Hailing from Montreal, Beast is the partnership between Betty Bonifassi and Jean-Phi Goncalves. Together, they’ve fused trip-hop, rock, and part funk to make one of the most unique self titled albums to come out this year. Bonifassi mixes up her powerful deep singing with rap and spoken word. At times it feels like Saul William’s Niggy Tardust, but darker and even more aggressive. I feel like I’m watching them on stage in this huge amphitheater in complete darkness, slightly unnerved but at the same time riveted, unable to pull away.

Beast – Ashtray
Beast – Finger Prints

Duchess Says – Anthologie des 3 Perchoirs

Simply put, this is Yeah Yeah Yeah’s on speed. Screaming guitars, moaning bass, unrivaled vocals. This Montreal-based band is full of dance punk rock that’ll keep you on your toes, your hair looking ravaged, and a few pounds will be lost too from rockin’ out so hard.

Duchess Says – Teneu non neu
Duchess Says – Rabies

Mother Mother – Oh My Heart

Oh My Heart is the sophomore album from this now four piece talent based out of Vancouver. The album is full of surprises, jumping styles like nobody’s business…going from indie, to rock, to pop, to folk, to acoustics and overall just creating this wonderful melange of musical goodness. This album is full of great harmonies and fantastic vocals which lull you into a blissful dream. It makes me want to take a trans Canada road trip with the windows down watching the wheat fields roll by…=)

Mother Mother – Burning Pile
Mother Mother – Sleep Awake

Emiliana Torrini – Me And Armini

Can any artist out of Iceland go wrong? Like, really? Her sweet voice is absolutely beautiful but don’t let that fool you as she can be villainous and menacingly dark too. Her songs range from exuberant positively thump-your-feet joyful to distorted, sad, and introspective. She is lyrically and rhythmically diverse but doesn’t abandon or alienate the listener in the process. And in the end, the gloominess is lifted and you are left feeling a lot lighter than you did before.

Emiliana Torrini – Gun
Emiliana Torrini – Jungle Drum

Asa – Asha

I saved the best for last.

Africa, like the world’s pulse…
Africa, like a troublemaker…
Africa, like a cry of hope ringing in your ears…
Africa, like Asa.

Asa sings about her country, the troubles of Africa: the domestic violence, the wars, the rape, the killing, the poverty. She is the voice for the silenced, the nameless, and the ones who have passed away. Despite this, her songs are filled with empowering truths and soulful lyrics. They are positive, beaming with hope, realistic optimism and prayers for the peace of her people and her country. Her music displays the resiliency, perseverance, and beauty that resonates in Africa despite chains that, in many places, bind freedom and flourishing. Every time I listen to this album I well up inside and am overwhelmed with emotion. I can’t help but pause everything and just listen. Truthfully, this is one of the most heartfelt albums I’ve heard in a very long time.

Asa – Subway
Asa – Eyé àdaba
Asa – Fire on the Mountain

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— , December 18, 2008    7 Comments

I have yet to give the new Mother Mother a listen, though I heard a bunch of the new stuff live in October. It saddens me that Debra-Jean left the group recently.

— Kevin, December 18, 2008

I went to a lesbian bar in France earlier this year to see Duchess Says play. After the show the encore was continuous “yeah yeah yeahs on speed” drumming and a mic being passed around the audience. I had drank too much so I felt it made sense to rap all the lyrics to “Paid in Full” by Eric B. and Rakim. I tell this story whenever I get the chance.

Daniel, December 19, 2008

kevin: that totally sucks, i did not know about this…and it happened a few weeks ago! i will change the “five piece” to “newly four piece”. thanks! their new album is faaaantastic =) such a hard time picking two songs.

Daniel: great song to sing. straight up.

— Dona, December 19, 2008

Yo. Asa is so effing good. Thank you for this Dona.

— Sal, December 19, 2008

Thanks Sal. Asa touches my heart and soul. I discovered her in the hub of places where I found a lot of my new music for this year, Buenos Aires. La la la loooooooooooove!

— dona, December 19, 2008

Oh Buenos Aires.

— Taha, December 20, 2008

Yo, Beast is the ultimate whackness.
They’re featured on those pre-preview cinemadvertising marquees at Cineplex theatres in Montreal, proud of the fact that the totality of their whackness is on display.

— Kanye West, December 23, 2008