Grayowl Point (Partial) Year in Review

by Michael

2009 was a momentous year for music, and an even more momentous year for Grayowl Point. Why? Because Grayowl Point just came into existence. What started as a blog made totally for rambling about nothing transformed into a blog completely focused on the Canadian independent music scene. On August 4th, 2009 the blog’s name changed from Unlikely Inspirational Flash to Grayowl Point, and on August 5th the blog’s first review was up, which was a review of The Ghost is Dancing’s album Battles On.

Shortly after Grayowl Point had a few reviews, it began to gather a team which helped the blog stop crawling and start walking. The lovely team members are as follows:

Allyssia: Did a bunch of reviews and even a few band interviews.

Rhombus: Reviewed metal albums which would have otherwise not gotten exposure on the blog.

backdrifter: Wrote primarily Concert Alerts, but also a review of Elephant Stone.

Erin: Wrote a review of a Toronto show featuring Spiral Beach. Expect more reviews in the years to come!

2009’s Best Albums

It was a good year for music, as several albums managed to pull off a perfect score of 4 Hoots. Here are all the stellar albums of 2009:

Nice, Nice, Very Nice- Dan Mangan- This album received acclaim from every reviewer who got to listen to this. It also gave Mangan huge exposure, nabbing him a $25000 prize from the Verge, as well as 2 CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards, one of which was for Best Song, for his amazing track “Robots.”

Beacons- Ohbijou-The album by this Toronto orchestral pop band is characterized by its intensity, as well as the love for Toronto evident in many of the songs’ lines. Each and every track is stunning, with lead singer Casey Mecija’s beautiful voice backed up by an equally beautiful assortment of instruments.

Islands Disappear- Said the Whale- This Vancouver band released a great record that had some music critics even calling this the band’s career masterpiece. It is full of charm, pop/rock hooks and love for the country of Canada. The album may even create an increase in tourism in Elkhorn, Manitoba and Emerald Lake, Alberta.

Three- Joel Plaskett- Plaskett has already been in the music business for quite a while, starting out with the beloved Thrush Hermit and then moving onto music with his backup band the Emergency. Three is his finest work to date, and a hugely ambitious one at that- three albums, nine songs each, with many of the track titles being repeated three times. This is what can easily be referred to as a “must listen” of 2009.

The Balconies- The Balconies- Ottawa’s newest sensation delivered a fantastic debut album complete with great guitar driven and percussion-heavy tracks which probably helped them sweep up at this year’s Ottawa Xpress’ Best of Ottawa poll. They won in three of the four categories they were nominated in. Definitely a new band to watch out for.

Seeing as the blog is so new and stuff, there were also several albums reviewed in 2009, but which were released in previous years. Here are the albums from before 2009 that also received a perfect score of 4 Hoots:

About a Girl- Winter Gloves

City- Strapping Young Lad

Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers- Bend Sinister

Soft Airplane- Chad VanGaalen

We here at Grayowl Point also pride ourselves on the fact that we review EP’s and LP’s of unsigned independent artists, or those who are just starting out in their hometowns. We have reviewed the likes of The Break Down, Ainsley McNeaney, Bri-anne Swan, and The Runaway Catholics. But this year, the best album to come out of this category (not to say that any of the above listed artists are anything short of awesome) is People With Places to Go by Matt Henderson. This album is impressive in that it produces such a cohesive sound even though it is all done by only one guy. The combination of synths and guitar make this album a real standout.

And of course, I am human and make mistakes with my judgments on occasion. And I think the biggest error in judgment I made was towards Halifax’s Acres and Acres. I gave this album 3 Hoots and said that there were not any seriously catchy instrumentals. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the great harmonica in “Money” to the great guitar riffs of “The Joker” I found myself listening to this album numerous times amongst the other albums I got this year. To that, I apologize, Acres and Acres. You’re awesome.

Finally, some new years resolutions for the blog:

  • Review more hip-hop albums
  • Feature more interviews and show reviews
  • Find albums to review by artists in every province and territory (we are currently missing, to the best of my knowledge: New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and Nunavut)

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