With a broken entertainment console and a one-hour delay on my flight back from Mississauga last week, there was no better time to write my first post of 2014. It’s been sitting in my drafts ever since, but I managed to finish it while watching the Oilers fall apart in the third last night.

Lots of country, plenty of soul, a little R&B, and not nearly enough rock n’ roll… here’s what’s kept me inspired, enthused, and entertained so far:

All Those Other Love Songs… – Joel Thomas Hynes
Actor, writer, director, musician. I marvel at this man’s talent in the arts. This spoken word track shows his uncle isn’t the only one in the family with the gift of telling a good story, and I couldn’t think of a better way to start this list.

Alone With The Owl – Sarah Jaffe
A beautiful cover of a Jason Molina tune off a tribute album for him that’s being released this year.

Another Night – The Men
Five albums since 2010. Quite likely the most prolific band of this decade and quite simply the most innovative. Noise rock. Country. And now soul-soaked R&B with a wonderful horn section that has them sounding like the new E Street Band.
Also check out: Pearly Gates.

Call Me – St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Originally written as two different songs, this is vintage soul at its best today. I thought I was being kol-rolled when the video started, but Paul Janeway can really wail.

Can’t Be Broken – Twin Forks
I took a pass on the EP last year… figuring there was only so much emo I could stand from Chris Carrabba. Turns out he may have had enough of it too. His new band, Twin Forks, takes him into Americana/folk-rock territory, and he seems pretty comfortable there on the new LP.
Also check out: Scraping Up The Pieces and Something We Just Know.

Gateway Blues – Catl
I caught this two-piece at last year’s Sled Island and was blown away as they burned up the place with an energized set of rhythm and blues. They can get you moving, and if this first track off their upcoming album is any indication, I’m not expecting that to change.

Heel Toe – Dawn Landes
I quickly moved past the thought that the intro sounds like Pearl Jam into a daydream of waltzing across a darkened Nashville saloon’s empty sawdust floor in the middle of an August afternoon. Slow and sultry.
Also check out: Bluebird.

How Could I Want More – Jamie Lynn Spears
I snickered before listening, but changed my tune from “this isn’t terrible” to “this is actually pretty good” as the song played. As Aaron pointed out, we wouldn’t think twice about the country authenticity of a young mother from Mississippi with any other name.

Now You Are Free – Augustines
If Sonic was still a modern rock station, this might have a shot at some airplay. A standout on a delightful follow-up to their wonderful 2011 debut, Rise Ye Sunken Ships.
Also check out: Cruel City and Nothing To Lose But Your Head.

On The Road – The Far West I’ve been reading about a new revival of roots country that’s occurring in L.A. of all places, and if these guys are a testament to what’s happening there, it can only be welcomed.
Listen to the full album here.

Really Want To See You – Lydia Loveless
Only 23 years old and already on her way to becoming the queen of cowpunk, Lydia Loveless is the R-rated antithesis to Taylor Swift’s PG-13 status. A refreshingly honest album full of songs about sex and sin without feeling contrived.
Also check out: To Love Somebody and Head.

Retreat! – Sharon Jones
Returning from her struggles with cancer last year, Sharon Jones’ delayed release kicked off 2014 with the sweet sounds of soul to warm up the darkest, the coldest, the longest days of January. And oh was it worth the wait.

Right Time – Nikki Lane
If Lydia’s album didn’t impress me enough, I was delighted to hear that Nikki Lane would be releasing a new album this year as well. Produced by Dan Auerbach, it promises to be more of the same outlaw country that marked her last album, Walk of Shame.

Swannanoa – Water Liars
The lyrics and melody here are sweet perfection. It hasn’t played once where I haven’t stopped whatever I was doing to just listen. I hope that feeling never goes away. Truly my favourite song of the year on what could very likely be my favourite album. The bar is set, Hey Rosetta!
Listen to the full album here.

This Heart – Classick
A good rocking track featured by Tim Thompson during one of his opening HNIC montages earlier this year.

Transgender Dysphoria Blues – Against Me!
Back with their first release since 2010 and they haven’t changed a bit. On an album of punk rock anthems, they sound like they’re just going for it on every single track. It’ll be great to see them live at the end of the month.

Unfucktheworld – Angel Olsen
I actually discovered Angel Olsen’s new album while looking for updates on Nikki Lane earlier this year. The Missouri native switches between – and at times, marries – acoustic folk with reverb-laden indie rock beautifully, creating a sound old and new all at once.
Also check out: Forgiven/Forgotten.

Unsafe, Unsure – Marlaena Moore
A standout from the local songstress’ debut. With songs this good, it won’t be the last we hear from the 20-year-old.

You Go Down Smooth – Lake Street Dive
A swinging soul tune that’s a genuine throwback to its Motown roots. Led by the booming pipes of Rachel Price, LSD are blowing up this year… and with good reason.
Also check out: Bad Self Portraits.

I hope there’s a new discovery or two in there that you enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment or tweet at me to let me know what I’ve been missing.

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Sled Island 2014: Initial Headliners Announced

by Aaron Vanimere on March 7, 2014

Neko Case @ The Edmonton Folk Music Festival, 2013. Photo by Aaron Vanimere

When the Sled Island festival was cancelled last year due to the flood, there were a lot of questions about the future of the event. It was disappointing to miss performances from the likes of The Jesus & Mary Chain, but even more concerning was wether this institution that had become so important to Canada’s music scene would be able to recover. Sled has been one of the highlights of my year for the last few years, and I’m glad to see that it has picked up right where it left off.

The initial list of headliners is incredible. Spiritualized has long been one of my favourite bands, and the type of act that seemingly would only come to Alberta for festival like this. Bob Mould has played in two legendary bands (Hüsker Dü and Sugar), and his newest album, 2012′s Silver Age, holds up next to his best work. Touché Amoré’s 2011 release Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me has probably been one of my most-played records of the last few years, and I thought Chelsea Wolfe’s Pain Is Beauty was one of the better releases of 2013. Few bands are as fun to see live as Rocket From The Crypt.

This is without mentioning the likes of Neko Case, St. Vincent, The Joel Plaskett Emergency, and Rhye, beloved by many contributors to the yegmusicclub. In all honesty, the acts yet to be announced could all be doing 8-hour synth jams about the Siddhartha and it would still be worth the trip to Calgary for the festival.

For tickets and more info, go to http://www.sledisland.com/. For my coverage of the festival for this blog in 2011, go here: http://yegmusicclub.com/2011/07/sled-island-2011/

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Sasquatch 2014

February 5, 2014

Well done Harry. Well done. I was completely oblivious that they were taking a page out of Coachella’s playbook and doing 2 weekends……but with 2 completely line-ups!! That will be over 175 bands. I’m still trying to comprehend the magnitude of this undertaking. It’s quite remarkable actually. With that being said there is a hell [...]

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Chris’s Favourite 50 Concerts of 2013

January 22, 2014

We’re almost a month into the new year and I was recently reminded to post my top concert list from 2013… …which was an insane concert year for me. According to my spreadsheet, I saw almost 400 different “sets”. I defined a “set” to include all performances by headliners, opening acts, and festival acts that [...]

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“I Listen to Bands That Don’t Even Exist Yet”

January 3, 2014

Isn’t it great “discovering” a new band? I think it’s one of the truly great joys in life….especially if you can throw it in someone’s face. “Oh….well. You’ve never heard of them? Hmm. I’m surprised.” Down below are some of my favourite debut albums of 2013. I will say that Chance the Rapper isn’t technically [...]

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Best of 2013… Albums

December 31, 2013

The Top 10 Albums of the year is a @yegmusicclub ritual where we compare our lists, note those who have made multiple lists, create new lists of great music we missed this year and most often, the time where we beg for more than 10 slots to fill. Without further ado, here are the lists! [...]

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Best of 2013… Songs.

December 30, 2013

As per previous years, #yegmusicclub gets together at the end of the year and shares lists. Top 10 Albums, Top 10 Songs and Top Gigs. To start us off, here are some of our club members’ song lists. Heather “I Need My Girl” by The National “Sirens” by Pearl Jam “Broken” by Jake Bugg “Another [...]

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Aaron’s Favourites of 2013: Albums, Singles, & Concerts

December 29, 2013

Top 20 Albums I tried to figure what I actually listened to the most and came back to repeatedly. As a result, there are some newer releases (or ones that I only got into recently) that missed the cut. This isn’t intended to be a “best-of”, just a what I (subjectively) enjoyed the most. 20. Drake, [...]

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Aaron’s Favourites of 2013: Albums On Bandcamp

December 17, 2013

In making a list of my favourite albums of 2013, I realized that much of what I liked I had already spent a lot of time talking about and/or had a fairly high-profile. The only value I find in year-end lists is from discovering music I had missed, and it’s somewhat redundant of me to [...]

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The Best of Lollapalooza 2013

August 8, 2013

Crazy, crazy weekend in Chicago for Lollapalooza. Man I love this town. Despite thinking the line-up was only mediocre when it was announced, my excitement grew as the festival drew near.  A few days away from work, a weekend packed with music, 4 great aftershows, it was going to be awesome. And it was. What [...]

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