Just a quick disclaimer here; for those new to herohill we only cover Canadian content so my favorites list – note: not best-of, as that kind of debate is a bit pointless – is kind of like the cast of SCTV or peameal bacon. If it had a sweater, it would be warm and woolly and if it had a favorite sport, it would be curling (or lacrosse?). One quick point of interest; I opted to omit a few bands that offered up killer EPs AND LPs to give a bit more variety in the lists, but overall it’s my musical year in a nutshell. A lot of these EPs are free so enjoy the bands and check out some songs, but to quote the infamous Rob Base, “I got an idea that I wanna share, you don’t like so what, I don’t care.”
Also, stay tuned because we have a special year-end treat waiting to be released on Monday. It will, in fact, rock you gently.
1:: Long Long Long – Shorts / Mean Wind – What Happens in Hingham Stays in Hingham / Mean Wind – The Guests are the Guests are Gone Gone
Probably a cop out to lump these all as my number 1, but the songs that LLL and Mean Wind gave away for free were better than almost anything I heard all year (Fred Squire and Apollo Ghosts still get that nod). All three EPs show how effortlessly these young Haligonians mix pop and folk with experimentation and eccentric meandering.
2:: Homo Duplex – 01
I don’t think I expected to be won over as easily as I was when Kristina and Ron combined the dance/punk/pop flavor of The Maynards with the noise-filled bliss and gearhead tendencies of The Memories Attack but the duo showed that music, like a good marriage, builds from the foundation of each others strengths. Picking emotions and tempo randomly out of a hat, it’s almost impossible to think another free EP could sound so great, until you consider the pedigree that is writing the songs.
3:: Young Doctors in Love – 5 Golden Greats
Dazzling, New Porns-inspired harmonies and pop melodies. This quick hitting EP was basically on repeat for most of my summer, leading to slotting the young TO band to bat cleanup for our first ever herohill NXNE showcase. Sixteen minutes of music that won’t change your life, but will do everything it can to improve your mood and make you smile.
4:: Bad Tits – Garbage Night
Speaking of pedigree… this Josh Reichmann and Sebastien Grainger is loud, noisy and Warriors approved. It’s also heartfelt, full of guitars and synths and delightfully raw. I have no idea if this collaboration will continue, but these six-songs certainly will pique your interest and demand countless repeats. Plus, you get to say Bad Tits and then look down on your friends when they accuse you of being juvenile. “Ah… it’s old English slang, Mr. Ignorant.”
5:: Share – Coco et Co.
Over the last few years, Share frontman Andrew Sisk has moved cities, changed band mates and found a new love for nylon strings, spare electronics and even touches of french pop and bossanova. The EP, Coco et. Co, led to Sisk and Miranda forming a new band of said moniker, but this slight, three-song affair paved the way for Sisk to experiment an ease fans into his new project while he found his stride in a new city. I could have easily gone with the full length, but this was such a pleasant surprise, I wanted to give it some extra shine.
6:: Bravestation – 2010 EP
Shane did most of the heavy lifting for this band, complete with review and a steady stream of band related updates, but over time I found myself reaching for the EP quite often. Shane dubbed this as “fall music”, and although I’m not 100% sure what that means he’s right on money when he says this EP is catchy as hell. 2010 EP is track after track of steady drumming, hand claps and big guitars. Honestly, if you can’t enjoy these songs, you’re trying too hard.
7:: Jay Sparrow – Good Days Gone By
Alberta’s Jay Sparrow left his punk rock roots behind and turned his attention to the rootsy sounds that makeup the backbone of our country’s musical heritage. With a title like Good Days Gone By, you kind of get what you expect lyrically, but his heartache and nostalgia sounds fantastic with his keyboard heavy, Seger-inspired hooks. Coupled with the fact “Lay Yr Mountain Down” lets you know that even if he’s softened as he gets older, Jay’s not going to take your shit, and you have an EP worth hearing.
8:: Milks & Rectangles – Dirty Gold
What I said – “The latest EP from the PEI is still full of anthems that hint at the band’s dream of playing to a sold out Wembley Stadium, but Dirty Gold is less suits and crisply pressed pants and more scruff laden” – is pretty well all you need to know about the PEI popsters. They consistently bring the hooks and energy, and now they bring just enough sloppiness to make the songs feel as much like stadium anthems as dive bar theme songs. Per ca pita, it seems like PEI is churning out the most musical talent and Milks & Rectangles are doing more than their fair share.
9:: Wildlife – Strike Hard, Young Diamond
Any band that makes me think of Ladyhawk is a-ok. When I got this EP, I wasn’t expecting much, but the rough edges and slop they add to the equation is a great counterpoint to the electro sheen or classic folk sounds they often expose. All of that is great, but I guess the key factor for Wildlife making this list was whenever the EP would randomly come on the ole iTunes, I’d find myself doing the, “who the f@ck is this?” scrunched up face, promptly followed by an hour of nonstop Wildlife love.
10:: Giant Hand – Starting as People
I’ll be honest; when Giant Hand – aka Kirk Ramsey – first started recording music, I was not really a fan. Granted, he decided to record after seeing a movie about Daniel J, realized not k owing how to play the guitar or write songs shouldn’t detract him from starting. His songs were written and recorded without expectations or reservations. That’s why, when Starting as People landed in my mailbox, it sat there for days. When I finally did take a listen, I was blown away by how much Ramsey had developed as an artist. The randomness that detracted from previous output is held together nicely by a more melodic backbone. Kirk made the smart choice to work with Rolf from The Acorn and made the jump from an artist struggling to find his sound to one with the confidence and chord work to separate him from the never-ending supply of “awkward white dudes playing the acoustic.”