After listening to roughly 10,000 songs released in 2014 whether as singles, on EPs, or LPs, we have settled on our 30 favourites. To create a fairer and tidier list, we allowed only one entry per artist. Note that, although we titled this “Songs” (i.e. a piece of music that is sung), some of the entries are instrumentals.
#30. La fin de notre histoire, Sylvain Cossette. Platinum JUNO-nominated bilingual artist Sylvain started out with the band Paradox that scored #24 hit “Waterline” in 1989. In 2014, he returned in top shape with album Accords. Powerful vocals and guitars animate “La fin de notre histoire”, a Violet Indiana meets Travis alternative rock nugget. Cossette is one of those rare artists great in both singing and songwriting.
#29. Castle, Cat Thomson. One of the jewels off our EP of the Year, Puzzle, the Calgary-bred, Vancouver-based singer is in top form on this beautiful song. Deep, rich, and a little dreamy, the track is a perfect vehicle for Thomson’s fabulous vocals. Verse, chorus, and bridge are all perfectly crafted. Cat co-wrote this with Louise Burns (formerly of Lillix) and Kevin James Maher. She has a great career ahead of her.
#28. Hideaway, Kiesza. Topping the charts in the United Kingdom, this retro 90s EDM treat was all over the radio in much of the world and popularized in part by its cool concept music video. Kiesza’s from Calgary and has talent seeping in her bones. Her voice is beautiful and the song’s beat is simply delicious. At #5, “Hideaway” was the highest charting Canadian song at home for 2014 and certified platinum.
#27. I Wanna Be With You, YYZ. While Kiesza was bringing back that sweet 90s dance music, Universal Music Canada signee YYZ brought back 80s dance with this choice tune. The MV even paid homage to 80s arcade video. YYZ is a duo led by Toronto’s lovely Ali McNally and is just getting started, this being only the outfit’s second single release. We hope and pray for a full-blown party LP in the near future.
#26. Grudges Crossed, Mode Moderne. The new wave outfit reminds us of some of the early 80s underground music that was such a delight back in the day, like New Order and The Cure. But the group has carved out its own style and is writing very good songs. “Grudges Crossed” was our favourite track off Mode Moderne’s third album, Occult Delight. We think nobody does new wave better than Vancouverites.
#25. Pagan Day, PyPy. This is one of those obscure bands that not too many know about. It’s punk music but really fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Pagan Day, title track off its 2014 album, is a full throttle jam that rolls along electrically and takes you with it, music that is best enjoyed with some popcorn and perhaps a fanned out Mohawk. This is for those who enjoy Tones on Tail and black nail polish.
#24. Pee-Wee BB, Catherine Leduc. A key member of Félix Award winning band Tricot Machine from Trois-Rivières, Catherine’s 2014 debut solo album, Rookie, embraces an artistic, dreamy folk pop. Lead keys on “Pee wee BB” do the trick, sounding somewhat like an electronic accordion, and vocals have that Mamas & Papas harmonious quality. If she considers herself a rookie, she’s going to slay as a veteran!
#23. Arlon, Salomé Leclerc. Beginning with simple but ominous voice, drums, and bass, tambourine jingles are added, before things shift into higher gear as more instrumentation breaks out in an instrumental fever of glory. Most artists would satisfy themselves with that, but Salomé gives us something extra beginning half-way through the song as things really pick up. Background wails are added, and the conclusion is perfect.
#22. Light Scheme, Sounds of Sputnik ft. Ummagma. Shauna McLarnon and her Ukranian-born husband Alexx Kretov are The Yukon’s Ummagma who team up with Russia’s Sounds of Sputnik on this mix of space rock, noisy shoegaze, and dream pop, a sonic feast that might come from a collaboration between say Slowdive and The Cocteau Twins. When the two Great White Norths collaborate, the result is very cool stuff.
#21. It’s Not Me, Robyn Dell’Unto. Album Little Lines from Mississauga’s Robyn Dell’Unto appeared this year. “It’s Not Me” sparkles the most brightly for us with its good beat, but any of the album’s songs could go here. Robyn’s sweet voice adds colourful sprinkles to everything she does. Her style comfortably straddles pop and AC kingdoms and snugly perches itself between indie and mainstream grooves.
#20. Go, Grimes. Taking a break from the stream of delicious quirkiness, Vancouver’s Claire Boucher, also known as Grimes, took a song originally intended for Rihanna, and tweaked it into the finest EDM dish of the year complete with her ethereal vocal talents. A CD-quality 1141 kbps bit rate version was offered as a free download. Because the track is more mainstream, it may not appear on her 2015 album.
#19. Portal, LIGHTS. We lean back in awe when LIGHTS releases new music. Opening her third album Little Machines, “Portal” sets the atmosphere. Imagine if you will a vintage car ominously driving through a forested highway in search of something lurking in the woods. Something unearthly lies at the conclusion of her exploration. This is one song that has the power to transport the listener into the twilight zone.
#18. Cologne, Alexz Johnson. The Coquitlam, BC singer, songwriter, and actress released her second formal album this year, Let ‘Em Eat Cake. We’d rather eat Alexz Johnson’s music; cake is just a collection of carbs, eh. This highly undervalued girl can write super good tunes. She’s got both substance and her own style. “Cologne” was our favourite cut from one of our favourite albums of 2014.
#17. I’m Just a Girl, Die Mannequin. One of Canada’s finest rock bands made a big comeback this year with album Neon Zero. It bristles with high octane ecstasy and potent adrenaline throughout. “I’m Just a Girl” is a standout modern rock gem with plundering beats, measured synth touches, and loud, mangled metal guitars, all led by the shimmering vocals of Care Failure. This is our favourite rock song of 2014.
#16. Let It Move You, Michelle Thibodeau. The Moncton, NB singer-songwriter and actress made the national news this year when she spotted Mountie assassin Justin Bourque in her backyard. But that’s not why she’s here. “Let It Move You” is the fantastic single she released this year. Whether or not her training at the Canadian College of Performing Arts helped is unknown. One thing’s clear though: this gal’s got talent.
#15. Eternal Return, Doomsquad. Mulder and Scully should get back together just so that this masterpiece can get featured in an X-Files episode. Portentous relics get unearthed from both tribal villages and radically advanced metropolises in this sonic thrill ride. Drenched in ambiance and pulsating with ominous energy, this masterful cut from album Kalaboogie has the three Blumas siblings at their best.
#14. Darkness, Kalle Mattson. The Ottawa songsmith returned to his childhood home in Sault Ste. Marie to write an album about hope. The result was Polaris-nominated Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold, produced by The Wooden Sky’s Gavin Gardiner. Track “Darkness” is an example of brilliant songwriting, and what’s more, it has probably the coolest trumpet feature ever to appear in a song.
#13. Iona, Loscil. Vancouver’s own looping oscillator, Loscil (i.e. Scott Morgan), released one of the greatest ambient electronic albums ever to come out of Canada, Sea Island. Sweeping and airy, it subdues, it captivates, and it tugs the listener into a glorious hypnotic state. Having been at it for a while, he hits his stride on the album. Track “Iona” alone is a world-class masterpiece of ambient electronica.
#12. Le sexe des anges, Alfa Rococo. Alfa Rococo is a fabulous, multiple Félix Award winning electropop duo from Montréal composed of Justine Laberge and David Bussières. Third studio album, Nos coeurs ensemble, contains many irresistible hooks and unanticipated techniques of striking detail. The electropulses and gritty guitars on “Le sexe des anges” merge together to elicit instant addiction.
#11. Conscience, Marie-Mai. This energetic platinum rocker performed at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and has scored two platinum albums. Album M topped iTunes as a pre-order. “Conscience” was one of the biggest Franco tunes of the year, a modern rock masterpiece with boss vocal delivery. Be sure to check out its MV for Marie-Mai’s adorable postures!
#10. This Year, Cooper. Female soloist (Kate) Cooper is a Montreal import from Brisbane, Australia. Her single “This Year” was lauded by those lucky enough to discover it. If the song sounds familiar to you, that may be because it was used to promote some U.S. television shows. Cooper’s songwriting talents have charmed Serena Ryder and Tegan & Sara. We look forward to new music from her in 2015.
#9. Live, Azélie. This Montreal teen prodigy launched her debut album, Something Good, in 2014, showcasing her compositional genius and angelic voice, all wrapped up in a very mature, adult contemporary sound. Keys patter down like spring rain and are joined by some bluesy guitar, sparkling brass, and heart-tugging strings. “Live” was our favourite track with its bass-driven splendour.
#8. Punks Don’t Dance, Crystalyne. This newer band from Toronto won the Radio Star National Talent Search at this year’s Canadian Radio Music Awards. Led by exquisite vocalist Marissa Dattoli, the group released an EP at the end of 2013 entitled The Remedy. Single “Punks Don’t Dance” came out in 2014, an addictive dance pop number that could probably pass for Marianas Trench with female vocals. What could be better?
#7. Paralyzed, Paige Morgan. Vancouver’s Paige Morgan (604 Records) is a new singer on the rise and dropped her debut album in 2014, the most eclectic pop record of the year. Paige has been described as a musical chameleon who can handle any genre with ease, turning the colours over at will. “Paralyzed” is an alternative pop delicacy dripping with syrupy, sultry vocals and powdered with tantalizing intrigue.
#6. Want You To Want Me (Single Version), Stefie Shock. From radio DJ to gold-certified recording artist, Stefie Shock is one keeping the new wave alive thanks to this charmer. With so many male voices AutoTuned to a higher register or singing in falsetto, Stefie’s refreshing baritone reminded us what real male voices sound like. Also check out the album version of the song which is more suitable for the dancefloor.
#5. Million Ways, Shawn Hook. The British Columbian scored his highest charting single when his co-writer cancelled a session due to his child’s soccer practice. Shawn was forced to team up with another composer – Grammy Award winner Victoria Horn. The result of the 6-hour session was one of the catchiest pop gems of the year, “Million Ways”. It contains some smart touches too, like its whistling conclusion.
#4. Quarterback, Kira Isabella. This is one of those songs that grabs you lyrically first and then the great music begins to take hold. The Ottawa country singer made the gutsy move of accepting a song American A-listers, including Carrie Underwood, shied away from because of its subject matter of date rape. Quarterback made a number of year-end lists. We are happy to place it on ours.
#3. One Life, Jonathan Li. The Calgary pop/rock singer songwriter gave us a song with such a feel-good beat and catchy guitar hook that we never grew tired of it. It’s one of those party pop anthems that makes you glue down that repeat button. “One Life” is off Jonathan Li’s second album, Our Stories Matter, one of the year’s best LPs. He has a great backing band and is one you’d want to see live.
#2. Good Lovin’, Jess Moskaluke. This Saskatchewan singer scored a gold single in 2014 and won The Canadian Country Music Association’s Female Artist of the Year. Jess Moskaluke’s “Good Lovin” is one of the best country songs we have ever heard, a total blast with ground-shaking bass giving the singer somewhat of a signature sound. From album Light Up the Night, it was composed by Enderlin, Bundy & Flowers.
Canadian Music Blog’s 2014 Song of the Year
What happens when JUNO winning songwriter Marc Jordan (Rod Stewart, Josh Groban) and multiplatinum composer Rob Wells (Ariana Grande, Olivia Newton-John) pen a song for an award winning singer whose voice is breathtaking enough to ruffle feathers on the wings of angels? Absolute magic! This was the formal debut single from the Montréal pitch-perfect teen prodigy who won YTV’s The Next Star in 2013. The song was released in both official languages through Sony Music Canada. Carrying an infectious melody, delivered with graceful piano, and knocked out of the ballpark by a soaring voice, this hair-raising anthem of excellence dazzled us more than any of the 10,000 songs we listened to in 2014. The Canadian Music Blog declares “Why Do Boys Lie” / “Pourquoi mentir” by Alicia Moffet as 2014’s Song of the Year!