It’s clear from the opening track of Heart of My Own, the follow-up to her Polaris-nominated debut Oh My Darling, that Basia Bulat isn’t content with her previous success – she’s trying to soar to new heights. As a singer whose music too often gets the “sweet” label (which it undoubtedly is), it’s refreshing to hear her really going for it.
The question of whether music can ever be objectively good or bad has plagued musicians and critics alike for decades. Joey Stylez’s debut album, The Blackstar, has finally answered it. His music is absolutely the worst combination of sound I’ve ever heard, and for me, he’s redefined the concept of bad music.
Hawksley Workman is a Toronto singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has released over 10 albums, not including his latest two projects, Meat and Milk. Meat was released January 19, while Milk will be digitally released over the next few months. After listening through the album in its entirety, I decided I wasn’t a fan.
If We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed was Los Campesinos! dimming the lights, then Romance Is Boring is them living in the dark. Billed by the band as “a record about the death and decay of the human body, sex, lost love, mental breakdown, football, and, ultimately, that there probably isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel,” RIB is not the Campesinos! of their Hold On Now, Youngster… debut.
Delicate is Martha and the Muffins’ first album after an 18-year dry spell. The band – considered a top dog in the Canadian New Wave scene during the 1980s – is known for their debut album’s hit single “Echo Beach,” which became an international chart-topper.
With their new album, Contra, Vampire Weekend had big shoes to fill: their own. The huge popularity and cult following amongst university students has raised expectations to almost unmatchable heights. With their self-titled debut album, Vampire Weekend came out with a unique style of music that was upbeat, cheery, and appealing to virtually everyone under 30.
Crazy Heart mixes country charm with a feel-good storyline that stands out from many of Jeff Bridges’ other performances (yes, even in the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski). As an unlikely and enchanting anti-hero, there is no doubt that Bridges is deserving of his recent Golden Globe win for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.
Quickly glancing at the hundreds of year-end “best of” lists, it would appear 2009 was the year of the animal in independent music: The Antlers, Grizzly Bear, Phoenix, Animal Collective, and Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca to name a few. But it would be careless to neglect the equally fantastic (though less hyped) non-animal albums of the past year as well, like St.
Spirit Guides, the full length debut from Jonas Bonnetta under his Evening Hymns moniker, is also the newest release from the Trinity Bellwoods musical community (that features the likes of Timber Timbre and Ohbijou). Fortunately, it’s a good indication of the music coming from West Toronto’s indie music scene.
Heartland is the third and final studio album from renowned Toronto multi-instrumentalist Final Fantasy. Well, not exactly. The band, or rather project, primarily consisting of Owen Pallet (though percussionist Leon Taheny has received credit as well) is retiring its current name – which is conspicuously shared by a videogame franchise – and opting instead for the moniker “Owen Pallet” from now on.