From the west coast of the most easterly province in Canada come Sherman Downey and the Ambiguous Case, comprised of Downey, Andrew Ross, Bill Allan, Neil Targett, and Paul Lockyer. In addition to their recently released album The Sun In Your Eyes, stock in the Newfoundland-based group rose exponentially when their single “Thick As Thieves” was crowned the winner of CBC’s Searchlight Contest earlier in 2013. The song beat out entries from more than 3,000 other Canadian acts.
The Sun In Your Eyes is the group’s follow-up to 2010’s Honey For Bees. After the release of their debut, the group toured the country relentlessly, earning fans from one coast to the other. Honey For Bees earned the group multiple nominations at 2010’s Music Newfoundland-Labrador Awards in addition to a pair of East Coast Music Award nominations.
Expect the high-energy folk group to reap even more in the way of award nominations and national recognition as they continue finding their way across the country via the Trans-Canada Highway.
If their debut single “She Cries Beauty” is any indication, big things may lie ahead for pop duo East Of Eden. Released this past September, there is an ethereal quality running throughout the song with equal credit due to vocalist Alexandra Thomson and instrumentalist Justin Pelan. Citing influences like Norah Jones and Sade, Thomson’s vocals are just as smooth as those of either singer; however, it also shows signs of being incredibly powerful. There is a dark undercurrent pulling the listener throughout the song as well, leaving an impression that isn’t likely to be forgotten anytime soon.
You could say fate brought the two together: Pelan replied to a classified ad that Thomson had posted online in 2010. In addition to their musical partnership, a romantic relationship also blossomed.
“She Cries Beauty” is one of five songs that the duo has prepped for an eventual release, and touring is also in the cards for the near future.
Despite having just released their Shine Shine Shine Shine EP this past March, Toronto-based indie-pop act Sue Newberry & The Law is already looking to the future.
Not that they are displeased with the past for any reason. After all, the group was a buzz act of last year’s NXNE Festival in Toronto while winning over fans including former Rheostatics member Dave Bidini.
Described as Dusty Springfield fronting Metric, Sue Newberry & The Law have been fixtures of the Toronto music scene over the course of the past year, performing at festivals including Indie Week Canada and International Pop Overthrow. The group also found their way to Atlantic Canada for a series of shows.
Already having shown a knack for writing provocative and thoughtful songs, the group is currently writing for their full-length debut album, due for release in the not too distant future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”…
Handsome Distraction claims to be influenced by modern American rock bands such as Weezer, Foo Fighters, and Kings of Leon. While all that’s true (check out the huge, catchy choruses and riffs), their most appealing characteristic comes from their borrowing of swagger seen in early 21st century Scandinavian rock from bands like The Hives and Turbonegro and especially The (International) Noise Conspiracy, who’s influence is especially prevalent on “No False Alarm” – a catchy, urgent, and up-tempo jam.
Handsome Distraction has been plenty busy, releasing three EPs over the same number of years. Their most recent, A Mighty Roar, was released in May 2013. The album follows 2012’s Fight or Flight, which they supported with a tour across the country. Their plans for the near future include a Western Canadian tour in September and a U.S. tour throughout the winter and fans of rock and roll with some intense immediacy should take note.
The Robert’s Creek Saloon is a band built around the principle of not setting limits or planning in advance, and it’s a decision that comes across loud and clear in their music. Equal parts ska, swing, cabaret, and rock, the band pulls the listener across multiple genres on an extremely fun musical ride.
Named after an artistic community in British Columbia, the band imagines they sound like what one might expect to be playing in a saloon there, should one ever be built. Fans of Gogol Bordello will love this home-grown take on fun genre mashing, as will those who embrace the band’s commitment to spontaneity and unconventional paths. The Robert’s Creek Saloon released a self-titled EP in 2012 and are currently making it available on their Bandcamp page. What are you waiting for? Go get it!