Given the great year in Canadian music generally, it would be dead easy to focus on the bigger artists working on Ontario (and there were some terrific releases from them) but instead, we prefer to focus on some musicians who may be slightly less familiar in the hope that if you haven’t yet heard of them, you’ll give them a try.
Katie Bulley – Coffee House
We reviewed Katie Bulley’s latest release, “Coffee House,” a few weeks ago, and it remains one of our favorite releases to come out of Ontario this year.
Dan Edmonds – Ladies on the Corner
This thoroughly retro-sounding project from Dan Edmonds, formerly of Harlan Pepper, is so fascinatingly different that I hear something new every time I listen to it. The album’s opening track, “To Be That Needle,” features Edmonds’ vocals recorded as though they are coming through an AM radio, in contrast to the rest of the audio – which makes for a really unique sound indeed. “Can’t Stop Thinking” is another delight. Highly recommended.
Lowlands – Erie
I first heard this album streamed prior to its release, and knew immediately that this would be one of my favorites this year. From the first strains of banjo and Gordon Auld’s powerful singing on the opening track of “Wind Blows Back,” I was hooked. This is a blues/folk/rock tour de force; if you get the chance to hear them live as we did, grab it – you won’t be sorry.
Mayhemingways – Hunter St Blues
This duo from Peterborough first came to our attention when Joel Plaskett announced they would be the opening act for his 2017 tour. This, the group’s first full-length release, has ramped up our enthusiasm for seeing them live. They live up to the ‘folk’ part of their genre (if indeed they can be so narrowly categorized) not only with instrumentation, but also by tackling tough issues like economic hardship experienced by smaller towns (“End Up This Way”). We can’t wait to hear them live in April.
Nighttime in Kansas – Solstice
Having grown up in Kansas, my attention will always be drawn to mentions of it. Hopefully someday I’ll learn why Nighttime in Kansas chose this particular name for their band, but in the meantime I’ll continue to enjoy this great EP. The opening track, “Talking Awaste,” is a dreamy yet rocking jewel, while “New Wave,” the closing track, has stuck in my head all weekend. I look forward to hearing what else this young band does in the near future.
Os Tropies – The Soil
We had the opportunity to interview Amy Medvick of Os Tropies about this terrific release last fall. Since its release, it’s steadily climbed the international charts and gained well-deserved acclaim. If you have not yet heard this project, and you’re willing to embark on a bit of a sonic adventure, I highly recommend “The Soil.” It’s a thoughtful, deep project that is by turns bouncy and reflective, and will reward the listener richly.
Tomi Swick – The Yukon Motel
We’re eagerly anticipating seeing Tomi Swick with Laura Cole in January, and this album is one reason why. (We also barely missed hearing him at last summer’s Harvest Picnic, and this album is one reason we’re annoyed at ourselves for that.) Swick’s awesome bluesy vocals and guitar are on full show in this tremendously enjoyable project.
Ken Yates – Huntsville
We interviewed Ken Yates about this terrific project last fall. I’m still highly enamored of this collection of delicate, lovely songs, especially “Help Is On the Way” and “Too Many Windows.” If you enjoy great songwriting and terrific guitar playing, you’ll love this album.