Photograph by Shawn Brackbill

Photograph by Shawn Brackbill

You’ve probably digested quite a few end of year countdowns in the week since we published the first half of our list. You may have seen your tastes reflected in the selections, found some good recommendations, and are now playing catch-up and cramming twelve months of music into your holiday break; but through it all, you just kept wondering what your favourite music blog had to say. Well today that wait is over; lo and behold the 10 favourite albums of the year according to your trusted Ca Va Cool writers. There’s a lot of diversity to the list this year, from bedroom experiments to state of the art studio productions, a Chicago rapper with the weight of the world on his shoulders to a Philadelphia rocker who knows how to chill out, and in the end, a longtime Ca Va Cool favourite deserved the most spins this year. As always, feel free to leave us a comment to tell us where we got it right/wrong and see you in 2014.

Photograph by Shawn Brackbill

Photograph by Shawn Brackbill

10. Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe

It’s hard not to get lost in Julianna Barwick’s music. Nepenthe is a soundtrack for the heavens, a consuming experience built on simple yet moving instrumentation and layered, reverb-soaked vocals. Barwick finds a way to expand her sound from previous release The Magic Place, incorporating strings, piano, and even a girls’ choir, in addition to her trademark bedroom tape-loop experiments. This makes for an angelic listen, yet there is something undeniably human about Nepenthe. When I hear this record I think of the cold, sprawling tundra, and how truly beautiful it is. I think of open fields and cosmic worlds. This record liberates me from my typical day and takes me on an ethereal journey as I leave everything behind. It makes me dream. That Julianna named this album after a drug, and more specifically the drug of forgetfulness, seems quite fitting. I’m not one to pressure my peers, but try Nepenthe. I think you’ll like it. — Sahil Parikh

Julianna Barwick – The Harbinger

Continue Reading ‘Best Albums of 2013’ Feature List »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

— , December 23, 2013    Comments Off on Best Albums of 2013, Pt. 2

Photograph by Caroline Desilets

The Polaris Music Prize was first awarded in 2006, serving as the Canadian equivalent of Britain’s Mercury Prize, or the United States’ short-lived Shortlist Music Prize. 40 eligible Canadian releases are chosen for the longlist by the Polaris Jury, who then pare the group down to a 10 album shortlist before the final vote. Previously, the award has been given to Final Fantasy, Patrick Watson, Caribou, Fucked Up, and Karkwa. The disparity between those winners suggests little rhyme-or-reason is involved with the eventual winner, so the list-making process remains entertaining as ever, as it’s usually anyone’s game.

The most recent winners have come with some stigma attached. Both Fucked Up and Karkwa came completely out of left-field as winners, making many question the final 10-person vote. However, having seen both acts live within the past few months, with Fucked Up making for one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen in a long time, and Karkwa completely stealing the show from Plants and Animals, I can no longer say their wins were completely undeserved. I will make no defence for Patrick Watson.

The 2011 shortlist was released yesterday, and despite boasting eight first-time shortlist nominees, it seems to be eliciting more grumbling than previous years. We’re not on the jury, but Ca Va Cool favourites PS I Love You, The Rural Alberta Advantage and Young Galaxy inexplicably did not make the jump from the longlist, and we’re scratching our heads at some of the inclusions. So, without further ado, the artists on the Polaris Music Prize 2011 shortlist:

Continue Reading ‘Polaris Music Rant’ Article »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

— , July 7, 2011    Comments Off on Polaris Music Rant

Photograph by Max Weiland

Concluding our list of the best albums of the year, today we bring you our top ten. Though the airwaves are currently plagued by some kid from Stratford, Ontario with a terrible haircut, these are ten albums that will have a lifespan far beyond 2010. As always, thanks for reading, we hope you’ve enjoyed visiting our site this past year as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. See you in 2011.

Released on 4AD

10. The NationalHigh Violet

Not much has changed for The National since Boxer, for better or worse. Matt Berninger still sings about drugs in an apathetic baritone, while Antony and Bryce Dessner layer drum hooks below guitar hooks below lugubrious three or four-note melodies. High Violet is a statement that the band have pretty much found their sound, and it’s very good listening, though it isn’t the high-water mark Boxer was. It features no ‘Fake Empire’-style polyrhythms, nothing quite as quizzically heartbreaking as ‘Brainy’; if anything, it’s cleaner and slightly louder than earlier releases, adding a touch more of Springsteen by way of The Hold Steady. The epic thickness of their sound is as comforting as ever. Clap your headphones on, dial the volume up, and lie back for 48 minutes on a road trip through your mind. Who cares exactly what a lemonworld is? It sounds good. — Josh Penslar

Continue Reading ‘Best Albums of 2010’ Feature List »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

— , December 24, 2010    1 Comment

Photograph by Eric Kayne

For the past six years, fellow Canadian music blog i(heart)music has polled Canadian music writers, bloggers, and photographers to publish its annual Hottest Bands in Canada list, summarizing, well, Canadian bands that are hot. This consensus building seems to have worked as top honours in past years were given to critically fawned-over acts such as the Rural Alberta Advantage, Chad VanGaalen, and Feist.

Since the only two rules stated are that bands submitted must be Canadian, however one defines that, and that they be hot, however one defines that, I put together my own criteria for my top 10 submission. I gauged the quality of the band’s recorded output, in most cases their album release, along with the quality I saw and reverence I perceived towards the act’s live show. I also took into consideration if I think they’ve entered or stayed at the height of their careers, and if we can expect big things to come. Most of all, this list answers the completely subjective question of which bands I found most exciting in 2010.

For more of a scientific consensus, check out the full list and for reviews throughout the year of pretty much every Canadian album of the moment, be sure to check out i(heart)music’s feature section.

10. Basia Bulat

Canada’s folk sweetheart continues to bring her orchestrated indie pop to the masses with the steady touring of her second album, Heart of My Own. A talented songwriter with a keen ear for classic melodies, Bulat has garnered a following larger than anticipated for her humble personality.

Continue Reading ‘Hottest Canadian Bands’ Feature List »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

— , November 10, 2010    6 Comments

Arcade Fire on Olympic Island in Toronto effectively closed out this summer concert season. Our first trip to the island saw Beach House, Band of Horses, Broken Social Scene, and Pavement serenade Torontonians as we rushed between shows at NXNE and Island Fest. A few weeks later and for roughly the same ticket price – barring a donation to Partners in Health – the Sadies, Janelle Monáe and Arcade Fire welcomed us. A torrent of whispers in line for the ferry argued the value of Win Butler and company, some chastising Arcade Fire for charging such exorbitant fees while others refuting that the Canadian faces of indie were worth each penny. I believe Arcade Fire had a deeper motivation than aggrandizing their sense of self-worth: to disseminate their latest record, The Suburbs. What better way than to fill an island with well-to-do cosmopolitans and charge a price we could all too easily afford. In terms of gathering a target audience to sing-along to the “emotional hopelessness of being a privileged young person in a developed country,” as Sabrina put it, the band hit the bulls eye. But if your heart is set on seeing Arcade Fire, whether you’re there for the message or the music, it matters little if they charge ten dollars or a hundred; when it comes down to it, the band knows how to put on a fine show.

Janelle Monáe served as a curious choice for an opener as it was hard to imagine any musician on Bad Boy Records opening for a group of Québécois baroque singers. The audience received Monáe’s mix of afro-punk and hip-hop enthusiastically as her beehive-like hairstyle bobbed in harmony with each strut and shimmy. As her set wrapped up and the sun dipped lower on the city skyline a sea of black and white balloons floated through the crowd and into their untimely demise at the hands of the “Balloon Guy,” who was determined to purge the island of inflatables. Arcade Fire’s intricate set rose from the rubbery remains with a life-size projection of twisting highway serving as a backdrop for an array of floodlights.

Continue Reading ‘Arcade Fire’ Concert »

Tags: , ,

— , August 30, 2010    Comments Off on Arcade Fire: Olympic Island