Another year has passed, and our annual bounty of music has been replenished. And by ‘replenished,’ we really mean ‘who can remember everything we listened to this year.’ Seriously, it’s a lot to keep track of. There are government funded agencies who keep lists of these things. So, we called in the experts once again to let us know what they thought was the best music of 2017. Have a gander.
Floodland – All Out
I personally like ‘All Out’ on Floodland’s ‘Static Walls’ album because it’s just got a nice upbeat vibe, it’s short and sweet and gets the job done in under 3 minutes. [It has] solid harmonies and really interesting guitar parts in the choruses that I think grab you just as much as the vocal melody. Both compliment each other super well and neither are too intrusive. The outro is also deadly with all the vocals overlapping one another. It’s simply impossible to not enjoy this tune from beginning to end. Check the album out..like All Out. Its extremely solid from beginning to end.” (Bruce Gillis, The Town Heroes)
Jenn Grant – Lion With Me
“2017 was a hurricane: locally, nationally, globally, cosmically, and all the monsters came out. Thankfully, heroes revealed themselves everywhere: truth-tellers and light-seekers. My most frequent shelter was Jenn Grant’s Lion With Me, from ‘Paradise’.
It starts as a soft, harmonic, folky slow jam; it’s a gently fingerpicked bed of guitar strings laid down for Jenn and Danny’s honey-soaked harmonies to rest on. Suddenly, everything falls away and rich, bassy piano notes throw open the door, kick you in the heart and stake you in place, firmly on the ground. Jenn and Danny’s voices coast into the empty air, then, just as you settle into floating, Michael Belyea’s percussion kicks in and transforms the rest of the song into a pulsing, anthemic, hopeful wave.
It’s a beautiful poem, Lion With Me, a love song and a promise that metamorphoses in the most satisfying ways. Every time I needed it (which, this year, was a lot), it picked me up wherever I was and left me off somewhere better. What more could I ask for?” (Stewart Legere)
Thomé Young – Pasty
Thomé Young, A.K.A Pascal Lejeune , has put out his 5th album in 2017. I was already a fan, but yet again Thomé has surpassed himself with Pasty.
Thomé Young has a certain aesthetic with his writing, painting a beautiful short story with his words in his unique way. He brings a musicality to his vocabulary that’s close to his Acadian roots and to me it is like candy for my ears.
This is the album I listened to most this autumn. It’s the perfect antidote for seasonal blues. The melodies are simple but are a perfect pairing with his lyrics. It’s like a good cigar with a good old bottle of rum. It has a Cajun J.J Cale feel to it. Mike Trask did an amazing job with the producing. Chris Bealiveau did great as the sound engineer, lead guitar and everything else he played. And I can’t forget the beautiful voice of Katrine Noel from Les Hay Babies, who sings backing vocals. And the song, Patsy, is like the cherry on top of the perfect sundae. Even if you don’t understand French, it’s worth the listen.” (Serge Brideau, Les Hotesses d’Hilaire)
Sisters – Get Off my Back
“Sisters are a rockin’ droney, psychedelic two-piece band based in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, made up of Connor Bowlan and Connor Nabuurs. They released an eleven track album on July 20th, 2017 that is pretty experimental in the way the songs have multiple different tempos, feel changes and parts that are tasteful and very enjoyable. One song that really sticks out for me personally is track 8, ‘Get Off my Back’.
The beginning is laid back and the intensity builds and then drops to a dissonant section that comes in very unexpected. It then projects into an upbeat droney guitar section with a tight, uplifting drum groove. Lead guitar comes in near the end that is very Parquet Courts-esque, which is amazing, and the song ends abruptly. They have a fun, upbeat feel. The lyricism is thought provoking and the instrumentation and structure of their songs are intensely unique and interesting. Check out the rest of their album!” (Luke Pound, Stabbing Joy)
Jon McKiel – Unknown Source
“The guitar riff that opens ‘Unknown Source’ and continues throughout the song is classic Jon McKiel—unique, somewhat disjointed and just scrappy enough. His playing and singing is stripped back and exposed, highlighting his abilities as a singer and forcing you to pay attention to the lyrics. Subtle percussion from Aaron Mangle and Shawn Dicey, on conga/kick and shaker respectively, add to the sparsity and propel the song into the first verse.
“Dressed as the ones from before, no matter in the way. No we can not lay still, there is another part of it.” sings McKiel. He says the song is about “repeating past mistakes, about activism, and how much work there is to be done…”
Jay Crocker’s phased-out mini guitar arrives and guides us between verses and eventually into a West-African-influenced lead melody that elevates the song through to the end.
Recorded live to tape in rural Crousetown, Nova Scotia, ‘Unknown Source’ is the last song on the A side of McKiel’s third LP, Memorial Ten Count. Clocking in at 2:11, the song not only stands out on this record but also in his entire discography.
“I was thinking about the unknown as something to be close to, because the reward is probably greater.” says McKiel. In the second verse, he sings “How many men we taught don’t have enough to say. There is an untrue power, there is another way.”
“I suggest in the song that the people who try to hold power over others are nervous right now, and that we’re all nervous, and that we need to overthrow our own fears and the current way.”
The last line of the song, “There can be no reward for those too far from the unknown,” feels as timely as anything right now and makes you wish more people were like McKiel—directing artistic energy towards saying something real.” (Kyle Cunjak, The Olympic Symphonium)
S.H.R.I.M.P. Ring – Activate Your Function
“I stumbled across S.H.R.I.M.P. (Space-Hosted Rotating Inertial Manned Platform) Ring on a Soundcloud rampage back in the spring and they subsequently became my gateway drug into the rest of the Maritime underground electro weirdos and undercover disco freaks (I’m looking at you, New Brunswick).
I wholeheartedly admit that I have damaged my eardrums from blasting ‘Activate Your Function’ so hard. This apocalyptic space-goth jam thumps epically goofy lyrics and kooky yet nuanced synth layers, featuring an out-of-control keytar solo and combined with pure comedic conviction… It’s basically a dance-floor fantasy—reminiscent of the live S.H.R.I.M.P. Ring experience (spoiler alert: if you’re not dancing, you are the one with the problem).” (Russell Louder)
Richard Laviolette – My Grandma’s More Punk (Than Most Punks I Know)
“Taking The Long Way Home probably wasn’t written or even recorded on the East coast, but Richard Laviolette lives here now so it’s got to count.
I remember hearing his last country record All Your Raw Materials and it pretty much changed my life. It was the first ‘new’ country record I heard that wasn’t stadium country music and it blew my mind. I didn’t even know people played old time country music anymore. It had a feeling of being at a kitchen party on the East Coast and heartfelt real lyrics that made me feel at home.
When I read he released his new record Taking the Long Way Home I was nervous it wouldn’t live up to his previous record. It did, and it’s amazing. If I HAD to pick one track off the album it would have to be ‘My Grandma’s More Punk (Than Most Punks I Know). It steps away from some of the more serious aspects of the record and adds somewhat of a comic relief. I think it’s something we can all relate to. There is a new wave of poser punks who are out and about who think it’s all about how they dress. His Grandma however is Punk in the sense that she uses what she has and really doesn’t care about trends, where she buys her groceries or what she wears.
The album may not have been written or recorded in New Brunswick, but Laviolette has recently moved here, so he’s ours now and that will have to be good enough.” (Josh Bravener – The Hypochondriacs)
Floodland – Coriolis
“I have always thought of Floodland as a clever balance between the cerebral and the unbridled. With Coriolis, as the title connotes,
those same energies find themselves lined up and spinning masterfully in one accord.” (Corey Hachey, FM Berlin)
Duo Concertante – The River Is Within Us
“[I’m] not their peer, but I have a pretty good idea of how talented these two musicians are and how dedicated they are to their art. [They are an] amazing violin-piano duo performing 5 pieces composed for them by five Canadians: Chan Ka Nin, Denis Gougen, Alice Ho, Jocelyn Morlock and Andrew Staniland. All these pieces are amazing, but I suggest you try the title track, ‘Incarnation,’ first. What a creative, exciting, crazy piece of music!” (Chris Buckley, SJSQ & SNB)
Deep Fryer – Jeremy
“There’s something revitalizing about punk music. The genre itself was born out of DIY spaces and communities and became so popular at a point that even your mom tapped her toes to the Clash and thought Iggy Pop was a dreamy hunk of burnin’ love. But without the mass appeal and market support, what does punk look like in a small, poor province? Focus your attention to Fredericton’s Deep Fryer and you will find your answer.
With their newest EP, Rockin’ Right Hard, the band exposes their roots and kicks you in the teeth. The first track “Jeremy”—centered on the infamous Jeremy Roenick/Patrick Roy beef (those are sports players of the hockey variety)—is a simple, uniformed approach at an introduction. It’s chaotic while keeping a consistent progression through the song. This serves as a great muse for the vocalist, who is taking full advantage of the driving force behind him. This EP delivers on that traditional hardcore sound, but never takes itself too seriously. I enjoyed it and I hope you do/did, too!” (Drew Sweet, Subtle)
Mauno – Other Bad
“I swear I can hear it. The slow-moving, tire-swing melody brings these sounds (music) always together. The ever changing harmonic spokes of spinning bike tires take my head and turn it, eyes closed, toward this ultra every beauty and immerse band of always music yet simultaneous calm and inspired.”(Kurtis Eugene)
Construction & Destruction – Running Glass
“We toured with Construction & Destruction in the fall and I had the rose-tinted guitar hook from ‘Running Glass’ running through the back of my head all day, every day. This beautiful earworm is occasionally punctuated by fragments of lyrics: ‘Little things can die very suddenly’ and ‘Salt air and the smell of sunscreen on every baby.’ I love when Construction & Destruction scream and bash and crash and frighten, but they also have a remarkable ability to capture tiny, fragile moments and then let them go.” (Mathias Kom, The Burning Hell)
Dance Movie – An Inelegant Fade
“The best song of 2017? According to me? There’s a pretty long list to be honest. There’s MAJE’s, Ciara, Confessions by Quake & neon dreams, Back to the Bottom by Port Cities Gabrielle Papillon came out with an album that was amazing, Floodland came out with album that’s pretty dear to me as well. … But I think my favourite song of 2017 is by Dance Movie. A song called “An inelegant Fade”.
The first time I heard this song was at the band’s record release for Pierce. I was standing in the middle of the seahorse dance floor, happy as a clam, because Tara Thorne is my hero. The songs opens up with lyrics like “you think that you’re a secret, but really you’re a window, with the shades up, you fuck up.” and really I couldn’t relate more to those words. Seriously get into her lyrics someday, they’re poetic, dark and perfectly crafted (imo).
This song has since become my number one streamed song on spotify, and it should probably be yours too!” (Dana Beeler, Hello Delaware)
The Hypochondriacs – Hung Up And Hungover
“Fredericton’s The Hypochondriacs released an amazing full-length this year (In 3/4) and it’s tough to pick just one, but I have to choose Hung Up and Hungover. It’s the happiest sad song you’ll ever shuffle around to while simultaneously trying to find the Advil and delete your ex’s number.” (Heather Narduzzi, The Galpines)
Quake Matthews – Confessions
“You can hear this catchy tune on the airwaves all across the country – from a small truck stop washroom in rural Saskatchewan to every couple hours on the radio in Halifax. Quake’s been a staple in the Eastern Canada hip hop scene for years, hats off to making a big splash coast to coast!” (Pineo & Loeb)
The Brood – Munchies
“One of my favorite songs (and bands) to come out in my recent memory. I remember hearing it the first time live. Catchy and funny lyrics, a well written song, and the most danceable breakdown you have ever heard. In my opinion these guys fuse the best parts of 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s music with a touch of todays flavor. I love music and food and that is what this song is all about! It is funky! It is catchy! It is tasty! You have to get out and see them!” (Josh McKinley, Jinx The Cat)
Rose Cousins – Chosen
“The song that spoke to me the most this year was ‘Chosen’ off Natural Conclusion, Rose Cousins’ new record. Her music means a lot to me. Her ability to tap into a genuinely profound sadness has meant that I find myself going back to it at those times when I am sad and I need comfort. For me that’s a rare thing to find.
There is calmness and sadness and a sort of admission of defeat and exhaustion in the music and the lyrics of this song that I think we all sometimes feel, and that I can relate to as an artist and a human too. And I like that this song doesn’t dictate its intention, I think those are the best songs: the songs that can mean something very specific and relatable to one person and can mean something entirely different to the next person and be equally meaningful and true. We don’t know what it means to the person who wrote it and I think that is liberating because it leaves the listener free to have it be their own life’s accompaniment.
I think this is one of those songs that is absorbed in a way that is entirely personal, and I think it’s something Rose does brilliantly.” (Gabrielle Papillon)