Attack On Memory is bedroom punk that is both bratty and brooding, with songs that run the gamut between hyperactive anthems and slow burning jam freak-outs. Similarly, Cloud Nothing put on one of my most memorable live shows of 2012.
Grimes – Visions
Insanely catchy melodies, piano lines on loop and chill beats are only the tip of the iceberg on Visions – Grimes aka Claire Boucher possesses a bewitching voice that is both haunting and vexing.
Propagandhi – Failed States
Having formed over 25 years ago, Failed States is a huge career highlight for Winnipeg’s Propagandhi, a political-punk band that only gets fiercer and faster with age. Songs like “Rattan Cane” show the band exploring new depths to their musicianship without sparing on the thrash.
Japandroids – Celebration Rock
The title of Japandroids’ second full-length LP says it all: fuzzed-out rock anthems that espouse party all the time along with the crunch of an overdriven Big Muff guitar fuzz pedal.
The Ketamines – Spaced Out
On Spaced Out, short, buzzy blasts of garage rock reverberate with snotty punk attitude while paying homage to the pop sounds of the ’50s. Also, The Ketamines are total sweethearts, which is really important.
Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
There are very few bands that are as consistent as Converge, but this American hardcore quartet has managed to outdo themselves once again. All We Love We Leave Behind is full of burning, vocal-shredding punk hardcore anthems.
Hot Water Music – Exister
Despite breaking up for a spell, Hot Water Music’s eight full-length album is an endearing, rough-hewn love letter to everything great about melodic heartfelt punk rock. Along with a recent live triple album, this is hopefully a sign of more to come.
Teen Daze – Inner Mansions
I’m not typically a fan of ‘chillwave’ or whatever blanket label gets thrown on anything with laid-back, smooth beats, but there is something instantly likeable about Teen Daze’s latest efforts. His live performance at Saskatoon’s MoSo Fest was also a huge highlight of 2012.
Death Grips – The Money Store
The Money Store is strange destructo-rap that blurs the boundaries of production along with unsettling rhymes that are either pure genius or devastatingly mad rants. Even more amazing is that the group released another near-brilliant album NO LOVE DEEP WEB in the same year.
Metz – s/t
Melding hard-hitting rhythms with crunchy, slithering guitar lines, my only complaint is that it took this Toronto trio forever to put this thing out. Metz seem destined to become one of the next big Canadian buzz bands.
The Men – Open Your Heart
Stars – The North
The Walkmen – Heaven
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
I really love this band, and ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is as good as anything they’ve ever done, but after the first ten minutes I typically get bored and search for something else to listen to. Call it punk-induced ADD but I’ve never found Godspeed all that listenable on record and this doesn’t change my mind. Sorry.
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
Universally loved by everyone (I think), Channel Orange is great and all, but it has yet to grab me in a significant or meaningful way. I dug Nostalgia, Ultra way more to be honest, but that’s what happens when you are hugely contrarian to whatever resonates so deeply with the mainstream. Sigh.
Cat Power – Sun
I love everything Chan Marshall does and Sun is similarly a strong release. Nevertheless, I sometimes catch myself wishing that she could revisit the brilliance of her early material when she was wracked with mental health issues and drug abuse. There, I said it.