Country : Canada Label : Genres and styles : Year : 2022

12 Canadian (mostly English) albums of 2022 to listen to (or listen again) 

· by Rédaction PAN M 360

Because you like these summaries to keep you in the loop, either to catch up or to reconfirm your own hunches, here are 12 landmark albums by English-speaking Canadian (and not French speaking) artists released in 2022. Before moving on to the current 2023 reviews, here is our final retrospective exercise. Again, there is no order whatsoever in the list proposed here. Happy reading and listening!

Yoo Doo Right

A Murmur, Boundless to the East

Mothland 

krautrock, alternative rock

LISTEN HERE

With his expert constructions of earworm ziggurats, Yoo Doo Right produces an otherworldly effect on the human brain. As the minor-key guitar line repeats, a heavy bass guides the track into a dark dimension, while the drums – with little accents on the hi-hat here and there – give the track a jazzy feel. Later, frenetic guitar trills take over as walls of synthesizers hang over them, encompassing and driving the music toward a sonic conclusion that never comes. Instead, we hear seven thunderous bass and guitar drops and Vantablack! And we’re back. That’s the beauty of Yoo Doo Right’s sound: a total disregard for predictability that leaves you wanting more. (Stephan Boissonneault)

Thus Owls

Who Would Hold You If the Sky Betrayed Us?

Angell & Angell

avant-rock, électronic, avant-jazz

LISTEN HERE

For this project, Thus Owls (Simon& Erika Angell, Samuel Joly) invited high-level performers, such as saxophonists Jason Sharp, Adam Kinner and Claire Devlin and bassist Marc-André Landry, to flesh out their proposal, well beyond a simple performance. This can be seen in the snippets of arrangements and improvisations imagined and played by each of the artists inspired by the Angell couple’s songs. The artists involved here come from contemporary jazz, electroacoustic creation, avant-rock, avant-folk and mix these references in order to reach something else. Together, they extend a hybrid, collaborative, highly imaginative art form and make real advances. (Alain Brunet)

Pierre Kwenders

José Louis And The Paradox Of Love

Arts & Crafts Productions

Congolese rumba, coupé-décalé, afro-électro, afro-pop, afrobeats, hip-hop

LISTEN HERE

We cannot close the year 2022 without underlining the quality of this opus signed by Pierre Kwenders (whose title bears his real first name), which earned him the prestigious Polaris Prize. Back from a tour in Central Africa, more precisely in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he was born and spent his childhood before settling in Montreal, the artist has succeeded in creating an album that synthesizes his musical journey, both solo and within the Moonshine collective, a veritable melting pot of Montreal’s transculture. Afro-pop, afrobeats, nusoul/R&B, soukouss, Congolese rumba, coupé-décalé or French variety are among the references delicately amalgamated by the artist, the whole enriched by international collaborations – Tendai Maraire, Branko, Win Butler, Michael Brun, Uproot Andy (Alain Brunet)

Magi Merlin

Gone Girl 

Bonsound

néo-soul/R&B

LISTEN HERE

Gone Girl reveals Magi Merlin, the strongest neo soul singer to emerge from the Montreal scene, this recording has only 7 tracks but here, quality prevails over quantity. The composer and beatmaker Funkywhat did a great job for the young soul/R&B singer, who is also open to other sounds, such as house or even dance-punk. Most observers applaud her extraordinary progress since her breakthrough two years ago. International success in the near future? It is allowed to believe it. (Djazia Idir)

Julie Doiron

I Thought Of You

Simone Records

folk-rock, americana

LISTEN HERE

Julie Doiron has traveled a lot of musical miles since the distorted flashes of Erics’s Trip, on the north shore of the Peticodiac River, until today. I Thought of You is, roughly speaking, her thirteenth solo album. Ms. Doiron’s lyrics often reflect the sweetness and light of everyday life, which she candidly depicts: mittens forgotten on the radiator, a coffee that arrives at the wrong time, a lake with a fresh wind blowing across it. Sentimental displeasure and emotion, which normally occupy a good portion of her songwriting fund, are omnipresent in the thirteen songs of ” I Thought of You”. Until now, Julie had been doing a generally delicate lo-fi, with here and there brief amplified bursts. But here we witness a kind of revolution because ” I Thought of You” is crossed by various declensions of rock. When you know that she is surrounded by the Romano brothers, that is to say the multi-talented Daniel on guitars, keyboards and percussions and Ian on drums, Michael Feuerstack – who is performing these days with the Bell Orchestre – on pedal steel guitar and our national Dany Placard on bass, it’s not surprising that this album turns out to be so rock’n’roll. At the beginning of this winter, you can listen to it over and over again, with your feet on the stove (Luc Marchessault)

Kee Avil

Crease 

Constellation 

avant-rock, experimental

LISTEN HERE

Montreal guitarist Vicky Mettler has put on her Kee Avil clothes, an enigmatic alias that the Constellation label has welcomed with open arms. And rightly so. Talented instrumentalist, author and composer for the least daring, she emerges from the waves of the avant-rock and of these less and less experimental musics which one still calls current in certain circles. Thus, this first album of Kee Avil has imposed itself this year on these sinuous tracks where the song takes other forms and merges into a culture at the crossroads of avant rock, avant folk, contemporary music, electroacoustic and “performance art”. That said, Kee Avil’s apparent strangeness is only a lure; we now know most of his building blocks. Many secrets are still to come… (Alain Brunet)

L. Teez

Studio Blue

Hydrophonik Records

hip-hop, jazz groove, R&B

LISTEN HERE

En novembre dernier, l’artiste montréalais L.Teez a lancé l’album Studio Blue, au confluent du hip-hop, du jazz et de la soul. Dans ce projet, le MC mélange avec aise hip-hop et jazz. Ici, d’ailleurs, on ne parle pas seulement de quelques samples (échantillons) tirés d’enregistrements jazz.; on a affaire à une trame de jazz mâtinée de soul, enregistrée en studio avec des musiciens de très bon niveau. L. Teez slalome entre le rap et le chant, son flow est fluide et efficace. Certaines de ses intonations, d’ailleurs, peuvent rappeler celles du rappeur américain Westside Gunn. Le résultat est franchement impressionnant. (Jacob Langlois-Pelletier)

Grim Streaker

Mind

Mothland

art-punk, rock alternatif, avant-rock

LISTEN HERE

This EP is only four songs long… much to its detriment, as Grim Streaker’s sound is immediate and hypnotic. Here we have an art studio, deadpan lyrics carried by Amelia Bushell’s vocal style, we also have the swirling use of drum machines, synthesizers and other household objects. And the guitar sound is epidermic, reminiscent of the lead in David Bowie’s song Fashion played by the great Robert Fripp. I expect Grim Steaker to be making great music again in 2023. (Stephan Boissonneault)

black ox orkestar

Everything Returns

Constellation

klezmer, Rom, Middle-Eastern, avant-folk, chamber jazz, post rock

LISTEN HERE

Once expelled from their native lands many centuries ago, actually Israel and northwest India, Ashkenazi Jews and Roms followed the northern trail of the Mediterranean. These are the essential lines of this splendid music, drawing from the music of these diasporas but also Arabic, Turkish, Balkan. Back together after 16 years, the members of Black Ox Orkestar are from the bands Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and express themselves this time in a perspective of fusion and actualization of Balkan cultures transplanted to the West, especially Ashkenazi Jewish (klezmer) since Yiddish is the main language of this renewed expression. Post-rock, avant-folk and jazz skills have led these Montreal artists to create some of the most inspired songs and chamber music (Alain Brunet)

Luna Li

Duality

Luna Li Music 

indie pop

LISTEN HERE

Hannah Bussiere Kim, aka Luna Li, unveiled her first album Duality last March. With this 13-track project, the Korean-Canadian singer transports us to the heart of her dreamy and psychedelic universe. Luna Li stands out with her arrangements that mix pop with rock and electro. A successful first album for the 26 year old artist (Jacob Langlois-Pelletier)

The Weeknd

Dawn FM

Republic Records

pop, R&B

LISTEN HERE

Près de deux ans après la parution d’After Hours, la star de la pop et du R&B est revenue à la charge avec Dawn FM, un opus quelque peu moins sombre que son précédent. Dans cet album infusé de sonorités rétros, The Weeknd plonge ses auditeurs au cœur de 103,5 Dawn FM, une station de radio fictive animée par le célèbre Jim Carrey. Ce projet est sans aucun doute une (autre) superbe démonstration de l’immense talent pop du Torontois. (Jacob Langlois-Pelletier)

Ombiigizi

Sewn Back Together

Arts & Crafts Productions 

alternative rock, shoegaze, First Nations

LISTEN HERE

“It’s Noisy”, Ombiigizi in Anishinaabe, celebrates the collaboration between musicians from the Ontario bands Zoon (Daniel Monkman) and Status/Non-Status (Adam Sturgeon), Aboriginal artists updating their cultural heritage through the original sound of the First Nations (pow-wow singing, in particular) and the expressions of rock of the current period and recent decades – alternative, shoegaze, etc. The songs of this tandem, reinforced here by Eric Lourenço & Drew McLeod, leave all the necessary space for the construction of contemplative grooves that are embedded in the free spirits circulating in the boreal zones. (Alain Brunet)

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