Enjoy the quiet, soulful heartbreak of “Break Me” by @JustinNozuka from his new EP “then, now and again”

JUSTIN NOZUKA, “Break Me”

After leading the way with the gorgeous R&B/pop duet with England’s Mahalia on “No One But You” and the blissful and subtle “summer night 08”, Toronto’s Justin Nozuka arrives with his first EP since 2018’s album Run To Waters called then, now and again.  Also featuring those songs, the EP includes three new ones, “Miami”, “Rains It Pours”, and the standout to me, “Break Me”,  Justin really doesn’t crack any new ground with “Break Me”, but instead offers what he often does best, especially in concert.  “Break Me” is a quiet, expressive song about heartbreak and loss, passionately sung by Justin recalling earlier songs like “Carried You” or “Oh Momma” with its deep-down soulful root.  Fans will love it and “Break Me” is a great place to start for anyone new to the party too.

Published in: on April 19, 2021 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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L.A.-based Canadian singer/songwriter @PeterFoldy returns with summery vibes of “Friend Zone”

PETER FOLDY, “Friend Zone”

Following the insightful and unintentionally predictive pre-pandemic “Toxic World” (which got to #5 on my chart), L.A.-based Torontonian singer/songwriter Peter Foldy returns with “Friend Zone”.  The double Juno Awards nominee has weaved a contemporary tale about being stuck as friends when you want more out of the relationship.  Written by Peter and co-produced once again with panache by Miklos Malek, “Friend Zone” is anchored with a delightful Islands-flavoured lilt in its chorus.  Peter has the natural ability to write and sing in a timeless, classic style which goes down easy.  So while springtime friends may not end up as summer lovers, you can still dance and sway and have a great time with “Friend Zone”.  While he is also a noted filmmaker and screenwriter currently working on multiple projects, you can expect more new music from Peter Foldy later this year.

Published in: on April 19, 2021 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Canada’s @TheBoomtangBoys return with their spin on @FleetwoodMac’s “Everywhere” with vocalist @KatrinaAstasia

THE BOOMTANG BOYS and KATRINA ANASTASIA, “Everywhere”

It’s been a long while since we’ve heard from Canadian dance producers The Boomtang Boys, though Rob DeBoer and Tony Grace have worked on other projects under other names.  But you’ll have to go back to the late 90’s and early 2000’s for songs such as their biggest hit “Squeeze Toy”, their cover of “Popcorn”, and the inimitable “Hamster Dance”.  Abandoning novelties for their return, they instead put their spin on Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 pop hit “Everywhere”.  I’m not a lover of cover versions, but “Everywhere” works just fine on its own and stands firmly outside of Fleetwood Mac’s shadow, thanks to a well-chosen and delightful vocal by new Toronto singer Katrina Anastasia.  The video for the song is a gentle, feel-good effort (particularly for dog lovers), and one can only wonder where music will take The Boomtang Boys next.

Published in: on April 8, 2021 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Radio-friendly “Never Leave You” packs a wallop of talent from team @LucasEstrada including fellow producers Matvey Emerson, @JamesCarter, and vocalist MKLA

LUCAS ESTRADA, MATVEY EMERSON, JAMES CARTER and MKLA, “Never Leave You”

Veteran Swedish producer Lucas Estrada teams up with another master, Russian producer Matvey Emerson, as well as British producer James Carter – who I wrote about at the star of his career and is now keeping very good company – and fellow Torontonian, vocalist MKLA for “Never Leave You”. This song is as slick as it gets, given the global cadre of talent behind it, though it may take a few listens to really grab you.  And that’s precisely why you can expect this song might pop up on your favourite dance music radio station sometime soon.  It’s pure dance music goodness, minus any significant (and usually annoying) effects, and giving a real showcase to MKLA, whose vocal is effortless and memorable. Buoyant rhythms meet sparkling synths which help make “Never Leave You” really shine.

Toronto’s @theAvaKay creates cinematic, sweeping pop with debut single “Wild Again”

AVA KAY, “Wild Again”

Perhaps even a deeper hidden secret in the music biz than fellow singer/songwriters Sia and Julia Michaels, Toronto’s Ava Kay has been behind the scenes for years writing for others, including Afrojack, Raghav and Tyler Shaw, and has had her songs placed in by Disney, Hallmark, and Canada’s CBC.  Stepping out of the shadows, Ava makes a notable splash with her debut single “Wild Again”. Led with a beautiful, rich vocal, “Wild Again” is cinematic pop of the best kind, a reflective song that, as she says herself, was made “without any compromises”.  I’m so glad to be hearing strings (or, as it is sometimes, synth strings) in recent releases again, and here they are used to their best effect, making the emotional song sweeping and magnetic.  We can’t help it here in Canada if we keep churning out great talent – watch for Ava Kay to make her mark again, this time as a performer.

Published in: on March 7, 2021 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“When You’re Home” by Canada’s @TylerShawmusic gets a smashing deep house makeover by @Dzekomusic

TYLER SHAW, “When You’re Home” (Dzeko remix)

In its original version, which was released not too long ago, “When You’re Home” by British Columbia’s Tyler Shaw is a poignant, dark ballad that has a sweeping second half.  Following up the effervescent first single “Remember”, it perhaps was too much of a change of pace.  A few of Tyler’s songs have successfully flirted with dance music makeovers in the past, and I couldn’t be more pleased to see Toronto’s Dzeko at the helm – many times I’ve both written about and seen these talented gents perform over the years.  “When You’re Home” is transformed into a poignant, dark deep house release that could work very well for both radio and club DJ’s.  It’s got a rich, sophisticated backdrop that wraps you up and doesn’t let you go.  Tyler’s committed, vivid vocal is captured so well, and in a way that was probably never anticipated. This version of “When You’re Home” is another in a long line of fine remixes that cast a totally different light on a song and make the most of it.

Published in: on March 4, 2021 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Your new theme song: Toronto electronic dance producer @RyShepherdmusic’s latest is “Hello Sunday” featuring UK singer/songwriter Caitlyn Scarlett @CaitlynSmusic

RYAN SHEPHERD and CAITLYN SCARLETT, “Hello Sunday”

Give yourself one day a week to let go and enjoy yourself during these difficult times when many places are in lockdown or under many restrictions.  “Hello Sunday” is your theme song where you can “focus on yourself” (check out the lyric video above).  It’s brought to you by Toronto producer Ryan Shepherd, no stranger to these blog pages or my personal chart where his huge release with Loud Luxury, a rework of Craig David’s “Fill Me In”, reached #1 and now has over 36 million streams on Spotify alone.  To help lift people up and gently persuade them to assist Toronto’s declining bar, restaurant and nightclub businesses, as well as local and national charities, Ryan had weekly “Hello Sunday” fundraiser shows on Twitch and Instagram last year, and his much-praised philanthropy has already raised over $20,000.  The song is co-written with UK singer Caitlyn Scarlett (who has sung on tracks by Rudimental and Jack Wins), a real pick-me-up that will help and inspire people away from being down too often. Let’s hope Ryan’s goodwill continues to spread and that we’ll see more of the “Hello Sunday” shows this year.

Published in: on January 24, 2021 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Toronto’s @RiverTiber returns to a more progressive rock style with “Hypnotized”

RIVER TIBER, “Hypnotized”

I can’t believe it’s been almost 9 years since I first wrote about Toronto’s River Tiber, which has mainly been a studio project led by multi-instrumentalist Tommy Paxton-Beesley, though there have been a number of live performances over the years but not at least for the last three or so that I can recall.  “Hypnotized”, which is actually a two-song single, also featuring the instrumental “Rainbow Road”, is only River Tiber’s 5th single release since 2016.  But watch out, when Tommy gets on a creative roll, the fine music just pours out.  Pausing the fascination with R&B and hip hop on River Tiber’s most recent releases, “Hypnotized” is a return to the progressive rock of earlier releases out of which you can currently find When The Time Is Right and The Star Falls on streaming platforms.  Its off-kilter, blurry sounds contrast delightful jazzy elements and Tommy’s clear but laid back vocal.  His stellar guitar work sings through, especially around the halfway mark, which will make this song a treat to hear in performance. “Hypnotized” is an intriguing welcome back for River Tiber, and I’m curious where it will lead.

Published in: on January 2, 2021 at 9:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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After 2020, the music world needs some fun and Toronto’s @ShuffleDemons have got it with “Crazy Time”

SHUFFLE DEMONS, “Crazy Time”

As I witnessed at a free live show in Toronto in summer 2019, Toronto’s alt-jazz troupe Shuffle Demons are still going as strong as ever some 35 years after the seminal “Spadina Bus” became an alternative radio and video channel favourite across Canada.  The bleakness of 2020 has given the guys perfect ammunition to look on the brighter, sillier side of things with “Crazy Time”, the title song and video (above, directed by Kurt Swinghammer) from their latest album.  They choose to skewer fake news and social media stories in particular, and surround it all with their trademark three-saxophone sound, supported by drums and stand-up bass.  If you’re looking for something off the beaten path that will put a smile on your face, then seize the moment and check out “Crazy Time”.

Published in: on January 2, 2021 at 9:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Savour the sweet and sensual soul vibes of “Arms Around Me” by Toronto’s @officialDixon

D!XON, “Arms Around Me”

“Arms Around Me” is a new pop-R&B hybrid that will have you swaying to its irresistible rhythm, while you enjoy its sensual, lush, all-embracing message of love.  It’s performed by non-conforming 2SLGBTQ+ multi-talent D!XON, a Torontonian of Trinidadian and Guyanese descent who is already noteable as the creator of the City of Toronto’s Drag Masterclass which featured Priyanka, the winner of Drag Race Canada. D!XON has amazing presence as a performer, as you will see in the video above for “Arms Around Me”.  His soft tones are reminiscent of an amalgam of Michael Jackson, Prince, and The Weeknd, while his striking appearance recalls Janet Jackson, Ginuwine and the late Jermaine Stewart. In the video, you’ll see a variety of cameos, including celebrity director Dan Lemoyne, Hollywood Jade (Drag Race Canada resident choreographer) and Marc Andrew Smith (Drag Race resident stylist). “Arms Around Me” succeeds with D!XON’s inspiring intentions with his music.  I’m hoping in the new year it may ind its way to Canadian radio stations.  D!XON is a dynamic and diverse performer to watch.

Published in: on December 28, 2020 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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