Canadian Music Blog’s Top 25 Album Faves of 2015

top 25 chartA total of 661 albums released in 2015 by Canadian artists came to our attention. We tried to feature as many of them on the blog as we could. We ended up making mention of 469 (i.e. 71%) of them in some form. Of the 661 LPs, 58 were greatest hits, various artist compilations, live albums, holiday releases, etc., and we did not count them towards contention for our Top 25 of the year. We ranked our top 25 of the remaining 603 after many listens regardless of genre, language, region, and relative popularity of the artist. The chart on the left shows just how elite this group is (click to enlarge).

25Tears Along the Road by Tim Isberg

Tim-Isberg-Tears-Along-the-Road
Singer-songwriter Tim Isberg’s beautiful record Tears Along the Road was 10 years in the making. He was busy with military operations as a soldier in the Canadian Army. From his experiences, he tells intriguing stories in his songs. The pieces, delivered in a folk style, are very catchy and well-written musically, and Tim has a nice voice on him. He is originally from Fort Macleod, Alberta.  iTunes

24Vieux Loup by The Acorn

The Acorn - Vieux Loup
Describing its music as “valley soul”, Ottawa’s The Acorn was birthed by Rolf Klausener in 2002. Inspired by the close proximity to the urban centre of the rural pastures of the Ottawa valley, electronica and folk were joined giving the music a rustic-modern feel. 2015’s Vieux Loup was the fruit of 3 years of writing and experimenting with various mixtures of “dark electro soul” and “minimalist dirge folk”. It is a hypnotic work of art that stands out among 2015 releases.  iTunes

23Let It Storm by Scott Shea

Scott Shea - Let it storm
British Columbia’s Scott Shea graced 2015 with Let It Storm, his debut solo LP, and the writing is first rate. The singer-songwriter’s style of choice is folky roots music. Scott’s father Red Shea was guitarist for such legends as Gordon Lightfoot and Ian and Sylvia, so the greatness that is Scott’s is definitely in his blood. Some impressive players joined him on the album including Willie Nelson’s sister Bobbie and Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar). Beautiful album.  iTunes

22Suuns & Jerusalem in My Heart

Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart
Montreal band Suuns bonds with Jerusalem in My Heart, a project of producer Radwan Moumneh, and the result is music that is undefinable and fairly glorious. Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart is a mostly instrumental album of heavily spicy rather than light and sweet electronica injected with Middle Eastern flavours and chants. The atmosphere is dense, gritty, and ethereal as if we are stranded in the midst of a desert sandstorm brightened by fluorescent lights. This album will perk up your ears and get your heart pumping. It’s pretty wonderful stuff.  iTunes

21The Loodies

the loodies
Back at it with album number two is Montreal quintet The Loodies. This self-titled weird and wonderful work of genius crafts inspired songwriting and wraps it in experimental alternative arrangements. The band’s competence has found followings as far away as Germany and Switzerland. Nine delicate melodies flow in accents of indie, pop, and folk. Sweet, romantic melancholy animates rich instrumentation and exquisite vocals. Composing good songs is not easy, and The Loodies’ album gives us a batch of charmers.  iTunes

20The Origin by Peter Henry Phillips

Peter Henry Phillips - the origin
Peter Henry Phillips’ The Origin is gorgeous. It has that City and Colour quality with rich, detailed textures and a dense cinematic sweep. While many of the tracks are roots-oriented, he also includes some progressive touches making the whole work an exciting one to unearth and explore. Give your ears something to cheer about with this instant winner! Citing his hometown as Saint-Adrien, Quebec, the singer and songwriter has previously collaborated with many stars from the province: DJ Champion, Elisapie Isaac, Jorane, and JUNO winner Ariane Moffatt. He has done work for advertising, most notably Elizabeth Arden, and soundtrack work for Oscar winning Canadian director Denys Arcand.  iTunes

19The Gates by Young Empires

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Toronto’s Young Empires, the alternative trio of Matthew Vlahovich, Jacob Palahnuk, and Taylor Hill, released its debut album The Gates, which sounds splendid. The music is taut, with rich textures, and skyscraping choruses. International reference points might be The Killers or Coldplay, but as it is often said internationally, “Canadians do it better”.  iTunes

18Carousel One by Ron Sexsmith

ron sexsmith - carousel one
Ron Sexsmith added to his beefy repertoire with 14th studio album Carousel One. The name comes from the conveyor dock for Toronto luggage at the Los Angeles airport. The album was produced by Jim Scott (The Tragically Hip), and the veteran players make the instrumentation refreshingly taut as in comparison to other scattered sounds of the genre. The beautiful compositions and sensitive delivery bring to mind some of the Beatles balladry circa the Rubber Soul phase. There is a nice mixture of tempos here, and some very clever lyrics.  iTunes

17Missa Campanula by Karen Young

Missa Campanula
There is perhaps no musical instrument more beautiful than the human voice. And when many voices are brought together in choir, it is music’s finest hour. Montreal JUNO nominee Karen Young dropped this remarkable album of classical music entitled Missa Campanula. It is an album of original compositions, sung in sacred style, a cappella, in Latin, by a choir, and is dedicated to her mother who died of Alzheimer disease. The vocal latticework was accomplished by a tiered foundation choir of sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses interplaying with a solo quintet while Karen joins two others in the treble choir. The overall performance was conducted by François Ouimet. The full-blown mass was recorded in Old Montreal at the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel.  iTunes

16Key Change by Mocky

mocky- key change
Originally from Saskatchewan, Dominic Salole who records under the alias Mocky has in the past worked with a host of artists including Peaches, Chilly Gonzales, and Feist. His brilliant fifth album Key Change could be described as a fusion of film score, jazz, and easy listening. You will hear some cool jazz, 60s-flavoured flute-driven whistlers, Bacharach strings, and Shibuya-kei grooves. The album was recorded in four different countries and includes mostly instrumentals with a few vocalized pieces, whether scatting or with lyrics.  iTunes

15Colorythmie by Eli et Papillon

Eli et Papillon - colorythmie
Eli et Papillon is a pop duo from Montreal consisting of Elise Larouche and Marc Papillon-Ferland. Colorythmie’s music is colourfully upbeat and positive with bright electro-tinged accents and vocals sweeter than crème brûlée, thanks to Elise. She is in addition a very talented songwriter having composed songs for finalists in The Voice (France) and Star Academy (Canada). The delightful songs on Colorythmie certainly attest to her prowess. Marc, meanwhile, has worked with a slew of A-listers including Coeur de Pirate and Isabelle Boulay. Together they create a fabulous album.  iTunes

14Félix Dyotte

Félix_Dyotte
In the Canadian music scene for 15 years, Félix Dyotte has both sensitive talent and seasoned experience. He made his debut in 1997 in the group The Undercovers who recorded an album with producer Gus Van Go and then transformed into 2-time JUNO winning group The Stills. In 2006, Felix formed Chinatown who released a couple of discs. The success of the group’s music enabled Dyotte to work with a number of high profile artists including Jean Leloup, Pierre Lapointe, and Valérie Carpentier. Under Coyote Records and with support from Malajube’s Francis Mineau, Philippe Brault, and new recording artist Kandle Osborne (daughter of 54-40’s Neil Osborne), Félix Dyotte launched this self-titled solo album, and it is absolutely brilliant. The album very cleverly blends 60s baroque pop, orchestral flourishes, carnival pep, good bass grooves, and shimmering synth accents. This is a fine work of art.  iTunes

13We Are the Reckoning by Peter Katz

peter katz - we are the reckoning
Ace songwriter and JUNO nominee Peter Katz from Toronto launched We Are the Reckoning through Maple Music Recordings / Fontana North, and it is a winner. We have folky adult contemporary compositions along the lines of Royal Wood who makes a guest appearance on the album. Peter’s pleasant vocals and ability to pen engaging tunes have won him a significant international following. If music that elicits goosebumps receives award nominations, this work should reap a batch through the next year.  iTunes

12Young/Old… by Elliot Maginot

Elliot Maginot - Young Old Everything
Montreal newcomer Elliot Maginot delivered this wonderful album entitled Young / Old / Everything . In . Between. Although you may hear elements of Half Moon Run, The Grapes of Wrath, and even Men at Work, the singer-songwriter has sculpted a style he can call his own. Besnard Lakes producer Jace Lasek helped add some dreamy ambiance into things. The music is sophisticated and beautiful; check out for example “Still Alive”.  iTunes

11Partir avant by Rosie Valland

rosie valland - partir avant1
Originally from Saint-Césaire, QC, just east of Montreal, Rosie Valland’s Partir avant contains rich, atmospheric singer-songwriter tunes, a little reminiscent of Salomé Leclerc but perhaps on the lighter side. Her beautiful voice seeks in the poetry to uncover some secrets of the universe as well as explore some home-turf geography while overcoming the torments of love. The spellbinding melancholy and occasional eeriness help build clouds of mystery which keep the ears engaged.  iTunes

10Dashboard Renegade by Livy Jeanne

Livy Jeane - dashboard renegade
Edmonton’s award winning country music star Livy Jeanne released her first full-length album Dashboard Renegade. It contains country radio hits “Wrong Side of the Dirt” and “All Kinds of Crazy”. Ensuring excellence in all 10 tracks, she co-wrote with ace hit-makers Brian White (Rascal Flatts, Tim Hicks) and Jeff Cohen (Sugarland, The Band Perry). We have a welcome mix of upbeat and slow songs, some leaning more toward country–rock grounds. We were immediately taken by “Fake It Past Goodbye” and “I Got Your Number”. When we began listening to Dashboard Renegade, we experienced severe problems with memory: we forgot who Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Blake Shelton were. In our humble opinion, Livy Jeanne’s Dashboard Renegade is the best country album of 2015, worldwide.  iTunes

9Night Eyes by Savvie

Savvie - Night Eyes
Vancouver’s Savannah Leigh Wellman proves her songwriting genius on new solo album, Night Eyes. She previously led folk act Redbird, and now as a soloist shifts gears into a rich and tasty brew of catchy alternative rock delights complete with gritty vibes, punchy beats, reverb-drenched electric guitars, and fuzzy bass throbs. Little splashes of new wave appear at times to add extra charm. “Trust the In Between”, “Gravity”, and “The Tower” are fine examples of very sharp composition.  iTunes

8Rosa

rosa - rosa
Exotic would be an apt word to use in Rosa Laricchiuta’s path to this debut album. A Montreal-born singer of Italian descent discovered in a karaoke venue which led to a tour of Asia performing in the poshest of venues who wound up as a finalist in Canada’s The Voice. But that’s not all. Melissa Etheridge was so impressed with her that she invited Rosa to join her on tour. Meanwhile, king of Francophone rock, Éric Lapointe, took it upon himself to get her debut album launched under the auspices of Sylvain Cossette’s record label! And of all genres of music, the powerhouse vocalist has selected rock, and we are grateful. The self-titled album has fantastic guitar work, powerful rock drumming, and well-written nuggets of catchiness. All surround an amazing voice. We pick this as the year’s finest rock album.  iTunes

7Le chaos & le temps by Lily K.O.

lily k.o. - le chaos and le temps 900x900
Montreal duo Lily K.O. launched this knockout debut album, Le chaos & le temps. To summarize things with a single word, the album is cute. The duo is singer Sélène Bérubé on keys and Raphael Rioux handling ukulele, guitalele, guitar, keyboards, backing vocals and bass. The two brought in Misteur Valaire’s drummer Julien Harbec to get the beats going. What we have is electro pop and rhythmic amusement, all wrapped up in world music vibes. Sélène’s attractive vocals are an added bonus. The bopping tunes will put a big smile on your face. We particularly like tracks “Une mélodie” and “Septembre”. This was a very pleasant surprise, so much fun!   iTunes

6I Become a Shade by Seoul

seoul - i become a shade
Montreal synth-tickling trio Seoul pruned the roadside foliage providing for a picturesque, velvety drive through shady climes. I Become a Shade is the band’s debut LP, a seamless merging of the organic and the ambient, a sombre ride that never falls into despair. We feel as if we are cruising at high speeds on petrol fumes alone or perhaps aboard a Maglev train. It is a solid album throughout, all tracks hitting the mark, whether they pause for a bit of reflection or decide to get a bit funky. Ethereal closer “Galway” is a nice bonus treat.  iTunes

5Une île by Jérôme Minière

jerome miniere - une ile

Jérôme Minière finished dancing with Henri Kopter and got ready to journey to a mysterious island. We are lucky to have acquired the JUNO nominated artist from France. On Une île, as with his past works, he gives us something different: quirky, charming, and elegant. This is music fit for the brightly-lit, futuristic, and trendy lounge. Although essentially electropop, Jerome blends in an assortment of instruments with an organic sound. It often reminds us of jazzy 60s party music with a progressive sheen. Curve balls get thrown in to make everything very engaging. He has eastern arrangements, hip hop beats, German dubstep, you name it. We adored this.  iTunes

4Reminisce by Etiquette

Etiquette - Reminisce
Julie Fader and Graham Walsh (the latter worked on LIGHTS’ Siberia album) are duo Etiquette, releasing debut album Reminisce. Avoid the danger of lumping the act in with other electronic outfits. The style ditches the spirit of wooden elation for animated melancholy. The hooks dangle in abundance as the music waddles its way through raw climes decked in some of the experimental garments worn by such predecessors as The Legendary Pink Dots and Cabaret Voltaire. It’s not all subdued; there are a couple of peppy inclusions that twinkle like stars. Overall, on Reminisce, the ethereal drones effectively hypnotize in ways that will leave you reclining in satisfaction.  iTunes

3Analog Love by Shawn Hook

Shawn Hook - Analog Love
The JUNO-nominated South Slocan BC native, no stranger to the Billboard Hot 100,  applied his talents into dance, pop, R&B, soul, funk, and electronica, making for a bigger, all-encompassing sound on the sophomore album. “Million Ways” which he co-wrote with Grammy winning songwriter Victoria Horn, generated the buzz required for threshold surmounting momentum. It scaled up to #44 on the Hot 100. Followup single “Sound of Your Heart” did even better going platinum in 2015. These two songs joined a batch of charmers on Shawn Hook’s Analog LoveiTunes

2Love Life by Tamia

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While it was Canada’s male R&B artists who attracted all the attention in 2015, we were far more in love with this work by Windor, Ontario’s Tamia. She began recording in 1998 and has five JUNO nominations to date. Love Life is a big, anthem-drenched work. You will hear the finest examples of all elements of the recording process: writing, singing, arrangement, and production. There is not a weak moment on the entire disc; every track oozes with class and charm. Deep grooves, nocturnal ambiance, romantic vibes, and warm sparkles abound. The songs contain meticulously crafted, catchy details like little electronic riffs which make the music highly engaging.  iTunes.

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Canadian Music Blog’s 2015 ALBUM of the Year

As much a retroblast as a celebration of the cutting edge of pop, this straddler of both mainstream and alternative worlds balances out the mix. The album opens like a safari sunrise, switches on super catchy beats, and explodes into kaleidoscopic choruses. Hooks flourish as in a fishermen’s convention, and the album spawned a gold single. There are wafts of soft, romantic glow and dream sequences. What makes the whole album a treat is the vocal delivery. Our singer does not have the vocal chops of someone like Celine Dion or Michael Buble but personalizes things by singing in whispers, giggles, teases, and … emotional … intonations. With this solid ride all the way through, the artist slayed like none other. Canadian Music Blog declares Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion 2015’s album of the year.  iTunes

Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion 2015 album of the year

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