Music News Digest, Jan. 18, 2021

Drake sets a new record, Hard Rock announces a new hotel in London, ON, Coeur de pirate (pictured) buys Dare To Care Records, Corb Lund and Paul Brandt protest Albertan coal mining, and a new Montreal jazz series is launched. Also in the news are TiKA, MNS, Church of Trees, Carole Pope, Neil Young, Cartel Madras, Tyler Shaw, Soran, Bruce Guthro, Justin Nozuka, and farewell Duke Bootee, Phil Spector, Chris Murphy, and Syl Sylvain.

Music News Digest, Jan. 18, 2021

By Kerry Doole

Credible news source Chart Data Twitter last night reported that “Drake has now surpassed 50 billion streams on Spotify” and has become “the first artist in history to hit this milestone.”

On Jan. 2, HITS Daily Double posted their final list of the most-streamed artist of the year. Drake sits at the top of the list at 5.6 billion streams. Juice WRLD, placed 2nd with 5.3 billion. The Canadian rapper’s unparalleled success is set out in lengthy detail on his Wiki page. FYI’s regular correspondent Nick Krewen did the math, suggesting that “assuming Drake gets the regular Spotify rate of $.0045 per stream (and he probably gets something higher), he’s pulled in $225M from Spotify alone.” So far, Spotify has not corroborated the stunning accomplishment, but Chart Data Twitter is known to be a reliable and independent data source.


– London, ON will be home to the first Hard Rock Hotel in Canada. The new hotel, which would have 353 rooms, will be located at the site of the former Kellogg cereal plant in east London, now known as 100 Kellogg Lane, a multi-purpose event space. The two-phase opening will see the opening of 163 rooms by late 2022, with completion in 2025. The brand operates seven Hard Rock Cafes nationwide, including Niagara Falls. More details can be found in the media release.

Coeur de pirate (Béatrice Martin) has bought Montreal-based indie record label Dare To Care Records. Exclaim!reports that “Martin has sealed the deal to purchase the label from its founder and principal owner Eli Bissonnette, who stepped down after being accused of allegedly fostering a toxic workplace. Martin will now serve as the label's new president and artistic director."

"For 20 years, this record company has helped develop artists from Quebec and has allowed me to become who I am today," Martin wrote of the acquisition. "This is the start of a whole new chapter for the record company and I am proud to carry the torch." The Dare to Care artist roster has, at various times, featured Cœur de pirate, Malajube, We Are Wolves, KROY, and Socalled. 


-- Albertan country star Corb Lund is now prominently involved in the opposition to the province's UCP government plan to allow “mountaintop removal” for coal exploration in western Alberta. “We’ve all seen the foothills, it’s beautiful country. So I don’t really like this,” Lund said in a video posted to social media last week. Read his Facebook post here. Lund has met with provincial ministers, members of parliament, First Nations representatives and people who live and harvest food in the area in researching the issue.

Lending support to Lund's stance is fellow Albertan star Paul Brandt. On FB, he posted this: "I don’t knowCorb Lund extremely well, but I’ve always been a fan from afar. Now, I’m a lifer. @corblund is right – This is a big deal and a bad deal. As an Albertan who enjoys fly-fishing in our clear waters and spending time in the outdoors, I hope our government listens, consults and re-considers. We can’t put short-sighted economic benefit ahead of long-term consequences that could devastate our people and land for generations to come. Sources: CTV Edmonton, CP


– Live jazz performances are off the table in Montreal right now, but several representatives of the city’s jazz scene are collaborating on the joint project Jazz En Rafale – Live Cam. This features nine concerts of Quebec artists in live and delayed webcasts between Jan. and May 2021. This initiative is coordinated by the Effendi label, and includes some of its artists. The series includes album launches from Alain Bédard et l’Auguste quartet, Manoel Vieira, Jazzlab Orchestra, and François Bourassa. More details here.


– Hotly-tipped emerging artist TiKA releases her debut album Anywhere But Here on Feb. 26. The third advance single is her version of the the Prince classic I Would Die 4U.

– Music Nova Scotia has announced a new initiative, The Artistic Creation Program, one only available to applicants who identify as BIPOC and who have never previously received funding from MNS. The program grants successful applicants $1250 to put towards recording, video content and marketing. The deadline to apply here is Feb. 15.

– Ottawa synthpop band Church of Trees recruited some Canadian music heavy-hitters to collaborate on its new track, World’s A Bitch. Guesting on vocals with her usual flair is Carole Pope (Rough Trade), Rob Preuss (The Spoons) adds keyboards, and Jordon Zadorozny (Blinker the Star) co-produced with CoT leader Bernard Frazer. Pope, Preuss, and Frazer co-wrote the song, and Pope states that “I think it encapsulates how we’re all feeling about being locked down…and you can dance to it!” Look for a new Church of Trees EP, Pause, at the end of Feb. 

– Neil Young has announced the Feb. 26 release of Way Down in the Rust Bucket, a never-before released live album and concert film documenting a legendary 1990 show (three hours plus) with Crazy Horse in Santa Cruz, CA. The album/film features the debut public performances and much of the songwriter’s fiery 1990 album, Ragged Glory. A deluxe edition box set will contain a DVD of the live concert, directed by Bernard Shakey, LPs and two CDs. Other versions will include a 4LP vinyl box set and a 2CD set, all available via The Greedy Hand Store at Neil Young Archives and music retailers. Here's an album preview trailer.


– Calgary hip-hop sibling duo Cartel Madras direct and star in the new video for Drift, a collaborative single with Toronto hip-hop producer Dom Dias, out now on Royal Mountain Records and Sub Pop. This follows CM’s 2020 hip house anthem Working, with both tracks taken from the forthcoming project, The Serpent and The Tiger. Check it out here.

– Multi-platinum-selling pop artist Tyler Shaw has delivered a new ballad and video, When You’re Home. Produced by Canadian hitmaker Jon Levine (Dua Lipa, Alessia Cara, Drake), it was co-written by Tyler Shaw, Alex Beitzke, and Henry Brill. It follows the release of Shaw's summer hit single Remember.

– Montreal-based singer/songwriter Soran has released a new single, Bottled Up, the latest in a series of tracks released via Universal Music Canada. More info here

– Maritime singer/songwriter Bruce Guthro presents an online version of his Songwriters Circle, The Circle Continues, for its third season. There are six live shows starting on Jan. 22, with a star-studded list of performers that includes Jim Cuddy, Breagh Isabel, Matt Minglewood, Myles Goodwyn, Alan Doyle, Matt Andersen, Lennie Gallant, Dave Gunning, and Irish Mythen. Tix on sale here. Source: Halifax Chronicle-Herald


– Toronto-based Juno nominated pop/folk songsmith Justin Nozuka is now sharing his new single/video, summer night o8, ahead of an EP due by the spring, the followup to 2018 album, RunTo Waters. Expect a detour into R&B/soul, as showcased on the new track, featuring Alex Sowinski of BadBadNotGood on percussion. Nozuka’s material has attracted over 100M global streams to date.


Edward G. Fletcher (aka Duke Bootee), a rapper best known for writing the Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five hit The Message, has died at the age of 69, from congestive heart failure.

The Messag’ was inspired by the 1980 Transit Strike in New York City and became a groundbreaking hip-hop hit. It was selected by the Smithsonian Museum of American Recording as one of its First 50 Recordings, and is in the Grammy Hall of Fame, and Norton Anthology of African American Literature.

Fletcher  also worked with Snoop Dog, Ice Cube, P. Diddy, Dr. John and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. Miles Davis sampled and named a song after him.

Fletcher stopped his music career in the early 1990s and became a teacher. He was working at the Critical Thinking and Communication at Savannah State University in Georgia. Source: Noise11

C.M. (Chris) Murphy, an Australian music industry veteran best known for managing INXS, has died at the age of 66. He was suffering from Mantle Cell Lymphoma. 

Murphy managed INXS from 1979 to 1995 and from 2008 to 2012, leading them to huge international success. INXS said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that the remaining members of INXS mourn the passing of our brother, Chris Murphy. Without Chris’s vision, passion and hard work, the INXS story would be totally different."

Murphy also managed popular Australian band Models in the 1980s. His company Murphy Media Academy (MMA) was started by his father Mark Murphy in Wollongong, NSW, in 1960, as a booking agency. Mark died when Chris was 16. Chris took over the running of the company with his mother.

Murphy took over the management of INXS in 1979 from Gary Morris who also managed Midnight Oil and decided to concentrate on The Oils. Murphy brokered a direct signing with US label ATCO, bypassing the Australian company and in 1983 set-up an MMA office in New York. 

In 1984 Murphy took over management of Models and refocused the band with their commercial sound that generated hits like Out of Mind Out of Sight and Barbados.

In 1988 Murphy founded rooArt Records. The label acts included You Am I, Ratcat, The Hummingbirds, Wendy Matthews and Screaming Jets.  In 2001 he started Petrol Records and released curated world music albums.

Murphy’s latest project was a recently announced INXS musical with Michael Cassel Group. Sources:, MBW 

– Phil (Harvey Philip) Spector, revolutionary 'Wall of Sound' pop music producer and a convicted murderer, died on Jan. 16, age 81.

Spector’s death was confirmed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which cited "natural causes." Spector was incarcerated after a 2009 conviction for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson.

Spector played in jazz groups in LA as a teen, then formed the Teddy Bears in 1958 with two high school friends. His first production, To Know Him Is to Love Him, was a Number One hit, but the group’s subsequent singles and sole album flopped.

Spector then moved to NYC to work with the successful songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Spector and Lieber co-wrote Ben E. King’s hit Spanish Harlem and he played guitar on the Drifters’ On Broadway. Early production clients included Ray Peterson, Gene Pitney and Curtis Lee.

In late 1961, Spector and Lester Sill formed Philles Records, and Spector began working with the Crystals, whose single He’s A Rebel became Philles’ first Number One single. 

Relocating to LA’s Gold Star Studios, he further developed his signature Wall of Sound style. His 1963 hits included the Ronettes’ Be My Baby, and, in 1968, he married one of their singers, Veronica “Ronnie” Bennett. In a Facebook post after Spector's death, Ronnie Spector stated "as I said many times while he was alive, he was a brilliant producer, but a lousy husband."

Also in 1963 he released A Christmas Gift for You From Philles Records, featuring Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).

The following year, the Spector-produced You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling from the Righteous Brothers sold over two million copies and became Philles’ third Number One hit. His 1966 production of Ike & Tina Turner’s River Deep — Mountain High, is considered a masterpiece.

After a period of seclusion, Spector returned in 1969, working with The Ronettes and Bobby Charles, then with John Lennon on the solo hit Instant Karma.

That led to production of the Beatles final studio album, Let It Be, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, and the co-production of Lennon’s The Plastic Ono Band and Imagine albums.

In the ‘70s, Spector recorded Cher, Harry Nilsson, Darlene Love, and Dion, and, in 1977, produced Leonard Cohen’s offbeat Death of a Ladies’ Man. In 1980, he was recruited by The Ramones to work on their End of the Century album.

He remained largely inactive in the studio after that, but entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Rolling Stone reports that "in 1995, he agreed to produce a Celine Dion album, but then pulled out of the project, citing his dislike of the Canadian singer’s management."

Spector spent much of the next decade in court, over copyright and royalties disputes, then hit the tabloid headlines after Clarkson's murder and subsequent trials.

Sources: New York Times, AP, Rolling Stone, Ultimate Classic Rock

– Sylvain Sylvain (Mizrahi), a member of the New York Dolls and lauded as a glam and punk rock pioneer, died on Jan. 13, at age 69, after battling cancer for the past two and 1/2 years. 

Born in Cairo, Sylvain was 10 when his family emigrated to New York City in 1961. While working in the fashion trade, he encountered the other players who would form the core of the prime incarnation of the  New York Dolls in 1972: Arthur Kane, David Johansen, Johnny Thunders, and Jerry Nolan. 

The band's first two albums, 1973's New York Dolls and 1974's Too Much Too Soon, were commercial flops, but they became cult favourites and had a huge impact on the British punk rock scene.

The New York Dolls broke up in 1976. Though original members Thunders and Nolan had died earlier, the New York Dolls reunited in 2004 and released three albums between 2006 and 2011, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This (2006 ), Cause I Sez So (2009), and Dancing Backward in High Heels (2011)

After the group's first demise, Sylvain occasionally reunited with fellow former members – he played on Johansen’s solo albums and appeared onstage with Thunders – and pursued a solo career.

He released a self-titled solo debut on RCA in 1979, followed by Syl Sylvain and the Teardrops (1981, RCA) and the independent Sleep Baby Doll in 1998. His band Sylvain Sylvain and The Criminal$ also released two albums.

In a tribute posted at Rolling Stone, New York Dolls singer David Johansen stated "He was such a passionate performer. He was very positive all the time. He was very important for that band and their success."

Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye wrote an eloquent eulogy on social media - "Thank you Sylvain x 2, for your heart, belief, and the way you whacked that E chord. Sleep Baby Doll." Read his full tribute here

Sylvain had a close connection to the Toronto and Hamilton music scenes, and was an inspirational figure for first-generation Toronto punks. Paul Robinson, singer of The Diodes, posted on FB that "he was always the most approachable of the Dolls band members. He was a style-changing bridge between Glam and Punk. An integral member of a bands' band. The NY Dolls were the pinnacle of the post glam movement which eventually inspired me to form the Diodes.  Many years later I got to open for the last incarnation of the Dolls in Burlington, ON. Another great lost but he continues to inspire a younger generation of bands."

Viletones leader Steven Leckie posted this FB tribute: "He really was the true Heart and Soul of The Dolls. I first saw the Dolls when I was 14 in a burlesque theatre and of course they reaffirmed all that cool stuff in my heart and mind and took it all to a different level. True, to know him was to Love him, an incredibly rare and beautiful Man/Boy...Jet/Boy."

Hamilton music promoter Lou Molinaro booked Sylvain multiple times, helped him arrange Ontario tours, put him up in his house, and forged a close friendship. “On various visits, we spent Halloween, Christmas and NYE together with Syl,” says Molinaro. “He was staying here one time when David Johansen's "people" from New York e-mailed, looking for Syl, as Johansen wanted to put the New York Dolls back together!”

Sources: Loudersound, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Facebook, Wikipedia

Myles Smith attends the Sony Music's The BRIT Awards 2024 After Party at the Nobu Hotel on March 02, 2024 in London, England.
Shane Anthony Sinclair/Getty Images

Myles Smith attends the Sony Music's The BRIT Awards 2024 After Party at the Nobu Hotel on March 02, 2024 in London, England.

Chart Beat

Hot 100 First-Timers: Myles Smith Shines With Breakthrough Single ‘Stargazing’

The song debuts at No. 77.

English singer-songwriter Myles Smith lands his first career entry on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (dated May 25), as his breakout single “Stargazing” debuts at No. 77.

Released May 10 on It’s Okay To Feel/RCA Records, the track arrives on the chart with 6.7 million official U.S. streams, 34,000 in radio airplay audience and 6,000 downloads sold in its opening week (through May 16), according to Luminate. It also starts at No. 10 on Digital Song Sales.

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