2014 Rokkies: highlighting Rokline’s favorite indie albums, music videos and emerging artists of 2014 |
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 facetiously named ROKKY AWARDS is an annual selection of Favorite Indie Music Achievements from the past year (See 2013 Rokky Awards), with an emphasis on the independent/unsigned artist whose eager devotion to artistic expression often outshines that of their more famous contemporaries. This year-end review is essentially comprised of Artists we’ve been featuring throughout the year, and while it’s simply not possible to have listened to every bit of music released in 2014, 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 my personal preferences. Now having said that, in the course of assembling my choices I began to see that this could easily have been a list comprised almost entirely of artists from my own stomping ground, Alberta, thus implying some level of favoritism (which I assure you is not the case). It seems Calgary and Edmonton have become quite the spawning grounds for indie music of the highest order, and if this is news to you, I suggest checking out Alberta’s inaugural Peak Performance Project and it’s Top 12 Finalists for 2014.
But enough prefacing ……. without further ado, here is ROKLINE’S Favorite Canadian Albums of 2014 >>
FAVORITE CANADIAN ALBUMS (Top 20 LP’s)
- The Written Years – Self-titled Debut | Independent
Each song is irresistably provocative in mining matters of the heart, with epiphanous lyrics, mood wrenching melodies, and the profoundly expressive vocals of Wade Ouellet, all gloriously coalescing to capture the emotional shadows of awakening, longing, and loss. There’s not a disingenuous moment to be had, with heartfelt, flashback-inducing scenarios and melancholic imagery inspired by a fertile framework of lyrics that has seemingly sprouted it’s own unique sonic environment, one that sucks the listener into another time and place for 37 minutes.
The relative ambiguity of the storytelling, equipped with such fiercely emotive detailing, fuels the imagination and personalizes each song for the listener as it unfolds, intensified all the more when reading the accompanying lyrics. The Written Years could serve as a soundtrack for anyone who’s experienced love and heartache, in one form or another, and not often is the emotional journey expressed as eloquently or as indelibly as this.
This album is so masterfully substantive and complete sounding for a debut offering, one wonders if it has anything to do with the advantage of a six-year gestation period, however once you’re immersed in this deeply introspective, hallmark indie-rock album, the deeper the appreciation goes for what can be accomplished when music is the result of a naturally occurring creative process. The Written Years is music everyone needs to hear, and a band I hope we hear a lot more from …
- 36? – ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ | Independent
If your usual musical diet consists of generic song structures glistening w/ melodic hooks, then you may have to give this album consecutive listens to unravel and fully appreciate it’s brilliance. This is what alternative rock should sound like, in the creatively ambitious vein of artists like The Flaming Lips, Broken Social Scene, and The New Pornographers, and it is exceptional in that respect. Any time music can intrigue, captivate, and challenge the listener, it’s more than a good thing, its the best thing. And on top of that, these lads hail from my hometown of Calgary .. Yeeehaaaa! Or is it Yaaahoooo ? In any case, cowtown continues to rival big music meccas like Vancouver, Toronto & Montreal by steadily rolling out one markedly innovative artist after another: Chad VanGaalen, Braids, Raleigh, Viet Cong, 36? .. Hooaaahh!!
- Miss Quincy & The Showdown – ‘Roadside Recovery’ | Independent
The guitar slinging, stage-blazing style of Miss Quincy and her all-girl ensemble of blues-rock warriors is probably best summed up in the band’s Bio page: “You won’t find them singing pretty pages out of their diaries, this is down and dirty roots & blues and straight up rock n’ roll.” For me this album recalls one of the greatest blues-infused rock records in the annals of Canadian music, Big Sugar’s 1993 debut ‘Five Hundred Pounds’, and in their own right, the roadhouse swagger of Miss Quincy & The Showdown’s debut LP is a welcome reprise, bolstered by an intoxicating badass-female-rockers allure that’s flooring audiences all over the continent, and beyond. Lucinda Williams would likely be a fan.
- MOON – ‘Moon’ | Bruised Tongue Records
- Slates – ‘Taiga’ | New Damage Records
- THE WET SECRETS – ‘Free Candy’ | Independent
- OCTOBERMAN – ‘What More What More’ | saved by vinyl
- PUBLIC ANIMAL – ‘Habitat Animal’ | Yeah Right! Records
- SCENIC ROUTE TO ALASKA – ‘Warrington’ | Independent
- THE NAYSAYERS – ‘Hope’ | Independent
- DEARLY BELOVED – ‘Enduro’ | EOne Music (Canada)
- JPNSGRLS – ‘Circulation’ | Light Organ Records
- Running Red Lights – ‘There’s A Bluebird In My Heart’ | Independent
- DAVENPORT – ‘Applying Strategies to Matters of the Heart’ | Indie
- FARAWAY NEIGHBORS – ‘I May Never Find Home’ | Independent
- HALFCUT – ‘From Dungeons To Rooftops’ | Nocturne Records
- DEAD SOFT – ‘Dead Soft’ | Independent
- NAPALMPOM – ‘The Unconditional Love Of Napalmpom’ | Teenage Rampage Records
- THE BALCONIES – ‘Fast Motions’ | Coalition Records
- Trevor James & The Perfect Gentlemen – ‘Huron’ | Blacktop Records
- Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
- Buck 65 – Neverlove
- Kevin Drew – Darlings
- Alvvays – Alvvays
- REUBEN AND THE DARK – Funeral Sky
- MOBINA GALORE – Cities Away
- Chad VanGaalen – Shrink Dust
- In-Flight Safety – Conversationalist
- ELEPHANT STONE – Three Poisons
- Rural Alberta Advantage – Mended With Gold
- Cousins – The Halls Of Wickwire
- Stella Ella Ola – I THINK WE SHOULD HANG OUT ALL THE TIME
- Indigo Joseph – Collage
- The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer – A Real Fine Mess
- Shimmering Stars – Bedrooms of the Nation
- Landfork – Trust
- Bella Clava – Medicine For Melancholy
- Monomyth – Saturnalia Regalia!
- Skye Wallace – Living Parts
- SOLIDS – Blame Confusion
- BASS LIONS – Bass Lions