Music News Digest, Feb. 12, 2018

CMW's lineup announcement includes Sloan (pictured) and a reunited Slow, and The Weeknd signs Black Atlass to his XO label. Also in the news today are Unity Charity, Winter Ball, Tasha the Amazon, The Northern Pikes, Graffiti's, The Young Novelists, Alex Lifeson, Felix Cartal, and farewells to Craig MacGregor and Jóhann Jóhannsson. Videos added for your enjoyment.

Music News Digest, Feb. 12, 2018

By FYI Staff

Canadian Music Week (CMW) has made another lineup announcement for the annual, running May 7-13 in Toronto. Highlights include a reunion show by punk rockers Slow, plus gigs by CupcakKe, This Will Destroy You, Iskwe, The Dirty Nil, Birds of Bellwoods, Annie Hart, Lydia Lunch, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Hinds, who join previously named acts Lindi Ortega and Keys'n' Krates. As part of the fest, Sloan play a free show at Yonge-Dundas Square on May 12. More info here

–  It has yet to achieve the stature of Drake's label OVO, but The Weeknd has his own imprint, XO, in partnership with Republic Records. The latest artist signed to XO is Montreal R&B artist BlackAtlass. He previously released the albums Jade (2015) and Haunted Paradise (2016) on Fool's Gold Records, the label co-founded by fellow Montrealer A-Trak. His new single "My Life" is his debut for XO.


–  Unity Charity, the Canadian organization that uses hip-hop to improve young people’s lives, has announced Rebecca Harrison as their new Executive Director, beginning in March. Harrison has been involved with Coalition Music's charitable arm, Tempo, Arts Lab, and  Business to the Arts. Michael Prosserman, the Founder of Unity Charity, has been serving as ED since Unity's inception 15 years ago. Under his guidance, Unity advocates for accessible mental health resources, and has reached over 200,000 youth through hip-hop. 

– Coming to Toronto's The Great Hall on Feb. 17, Winter Ball is a fundraising event for the Wolfe Island summer music fest, near Kingston, ON. The lineup of both past and future performers is being kept secret, but such confidence is understandable given that those who have played Wolfe Island include Constantines, Hayden, Alvvays, k-os, Pup and Born Ruffians.

–  Tasha the Amazon has long been a popular fixture on the Toronto hip-hop and dancehall reggae scenes. Now the fiery rapper is preparing to go "Intercontinental," at least according to the title of her new single. The song is part of the Hot Stream series from French label Kitsuné, and it deserves to make global noise.


–  Fans of '80s and '90s Canadian rock favourites The Northern Pikes will be thrilled to learn that the Saskatoon band has just recorded their first new material together in 15 years. The band recently took over a recording studio at Studio Bell in the National Music Centre in Calgary for 10 days, then played a sold-out show at NMC on Saturday night.

The current Pikes lineup comprises original members Jay Semko, Don Schmid and Bryan Potvin, now joined by former Grapes of Wrath vocalist Kevin Kane. After breaking up in 1993, the group reunited in 1999 and has gigged sporadically since then. Their last album,  It’s A Good Life, came out in 2003. Source: Calgary Herald

– And another one bites the dust. As had been rumoured for a while, Toronto live music venue Graffiti's has closed down, after 22 years of operating in the Kensington Market area. It reportedly went out with a bang, thanks to a final show on Saturday night by a venue veteran, Ron Hawkins (Lowest Of The Low). ON FB yesterday, Hawkins posted "Last night I had my soul uplifted and my heart broken all at the same time. I had the bittersweet honour of being the very final performer to ever grace the Graffiti's carpet.."


– Folk-rock combo The Young Novelists release a new album, in city & country, on May 4. Led by the husband and wife team of Graydon James and Laura Spink, the Young Novelists are Canadian Folk Awards winners. After showcasing at Folk Alliance this week, YN play three US club shows, then start a Canadian tour on April 7 at Edmonton's Northern Lights Folk Club, closing out at the NAC in Ottawa, May 18. Here's the clip for lead single "Come Round Again."


–  Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson guests on "IL Mostro Atomico,” an epic 18 minute long track by stoner rock pioneers Fu Manchu. It appears on the US band's 12th album, Clone of the Universe, released on Feb. 9. Access the track via Rolling Stonehere

– Vancouver-based DJ and electronic producer Felix Cartal was surprised by Cadence Music Group with his first Canadian Gold Single award plaque in Toronto last week for the track “Get What You Give." The following day he received two Juno Award nominations, for Dance Recording and Producer of the Year.




Craig 'Thunderfingers' MacGregor, American bassist of English blues-rockers Foghat, died on Feb. 9, from lung cancer, at age 68.

MacGregor joined Foghat in 1975 and quit in the early 80s, returning for brief stints with the band years later. He rejoined in 2005, and was a regular member of the lineup until 2016’s Under the Influence album. Source: WENN

Jóhann Jóhannsson, Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe-winning Icelandic composer, musician and producer, died in Berlin on Feb. 9, at age 48. No cause of death has been announced.

Known for compositions that often blended electronics with classical orchestrations, Jóhannsson credits include the Golden Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated score for 2015’s The Theory of Everything, mother!, Sicario, Prisoners, and Arrival.

In addition to his film scores, Jóhannsson had a career as a solo musician and composed music for theater, dance and television. His first solo album, Englabörn, was released in 2002. Later works include Virðulegu Forsetar, FordlândiaIBM 1401 – A User’s ManualThe Miners’ Hymns, and Orphée.


Jóhannsson was managed by Tim Husom of Redbird Music Management, who began his music industry career at Toronto independent label Handsome Boy. Source: Variety

The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024
Marc Thususka Photography

The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024


The Beaches, Charlotte Cardin, Allison Russell Make the 2024 Polaris Music Prize Long List

The 40-album long list for the Polaris Prize, which awards $50,000 to the best Canadian record of the year features up-and-comers like punk group NOBRO and producer Bambii, plus rapper TOBi, and legends like Quebec group Karkwa and previous Heritage Prize winner Beverly Glenn-Copeland.

Some of the country's biggest breakthrough artists are in contention for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.

The 40-album long list was revealed today (June 11) at Sonic Boom record store in downtown Toronto. It features some of the buzziest names in Canadian music, from The Beaches — who were recently awarded Billboard Canada Women in Music's inaugural Group of the Year award — to Grammy-winner Allison Russell, to Canadian Hot 100 charting acts like Charlotte Cardin and Talk, to underground mainstays like Cindy Lee, who had an organic breakthrough this year with Diamond Jubilee.

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