10. The Houses (Where We Grew Up) – Dying
Genre: Indie Rock, Shoegaze
Kamloops, BC based duo The Houses (Where We Grew Up) released their debut full-length album Dying this past August. For a mere two-piece, bandmates Rob Wikstrom and Sean Schneider manage to create an atmospheric and shimmering backdrop for Wikstrom’s vocals to soar above the cascade of effects and heavy-hitting drums.
9. Bicicletas Por La Paz – Surfeando Un Cometa
Genre: Latin Funk, Reggae
If Summer has a sound, Surfeando Un Cometa is a near perfect summation of it. Romantic sounding, inhibition free and fun as hell, Bicicletas Por La Paz meld psych influenced guitar leads, funk horns and drums that would sound right at home on an old school reggae record.
8. Pale Lips – After Dark
Genres: Garage Rock, Power Pop
On their follow-up to 2016’s Wanna Be Bad, Montreal garage rock group Pale Lips exorcise the punk spirit of The Runaways and Suzi Quatro for After Dark. Beginning at a breakneck pace with “Some Sort of Rock n’ Roll”, the album barely lets up over the course of its 30-minute runtime. Fans of Mary Timony’s Ex Hex or Sleater-Kinney – here’s your new favourite band.
7. Yohuna – Mirroring
Genres: Dream Pop, Indie Pop
Over the course of the past decade, a specific brand of gentle, often female-led dream pop acts began to dominate the indie scene: Beach House, Alvvays, Julia Holter, Angel Olson, Clairo, and now the Brookly-based Yohuna. Née Johanne Swanson, Yohuna clearly has an ear for production and an ability to craft tight, memorable melodies that carry Mirroring from being one of many of the year’s dream pop albums to one of its best.
6. Orville Peck – Pony
Genres: Alt-country, post-punk
In 2019, the image of the cowboy as a white, traditionally masculine, all-american symbol of rugged individualism was increasingly challenged in popular culture. Rapper Lil Nas X came out as gay after his hit “Old Town Road” topped charts around the world. Solange appropriated common cowboy motifs for her When I Get Home visual album project. In Canada, Orville Peck has queered the cowboy in his own image on his debut album Pony. Atmospheric, dark and the ideal soundtrack for a horse ride at sunset, the album solidifies Peck as one of Canada’s most exciting musical voices.
5. Jordan Rakei – Origin
Genres: Alternative R&B, Neo-soul
London, UK based musician Jordan Rakei’s third album Origin is very much of a piece with the past few years explosion of modern R&B artists. The influence of artists like The Weeknd and SZA is clear on Origin, but Rakei manages to make the record sound his own all the same.
4. The Astounds – Get Alright with The Astounds
Genres: Garage Rock, Indie Rock
Although released in 2018, Get Alright With The Astounds managed to top CJRU’s charts all the same in 2019. Carried by noisy, fuzzed out guitars and suitably lo-fi production, The Astounds’ second album is for all the music nerds still clutching to the slacker guitar bands of the 1990s, with the sound of bands like Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Eric’s Trip and Guided By Voices all over this record. Fun and boisterous, it’s little surprise Get Alright… has managed to stay on the charts as long as it has.
3. Daniel Romano – Finally Free
Genres: Psychedelic Folk, Psychedelic Pop
The incredibly prolific Welland, ON based Daniel Romano (of Attack in Black and Ancient Shapes) released his ninth solo record Finally Free in November, 2018. Bordering blues, folk and psychedelic music, Finally Free is yet another breezy throwback to the sounds of the sixties from one of Canada’s hardest working solo artists.
2. Nicola Cruz – Siku
Genres: Latin Electronic, Folktronica
Based in Ecuador, Nicola Cruz manages on his second solo album Siku to blend Eastern and Western influences into a tight, groovy package. Building upon a base of ambient and house music, Cruz weaves traditional indigenous instrumentation to explore notions of the past and present and to preserve indigenous knowledge in a musical context.
1. Alex Lilly – 2% Milk
Genres: Hypnagogic Pop, Dream Pop
Topping CJRU’s yearly charts was Los Angeles singer-songwriter Alex Lilly’s brand of arty, hypnagogic pop. After touring as a backing musician with Beck and Lorde, Lilly has come into her own with her debut album 2% Milk. Full of airy synths, diverse instrumentation, intricate songwriting and Lilly’s laid back vocals, 2% Milk was one of the year’s most exciting records.