Thursday, December 31, 2020

Shanies: Album of the Year 2020

 Hey look! The one time a year I still used a blog that I've had since 2008. I'm not sure why I keep doing this, but I guess I figure that I'm doing my top 20 anyway and so long as I keep up one post a year, it's as though I'm still active with this thing... right?

10. Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

As mercurial as ever, Apple dropped another album this year just to remind us all that she does not give a fuck about what other people are doing with music. I'm constantly amazed by the evolution of her albums and her ability to just steer off the road and do whatever she feels like doing.




9. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - KG

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I'm a late-comer to the Gizzverse. However, after reading some articles about this group prolifically putting out like 5 albums in one year, I had to start to give them a listen. Their sound and exploration is all over the place and while some of their albums were a definite miss for me, KG is an absolutely incredible piece of work that pulls together diverse genres and feels from around the world.




8. Sault - Untitled (Rise)

This mysterious group released 2 albums around the BLM movement this summer. The first (Black Is) listens like a call to arms, whereas Rise sounds like a celebration of life. This album has such an incredible flow of songs to it that both energize and strike a deep chord with their strength and power..




7. Olafur Arnalds - Some Kind of Peace

Olafur is a constant source of absolutely luscious orchestral music, however, Some Kind of Peace hit me particularily well this year. He worked with a few of my favourite electronic producers and was much more experimental with sounds and instruments this time 'round... and the results are absolutely stunning.




6. All Them Witches - Nothing as the Ideal

ATW releases an album... Shane listens obsessively... album ends up on top 10. That happens every time. However, Nothing as the Ideal is an even deeper evolution from the usual jam-band shenanigans we've grown to expect. I don't know that I could point out a single on this album, and many of the songs clock in over 8m, but it's still a great backdrop to your mind and day.




5. The OBGMs - The Ends

I remember playing with the OGMS like a decade ago at Sneaks. They were a tight, awesome band, but much more poppy and experimental. Their more recent work has gone full punk and is grab-you-by-the-face-and-you'll-love-it awesome. So many anthemic bangers on this album and it's incredible that a band working so hard for so long isn't hitting it bigger yet. But wait for it...




4. The Cinematic Orchestra - To Believe

I had the pleasure of seeing Cinematic live at the Danforth last winter ahead of the release of To Believe. Though it was incredible to hear some past favourites, I was already falling in love with their new material live.




3. The Brunswick - Contrapasso

2020 wasn't a huge year for rock, but Nashville will always have a thing or two to say about music, and for those listening to The Brunswick, we heard it loud and clear. This album is so awesomely thick and heavy... plays like a trio is actually an orchestra. Start to finish, this album is chalked full of incredible hooks.




2. The Gaslamp Killer - Heart Math

Unquestionably the weirdest album I listened to this year, but has to be given props for also being one of the catchiest. When my friend Brielan introduced me to this LA DJ, I didn't know what to expect from this dark, brooding, and organic-electronic album that feels like an ayahuasca journey through a broken synthesizer.




1. Tom Misch + Yussef Dayes - What Kinda Music?

My greatest respect for musicians usually comes when they're able to take incredibly intricate, complex music and make it accessible and pleasing to the ear. This is a jazz album, and an experimental one at that... but throw in Tom Misch's incredible pop and electronic sensibilities and you bring together an absolute joy of a collection of songs that satisfy both your brain and your heart.


Friday, January 3, 2020

Shanies: Album of the Year

Well, after the actions of the past 24h, 2019 may be my last top 10, so let's make it a good one. Here's to still having good music, a music scene at all, venues, and you know... a globe in 2020.

10. Brittany Howard - Jaime
Much more raw and introspective than anything she's done with the Shakes, Jaime is lyrically far more vulnerable and sonically much more experimental. Stay High is a chill masterpiece and the opener, History Repeats, grooves deep.

9. The Raconteurs - Help Us Stranger
Round 3 from my favourite JW3 project continues to impress. The album wasn't necessarily that progressive, but White's & Benson's songwriting always gives me hope and love for rock n roll. The title track and Now That You're Gone left a great mark on my mind.

8. Tim Baker - Forever Overhead
As a long lover of Hey Rosetta!, I'd always been curious to see what front man Tim Baker would do on his own. This album showed that what he really wanted to do was something far more delicate, open, and heartfelt... and for my money, few better songs than Dance were released this year.

7.Ian Blurton's Future Now - Signal Through the Flames
Yup. Blurton released anything... so it's on this list. Channeling his inner Sabbath, this album gives a much faster, more metal drive than I'm used to our of Sir Ian... all while keeping that signature tone. That said, my favourite track of this recording session was actually not on the album, but released as a single, Space is Forever.

6. Cinematic Orchestra - To Believe
I have long love for this band and finally had the chance to see them live this year. In addition to being in my top 3 live shows of the year, this album was another piece of emotional outpouring. The hypnotic, trance-like beat of Lessons defines this band's mantra-esque musical quality.

5. White Denim - In Person
I didn't like this album the first time I listened to it. It's a live album, and something was weird about it. Then I saw White Denim live for the first time this year (which was the best show of 2019 if not the past decade) and it immediately made sense. The live album sounded strange because it was too perfect. This album sounds like a studio album because this band is THAT tight live. The whole thing is a masterpiece, but getting to hear them play Farm live was out of this world.

4. Kaytranada - BUBBA
Just when you thought 99.9% couldn't be topped... he found 100%. This album is so fucking ass-shakingly, head-bobblingly incredible and made all the more better by being straight out of MTL. Listen to the whole thing, but if you ever want to get a group of people moving, throw on Go DJ.

3. Michael Kiwanuka - KIWANUKA
Watching Kiwanuka's sound evolve each album has been incredible and the bold statement that is KIWANUKA seems to indicate that he's finally found a confident stride and sound that he considers his own. The album is all over the genre-map, but to me, Rolling, defines this album and man.

2. Moon Tooth - Crux
I haven't fallen hard for a really heavy album in a while. Moon Tooth's Chomaparagon was what drew me into this band, but the release of Crux solidified them as one of my favourite bands. Intricate musicianship meets catchy hooks alongside scathing lyrics... what more could you want? Just listen to Rhythm & Roar or Musketeers and thank me later.

1. Sturgill Simpson - Sound & Fury
I had only heard mutterings of this country artist named Sturgill, so when I saw something called 'Sound & Fury' on netflix, I decided to give it a whirl. This album / samurai anime was one of the most unique album experiences of recent memory and made all the better by Simpson's genre-bending masterpiece. Play Remember to Breathe when you want to feel like the coolest motherfucker in the world and play A Good Look at my funeral, please. And you'd better be dancing.