To say that it has been a great year in Canadian music is certainly a tired cliché when it comes to all of these year-end lists. But with Arcade Fire winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, the first Canadian band to do so, The Sheepdogs winning the Rolling Stone cover contest, being the first unsigned band to grace the cover of the magazine, and numerous other Canadian acts growing in popularity, it…well, I’ll leave the conclusion up to you.
Below, in no particular order, is what I think has been some stunning releases from this year in Canadian music:
The Barr Brothers – The Barr Brothers
The Barr Brothers’ self-titled release is such a diverse recording, you can’t help but be drawn in. Weaving in and out between subtle yet exquisite folk tracks and energetic bluesy-rock songs, The Barr Brothers have created an album that surprises and delights and will keep you coming back for more.
Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune
“Harmonious growth” is one way that I will describe Dan Mangan’s Oh Fortune. What I thought was going to be a difficult task to follow up Nice, Nice, Very Nice, turned out to be a pretty easy one for Dan Mangan. Oh Fortune remains true to Mangan’s storytelling lyrics but kicks up the instrumentation to a notch that makes his new album shine.
Feist – Metals
With booming percussion and horns, and filled with a wonderful brooding vibe, Feist is gracefully stepping away from her poppy-folk hit, “1,2,3,4,” and making sure everybody knows it, with a richness in Metals that is breathtaking.
Frederick Squire – Frederick Squire Sings Shenandoah and Other Popular Hits
Like last year’s list maker March 12, Frederick Squire’s Shenandoah is heartbreakingly beautiful. Simplistic folk at its finest, Squire’s songwriting is one that reigns supreme and is, unfortunately, grossly overlooked.
Hey Rosetta! – Seeds
A Polaris Music Prize nominee, Seeds is an album of unmatched collectivity this year. Every song is able to stand on its own with no trouble but it’s when they are all together that they are even stronger. With Tim Baker at the helm, Seeds has a maturity and confidence overflowing throughout, in a way that none of Hey Rosetta’s past releases ever did.
Kalle Mattson – Anchors
A gritty combination of folk and rock, Anchors is a melodious, creative, and energetic young release which will have no trouble propelling Kalle Mattson to Canadian indie-rock fame. With the release of the stop-motion, arts and crafts history of the world for the song, “Thick As Thieves,” the fame has already started.
Mike Edel – The Last Of Our Mountains
A stellar debut album from Mike Edel, The Last Of Our Mountains is one of adventure, catchy, heartfelt folk ballads, and shows great promise for the future musical endeavours of Mike Edel.
Ohbijou – Metal Meets
Metal Meets is another album that shows the tremendous growth of a band. In this case, Ohbijou’s new poised manner shines through eleven well-crafted tracks, all while keeping their distinct lush sound.
Snailhouse – Sentimental Gentleman
One of my most listened to albums from this year in general, every nook and cranny of Sentimental Gentleman is full of something special. With so many lyrical quips, one of my favourites being from “Airwaves,” “Tchaikovsky and Mozart, Debussy and Brahms / if born at the right time / would have driven Trans Ams,” Mike Feuerstack aka Snailhouse effortlessly crafts an album that combines a simple poppy musical styling and intelligent lyrics.
The Weather Station – All Of It Was Mine
The Weather Station’s All Of It Was Mine is the most gorgeous album of the year. I don’t put my list in any specific order but if I did, I’ll be honest, All Of It Was Mine would have come on top. Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station) keeps folk traditions alive with her mixture of acoustic sounds and descriptive, pastoral language for a phenomenal result.