The 25 Best Albums of 2017

We tracked a total of 678 Canadian artist albums released in 2017. Of these, 55 were greatest hits, various artist compilations, live albums, or holiday releases, and we did not count them towards contention for our Top 25 of the year. We ranked our favourite 25 of the remaining 623 after many listens regardless of genre, language, region, and relative popularity of the artist. These 25 represent an elite 4% of 2017 Canadian artist studio albums. At Canadian Music Blog, we like music that is sophisticated with catchy melodies and pleasing vocals (unless it is instrumental). Find below our 25 favourite Canadian artist albums of 2017 including our Album of the Year!.

258 of Hearts by Blinker the Star

Since the mid-90s, Pembroke, Ontario’s Blinker the Star has been concocting some delicious music. 2017’s 8 of Hearts could be classified as alternative rock; in addition, you will hear a good dose of a retro progressive rock kneaded into the dough. At times, there are surprises, like a banjo on track “Heather” and haunting piano with fluttering analog synth on “Caves and Shadows”. Here are well written songs that are highly enjoyable to listen to. We’re lucky to have this great band aboard Team Canada.  iTunes

24The Space Between by Majid Jordan

It’s the Canadian duo that does R&B right. Majid Jordan brought us sophomore effort The Space Between. The Toronto pair is best known for giving Drake his first Top 5 hit as a main artist – “Hold On, We’re Going Home”. The Space Between sees Majid crooning smoothly over Jordan’s downtempo musicianship. It is chillout music with ground-shaking bass, addictive beats, cool grooves, and (thankfully) clean lyrics. Both those heavily into R&B and those not typically taken by the genre will find this little nugget diggable. The album features well-known artists dvsn and PartyNextDoor.  iTunes

23A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone by Mappe Of


Whitby, Ontario’s Tom Meikle, through Paper Bag Records, presented his debut album A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone under moniker Mappe Of. Lyrically, he populates the disc with an interesting gang of characters: a disturbed boy setting fire to his family’s home, a vagabond in Australia who’s disavowed all family ties, a Canadian youth figuring life out overseas, and an elder dying from Alzheimer’s who can’t recognize his family. Musically, the album is a dreamy, meta-dimensional sequence of alternative folk masterpieces. Mappe Of blends synthesizers with organic instruments including guitars (both acoustic and electric), trumpets, violins, kalimba, and autoharp. Where you allow this album to take you is entirely up to you; it’s filled with sonic magic.  iTunes

22LLL (Love, Loss, Latitude) by Wanting


Vancouver based Wanting released this, her third album. While keeping her singer-songwriter and adult contemporary sensibilities, she dressed some of the songs up with a slicker, more upbeat, electronic pop sound. Assisting her with this was producer Justin Gray whose impressive CV includes work with two MCs – Miley Cyrus and Mariah Carey. As a result, we get a nice blend of flavours. One of the things that makes LLL so enjoyable is that Wanting’s clear vocals shine though the music in such a way that you get drawn into the lyrics, and as far as lyrics go, she holds nothing back and tells it as it is. Check out especially tracks “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” and “Set You Free”. Wanting expresses without reservation the euphoric throes of love and the paralyzing sting of loss. Her skills at songwriting have never been stronger, and her vocals seem to have gotten even better. Every track here is enjoyable, and LLL is a beautiful album.  iTunes

21Love Is Gold by Ryan Kennedy


A singular voice and beautifully written smooth folk-pop songs deck this one. Last year, Ryan Kennedy‘s “Honest Song” stirred up some buzz and graced the airwaves in certain regions of the country; its MV has racked up over 100,000 views. He composed all tracks on the 2017 album, and there isn’t a single bland one in the batch. As both a singer and a songwriter, Kennedy aces both which is uncommon. Count this album a winner.  iTunes

20Midnight for a While by Walkwaves


Walkwaves, a Markham, Ontario group goes beyond the popular pool of smooth synth pop into the rougher seas of new wave here and succeeds. At times funky, at others gritty, but always with catchy beats and expressive vocals, Walwaves strikes us as a more organic Depeche Mode. Opener “Get You Out” burbles along carefully before switching on some rumbling bass pulses; it’s a delicious track. The catchy “Girls on Snapchat” combines vocal crooning with detailed instrumentation. While modern electronic musicians seem to perpetually use the same few synth/computer voices when there are thousands available, you’ll find a nice variety through the Walkwaves disc; find many on track “T.T.T.L.”. For something different, check out the atmospheric “Friend” one of the more experimental tracks which satisfies by throwing in unexpected musical twists. Closer “Nightfall” packs a nice punch to cap things off with a bang.  iTunes

19La grande nuit vidéo by Philippe B


Everybody enjoys a big video night. JUNO nominee and collaborator of such aces as Pierre Lapointe, Groenland, and Salomé Leclerc, Philippe B dazzles on fifth album, La grande nuit vidéo. Find meticulous attention to detail and a knack for penning masterful tunes with immaculate arrangements. Philippe is the sort of fellow who makes music critics drool copiously, a true champion of folk or singer-songwriter styles. On the album, he explores the bygone age when couples would spend the night together before cathode-ray screens watching television series, movies, and everything presented by the intelligent box of communication. The nostalgia abounds with superb orchestral arrangements and is augmented by the sweet guest vocals of Milk & Bone’s Laurence Lafond-Beaulne. If you want a work of art, this is it.  iTunes

18Antisocialites by Alvvays


Toronto group Alvvays pressed its sophomore album, Antisocialites. The band is helmed by Nova Scotian raised Molly Rankin. The smart mixing job appropriately obscures the vocals slightly on the shoegaze tracks, such as delicious opener “In Undertow”. And on jangly pop tracks, like “Dreams Tonight,” they shine through. Molly purposefully sings in a deadpan style which works well with the Alvvays design. The writing is strong and the fusion of flavours is seamless, as heard on songs like decade defying “Plimsoll Punks”. Although the cubby-hole genre does not have broad spectrum appeal, the musical composition here will waft onto many wanderers its charms. No one can resist a good tune, and Alvvays has the savvy to craft more than a few. Nicely done!  iTunes

17Finale by Mike Rocha


Toronto-based producer Mike Rocha surfed up a pleasant surprise, his debut album Finale. His past production credits include works from Greys, Electric Youth, Ivana Santilli, and Black Pistol Fire. The instrumental electronica, led by the Prophet ’08 synthesizer, at times amusing and at others dark, is highly cinematic and rich enough to please fans of both classic and modern sides of the field of time. The weaves of sound succeed in eliciting tension, urgency, thrills, suspense, and all emotional rollercoaster effects required for an entertaining film experience. At times, you will feel like you’re listening to a therapeutic mixtape in The Unborn, being hunted by the terminator, or inside the complex of Ex Machina. Finale is as good as anything done by Markus Guentner or any of the other acclaimed crafters of the genre.  iTunes

16There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light by Stars


Twinkling ever so brightly is this one by Quebec group Stars, produced by Peter Katis who has done an excellent job blending orchestral manoeuvres with upbeat synth pop. As always, Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell take turns at the mic delivering sensitive lyrics. The album was heralded by single “Privilege” which opens the disc. Playful B-side “We Call It Love” is included. “Losing to You”, at over 6 minutes, is packed with enough goodies to keep you captivated: a nocturnal shimmer that breaks into slapping beats and burbling bass. Another standout is “Hope Avenue” suggesting a place to go for Strange Advance’s “We Run”. “Real Thing” seals the deal for a great album, a synth pop ace. Even on the mellower tracks, genius is present, an example being “California, I Love That Name”. “Wanderers” is the perfect closer, dramatic and feel-goody. Three JUNO nominations, all for Alternative Album of the Year, are among Stars’ achievements.  iTunes

15Cindy Doire présente: Panorama by Cindy Doire


With origins in Timmins, Ontario, and serving as one-half of popular singer-songwriter duo Scarlett Jane, Cindy Doire presents her fourth solo album Panorama. The disc is a genre-defying collection of carefully calculated catchy compositions encompassing measured grooves. The panoramic sound is both ethereal and delicate, as Cindy concocts a new style for this work, an amalgam of dream pop and Moog synthesizer inflected folk all wrapped up in a silvery sheath of angelic vocals. On production detail is Mark Howard (Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, and Tom Waits). Cindy Doire présente: Panorama is an album for the intelligent who love to dream. It soothes, captivates, and rearranges frayed emotions into perfect order.  iTunes

14Hug of Thunder by Broken Social Scene


Toronto collective Broken Social Scene (a.k.a. BSS) has scored two gold albums each of which won a JUNO (Alternative Album of the Year). At the core of the lineup which has gone anywhere from six to nineteen members were founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. Though a hit single has eluded the group, critical acclaim has poured in. BSS failed to stay afloat announcing a hiatus in 2010, but in 2017 experienced a strong return via this fab new album. Onboard are such notables as Feist and Metric’s Emily Haines & Jimmy Shaw; 15 members are on the disc. Track “Halfway Home”, absolutely epic, combines a towering Coldplay anthem with intelligent Arcade Fire facets; this was our favourite cut. Metric’s Emily Haines seems to have set off on a ski jump with a gliding vocal delivery while guitars pump the air beneath her in “Protest Song”. “Skyline” blends the cinematic folk of Grapes of Wrath with the alternative atmospherics of Love & Rockets; we dig the guitar work yielding to boss percussion halfway through. The popular “Stay Happy” is funky, quirky, and bold. Feist takes the mic in title-track “Hug of Thunder” drenched with her signature choppy approach, flickering bass, and subdued boom.  iTunes

13Black Moon by AMAARA


Triple threat Kaelen Ohm, recording artist, actress, and award-winning filmmaker, released album Black Moon under moniker Amaara. Technically an LP (with six tracks, it has a run time of 27 minutes), the album is drenched in dream pop atmospherics. Amaara, having served as a member of Reuben and the Dark, proves she can make just as satisfying music as a soloist. The music frolics airily through lullabies, fantasies, and fairy tale magic. The exceptional title-track perfectly delivers her style. “Dreamcatcher” blends the ominous with the soothing before breaking into a soft flow. Amaara’s Black Moon is a hauntingly beautiful album for those seeking something magical.  iTunes

12L’appartement by Ludovic Alarie


Handsome Canadian singer-songwriter Ludovic Alarie of Montreal gave us his second album L’appartement. Essentially an alternative work, Ludovic writes beautiful folky songs and dresses them with sparkles of electronic hooks. In mood, L’appartement drips with pacifying melancholy. Alarie says the music embodies the “feeling of an apartment in which you lived, how you were, how you evolved, and all the feelings and memories that are attached to it”. He says the musical composition came to him quite quickly but the lyrics not so much, explaining that it took him only 3 or 4 days to finish the music but 3 or 4 months to complete the poetry. Of lyrics, he feels he is completing a puzzle where each word has a precise spot. Overall album production was handled by Warren C. Spicer of locally based group Plants and Animals. Whether you live in an apartment, a condo, or a house, Ludovic Alarie’s L’appartement will fill the rooms with alluring songs. This one’s a keeper.  iTunes

11Human Voicing by The Luyas


Montreal indie alt-rock group The Luyas hit the scene in 2006 and saw a Polaris Prize nomination for third studio album Animator in 2013. The band is known for including some unusual instruments in its recordings. Human Voicing is album number four. The Luyas, currently signed to Paper Bag Records, are four members including lead singer Jessie Stein. The vocals hit the spot, and the music is well-written and intelligent. Our ears remained engaged throughout most of the album. There’s a nice wall of sound, dynamic and stimulating, and edgy without being too noisy. An enjoyable listening experience from one of the world’s better indie bands.  iTunes

10Themes for Dying Earth by Teen Daze


Teen Daze, i.e. B.C. Fraser Valley’s Jamison Isaak, has a formidable work ethic releasing two albums this year. We loved both but were quite taken with this, the earlier disc. It features contributions from Jon Anderson, Sean Carey, Nadia Hulett, Sound of Ceres, and Dustin Wong. The album is a fine banquet of electronic ambient pop that explores themes of nature as a respite from the concrete forest, and the environment as something to be conserved. The album opens with “Cycle,” which begins an exploration of the artist’s personal experience dealing with anxiety and depression, and branches out to examine external forces, like climate change, that affect those moods. Another standout track, “Lost,” gently flutters in like a colourful butterfly before opening up droning vocal harmonies and bringing in Nadia Hulett’s twinkling serenade toward the close. Teen Daze’s Themes for Dying Earth expertly spins a crystalline web of dream and euphoria.  iTunes

9You Don’t Know by Jenna Nation


As far as R&B goes, it doesn’t get much better than Toronto’s Jenna Nation. You Don’t Know was the best album of the genre through the year. It includes her stunning vocal work, ground shaking beats, and a ton of atmosphere, with melodies, sky-scraping choruses, and all the trimmings of a masterful recording. The album’s standout track if there is one is “Can’t Get Over You” with bass to drool over. Electronic pizzazz abounds on “I Love It” and mysterious grooves animate the title track.  iTunes

8La vie qu’il nous reste by Marc Dupré


Canadian superstar Marc Dupré launched his sixth album in 2017 – La vie qu’il nous reste. It swiftly scrambled into the iTunes Top 10. Two of Marc’s previous albums have gone gold. Five of his songs have appeared in the Billboard Hot 100 including Félix song of the year winner “Nous sommes les mêmes” at #47. This album is one of the best pop albums of 2017, chock full of very enticing tracks enhanced by sharp production and an uplifting delivery.  iTunes

7Departures, Vol. I by North Atlantic Drift


When we think of ambient electronica, the Germans come to mind as being world leaders of the genre. Well, guess what, Canadians rank right up there too. You will not believe your ears when you take in the sounds of North Atlantic Drift‘s Departures, Vol. I. This is a duo from Toronto, and it was one of the best albums in the genre that we’d heard in a long time. “Temperance” is an instant classic.  iTunes

6COLLXTION II by Allie X


With this album, Oakville, Ontario’s Allie X earned a pass into the league of extraordinary pop music pros. She hit her stride and is now in a position to charm the masses with her brand of catchy synth pop. A Billboard Hot 100 charting artist, thanks to “Catch” (#55), Alexandra Ashley Hughes launched a career in indie pop from Toronto. Four years ago, her talents took her to Los Angeles, US where she worked as a songwriter and on her own music, often collaborating with JUNO award winning Canadian producer Cirkut. CollXtion II is her first formal full-length album. Choice cuts include ripe-for-radio whistling and plucky opener “Paper Love”. Slow-burning “Need You” combines seductive flickering percussion with an effective processed vocal feature of Valley Girl. “Lifted” crescendos into an exhilarating reggae-tinged chorus. A similar effect envelops the slightly eerie “Simon Says” which creeps into a synth-spicy chorus. Giving the album a large wattage of shimmer is “Old Habits Die Hard”. Previously released as a single, “That’s So Us” has perhaps the album’s winning melody. Strong writing for CollXtion II is enhanced by pristine production. Ideas have been carefully cultivated into perfect fruition.  iTunes

5Future Politics by Austra

Austra is a JUNO nominated electronic pop project from Toronto, created by Katie Stelmanis in 2009 and includes three other players. Future Politics is album number three. It offers a tighter, punchier sound than the previous two with addictive beats and instant likeability. Lyrically, the songs are smart in not offering specific political ideas in a world where a cacophony of entrenched opinions and opposing interests is flourishing fiercely, scattering humanity into different antagonistic camps. Universal themes are touched upon, for example that both exploitation and mendicancy are undeserving of praise. Katie also re-introduces the subject of alienation by technology, certainly truer in today’s world with ubiquitous cell phone finger tapping. She does this, however, with a warmer presentation than grim visions presented by say Ultravox in “Dislocation”. As such, the album has more of a hopeful vision of the future and inspires us to be creative in conjuring up new and better systems of society than the worn-out models of today. And amidst the chaos and the hostile arguments, it reminds us too, via the cover, that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Austra’s Future Politics offers a refreshing cleanse for wearied minds.  iTunes

4Fear/Nothing by The Belle Game


Vancouver group The Belle Game launched Fear / Nothing, its second LP. While the debut was an adventurous trek of a band trying out different things, everything gels on #2, and the group hits its stride. The music packs quite a punch, with its appreciable energy, dreamy crooning from lead singer Andrea Lo, rich, piercing synthesizers, and addictive percussion. Track “Spirit” is one of best songs of 2017 released anywhere in the world; it’s the kind of uplifting number with which any artist would love to close out a show. Onboard the Belle Game team for this album are producers Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene) and Dave Hamelin (The Stills). Fear / Nothing is both dynamic and dramatic encompassing a sound described by the band as “crush pop”.  iTunes

3Noir Éden by Peter Peter


Peter Peter, a synthpop specialist, Quebec City native, and multiple Polaris Prize nominee, cast forth his third studio album, Noir éden. He proves on this record that he is especially good at crafting a catchy and satisfying chorus. We highlight some standout tracks such as delightful keys dancing along in “Damien,” reminiscent of say Gazebo’s “I Like Chopin” or Double’s “The Captain of Her Heart”. “Allégresse” includes a nice touch of aloof vocal work that Phèdre did so well on “Ancient Nouveau”. Hear captivating bass synth on the title track adding nicely to other detailed touches in a very well put-together song. “Loving Game” is pure 80s, a bilingual, pulse-driven standout with French verses and an English chorus. Noir éden is Peter Peter’s best work yet and so much worth checking out for fans of the genre.  iTunes

2The Courtneys II by The Courtneys


Vancouver indie fuzz rock trio The Courtneys debuted in 2013 with a set that impressed on an international scale. In fact, New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records signed the group to oversee the sequel, The Courtneys II. The aloof, sugary singing from drummer “Cute Courtney” binds nicely with “Classic Courtney’s” exciting phaneritic guitar work. Together with “Crazy Courtney” on bass, the trio takes us on a highly engaging ride through lo-fi slacker culture and bubble-gum garage punk. The disc opens with “Silver Velvet”. “Country Song” bursts with a wall of guitars, the album’s standout jam. “Lost Boys” pays tribute to the 80s’ vampire craze while surf rock dresses up “Mars Attacks”. This was easily 2017’s best rock album. No contest.  iTunes

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Canadian Music Blog’s 2017 Album of the Year

Our 2017 album of the year artist is from Cranbrook, BC. When she was just 15, she was signed to Madonna’s Maverick label as bass player of all-girl JUNO nominated rock group Lillix. Now based in Vancouver and signed as a soloist to Light Organ Records, always ready to participate in various projects including new wave band Gold and Youth, this slayer released her third solo record in early 2017. It earned a Polaris Prize nomination. The album is introspective, guitar-oriented new wave with some strokes of synth, New Orderesque high-pitched bass pulses, and tight drumming. But there’s more to the opus. Track “Strange Weather” sees her master the country-inspired genre, complete with lap steel! The tunes are deliciously shadowy, and her bright vocals and energetic delivery give it a sunny glaze. There’s the charming “Pharaoh”, the delicious “Moonlight Shadow”, the dreamy and dazzling “Hyesteria”, and the gliding surf of “Who’s the Madman”, the latter as good as anything done by Echo and the Bunnymen. This is yet another ace for one of Canada’s most underrated talents, and her best work to date: great singer, songwriter, and musician. The Canadian Music Blog declares Young Mopes by Louise Burns as 2017’s Album of the Year!  iTunes

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