The 2019 Track of the Year

Charly Bliss, “Chatroom” Like so many great rock and pop songs, Charly Bliss’s gloriously hooky “Chatroom” is rooted in dark subject matter. According to singer/guitarist Eva Hendricks, the song was written in the wake of being sexually assaulted, in which blinding rage steadily morphs into empowering joy. Featuring verses that seethe with anger (“Everybody knows […]

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The Best Tracks of 2019, #4

4. Weyes Blood, “Everyday” “True love is making a comeback,” sings Natalie Mering on the pretty single “Everyday”. “For only half because the rest just feel bad.” That dynamic between the happy and the miserable drives the song, which sounds so much like a Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition that it feels familiar as soon as […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #5

5. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising (Sub Pop) Singer-songwriter Natalie Mering had been building toward something big over the course of her first three albums under the Weyes Blood moniker, but in spite of whatever expectations people might have had, nothing could have prepared them for the blindsiding grandeur of Titanic Rising. A combination of […]

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The Best Tracks of 2019, #5

5. Sleater-Kinney, “Hurry on Home” For a band as confrontational as Sleater-Kinney, they never really opened up as much as they did on the first single from their daring album The Center Won’t Hold. On the direct, minimalist-yet-noisy “Hurry on Home”, Carrie Brownstein exudes self-confidence, singing, “You know I’m dress down-able, uptown-able, hair grab-able, grand […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #7

7. Sleater-Kinney, The Center Won’t Hold (Mom + Pop) One of the most admirable characteristics of venerable Portland trio Sleater-Kinney has been the fearlessness they’ve displayed for more than two decades. They confront, they agitate, and they continually defy expectations, which, ironically, is exactly what shook many in their 40s out of their middle-aged stupor […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #8

8. Charly Bliss, Young Enough (Barsuk) How great was the second half of 2019? Well, back at the end of June, Charly Bliss’s fabulous second album was my favourite of the year so far, and now it’s at number eight. Don’t let that diminish Young Enough, though, but it was easily the biggest surprise of […]

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The Best Tracks of 2019, #11

  11. Charly Bliss, “Capacity” “I used to think that I should be good at everything,” sings Eva Hendricks, “Now I know I was wrong.” Life lessons, man. Charly Bliss confronted their collective early-20s misery on their stupendous second album, but instead of whining about it, Hendricks and crew take a mature approach. Yes, the […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #12

12. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Infest the Rats’ Nest (Flightless) Metal nerds hate genre tourists. Hate them. The whole “culture”, if you want to call it that, is so afraid of outside influences and musicians who dabble in metal that it’s paranoiac. According to many, you have to be all-in, a lifer, a […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #13

13. Chelsea Wolfe, Birth of Violence (Sargent House) Initially a strange, black metal-referencing curiosity at the beginning of the decade, Chelsea Wolfe has metamorphosed into a genre-bending artist who has been able to attract audiences from a wide spectrum of music. Being such a clingy crowd, the metal scene particularly took an obsessive shine to […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #15

15. Pup, Morbid Stuff (Little Dipper) Back in 2016 when I was a member of the Polaris Music Prize Grand Jury, I was required to immerse myself in all ten short list finalists, as well as create a detailed endorsement and defense of one assigned title. At the time the Toronto punk band Pup was […]

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The Best Tracks of 2019, #16

16. BA Johnston, “We’re All Going To Jail (Except Pete, He’s Gonna Die)” BA Johnston is the Stompin’ Tom Connors for skids. He sings about post-millennial Canadiana: GST cheques, regional beer, No Frills, and discounted bacon, usually shirtless, and more often than not, rolling around on the floor of your neighbourhood pub. For all his […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #17

17. Louise Burns, Portraits (Light Organ) This past decade Louise Burns has steadily established herself as one of the better singer-songwriters in Western Canada. Sadly, when you’re one of the better singer-songwriters in Western Canada, it’s not exactly easy to get the tastemakers in Toronto to notice. It’s not fair that Burns should be tagged […]

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The Best Tracks of 2019, #17

17. Strange Breed, “Closer” If I was to pick one Canadian band to break out in the next year or two, it’d be Vancouver’s Strange Breed. This all-female, all-queer band channel Veruca Salt, Hole, and Sleater-Kinney on their excellent debut album Permanence. They are confrontational, political, and raucous, but also capable of a wicked hook, […]

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The Best Albums of 2018, #7

7. Hubert Lenoir, Darlène (Simone) One of the weirdest things about Canada is how the province of Quebec has its own popular culture, different from any other francophone nation, and wildly different from English Canada. It’s a kooky little culture bubble that exists in its own insular universe, and only on the rarest of occasions […]

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