So here it is. The LPs list. For anyone that might be reading herohill for the first time, the list might look a little chaotic, but for the readers that have been around for a while, these 30 LPs are ones I’ve gushed about over and over again. I wasn’t going to draw it out for three posts, but the time it took to add the MP3s and format the page was more than I had allotted last night… so sorry for the Biggest Loser type fake suspense.
21:: Blue Hawaii - Blooming Summer
I’m not sure any under the radar Canadian label had a better year than Arbutus records. Almost everything they touched turned to blog gold and acts like Blue Hawaii and Devon got some huge press. Blue Hawaii surfed the lo-fi, electronic tropical wave like Buzzy Kerbox, but never felt married to the sound. Blooming Summer is diverse and energetic when needed, but certainly transports you to the relaxing beach mentality better than most acts trying the same routine.
MP3:: Blue Hawaii - Lilac
22:: The Barr Brothers - self-titled
Using the Polaris qualifier for a Canadian act, I’m giving The Barr Brothers the benefit of the doubt. Sure, the primary songwriters are from Boston, but they live in Montreal and 50% of the band is Canadian. The record moves from touching emotion, to foot stomping blues and every style is handled with aplomb. Plus, “Beggar in the Morning” is one of the best f@cking songs of the year. I’ve listened to it endlessly, and it still kills me every single time.
MP3:: The Barr Brothers - Beggar in the Morning
23:: The Provincial Archive - Maybe We Could Be Holy
This time around Craig Schram opted to flesh out the bedroom indie/folk/pop songs he was so successful with on his last record, and this full band affair shouts to the masses instead of whispering to an individual. Craig still connects with the listener, but the bigger bolder arrangements give the band the freedom to explore new avenues and shows a musical connection between four young men. I will miss the bedroom artist that Craig seems to have outgrown, but can’t wait to see how this BAND evolves and improves moving forward.
MP3:: The Provincial Archive - I’m A Believer!
24:: Gianna Lauren - Some Move Closer, Some Move On
Ottawa transplant Gianna Lauren has charmed Halifax with the release of her latest album, Some Move Closer, Some Move On, garnering the opening slot for countless touring acts. The album benefits from the additions Daniel Ledwell makes to Lauren’s spare guitar work, but her voice is the real star and it wouldn’t surprise me to see her dominating the CBC playlists and radio space in the next few years.
MP3:: Gianna Lauren - Become What You Can’t Be
25:: Chris Page - A Date With a Smoke Machine
As amazing as Chris Page is as a solo artist, I actually first got hooked on his music through another band (Camp Radio). Luckily, his songwriting transfer from Camp Radio’s infectious rock to a more Billy Bragg-ish, punk folker with remarkable success. Not only that, but Page has the chops to balance that grit with tenderness and sunshine-kissed hooks when the moment calls for it. A Date With a Smoke Machine is diverse, quick-hitting and helps solidify Pager’s place in today music scene.
MP3:: Chris Page - Slideshows
26:: Boats! - Cannonballs, Cannonballs
Arcade Fire without the drama. That quote belongs to Dave Ullrich, but it’s probably the best description I’ve heard when it comes to the Winnipeg band. Synths, high-pitched vocals and infectious energy all make this record fantastic. Throw in the stage banter and wackiness of the live show and Mat and his friends are someone you need to keep an eye on.
MP3:: Boats! - Chrome Eyelids
27:: Danny Michel - Sunset Sea
Danny Michell is one of our most respected song writers, but this time around he abandoned his comfort zone and experimented with island textures and karmic philosophies to create a record that is hooky and fun, but challenges the listener to think about their life and how they treat the people they encounter. With the winter winds coming in, this record is the tropical getaway we all need.
MP3:: Danny Michel - Who’s Gonna Miss You?
28:: Brian Dunn- Examining the Fallout
It’s another alt-country record. I know that thought is probably floating around your head right now but this heartbreak-laced, noise experimentation has probably been type cast. Instead of simple acoustic, steel and tear in your beer, Dunn, and Nathan Lawr (with help from the confident production of Dave MacKinnon) makes this sonic collage a lot more interesting. Throw in Dunn’s ability to create emotion, and you have a record that needs your attention.
MP3:: Brian Dunn - Listening To Myself Die
29:: Mohawk Lodge - Crimes
We all have our favorite break-up records, but White Whale Records founder Ryder Havdale put together an aggressive, visceral experience that isn’t mired with self-pity. She f@cked up and got caught, he got mad and hands were thrown, but at the end of the day the good times don’t dominate this listen. It’s the honest realizations of the good times, but more importantly, the things that were wrong that made him reevaluate his life and his music, and that growth is evident on Crimes.
MP3:: Mohawk Lodge - Done Fighting
30:: Fanshaw - Dark Eyes
Olivia Fetherstonhaugh spent five years writing, recording and fine-tuning her debut Mint records release, and the wait was certainly worth it. As I said earlier in the year, “Fanshaw challenges you with swirling arrangements that float all around your headphones, but ultimately you are rewarded with 34 minutes of music that stands out from the masses and well thought out narratives.” I hadn’t spent much time with the album lately, but when I started creating this list, I remembered how much I loved Olivia’s voice and penchant for risks. That hasn’t faded over time, and Dark Eyes is as rewarding now as it was so many months ago.
MP3:: Fanshaw - Strong Hips