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:
Gravelly sing-talk and beautiful noise combine on this richly layered fourth album from Steve Lambke and his band of friends.
Victoria band Snoqualmie’s debut album seems to contain the very soul of the Pacific Northwest: delicate, beautiful, and ominous.
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.
Weakerthans frontman Samson goes it alone but maintains his poetic humanism and bittersweet sense of humor.
A 40-minute sneer you can shake your hips to.
Cold wind howl and outlaw swagger on this psych-tinged country rock record from husband-wife duo Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland.
A crackling thunderstorm of an album: rumbling, tarry darkness shot through with static and the uncanny ability to make your hair stand on end.
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 Steel – Danger 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.
Honey-tongued troubadour Afie Jurvanen delivers the year’s sexiest breakup album.