We had no scarcity of charming Canadian albums to spend time with this 12 months.
Whether or not it was Haviah Mighty’s Polaris Music Prize-winning debut, Leonard Cohen’s poignant posthumous farewell, Tegan and Sara’s high-school demos or Orville Peck’s disruptive outlaw nation, the music was robust whereas the messages have been even stronger.
Beneath, we have ranked the highest 19 Canadian albums of 2019, in accordance with us.
What have been your favourites? Tell us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
Editor’s be aware: this checklist was compiled from English-language albums launched between Jan. 1 and Nov. 29, 2019. Look out for our checklist of greatest French-language albums, out later this week.
19. In Full Bloom, Sorrey
It took almost 5 years to get this primary full-length album from P.E.I.-based Sorrey, and it was greater than well worth the wait. In Full Bloom shimmers with synth-laden, dream-pop color, as band namesake Emilee Sorrey completely captures all of the refined, complicated and heady emotions that include falling in — and out of — love. With only a few phrases, Sorrey can transport you to the gut-punch of realizing a relationship has run its course — “Every little thing’s simple/ every part’s onerous/ tried to construct a mansion however we constructed a home of playing cards,” she sings on “Recalibrate” — or to the enjoyment that comes with discovering somebody who “fills in all of the gaps” (“Indicators”). Nothing is syrupy or melodramatic, as Sorrey and bandmates Colin Buchanan, Andrew Murray, Bruce Rooney and Luke Pound construct layered earworms to elevate you up irrespective of the state of your love life.
— Holly Gordon
18. Psychological Well being, Rae Spoon
Rae Spoon’s voice is the one form of purity I care about: unadorned and clear, quietly assured and alive with risk, made all of the extra luminous by the methods through which they’ve made themselves susceptible over their 20-year profession. This idea album about psychological well being displays a part of that journey, and it rocks and pulses, hisses and drones, and thrums with love and acceptance, significantly for all of the queer, transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people struggling to deal with and navigate our capitalist society’s advanced and unnerving healthcare system.
— Andrea Warner
17. Ceaselessly Overhead, Tim Baker
Tim Baker opens his debut full-length with “Dance,” a bonafide late-in-life love track, devoted to connecting with somebody, and the world round them, regardless of the chaos of their pasts. Whereas the Hey Rosetta! frontman and St. John’s native is aware of the best way to ignite a spirited occasion fuelled by throngs of devices and large, melodic sing-alongs — which you do get afterward Ceaselessly Overhead — I would argue it is these hushed, susceptible moments that spotlight Baker’s songwriting mastery greatest. With our first alternative to sing together with him and him alone, it feels significant to begin with a gradual dance.
— Jess Huddleston
16. Concern, Begonia
On the finish of a 12 months that noticed forefront discussions about radical self-love and acceptance, Alexa Dirks’ trustworthy reflections — through powerhouse vocals and scrumptious soul pop — are the reward we’d like and deserve. No stranger to the Canadian music scene (Dirks was initially within the Juno-winning group Stylish Gamine earlier than branching out as Begonia), Concern nonetheless manages to make you’re feeling such as you’ve been let in on pop’s best-kept secret. However, not for lengthy. 2019 may need refreshed our reminiscence of Dirks’ huge capabilities, however 2020 will hopefully ship her the worldwide recognition she deserves. — JH
15. Nonetheless, Tobi
Tobi’s debut album exists in distinctive areas — within the fluid center floor the place hip hop, R&B and soul collide; and the Atlantic gulf between his birthplace of Lagos, Nigeria, and Toronto, the place he is resided for the reason that age of eight. Nonetheless is an exploration of these in-betweens, unafraid to flex like a rapper when wanted or bend in the direction of one thing extra clean and melodic when the soundscape mellows out. In consequence, Tobi’s fearless experimentation has landed him someplace nearer to a spot he can name residence.
— Melody Lau
14. X Marks the Swirl, Kimmortal
Kimmortal spent 5 years crafting this pressing, affecting album that melds hip hop, soul, spoken phrase and pop to speak about racism, colonialism, queerness and misogyny. However this isn’t only a protest album; X Marks the Swirl is Kimmortal’s unequivocal insistence to be seen, a strong demand for fairness, magnificence, and the fullness of life for each marginalized, oppressed individual. — AW
13. Wave, Patrick Watson
Within the final 4 years, Patrick Watson misplaced his mom, separated from his accomplice and his longtime drummer left the band. With these life-altering modifications, you may count on a brand new album to be rooted in grief — however Wave is decidedly not that. “I actually write songs once I get to the opposite facet,” he just lately informed CBC Music. In consequence, Watson’s first album since 2015’s Polaris longlisted Love Songs for Robots is his most direct but, with clear-eyed traces like, “This unusual dream I am dreaming/ if it ain’t unsuitable it do not feel proper/ by no means thought you have been leaving/ thought we might get outdated, dress, and stroll the canines” (“Dream for Dreaming”). However, as an alternative of a heavy coronary heart, there is a lightness hooked up to every track. Wave is Patrick Watson’s silver lining, and it is turn out to be ours, too. — HG
12. Keep Tuned!, Dominique Fils-Aimé
Montreal artist Dominique Fils-Aimé’s bold mission to discover the historical past of African-American music continues on Keep Tuned!, the second instalment in a proposed trilogy. This album journeys into jazz and early R&B, delving into the civil rights motion of the ’60s and reworking that information into songs that burn brightly with the spirit of revolution. Fils-Aimé does this whereas imbuing the lyrics and her beautiful vocals with a palpable sense of power and resilience that powerfully evoke the previous, current and future. — ML
11. Morbid Stuff, Pup
Morbid Stuff finds the Toronto band working by way of damaging ideas and never conquering them as a lot as studying to stay with them — and maybe cathartically get out some frustrations alongside the way in which by way of its relentless model of punk rock. It is a file meant to really feel good for many who oftentimes really feel unhealthy; a whirling circle pit the place you go to really feel protected. — ML
10. Half Moon Run, A Blemish within the Nice Mild
The primary observe on Half Moon Run’s A Blemish within the Nice Mild begins unassumingly, Devon Portielje’s voice gently opening up the album over an acoustic strum and quiet echo. When bandmates Conner Molander, Dylan Phillips and Isaac Symonds take part, the drums, harmonies, spliced-in strings and that sneaky bassline construct right into a driving observe, remodeling what was a refined folks track into what someway finally ends up being an orchestral banger. “Then Once more” is strictly what Half Moon Run does greatest: difficult-to-define, layered songs that straddle the folk-rock divide — and which might be usually catchy as hell. A Blemish within the Nice Mild, the band’s followup to 2015’s Solar Leads me On, is a testomony to that ability — and the band members’ unimaginable musicianship — and what rock can sound like in 2019. — HG
9. Spectre, Lightning Mud
The fourth album from Lightning Mud, the duo comprised of Black Mountain members Amber Webber and Josh Wells, expertly layers Webber’s spine-tingling vocals alongside moody, psychedelic guitar and stripped-down piano — precisely the place her phrases belong. That includes cameos from Destroyer’s Dan Bejar and Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus, Spectre tells beautiful tales of preventing demons and discovering your manner again residence to your self. — JH
8. Case Research 01, Daniel Caesar
As we edge into winter’s tight grip, there is a particular stillness that comes with reminiscing to Case Research 01’s “Cyanide,” the sultry, Kardinal Offishall-assisted ballad that looks like these previous couple of hours of fading summer time mild and abdomen butterflies, abruptly. On the singer’s sophomore followup to his celebrated debut, Caesar delves deeper into questions of affection, sexuality and philosophy, setting the visible and sonic scene forward of what could be his most fascinating albums to return. — JH
7. Hey, I am Simply Like You, Tegan and Sara
Teenage melodrama is vital — it is unfiltered, it is pressing and its larger-than-life emotions are legitimate representations of an individual who’s simply starting to determine their life. Hey, I am Simply Like You, Tegan and Sara’s album of revamped teenage demos, honours the duo’s youthful selves by taking these nuggets of concepts that have been jotted down of their childhood bedrooms and blowing them up into the pop-rock anthems that they all the time knew they could possibly be. — ML
6. ataataga, Riit
Riit’s debut is immersive and radiant; a beneficiant and expansive invitation into her world (Panniqtuq, Nunavut). It is a buoyant, good art-pop album sung in Inuktitut and that includes songs solely by Northern artists, whereby synths glimmer and electro beats gleam, and Riit graciously extends the shared heartbeat of her folks by way of throat singing. — AW
5. Thanks for the Dance, Leonard Cohen
You Need it Darker, the album Leonard Cohen launched not a month earlier than his loss of life, appeared a wonderfully crafted finish be aware from a person who was able to face life’s finish (“Hineni, hineni/ I am prepared, my lord,” he sings on the title observe). So we weren’t certain what awaited us with Cohen’s posthumous album, produced by his son, Adam Cohen, and that includes vocals that the late songwriter recorded throughout these final album periods. The outcome is not superfluous, however as an alternative a loving elegy to Leonard that centres that gruff, stripped-down baritone, with Leonard’s lyricism, wit and complex coronary heart entrance and centre. “Thanks for all of the dances/ one-two-three, one-two-three, one,” he sings on the title observe, counting off his waltz, gently twirling us right into a world the place he not exists. — HG
4. Do You Drive?, Clairmont the Second
There are few enough methods — save for taking out a billboard or shouting from the rooftops — to correctly describe Clairmont the Second’s wildly underrated hip hop artistry. Writing, producing, mixing, mastering and artistic directing his newest eight-song assortment, the Toronto rapper borrows affect from soulful, mid-’90s Cali rap in crafting every part from late-night, lo-fi reflections to bounce-heavy bangers just like the standout single “Grain.” Do You Drive? is a particular glimpse into the brilliant subsequent wave of Canadian hip hop, and nobody’s healthier to entrance that cost than Clairmont. — JH
3. Pony, Orville Peck
Orville Peck’s debut subverts cowboy mythology and centres queer narratives. It is a nation album for the underground, a buzzing neon panorama of gritty-but-glam new-wave twang and surf-punk strut beneath Peck’s classically educated voice. It’s a tiny miracle, the right curve of a horse’s neck, the hug of a person who does not need something from you. — AW
2. Devoted, Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen admits that she does not “know a factor about” actual love, however that is all she needs. It is a humorous assertion on condition that the pop star has constructed a complete profession inspecting love from each potential angle. However it’s her skill to spin glowing fables across the topic — and most significantly, make us really feel love’s potential on a visceral and gleefully abashed stage — that makes her a real virtuoso in her sphere. Devoted convinces us of the facility of affection, and units us on the identical wild pursuit that Jepsen herself is on. — ML
1. 13th Flooring, Haviah Mighty
“That is the primary time that I have been in a position to converse my reality, my narrative and have an album that is based mostly on that theme,” Haviah Mighty stated this 12 months, as she grew to become the primary rapper to win the Polaris Music Prize within the award’s 14-year historical past. 13th Flooring is Mighty’s debut full-length, a strong — and empowering — set of 13 songs the place she takes full management, delivering rapid-fire verses and melodies about her expertise as a Black feminine rapper in a style (and world) that is stacked in opposition to her rise to the highest. “I gotta do two instances extra to get 4 instances much less,” she spits out on album opener “In Girls Color,” standing defiantly in opposition to these limitations — and attempting to dismantle them for a era of rappers to return. — HG