people. Go Lexi go!

“All for You” on iTunes     Lexi Strate’s Official Website