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.
With a sound as eclectic as the members and inspirations behind it, Grand Analog is a dub/rock/soul/hip-hop group originally from Winnipeg. When describing the band’s style, front man Odario Williams says, “It’s openness, and it’s freedom, and it is our version of hip-hop.