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
Tire le coyote is a true hallmark of the kebamericana subgenre, as well as an accomplished author, composer, performer and music lover!
Adrianne Lenker, Songs and Instrumentals
“The leader of the group Big Thief has released a magnificent second solo album, recorded simply in a Massachusetts cabin. It offers eleven sweet and melancholy songs in perfect harmony with the fall and the pandemic uncertainty.”
Jeff Tweedy, Love Is The King
“This 3rd solo album of original songs in three years is his best in my humble opinion, which is actually extraordinary for such a prolific artist with some 30 years of songwriting behind his belt. For this opus the leader of Wilco oscillates between the lightness of traditional country music and the depth of folk ballads, as only he knows how to build them.”
Nicolas Boulerice has just launched the album Maison de pierres, a project parallel to Vent du Nord, flagship of the keb folk-trad scene of which he is a mainstay.
Ciac Boum, L’homme sans tête
“One band does experimental rock with trad, the other does trad, with neighbors. These two albums will help you leave 2020 waltzing far behind you.”
Mong Tong is the project of brothers Hom Yu and Jiun Chi, who propose a psychedelic journey in Taiwanese folklore of occult inspiration where nostalgia, tradition, humor and deep singularity are mixed with an “Oriental approach to dreams”.
Voyage Futur, Inner Sphere
“An elegant ambient album! The texture of its warm synth sounds, percussion, and arrangements make it our most-listened-to album.”
Robert Nelson, an assumed name inspired by the famous revolutionary and patriot, is a driving force in keb rap.
KNLO, Club Mixtape 2020
“Because it makes you wanna move!”
Lisandre Bourdages and Sarah Dion are part of Nobro, the furious, and exclusively female, Montreal hard-rock combo. Sick Hustle, launched on April 17th, won the award for Best Rock EP of the Year at the recent Gamiq 2020 gala.
Haim, Women in music part III
“Oddly enough, it took at least 3 or 4 full listenings of the album before truly liking it. We were already fans of their music, but with this new album, we find that they went even further, took more risks with arrangements and sound recordings, which we didn’t necessarily expect from them. A big 10/10 for Haim in 2020!”
Thomas Le Duc-Moreau is assistant conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the youngest in the history of the OSM. He has held this position with the Orchestre symphonique de Québec and the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières. He is also Artistic Director of the ensemble Volte.
Sibelius 2nd Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra directed by Santtu-Matias Rouvali
“Their interpretation of the symphony has immense artistic and human depth. Listening to it, one feels a great personal connection to the music, but also how dedicated the musicians were to making us feel that connection.”
Mara Tremblay eis one of the greatest artists of the kebamericana movement and her recent opus Uniquement pour toi is without a doubt one of the best Quebec albums of 2020.
Marie Nadeau-Tremblay, La peste
“The sensitivity, depth and accuracy of this great violinist’s playing soothe me and allow me to fly away with her.”
With one foot still on the dance floor, Poirier attempted a shift to another kind of pop, releasing the album Soft Power in the summer of 2020. His favourite record of the year is not an album but a single!
Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa, eMcimbini feat. Samthing Soweto, Aymos, Mas Musiq & Myztro (New Money Gang)
“Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa are without a doubt the (very prolific) masters of the amapiano, a hypnotic and bewitching genre that flirts with house but whose tempo is slower. This song, from Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa’s album Scorpio Kings Live, can be played five times in a row and I’m still asking for more. Definitely the single of the year.”
Nicolas Basque is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and studio producer. A founding member of Plants and Animals, he accompanies other artists, and composes for dance and theater.
Antoine Corriveau, Pissenlit
“Because I like it very much and especially because it’s a sensitive album where instinct is at the forefront.”
Jake Ingalls is a guitar and keyboard player with The Flaming Lips, but he’s also the guitarist and singer of Spaceface, a band from Memphis known for its psychedelic pop-rock and its hallucinating light shows. Their last offering is a very lysergic holiday album: Holydaze.
Petit Prince, Les plus beaux matins
“Petit Prince is fave of the year. Our keyboard player, Katie, got me into this one a while back and I’ve been eagerly waiting for a full LP and this did not disappoint. This has a perfect mixture of bouncy psych pop/smooth French synth vibes and dynamic experimental weirdness for me. They’re teleporting you with their soundscapes. I’d learn French if it meant this guy would collaborate with us.”
Jason Williamson (Sleaford Mods) : After a compilation retracing the last seven years of the British punk-rap duo released last May, the charismatic singer is preparing to launch the Sleaford Mods’ sixth album, Spare Ribs, on January 15, 2021.
Billy Nomates, Billy Nomates
“It’s his first album and it’s brilliant! I’m doing a song with her on this record and I’m really proud of it (Sleaford Mods will reciprocate on their next album). She has an accent that could be American or Canadian but she’s British. I find it interesting how she sings and talks, it’s like a big fuck-off to British culture, proof that you don’t have to sing with an accent like ours. It’s honestly really good, listen to that!”
Totalement Sublime, is Marc-Antoine Barbier (Choses Sauvages) and Élie Raymond (Foreign Diplomats). They sing in French, it’s contemplative, it sounds like synth-pop and avant-pop with prog or even Asian flavors and it deals with subjects like fatigue, heat, nostalgia.
Nicolas Jaar, Cenizas
“We really like the darker side of this almost instrumental album, which at times even draws on musique concrète (he went a lot more in that direction with his second album of 2020, Telas). Cenizas is a pretty immersive album that always stays in a closed atmosphere and we really liked it when it was released. Élie remembers very well that Marc-Antoine was the first person he wrote to: “Maaaaaaan, did you listen to that?!”
Manu Militari is a Keb rapper, author, and composer, who’s put out five albums so far.
David Goudreault, Le nouveau matériel
“My favorite album of 2020 is a frank, original and pure album, it is also the work of an artist that I love as much as I admire.”
Pierre Guérineau: Total artist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer, lyricist, he teams up with Marie Davidson in joint projects, including Essaie Pas and L’Œil Nu, all while working on his own, Feu Saint-Antoine.
Grischa Lichtenberger, Kamilhan, il y a péril en la demeure
“An underestimated musician and visual artist, Grischa Lichtenberger completely disarmed me this year with his album, resolutely the most “pop” he ever did. With his emotional use of synthetic vocals (v carg 1br, syn resr), his sense of groove and textures, both intimate and completely alien, he was one of the only LPs of 2020 to remain on my hard drive.”
Aurélien Tomasi is a clarinetist and saxophonist for the multicultural formation Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra, as well as a composer and arranger.
El Balcón, La Bruja
“Inspired by the Mexican jarocho sound and Greek music, El Balcón presents a unique and unusual musical aesthetic, complex yet accessible. In the same way that the Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra does with Afro-Colombian and Balkan music, El Balcón offers an original blend, particularly representative of the cosmopolitan richness of present-day Montreal. With the album La Bruja, El Balcón offers interesting arrangements of traditional sound, as well as some original pieces.”
Scott Feltham played several instruments before finally choosing the double bass and acquiring the necessary mastery to get a position with the OSM.
William Prince, Reliever
“This artist has one of the warmest voices I know. His songs are very sweet and touching. His lyrics often speak of hope and optimism in the face of challenges and struggles. Very topical.”
Gab Bouchard comes from a prominent indie rock family in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, his album Triste pareil attracted the attention of many in early 2020.
Mara Tremblay, Uniquement pour toi
“I think it’s so accomplished, so well done. I’ve always liked Mara and I was happy when she came back with such a solid record. I don’t know if it’s because I love everyone who participated in this album, but in my opinion, it’s one of the best from Quebec in 2020.”
Lou Canon launched her latest album, Automatic Body, last spring – beautiful work in the land of Toronto dream pop, synth-pop or avant-pop..
Jennifer Castle, Monarch Season
“Jennifer Castle is otherworldly. When she sings it’s a though I am wrapped in the tender, calming arms of a mother. She quiets the clatter in my brain.”
Mirabelle is the new nickname of Laurence Hélie, who was doing kebamericana at the turn of the last decade, years before resurfacing with a totally different project, this time bilingual: Late Bloomer.
Helena Deland, Someone New
“I was captivated by this girl’s talent when she opened for Matt Holubowski a few years ago. This album is of rare beauty and I could listen to the first minute of the first song over and over again forever, without ever getting tired of it!”
Taylor Swift, Folklore
“It’s not much of a fringe choice, I agree, but I stand by it. Like everyone else, I wasn’t expecting this album. I also didn’t know how much I needed it and how much good it would do to me. The softness and sobriety of the arrangements… the lyrics! Things would surely have been different if we’d taken 2020 out of the equation, but this return to roots was frankly all I could take this year”.
Arlo Parks, EP Black Dog
“I love everything about this EP… the poetry, the voice, the instrumentation breathes, you hold on to each of his words. I’m looking forward to his next album in 2021”.
Joseph Edgar a sorti cet automne l’EP indie folk-rock Peut-être un rêve, pur jus d’Acadie.
Klô Pelgag, Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs
Antoine Corriveau, Pissenlit
Les Hay Babies, Boîte aux lettres
“It’s hard to choose one album in particular, because each one of them got me soaring, on my daily walks and during my evenings around the turntable. So I declare ex-aequo these three quasi-masterpieces. Why them, in spite of a few others who are right behind them? For one, because I decided to keep it to the French-speaking world (sorry Dylan). Two, because these artists have been able to take me into a completely free musical world, without shying away from melodic mastery or well honed lyrics. Thirdly, because since their debut, there is nothing that sounds like them, and with each of these records, you really feel that they are planting their flag right in the black core of 2020, allowing me to travel far, without actually moving that far, to my greatest delight.”
Marie-Hélène Landry, singer for the Montreal band Obsolete Mankind, has been working on the metal scene for many years.
Fuck the Facts, Pleine noirceur
“Because the artists of this band truly reinvented themselves with this album.”
Alexandre Lapointe is a highly sought after bassist and the leader of The Brooks.
King Krule, Man Alive
“This album tackles the dark corners of social life, translating them into poetic and melodic nuggets. Archy Ivan Marshall has a beautiful way of mixing any style of music with agility, which makes this project really interesting no matter what King Krule album you listen to. Whether it’s jazz, hip-hop à la J Dilla or rock, everything is done with brilliance.”
Wake, Devouring Ruin
“It wasn’t an easy choice, but I’m going to go with Wake’s Devouring Ruin. Originally a purely grindcore band, Devouring Ruin, the band’s 5th album, stands out for the quality and heaviness of its compositions and shows us how much the band has evolved musically.”
Population II, a Franco-experimental rock trio, launched the album À la Ô Terre this fall on Castle Face, and is generating growing interest among fans.
Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network, Ballet Of Apes
“A first solo album from the former singer/keyboardist of the band Thee Oh Sees/OCS. It features spellbinding songs, a remarkable production and collaborations with incredible musicians from around the globe: Sunwatchers, Mikey Young (Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring), Mike Donovan (ex-Sic Alps), Shayde Sartin (ex-Fresh & Onlys/Lifetime Ringer) and Mike Shoun (ex-Oh Sees/Peacers).”
Alex Henry Foster is a leading figure of the Montreal post-rock scene, his most recent offering is entitled Snowflakes in July.
Gunn-Truscinski Duo, Soundkeeper
“In this year of confusion and improbability, I took refuge in the atmospheric, drone, experimental and meditative universe of the magnificent instrumental album Soundkeeper, released by the duo of jazz/psych and noise artists Steve Gunn and John Truscinski as their 4th album. It offered me the immersion necessary to lose myself through the echo of my reflections, while allowing me to never totally sink into the darkness of my environment, oscillating between chaos and catharsis.”