Westward we go, to the third part of our year-end roundup, focusing on releases this year from Ontario. As with Québec, so many great albums from which to choose! And, if you have suggestions of albums we haven’t listed and you think we should, tweet us @greatdkwonder and tell us the album, artist, and province, and we’ll check them out!
(There’s a Spotify playlist at the end of the article if you want to sample each album, or you can listen to full albums at the links provided. If you like any of the music, please 1) save the album to your Spotify account, and 2) consider buying the album and supporting the artist.)
Aerialists, Group Manoeuvre
This terrific and unique album grabs the listener from the very beginning with its entrancing blend of traditional folk, pop, and a hint of rock. Two songs with the ethereal vocals of Emily Millard are the icing on a very lovely cake.
The oh-so-welcome return of pop band Alvvays three years after their debut is a delight. This is a perfect album for those annoyingly long commutes where you need something to lift your spirits – but you may just want to stay in the car longer to hear the whole record.
Shawna Caspi, Forest Fire
As far as music releases are concerned, September was a veritable feast of great music, and this is a marvelous album that perhaps got overlooked a bit. Gorgeous songs, lovely singing – Shawna is definitely an artist who we hope to hear live in 2018.
Tanika Charles, Soul Run
This awesomely marvelous album has been on our radar since it came out earlier this year. The project hearkens back to the best soul albums of the 1960s and 1970s, with a thoroughly modern lyrical twist. Highly recommended.
Shawn William Clarke, Topaz
Shawn’s album came out the same day as Shawna Caspi’s (see what I mean? SOOO many great albums out at the same time), and we were fortunate to have the chance to interview him about it. This is also a terrific example of wonderful songwriting and fabulous singing that really should get more attention than it has so far.
Elliott BROOD, Ghost Gardens
Any release from this awesome trio is a cause for celebration, but EB totally knocked it out of the park with this one. (Read our interview with them about the project.) Put this one on the turntable and crank it up – I guarantee you’ll be up and moving.
Piper Hayes, Piper & Carson
This splendid album, just released in December, is an enchanting listen, as well as a thoughtful one. Terrific songs that also encourage the listener to rethink their principles (without preaching) – fabulous.
The Lesters, The Promise
I very much hope this debut EP from Tory Cassis, Murray Foster, and Jeff Ulster is the beginning of a long collaboration – it’s an utter delight and my one complaint is that it leaves the listener wanting more. Truly enjoyable. (Here is our interview with the band.)
Oh Susanna, A Girl in Teen City
This album, a reflection on her teenage years in Vancouver, ranks up there with Oh Susanna’s best. Delightful, thoughtful, always fascinating – one of my favorite albums this year. (We were privileged to get to talk to Oh Susanna about this project.)
Rural Alberta Advantage, The Wild
It was a long three-year wait since RAA’s last album, and this album was totally worth the wait. We’d missed their particular brand of folk rock and this is an awesome album, beginning to end.
The Sadies, Northern Passages
It’s possible that the fact we’ve seen The Sadies live five times in 2017 is a dead giveaway that we’re big fans. But objectively speaking, this is a splendid album, full of the masterful fretwork, unpredictable rhythms, and thoughtful lyrics at which they always excel.
Skydiggers, Warmth of the Sun
Another welcome return from a well-established band – this project has the terrific snap, crackle, and pop that characterizes the group’s best work. “Push Comes to Shove” and “Needle and Thread” are two of my favorite songs on the album but every song is excellent. (Band interview here.)
Trent Severn, Portage
A new release from Trent Severn is always a cause for celebration, and this fantastic trio released their latest album last summer. Their particular style of Canadiana delivered in wrappings of terrific songwriting and superb musicianship is out in full force on this album. And really, how can you NOT sing along to “Eh Canada”?
The Weather Station, The Weather Station
We’ve been fans of The Weather Station for several years now, and this marvelous album (which is justifiably getting a lot of year-end press) is a terrific step forward musically. A little more rock, a little less folk, and lyrically splendid (as indeed all of her work is), this is a wonderful album and well worth your listen if you’re not yet familiar with The Weather Station.
Winona Wilde, Wasted Time
Winona Wilde is this year’s Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award recipient (from Folk Music Ontario) and this album is a perfect illustration of why. Songs like “The Night That Joel Got Shot” and “Chick Singer” are lyrically sharp and musically terrific. This album is the complete opposite of wasted time – it will be time well spent, I promise. Highly recommended. (Artist interview here.)
Listen to a song from each album above in our Spotify playlist: