Selected New Releases 30 September 2016

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Fasten your seatbelts and turn on the windshield wipers. It’s raining Canadian music. And we’re going on a scenic drive through this week’s new releases. Beginning with the LPs, in alphabetical order by title, former member of The Dears, Krief, treats us with a double album of alternative pop/rock. Automanic is devastatingly delicious, filled with all kinds of creative touches and excellent writing. Swerving the car around the bend, we head from Montreal down to Toronto, home of rock trio Goodnight, Sunrise and an exploration of the phenomenon of Falling Awake, a disc that gives us energy and feel good vibes. Our next destination is Quebec City where rock outfit Caravane sets our hearts on fire with new album Fuego.

Heading north, we find a former finalist of Star Academy named François Lachance whose latest album Histoires vraies is made a winner by its very smart, unexpected chord changes and a jovial and atmospheric heartland sound. Born in France but snatched up by the Canadian music industry, JUNO award winning composer and pianist Alain Lefèvre pays tribute to Greece on beautiful album Sas Agapo containing all original compositions on instrumental piano. Brother and sister duo Soul & Sister are back with a two album release, Tandem. Known for a heart-warming stripped down acoustic sound, Vol. 1 contains original compositions in the French language and Vol. 2 fresh compositions in English.

Let’s venture over to New Brunswick, shall we. Platinum recording artist Lisa LeBlanc who puts the umph into the folk trash genre sticks it to the man and then some in pleasure ride album Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen? We are all smiles with this one. Back to Montreal, we check out new alt-rock work Wrong by We Are Wolves which has us howling. We finish off our excursion by visiting platinum recording artist and 3-time JUNO nominee Nikki Yanofsky who drops her highly anticipated EP, Solid Gold, filling our heads with sunny joy by way of its vintage R&B glory.

We will provide more in-depth reviews of some of the works above in the next week.

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Headlines and Footdots for the Ides of August, 2015

Nikki Yanofsky Is Something to Live For

Felix_Nikki

Vancouver EDM maker Felix Cartal, best known to date for cut “Don’t Turn On the Lights,” has teamed up with multiplatinum artist Nikki Yanofsky in new single “Something to Live For”. He says the song was inspired by missing out on real life experiences due to heads buried in cell phones and social networking timelines. Nikki’s voice sounds superb as always, scraping the sky on the big chorus before a plundering of beats. The MV out later this month Felix says is a modern take on The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”. His debut LP Life Online, via Universal Music, follows in the autumn.  iTunes

Johnny Reid Back in the Game

Johnny-Reid-2013

Another ace player frisbeeing out a new single this week is multiplatinum soul singer Johnny Reid. While known mostly for country, there are indications that he is veering over to the adult contemporary field, and that is where new song “A Picture of You” is framed. Johnny is even sporting a Dan Hill beard these days. After only two days, the song has broken into the iTunes Top 40. In the words of Chuck Berry, “Go Johnny go, go”.  iTunes

Francesco Yates’ Debut EP

francesco-yates

Hot, fresh teen star Francesco Yates has announced that his debut EP will be out September 11 and is now available for pre-order on iTunes. The 6-track, self-titled disc will include three previously released singles, “Call”, “When I Found You”, and Billboard Top 40 hit “Better To Be Loved”. Opening track “Honey, I’m Home” available now.  iTunes

Carly Rae Jepsen Has Billboard Seeping in Emotion

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Billboard Magazine’s recent feature on Mission, BC pop superstar Carly Rae Jepsen remarks on the progression she has taken from “the squeaky-clean, high-school-crush pop” of Kiss to “edgier, more mature alt-pop territory” on upcoming album Emotion. During the Manhattan (New York) interview, Carly stated, “There’s a stereotype idea of what a pop star is, and I don’t really fit into that. … The expectation that every song you’re putting out is doing well on radio — that’s stuff that you can’t control. To try would drive you insane.” Lead single “I Really Like You” went gold and reached #14 on the charts with little radio support. The pop artist took a detour from the mainstream to reel in indie specialists like Dev Hynes, Ariel Rechtshaid and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij on the new album. “I wanted to be brave and [record] music that was really me rather than just putting out what I thought would sell. I would’ve regretted more not doing what I did — making a passion project come to life.” Emotion will be out August 21, 2015. The CMB will publish an early review in the next few days.

Drake Breaks Silence on Toronto Shootings

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Toronto rapper Drake broke his silence regarding the two shooting deaths that occurred at the afterparty of his OVO Fest in Toronto. Bystander Ariela Navarro-Fenoy, 26, was killed in outside crossfire after being refused a taxi ride home because of the short distance. Drake says he was caught in the dilemma of pressure for making a statement by Crime Stoppers, the victims’ families and public posts online and pressure against it by his PR team worried that misinterpretations would damage his public image. He decided to go with his heart and stated the following (it is unknown whether he came up with these words himself or they were written for him):

“I am plagued and pained by the violence that continues to escalate in our city. I stare into the eyes of so many young people and I wish to see them all shine as bright as they possibly can in this lifetime. I encourage my generation to show as much value and gratitude as you can for the lives we have been gifted.

“My deepest condolences go out to the Navarro-Fenoy and Hibbert families for their loss of Ariela and Duvel. Along with them I send my condolences to all of the families that have lost loved ones to the senseless violence that has and continues to occur in our city.

“Although Toronto is globally viewed as a major city, at the core we are still a small close-knit community, and it is our public responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of one another. We need each other to further our communities for generations to come.

“I pray for better times and better understanding.”

Bring Down The House With Gold

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Country music A-lister Dean Brody has a new gold single. “Bring Down the House” received the certification by Music Canada just 8 weeks after release. It is his fourth single to be graced with a precious metal, the others being “Bounty” (gold), “It’s Friday” (gold), and “Canadian Girls” (platinum). Dean’s album Dirt has gone gold. In Canada, gold certification is given for sales reaching 40,000 units.

Mia Martina at Virgin Radio Beach Ball

Mia Martina Virgin Radio Beach Ball

New Brunswick empress of EDM, Mia Martina was on the West Coast recently to perform at a summer Beach Ball hosted by Vancouver’s number one CHR station Virgin Radio 94.5 (formerly The Beat). During a televised interview on CTV Morning Live, she revealed plans in the works to release a Franco album with a team of Francophone writers and producers. Fluently bilingual, she wishes to make a contribution to the Franco realm in honour of her Acadian roots. We look forward to it. Martina joined Shawn Hook, Dragonette, and Trevor Guthrie at the concert which was held at classic venue The Commodore Ballroom.

Dear Rouge Tongues

We leave you with the latest MV by synthrock duo Dear Rouge for “Tongues”:

What the Stars Are Up To

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YTV Next Star winner Jory Zechner strikes a pose. Cool glasses or not, we hope she can release some new songs soon.

Shawn Mendes mall of America 1 Shawn Mendes performs a live acoustic set on the eve of his album release at Canadian-owned Mall of America in Minnesota, USA.

Carly Rae Jepsen in Japan Carly Rae Jepsen swings by Japan to visit with her fans and promote her new music.

Nikki burt Nikki Yanofsky was super stoked to open for jazz legend Burt Bacharach.

GRL in Vietnam

Emmalyn Estrada and G.R.L. enjoy some coconuts and don pointy hats in beautiful Vietnam.

Andee Barbados

Andee takes a breather before getting busy with her debut album release by having breakfast in Barbados.

To Sir With Love from Nikki and Dan

Those who grew up in the 1960s will remember “To Sir with Love”, the second biggest song of 1967 (behind “The Letter” by The Box Tops). “To Sir With Love” was performed by British singer Lulu for the movie of the same name starring American actor Sidney Poitier. The song was co-written by Canada’s own Mark London and is being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. For this year’s induction process, the CSHF has teamed up with the CBC/Radio Canada to have modern recording artists perform covers of the songs to help introduce these classics to a modern audience. “To Sir With Love” is covered by Montreal jazz-pop sensation Nikki Yanofsky and Justin Bieber’s guitarist Dan Kanter from Ottawa (who is also a judge on The Next Star).

Ice Conduit to the 2015 JUNOs: Pop Album of the Year Nominees

Pop Album Nominees copy

Avril Lavigne is a diamond recording artist from Napanee, ON. Since her debut in 2002, she has sold over 30 million albums and 50 million singles worldwide. Her self-titled album is her fifth studio LP. Avril Lavigne has won 7 JUNO Awards to date.

Down With Webster is a multiplatinum sextet from Toronto debuting in 2007. Since then, nine of its singles have charted on the Hot 100. Party For Your Life is the group’s 4th studio album. DWW has not yet won a JUNO from 6 nominations to date.

Little Machines is the third studio album from Toronto’s LIGHTS. Her previous two LPs have achieved gold certification. Like DWW, she has landed 9 songs on the Hot 100. LIGHTS’ only JUNO Award thus far is for 2009’s New Artist of the Year.

New reggae group MAGIC! from Toronto released its debut album Don’t Kill the Magic last year spawning three hit singles including triple platinum “Rude”, the biggest Canadian song of the year. The band leads the 2015 JUNO nominations with 5.

Jazz-pop sensation Nikki Yanofsky from Montreal voiced one of the most successful Canadian singles of the digital era: quadruple platinum “I Believe”. Quincy Jones produced Little Secret is her 3rd album. Nikki has not yet won a JUNO of 4 nominations to date.

The process of determining the five nominees and winner is the following, as stated by the JUNO Awards:

The five (5) nominees will be determined by a combination of sales and judges voting, equally weighted on a 50/50 basis. Calculations will be performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. The nominees will then appear on the online voting website sent out to all CARAS Academy Delegates in late January. The votes of CARAS Academy Delegates will determine the winner.

All five of these magnificent albums are different in flavour. Avril Lavigne includes both pop and rock tracks. Party For Your Life is pop/rock with rapping. Little Machines is a synth pop effort. Don’t Kill the Magic is reggae pop, and Little Secret is jazz pop. Predicting a winner in this category is difficult. Avril Lavigne was the most successful of these albums, both in terms of the hit singles it spawned as well as sales of the album. However, the JUNOs will want to reward MAGIC! for its international breakout success. The JUNOs also like the idea of a Canadian singer attracting a heavyweight American producer; thus Little Secret may attract some votes, especially since it carries with it a fresh and unique style. Like Nikki, Down With Webster has not yet won a JUNO, and they may feel it is time for the group to do so. Synth pop is in vogue thanks to Tegan & Sara (and Taylor Swift), and given LIGHTS’ overcoming writer’s block to deliver a wonderful synth pop album, she has much going for her as well. Good luck to all these amazing Canadian talents!

2014: The Year of the “Little” Albums

Little Albums

Sometimes it’s the little things that carry the most value. The first example that comes to mind: a jewel. We tend to associate cuteness with smallness from the Mini Cooper to the Despicable Me minions. Whatever the case, 2014 saw four albums released that included the word little in the title: Nikki Yanofsky’s Little Secret, LIGHTS’ Little Machines, and Robyn Dell’Unto’s Little Lines. Dominique Fricot added an extra adjective with his Sweet Little Fantasy. Young Running had it right in spirit by releasing Small Town City. And we could also throw in Marieme’s Petit Tonnerre (I.e. Little Thunder). But before we stop there, we should also point out that 2014 saw some big albums too: Kira Isabella’s Caffeine and Big Dreams, Matthew Barber’s Big Romance, and Monobrow’s Big Sky, Black Horse. Whether you like your albums little or big, it’s time to collect them all.

Nikki Yanofsky Returns to BC Place Stadium

Nikki Yanofsky BC Place Stadium 2010 and 2014

In February 2010, the eyes of the world were fixed on the spectacle at 777 Pacific Blvd. in Vancouver, Canada that was the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games. Out of nearly 35 million Canadians, it was Montreal’s Nikki Yanofsky who was chosen to sing the national anthem, “O Canada”, at BC Place Stadium. Just four days prior, she had turned 16. She was still in high school.

In November 2014, Nikki, now a young woman, returned to BC Place Stadium for a different sporting event – The 102nd Grey Cup – to perform the anthem once again before a sold-out crowd of 54,320. The Grey Cup is the championship game of the Canadian Football League and this year played between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders.

What happened in-between the two events is quite remarkable. Nikki’s Olympic promotional single “I Believe” struck quadruple platinum and her self-titled album went platinum. She released jazz-pop LP Little Secret this year under the production prowess of 27-time Grammy Award winner Quincy Jones. The album was recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles – where Michael Bublé cut his global ripper, Christmas. Nikki also travelled to France to lend her voice to a collaboration with diamond artist Zaz (Isabelle Geffroy).

Assisting Nikki Yanofsky at the Grey Cup launch was country rock ace Dallas Smith who has just released his second album, Lifted. The Calgary Stampeders won the game by a score of 20-16 becoming 2014’s Grey Cup champions.

Get Lifted By Dallas Smith

Dallas Smith - LiftedLangley, BC’s Dallas Smith has released his second LP Lifted which contains all tracks on earlier EP Tippin’ Point (save the live acoustic version of “Jumped Right In”) plus six more. As a single, “Tippin’ Point” was certified platinum by Music Canada. Previously fronting rock band Default, Dallas made the switch to country as a soloist in 2011 and has since then charted nine songs on the Hot 100. His debut album received a JUNO nomination. Lifted’s release was preceded by current hit single “Wastin’ Gas” which debuted just outside the Top 40. The album’s stylish brand of country rock packs a wallop of riveting energy with fiery guitar solos fit for euphoric party crowds. Saddle up with Lifted and enjoy the rocky ride.  iTunes

Today, Dallas Smith, along with Montreal jazz pop sensation Nikki Yanofsky, kick off the 102nd Grey Cup at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium.

International Collaborations Heat Up

Canadians are beginning to involve themselves in international collaborations, as such are proving to be popular in 2014 and are mutually beneficial for both the artists involved as well as selling their music in their respective countries and around the world. We previously wrote of girl group G.R.L which includes Canada’s Emmalyn Estrada. Here are a few more recent and upcoming happenings.

Pink and Green

City and Colour with Pink copy

Most of you, by now, are aware of You+Me, a collaboration between Canada’s City and Colour (Dallas Green) and The United States’ Pink (Alecia Beth Moore). While some were initially surprised by the unlikely pairing, given the past difference in musical styles between the two, it has gone over well. The duo’s album Rose Ave. has topped the iTunes Canada chart for the past week and earned a Top 5 placement south of the border. Moreover, it has debuted at #2 on the official Australian charts and #10 in the UK. Considering that the music is folk, it goes to show that two big names, both having beautiful voices and inspired compositional skills, matters more than musical genre.

Vampires Shone

Shawn Mendes The Vamps copy

Hot new Toronto teen star, Shawn Mendes, is featured in single “Oh Cecilia (Breaking My Heart)” by British boy group The Vamps. It is not a cover of the Simon & Garfunkel song in the strict sense but more of an adaptation or reworking of it. Shawn’s debut single, “Life of the Party,” peaked at #24 in The States and is up to #9 at home. The question was, how does he introduce himself to the Brits. The Vamps had previously scored four Top 5 hits in the UK, so they are already well known to the British public. The new single featuring Shawn charted at #9 in the UK this week.

Nikki Pizzazz

Nikki Yanofsky with ZAZ copyWhile promoting her latest album in France, Montreal’s Nikki Yanofsky and her heavyweight American producer Quincy Jones hooked up with Zaz (Isabelle Geffroy). The latter is a very popular French jazz-pop singer who has been working on her new album, Paris. The album will be released in Canada November 11, and Nikki is featured on one of the tracks — “I Love Paris / J’aime Paris”. Although both women do jazz-pop, their musical and vocal styles differ. Nikki has a smoother style while Zaz’s voice is more raspy. This should make for a very exciting pairing. Below is a promo video.

Cat’s Out of the Bag: International Stars Love Canadian Music

Nikki PharrellI believe Pharrell has a little secret. He likes Canadian hats. And this is something new: he likes Canadian music too. Pharrell does not regard Canuck tunes a necessary evil but a necessary good. He likes to prepare for another day and cool his heels with the brilliant Canadian jazz pop of Nikki Yanofsky.

Anjulie with Barry GibbThere was a time when Barry Gibb was just stayin’ alive. You and I will now be pleased that these days he lives for Canadian music, especially tunes from a brand new chick. Whether there’s a boom in the skies or a downpour of rain, good ol’ Barry likes to put on a pair of headphones and stand behind the music, thanks to the one and only Anjulie.

Victoria Duffield Ed SheeranWhen Ed Sheeran is not being asked by an English bird to be more than friends or break my heart, he likes to shut up, dance, and feel the Canadian beats accelerate. Tracy Ullman was a former favourite of his, but when Cody Simpson introduced him to Victoria Duffield’s music, he became a permanent fan.

Avril and Bruno copyBruno Mars has had a secret fantasy of being a sk8er boi. Yes, he likes things on the complicated side. While losing grip, he just keeps hanging on. Bruno once thought instrumental kazoo music was the best damn thing around. But once he discovered Canadian music, he found it so hot, nothing hit the spot quite like Avril Lavigne.

Katy Perry Carly Rae JepsenKaty Perry may be sweet but one day when she was in British Columbia having a good time playing a game of tug of war, she discovered a bucket. Seized with curiosity she looked inside and found that it was filled with sour candy. Now it’s part of her world and so is the addictive dance pop of the fabulous Carly Rae Jepsen.

Michael Buble's 3rd Annual Christmas SpecialHe’s everybody’s favourite furry monster, but what many don’t know is that in addition to sweet biscuit cravings, Cookie Monster sways at home to Canadian music. After all, he has a crazy love for Michael Bublé. We asked Cookie what his favourite Michael Bublé song was, and he replied, “Everything”. “It’s a beautiful day when me hear him sing,” he added.

Kylie LilyRumour has it … Kylie and Lily adore Canadian music too.

Necessary Evil Hits the Ides of July

Nikki Yanofsky - Necessary EvilThe best news of the ides of July 2014 is that Nikki Yanofsky’s “Necessary Evil” MV is now available on VEVO. It is the second single off Billboard #4 album Little Secret, an album that has seen success internationally, particularly in France. Nikki was recently featured in Germany’s GQ magazine. The new music video has her sashaying around a mansion in a selection of choice attire with a black panther in hot pursuit. The jazz-pop song is now up to #56 on the Hot 100.  iTunes

Nikki Yanofsky Is Canada’s Best-Kept Little Secret

Nikki Yanofsky - Little SecretWith extraordinary vocals, Nikki Yanofsky excelled as a teen star and now at 20 has released her third album, Little Secret, produced by American heavyweight Quincy Jones. Nikki voiced one of the four best-selling singles of all time by a Canadian artist domestically; Vancouver Olympics theme “I Believe” also topped the Canadian Hot 100. Her last album, Nikki, went gold as did her DVD Live in Montréal. She was a recipient of Canada’s Walk of Fame Allan Slaight Award for being an inspiration to young Canadians, and she has been nominated for three JUNOs. 

With Little Secret, Nikki Yanofsky hits her stride, and all pieces of her development have fallen into place, a place that sees her at the very top ranks of Canadian talent. While her previous album was a hodgepodge of CHR pop songs and jazz numbers, she fuses the two genres together in all Little Secret tracks yielding a cohesive concept album of spectacular jazz-pop. Perky swing-bopping songs like two lead singles “Something New” and “Necessary Evil” are interspersed with the delicious downtempo cool of “Waiting On the Sun,” the sunny splendour of “Out of Nowhere,” and ethereal “You Mean the World to Me.” Another ace in the field of world-renowned Canadian jazz has been played marvellously by Nikki Yanofsky.  iTunes

Nikki Gives Justin the Ultimate Birthday Honour

Nikki Yanofsky Justin BieberBeing twenty years old was my favourite age. No longer a teenager but not yet an adult. I do remember it going by all too quickly, however. In honour of Justin Bieber’s 20th birthday, fellow Canadian multiplatinum recording artist Nikki Yanofsky released a video cover of one of his songs–“All That Matters”. Nikki and her fabulous backing band give it a stellar jazz-blues makeover, and the Montrealer sings her heart out. Nikki, herself, turned twenty just a couple of weeks ago. The two Canucks are set to sail through the most glorious year of life by releasing brand new albums this year; we look forward to the new music! Also check out MuchMusic’s 20 good reasons to be a Belieber (Link).

Official MV “Something New” by Nikki Yanofsky

Nikki Yanofsky - Something NewThe official music video for Nikki Yanofsky’s “Something New” is out. It begins with something old that will remind the younger about Austin Powers and the older about the Canadian game show Definition. Yes, it’s “Soul Bossa Nova” by Quincy Jones, the producer of “Something New”. In fact, the whole video is a cute interplay between the old and the new. Nikki enters a home with old furnishings including a CRT television set and vinyl record player. The video oscillates back and forth between old and new fashions and features. Nikki is one of only four Canadians to have achieved quadruple platinum or higher certification on a digital single in Canada, for her “I Believe” promo of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, for which she was also selected of all 35 million Canadians to sing the national anthem. It’s nice to see something new from her.

“Something New” on iTunes     Nikki Yanofsky’s Website