2020 YEAR-END MUSIC ROUND-UP by Jaimie Vernon

We’re on the final lap of 2020 as we hold our collective breaths anticipating/dreading the upcoming year. Despite the inability to see live music as frequently as many of us would have wanted this year, musicians did what they could to keep cranking out great music to take our minds off of the crap going on in the world. Without further ado here’s the rest of the Christmas tracks and a smattering of new original tunes piling up in my in-box.
LEN MIZZONI


The new light and romantic Christmas single from Canadian singer/songwriter/producer Len Mizzoni is “Mistletoe Kisses” which follows last year’s “It’s Christmas Time In Nashville.” Len was a former member of the Canadian Juno Award-winning band Frozen Ghost, and his previous three critically-acclaimed solo albums, Waves of Indigo (2018), Better Days (2019), and this year’s Forever in 2020, have all received extensive international airplay in more than forty countries. Check out Len’s website to get a taste of the Christmas track and a sneak peak at his cover of “Autumn Leaves” for his next album project expected in 2021. http://www.lenmizzoni.com

ALISON SOLO
Back in 2004 I got to know a young singer from Toronto who was working on creating a music career for herself named Alison Solo (yes, that’s her real name). She was working with my favourite producer Brian Gagnon on a demo and offered me a version of The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” for a tribute CD I was releasing on my label. She showed great potential and I had her perform at the CD release showcase at the Hard Rock Café in Toronto. Time-leap to 2020 and Alison’s fulfilled that dream and returned with her second full-length solo release Plutonian. It’s self-financed and produced with mixing help from Ron Nevison (Heart, Bad English). The album not only features her soaring rock-fueled vocals but some phenomenal guitar work. Check out her songs here (I recommend “Sister Rosette Tharpe”): https://alisonsolo.bandcamp.com/album/plutonian
Also tap into her YouTube page where she posts weekly videos of her doing cover tunes. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjtUp4FB4sUlxrwjUBswjjw

PRESCILLA UNA
The new single from Toronto Indie music singer/songwriter/musician/producer Prescilla Una is “Better Place Than Heaven” from  her new full-length album Enlighten. Born and raised in Toronto, Prescilla has been a fixture on the Toronto music scene since her 2014 debut all-original song release Music Therapy, on her own label Peaceful Revolution Music. The haunting new single and video “Better Place Than Heaven” is acoustic, but have no fear, Enlighten features a more commercial Pop sound which showcases Prescilla’s growth as a songwriter and producer. In fact, following the acoustic mix of the video, there’s a dance remix (so stay for both). Check out the album remixes here  https://open.spotify.com/album/01CCuoHvWkor8aY5hKXaPo?si=2xsH8KTsQ7SUSnDdgUhwUQ&nd=1
And the acoustic with dance remix 2-fer-1 video here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwvZCjGLHvU

TERRY DRAPER
The former member of Klaatu continues his dizzying prolific streak with his second solo album this year called Lost (hot on the heels of Sunset on Mars). It features the cream of Power Pop guest stars with Lisa Mychols, Jamie Hoover, and Dana Countryman among others. He’s also cranked up the output of videos (created by Jamie Grant) for tracks off the album – which he’s been unveiling once a week for the last month or more. Buy CDs, watch the videos, and get other goodies at http://www.terrydraper.com

VALERIE SHEARMAN
Val has been a music industry acquaintance of mine for longer than both of us can remember. Aside from her work behind the scenes helping Canadian artists, she’s a musical force unto herself. Her forthcoming album is She’s Everybody’s Daughter and features the powerful ballad “Broken” as the second single following the success of the title track (which currently sits at #5 on the Canadian Country chart). “Broken” was written by Rick McCue of Denmar Music and all the guitar parts were beautifully recorded by Steve Shelski (Coney Hatch) with vocals by Valerie. This sounds like another hit.
https://www.youtube.com/user/valerieshearmanmusic
https://www.valerieshearman.com/

JAMES CLARK INSTITUTE
James Clark continues to blow me away with his music evolutions on each project he releases. His last full-length release, produced by Moe Berg (TPOH), was the critically acclaimed Yesterday’s Misadventures. It’s been wonderful to see that he’s just released a new digital single for the song “Should I Tell Her.” Looking forward to a new full-length album in 2021. You can buy the track here: http://www.clarkinstitute.com/music and jump to the video section on his site to catch the accompanying videos. He also just dropped this socially-distanced video cover tune of Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money” this week.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QB5tlZ5bQo

THE TREWS
Canada’s favourite rock band has been extremely busy despite the lockdown and inability to tour. They’ve managed drive-in shows and a recent live stream from both the Danforth Music Hall and the CP Holiday Train. They’ve also been running special contests and live streams on Patreon. And, they’ve been putting the final touches on the follow-up to their 2018 album Civilianaires. A few lockdown tracks have emerged including the ridiculously hooky “Godspeed Rebel,” but their latest is an optimistic spin on an old Who classic called “1921”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKC0Fy_O-BU

BRASS BIKINI
30 years ago my record label, Bullseye, got into the business of CD manufacturing and distribution. One of the first acts we distributed was a Toronto funk-rock act called Brass Bikini featuring the human dynamo of a lead singer Gabrielle Roddy. We’ve remastered and re-issued their sole album Tastes Like Chicken this month. https://bullseyecanada.bandcamp.com/album/tastes-like-chicken
Also check out the video for “Oasis” – the song that grabbed my attention in the first place.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CyByiYY9A4

KIM MITCHELL


He is the wild party. He’s also mellowed slightly (just slightly). He’s also been very busy during the lockdown and is back with a new CD and double vinyl album called The Big Fantasize. The newest, second single is “2UP2BDown”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4RE1C4LbOA

GLASS TIGER
Our favourite Scottish-Canadian rocker Alan Frew & Co. return with a seasonal offering for Christmas called Songs For a Winter’s Night. The album sees the perennial ‘80s popmeisters team up with the likes of Roch Voisine (for “Happy Holidays” in two official languages), Natalie MacMaster, and Gordon Lightfoot among others. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX8f6JoZ0mc

x-x-x-x-x
QUICK PICKS:

Saga – “Tired World (Chapter Six)” remake
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaT4rm2Y1FQ

Gowan – “Can You Make It Feel Like Christmas”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tpmRe2U5Oc

Ardene Shapiro – “It’s Finally Christmas”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT3fvKyX6wU

Rick Donmoyer – “My Christmas Song”
https://rickdonmoyer.bandcamp.com/

Steve Schijns – “Fooling Yourself” (an original tune)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S2HSVDZm7w

Blackmore’s Night – “Once Upon December”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGOGAjpDTqQ

Craig Cardiff – “Decorated”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5xNUqD7e7w

Alex Whorms – “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6fc-wAu2dc

Jim Witter – “Christmas Memories”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES-1ue-UfVI

Victoria Anthony – “Breathe Underwater”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZRxl43666w

Myles Goodwin Trio – “Put Your Hand In the Hand”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-MejgTinsg

Tia Brazda – “Daydream”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3hoWq4Tngw

The Road (Dave Bingham) – “I Can’t Breathe”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZIXlDy55dA

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Jaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 41 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 24 years. He is also the author of The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and editor of “Sunny Days: The Skip Prokop Story.” Available through Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Jaimie+Vernon 

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