Monday, December 28, 2009
Best Canadian Albums (excluding Toronto) of 2009
9. Dan Mangan (Vancouver, BC) Nice, Nice, Very Nice
[mp3] Dan Mangan - Robots
Elsewhere: Pick of the Week #42
A couple of months ago you couldn't go anywhere, and when I say "anywhere" I mean a Canadian based or Canadian music blog, without hearing about Dan Mangan. Now that his album has been out for a while, the very clever video for "Robots" has been released, he's done touring for a bit (I think), I've begun to appreciate his song-writing more. I'm not sure exactly how to describe his sound to those who don't know him, but suffice to say he may have become my favourite hobo singer-songwriter (I'm sure someone plays the spoons somewhere on this album).
8. The Liptonians (Winnipeg, MN) s/t
[mp3] The Liptonians - Charlie's Back!
Elsewhere: Pick of the Week #18
I haven't listened to the full s/ted album by the Liptonians in a good while, but I can say that "Charlie's Back!" is one of my favourite songs of the year. As I mentioned when I wrote about their album, the melody, the story, the instrumentation all remind me of Ben Folds (before he got neutered and started writing children's songs) and the quirky characters that he used to write about. If you ever enjoyed Ben Folds or piano driven poppy sort of tunes, these guys are well worth checking out.
7. Dog Day (Halifax, NS) Concentration
[mp3] Dog Day - Happiness
Elsewhere: Pick of the Week #26
If Stars wore black, and exclusively black, they would be Dog Day. These songs are every bit as good as Set Yourself on Fire, though they're certainly not as burned into the memory of 'indie' loving hipsters as SYoF.
6. That's the Spirit (Ottawa, On) Staying Places
[mp3] That's the Spirit - Orienteering
Elsewhere: Pick of the Week #40, Exchanging emails with...
If you ever read (or saw the movie) The Phantom Tollbooth when you were a kid you should have an idea of what Staying Places sounds like. Of course there's no auditory component to the actual book (unless it's an audiobook), but it (Staying Places) has this whimsical element to it that makes you feel like you're going off to some sort of fantasy land (even if you're not on drugs). This all makes me wonder what listening to this album on mushrooms would be like... if anyone has any answers there's a guest blog post in it for you...
5. Julie Doiron (Halifax, NS) I Could Wonder What You Did With Your Day
[mp3] Julie Doiron - Consolation Prize
Elsewhere: Pick of the Week #38
I'm not sure how I'd never listened to Julie Doiron before this year, but I hadn't, though if there was one Canadian-folk music icon (stretch?) that I was going to miss it makes sense that it'd be Julie Doiron. Doiron, and her music, are understated to the point that she doesn't seem like she cares a whole lot whether people are listening or not. If you like folky sort of music, and you've heard Doiron, chances are you've been capitvated by her laid-back, conversational style. And this album, from what I understand, is one of her best.
4. Chad VanGaalen (Calgary, AB) Soft Airplane - B Sides EP
[mp3] Chad VanGaalen - Corvette
Elsewhere: Pick of the Week #39
Sure, it's an EP full of B-Sides, but it's still really friggin' good. I'm not sure I read anyone complain about Soft Airplance (the A-sides), but all the talk about how 'accessible' read: not weird, probably peeved a few of his more devoted fans. Well, I imagine that the B-sides'd make those people happy. It's more experimental than the actual album, which may explain why they got relegated to the B-sides EP, but if you're a fan of Chad VanG fan the EP is not to be missed. And it may still be free at softairplane.com.
3. Patrick Watson (Montreal, QC) Wooden Arms
[mp3] Patrick Watson - Wooden Arms
Elsewhere: Pick of the Week #16
I've listened to this album a bunch of times over the past few weeks and I'm convinced that Wooden Arms is the most underrated album of the year. It doesn't have the standout Coldplay impersonations like "Lucious Life" and "the Great Escape", it's more cryptic, more reliant on found sounds (apparently crap found in the Watson household), but the songs and the songwriting are every bit as good as his Polaris winning Close to Paradise... and the more I hear the album the more I think it should move up... maybe this should actually be two... or one... too late now. Also, you should really watch these Blogotheque videos if you haven't...
2. Pink Mountaintops (Vancouver, BC) Outside Love
[mp3] Pink Mountaintops - Axis Thrones of Love
Elsewhere: Pick of the Week #22
Given my distaste for Black Mountain, some other incarnation of this band, I was utterly shocked at how much I enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, Outside Love. The album sort of feels like a cross between the Mamas & the Papas and Led Zepplin, which is an unlikely combination that really seems to work.
1. Said the Whale (Vancouver, BC) Islands Disappear
[mp3] Said the Whale - Camilo (the Magician)
Elsewhere: Pick of the Week #44
I find myself surprised that a pretty poppy album ended up at the top of this list. On Islands Disappear Said the Whale, while poppy, demonstrate that they are capable of writing more dramatic or introspective songs (like Band of Horses or the New Pornographers), and have put out an album that isn't getting nearly enough love. This was easily the second best Christmas gift I got this year (I got one of those sexy iPhones)... thanks Santa.