Where: Calgary, AB
Calgary singer Joanna Borromeo represents a new wave of Canadian jazz/R&B singers who combine the traditional elements of the genres with modern urban and rock elements, including nods to Motown and other pivotal eras. Her debut full-length, Kaleidoscope, earned her a Western Canadian Music Award nomination in the Urban Recording of the Year category.
The most impressive aspect of Borromeo’s album is that she doesn’t hide behind anything. Without a hint of pitch correction or needless guest spots, she allows her stunning voice to do all the work. Those looking for a reference point can think of her alongside Chantal Kreviazuk, but with more urban elements entwined in the music. The diversity of her sound – something that seems as though it comes incredibly naturally – should see her break into the mainstream, or at the very least, Starbucks locations across the country.
Where: Toronto, ON
Allan Rayman is tough to categorize. The Toronto-based hip-hop artist strays far outside the outer limits normally surrounding the genre. That said, if a simple description had to be made (and in this case, it does), one could say that his sound is like an urban version of indie/roots band Dispatch.
With a quick, jumpy vocal delivery style that focuses as much on storytelling as it does on rhyme structure, Rayman’s music is more reggae and roots-tinged. He’d be just as fitting as an opener for The Roots as he would be playing for thousands of hippies on the summer festival circuit. Rayman released his debut album, H.O.H.W. (Hell or High Water), earlier this year and performed all of the instrumentals on the record himself, demonstrating more of his seemingly many talents.
Where: Brantford, ON
Brantford, ON’s Sons of Revelry play straight-forward indie rock that doesn’t stray too far from the sounds popularized most recently by Kings of Leon or Arctic Monkeys. With enough hooks to balance out the occasional spacey moments, their debut EP, Born with a Bigga Goal, portrays a band with a lot of confidence in its sonic concoction and maturity that extends beyond their limited time together.
Occasionally, vocalist Toby Black’s Scottish heritage (he’s first generation Canadian) emerges sonically through both his accent and U.K. musical nods (see the track “Born With” for an example). The band might not offer a brand new take on rock ‘n’ roll, but they certainly serve as a reminder that the genre’s not as dead as contemporary record charts would have us believe.
What: Alternative Pop
Where: Toronto, ON
After releasing a self-titled EP in 2011, Martha Meredith took a couple of years off, retreated with her notebook, and starting penning the backbone of the songs that would be the first performed by her new band, For Esmé. The atmospheric indie-pop album certainly has a touch of solitude and space to it. Much of this comes from the contributions of bandmates Adam Balsam (Most Serene Republic), Nathan Crook and Kevin Blair (Take With Audio), and Kathryn Merriam on synths and backing vocals.
However, the highlight of the album is Meredith’s vocals and work on keys, which give the songs a vibrancy they wouldn’t have in her absence. While For Esmé hasn’t had the opportunity to play many shows yet, their self-titled EP was released just this past June and you can expect the band to play showcases throughout the Toronto area as booking agents take note. The EP is certainly an ambitious debut project, but Meredith and company have released a collection of songs that sound and feel whole – a remarkable feat this early in a project.
Where: Winkler, MB
Singer-songwriter Jordan Janzen spent six years on his own before reuniting with his old bandmates to record and release The Color’s debut album in March 2012. After plenty of early success in talent shows, Janzen ended up putting his first band together and touring the country with Amanda Falk before disbanding. In 2008, he auditioned for Canadian Idol, falling just short of the show’s top 20.
Not one to be dissuaded, Janzen recorded his first solo album, Crazy, with his father, landing international airplay and gigs alongside
Marianas Trench and Thousand Foot Krutch.
Finally, in 2009, Janzen ran into his former high school bandmate, James Sheils, and the two began writing what would become The Color’s first batch of songs.
The pop rock collection that makes up the album is highly polished and radio ready with catchy hooks and powerful choruses. While the album’s musicianship is commendable, the songs really serve as a way to showcase Janzen’s vocals, which are perfectly suited for this type of rock. Now if only someone would teach them how we spell “colour”…