Zeus, one of many Canadian bands that were outstanding this year
If one thing was certain about 2012, it was that Canadian musicians rocked hard. Here are 12 songs that blew our minds this year.
1. Diamond Rings, “Runaway Love”
Sure, this song is the standard rocker from the Toronto native’s great sophomore disc. But it is so compelling on so many levels that it just cannot and should not be removed from anyone’s playlist.
2. Mo Kenney, “Sucker”
So catchy, Mo Kenney’s song will put a smile on your face. The Joel Plaskett protégé could be the best new artist to arrive on the Canadian music scene in 2012.
3. Divine Fits, “Would That Not Be Nice”
This indie “supergroup” featuring Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs), Britt Daniel (Spoon) and Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks) was one of many surprises of 2012. On this track off their debut album, the band taps into a little Kinks swagger, to great effect.
4. Serena Ryder, “Stompa”
Toronto’s Serena Ryder is firmly in make-it-or-break-it territory with her new album. It has major support, and she is long overdue for a breakout hit. “Stompa” got the year of the Ryder going in a big way.
5. The Do Good Assassins, “NYC vs. Jeffrey Brown”
The Assassins, led by acclaimed singer-songwriter Ron Hawkins (ex-Lowest of the Low), prove to be musical chameleons with this soulful effort featuring vocalist Steve Singh.
6. K’naan, “The Seed”
Okay, everyone is down on K’naan these days. He even apologized for his latest album. But there are some gems on it, including this one. We still believe. Just ditch the celebrity collaborators and be yourself.
7. Grimes, “Genesis”
Claire Boucher, a.k.a. Grimes, broke out in a big way in 2012, dominating the American college charts for the first half of the year. Her big hit, “Genesis,” demonstrates all that we love about her: haunting vocals, strong and steady percussion and just enough of a novel DIY approach to keep it all fresh and fun.
8. Zeus, “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?”
This Toronto band has made a name for itself with challenging, progressive material, and “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?” is just too good to ignore. It’s classic rock with a modern sensibility, and immensely catchy.
9. Neil Young with Crazy Horse, “Driftin’ Back”
Young’s latest album, Psychedelic Pill, features more than 85 minutes of incredible music. “Driftin’ Back,” the first track off the album, clocks in at 27:37. Sure, it’s indulgent. But it is also brilliant, and it never gets boring. A master at work.
10. Cold Specks, “Hector”
Etobicoke native Al Spx rocked the world with her “doom soul” stylings rich in the chain gang rhythm of the American south. That put her on the map, but “Hector” contains a hint of the greatness to come.
11. Japandroids, “The Nights of Wine and Roses”
The Japandroids’ latest album, Celebration Rock, is one killer indie rock tune after another, but none is better than the one that kicks it off: “The Nights of Wine and Roses.” This album could go down as this generation’s Fully Completely for its anthemic qualities.
12. A.C. Newman, “Strings”
We’re suckers for rockin’ dudes writing about their children. On “Strings,” A. C. Newman (The New Pornographers) gives us a simple but deeply moving refrain dipped in a lush, textured sonic landscape.