January 17, 2013

North of Northwest: Ten Favorites from 2012


I could pretend to be cool, to be hip, to be omnipotent, but the truth is I spent about six months last year vacationing off the face of the earth, and I didn’t hear nearly as much new music as I normally would have. Thus any claim that I could tell you the ten “best” Canadian records from last year would be even more farcical than usual, but I can offer ten that are worth your time and much-competed-for ear.

In no well-thought-out order:

Baby Eagle and the Proud Mothers – Bone Soldiers

Gravelly sing-talk and beautiful noise combine on this richly layered fourth album from Steve Lambke and his band of friends.

Snoqualmie – Snoqualmie

Victoria band Snoqualmie’s debut album seems to contain the very soul of the Pacific Northwest: delicate, beautiful, and ominous.

Cold Specks – I Predict A Graceful Expulsion

This record calls holy holy holy, Al Spx’s earthy voice paradoxically pulling you off the ground and up to heaven on its honey golden threads.

John K Samson – Provincial

Weakerthans frontman Samson goes it alone but maintains his poetic humanism and bittersweet sense of humor.

Hot Panda – Go Outside

A 40-minute sneer you can shake your hips to.

Whitehorse – The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss

Cold wind howl and outlaw swagger on this psych-tinged country rock record from husband-wife duo Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland.

Eamon McGrath – Young Canadians

A crackling thunderstorm of an album: rumbling, tarry darkness shot through with static and the uncanny ability to make your hair stand on end.

Diamond Rings – Free Dimensional

On only his second solo record, the devastatingly stylish and eminently likable John O’Reagan already shows near-complete mastery of the pop song.

Hawk and SteelDanger Road

Nuanced alt-country with the reverberating catchiness of garage pop and a touch of big-rock swagger helmed by former Forestry member Peter Gardner.

Bahamas – Barchords

Honey-tongued troubadour Afie Jurvanen delivers the year’s sexiest breakup album.


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  1. CHEF D #

    Just stumbled upon your blog….I like it alot!
    These 10 bands are badass…
    Thank you for getting them out there….Peace
    Diggin the WhiteHorse

  2. I really dug the Bahamas record. The line “I can tell when you lie, it’s so obvious, a wink of a mannequin’s eye” just makes me feel good to know that smart music is still being made.

    I’m loading up Spotify right now to check out some of the other bands, thanks!


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