by Laura Stanley
My favourite albums from this year in Canadian music all in alphabetical order for your reading needs:
In a dreamy sophomore album, Aidan Knight takes his music to a new level with Small Reveal. With a gloriously full sound capped off by the quiet and intimate voice of Knight, Knight and his band of Friendly Friends put together an intricately incredible record.
Afie Jurvanen, better known as Bahamas, seemingly exploded in popularity this past year thanks to his newest record Barchords. Jurvanen’s sensual melodies and voice – those harmonies are also something else – and of course the lyrics themselves, are all dealt in a poppy-folk, body moving beat that’s hard to resist. Included on many of these year-end lists already, Barchords has a universal appeal that speaks of Jurvanen’s strengths as a musician.
With its heartfelt subject matter in a delicate folk music style, Evening Hymns’ Spectral Dusk is an emotionally rich record that has touched so many people this year, including myself. A tribute of sorts to his late father, the band’s frontman Jonas Bonnetta’s collection of songs is truly a piece of artistic beauty that will retain its poignant power for years to come.
In the debut solo record from Jennah Barry, Young Men captures the voice of a one-to-watch new talent. With a, somewhat melancholic, sweetness, Barry’s easy to listen to folk style is incredibly friendly which makes it even more obvious how much every song from the record is a winner. Your year in Canadian music is not complete if you haven’t listened to Jennah Barry’s Young Men.
As one of the strongest modern voices in Canadian music, it comes as no surprise that John K. Samson’s long awaited full-length solo record is a fantastic. A collection of the various works of Samson already released in addition to never before heard solo songs, with folky sentimental tracks and catchy, quip filled rock numbers, Provincial has everything that makes Samson such a favourite.
An obvious 2012 favourite for many, Kathleen Edwards’ Voyageur is a breakup album to its core, which yes, is nothing new, but this record is something else. While telling the brutal truth about her past relationship, the record follows her divorce, Edwards does it all in a revamped music style that successfully moves away from her pure folk-country sound. Grab the nearest tissue box and hold on to your cat with this one!
As a sadly under-known musician, Olivier Jarda’s Good Luck Cartel is a bit of a wildcard for the 2012 year. In his third release, Jarda’s record is one full of intelligent indie-folk songs highlighted by its use of violin and warm piano sprinkled throughout, making it, as I said in my review of the record this year, an understated treasure.
Montreal band Plumes were another band that caught my eye (ear) this year. With their wonderfully weird self-titled album that combines folk sounds and classical music, the strength of Plumes is one that is clear on first listen while the talent of Plumes, the band, is sure to be a big force.
Tim Crabtree’s folk project Paper Beat Scissors is, simply, a thing of beauty. Though technically “folk” is not the correct label, its mixture of Crabtree’s unique voice and swells of intense instrumental sections contrasting quiet tended moments, Paper Beat Scissors is more of a unique art experience that is a must hear from 2012.
When Snowblink’s debut album Long Live came out, duo Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman captured hearts with their lighthearted pop style. In another charmer, their sophomore record Inner Classics showcases their brilliant ability to create lush landscapes both lyrically and of course through their unique instrumental array.