2013 Rokky Awards: Favorite Songs and Albums Of The Past Year

by Jeffrey Burns on December 26, 2013

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2013 Rokkies: Series of articles highlighting our favorite indie songs, albums, videos and emerging artists of 2013 |

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 very subjective and personal experience for the listener, and in its finer form can really only be judged on a level of individual interpretation.

That being said, the facetiously named ROKKY AWARDS is our annual series of articles wherein we pick our Favorite Indie Music Achievements of the past year, and what a year it’s been. While many in the mainstream media were hitching their horses to the Arcade Fire bandwagon, there were some other extraordinary recordings that danced across an increasingly diverse indie-music spectrum, and they included: the progressive, magical renderings of THE DARCYS, KATE ROGERS BAND, BRAIDS, ROYAL CANOE, THE BELLE GAME and YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN; the reshaped-new-wave-intrigue of UNCUT, PAPERMAPS, and DECADES; the post-punk-sensory-assault of PUP, THE BALCONIES, and PUBLIC ANIMAL; the alternative-folk-splendor of REUBEN & THE DARK, FOLLY & THE HUNTER, and MEGAN BONNELL; the grunge-inspired-alt-rock of VAST ROBOT ARMIES, WAR BABY, and SOLIDS; and alas, an Unsigned Calgary-based trio who won both our hearts and Top Album honors.

This is our third article in the 2013 Rokky Awards series and highlights our Favorite Songs and Albums of the past year. To see our previous two installments, check out Favorite Int’l Albums and Music Videos.

NOTE: Last year’s Rokky Award for Favorite Album was shared (yes, it was too close to call) by artists who went on to win actual awards: RAH RAH’s Dead Poet’s Society won ‘Best Independent Album’ at the 2013 WCMA’s, and EMMA-LEE’s Backseat Heroine was awarded an INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARD for ‘Best Adult Contemporary Album’.

And now, without further ado, here is ROKLINE’S Favorite Songs And Albums of 2013 …


FAVORITE SONGS (Top 15)

* Singles released on their own or in advance of an Album, or as part of a compilation.

The Single “One” from YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN is a song you can’t resist, One that resonates on so many levels as alternative art-rock that’s primal, provocative, majestic, and compelling to the core. This is a band Andy Warhol would likely be enamored with, a natural confluence of art & culture radiating transformative music in the style of an avant-garde creative phenomenon, perhaps not unlike the The Velvet Underground 40 years ago. Certainly an enticing gateway song to the group’s awe-inspiring sophomore album ‘Uzu’. (See Favorite Albums further below)

  1. YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN“One” | Paper Bag Records

  2. THE BOX TIGER – “Knives” | Nice Friends Records
  3. IN-FLIGHT SAFETY“Destroy” | Night Danger records
  4. THE BALCONIES – “The Slo” | Coalition Records
  5. STUCK ON PLANET EARTH – “Fast Forward” | Unsigned
  6. BRAIDS – “In Kind” | Flemish Eye Records
  7. PUP – “Reservoir” | Royal Mountain Records
  8. REUBEN AND THE DARK“Like A Rolling Stone” | Arts & Crafts
  9. BESNARD LAKES – “People Of The Sticks” | Jagjaguwar/Outside Music
  10. PUBLIC ANIMAL – “Vault Doors” | Yeah Right! Records
  11. MONSTER TRUCK – ‘Sweet Mountain River’ | Dine Alone Records
  12. LOUISE BURNS – “Emeralds Shatter” | Light Organ Records
  13. SOLIDS – “Cold Hands” | Fat Possum Records
  14. RUNNING RED LIGHTS – “Mulberry Love” | Unsigned
  15. DOG DAY – “Wasted” | Fundog Records

FAVORITE ALBUMS (Top 20)

Sun Grenades & Grenadine Skies by Calgary Prog-Folk trio RALEIGH is a record to be admired as both a grand LP experience and an audacious challenge to diminishing attention spans in this modern age of Twitter, Vine, and digital downloads. It is a sophisticated and seemingly infinite journey of musical exploration, one to be fully appreciated in it’s entirety the way albums used to be. This genre-bending fusion of Folk, Jazz, prog-rock and orchestral-pop is a wondrous and eclectic mix of horns, strings, piano and percussion, modestly punctuated with electric guitar and all blending seamlessly together into something sonically bold and masterful that isn’t technically overbearing. With so much substance in their overall sound, the songs are dynamically rich, subtly complex, and perpetually changing in shape and direction, all finessed thoroughly in a way that is inviting to the senses rather than overwhelming. A superlative sophomore effort from this unassuming trio, one that’s almost certain to be tapped for a 2014 Polaris Music Prize nomination.

  1. RALEIGHSun Grenades & Grenadine Skies | UNSIGNED

  2. NOTE: If there were a category for most under-rated albums of the year, it would have to include KATE ROGERS’ Repeat Repeat, a superbly inventive amalgamation of Folk, Pop and Rock (Fock) made all the more captivating by insanely accomplished vocal chops; ELEPHANT STONE’s Self-titled sophomore release, one that graduates to a more robust and definitive rendering of their hindie-rock/psychedelic sound (complete with sitar solos), hitting the mark Brian Jonestown Massacre once aspired to; THE DARCYS Warring, which has received some relatively modest national attention and critical acclaim, but do yourself a favor and delve headlong into the creative genius revealed once more on the 3rd album from this country’s most unique sounding and innovative rock band.
  3. KATE ROGERS BAND – ‘Repeat Repeat’ | UNSIGNED
  4. THE DARCYS – ‘Warring’ | Arts & Crafts
  5. ELEPHANT STONE -‘S/T’ | Hidden Pony Records
  6. YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN – ‘UZU’ | Paper Bag Records
  7. PAPER MAPS – ‘Darker Lights’ | Sparks Music
  8. THE MARK INSIDE – ‘Dark Hearts Can Radiate White Light’ | UNSIGNED
  9. BRAIDS – ‘Flourish // Perish‘ | Flemish Eye Records
  10. UNCUT – ‘Infinite Repeats’ | UNSIGNED
  11. THE ALMIGHTY RHOMBUS – ‘Lucid Living’ | UNSIGNED
  12. THE BELLE GAME – ‘Ritual Tradition Habit’ | Boompa (CAN)
  13. VAST ROBOT ARMIES – ‘Goodnight Myopia’ | UNSIGNED
  14. ROYAL CANOE – ‘Today We’re Believers’ | Nevado Music
  15. DRAGON FLI EMPIRE – ‘Mission Statement’ | Makebelieve Records
  16. MEGAN BONNELL – ‘Hunt + Chase’ | Nevado Music
  17. FOLLY & THE HUNTER – ‘Tragic Care’ | Outside Music
  18. DECADES – ‘S/T’ | UNSIGNED
  19. WAR BABY – ‘Jesus Horse’ | Bummer Records
  20. SUNSHINE – ‘S/T’ | UNSIGNED
  21. THE HIGHEST ORDER – ‘S/T’ | Idée Fixe Records

 

Between December 13th and the 30th we’re publishing the Second Annual Rokky Awards as a series of articles featuring our Favorite Songs, Albums, Videos, Emerging Artists, and Int’l Albums of 2013, meticulously chosen from the ranks of Canada’s thriving Indie Music scene (except for Int’l Albums of course), and no easy task once you realize how vast and remarkable the annual bounty has become.

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