Basia Bulat - Good Advice [Secret City Records]
Bulat has earned a lifetime spot in my longlists. I have never not enjoyed one of her albums.
Lily and Madeleine - Keep It Together [New West]
The "keep it together" of the title refers to the sisters' perspective on the struggles their millennial peers are dealing with. It's also the secret to their harmonic success. Great interplay between the pair.
Jenny Berkel - Pale Moon Kid [Pheromone]
Berkel called Winnipeg home at one point and her latest, Pale Moon Kid, contains a swan song of sorts for the city. Beautiful and dark.
Yes We Mystic - Forgiver [Independent]
Speaking of Winnipeg, one of my favourite acts in the city is Yes We Mystic. Great live, great on record and just great people.
John K. Samson - Winter Wheat [Anti-]
While we're on the Winnipeg run, is there an artist more emblematic of / associated with the city than John K. Samson?
Paul Simon - Stranger To Stranger [Concord]
2016 was a bizarre year, and few things were as surprising as Paul Simon making one of the hippest, most interesting sounding records of the year. It's been a while since that was the case, but unfortunately you'll only get a taste on the Soundcloud preview.
Okkervil River - Away [ATO Records]
It's interesting that Will Sheff chose to lead the album off with "Okkervil River R.I.P." - it's like a eulogy for the group followed by a rebirth over eight more songs.
Devendra Banhart - Ape In Pink Marble [Nonesuch]
Just like Bulat, Banhart can pretty much be penciled in for a spot on my list. He's not everyone's cup of tea, but like the Brits, I'm always game for a cuppa.
The Pines - Above The Prairie [Red House Records]
Only a band from Minnesota or Manitoba could have written this sonic picture of wide open sky.
Laura Gibson - Empire Builder [Barsuk]
Slinky, cinematic and haunting, this is a fantastic return to recording for Gibson, whose last record was 2012's La Grande.
Sara Watkins - Young In All The Wrong Ways [New West]
Nickel Creek member Watkins apparently wrote the record as a break-up album with herself, or at least the person she used to be. When I first wrote about the album on this blog, I said I found it unfortunate she had to go through heartbreak to write a record this lovely, but it sounds like it wasn't quite the situation I pictured upon first hearing it...
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down - A Man Alive [Ribbon Music]
Speaking of cathartic writing experiences, talking with Thao Nguyen before her appearance at Interstellar Rodeo this summer, A Man Alive was just that for the San Franciscan. And if you want to hear that interview, check it out in its entirety here.
Merival - Lovers [Independent]
Looking back, I shouldn't have had this on my longlist as I don't include EPs on my Best Album list, but this gem from Torontonian Merival deserves a shout out as it stayed with me all year after I discovered it on Bandcamp back in January.
Explosions In The Sky - The Wilderness [Temporary Residence]
The cover art for this record manages to distill the music EitS make into one image - a wave crashing and shattering into the side of a red cliff. The colours, the lines, the chaos, it's all there, and it's all on The Wilderness.
Nothing - Tired of Tomorrow [Relapse]
Philadelphia rockers Nothing provided me not only with a great listen, but also one of the funnier existential moments of my life when I found myself typing "nothing" into the search bar of my computer to find the audio files.