It’s been a couple of years since I did this, but I wanted to get back to it since it’s always fun to look back on the year through my peculiar musical lens (and typical me, late as usual). As in past years, there were some big songs that came on my radar but I want to focus on Canadian artists. There probably wasn’t a more impactful song this year than This is America by Childish Gambino and the latter part of the year saw me playing a lot this Morrissey cover. But for the first time, I’m going to put two non-Canadian acts on my list as my top picks.
I made a YouTube playlist here.
10. Dan Mangan – Lynchpin – Dan Mangan has been incredibly consistent over the past decade, always soothing, Lynchpin is slightly more ethereal than folksy and I think that’s a good thing.
9. Broken Social Scene – Old Dead Young – Every few years they BSS seem to threaten to reform and take over, and seem content to be consistently great from a distance for a short amount of time.
8. Stars – Are You With Me – This is a touring year for Stars but they released a couple of pretty decent singles. I think Stars are one of the most consistently strong bands in Canada. “If you’re with me, then let’s leave now.”
7. Ellis – What a Mess – I love how chill this track is and yet there is longing in it and I think that’s a tough line to walk but this song does it well.
6. Chastity – Heaven Hell Anywhere Else – I really like the 90’s alt-rock sound to this. The whole album has an alt-90s vibe and it feels weird to think of 90’s music as retro, but this is a pretty damned good album.
5. Jeremy Dutcher – Mehcinut – Dutcher won the 2018 Polaris Prize and this is such a beautiful album, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard and at my age, I don’t get to say that much anymore.
4. Shy Kids – I was in L.A. – These guys are so talented, they seem to be gaining a larger following with each album and I hope they keep releasing material like this. This is an album with a good sonic palette and this is the happiest tune. They also make their own videos and I think this one is worth checking out.
3. Elisapie – Wolves Don’t Live by the Rules – Criminally underrated, Elisapie doesn’t seem to get much mainstream attention outside of the CBC and I guess her music might be difficult to classify. This is a lovely video too.
2. Shout Out Louds – In New Europe, I’m not sure how you write a song this good and not use it on your album, but Shout Out Louds did exactly that. I love these guys, they keep being amazing with diminishing returns and no airplay in North America.
1. The Decembrists – Once in My Life I can’t remember the last time I fell in love with a song quite like this one. I love everything about it, the tune, the lyrics, the arrangement, the video. I loved how they said so much with 3 simple lines, “Oh, for once in my life, can just something go right? I’ve been waiting all my life,” the John Hughes synths and the video which makes the song hopeful instead of mopey.