Fun summer single. Lots of love for the lo-fi piano and guitar sound.
One of the catchiest songs of the year. Wrapped up in a powerful message &powerfully simplistic video.
This band is so good. Francis Quinlan's voice is something special. Goes from gentle to raspy in a single word.
Couple of really nice atmospheric trips on this 24 minute-long "album".
Montreal's Anemone sounds like a dreamier Camera Obscura.
It's not K-Pop, but Korea's Say Sue Me is pure nineties indie glory. From the shoe gazer verse to the big Teenage Fanclub ending...pure 90's.
I listened to this song more than any other song in November. Once 5 times in a row. Catchy like a cold!
I know it's not a word, but Superorganism are the funnest band in the world. Get trapped in a youtube spiral & you'll agree.
The former Supergrass kicked out this wicked jam in 2018. Still has great bass chops.
This pairing with Japan's Wednesday Campanella is brilliant! Chvrches are continuously pushing into new grounds!
The most underrated musician in the world. An amazing singer & guitarist. Stunning gender anthem!
Baltimore's 19 year-old Lindsey Jordan is the most labelled musician of the year. Savior or not, she is embracing her indie stardom.
Australian-Berliners (you read that right) Parcels are the fun you've been waiting for. Daft Punk anyone?
Since leaving Vampire Weekend Rostam continues to inspire us. Lovely song reminiscent of REM's Nightswimming.
Channeling his inner Stevie Wonder, the super-talented Anderson Taak has produced a brilliant R&B gem!
Fun video. Fun song. Dark and political, but at the same time, the year's best dance tune. Just try and get it out of your head.
Whenever I hear America's A Horse with No Name, I think "Neil Young". Well...The Head & The Heart.
Imagine if Joy Division had been produced by a young Trent Reznor in 1984? That is the sound of Savannah's Boy Harsher.
"It's just milk, It's just milk on the floor And it's just me, it's not you anymore". Enough said. *Crying*
Fun fun punky rock from East London. All the proper oooh ooohs, guitar riffs, and raspy rock n' roll!
Conjuring up sounds reminiscent of The Constantines is always a good thing. The rhythm section and the organ make this a killer track.
My favourite video of the year. Great album, but nothing on the record stood out like this beautifully heartbreaking Smiths-like anthem
Ground-breaking Icelandic musician Ólafur Arnalds composes music that sweeps away genre. "Re:member" exemplifies this.
For all those who think Greta Van Fleet are the saviours of that old glorious rock sound, you are wrong. White Denim already saved it.
C'est La Vie - Phosphorescent 2013's Muchacho was a top ten album for me, but I was not sure what to expect from the next album by Georgia-Brooklyn-Nashville's Matthew Houck.
Where Muchacho signposted reverberated drums and psychadelic guitars, C'est La Vie shows Paul Simon-like vibes ("New Birth in New England", "Beautiful Boy" & "C'est La Vie") with ambient Americana ("Around the Horn" & "These Rocks"). With a stunning supporting cast this short, quiet, reflective album mirrors the quiet, balanced and blissful life that Houck has built for himself.
Both Ways - Donovan Woods
Sarnia-born Donovan Woods has created a record that is warm and touching. But, what is most striking - for a singer songwriter - is how diverse the sounds are on Both Ways. Whether it is the Nashville-sounding "Good Lover" or "Our Friend Bobby" Woods shows his ability to write stories. Characters that stir our emotion, and make us care. Yet, on a track like "Truck Full of Money" Woods shows soaring arrangements that go beyond the "Nashville sound". But, there is no stronger song (and video) than the album's closing track. "Next Year" is an ode to living life, and forces people of my generation to consider not only their own lives, but those of their baby boomer parents.
A Short Story about a War - Shad
I think the greatest disservice in the music industry is that Shad is not a household name. When I lament to people about how boring I find a lot of hip hop it is because I have been listening to Shad since his 2005 debut. He is a thinker who uses language as a tool, and not as an attempt to be edgy. On his newest effort he uses that mind to imagine a concept album that coincidentally mirrors many of our modern-day fears. From the wonderously catchy "The Fool Pt. 1" to the hypnotic "The Fool Pt. 3" featuring KAYTRANADA, and to the jazzy "Another Year" with Ian Kamau & Eternia, Shad continues to be the best, and sadly, unrecognized.
Con Todo el Mundo - Khruangbin
Largely instrumental this Houston-based groovy trio are hard to pin down. Where D.J. Johnson and Laura Lee leave their sexy grooves, Mark Speer lays down reflective Hendrix-like guitar. Occasionally Lee & Speer throw in haunting vocals that act more as additional instruments. To pin down a song is difficult as the albums flows together fluidly. Perfect for relaxing with some headphones.
Dirty Computer - Janelle Monae
The latest from tre-cool genre (and gender) bending Soul, Rap, Pop diva Janelle Monae is the grooviest record of the year. Prince's inspiration - in sound, style, and sexuality - shines through Monae's 4th record. Yet, with all that said, this record is full Janelle, and in her words, she is a "free ass motherfucker!" Happy to see this on the grammy list. But, the industry loves trying to ignore her.
Tell Me How You Really Feel- Courtney Barnett
Australia's Courtney Barnett is a fun 1990's indie slacker! It is strange to think that this is really only Barnett's second record (not counting 2017's Lotta Sea Lice with Kurt Vile). Yet, this record - while less catchy and quirky as her debut - is more sonically and thematically relevant. Like many of her indie-rock contemporaries, she has really embraced her voice to make indie-pop political. It is hard to find someone doing it better.
American Utopia - David Bryne
The legendary lead singer of Talking Heads is a creative genius who has continuously pushed the limits of his art. Utopia is a brilliant commentary on modern America. For example, "Gasoline and Dirty Sheets" addressed the global immigration crisis in America. But, where other songwriters might merely complain, Bryne asks us to imagine what we would just "do the right thing" and invite everybody over to "our house".
Soy Pablo - Boy Pablo
Boy Pablo is a contrary figure. He is both the most uncool looking guy to ever make music and at the same time comes across as completely cool & original. His album (at 22 minutes, I am not sure we can call it that) is layered with quirky teen dream pop that is laced with catchy vibes that are reminiscent of an indie rock version of ABC or Spandau Ballet. Critics have said that Pablo sounds "superficial". But, maybe we need that right now.
Cranberry - Hovvdy
I couldn't help but notice a celebration of dreamy pop this year. From bands like Hovvdy or Cigarettes After Sex, or the rediscovery of The Sundays or Mazzy Star. The shoegazer seems to be back. Hovvdy embraced that sound perfectly. This is the soundtrack for a sunny bike ride, or a walk through the woods. The simple minimalist drums, bass, meandering organ and guitar lead us to a lazy Sunday afternoon version of Pavement.
Wide Awake! - Parquet Courts
Talking Heads, Dead Milkmen, wait, that guitar sounds like Joe Walsh, that cowbell sounds like The Rapture...Is that Joe Jackson singing? Wait, now The Specials...no, wait, Gang of Four, nope my mistake Kaiser Chiefs...Beck?Oh my! In other words when listening to hold on tight for a fun ride! Parquet Courts might very well be the saviour of Punk Rock!
Best Live Shows
Moonhooch at Elora Riverfest
Phosphorescent with Liz Cooper & The Stampede at The Mod Club