Adria’s Top Five of 2011 (East Coast Edition)

1. Shotgun Jimmie – Transistor Sister (You’ve Changed Records)

Adria and Shotgun Jimmie in Halifax, May 2011

Recorded at The Old Confidence Lodge in Riverport, Nova Scotia, Jimmie’s fourth solo release is his best one yet. The track order and instrumental breaks (‘Piano’, ‘Refrain’) remind me of Pavement’s Brighten the Corners, which is definitely not a bad thing. It’s an an element of this release that makes it exceptional. Jimmie’s sound is maturing: it’s getting heavier, tougher, almost chasing kids off the lawn. And like an old man at a deli, Jimmie is an amusing and creative storyteller. Listen closely and you can hear in his earlier releases sounds that have now been developed as definitive. But for the senior moments (‘Swamp Magic’) and nostalgia (‘Suzy’), this album is youthful and fun and sweet. Shotgun Jimmie is not only the ‘King of Kreuzberg,’ but the King of playful riffs, the King of mood continuity, the King of lyrical charm. Album of the year, no doubt.

2. Dog Day – Deformer (Fundog)

Nancy and Seth are in a whole other universe of awesome. The track progression is intense. The sound is distinct and animating. Eurozone, for instance: how can one song be so good? What really makes this album for me is the creative design. The liners and the screen-printing and the sticker with the Dog Day doggie make this album not only an aural experience, but a tactile and visual one as well. Deformer reconceptualises the music object by branding it as an art object. I think this is true to the spirit of Dog Day and independent music production: when compared to super-commercialized garbage rock, this album prioritizes the art of musical expression. Deformer: Kennel Club favourite, purebred top-pedigree showstopper, blue-ribbon winner. YoRodeo.

3.  Jon McKiel – Tonka War Cloud (Youth Club Records/Saved By Vinyl)

Recently released as a follow-up to Confidence Lodge, Tonka War Cloud should be known all across Canada by this time next year. This is one album that pulls. you. in. In struggling to describe it, I’ll leave it to him: his music rides that “elusive line between feathery folk and a total sludgefest.” There are elements of the record that recall a lone woodsman playing a beat-up Fender and singing his nuts off to a squirrel with the all heaviness of grunge-muck garage-rock cigarette butts. Sometimes there are computer beeps. His voice is smooth; it’s like butterscotch or lemon meringue pie or caramel. If you find the songs accusatory, it’s because they are, rousing you from your dreams and delusions. Get into it.

4. Cold Warps – Endless Bummer & S/T (Noyes Records)

This one is kind of a cheat because the tapes on this record came out in 2009 (S/T) and 2010 (Endless Bummer), but they were pressed on vinyl as a Side A and Side B. Released last weekend, frontman Paul Hammond said the EPs were re-mastered for a more cohesive sound. SKILLZ, right? Cold Warps are ruling my world of music right now. First of all, as it gets colder in Halifax, the beachy summer sounds take me back to sunburns, sweat, and unemployment, cooling off in the shade of the garage. The songs have quirky attitudes, though I should say bad-itudes, because there’s a lot of ‘I don’t give a fuck’ about it. But they do give a fuck and it shows because Cold Warps sound awesome coming out of my super sweet sound system and my friend’s 1997 Buick Le Sabre. I can’t get enough. Listen to this record and you’ll feel like playing beach volleyball with Screech from Saved by the Bell, if Screech wasn’t such a douche bag and Saved by the Bell was CBGB.

5. This one is a short list of EPs/albums put out in Halifax this year that are worth your Paypal/VISA/Mastercard/hard-earned bucks. I mean, I bought ‘em and I’m broke as shit.

Long WeekendsWarmer Weather (Indp) [new release, January 2012, btw!]
CousinsSecret Weapon/Speech (Noyes Records)
Quaker ParentsNo Crime When Covered in Grime (Hot Money Records)
The GraboidsAftershock (Danger Bay Records)
Rich AucoinWe’re All Dying to Live (Sonic Records)
Twin PeaksKissing Hands & Shaking Babies (Droppin’ Science)
SloanThe Double Cross (Yep Rock) [Note: Sloan makes you pay for stuff]
BurrowsPorcupine Hill (Montreal)

Also, check out Cobra Camaro because they will melt the skin off your face.

Looking forward to 2012!

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