Selected New Releases: March 31, 2017 – Part 1/2

We’re profiling 16 newly released albums this week which will cap things off for March. Here in Part 1, we look at eight of them.

Mathieu Lippé, originally from the Sherbrooke area, releases Les amants de l’aube, a folk-pop effort with some nice beats and funky grooves.

Vancouver JUNO-nominated alternative group Said the Whale conjures up some vocal harmonies in its latest fuzz-pulse driven album As Long as Your Eyes Are Wide.

Karkwa member Julien Sagot returns with his brand of creative, unique alternative in Bleu Jane. It’s the sort of album that gets the Polaris jury drooling.

Legendary multiple JUNO nominated refined country artist Patrick Norman is back with an album that features a batch of guest vocalists. This one’s called Bonheurs partagés.

Toronto’s JUNO nominated Lydia Ainsworth, with Darling of the Afterglow, has one of the best albums this week. It’s electronic pop with a bit of an R&B vocal style and includes a cover of “Wicked Game”.

Another standout is album Devant nous, but given that its artist is Edmundston, New Brunswick’s Roch Voisine, that’s a given. The multiplatinum, multiple JUNO winner adds his handsome vocals to some upbeat AC/pop tunes.

Highly successful Gabrielle Goulet (she made the CKOI Top 25 of 2016) from Ottawa delivers Elle sait, a delicious folk-pop record.

Finally, Toronto’s Prozzäk is gunning for a comeback with brand new pop album Forever 1999. Some of you may remember the duo from the early noughties who nabbed four JUNO nominations.

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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.

After the Curtain Falls, Patrick Norman Continues the Magic

Patrick Norman - Apres la tombee du rideauCanadian legend Patrick Norman, in celebration of his 45 years in music, has released his 29th album, Après la tombée du Rideau, and it’s profoundly beautiful. Although classified as country, a more accurate description would be 1970s soft rock compositional style, drenched in modern atmospherics, and sprinkled with cowboy country seasoning. Augmenting the sound are contributions by a legion of young greats like François Lafontaine, Marie-Pierre Arthur, and Marilou. Patrick is a multiplatinum artist and has been nominated twice at the JUNOs.  iTunes

Roundup of Selected New Releases 28 October 2014

28 oct 2014 albums collage copy

Toronto JUNO-nominated band Die Mannequin releases one of the best rock albums of the year, Neon Zero, as it moves from the punk of its past to full-on modern rock. Montreal gold-certified artist, Stefie Shock, a former disc jockey, launches Avant l’aube, a danceable new wave treat. Hull, QC’s 8-time JUNO winner, Daniel Lanois, U2’s former producer, dishes out an experimental electronica blast titled Flesh and Machine. Montreal multiplatinum country rock legend, Patrick Norman gives us the beautiful Après la tombée du rideau.

Rumours of Glory is a box set from Ottawa folk legend Bruce Cockburn. It includes nine discs one of which contains rare and unreleased tracks. Also included is a concert video featuring three 2008 performances. The box set is intended as a companion to the new memoir book of the same title.

Valse 333 is an alternative effort from Julien Sagot. Ils chantent Louvain is a various artists compilation paying tribute to Michel Louvain’s six decades in music. Montreal DJ Dan Desnoyers serves his latest compilation of dance tracks, In da House 2015. Also from the city, Ought releases EP Once More With Feeling, an alt rock sizzler.

Mid-80s’ Semi-Major Acts

The Box

The Box was a new wave band formed in Montreal in 1981 by Jean-Marc Pisapia, an early member of Men Without Hats. They scored seven Top 40 singles, the biggest being “Carry On” in March 1990 which peaked at #12. Like Men Without Hats they were able to incorporate some French into their songs and still get airplay on highly discriminatory English radio stations outside Quebec. After four albums they called it quits in 1992.

Paul Janz

Janz was born in Alberta and grew up in Switzerland before settling in North Vancouver. He was raised in a Mennonite family and became a theologian. Seven of his driving melodic rhythms became Top 40 hit singles, the most notable of which was “Every Little Tear” which peaked at #5 in 1990.

Luba

Luba was perhaps the most successful female singer in the male-dominated 80s, at least in terms of hit singles. While most successful Anglophone women had been in folk, country, and adult contemporary (Anne Murray, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joni Mitchell, etc.), Luba deserves credit as the first successful woman in pop. This success helped open the door to the appearance of the first female superstar (Alannah Myles) in 1989 and the many women who followed. It is no surprise, given the success of female artists from Quebec, that Luba arose from Montreal.

Luba landed nine Top 40 hits, her biggest (#6) being a cover of Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman”. Her most successful original song was 1990’s “Giving Away a Miracle” which peaked at #9. That year she went on hiatus from the music industry to dedicate more time to family. She returned 10 years later with “Is She a Lot Like Me”, a Top 30 hit.

Haywire

A rock band from Prince Edward Island? You gotta be kidding! No, we’re not! Debuting in 1985, these rockers chalked up a hat trick of platinum albums and five Top 40 hits despite ill treatment from their record company, Attic Records, who constantly made unrealistic demands and did little to promote the band. Haywire’s biggest hit was “Dance Desire” which peaked at #10 and made the year-end Top 100. It also won the Best Song Award at the World Popular Song Festival in Japan.

Honeymoon Suite

A more progressive and sophisticated sound animated the work of Honeymoon Suite unlike their more poppy contemporaries Glass Tiger and Platinum Blonde. Like the latter, they managed five Top 40 singles, the most successful of which was 1988’s “Love Changes Everything” (#9). Their albums sold well, attaining Platinum Status and they won the Juno Award for Group of the Year in 1986. The band named itself after their hometown of Niagara Falls, the honeymoon capital of the world.

Kim Mitchell

The Sarnia native departed from the album-oriented band Max Webster in 1981 to pursue a solo career. His Shakin’ Like a Human Being won the Album of the Year Juno in 1987 and he won the Best Male Artist Juno in 1990. Mitchell’s 1985 song “Go for Soda” was featured in an episode of TV Series “Miami Vice”. Three of his songs made the year-end Top 100 RPM charts, the most successful being 1989’s “Rock and Roll Duty“, 43rd of the year.

Patrick Norman

Patrick had been active since the 60s. His bilingual disco song “Let’s Try Once Again” in 1977 sold 100,000 units. But his switch from RCA to the Star label in 1984 proved to be a good move. His Quand on est en amour album sold a quarter million copies thanks mostly to its title-track, a huge hit in Quebec. Norman won the Felix Award for Male as well as Album Artist of the Year in 1987. Patrick has continued releasing albums to the present, most recently 2014 country rock LP Apres la tombee du rideau.

Platinum Blonde

Platinum Blonde scored a #1 hit in 1985 which became the 5th biggest song of the year: “Crying Over You“. “Situation Critical” (#8) ensured they were not a one-hit wonder group and that their album Alien Shores went multi-platinum. They managed three further Top 40 hits. These guys were a British-Canadian hybrid band based in Toronto, known for their glam-like appearance, big blonde hairdos, and pastel outfits. Later on they renamed themselves The Blondes and had a minor hit in 1990 before calling it quits.

Canadian Pride (1985-86)

In the two years following 1984’s dry spell, a total of 50 songs from Canadian artists made the weekly Top 30 National RPM Singles Chart. 1985 was the year that changed everything. Fifteen Canadian artists had Top 30 hits through the year. There were 14 Canadian songs in the year-end Top 100, and the biggest song of the year was Canadian. The year saw three Canadian songs top the charts. And it was the year that witnessed the very first Canadian album certified Diamond. Perhaps the highlight was the coming together of all major Canadian artists to record a charity single for African famine relief. Although the whirlwind that created a swelling of Canadian pride eased up a bit in 1986, it was still a strong year for Canadian music. The RPM Top 100 Year-End Album Charts saw 11 from Canadian artists in 1985 and a dozen in 1986.

1985

At the end of October, 1984, Bryan Adams released his album Reckless and its first single “Run to You”. For some reason, it took some time for the song to climb up the charts, finally cracking the Top 10 on January 12th, 1985. From there, everything snowballed. The album which spawned several additional hits became certified Diamond (1 million copies sold in a country of nearly 26 million at the time) on December 17th. But that wasn’t the only big album that year. Corey Hart released Boy in the Box in mid-June. “Never Surrender” topped the charts and became the biggest song of the year. “Everything in My Heart” was a #1 hit as well (in 1986). And the album became the second in history to attain Diamond sales. Canadian pride soared and the Junos the following year drew a huge audience to see “Never Surrender” win Song of the Year and Reckless win Best Album. Adams and Hart had become national treasures and were the musical heroes that captivated the hearts of the nation.

Canadian artists responded to Bob Geldof’s work with uniting British artists to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to help relieve drought-ridden famine in Ethiopia. They came together as Northern Lights and recorded “Tears Are Not Enough”, another number one single in Canada. We’ll do a special feature on the song in a bit.

Bryan Adams and Corey Hart were not the only names in male singers that year. Scottish-born Torontonian (Lawrence) Gowan scored a #5 hit with “Criminal Mind” from his Strange Animal album (which matched the peak chart position on the album charts). Claude Dubois had a big hit with “Un Chanteur Chant“. Gino Vannelli’s “Black Cars” landed in the Top 5 and his “Huts to Be in Love” the Top 20. Composer and producer David Foster worked heavily on the St. Elmo’s Fire film and his instrumental Love Theme was a Top 10 hit. Paul Janz had his first hit, “Go to Pieces” (#29).

Outside of La Belle Province, the women were nowhere to be heard in ’85, aside from more alternative artists like the creative Jane Siberry (“One More Colour”). Luba made some headways but became a bigger name the following year. The most successful female was Martine St. Clair with her mega-hit “Ce soir l’amour est dans tes yeux”, song of the year winner at the Felix Awards and so irresistible that it was even nominated for a Juno, despite their reputation for snubbing French language music. Nicole Martin’s “Il est en nous l’amour” was nominated for a Felix.

1985 saw the emergence of some huge rock bands, the most notable of which was Platinum Blonde. “Crying over You” was a #1 hit as was their album Alien Shores. Their “Situation Critical” made the Top 10. Vancouver new wave outfit “Strange Advance” scored a minor hit as did Paul Hyde and the Payola$ and newcomers Honeymoon Suite. The latter did better with album sales than hit singles, but nevertheless, scored a Top 10 hit in 1988 with “Love Changes Everything”. Loverboy had a Top 20 hit with “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” and one-hit wonders Idle Eyes with “Tokyo Rose”, but the Parachute Club’s “At the Feet of the Moon” was the most successful, coming just shy of the Top 10. Offenbach and Madame had hits in Québec.

1986

Corey Hart was quick to follow up his Diamond album with Fields of Fire in 1986. The first single “I Am by Your Side” peaked at #12 on the RPM charts, while his cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” topped the charts in early ’87. The year, however, belonged to Glass Tiger. Their “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” was a number one hit, the 4th biggest of the year and nabbed the Juno Award for Song of the Year. Their 4x Platinum album The Thin Red Line churned out three more hits, all of which broke into the Top 20. A third release came off of Platinum Blonde’s Alien Shores album which was a good thing because it became their only hit south of the border. The song was “Somebody Somewhere”. Honeymoon Suite released a new album—The Big Prize—which spawned two hits that did equally well. The Parachute Club and M+M scored minor hits with “Love Is Fire” and “Song in my Head” respectively. Loverboy’s song “Heaven in your Eyes”, from the Top Gun soundtrack, did moderately well.

There were some newcomers in 1986. Ottawa duo One to One scored a pair of hits from their Forward Your Emotions album. Springing from Talent Quest, Cats Can Fly’s synth-pop “Flippin’ to the ‘A’ Side” peaked at #16. Another synth ensemble—Chalk Circle—came out with “April Fool” that just squeaked into the Top 100 songs of the year. PEI’s Haywire scored with “Bad Bad Boy” and The Partland Brothers (Chris and G.P.) with “Soul City”. Nuance’s “Vivre dans la nuit” sold 70,000 copies and was nominated for Song of the Year at the Junos. Perhaps the most significant addition to 80s bands was Men Without Hats’ new wave spinoff band The Box (“L’affaire Dumoutier”).

Anne Murray crossed over into pop/rock with a comeback hit – “Now and Forever (You and Me)” and Luba became a household name with “How Many (Rivers to Cross)”. Jano Bergeron’s “Recherche” was nominated for a Felix Award. Having departed the band Corbeau, lead singer Marjo embarked on a very successful solo career and won the Félix Song of the Year with “Chats sauvages”. David Foster teamed up with English-Australian diva Olivia Newton-John in “The Best of Me”.

Je voudrais voir New York” was a hit for Daniel Lavoie. Patrick Norman had a stellar year thanks to “Quand on est en amour”. Max Webster’s lead singer Kim Mitchell scored a hit as a soloist called “Patio Lanterns”. And Red Rider’s front man began veering away from the group to lead an even more successful solo career; Tom Cochrane scored a minor hit with “Boy Inside the Man”.

Forthcoming will be a list of Canadian hit singles and albums on the RPM charts in 1985-86; an entry with mini-profiles on semi-major acts The Box, Paul Janz, Haywire, Honeymoon Suite, Luba, Kim Mitchell, Patrick Norman, and Platinum Blonde; a special feature on the making of the “Tears Are Not Enough” charity single; and separate feature profiles on major artists David Foster, Glass Tiger, Gowan, and Marjo.