Now that 2018 is officially 'in the can' so to speak, we can look back at the year that was. A selection of CFCR Hosts and Staff took some time to revisit their favourite music of last year, so read on and maybe you'll discover your new favourite album or band. There are lots of album streaming links & videos to watch, so click to your heart's content!
**Warning: Some of the content below may be offensive to some folks, so reader discretion is advised.
Host of RadioCraze! (Fridays, 7:30-9pm)
1. Dawes: Passwords (ATO)
2. Damien Jurado: The Horizon Just Laughed (Secretly Canadian)
3. Jacco Gardener: Somnium (Polyvinyl)
4. Jennifer Castle: Angels of Death (Paradise Of Bachelors)
5. The Milk Carton Kids: All The Things I Did And All The Things I Didn’t Do (ANTI-)
6. Still Corners: Slow Air (Sub Pop/Wrecking Light)
7. Foxwarren: Foxwarren (Arts & Crafts/ANTI-)
8. Jeff Tweedy: Warm (dBpm)
9. Khruangbin: Con Todo El Mundo (Dead Oceans/Night Time Stories)
10. Rae Spoon: bodiesofwater (Coax)
CFCR Production Manager & Host of Prairie To Pine (Wednesdays, 7-7:30pm)
Maxine Funke: Silk (Feeding Tube)
The long-overdue and immensely rewarding third album from the criminally underrated New Zealand folk singer. Hushed and unadorned singing paired with intricate guitar playing and some of today’s finest songwriting. And even a few unexpected electronic sketches!
Drinks: Hippo Lite (Drag City)
Surprisingly overlooked sophomore effort from the polymath pair of Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley (aka White Fence). Genuinely odd—yet endlessly catchy—songs that seem to have been constructed like a puzzle, not written.
Sarah Louise: Deeper Woods (Thrill Jockey)
The sound of an unfathomably great solo guitar player finding her voice, Deeper Woods tangles—or untangles—the roots of Appalachian folk with more typically exploratory music. Propulsive, droning, and hypnotic—truly stunning modern folk music.
Wet Tuna: Livin' The Die (Feeding Tube)
Seriously zonked-out debut from the duo of Matt “MV” Valentine and Pat “P.G. Six” Gubler. One part cosmic, one part rural, Livin' The Die rambles, flows, and has no shortage of solos of some sort. The groove reigns eternal.
Mary Lattimore: Hundreds Of Days (Ghostly)
Lattimore's third proper solo album, Hundreds of Days is as beautiful, healing, and exploratory as the very best ambient music. Another bold leap forward from the now Los Angeles-based harp explorer.
Host of Born Under Punches (Saturdays, 9-10pm)
1. Elysia Crampton: Elysia Crampton (Break World)
2. Aisha Devi: DNA Feelings (Houndstooth)
3. Lotic: Power (Tri Angle)
4. 33EMYBW: Golem (SVB KVLT)
5. Klein: cc (Self-Released)
6. Jon Hassell: Listening To Pictures (Ndeya)
7. serpentwithfeet: soil (Tri Angle)
8. Kelly Moran: Ultraviolet (Warp)
9. Yoshinori Hayashi: Ambivalence (Smalltown Supersound)
10. Julia Holter: Aviary (Domino)
Host of Couleurs Cafe (Saturdays, 7-8:30pm (Alternating))
1. Clara Luciani: Sainte-Victoire (Initial Artist Services)
Anthems for your reconstituted self after a break-up. Carried by the deep, velvety voice of Clara Luciani.
C'est comme si j'étais devenue un monstre d'amour / Mes jambes flanchent, mon cœur est lourd / Je finirai par m'étouffer dans tout ce velours / J'ai beau hurlé, mes cris sont sourds.
(As though I've become, a monster of love / My legs flinching, my heavy heart / All of this velvet smothers / Binding my sorrow with silence.)
(Eng. translation by Zoé Fortier)
2. Flavien Berger: Contre-Temps (A+LSO)
A glorious follow-up to Leviathan, one of Inrocks' top 30 albums of the year in 2015 in France. Considering French people don't listen or produce French-language music anymore (ha jk, but not really), this is quite a feat. Berger has been described as creating 'déambulations kraftwerkiennes - Kraftwerkian Wanderings', this is dreamy stuff you want to stay awake for.
3. Hubert Lenoir: Darlène (Simone Records)
Hubert Lenoir is Québec's bad boy of the moment. Nominated for this year's Polaris Prize, his music is catchy but still eclectic and edgy. If you saw his Polaris Prize awards ceremony performance, you already know that he is what we call in French 'a bête de scène,' a beast of the stage.
4. Mclean: Une dernière fois (JKB)
With Une dernière fois (One Last Time) this Franco-Ontarian musician has produced an album that is full of wonderment. Mclean creates rich layers that reveal soft edges, eerie mumblings and nostalgic violins.
5. Angèle: Brol (Angèle VL Records)
The Lily Allen of French Belgian pop explores less than instagrameable subjects with a colourful pop sound and aesthetic. Her playful videos reveal the tongue-and-cheek approach of her writing style. Angèle discusses themes like jealousy, and the cult of the rich and famous in the age of social media.
Host of Industrial Militia (Saturdays, 12-2am (Sunday AM))
1. Caustic: American Carrion (Negative Gain Productions)
2. Strvngers: Amor / Noir (Negative Gain Productions)
3. Amelia Arsenic: Queen of Risk (Glitch Mode Recordings)
4. The Prodigy: No Tourists (BMG)
5. Studio-X: Wrong (Alfa Matrix)
6. Ashbury Heights: The Victorian Wallflowers (Out of Line Music )
7. Statiqbloom: Infinite Spectre (Translation Loss)
8. Circuito Cerrado: Furious Basslines (Alfa Matrix)
9. ohGr: Tricks (PledgeMusic)
10. Conformco: controlled.altered.deleted (Glitch Mode Recordings)
Host of So Many Roads (Mondays, 10am-12pm (Alternating))
Michael Rault: It’s a New Day Tonight (Wick Records)
I struggle to find modern music that can hold a flame to that of the 1920s-70s that I want to share on So Many Roads. It’s a New Day Tonight has the spirit of George Harrison, some T-Rex funk, but a whole new experience. And it’s Canadian. I love it.
Host of Nightwaves (Tuesdays, 9-11pm (Alternating))
Akitsa: Credo (Profound Lore/Hospital Productions)
Quebec’s Akitsa have spent nearly 20 years devastating the world of extreme metal, and Credo is the pinnacle of their work thus far. Tortured screams prevail over songs that range from blackened punk to total despairing chaos.
Binker and Moses: Alive in the East? (Gearbox)
Find out where the next generation in jazz is moving toward with “Alive in the East?”. The saxophone and drums duo invite several collaborators, including UK legend Evan Parker, to participate in the beautiful and exploratory tradition of spiritual jazz laid out by master players like Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, and Albert Ayler.
Brötzmann / Leigh: Sparrow Nights (Trost)
This cerebral duo began collaborating a few years ago, and seem to be a match made in heaven. Heather Leigh’s minimal and thoughtful pedal steel playing creates a perfect padding for free jazz legend Peter Brötzmann to improvise overtop, playing wildly on a wide range of instruments including bass and contra-alto clarinet, and alto, tenor and bass saxophone.
Sarah Davachi: Let Night Come On Bells End The Day (Recital)
Without a doubt, Canadians are taking over as rock stars of the ambient world. Lately, Tim Hecker has been the one to win audiences around the globe, but 2018 has solidified Sarah Davachi as the new leader in a genre where subtlety, melody and control are crafted together expertly to create something truly stunning.
The Love-Birds: In The Lover’s Corner (Trouble in Mind)
Suckered by a good hook? San Francisco power pop newcomers The Love-Birds are supplying sugary riffs bolstered by jangly 12-string guitars, reliable rhythms, and all the other elements that would put them adjacent to the greats of the genre.
Maxwell Miller: From The Groove Box (Self-released)
Saskatoon ex-pat producer Maxwell Miller has been busy scoring soundtracks and composing for other artists after drawing attention to his adventurous remixes during his time in electro-house duo No Big Deal. Now focusing on a solo endeavour, Miller returns with a fresh outlook on hip hop, soul and jazz all combined for a chill and feel-good time.
Rae Morris: Someone Out There (Atlantic)
Though many pop artists cite Björk as a major influence, few dare to go anywhere near her production or unique vocal inflections. But not Rae Morris, the British singer and songwriter, who uses those inflections bravely alongside warm synths, sharp electronic beats and catchy melodies to bring a confident and experimental work to the pop world.
S.H.I.T.: What Do You Stand For? (Iron Lung/La Vida Es Un Mus)
Buzzsaw guitars and maniacal vocals make S.H.I.T.’s violent punk feel fresh and alive while relying on the rich tradition of 80’s-style hardcore motifs. Blown-out production and pure aggression have earned nods from around the globe for the Canadian punks.
Tomb Mold: Manor of Infinite Forms (20 Buck Spin)
In less than 3 years, Tomb Mold have gone from a modest studio-only project to one of the most talked about names in modern death metal. The Toronto group delivers technical prowess, guttural bellows and unrelenting heaviness on their second full-length, with another one promised to be on the way!
TRAITRS : Butcher’s Coin (Pleasance)
Total cold wave perfection, TRAITRS have managed to harness the best parts of The Cure, Sisters of Mercy and The Chameleons, and make a faultless contribution to goth music. No new ground is broken, and in this case, none need be.
CFCR Music Director & Host of RCMP (Fridays, 4-5pm)
King Tuff: The Other (Sub Pop)
Host of Fake Headlines (Wednesdays, 7:30-9pm)
1. The Beths: Future Me Hates Me (Carpark)
2. Wild Nothing: Indigo (Captured Tracks)
3. Lucy Dacus: Historian (Matador)
4. Phantasic Ferniture: Phantasic Ferniture (Polyvinyl)
5. Iceage: Beyondless (Matador)
6. Hop Along: Bark Your Head Off, Dog (Saddle Creek)
7. Jeff Rosenstock: Post- (Polyvinyl)
8. Middle Kids: Lost Friends (Domino) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy9lw7O2L9Q
9. Snail Mail: Lush (Matador)
10. Camp Cope: How To Socialize And Make Friends (Run for Cover) https://www.youtube.com/watch?
THE JAY OF SPADES
CFCR Program Director & Host of Pirate Radio (Thursdays, 7:30-9pm (Alternating))
Dunbarrow: II (Riding Easy)
Norway's Dunbarrow describes their music as “Heavy rock inspired by the early doom of the 70’s,” and that pretty much nails it. The recordings are warm-yet-foreboding, and the music is dark & heavy, but doesn’t rely on distortion to set the mood. I'm not really doing number rankings for my list, but this is easily my A-#1 most favourite, and most listened to album of 2018.
(**Also check out the Brown Acid compilations, and archival release by Spiny Normen on Riding Easy Records!)
Snake River: Tread On To The Unknown You (Self-Released)
On Tread On To The Unknown You, Regina's Snake River have honed their craft of twangy psychedelia to a fine point, with the signature reverb-bathed guitar, and tightly grooving rhythms being joined by additional vocals & instrumentation from an array of guests (check out the saxophone on "McKruski IV: No One Is Listening"). Snake River has figured out how to write an up-tempo, catchy country psych-rock tune, but they still know how to jam one out.
Ancient Shapes: Silent Rave (You’ve Changed)
Another offering from Daniel Romano’s punk-wave project Ancient Shapes, Silent Rave is once again chock full of urgent, volatile rock n’ roll, and the pace of the album feels like Romano is always trying to get to the next song, but in a good way.
Here Lies Man: You Will Know Nothing (Riding Easy)
LA’s Here Lies Man has been another of my recent revelations courtesy of Riding Easy Records. Featuring Antibalas members Marcos Garcia & (son of Herbie Mann!) Geoff Mann, HLM's heavy, afrobeat-inspired rock n’ roll is anchored by the smokingly catchy guitar riffs, warbling key tones, and time signature-exploring drums. You Will Know Nothing follows their 2017 self-titled album, with a thicker sound, but the same nasty grooves!
Shirley & The Pyramids: Pure Pain (Self-Released)
What started as the solo project of then-Wizards member Aron Zacharias (first it was called Chinese Pyramids, then Surely, I Come Quickly, now Shirley & The Pyramids!) has become one of my favourite bands in Saskatoon. On Pure Pain, Shirley’s sound has expanded to a sonic wall of noisy, droney, shoegazing delight, with just enough melodic payoffs to keep your toes tapping. Standout tracks include the vaguely Zissou soundtrack-infused “Western Star,” and album closer “Pyramodal Soul,” which is one of my favourite tunes of 2018.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Gumboot Soup (Flightless/ATO)
OK, this one is a bit of a cheat. Gumboot Soup was technically released on New Year’s Eve, 2017, to cap off a very prolific year. But, the CD copy we received at CFCR is dated as 2018, so I’m counting it. To be honest, I don’t like the first song on this album (the sugar-laced, kind of hokey ode to casinos, “Beginner’s Luck”), but from there, it’s pretty outstanding. From jazzy pop to freaky jams to downright heavy rock, Gumboot offers KGATLW fans a taste of all they have to offer, and while 2017 may have left some of us a little burnt out, I for one am champing at the bit to see what they’re going to do next.
The Lavender Flu: Mow The Glass (In The Red)
This one seemed to slip under a lot of radars, maybe because it’s not your typical In The Red Records-type of album (or maybe it's becasue they don't have a website or Facebook page, or because the album isn't streaming on any official FREE channels! Unofficial album stream here). This Portland-via-California-via-Portland music collective is a little all over the sonic map, slinging everything from Black Lips-y garage rock to paisley psych pop earworms, with just a little bit of twang & So-Cal-a-la-Ty-Segall, but it all works together in a sweet, little package.
Wand: Perfume EP (Drag City)
After releasing a handful of amazing albums in 2014-15, Wand frontman Cory Hanson blew things up for their 2017 release Plum, by getting rid of the rest of the band and assembling a cast of So-Cal cohorts. The results were also amazing, but decidedly different. On 2017 release Plum, the band went from a ‘garage rock’ entity, to a much more explorative, genre-bending one. On the Perfume EP, Cory & crew keep going with this new, eclectic vision, and while it may not be as cohesive as pre-Plum releases, the EP plays like a mixtape of Hanson’s stream-of-consciousness, and it’s really quite something.
Dumb: Seeing Green (Mint)
Vancouver's Dumb deftly drifts between new wave and punk/post-punk territory on Seeing Green, with equal parts messy discord, and catchy rhythms, and just the right amount of snarky sarcasm. Are they Dumb, or clever? You be the judge.