Art of Dying were just over a year into their career when we first took notice back in 2006 and didn’t even have an album to their name. That didn’t stop their single “Get Through This” from turning heads, though, and it was just a few short years later that the band would work with bona fide hit makers like Howard Benson and Chris Lord-Alge on their major label debut, 2011’s Vices and Virtues. The album spawned four songs that cracked the top 20 of the Billboard’s US Mainstream Rock chart and tours with some of the genre’s most accomplished heavyweights.
This collective can seemingly do no wrong. They’ve had dozens of songs placed in TV shows, movies, and ads; have a few JUNOs and Polaris Prize nods to their name; and have appeared on countless “Best of…” lists by reputable outlets from Rolling Stone to The Village Voice to Pitchfork. The New Pornos may have only released one album since their Showcase appearance, 2010’s Together, but that only means that legions of fans the world over are all the more anxious to get their hands on whatever might come next from A.C. & Co.
To celebrate CM‘s 35th Anniversary, we take a look back at some Showcase alumni who’ve gone on to achieve big things.
Originally Featured: November/December 2006
The BBC, the CBC, NPR, Penguin Eggs, Mojo – just a short list of the media to have sung the praise of this folk duo. After appearing in Showcase in 2006, they signed to the iconic True North Records for 2009’s No Fool For Trying, which also earned them a Canadian Folk Music Award and JUNO nod. They have heaps of ECMA nominations and are the only Canadians to win the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Their latest, 2011’s The Good In Goodbye, led to sold-out dates across the country with some high-profile peers, plus several successful treks throughout Europe and the U.S.
Vancouver’s Dan Mangan’s progress since his Showcase spot is mighty impressive. 2010’s Nice, Nice, Very Nice was shortlisted for Polaris 2010 and earned him a spot on the Arts & Crafts roster. 2012’s Oh Fortune also got a Polaris nod, plus a JUNO win for Alternative Album of the Year while Dan was also named New Artist of the Year. He’s played Osheaga, and Sasquatch!, and Glastonbury (twice), and I’m pretty sure it’s been proven impossible to get “Robots” out of your head after you’ve heard it sung with a chorus of thousands from such festivals.
To be fair, Class was far from a rookie when we profiled him in 2005. In fact, he’d just dropped his 10th (yeah, 10th) studio album, Boy-Cott-In the Industry. But since then, he’s gone from having the odd video in medium rotation on MuchMusic to the number one album in the country with 2013’s Classified. What’s more, that album’s lead single, “Inner Ninja,” was certified four times platinum as one of the biggest hits of 2012-13 and also netted the hip-hop veteran his first JUNO Award for Rap Recording of the Year.
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.