2015 Rokky Awards: Favorite Canadian Indie Albums

by Jeffrey Burns on December 27, 2015

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2015 Rokkies: A rundown of our Favorite Indie Albums from the Past Year (Top 15)

It is difficult and perhaps even irrelevent to pick winners when it comes to artistic endeavors, after all, unlike a sporting event music is a subjective and personal experience for the listener, that which can only be judged on a level of individual interpretation.

That being said, The ROKKY AWARDS is an annual selection of Favorite Indie Music Achievements from the past year (See 2014 Rokky Awards), with an emphasis on the independent/unsigned artist whose eager devotion to artistic expression often matches or exceeds that of more celebrated contemporaries. This year end review is essentially comprised of Artists we’ve featured throughout the year, and while it’s simply not possible to have listened to every album released in 2015, I like to think the following selections cover a fairly broad range of styles consistent with an ongoing pursuit of musical discovery, rather than simply a reflection of personal preferences.

For our purposes, the criteria used for this Top 15 of ’15 List is that they be Canadian releases of more than 4 songs, and it’s worth mentioning that some favorites were omitted because of the high profile media exposure already bestowed upon them, for things like the Polaris Prize (Braids, Viet Cong, Bad Bad Not Good & Ghostface Killah) and the Peak Performance Project (Leeroy Stagger, Transit). And suffice it to say, the Canadian indie music well is vast and deep, so why be unnecessarily redundant.

So on that note and without further ado, here is ROKLINE’s Favorite Canadian Albums of 2015 >>

Favorite Album of 2015: Burnt Black Cars by Slow Down Molasses

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Meghann Wright

by Jeffrey Burns on November 23, 2015

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You’ve got Nothin’ To Lose and everything to gain from listening to Meghann Wright’s debut LP … soul music that rocks! |

 

Brooklyn based blues-rocker Meghann Wright released her first full-length album Nothin’ Left To Lose last June on Canadian indie label Blacktop Records, and while I may be late to the party in lavishing praise on this illustrious debut, timelines are irrelevant when it comes to appreciating music as provocative and all-encompassing as this.

Wright’s soul inspired roots rock is a specialty blend that draws parallels to multiple genres and classic influences, as finely-tuned pop music that can shift seamlessly between kicking out the jams and hard-as-folk, soul-baring balladry. The not easily earned Janis Joplin comparison certainly applies in terms of vocal style and swagger, but with a vintage sounding tone all her own (Secrets, Sunshine Through The Rain), accompanied by an interesting and eclectic mix of stylistic forays, all deftly executed and commanded by a voice possessing the sonic boom of iconic predecessors Grace Slick, Ann Wilson, and Melissa Etheridge (Diamonds Blaze, Most Wanted), contrasted in varying degrees by a captivatingly edgy, alt-blues sensibility akin to contemporaries Joan Osbourne (The River) and Elle King (Black Kiss).

 
 

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Steve Albini

by Nathaniel Parrish on November 6, 2015

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Steve Albini is an original, a rebel, someone who still lives and breathes the true spirit of rock n’ roll |

 

Steve Albini, renowned post-hardcore musician (Big Black, Shellac) and studio engineer/producer (Nirvana’s In Utero, Pixies’ Surfer Rosa) gave a fascinating interview recently on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast. The outspoken veteran of america’s alternative music scene has been accused of many things over his long and distinguished career, but shy and conventional have not been among the unsolicited attributes. Difficult? Strongly opinionated, sure.

Well known for his noble and principled stand on refusing points for albums he’s produced (In Utero would have garnered him well over a million dollars), he’s the anti-establishment music guy who’s been at the forefront of seminal, groundbreaking records since the early nineties. The list of artists he’s worked with and albums he’s worked on is impressive, to say the least, as is his unwavering, uncompromising commitment to make good music in spite of an industry seemingly less inclined to do so. He’s not rich, monetarily speaking, instead he has something money can’t buy. Pride in what he does, and respect for the music he’s helped create. The songs are the riches.

“By now all rock bands are wise enough to be suspicious of music industry scum.”

At the 1hr, 27m mark of the WTF interview, he gives a remarkably insightful and articulate answer when asked what he considers to be the biggest albums of his storied career as a record producer [a moniker he’s uncomfortable with] … the crux of his answers were the albums ‘Title TK’ (2002) by Kim Deal, and ‘The Strain’ (2012) by Teeth (an emotionally charged project from terminally-ill New York musician John Grabski), but more than the answers he gave, it is the genuine, heartfelt explanations of why those albums mean so much to him that makes Steve Albini such a compelling and relevant figure.

Integrity is at the core of everything he does and how he views the world, and perhaps it’s that unfiltered honesty combined with an opinionated bravado that makes his interviews some of the most interesting and substantive discussions around music and the music industry, which can also extend to an extra-curricular passion for the intricacies of Poker and Baseball, the latter for which he makes a convincing argument on the grand sport’s superiority over hockey [27m,25s mark of this interview w/ Vish Khanna].

Steve Albini is an original, a rebel, someone who still lives and breathes the spirit of rock n’ roll … and he’s pretty fucking good at making rock records.

Check out his WTF Interview with Marc Maron, as well as his Kreative Kontrol interview(s) with canadian podcaster Vish Khanna, and of course his appearance on the first episode of Dave Grohl’s documentary series Sonic Highways [11:25 mark] which broadcast last year on HBO.

 

The Strain by Teeth
Music – John & Benjamin Grabski / Engineer – Steve Albini
released February 29, 2012

 
 
 

Title TK by Kim Deal (The Breeders)
Recorded by Steve Albini @ Electrical Audio Studios
released May 20, 2002

 
 
 
 
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