Published Apr 03, 2020Each day may feel like it lasts an eternity, but we're finally a quarter of the way through 2020. With the sun shining and the weather warming up, it's not a bad time to look at the Canadian albums that kicked the year off with a bang, and kept us entertained even as March appeared to drag on, and on, and on. From big names like the Weeknd and Caribou to upstarts like Boniface and Jessie Reyez, here are 16 must-hear Canadian albums from winter 2020.
The Snake That Eats Itself
If you're familiar with Aquarian (and you really should be), you'd be expecting hard-hitting bass-heavy techno, but with The Snake That Eats Itself, he offers far more than that. There's techno for sure, yet it's deftly blended with beastly jungle breaks which give way to ambient swells, IDM ripples, and downright majestic cinematic moments.
(Forward Music Group)
Jennah Barry's Holiday, arriving eight years after her debut Young Men, was worth the wait. The breezy folk and soft-rock of Holiday has some of the year's warmest and most inviting soundscapes but while you're getting cozy, Barry is corralling her anxious, sometimes heartbreaking, thoughts. The contrast makes Holiday a stunner.
Boniface's debut album strikes a perfect balance between grandeur and intimacy. Towering anthems like "Keeping Up" and "Oh My God" have gigantic, MGMT-sized choruses, while the verses are peppered with tender lyrical details: listening to late-night CBC radio, or using crutches after a broken leg in middle school. It will make your heart swell one moment and break it the next.
Decades into his career as one of electronic music's most adventurous songsmiths, no one would've faulted Dan Snaith for playing it safe for a change. But it's not in his nature — Suddenly, his latest outing as Caribou, is brash and jittery, mashing up straightforward house grooves with glitched-out samples and angelic vocals for another all-star entry in Snaith's stellar catalogue.
What's Tonight to Eternity
Experimental noise music has rarely sounded as beautiful — and '50s throwback pop has rarely sounded as harsh — as when performed by Cindy Lee. Former Women singer Patrick Flegel pushes the nine songs on What's Here to Eternity to their sonic limits, drowning each track in haunted reverb and ugly dissonance. And yet, there's no mistaking the AM radio hooks of "One Second to Toe the Line" or the new wave beauty of "Lucifer Stand."
Have We Met
Each Destroyer album showcases new layers to Dan Bejar's shapeshifting songwriting, and Have We Met is no different. Bejar's latest adventure sets '80s new wave synths and tinny drum machines as the backdrop for his enigmatic, abstract vocals, but just because it's the first Destroyer album you could feasibly dance to doesn't make it any less unsettling.
U kin B the Sun
(Arts & Crafts)
In February, we called Frazey Ford's U kin B the Sun, her first record in six years, "an antidote to hopelessness," and, as the year unfolds, the album's remedial quality has only grown stronger. Across the eleven soulful tracks, Ford sings of joy, love and perseverance, and the resulting album is a perpetually bright light.
Hut Hut Hut
The debut album from Winnipeggers Hut Hut appears to be from an alternate reality where Born Ruffians signing to Warp sparked a sequel to the '00s indie rock boom that was just as potent. With brilliant rock hooks and silly effects in equal measure, each of Hut Hut Hut's angular rock tracks is cerebral, technical and fun as hell.