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December 30th, 2008
Last week I was trying to fill out a year-end readers’ poll over at Canadian magazine Chart‘s website (I say trying because the poll engine was broken at the time) and it occurred to me that a buttload of great Canadian albums were released in 2008 – enough to merit an entirely separate best albums list.
So here’s a list of purely Canadian albums that didn’t suck in 2008 – I listened to these eight genre-bending albums for days on end, and was fortunate enough to also see every single one of these bands perform at some point (sometimes multiple times!) in the past twelve months. Don’t miss out…
The Stills – Oceans Will Rise
This third album from Montreal’s The Stills is (in my opinion) their very best yet. After the roots-rock heavy (and less successful) Without Feathers alienated some fans, this highly accessible rock record marks the return of a united band with Tim Fletcher back on most vocals. First single Being Here scored heaps of play on radio & television, and they toured the crap out the album throughout the year, including a stint opening for Sam Roberts’ Canadian tour. Best: Rooibos Palm Drinkard, Don’t Talk Down
Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
It seems like this album’s been out for years, if only due to the extreme amount of online and print hype this Toronto duo has been generating since the Alice Practice EP surfaced on the web. From the Madonna t-shirt controversy to gracing the cover of NME and playing countless DJ sets, they were huge before they even officially released anything. The album’s got tender moments (Tell Me What To Swallow) but for the most part it’s ‘nintendocore’ all the way. Best: Reckless, Crimewave
Brian Borcherdt – Coyotes
If you didn’t already know, Brian Borcherdt is the brainchild behind music blog gods Holy Fuck. But he also writes delicate and introspective songs and has a wonderful singing voice that stands out with nothing more than an acoustic guitar to accompany it. His third solo album is no exception. These hauntingly beautiful ballads are perfect for fireside chats and moody commutes. And can we talk about the stunning artwork? It’s been quite a busy year for Brian, what with a Polaris nomination for Holy Fuck’s LP and now this beautiful arrangement… Best: Coyotes, Tiny Mouths, Scout Leader
Plants & Animals – Parc Avenue
Montreal’s Plants & Animals have released a wonderfully unique collection of jams with Parc Avenue – it’s a tender rockout, because there are so many great moments on this album and every song stands out on its own, which is probably why their efforts were acknowledged with a Polaris Prize nomination this year. This debut album garnered rave reviews from multiple publications and topped many critics’ year-end lists. A must-try for anyone who loves straight up rock ‘n roll jams. Best: Faerie Dance, Sea Shanty
Woodhands – Heart Attack
I’ve got so much love for this duo. Woodhands are fabulous live, they’re wonderful people and they make amazing music that makes you want to SHAKE IT – just ask anyone what a Woodhands show is like & they’ll tell you about the time they (literally) tore the shirt off Dan Werb’s back, or the time Paul Banwatt unleashed a torrent of old school rap jams from behind the drumkit. Heart Attack is 10 songs of pure keytar-induced adrenaline that commands your attention. Best: Dancer, Breaking Up
Winter Gloves – About A Girl
I was introduced to Winter Gloves in early 2008 after they tossed a free homemade EP my way while I was busy jamming at a show. What followed was six months of anticipation for the band’s debut, which is a stunning collection of songs from a quartet of supercute bilingual guys from Montreal/Quebec. From rocking the sidestage at Toronto’s VFest to playing at public libraries & cramped bars, Winter Gloves are well-equipped to conquer any venue. Best: Invisible, Factories
Women – Women
It seems impossible that Calgary natives Women haven’t had a name dispute yet. The band struck a chord with the music blogosphere when they released single Black Rice, which landed on P4K’s Top Tracks of 2008 list, but the rest of their debut deserves a listen if only to witness the variety. It’s produced by Chad VanGaalen and showcases the very young band’s budding talent. Once they’re back from touring all of Europe this March, I’m hoping they’ll do a proper Canadian tour. Best: Black Rice, Cameras.
Fucked Up – The Chemistry Of Common Life
Toronto’s Fucked Up have had quite the year (Eye Weekly recaps it here). They performed countless live shows, including SXSW & a shitter-destroying (literally) performance on MTV Live (someone at our staff Halloween party dressed up as Pink Eyes!), graced the cover of NME, and made everyone’s top 10 list in 2008. Well done. Best: Days Of Last, Son The Father
There you have it – my favourite Canadian releases of 2008. What were yours?Tweet