by Sean Warkentine
You know how the new year begins on January 1st? And you also know how the previous year ends at the same time that the new year begins? Well, what the hell is with all the so-called “best of the year” lists appearing in early December? Here at CKXU, before we come up with any old year-end list we let those favorites sink in –really let them fester– until we’re good and ready to reopen up those wounds from the previous year. Now that this list can truly be a list of the albums of 2015, we hope that you will learn something and that you’ll come poke your head in at the station to see what else you can discover. For more Top 10 lists from CKXU’s own programmers and volunteers, check online at www.ckxu.com. Without further ado, presenting in alphabetical order, the top 25 albums received by mail during the full 2015-calendar year, according to the CKXU Music Director (click on the bands’ names to buy their music!):
Adolyne – Of Ash, Of Shit, Of Shame (Independent release)
Saskatoon, SK – Brutal mathy metalcore. If you like Today is the Day, Blood Brothers, or Dillinger Escape Plan, then this.
Basic Nature – Circles and Lines (Sundowning Sound Recordings)
Winnipeg, MB – Beautiful shoegaze by two ladies who definitely wear their My Bloody Valentine on their sleeve.
Birch Barks – abcc (Independent release)
Lethbridge, AB – Local singer-songwriting duo creating lovely music with a penchant for simplicity, allure, and unusual noisy touches throughout.
Bodies that Matter – Glorify! Glorify! Glorify! (Optical Sounds)
Toronto, ON – Ever listen to Neu or Can and think, “This could drone on just a touch more…?” Here you are.
Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld – Never Were the Way She Was (Constellation Records)
Montreal, QC – Headline of any respectable music news organization last April 2015: “Extended Technique Saxophonist Collaborates with Extended Technique Violinist, Command Extended Beauty”
Del Bel – Del Bel (Missed Connection Records)
Toronto, ON – If Portishead were not an electronic group, but rather a very well-produced 6pc band, they could have a swing at being Del Bel. Del Bel would give them a run for their money though.
Dri Hiev – Contravirtual EP (Shaking Box Music)
Calgary, AB – Alberta’s most apathetic and entertaining industrial-punk noise-rock weirdos’ first official EP release. Electronic beats, manic vocals, atmospheric guitars, just what you thought the music scene needed next.
Empress Of – Me (Terrible Records)
New York, NY, USA – Experimental pop album of light beats, dirty synths, and Björk-esque musical adventure without all the costume changes.
Faith Healer – Cosmic Troubles (Telephone Explosion Records)
Edmonton, AB – A modern indie/garage rock take on the French-style of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg crooning.
Fist City – Everything is a Mess (Transgressive Records)
Lethbridge, AB – The local quartet released their most raw and in-your-face album yet, with all the usual melodic smarts, swagger, and moan. Produced by Ben Greenberg (producer of The Men, etc. and member of Hubble, Pygmy Shrews, etc.).
Ibeyi – Ibeyi (XL Recordings)
Paris, France – Electronic production added to Afro-Caribbean beats with sounds of traditional soul, gospel hymns, and traditionals by French/Cuban twins sung in English and Yoruba. This is delicious cultural mash!
JOOJ – JOOJ (Last Gang Records)
Toronto, ON – Interesting and challenging electronic pop by duo that is quite obviously enthralled by minimalism, the former MuchMusic VJ and current CBC Radio host, Sook-Yin Lee, with her frequent collaborator, Adam Litovitz.
Joyfultalk – MUUIXX (Drip Audio)
Crousetown, NS – WTF electronic pop made on equally WTF homemade electronic instruments by former Calgary musician, Jay Crocker and co.
Kacy and Clayton – Strange Country (Big White Cloud Records)
Saskatoon, SK – If the 60s were a thing that was just getting going, this would be the model. It somehow genuinely sounds much older than any 2015 record should.
KEN Mode – Success (New Damage Records)
Winnipeg, MB – More on the end of post-hardcore than ever before, their Albini-produced album was simultaneously accessible and abstruse.
Majical Cloudz – Are you Alone? (Arts and Crafts Productions)
Montreal, QC – Gentle beats, catchy lines, and ever so slight danceability. A great release for the forelorn.
Matana Roberts – Coin Coin 3: River Run Thee (Constellation Records)
New York, NY, USA – Begin with field recording loops of the Deep South of USA. Add in a handful of saxophone licks, then slather it with political spoken word and improvised singing. Matana Roberts‘ droney, jazzy, and important third chapter in her ongoing series.
Ought – Sun’s Coming Down (Constellation Records)
Montreal, QC – A meandering album of Protomartyr-sounds, but with lyrics that repeat and writhe about to a much greater extent. So catchy. So good.
Scattered Clouds – The First Empire (E-Tron Recs)
Montreal, QC – Another great release fusing the sounds of shoegaze and psych-rock into a dark sloppy slab of sound. Stripped down and powerful.
Schnellertollermeier – X (Cuneiform Records)
Lucerne, Switzerland – Beginning with polyrhythmic melodies, adding in syncopated beast, and then blending it all together in a Swans-esque haze. The 3pc calls it “brutal jazz.”
Snake River – Songs from an Adjacent Room (Independent release)
Regina, SK – Alt-country meets shoegaze and postrock at a ritzy social gathering in the 1920s. They have a enchanting, but awkward conversation about love and what it used to mean, then experience relationship difficulties in a twangy wall of reverb.
Softess – Dark Power (Thankless Records)
Vancouver, BC – Monotonous shrieks, drum stabs, and noisy blasts by a lovely three-piece that is seriously too kind and grateful for any- and everything, but manages to filter every ounce of rage into their art.
Sugar Brown – Poor Lazarus (Independent release)
Toronto, ON – Proper classic blues produced in a stripped down and vintage way by a Japanese-Korean-American history professor now residing in Toronto.
Technical Kidman – Something Stranger Coming on the Horizon (Independent release)
Montreal, QC – Electronic rock songs based on the sounds found recorded onto a discovered VHS tape. Mind the dancefloor as it opens up to this.
U.S. Girls – Half Free (4AD Records)
Toronto, ON – Originally from Philadelphia and currently based in Toronto, this one’s a grungy electronic rock produced by a wizard of lofi indie.