Peer Review: The Best Music of 2015

2015 has always been premembered as the year we all get hoverboards and self-lacing shoes. Instead we got Islamophobia, Star Wars, and more of Miley Cyrus expressing her orifices. A mixed bag in general, but inarguably not our most brilliant moment this decade; a harbinger of our downward spiral, and the seemingly inevitable rise of President Trump in 2016. So what has brought us to this? If music is the articulation of our cultural zeitgeist, then what does the soundtrack to 2015 sound like? Rather than impose on you our tastes in music, we asked some of our favourite East Coast musicians about their favourite songs to come out this year by other East Coast musicians and this is what we got.

Old School by Floodland (Halifax, NS)

“‘Old School’ by Floodland is my favourite local track from the past year. Two and a half minutes of pure alt-rock glory; loaded with hooks, grit, punch, guitarmonies and a super catchy chorus. – Mike Ryan (The Town Heroes)

Oubliette by Ochre Acres (Halifax, NS)

Oubliette’ of ‘Feeling, In Full’ by Ochre Acres I feel like I first listened to Ochre Acres in late September or October. Off the bat there was so much to enjoy and admire about this band. They really know how to sustain a current movement and motion within a collection of songs. Kudos! The biggest takeaway personally about this band are their interesting arrangements; no complacency, everything matters. I love it when bands find ways to intertwine their instruments melodically and rhythmically to give the impression there are more instruments playing than they actually are. The song ‘Oubliette’ is an easy favourite and the first one I can remember singing in my head and then out loud after listening feeling, in full  over and over again. I haven’t had the chance to see them live yet, can’t wait… Cedric Noel

Tell Me Once by Kat McLevey (St John’s, NFLD)

Our favourite song that came out this year is Kat McLevey’s single, ‘Tell Me Once’ from her debut album, ‘Evergrown’. We first met Kat in St. John’s, NFLD during East Coast Music Week and were completely captivated during her showcase at The Ship! Her sound is both young and wise, full of innocence and depth…all of this duality creates an amazing texture and beauty that permeates through the whole record. Tomato/Tomato

Whaleskin’s Remix of Proof Of You by TEEM (Charlottetown, PEI)

My East Coast jam of the year has to be rising star PEI DJ and producer Whaleskin’s remix of the late 2014 indie-rock smash ‘Proof of You’ by Charlottetown four-piece, TEEM. This sunny remix took an undeniable pop hit, driven by Brittany Banks’ arresting vocals, and propelled it into a show-stopping dance anthem. The remixed ‘Proof Of You’ punches right out of the gate with a steady groove and tastefully burns into a summer party jam. Bonus points for releasing this during the worst East Coast winter in modern memory; I’m sure I’ll draw on this summery gem again in a few short weeks.” – Fraser McCallum (Raccoon Bandit)

Regarde Moi by Les Hotesses d’Hilaire (Moncton, NB)

“My pick would probably be Les Hotesses d’Hilaire’s ‘Regarde Moi’. I don’t speak a lick of French and I love this band. It truly proves that music is universal no matter what language you speak. I had first seen Les Hotesses d’Hilaire perform at the ECMA in St. John’s and had fallen in love with their live show. With a larger than life front man in Serge Brideau and a Cracker Jack band of drums, bass, guitar and an eclectic amount of keyboard, the group has proven to have a versatile sound that brings a throwback of ‘Floydian’ soundscapes with Jim Morrison like monologues, yet keeps everything rocking with a frantic pace and urgency of ticking time bomb. Ecoute-les!”Matt Hender (Long Distance Runners)

Tokyo  by The Monday Nights (St John’s, NFLD)

I love this song by my friends The Monday Nights. The lyrics are inspired and heartfelt and the melody is pretty classic. What else do you need? David Picco

Hell West & Crooked by Keith Hallett (Fredericton, NB)

“‘I lost all of my money, I got nothing to eat. I made a bunch of promises I just can’t keep…but that’s fine” “Well I head down to the pawn shop and grab me a knife. If you’re messing with my momma I’m bound to take your life” If there are more New Brunswick lyrics I don’t know what they are. You believe Keith, he is never anyone but Keith and this record shows this extremely well. When I listen to this record I am forced into self -reflection, in a way I’m not when I see Keith live, which makes this a true Blues record. Kill Chicago

Philadelphia by Brookside Mall (Fredericton, NB)

The first time I heard this track was on CHSR’s ‘Instant Breakfast’ with Tim Rayne. It bowled me over with its catchiness. This was also the first time I’d ever heard Brendan Magee (Fredericton, NB) sing. It was so great to hear him shouting out the melody with such conviction. The way he sings and shapes his words leaves their meaning vague and open for interpretation in the best possible way. Despite being relatively new to the music making game, Magee cooks ups a fantastic songwriting curve ball here. After a couple of verses and choruses, he takes us up a mountain with a wordless pounding piano passage only to slide us down the other side with a fantastic bridge that ends the song so abruptly we are basically thrown from a cliff. Thankfully, the decay of the reverb on the last of his great melody can be still be heard as we fall.”Grand Theft Bus

Ottawa by Stegosaurus (Saint John, NB)

 We played a show with Stegosaurus this summer in Saint John and I was fist pumping through their whole set. These dudes (who are impossibly young, I might add) write super melodic, anthemic guitar songs that just crush you. ‘Ottawa’ is a standout among standouts on their appropriately titled record, ‘Pummeed’. It’s also heartening to see some really rad stuff coming from my hometown of SJ these days. I think it’s only a matter of time before this band blows up. Folks better watch out.Darryl Smith (beauts)

Truth Of My Existence by Hum and Hollow (Fredericton, NB)

I really like Hum and Hollow because they put so much expression into what they do. Alex’s guitar is really melodic and then switches up into the nice little reggae feel in the chorus. Brooke puts so much emotion into her vocal performance as well as thought into the poetry she writes. I have enjoyed watching them grow as a band and am excited to see what 2016 brings for them.” Mike Humble (Earthbound Trio)

It’s On Fire by Grand Theft Bus (Fredericton, NB)

“Grand Theft Bus has been a source of musical inspiration to me for over 10 years. The fact that they can incorporate many genres while still remaining true to their unique sound is something that doesn’t happen often these days. It’s on fire is a heartfelt tune with a poppy groove that reminds me why I’ve remained a huge fan of the band for all these years. Great band and a great song.” Stephen Lewis

Didn’t Back Then by Jordan Musycyn (Cape Breton Island, NS)

“‘Didn’t Back Then’ by Jordan Musycsyn (Cape Breton Island, NS), ‘Inspired’ by Jordan Musycsyn, or ‘GST’ by Jordan Musycsyn, ‘Young Wanda’ by Jordan Musycsyn is pretty good too. Who else put out stuff this year? I think Jordan Musycsyn put out out a full length album as well. It’s called ‘The Pitch’, he’s probably the best thing I’ve heard this year. 100%”. Slowcoaster

Feels Good by Young Satan In Love (Fredericton, NB)

Everything about Young Satan in Love is great. They’re so much fun to follow and it seems like no matter how much attention I pay, there’s still something I’m missing. Marc’s lyrics are some of my favourite ever and this song is a strong one. ‘I offered you lift, and you kicked me in the gift’ is a perfect line. The back-up vocals are on-point, it’s catchy and original, and the build at the end is something you can only get with YSIL. I highly recommend giving this entire album multiple listens and reading the pdf that comes with the download.” Brydon Crain (Motherhood)

Caught Between Us by Little You Little Me (Saint John, NB)

I was in Saint John for a visit shortly after the test pressing of IWTTDIT showed up and Gord and I listened to it on the stereo at Backstreet.  At one point Gord cranked it so we could hear the depth of the vinyl and then the power went out in all of the uptown.  Maybe it was a coincidence, but let’s be real, it was the majesty of rock.  LYLM are a killer band and the new album is great and this song in particular hits me in the feels.  It sounds like it’s soundtracking a revelation in your young life, which it probably is right now.  It’s a concise and beautiful song.  I’m also gonna sneak in my second fave song I heard from the East Coast this year which was ‘Tonight, Tomorrow pt. 2’ by Mable Wheeler from the FPR sampler in Freddy.  Check that shit out too.”David R. Elliot

Still Waking Up by Rain Over St. Ambrose (Yarmouth, NS)

“Seriously, why isn’t this song all over the radio? Rain Over St. Ambrose is one of the best bands in the Maritimes and their new album, ‘Still Waking Up’, is nothing short of incredible. Recorded at The Old Confidence Lodge in Riverport, NS and produced by Wintersleep’s Tim D’Eon, the album is huge-sounding, hard-hitting, and teeming with blistering guitars and undeniable earworms. ‘Broken Love’ is all these things and more. From the reverb-soaked delay-driven guitar licks, to the sing-along chorus, to the fog-laden sub-bass break down, this song is a powerhouse single and is guaranteed to get stuck in your head for days. Need more convincing as to why you should listen to this A+ track by our label mates? Hand-claps, spooky synths, and Jennah Barry on backup vocals should do the trick.”Trevor Murphy (Quiet Parade)