Hello Grayowl Point!
Thanks for inviting me to give you a summary of my top 10 favorite Canadian albums this year. I have so many records that aren’t canadian too that sometimes limiting it to our CANCON lists can be difficult. We’re really lucky to have so much amazing music come out of our country. Here are a few of the albums that really hit home with me this year; some you may have heard of, others you might have missed, so I’ll try to shine some light on them for you.
Shotgun Jimmie – Everything, Everything
/// I love Shotgun Jimmie & the albums he makes. I’ve been lucky enough to share the stage with the man a few times, and hearing him play his life-affirming songs does everything that a good song should. Everything, Everything plays out quite a bit like a diary of sorts, of daily recaps and love notes passed along via skype. I love this album and I hope you will too.
Sean Nicholas Savage – Other Life
/// Sean Nicholas Savage is originally from Edmonton, but he is now truly a man of the world. No country can hold such a talent. With every album Sean releases, he takes so many new steps and directions, while always sounding consistently like himself. This is a difficult feat, one that Sean masters with his combination of pure, raw talent, as well as his passionate & relentless output of songs. He told me that he essentially recorded 3 albums over a year, and instead of releasing all of them like he normally would, he picked the best and strongest songs for Other Life, and I think it shows. Extremely heartfelt, there is a lot of pain here, but it’s saddled next to knowledge, nay, wisdom. I love this album, I love this man, I love the work that he brings into the world. I highly recommend this, as well as his entire discography.
Mikey Maybe – Honey & Bread
/// Full disclosure: Mikey and I were roommates a few years ago. I even had a short story published that was loosely based on living with him (don’t tell him). Now to Honey + Bread: Fun, thoughtful and heartbreakingly honest, it’s a rap album that skirts the edges of the tar pit that is “comedy rap”, sees a murky reflection and says “that’s close enough”. Mikey Hamm has the confidence, the wit, and the sincerity to pull off an album this good. The only hard part about recommending this album right now, is that it’s a super cold winter’s day as I type this, and this album was totally my summer soundtrack. I can’t wait for it to spring up again.
Jimmy Hunt – Maladie d’amour
/// Jimmy Hunt came out of left field for me. He’s from montreal and sings in french, a language that, unfortunately, I don’t speak. But through the amazing powers that is BANDCAMP, I stumbled upon his album, which was EXACTLY what I’ve been wanting to hear. At times it reminds me of Air’s soundtrack to the Virigin Suicides (see: Playground Love), at other times it reminds me of a mood captured on Pink Floyd’s “great gig in the sky”, some Bowie comparisons might be made. Whatever it is you’re hearing, the fantastic production, 70’s drums, and beautiful singing all work in conjunction to create an album that shatters the language barrier.
Andy Shauf – Bearer of Bad News
/// Andy Shauf is a master of narratives, and this album solidifies that belief. The stories that each song holds is equally hopeful and heartbreaking. I suspect that many of the characters from each song show up in others, as the narratives seem to involve each-other loosely, Shauf has built his own Walden. And the arrangements are perfect for a cold winter’s walk. (this album came out on the tail end of 2012, but I only heard it recently. so Ha!)
Braids – Flourish // Perish
/// Braids put down the guitars for this album, and encroached a bit closer to lead singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s side project, Blue Hawaii. Synth heavy, moody, long, and gorgeous are a few words I’d use to describe it. As inventive and pretty as the music itself is, my favorite part is Raphaelle’s vocals & her words. She’s a fantastic poet, very playful while holding insights in her clenched fist. And her voice soars.
Royal Canoe – Today We’re Believers
/// This band is one of the best live acts that I’ve ever seen, and their album holds true. 80’s inspired but not throwing back, this album is about grooves. I don’t even know what to say about it other than it sounds like 6 or more bodies moving in a bizarre, but seductive motion. Like every joint & bone is more-so a gear in a flesh machine, spurring out amazing music. What? I dunno, just see this band and love this album.
Cantoo – S/T
/// Cantoo references 60’s guitar pop while looking towards the future. I’ve known Aaron Parker & wife Giselle, who are the core of Cantoo, for many years when they would work on other projects, andCantoo is a project that seems to hold poppy hooks and musical experimentation with the form on equal footing. They take leaps and adventures with the songs, lyrical content, and instrumentation, and match it with beautiful harmonies. As an album often focused on making music, I can easily relate to it.
White Poppy – White Poppy
/// I first saw Crystal Dorval’s White Poppy play on a massive stage to a tiny audience at Sled Island, and was transported to some other plain of existence ever since. Vancouver’s White Poppy create a mood, an atmosphere that can shape your day, your drive home, your crowded bus ride. Fantastic dreamy guitars collide with vibey vocals.
Lab Coast – Walking on Ayre
/// Lab Coast makes great 90’s esque lo-fi from Calgary. If you’re getting tired of the drama surrounding Guided By Voices, check out Lab Coast. They just carry and capture a tone that I love love love to play on the radio.
Nicholas Krgovich – Who Cares?
/// I’ve been a fan of Nicholas’ work since his old project P:ano (Ghost Pirates Without Heads ep/album was one of many main influences on me picking up the ukulele), and he’s since become a backing member of Mount Eerie’s touring band. WIth Who Cares?, Krgovich releases his existential crisis on nylon stringed guitar. Half crooning, half early Cohen, and a third half (yes, a third half) of the pilot guiding us the path of a well known jaunt, this album is recommended for the lonely and the curious. Classic songwriting from the here and now. Housesitters, cat people, and everyone else: please apply.