Sid Vicious once butchered Anka’s “My Way.” Now, Canada’s original crooner—godfather to Michael Bublé and Matt Dusk—swings back at the rock repertoire. Giving middle-of-the-road songs like Van Halen’s “Jump” and Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” (which references “My Way”) the Las Vegas lounge treatment is not a huge stretch, but Anka’s peppy, finger-snapping versions of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” are surprisingly effective. Grunge swings? If only Kurt Cobain knew.
As a blue-collar burg, Hamilton, Ont. is best known for hard rock and boogie bands. A Northern Chorus could bring Steeltown a gentler sonic reputation. Led by singer-guitarist Stu Livingstone and featuring cellist Alex McMaster, the sextet crafts dreamy chamber pop. At times, the poetry is precious and the group’s atmospheric, experimental soundscapes too reminiscent of Sigur Rós and Radiohead. But when Livingstone sings “winterize the scenes that leave you numb,” his woolen toque seems to fit just perfectly.
An unsung heroine of Canadian music, DeBolt is a one-of-a-kind artist who has never shied from creative risks. From her folk duo Fraser & DeBolt in the early ’70s to her polka, gospel, blues and jazz albums, she’s stuck to her singular, eccentric vision. Her latest features songs co-written with Michael Ondaatje (“Midnight Highway,” “Joe Christmas”), a stunning “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and a chilling ode to her mother that she recorded in a swamp—with only crickets and her mandolin for accompaniment.