Favourite Artists / Tracks of 2009

I thought I’d jump on the end-of-year bandwagon and share a few of my favourite artists and songs from the past year.  There were a lot of highlights, both from my own festival and others that I attended, but I’ve chosen a handful that I keep coming back to.  I was reminded this year that there’s no substitute for a live performance, and that there are lots of really talented musicians out there who tour the country in vans more for love than money.

I became fans of a lot of the bands that played at BC Scene, but I fell hardest for Mother Mother. After missing their show at the Blacksheep during the festival, I made sure to catch them a couple of weeks ago when they opened for Matt Good at the NAC.

We’ve been playing “Hayloft” pretty regularly in the car. K thinks the line “Young lovers with their legs tied up in knots” is hilarious. As long as he doesn’t go around singing it in his Junior Kindergarten class then we should be O.K.

I’ve been playing Metric’s “Help I’m Alive” almost non-stop for the past month. It’s a song that really should be played at maximum volume – the snare just has to have that crack to it. The video / short film by Winnipeg artist Deco Dawson is perfect.

Vancouver’s Dan Mangan has had a very good year. He released Nice, Nice, Very Nice to great acclaim in August, was named the XM Verge Award Artist of the Year, and was all over CBC Radio 3’s Bucky Awards. He’s also a genuinely nice guy.

His solo set with Danny Michel in April was one of my favourite moments of the festival. It made me want to give everything up and become a singer-songwriter, until I remembered I can’t sing, play guitar, or write songs. I’ll just have to live vicariously through him.

I caught Hey Rosetta! at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in July and immediately bought their first two albums. The talented sextet from St. John’s can rock out with the best of them, then change directions entirely for a piano and strings ballad. In the wrong hands this could get a bit gimmicky, but these guys make it work.

The track “We Made a Pact” is one of my favourites from Into Your Lungs – the harmonies at 2:20 get me every time.

Finally, you should check out Grand Analog.  It’s hip hop with elements of R & B / jazz / reggae / rock.  The track “Electric City” featuring Shad even gets a square guy like me to dance.  A little.

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