Our love for The National, Nick Cave and Arcade Fire is
almost unconditional. Although some albums marked our hearts differently this year. Here are some more. All hail to musicians that rock for the fun of it.
AroarA – In the Pines
In the Pines inspires nothing less than an enchanted journey through unknown pastures. All the elements of spellbounding are there; a myriad of charming strings, the sounds of dreamy electronica and heavy drums. The quietude, the exuberance, the soft and scabrous melodies, the highs and lows of skilled vocalists. Partners in marriage, Ariel Engle and Andrew Whiteman recorded a LP which will undoubtedly catch the attention if merely by its variances. Their rendition of Alice Notley‘s book of poems of the same name, shoots them up there with all the great Canadian story tellers, nothing less. But the technique of recording makes it all the more magical: All of the equipment used in the making dates before 1975.
The love and intensity they share on stage makes it not only one of the most beautifully crafted records of the year but one of the most interesting live performance. One that AHDTR writers were lucky enough to enjoy together.
Eons – Arctic Radio
Ever prolific Canadian musician Matt Cully took time away from collaborations with friends and being part of badass folk collective Bruce Peninsula to craft a collection of heartfelt country songs. An extensive LP that could make you rethink your love (or hate) affair with Canadian folk. They are songs seemingly trapped in a personal set true to a one-man-and-guitar act, true to traditional folk motifs. While the songs of Arctic Radio are all his work, Matt joined forces with Bruce Peninsula bandmate Misha Bower to deliver them on record which warms up the icy cold feel of emotions exposed like we would do around a bonfire with friends. The passionate texts take you elsewhere; out of the body and solely into the mind where the reflection of the self is fed by their delicate voices. ”We are the young, we are not the world”.
Arctic Radio; yet another collection of tunes that have been first played to me live, in an intimate setting.
Gianna Lauren – On Personhood
Being first introduced to Gianna Lauren’s music during a intimate live performance, in a tiny wooden attic on a chilly spring night can only be a definitive moment. 2013 had started roughly on a personal level and what I found within On Personhood is a dose of comfort very much needed.
They are songs attentively written; songs of self reflection, on dealing with one another, on emotions brought by others, on personhood. The LP, her third, consists of indie rock tunes enriched with luxurious notes of electric guitar and extensively lyrical material. Semi heavy, semi soft. Gianna’s voice and lyrics act as a balm on wounds, a reminder that shitty things fucking happen, that feeling shitty is allowed, that it comes and goes and that you are not the only one. It charms, it opens to wonder, it almost commands the body to let go. So it became a regular listen.
cousins / Construction & Destruction – Split
Nothing beats winner sweet perks from a cool blog like Quick Before it Melts and raddest of rad label NoYes Records. Unless maybe the actual perk being this fantastically grunge mudge pudge of indie poppy garage songs mounted on a royal blue vinyl. With this split, Nova Scotia based and coolest duos cousins and Construction & Destruction combined efforts to bring to the world a sheer example of what maritimers do best: rock to shreds. And they do it in similar ways; slightly obscure tone-setting intros, elephantine guitar lines, experiments with guitars and vocals that get you to close your eyes and willingly immerse. And it scratches and screeches and becomes heavier and heavier. It’s fucking cool.
Note: AHDTR writers had their first date at a cousins’ gig in Brighton UK. Swoon all over this fact.
A Grave with No Name – Whirlpool
2013 marked the release of Alex Shields third LP with his solo project A Grave With No Name. The album, being our favourite of his work so far, is a beautifully crafted experiment of the parts of pop music that we rarely see mixed together. Where Mountain Debris (2009) and Lower (2011) had more of a solitary feel to them, Whirlpool is a bundle of songs with hazy guitar riffs and lazy vocals; they are songs of boredom where collaborators share a huge part, proof that sharing boring times with friends makes boredom enjoyable. The LP opens with an line of raw sensibility, which stays present throughout the record. Aurora being the fist track, feature the vocals of Alanna McArdle(Ides, Joanna Gruesome) and shows how collaborations work well for Shields. But its wholeness is what makes this record a definitive piece for AGWNN; coming back to it over and over and listening to it in it’s entirety because it flows naturally.
Whirlpool shows sensibility and carelessness like a heart in the right place and just enough time for what really matters.
Paula – Relaxed Fit
Stalwart figure of Montreal-based label Arbutus Records, David Carriere followed the 2012 success he had with band TOPS to release Relaxed Fit, the debut effort of solo project Paula. The LP is heavy with electronic samples that seem straight out of the catchiest tunes of the 70’s and 80’s, yet all the contemporary feel of poppy punk music is there. From speedy synth riffs to mellow drums, all ground of party pop is covered. His texts, while seemingly light hearted are unequivocally sincere. It had me turn up the volume and bust-a-move more than once. And wait for the cool 90s hip hop/dance pop mash duo with Cadence Weapon. Delectably sexy.
It’s the ultimate party rocking (oh yeah) album of 2013. Period.