DYLN is on to “Better Things”

From barren trees to cherry blossoms, things are moving on to better things here. Riding the surf of adopting a new home base and a new name (with a little encouragement from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson we might add), DYLN launches new song “Better Things” and its cheery, fresh music video. The song is gaining some traction at radio, and naturally, DYLN is no stranger to the airwaves, a very capable songwriter with a great voice to boot. She has been compared to Tianshe and Robyn, and the new track “pulsating and filled with attitude”.  iTunes

The 10 Best EPs of 2016


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


“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


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


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


Island Gal Stef Lang Shoots Second Arrows

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

New Releases: Late August 2016

new releases collage late August 2016 copy

As we celebrate coming off of a successful summer Olympic games and our athletic heroes, most notably Penny Oleksiak, Rosie MacLennan, Erica Wiebe, and Derek Drouin and as some of us prepare to return to school, some fantastic new music has been released these last two weeks of August 2016 to serve as the soundtrack of our journey into September and beyond.

On August 16, Vancouver Island native Stef Lang gifted the world with EP Arrows Part 2, a sequel to last year’s extended play record. If nothing else, the new pop EP confirms our belief that she is incapable of writing a subpar song.

On August 19, dark wave electronic duo Crystal Castles of Toronto launched full-length album Amnesty (I). It is filled with hauntingly chilling anthems sounding like they were recorded in a dark, mouldy dungeon (that’s meant as a compliment). Also from Toronto, urban music specialist Tory Lanez, a Billboard Hot 100 charting artist, released LP I Told You which is selling well. Vancouver project Every Last Chance rewarded us with self-titled EP containing a couple of singles which created some buzz and one of which we named the best song of 2015. This is essential fresh sounding EDM that will pump up your day.

On August 26, a batch of gems, plugged as back to school releases no doubt, grants us pure pleasure. We begin with Allan Hurd. He’s from off-island Montreal suburb Saint-Bruno-de-Montarvill. In Tdah Vol I. he presents some delightful, folky singer-songwriter tracks. His fellow Canadian Céline Dion, as promised, gets the world’s oceans a-swirl with her latest album Encore un soir currently at the summit of the iTunes chart. The Charlemagne, QC singer has done it again with mostly original tracks composed by both Canadian and international songwriters.

Those who like to lap up the rap can check out Ça vient du Coeur by Montreal’s Fuccè as well as Résiste by Psycadelick. Well, yes, Whitehorse, YT is a team player, thanks to Old Cabin. Mini-album Saturn Return is a nicely done eclectic blend of good tunes. Selling quite well is the self-titled album by Toronto’s Tuns replete with catchy Beatles-esque tunes or more generally 60s pop. Also from Toronto, but more interested in making shoegazing alternative rock is duo Twist presenting new album Spectral. Remarkably good is the new disc from Montreal DJ, whom we acquired from Venezuela, Vito V. The dance album is entitled Illusions of Grandeur and is very much worth checking out.

Neither a studio album nor an EP is Emotion Side B by Mission, BC’s Carly Rae Jepsen, a companion disc to her Polaris shortlisted, critically acclaimed 2015 album Emotion. As has been said, though the tracks are album outtakes, any one of them is better than 90% of the pop songs of 2016. It is currently sitting in the iTunes Top 10.

Another beautiful work is the very classy R&B inflected EP CDW by Toronto’s Charlotte Day Wilson. New wave synth pop is done exquisitely by Montreal’s HWYS on new EP Beaches.

No country discs out this week so we leave you with the lyric video from talented Edmonton indie artist Andrea Nixon, “Innerglow” hot off the video press. Over the next week we will provide more in-depth reviews of some of the LPs and EPs above.

Canadian Music Blog’s Top 10 EP Faves of 2015

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. We did not include remix EPs (i.e. a disc containing several remixes of one song). If an LP followed that contained nearly all tracks from the EP, we disqualified it. Below is a list of our 10 favourite EPs of 2015 among the 150 that came to our attention through the year.

10Dolce désir by Le Couleur

Le Couleur - Dolce DesirThe Montreal sweethearts of Le Couleur followed up their press-acclaimed EP Voyage Love with a new one in 2015 entitled Dolce Désir. Falling somewhere between Italo disco and electro-pop, the EP anchored the group as the dance floor captain while lead singer Laurence Giroux-Do caressed the ears, analogue synths electrified the spine, and the bass groove got our feet shuffling.  iTunes

9Where the People Are by Glory Glory

glory glory - Where the People Are

Progressive waves splashed up on Maritime shores, as Halifax synthpop quartet Glory Glory released three-track EP Where the People Are. Shimmering keys and funky grooves done right gave the band some impetus in a maiden voyage to national renown.  iTunes

8Claire by Rolemodel

rolemodel claire

Toronto’s RLMDL stirred up some buzz with spellbinding song “Bilingual” and debut LP Before Then Was Now from 2013. The Toronto electronic dream pop outfit decided to add the vowels to its name, rechristening itself as Rolemodel. Six-track EP Claire appeared in 2015 through label Hand Drawn Dracula. Lead singer Jordan Allen is joined by members Luke Duross, Lisa Lorenz, and Michael Laing to dish out blue music that successfully avoids becoming excessively dismal. Synth pop enthusiasts should enjoy this wonderland of misty dream sequences.  iTunes

7Fox by Beatrice Deer

Beatrice Deer - Fox

Beatrice Deer, from Quaqtaq, QC, is an Inuk songstress who has released two albums plus a holiday LP. She returned in top form on EP Fox. The neo-trad effort seamlessly combines some throat singing and traditional Inuit chants with surprisingly effective modern rock. She proves here that she is a largely undiscovered Canadian gem. The songs pack quite a wallop and flow with a genuineness that kept us engaged. Beatrice’s beautiful voice helped her win an Aboriginal Music Award back in 2005.  iTunes

6Pivotal by Kayd

kayd - pivotal

Pivotal is the stellar debut from Niagara Falls rookie rocker Kayd. Well-constructed songs abound with a presentation that continues the legacy of the genre ignited by the Headpins and Toronto. Kayd is a treasure beneath the waves waiting to be discovered by the masses. She cites Janis Joplin, Paramore, and Chantal Kreviazuk as influences. Don’t miss out on this ripper of an EP!  iTunes

5Arrows, Part 1 by Stef Lang

stef lang - arrows part 1

Stef Lang is a Billboard Hot 100 charting artist thanks to 2010’s “Mr. Immature” and her feature in iSH’s “Rollin’” in 2013. A number of other songs from the native of Vancouver Island have fluttered around on the radio airwaves. She sings, she writes, she plays, and she produces. This gal can do it all. Now based in Brooklyn, New York, Stef released the first of a two-part EP initiative entitled Arrows. She describes her new music as “pop with an R&B undertone with some hip-hop elements”. To our ears, the songs on the new EP, Arrows Part 1, are very catchy, delicious jams!  iTunes

4Avalanche by Kalle Mattson

Kalle Mattson - Avalanche

Ontario singer-songwriter Kalle Mattson followed up his 2014 album Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold with superb EP Avalanche. The 6-track work was signalled by its title-track single, the MV for which generated some media buzz with its clever set creation of 35 classic album covers. The EP is studded with beautiful gems. The catchiest is perhaps track 2, “Lost Love” which bristles with crisp upbeat tones. There are some stripped down ballads where the poetry shines through more clearly and some ambient shimmers providing auditory captivation. At the core of all tracks is a songwriting prowess which, with a little luck, will summon recognition for Kalle as one of our aces.  iTunes

3V by Bravestation

bravestation - v

Originally from the Thousand Islands region, Toronto-based Bravestation is a new wave trio consisting of brothers Devin and Derek Wilson and childhood friend Jeremy Rossetti. They named their band after Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World and Robert J. Hasting’s inspirational essay The Station. The group has been releasing music since 2012. Earlier on, Bravestation was finding its way, experimenting with various feels. With brand EP V, the band hit its stride, with a solidified sound that is very impressive. V contains four sizzling tracks of 80s inspired music. Be sure to check this one out!  iTunes

2Caveboy by Caveboy


Michelle, Isabelle, and Lana are marvellous Montreal female trio Caveboy (formerly Diamond Bones), creators of superb synthrock songs. The self-titled, six-track debut EP includes some dreamy, shoegazing, and funky grooves that add extra gusto to the already dark, dense, addictive sound. The EP was produced by Patrick Krief, guitarist of The Dears, and mixed by Jace Lasek, of Besnard Lakes. Closing track “Muscle Memory” is not a cover of the LIGHTS song but an instrumental spaceflight trip that caps off a great disc.  iTunes

1Canadian Music Blog’s 2015 EP of the Year

We are super delighted to be able to declare a Francophone work as 2015’s EP of the year. It contains only three tracks, but they are so wonderful, that we enjoyed the disc more than any of the 150 released through the year.  The artist was a finalist in Season 1 of The Voice, and this debut EP of hers introduced us to the exquisite pop music she is capable of creating. The title track became a Top 10 CKOI hit. We love all three tracks, especially opener “Couleurs”. Rather than pressing the placebo that is the intersection walk signal button, we ended up pressing the ‘play’ button or simply had this marvellous EP on repeat. The Canadian Music Blog declares Placebo by Alexe Gaudreault 2015’s EP of the year!  iTunes

alexe gaudreault - placebo EP of the Year copy

Headlines for Late May 2015


Carly Rae Jepsen and Mia Martina Performing at the MMVAs

Much Music has confirmed that Carly Rae Jepsen, Mia Martina, and newcomer Scott Helman will be performing at this year’s MMVAs. They will be joining fellow Canadian performers The Weeknd and Shawn Mendes as well as international stars Tori Kelly, Fall Out Boy, Ed Sheeran, Jason Derulo, and Nick Jonas! It’s going to be one heck of a party! Carly Rae Jepsen’s “I Really Like You” is enjoying its fourth week in the UK’s Top 10, peaking at #3. Mia Martina recently hinted that she may be releasing a Franco album. We’ll certainly take it!


Marianas Trench Emerging From the Depths

The multiplatinum and JUNO winning Trench lads are working on their new album Astoria due out later this year. To thank fans for their patience, the Vancouver band has released a new 4-track digital EP called Something Old / Something New. It contains the latest two singles “Pop 101” and “Here’s To the Zeros” plus two previously unreleased punky tracks recorded prior to the group’s debut album. These four tracks will not be included on Astoria.


Let Your Compositions Slide

Canada’s founding father of rap, Maestro Fresh Wes has released a new mini album entitled Compositions, Vol. 1. A number of guest rappers and singers appear on the album including JD Era, JRDN, King Reign, Rezza Bros., Rich Kidd, and Scott Jackson.


Dallas Smith Launches Steelhead

This news is a bit old but country-rock superstar Dallas Smith is flexing his business skills by launching new record label Steelhead. Dallas’ management team includes Alex Seif (Union Entertainment Group) and Scott Cooke (Producer). Steelhead did a noble thing by signing a Manitoba artist first, sibling duo Petric.

stef lang

Stef Lang and Anjunabeats

Vancouver Island bred indie star Stef Lang is featured in track “All These Wounds” on Ilan Bluestone’s Anjunabeats Worldwide 05, a British trance outfit. Stef is currently working on her own new music expected out later this year.

simon proulx

Simon Says Go Anglo

Simon Proulx of platinum, JUNO-nominated Franco band Les Trois Accords will be releasing a solo Anglo album under the moniker Simon I (as in Simon the first). The album is expected out June 2 and is heralded by single “Automatic”.

serena ryder

Serena Pan

Serena Ryder has released a new single via the CBC to serve as the theme for the Toronto Pan Am Games this year. It is called “Together We Are One” and is available on iTunes.

Stef Lang Releases Rubix

Stef Lang - RubixStef 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

From Pink Chocolate to Elephant Stone, This Week’s Slew of New Albums

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.

26 Aug 2014 Albums Collage copy

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.

International Collaboration

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.

“Rollin'” by iSH Featuring Stef Lang

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

Canadian Music Blog’s Top 20 Song Faves of 2012, Part 1: #20 to #11

Canadian Artists

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

Anjulie - You and IJUNO-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

Raghav - LoveGold 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

Suzie McNeil - Tough LoveThis 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

Elisapie - The Love You GaveHer 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

Stef Lang - Castle in the CloudA 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

deadmau5 - the veldtCanada’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

Justin Bieber - Beauty and a BeatBelieve 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

Bif Naked - So Happy I Could DieJUNO-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

Andrew Allen - SatelliteVernon, 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

Hedley ft Andree-Anne Leclerc - Kiss You Inside Out Bilingual VersionThe 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.

Related Posts

Top 20 Song Faves of 2012, Part 2 (#10 to #1)

Top 10 Music Video Faves of 2012

2012’s Music Video of the Year

Top 15 Album Faves of 2012

2012’s Album of the Year

Canadian Music Blog’s Top 15 Album Faves of 2012

Carly Rae Jepsen - CuriosityIt 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

Big Wreck - AlbatrossLike 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

Jesse Labelle - TwoPacked 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

Beat Market - Red MagicFor 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

Kristina Maria - Tell the WorldDo 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

Louis-Jean Cormier - Le Treizieme Etage“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

Kathleen Edwards VoyageurFive 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

Stef Lang - SelfAfter 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

Elisapie - Travelling LoveHailing 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

Ariane Moffatt - MAEvery 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

Len - It's Easy If You TryToronto’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 Macpherson - Bells and WhistlesSteph 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

207763EREP_SAGA-20-20_Stecktasche_RZ.inddProgressive 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

Trust - TrstToronto 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 - Free DimensionalDiamond 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

Victoria Duffield - Shut Up and Dance Album CoverAbbotsford, 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.

SELF by Stef Lang

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

Music Box Opera by Delerium

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.

Coming Soon from British Columbian Artists

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 PowterTurn On the Lights (August 14)

Hometown: Vernon
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 DuffieldShut Up and Dance (August 21)

Hometown: Abbotsford
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 DriveLost in Paradise (August 28)

Hometown: Mission
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 JepsenKiss (September 18)

Hometown: Mission
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/

New Music: Stef Lang’s “Bullet Train”

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”: