We put out our antennas and launched a quick call – some 62 artists responded ! While their choices are not necessarily their number 1 albums of 2020, they most certainly marked their year.
Needless to say, we respect and appreciate the musical tastes of the artists posted on this platform since its launch in early 2020. We feel sure that their fans will be thrilled to have them express themselves on PAN M 360, and are honored by this generous collaboration. What’s more, these choices are complementary to our community’s selections!
Wishing you a Happy New Year 2021, here are the exciting selections of A 2020 Artist, A 2020 Choice! – Alain Brunet
Rosie Valland, author, composer, singer, co-directed in 2020 the cathartic album Blue, alongside Jesse Mac Cormack, followed in the fall by the EP Bleu, an intimate recording for piano, vocals and electronic sediments.
Adrianne Lenker, Songs & Instrumentals
“Adrianne is an artist that touches me a lot and that I’ve been listening to over and over since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s the kind of music that instantly fills a room.”
Marie Davidson, composer, beatmaker, producer, poet, performer, she has gained international fame thanks to the tandem Essaie pas and her solo career, the last chapter of which is entitled Renegade Breakdown.
Sarah Davachi, Cantus, Descant
“This album contains beautiful, discreet and elegant compositions that give way to introspection. Moreover, it is very well recorded and entirely produced by the author.”
Salomé Leclerc is a one woman-band, author, composer and singer whose slow but steady blossoming was marked, two years ago, by the superb album Les choses extérieures.
Helena Deland, Someone New
“This album has been playing in my ears every day since its release. There’s an immense depth – in her voice, as well as in the arrangements. It is embodied, inspired (and inspiring), I dare say it touches perfection.”
Stefie Shock, versatile musician and Montreal singer, released a vinyl compilation last November, Presque tout Vol. 1. The DJ in him is never far away and for this record, Stefie has compiled it all, with mix retouching here and there, a remix he made himself, an alternative version, an unreleased mix, and mostly, original versions.
Mara Tremblay, Uniquement pour toi
“I was seduced by this album, by the simplicity of its beautiful melodies, the subtlety of its emotions and the musicality of all those who partake in it.”
Jordan Officer was Susie Arioli’s central musician before flying on his own and establishing himself as the best retro-nuovo guitarist in Canada, combining jazz, blues and country.
The Mike Rud Trio Invites Peter Bernstein, Salome’s Dance
“Mike was one of my teachers at McGill when I was there in Jazz Performance about 20 years ago. He was a guitarist who always inspired me, he was an incredible mentor, an incredible educator. You may have also seen him as the lead accompanist on Andrea Lindsay’s tour for the album Entre le jazz et la java, which I produced. That new Mike Rud album with Peter Bernstein has been a big hit with me. It’s a great jazz guitar album, and also this album introduced me to New York guitarist Peter Bernstein, and I quickly went to discover his discography, which is magnificent.”
Michel Away Langevin, visual artist and drummer of the legendary metal band Voïvod.
Public Enemy, What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?
“I would be tempted to name Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways, but I’m going to go for What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? by Public Enemy. It kicks ass and it’s more relevant than ever.”
Peter Peter reached maturity with Noir Éden three years ago. In 2020, he surpassed himself with Super Comédie, a pop creation recorded and produced on two continents.
Khotin, Finds You Well
“It’s an album I listen to to escape from reality. The textures are sometimes out of this world and the atmosphere is very dreamlike. I often feel the need to listen to it.”
Marie Nadeau-Tremblay is a violinist and leader of Les Barocudas. She is undoubtedly one of the new sensations of the Canadian Baroque scene.
Andrew Wan et Charles Richard-Hamelin, Sonates 1, 2, 3 et 5 de Beethoven
“For the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Andrew Wan and Charles Richard-Hamelin offer us these sonatas with a balanced mix of ardor and tenderness.”
Mélisande Corriveau et Eric Milnes, Badinages
“The genius of Marin Marais, elevated by the exquisitely beautiful playing of Mélisande Corriveau on the viol, accompanied with sensitivity by Eric Milnes on the harpsichord.”
Jacob Collier, Djesse Vol. 3
“Qualified by many of his contemporaries as the “Mozart of modern times”, Jacob Collier composes his own songs and revisits classics by stretching the harmonic possibilities on all sides. A multi-instrumentalist with the voice of an angel, sparkling charisma and unbridled creativity – we have not heard the last of Jacob-the-music-man! His album Djesse Vol. 3 was released this year, but don’t hesitate to visit his previous albums as well, including In My Room, a solo album created entirely in his room and released in 2016.”
Leticia Trandafir alias Softcoresoft is a musician, DJ, producer, beatmaker and musical director of the visionary Never Apart collective.
Dinamarca & La Flavi, Is It Real
“Chilean-born Swedish producer Dinamarca has teamed up with independent R&B and reggaeton singer-songwriter La Flavi to create this seven-track album released on his own label Staycore in October 2020. Already the title sums up 2020: Is It Real, is it real? While you might have expected me to choose techno, I didn’t listen to much techno in 2020, when the night world collapsed because of Covid-19. I needed music to accompany a moment of introspection, where I had to navigate a new relationship to my emotions, to love, to belonging. This album resonated with all this at the first listen. It could be described as new school melodic reggaeton, with a touch of “deconstructed club music” influences. The tone is resolutely melancholic, but the album also makes you dance a bit (in your living room) at times, with the track “Peces”. The one that stands out the most is “Sana Sana”, whose lyrics rocked me: “sana sana, colita de rana, si no sana hoy sanará mañana”, a common expression in Spanish that adults say to a child when he/she gets hurt: “heal, heal, frog tail. If you don’t heal today, you will heal tomorrow”. I think we needed to hear that in 2020.”
André Moisan holds the position of principal saxophone and bass clarinet with the OSM. He is a soloist in various contexts, he conducts, conceptualizes, and teaches.
Evgeni Koroliov, The Koroliov Series Vol. XXII, Feuilles nocturnes (piano work from Chopin)
“Koroliov’s 22nd album, Feuilles nocturnes, is of a rare sensitivity and its limpid quality holds a purity that is simply touching!”
Antoine Corriveau, one of the most accomplished artists of the new Keb Franco chanson, released the excellent opus Pissenlit in 2020 and was the very first artist to record a 360 SESSION.
Bill Callahan, Gold Record
“I’ve always liked Bill Callahan’s work since Smog, his old band, but I think Gold Record is his best record. It’s everything he can do, even better than before, and the lyrics are amazingly effective.”
Jarv Is, Beyond the Pale
“A really exciting and surprising record by Jarvis Cocker. The kind of record that commands active listening and rewards the listener.”
Klô Pelgag, Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs
“A big chunk that comes from a single block and does not leave us unscathed. I like to hear the softness and closeness in it, along with the aggressiveness and darkness. I find this record really touching.”
Philip Chiu, a superb classical pianist and a new name at ATMA Classique at the onset of a brilliant career.
Cosmo Sheldrake, Wake Up Calls
“Sheldrake uses recordings of endangered birds to reveal a day-night cycle with music. He succeeds in making us reflect as much on our inner world as on the world around us. Tender, vibrant, meditative and invigorating, this album is my favorite of 2020.”
Built around singer-songwriter Emerik St-Cyr Labbé, the Franco group Mon Doux Saigneur navigates on the waters of lo-fi rock, folk, pop and country.
Mapache, From Liberty Street
“I’ve returned to vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar and melodic flights of fancy. It’s very Californian. It also reminds me of my Fleet Foxes phase and also a mix of George Harrison and Crosby Stills & Nash.”
Jeff Moran is an author, composer, performer and art director. He is known first and foremost for the quality of his writing.
Phoebe Bridgers, Punisher
“Beautiful, deep and existential texts – a pure singer with no flaflas or mannerisms – a brilliant execution, particularly enjoyable textures in Garden Song. Without inventing anything, this album revisits everything. We are far from the typical EQ for this type of folk album which would normally be made to go straight to the heart. Yet it does go there, but on its own pathway.”
San James records her songs in both official languages. She is currently going through a francophone cycle with a homonymous recording released on September 11th.
Laura Marling, Song for Our Daughter
“I discovered this album while walking through the streets of Montreal at the beginning of the pandemic. I was deeply touched and inspired by the intimacy of the subject matter, the artist’s sensitive voice, the sober arrangements. The kind of album that captivates your heart (gently, of course) every time you listen to it.”
Thomas Carbou is a high level guitarist. He uses an eight-stringed instrument, effects pedals and other recent technologies, and works with various musical, instrumental and electronic styles. His spirit is close to contemporary jazz, post-rock and ambient.
“An experimental electro-pop album whose production is simply mind-blowing, where each sound is meticulously honed and placed with great attention to detail. It’s just beautiful, or rather just and beautiful.”
Jill Barber lives in British Columbia, which is by no means an impediment to investing the francophone space. Entre nous, the most recent francophone album of this anglophone singer, is an eloquent illustration of this. Not to be confused with Diane Tell’s opus of same name.
Slow Leaves, Shelf Life
Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow the Rules
“I love the album Shelf Life by Slow Leaves (from Winnipeg). Unfollow the Rules by Rufus Wainwright is spectacular.”
Hamza et Annick of the group Ayrad : singer, guitarist, composer and leader of Ayrad, Hamza Abouabdelmajid grew up in Fez, moved to Montreal, where he met oboist and bassist Annick Beauvais, and then founded Ayrad.
The Brooks, Any Day Now
“They are masters of groove. The arrangements and the brass instruments are incredible.”
Mike Di Salvo is the lead singer of Akurion, the Montreal metal band that released the album Come Forth to Me in 2020.
“I have been a huge fan of this band since Adrenaline. Seeing them live from back in those days certainly set the tone for me; energetic, groovy and always on point. In fact, I love all their records, but this one… goddamn! Introducing a 9-string guitar to the fold has beefed up their already sick grooves beyond what I think anyone expected. Chino is in great voice here once again as he sits in the pocket so perfectly at all times. Their best since Diamond Eyes.”
Daniel Mongrain is the guitarist of the legendary band Voïvod that has a big cult following on the planet of metalheads.
AC/DC, Power Up
“My favorite for 2020: the latest AC/DC, Power Up. Because it’s inspiring. It allows me to still believe in rock and its longevity!”
Naxx Bitota is a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This Montreal-based singer loves pan-African classical and popular music, starting with the rumba-soukouss of her native country, which she distills in her songs.
“I like this album for many reasons, of course, but especially for its musical arrangement and for Ilam’s very powerful and emotional voice. My favourite song is “Néné”, which is a tribute to his mother”.
Karo Laurendeau is a singer-songwriter and winner of the Country Music Award at the last SOCAN Gala.
Wild Ouest, EP La loi des plus forts
“Good country with which to hit the road! Phil G. Smith and John-Anthony Gagnon-Robinette are two very talented guys. They write songs full of good humor and catchy melodies!”
Danny Boudreau, La lune et le soleil
“A great songwriter that I admire a lot! His latest album has a very assertive sound that is good for the cowgirl in me! Good lyrics over beautiful melodies!”
Cindy Bédard, Après l’orage
“She shows a lot of sensitivity and emotions! This country/folk journey of the woman she has become is great to listen to when walking in the woods.”