Stef Lang is a Billboard Canadian Hot 100 charting artist from Vancouver Island’s town of Ladysmith. Song “Mr. Immature” spent 14 weeks on the chart in 2010 and was nominated for two Canadian Radio Music Awards. Stef also appeared as a featured artist in hit single “Rollin'” with rapper iSH which charted for 13 weeks in 2013, and she voiced a couple of tracks in Delerium’s album Music Box Opera. The versatility of her work is impressive with her easily handling genres of mainstream pop, R&B, urban, and electronica. Stef Lang has released her newest disc, EP Rubix. While her last album, Self, embodied a brooding, downtempo vibe, the more upbeat and cheery Rubix pushes further into urban territory. Rubix even embraces some funk and spunk, most notably on infectious opener “Indestructible”. This is a charmer of an EP. iTunes
More than 10 new releases have finished off August with a bang after a scanty past couple of months. We will look at many of them in more detail later. But here is a quick summary.
Western Canada Releases
Billboard Canadian Hot 100 charting artist Stef Lang from Vancouver Island has launched a new urban leaning EP entitled Rubix. With a pair of JUNO nominations and one gold album, Vancouver punk outfit Gob has released its latest work, Apt 13. Also cruising out from the west coast, Brill Bruisers is the new album from JUNO-winning alternative band The New Pornographers. Manitoba’s Willows is the new moniker for singer-songwriter Geneviève Toupin. An album of the same name has been released.
Eastern Canada Releases
They say that Montréal is the indie capital of Canada. Five works have come out of the city this week. Bernhari is a brand new act that blends popular tones with some shoegaze vibes. The solid debut album is a self-titled affair. Made Them Lions, or M.T.L, is a 5-piece pop/rock/reggae group. They’re new eponymous LP is excellent. Neuroplasticity is the new album from JUNO-nominated “doom soul” artist Cold Specks. Press Play is a fusion pop album from Pink Chocolate. There’s some R&B and electro in the mix. Elephant Stone describes its music as “hindie rock / psyche pop”. The album bears the title Three Poisons. Ghost is a rapper from Québec. Le gars du nord is his new album. Oxygen: Inhale is the latest from JUNO-nominated Ontario Christian rock band Thousand Foot Krutch.
Sounds of Sputnik is a project by Russian artist Roma Kalitkin. His new album New Born is a collaboration with duo Ummagma comprised of Shauna McLarnon from Whitehorse, YT and the Ukraine’s Alexander Kretov. The style of music blends noisy shoegaze, space rock, and dream pop. New Born contains five songs with several remixes of a couple of them. We’ll do a special feature on the project a bit later.
iSH is a multi-talented artist from Toronto. He writes, he raps, he does remixes for other artists (e.g. Dragonette), and he acts. Vancouver Island raised indie artist Stef Lang is featured in his new tune, “Rollin'” which is up to #72 and rising on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. The music video has broken into MuchMusic’s Top 30. Even those not into rap music will admire “Rollin'” for the simple fact that it has so much heart (not to mention clean lyrics :)). This is a beauty, eh.
Rollin’ on iTunes
Considering that some 8,000 songs from Canadian artists came out in 2012, coming up with the top 200 would have be difficult enough, but the top 20 was extremely difficult! To make things easier (and a fairer and tidier list), we allowed only one entry per artist.
Equally difficult was trying to decide whether a song could be considered a 2012 song. The biggest song of the year, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was released in 2011. But we think of it as a 2012 song because that’s when it enjoyed its biggest chart success. Below are a list of rules about which songs were eligible for our list.
1. For songs on albums not released as singles, the album had to have been released in 2012.
2. For non Hot 100 charting singles, the release date had to be in 2012.
3. For charting singles, the song had to reach its Hot 100 peak position during 2012.
4. If a song was included on our Faves list for the previous year but ended up being released as a single or charting this year, we will not re-include it on this year’s Faves list.
5. All songs eligible had to be in whole or in part credited to and performed by a Canadian artist whether or not it was composed by a Canadian.
As with our albums list, we listened to all 2012 songs shortlisting the ones we loved, then ranking them at the end of the year. We were not at all swayed by how popular (or unpopular) a song was or what the genre was.
We have included the cover art for singles. For album non-single songs, we framed the album cover with the song’s name on the frame.
#20. “You and I” by Anjulie
JUNO-nominated, platinum-selling Oakville recording artist Anjulie is one of the most stylish and exquisite songwriters in the country, not to mention a talented musician and very good singer to boot. This year she released 3 gourmet singles and it was a tough call picking our favourite. We’re settling on Top 30 (currently) “You and I” which pays homage to 1970s dance music while still remaining distinctively fresh and modern. It begins in a simple vein on acoustic guitar strums and builds into a star-soaring, beat thumping chorus, complete with revving keyboard riffs. This was one of 2012’s precious treasures, simply beautiful.
#19. “Love” by Raghav
Gold single “Fire” was one of the most delightful songs of 2011. Calgary’s JUNO-nominated Raghav was the only artist from anywhere in the world to score three Top 10 singles in the UK in 2004 having launched his career from Britain. He released his long awaited album The Phoenix in home country of Canada this year. Raghav’s gorgeous ballad “Love” was originally written for Michael Jackson and was released as a single late in the year. With catchy lyrics “Is this what they call love? Is this what all the fuss is about? If so, let me out!”, unpredictable and detailed hooks, and some sweet singing, this was definitely one of the best songs of the year.
#18. “Tough Love” by Suzie McNeil
This Mississauga native, currently signed to Vancouver label 604 Records, is a fabulous singer best known perhaps for her song “Supergirl” which made the year-end top 100 of 2009. Suzie is blessed with a versatile voice, handling both softer and harder rock with ease. She released her 3rd studio album this year, Dear Love, three tracks of which have been released as singles. She co-wrote “Tough Love”, the album’s 3rd single, with Marianas Trench frontman Josh Ramsay. This magnificent song which should have been a huge hit is Katy Perry rolled up with Joan Jett, i.e. lovely but tough. This song is like a battle between mischievous Cupid and Supergirl Suzie.
#17. “The Love You Gave” by Elisapie
Her album Travelling Love was one of our favourites of the year and this track stood out the most for us. Elisapie, previously in JUNO award winning duo Taima, is zooming ahead in her solo career’s skidoo as her second album shifted gears from her folky roots to a more pop/rock sound. The song is a savoury blend of spicy keyboards, sweet vocals, bitter beat, salty guitars, with backing choir, handclaps, and even a 70s style guitar solo. In short, “The Love You Gave” is perfect from every standpoint including composition, arrangement, delivery, and production. It’s no wonder that iTunes selected this song as one of their “songs of the week”.
#16. “Castle in the Cloud” by Stef Lang
A cool groove that has the beauty to stop you in your tracks is this little jewel written, delivered, recorded, and produced by British Columbian independent artist Stef Lang. After releasing radio friendly EP Fighting Mirrors earlier in the year that spawned airwave played “Paper Doll” and moreover after laying the vocals on two tracks off Delerium’s latest album Music Box Opera, she created LP Self, our 9th favourite of 2012. This track was our pick of the bunch, though just about any selection from the album could easily be placed here. While many of the more popular tunes this year got away with bearing too much resemblance to a hit of the past, this is a very original composition.
#15. “The Veldt” by deadmau5
Canada’s best-known EDM musician who composes but does not normally sing recruited Chris James to deliver the vocals on what sounds like a track inspired by Carol Anne Freeling in Poltergeist. One thing we know for sure is that the title came from a short sci-fi story by Ray Bradbury. Deadmau5 first created the tune on a live streaming session and then discovered Chris’ vocal rendition of it via Twitter. He invited Chris to perform on the official recording. The single came out just one month prior to Bradbury’s passing. “The Veldt” peaked on the Hot 100 at #24 and was the 75th most popular song of the year. To date, deadmau5 has won 4 JUNO awards.
#14. “Beauty and a Beat” by Justin Bieber
Believe was the most internationally successful Canadian album of the year and was certified double platinum at home. Of several singles released from the LP, we favoured this one best which is just a blast with its playful style and funky bass. The song was composed by internationally acclaimed songwriters Max Martin (Sweden), Anton Zaslavski (Russian-German), and Savan Kotecha (American) and it features a short and sweet spoken word segment with Nicki Minaj. “Beauty and a Beat” debuted on the Hot 100 at #47, disappeared the following week, and then re-entered 16 weeks later, peaking at #4. It has gone gold. Justin Bieber has won three JUNO awards.
#13. “So Happy I Could Die” by Bif Naked
JUNO-nominated and platinum-selling (not to mention humourist, motivational speaker, and comic cartoonist) Bif Naked in recent years underwent a successful battle against cancer. This year she released an album of mostly acoustic versions of her biggest hits plus a couple of new songs, Bif Naked Forever: (Acoustic Hits & Other Delights). In teaming up with Ryan Stewart, “So Happy I Could Die” is her welcome tribute to dance pop with a fantastic beat punctuated by her classic and lovable nasally vocals. “So here goes. I decided that’s enough. And it shows. I’m a fighter; I am tough” pretty much sums up the lessons she has learned from her experience.
#12. “Satellite” by Andrew Allen
Vernon, British Columbia, situated in the beautiful Okanagan valley, is the hometown of emerging recording artist Andrew Allen. Having enjoyed some radio hits, most notably the 3-million-plus YouTube viewed “Loving You Tonight”, Andrew launched his delicious dance-pop tune “Satellite” after scoring a charting single “I Want You” earlier in the year. Pulsating, percolating, and bubbling ’round the maple tree, the song is quite the embodiment of the touring lifestyle to which Allen has no doubt grown accustomed. 2012 was the year that Canadians became dance pop specialists and Allen is yet another example of such greatness.
#11. “Kiss You Inside Out” (Bilingual Version) by Hedley ft. Andrée-Anne Leclerc
The addition of Star Academie finalist Andrée-Anne Leclerc to perform a bilingual duet with Hedley’s Jacob Hoggard converted a good song into a great song and transformed something that could pass for a tune from any country into one that was distinctively Canadian. “Kiss You Inside Out”, released outside of JUNO-winning album Storms as a separate single, reached #2 on the weekly Hot 100 and was the second biggest Canadian hit of the year (after “Call Me Maybe”) in 19th spot on the year-end Billboard Hot 100. Given the beauty of musical composition, with a sweet and catchy melody, we are not surprised that this has become a triple-platinum single.
It is rare to find an honest year-end “best” album list. There are vested interests and kickbacks involved in those published by both online and print media. Individual people tend to be biased in favour of certain genres of music, musical instruments used, or types of artists (e.g. bands over solo artists) rendering their lists narrow. Blogs tend to discriminate against albums from popular artists because they use these lists to promote the obscure ones rather than simply state a true list of their favourites. In compiling our list, we did not care about the genre or style of music or the relative popularity of the artist. We simply listened to all 700 or so of the Canadian albums that were released in 2012. If the album held our attention throughout, and we found ourselves enjoying song after song, we shortlisted it. At the end of the year, we listened to the shortlisted albums several times and ranked them. Below is a list of the top 15 albums from the list, our 15 favourite Canadian albums of 2012.
What About EPs?
It is difficult to compare an EP to an LP as it contains only 3 to 6 songs. (An EP is considered a work that lasts a maximum length 25 minutes). We are thus not including EPs in this list. We would like to state, however, that of all Canadian EPs released in 2012, our favourite was Carly Rae Jepsen’s Curiosity.
#15. Albatross by Big Wreck
Like any genre of music, heavy metal can be enjoyable provided the front man can actually sing and the musical composition is inspired. Ian Thornley and Big Wreck deliver on both counts in the Canadian-American hybrid band’s first album in 11 years. This album gets your heart pumping, adrenaline flowing, and energizes you enough to clear snow from a football field in Quebec City in the time it takes it to dissolve on a Vancouver street corner. The music is like a diesel-powered snowblower ploughing through the snow and transforms at times into a melodic ice-dancing Zamboni. Albatross peaked at #5 on the Billboard Albums chart, won 2 CASBY awards, and spawned two hit singles, the title track and “Wolves”. Just make sure that when you do your head-bangin’ you’ve got a toque on, eh.
#14. Two by Jesse Labelle
Packed chock-full of the passion and intensity that made Corey Hart and Zappacosta such a joy to listen to a generation ago, the second album from Toronto’s Jesse Labelle is a beautiful tribute to romance—both lyrically and musically—under the expert production of Thomas “Tawgs” Salter. The album opens gently with the gorgeous piano ballad “Won’t Let You Down” and then moves into hit single territory (“Heartbreak Coverup” had a run on the Hot 100). “One Last Night” pokes fun at the supposed end of days from the Mayan calendar. The exciting drum pounding in “Straight Lines” moved us, the captivating wall of sound on “Moment That We Stop” impressed us, feeling the music itself pleading in “Tell the World” inspired us, and the playful swagger of “Something to Feel” charmed us. Jesse lets loose on “Magic Words”, gets theatrical on “Kryptonite”, sweet on “Lifetimes”, and rocks out on album closer “Pause”. Simply put, there is not a weak track on Two.
#13. Red Magic by Beat Market
For those of you wondering whether Canada has more to offer in the realm of instrumental EDM (that’s electronic dance music) than deadmau5, look no further than this brand new duo from Montréal: Louis-Joseph Cliche and Maxime Bellavance who go by the name Beat Market. They released an EP earlier this year before launching their self-produced debut LP, Red Magic. Making ample use of analogue synthesizers, the album showcases a more complex and sophisticated sound than many of the other acts out there. And yes, this album just may make your foot start tapping annoying the sleepoholics in the apartment below you, and when you, yourself, hit the sack with these vibes in your head, dreams of hangin’ at a video game arcade in Tokyo with some bubble tea in hand may just happen. Red Magic is the perfect party album and no doubt one of the strongest releases of the year in any musical genre, a very impressive piece of work.
#12. Tell the World by Kristina Maria
Do tell the world that Kristina Maria is an exceptional singer, so much so in fact that she brought Sony Music Senior Vice President Vito Luprano, a key figure behind Celine Dion’s rise to superstardom, out of retirement. After CRMA nominations, SOCAN awards, a feature on CBC’s The National, and 3 gold hit singles (“Let’s Play” was the 64th biggest song of 2011), she released her debut LP, Tell the World, which has thus far spawned an additional 2 charting singles. This fantastic dance pop album from the Ottawa native is jam-packed with instant classics from the beautiful power ballad “It’s All Games” to the bright lights and fun of “Up and Up” and the ground-shaking, sky-scraping anthem, “We Belong Together”.
#11. Le Treizieme Etage by Louis-Jean Cormier
“And now for something completely different,” our 11th favourite Canadian album of 2012 is the first solo release from Louis-Jean Cormier, front man of Polaris Prize winning indie band from Montréal, Karkwa. Le treizieme etage 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. Of all artists, the album reminds us, believe it or not, of Radiohead, not in sound waveforms but in the mood it elicits. 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. This is a stunning piece of work.
#10. Voyageur by Kathleen Edwards
Five JUNO nominations for this Ottawan and counting. Like Ron Sexsmith, singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards likes to combine musical genres that do not fit into any of the radio formats of the current time. The album is a voyage to a world where folk, country, and rock collide and combine. The result is a sound that has a universal appeal. Although the album did not contribute any hit singles, it is a joy to listen to from the percolating opener “Empty Threat”, to “Change the Sheets”, which she performed on American chat show Late Night with David Letterman, to the concluding haunts of “Middle of the Road”. The album itself, her fourth, made it to #2 on the Billboard Album chart, her highest chart peak to date.
#9. Self by Stef Lang
After an EP earlier this year (Fighting Mirrors) that contained radio hit “Paper Doll”, Stef Lang, who comes from the town that invented nanaimo bars (Ladysmith, BC), reflected on what was to be her next move besides being featured in two tracks off Delerium’s album Music Box Opera. She decided not to opt for a mainstream radio style preferring to craft the kind of music that met with her own taste. The result was Self, her second LP. Talk about a true independent trooper, Stef wrote, played, recorded, engineered and produced the album all by herself. If commercial tunes are like slices of bread, Self is like a gourmet sandwich. She has taken the basic elements and created something even more wholesome and savoury. The album opens with Stef on her signature blood-stained acoustic guitar in “Brick Wall” and the music grows into a graceful current of subtle, melancholy R&B accented with some perky funk and urban rhythms, particularly in such beautiful tracks as “Castle in the Cloud”, “For a Minute There”, and “DNA”.
#8. Travelling Love by Elisapie
Hailing from the remote town of Salluit in northern Quebec, JUNO-award winning, trilingual Elisapie released her sophomore work this year, Travelling Love, a folky pop/rock effort. It opens with a tour de force pulsating electro-pop ice-breaker, “The Beat”, followed by fabulous “The Love You Gave”. The disc includes “It’s All Your Fault”, a tribute to Leonard Cohen of whom Elisapie is a huge admirer. Elisapie delivers a hauntingly gorgeous ballad about her hometown that makes you yearn to fly up there. And if the album closer fails to rouse your spirits, then you ought to get them checked by your local soul doctor. Of its many strengths, one of the biggest reasons why this is such a stunning album is that, on all levels, the music on Travelling Love is unpredictable. You anticipate things will go one way, and they take an unexpected turn to something more exciting, all carried by a sweet voice and a perfectly balanced wall of sound.
#7. MA by Ariane Moffatt
Every album that Ariane Moffatt has released has nabbed the Felix for pop/rock album of the year, moreover one of them won a JUNO award. With several gold and platinum certifications under her belt, she decided to release a bilingual album, MA. Being a fan of Metric, she went for an electronic rock sound on this one with such sweeping electronic landscapes combined with the original beats of the likes of Utada Hikaru. But all in all it showcases the unique, creative genius of Ariane Moffatt. MA shot up to #2 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart after lead single “Mon Corps” smoked up the charts in Quebec. CBC’s Q Radio named this as one of the 20 best albums in the world of 2012. We heartily agree.
#6. It’s Easy If You Try by Len
Toronto’s Len (siblings Marc and Sharon Costanzo) is best known for its international hit “Steal My Sunshine” back in 1999 and have been called one-hit wonders. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that; Pink Floyd were one-hit wonders … well, almost (I think “Money” made the Top 40). Len received 3 JUNO nominations, one of them being for Best Alternative Album. In 2012, they released brand new album It’s Easy If You Try. This is an incredibly good pop album that is full of summertime fun; in fact, we think track “Gonna Take Some Time” easily rivals their big hit as an instant classic. This is definitely the kind of album you’d find playing at Austin Powers’ pad in swinging London. With more surprises and pop hooks than imaginable, this album is simply a blast.
#5. Bells & Whistles by Steph MacPherson
Steph is a Canadian whose roots lie in the land of the kiwi. Her style could perhaps be described as an added touch of Loreena McKennitt to Kathleen Edwards. This year she released her debut LP Bells & Whistles under Cordova Bay Records capturing the essence of her beautiful, crisp, clear voice over gorgeous piano and guitar melodies of both rousing joy and soothing reflection. The album commences with the title track that warns us there are such potholes along life’s journey that we could see all the way to China through the asphalt. If you finally make it past that song after hitting the replay button multiple times, you will find little gems along the way to the album concluder, “Open Book”, a breathtaking piano ballad that will leave you mesmerized.
#4. 20/20 by Saga
Progressive rock is still going strong in the Great White North, yet it is really the veterans of the genre who can’t be beat. JUNO-winning, platinum-selling Saga has continued to make records for 35 years! The sophisticated sound of classics “Wind Him Up” and “On the Loose” of yesteryear won devoted followers all the way over in Germany; in fact, 2012’s 20/20, one of the best albums the band has ever recorded, entered the charts at #13 in that country. Saga is the greatest contribution to Canadian culture that Oakville, Ontario has ever made. Ten glorious tracks of brilliant song writing, pulsating keyboards, mid-pitched reverberating electric guitars, base quakes, and theatrical vocals are everything we could ask for.
#3. TRST by Trust
Toronto band Austra’s Maya Postepski met Robert Alfons in 2009, and they experienced musical chemistry. They began writing songs and formed the band Trust the following year. EP Candy Walls was released in 2011 and generated enough excitement to draw the interest of Arts & Crafts Records who released the band’s debut LP in February 2012, a work entitled TRST. Their sound is dark and atmospheric, dreamy and hypnotic, sombre and intense, with sparkles of space dust from some eerie planet on a collision course with Earth. This is gothic electronic rock at its very best with synth grunts, blips, and pulses, and melodies taking on unexpected twists and turns on a joy ride to the edge of the unknown. It is the sort of record you would hear playing at a trendy clothing shop on Robson Street in Vancouver where customers with spiked hair sift through a rack of rayon shirts with metal clasps. Listening to it gives the feeling of entering a castle complete with torches and neon lights, a dungeon containing a flying saucer, and a secret chamber occupied by ghosts and a stargate.
#2. Free Dimensional by Diamond Rings
Diamond Rings is a solo artist from Toronto named John O’Regan. 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, Simple Minds, and The Spoons, look no further than Free Dimensional. “I’m Just Me” is the first single, the music video showcasing his glittery space cadet wardrobe, square, diamond-themed shades, Bowie haircut, dry ice, green laser beams, and black lights. But his flashy stage persona and signature baritone voice is not all that is to be admired. The music on this album is a big move forward from his last work; in fact, it is so good, we found only one Canadian album released in 2012 that we liked better. Oh, yes, and we’re hoping he’ll do “Put Me On” as a duet with LIGHTS on keytar.
#1. Shut Up and Dance by Victoria Duffield
Abbotsford, British Columbia’s Victoria Duffield, A+ student, actor, professional dancer, singer, and composer has more talent in her 17-year-old frame than most people accumulate in a lifetime. Single “Shut Up and Dance”, 49th biggest song of the year and platinum certified, heralded an album bearing the same name spawning an additional two Top 40 singles (so far) and includes a collaboration with Australian heartthrob Cody Simpson. The album is short: eight tracks with a run time of 28 minutes, most being co-written with hit-maker Ryan Stewart (Carly Rae Jepsen, Suzie McNeil). All tracks on this gem succeed to levels rivalling anything Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, or The Pet Shop Boys have concocted in their respective terms of reign over the airwaves. It has taken a long time for Canadian music to branch out into the dance genre, and this has finally been perfected on such a brilliant work as this. Moreover, big on melody and sophistication, it remains purified from the watering down urban, repetitive, and oversimplified styles that have saturated the market south of the border, coming at them and the rest of the world like a breath of fresh air. We are not surprised at all that Victoria Duffield topped the Billboard Year-End Emerging Canadian Artists Chart.
As 2012 was the year that saw malicious contempt towards the young, we are pleased that our choice happens to counter this. The Canadian Music Blog is proud to declare Victoria Duffield’s Shut Up and Dance as 2012’s Album of the Year.
After an EP earlier this year (Fighting Mirrors) that contained radio hit “Paper Doll” and a cross-Canada tour, Ladysmith BC’s Stef Lang reflected on what was to be her next move besides being featured in two tracks off Delerium’s new album Music Box Opera. Drawing inspiration from her idols Joni Mitchell and Ron Sexsmith, Stef realized that trying to forge her style into one that fit into contemporary hit radio moulds was blistering her heart. She decided to begin crafting the kind of music that met with her own taste. The result is the new digital album Self, her second LP. Talk about a true independent trooper, Stef wrote, played, recorded, engineered and produced the album all by herself.
Before you think she’s come out with banners waving in some bizarre musical genre that would have those accustomed to the mainstream scratching their heads, Self is actually not too far off from the CHR staple. If commercial tunes are like slices of bread, Self is like a gourmet sandwich. She has taken the basic elements and created something even more wholesome and savoury.
The album opens with Stef on her signature blood-stained acoustic guitar in “Brick Wall” and the music grows into a graceful current of subtle, melancholy R&B accented with some perky funk and urban rhythms, particularly in such beautiful tracks as “Castle in the Cloud”, “For a Minute There”, and “DNA”.
If her previous works suggested Stef Lang was a talent, her new album proves that she is a musical genius. Self is not simply another good Canadian release; it is one of the best albums of 2012.
Stef Lang Official Website Listen to / Download Self Self on iTunes
Bill Leeb was involved with Skinny Puppy in Vancouver and then created his own project, Front Line Assembly with Michael Balch. While developing this group, they decided to initiate a side-project that would perform a more ambient, lighter style of electronica. They called this project Delerium. After their debut album, Faces, Forms & Illusions in 1989, Balch departed from both projects, and Leeb hooked up with Rhys Fulber releasing more albums under the Delerium name. Perhaps feeling that their vocal talents were not up to par, they recruited a number of featured singers, mostly female, and some of them big names in the business. Guest vocalists have included the regular Kristy Thirsk, Sarah McLachlan, The West End Girls’ Camille Henderson (the daughter of Chilliwack frontman Bill), and Metric’s Emily Haines.
In 1994, things picked up when they were signed to Nettwerk Records and 1997’s Karma was their first gold album and contained two of the band’s best known tracks. “Euphoria” won for the band its first of two JUNO awards. “Silence”, featuring Sarah McLachlan, regarded by some as one of the best trance recordings of all time, did not become a hit until 2000 after it was remixed. It topped the charts in Ireland, made it to the Top 5 in Canada and the U.K., and won the JUNO for dance recording of the year. Poem, another gold album, followed in 2000 and included “Aria” that featured The Mediæval Bæbes. 2003’s Chimera became the outfit’s only JUNO-nominated album. Until now, Delerium’s last studio album was Nuages du Monde, released in 2006. It appeared that the project had come to an end. Not at all; Delerium has returned with its first original studio album in 6 years, Music Box Opera.
The vocalists on this work include Stef Lang (2 tracks), Nadina, Michael Logen, Jael, the ever-reliable Kristy Thirsk, Leona Naess, Anna-Lynne Williams, and Azure Ray. With a dozen tracks and a run time of well over an hour, you know you’re in for a treat. You will hear Arabic-style chants interlaced in electronic cascades, intergalactic pop, down tempo lounge beats, ballroom grand pianos, percolating synths, some Indian percussion, ground shaking bass, and sparks of bright amidst a thin sheet of darkness, like dancing glitter on black water. On all counts, Music Box Opera is a winner.
If it took six years for a music box to transform itself into a grand opera, then it was well worth the wait.
Whatever level of fame they are at currently, British Columbian artists are all working hard to create some fresh west coast sounds for your enjoyment. Several artists will be releasing brand new studio albums in the next few months.
Daniel Powter – Turn On the Lights (August 14)
JUNO Awards: 1 Win
Certifications: 1 platinum single and 1 gold album
Biggest Hit: “Bad Day” (23 million YouTube views)
Twitter Followers: 1,400+
Facebook Likes: 19,000+
Official Website: http://www.danielpowter.com/
With his massive international hit, “Bad Day”, back in 2005, Dan has championed what some call adult contemporary or soft rock, i.e. the roll in rock and roll. This will be his fourth studio album. The lead single “Cupid” has already been released.
Victoria Duffield – Shut Up and Dance (August 21)
JUNO Awards: Not Yet
Certifications: 1 platinum and 1 gold single
Biggest Hit: “Shut Up and Dance” (2.4 million YouTube views)
Twitter Followers: 11,000+
Facebook Likes: 14,000+
Official Website: http://www.victoriaduffield.com/
After four hit singles, teen pop star and dancer Victoria is set to release her debut full-length studio album. In September, she goes on tour with Australia’s Cody Simpson and U.S. boy band Big Time Rush. Her current hit single is “Break My Heart“.
Faber Drive – Lost in Paradise (August 28)
JUNO Awards: 2 Nominations
Certifications: 2 platinum and 2 gold singles
Biggest Hit: “G-Get Up and Dance” (700 thousand YouTube views)
Twitter Followers: 5,000+
Facebook Likes: 225,000+
The primary members of this ensemble are Dave Faber (vocals) and Jeremy Liddle (bass). This will be their third studio album. “Candy Store” has already been released as a single.
Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss (September 18)
JUNO Awards: 2 Nominations
Certifications: 1 quintuple platinum and 2 gold singles
Biggest Hit: “Call Me Maybe” (185 million YouTube views)
Twitter Followers: 2.0+ million
Facebook Likes: 1.7+ million
Official Website: http://carlyraemusic.com/
After releasing her domestic EP Curiosity back on Valentine’s Day, Carly is set to release her second LP. She will promote her new album by going on tour with Justin Bieber from September until January next year. She is already enjoying her fifth Top 40 radio hit, “Good Time“, a collaboration with Owl City.
Stef Lang – Self (October 15)
Yes, indie artists are working hard too. Ladysmith’s Stef Lang has announced that she will be releasing a brand new album on October 15 called Self. This follows her EP Fighting Mirrors which spawned the radio hit “Paper Doll“. Official Website: http://steflang.ca/
After wrapping up her Canadian tour, where she whizzed and dazzled across the country, like a suped up CPR engine, British Columbian dynamo singer-songwriter Stef Lang has launched a brand new music video for the second single released off her new EP, Fighting Mirrors. Here she is rockin’ the Great White North Express “Bullet Train”:
Just after Carly Rae Jepsen released her “Call Me Maybe” single in Canada, she played a quaint little venue in Vancouver (a former church). Those who saw her then were very, very lucky. They could stand within a few metres of the stage. When the song reached #1, she opened for Hanson, playing at a larger venue. Now that she has become an international celebrity, those days are over. From now on, it’s big arenas where you have to camp out overnight or pay a small fortune if you don’t want to be in a position where all you can see is a small dot on the distant stage.
Seize the Opportunity
Stef Lang is a treasure trove of talent and she is generating press as far away as Britain. Her upcoming cross-Canada tour which begins a dozen days from now may be the last time you can see her before she becomes a dot on a distant stage. You never know!
We’ve listed the dates and venues below. New cities may be added later; we’ll keep you all posted. For details (addresses, times, ticket prices, etc.), go to her website HERE. Promoting her tour is her brand new EP Fighting Mirrors which she is offering Radiohead-style, i.e. free download. We’ve also embedded a nice interview with Stef below the dates.
|29 Mar (Thu)||Duncan||Duncan Garage Showroom|
|30 Mar (Fri)||Nanaimo||Diners RendezVous|
|31 Mar (Sat)||Ladysmith||The Bean Time Café|
|1 Apr (Sun)||Vancouver||Joe’s Apartment|
|4 Apr (Wed)||Calgary||The Hub (At Mount Royal University)|
|6 Apr (Fri)||Edmonton||The Haven Social House|
|7 Apr (Sat)||Lethbridge||The Slice Bar & Grill|
|12 Apr (Thu)||Winnipeg||Pyramid Cabaret|
|14 Apr (Sat)||Thunder Bay||Black Pirates|
|22 Apr (Sun)||Wakefield||Black Sheep Inn|
|24 Apr (Tue)||Ottawa||Zaphod Beeblebrox|
|26 Apr (Thu)||Waterloo||Maxwell’s Music House|
|28 Apr (Sat)||Guelph||Jimmy Jazz|
|29 Apr (Sun)||Hamilton||Casbah|
Vancouver’s musical dynamo Stef Lang has just released a brand new 4-track EP called Fighting Mirrors. Leaving the big city for a tranquil, reflective atmosphere, she wrote the songs on Quadra Island which lies in Georgia Straight, NE of Vancouver Island’s Campbell River. And, get this folks, she is offering the EP as a free download on her website!
“Paper Doll” has been released as a single and a music video has just been released which we’ve embedded below for your viewing / listening pleasure. Besides a great singer, skilled musician, and solid songwriter, Stef is cherished for her meaningful lyrics and clever music videos. She will be touring the country beginning the end of March (see list of dates HERE). If you like the music, please support her by leaving the lure of those enervating mirrors and attending her shows. She’s one of the best.
Belly is the stage name of Palestine-born rapper Ahmed Balshe and is taken from the word rebellious. He was signed onto Ottawa-based record label Capital Prophet Records (which later relocated to Toronto and became known as CP Records). Belly’s debut album, The Revolution, released in 2007, won the JUNO award for Rap Recording of the Year and achieved Gold Certification. The best-known track from the album was “Pressure”. This was a double-album centered on humanistic themes. Disc 1 was titled “The People” and Disc 2, “The System”. Like most rappers, Belly has collaborated with singers, most notably Danny Fernandes and Josh Ramsay (Marianas Trench). He is a supportive fan of the Ottawa Senators.
Derek is a blues guitarist singer-songwriter from the largest First Nation in Canada, Six Nations of the Grand River (Ontario) which consists of Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora. After getting into music in his teens, his profile was heightened when he toured with Buffy Sainte-Marie in the late 1990s. He was offered a deal with Winnipeg’s Arbor Records and released his debut album, Music is the Medicine, in 2002. The track “Lovesick Blues” won the JUNO for Aboriginal Recording of the Year. The Dirty Looks followed, winning for him his second JUNO in 2008. Derek Miller was invited to perform alongside Eva Avila and Nikki Yanofsky during the Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. He released his third album that year, Double Trouble.
Emmalyn is the younger sister of British Columbia Filipina-Canadian R&B star Elise Estrada. When she was 17, she won a singing contest hosted by Vancouver radio station The Beat 94.5 FM and released the single “Get Down” two months later. This was nominated by the CRMA (Canadian Radio Music Awards) in the Dance / Urban / Rhythmic category. In October, she relocated to Los Angeles and teamed up with record producer Chris Stokes of label TUG (The Ultimate Group). Single “Don’t Make Me Let You Go” followed. She returned to Vancouver in 2011 to perform at several festivals and has joined Adam H’s new record label XOXO Entertainment with her sister Elise. She is now part of American-British-Canadian girl group GRL which scored a couple of international hits in 2014.
Born Cyril Kamar in Lebanon, K.Maro relocated to Montreal when he was 11. He is a rapper / singer-songwriter who performs in both English and French, occasionally throwing in some Arabic. K.Maro is also a producer and has his own record label, K.Pone.Inc. He started out in a successful Québec rap duo called LMDS (Les Messagers du Son) in the late 1990s. Debuting in 2002 as a soloist, he has already released several albums which have seen international success, most notably in Europe. Three of his singles have made the year-end Top 50 charts in Québec: “Femme Like You” (#8 of 2004), “Let’s Go” (#38 of 2007), and “Music” (#30 of 2010). He has collaborated with several artists including Belly and Corneille. K.Maro has opened a clothing line called Balbec, named after the town where he was born.
Simply put, Marc Hervieux, graduate of the Montréal Conservatory of Music, is now one of the most popular Canadian opera singers in the world. He has performed in such countries as Russia, Israel, the United States, Spain, France, China, and South Korea. He was invited to put on a private concert in honour of the king of Sweden. Having a natural attraction for a wide variety of musical styles, Marc has also collaborated – onstage or on CD – with several Canadian popular recording artists including Ginette Reno, Sylvain Cossette, Isabelle Boulay, and Patsy Gallant. Three of Marc’s albums have received Gold Certification in Canada: Apres Nous contains both classic and original French songs; A Napoli is dedicated to Neopolitan songs from Italy; and Le Premier Noël, an album of mostly French traditional Christmas songs. His Tenor Arias won the 2010 Felix Award for classical vocal album of the year.
Stef Lang, a Canadian of proud Eurasian heritage (German-Filipina), was born in Nanaimo BC, but grew up in Ladysmith (also on Vancouver Island). At 17, she relocated to Vancouver to pursue a career in music. She won a contest in 2006 by local radio station The Beat FM and was offered a four-song record deal with producers Mike James (Kelly Rowland) and Troy Samson (Kreesha Turner, Snoop Dogg). In the space of four years, Lang had written over 250 songs and released a couple of EPs. She was eventually signed by Nettwerk and released a digital album in 2010. Besides having an amazing voice and composing her own songs, Stef Lang learned both piano and guitar; she has all the ingredients for a credible superstar. Thus far, her best-known songs are “Mr. Immature” and “Slave 2 Love”. In 2012, she released the new single “Paper Doll” from EP Fighting Mirrors which received radio airply. She was featured on 2 tracks off Delerium’s album Music Box Opera and released her second LP Self.
1. Ottawa’s emerging CRMA-nominated country star Kira Isabella sang the national anthem to open the Sens vs. Leafs game last night. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better performance. Given the cheers of the crowd, I think most would agree that it was absolutely sensational. You can watch Kira’s performance HERE.
2. Vancouver’s emerging rock ‘n roll star Stef Lang has released a new single, “Paper Doll” and has generously offered it as a FREE download HERE. She has announced a nation-wide tour that will commence at the end of March. You can view a tentative list of dates HERE.
3. Avril Lavigne has completed two nights of performances at Tokyo’s Saitama Super Arena as she launches the final leg of her Black Star Tour. Japan is the second largest music market in the world and the Japanese are among her most avid fans. Three of Avril’s albums have been certified DIAMOND in Japan. She has released a snippet video of her concert, a tour-de-force a capella performance. You can watch it HERE. While in Tokyo, the pop punk princess tried her hand at taiko drumming: video HERE.
4. Bryan Adams will be on tour in Japan soon. He’ll tour Europe in March and Canada starting in April. We’ll post more info on his Canadian concert tour later on.
5. Mia Martina, the sultry voice behind “Stereo Love”, “Latin Moon”, and “Burning” will be touring the major cities in western Canada very soon:
Feb 14: Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver
Feb 15: Back Alley, Calgary
Feb 16: Treasury Vodka Bar & Eatery, Edmonton
Feb 17: Fame Night Club, Winnipeg
Vancouver’s exceptionally talented Stef Lang is coming out with a new single February 1st called “Paper Doll”. For those of you unfamiliar with the “Slave2Love” and “Mr. Immature” singer-songwriter, Stef was born in the sweetest city in the country, so sweet that it has a dessert named after it; we’re talkin’ Nanaimo. She grew up, however, south of there, in Ladysmith also on Vancouver Island. At 17, she relocated to Vancouver to pursue a career in music. She won a contest in 2006 by local radio station The Beat FM and was offered a 4-song record deal with producers Mike James (Kelly Rowland) and Troy Samson (Kreesha Turner, Snoop Dogg). In the space of 4 years, Lang had written over 250 songs and released a couple of EPs. She was eventually signed by Nettwerk and released a digital album in 2010.
Besides having an amazing voice and composing her own songs, Stef Lang learned both piano and guitar; she has all the ingredients for a credible superstar. Brace yourselves, Canada, Stef Lang is on the brink of a major breakout. Below is her previously-released music video for “Mr. Immature”. Stef Lang’s Official Website.