Written By: Elliott Gallagher Doucette
1. Album: Busting Visions
Hailing from the east end of Toronto, the 4-piece rock band Zeus has never failed to deliver solid rock tracks with stadium ready hooks. With the release of their sophomore album, Busting Visions, Zeus has catapulted themselves directly into the number one spot in this countdown. The three headed songwriting beast made up of Carlin Nicholson, Mike O’Brien, and Neil Quin delivers an incredible array of timeless rock songs with their wicked three part vocal harmonies producing undeniably catchy tunes. The infectious hooks of songs like, “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?” and “Anything You Want Dear” only leave you wanting more with a great sing along chorus stuck in your head. “Hello, Tender Love” – the hidden gem of this album – has the emotion and mentality of a love ballad, yet finds itself caught in the middle of killer guitar and piano riffs. Although Zeus shows no signs of slowing down soon, the next time you’re in a record store or on Youtube looking them up, you will not be disappointed.
2. Album: Scrappy Happiness
Artist: Joel Plaskett Emergency
Joel Plaskett’s first mark ever made on the musical world was as the lead singer of the 90s punk band, Thrush Hermit. His solo reincarnation playing with his backing band, The Emergency, provides the firm punch of Thrush Hermit, but with honed lyrics and moral complexity. The remarkable thing in particular about this album was Plaskett’s approach to the recording of the album. With the Emergency alongside him, Plaskett entered the studio for ten weeks. The goal of the record was to record and release one song per week to the ITunes store as a single, the final song released by the band being “Lightning Bolt”. Although “Lightning Bolt” is placed as the first track on the full-length album, the release of this song was of course planned by Plaskett to be the last hurrah of their recording adventures. It has already won CBC Radio 3’s song of the year and has set its sights on the Juno Awards. The Joel Plaskett Emergency embarked on tour throughout 2012 in support of their ninth studio album, being capped off at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in celebration of the bar’s 65th anniversary. Scrappy Happiness, meaning something that makes you happy regardless of slight imperfection, gave Plaskett the idea of recording the record with such rigorous dates. Although attempting to impede his progress, Plaskett tapped into a unique approach churning out yet another great album.
3. Album: Little Mountain
Artist: Said the Whale
Said the Whale’s third studio album, Little Mountain, aside from containing great songs conveying all different messages ranging from Olympic hangovers to simple yet excellent love songs is able to do something many albums simply cannot. Little Mountain is able to transport you into the heart and soul of Vancouver. Their tremendous passion for the city provides them with the great lyrical topics of songs like “Big Wave Goodbye” and “2010” dealing with their conflicts with Vancouver being overpowered by their imminent love for their home. The chorus of the track “2010” being, “It’s back and forth between all of the pride that I’ve got and all that I’ve lost/And I’m defined by these city streets and sidewalks/And when the crowds came it put me off,” deals with the pressure and title that came with the Vancouver Olympics. Songs like, “O Alexandra” and “Loveless” show why Said the Whale are Canadian revered musicians, who can provide uncontrollable sing along friendly lyrics with a music lovers topic: Love. Keep your eyes peeled for a Juno Award nomination for this album.
4. Album: Tiger Talk
Artist: Yukon Blonde
After re-tooling their line up by cutting the fat and stripping down to a three-piece rock band, Yukon Blonde was able to reinvent themselves with the release of their album (the appropriately named) Tiger Talk. Featuring slick smooth listening rock songs like “My Girl” and “Iron Fist”, Tiger Talk breathes bare bone from-the-gut lyrics. With the same lyrical essence kept in mind the band provides hard hitting songs like “Stairway”, offering wicked harmonies and guitar licks best played incredibly loud. The enduring messages engraved into the music throughout this Tiger Talk prove that with dedication Yukon Blonde was able to throw a musical curve ball with a change of pace in comparison with their former tracks while still remaining true to themselves.
5. Album: And I Thank You
Artist: The Elwins
The debut full-length album by The Elwins offers the terrific melodies with a cheery twist involved. Songs such as “Forgetful Assistance” and “Stuck In the Middle” offer irresistible pop oriented guitar lines with liquid smooth moving bass lines. And I Thank You nabbed The Elwins CBC Radio 3’s “Rookie of the Year” award. Their feel good vibes and catchy lyrics snatched them a few spots opening for heavy weight Canadian bands such as The Arkells, The Born Ruffians and Zeus. With a solid performance on their first album, make sure to keep your eye on these up and coming Toronto natives. They’ll be sticking around in the scene for quite some time.