This album is one of the finest singer-songwriter endeavours of all time-it’s a desert island must. Each track on Closing Time is like an Edward Hopper vignette that haunts you long after you’ve finished listening. (You can also purchase this album at Amazon.ca)
Laurel Sprengelmeyer is blessed with a sparrow of a voice: When the Montreal-based artist sings, the notes flutter and dart brilliantly. That talent is notable enough, but it’s the vividly detailed narratives-short stories, almost-in her songs that make this record so captivating.
Premium whiskey sits for years in a carefully selected drum to achieve the right flavour. Americana sweetheart Welch’s latest album was eight years in the making-her hickory-smoked harmonies and warm writing deserve a spot on the shelf beside the finest of bourbons.
The southern Ontario alt-country troubadours have the skinniest legs in Canadian indie music-and a knack for writing songs that fit instantly, like a pair of worn-in jeans. A terrific choice for rambling road trips.
Thanks to a neat trick known as circular breathing, Montreal-based saxophonist Stetson is able to extend long passages of notes far beyond what you’d imagine possible. But it’s not just the technical display of virtuosity that makes this album so remarkable. It’s the mesmerizing sea of undulating sound, occasionally overlaid with spoken word (courtesy of Laurie Anderson) or ethereal vocals (courtesy of Shara Worden). It’s all strangely familiar, yet unlike anything else.
The daughter of “Snowbird” creator Gene MacLellan, this P.E.I.-raised singer inherited her father’s gift for elegant, straightforward songwriting. On her fourth album, she’s confident enough to cover-beautifully-MacLellan senior’s famous tune.
Come for the bracing, kinetic rock propelled by a buzzing barrage of synthesizers and jittery beats, and stay for the impressionistic lyrics delivered with gruff sweetness by Dan Boeckner.
Annie Clark-the astonishingly talented woman who makes up St. Vincent-is the owner of a cool, laserlike voice that slices with surgical precision through layers of filigreed guitar feedback. One of the year’s best albums.
Made up of members of the Tuareg tribe from Saharan North Africa, Tinariwen has fans in high places, several of whom appear on this hypnotically good album. The real standout here is the incredible guitar work by the band’s core members, but guest appearances by folks such as TV On the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone are pretty great, too.
Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, a real-life couple, have long had each other’s backs on their respective solo projects, but this is the pair’s first proper collaboration. It’s audible that Whitehorse is a labour of love: a twang-laced cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” has replaced the ominous quality of the original with a winsome, late-summer sweetness.