These five records are far from an exclusive best-of-the-year list, and I could never put them in order. But each album stuck with me, influenced and affected me. Enjoy:
The Wooden Sky — Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun
I am rarely so affected by a record. I can barely substantiate the impression these songs made on me. They performed at the Royal Alberta Museum last month and I was giddy — one of the best live performances I’ve seen. My favourite band right now.
Mike Tod – The Northern Country
I played a house show in October, down in Calgary. I’m singing, and standing in the back is a slight young man, long hair and a thin moustache under a wide brimmed hat. He is applauding by knocking his cowboy boots on the ground. Mike Tod and I had sang the night before at a small church, the structure over 100 years old. I’ve seen him sing soft and I’ve seen him sing hard, stomping his feet and belting out his songs — and that’s what you’ll hear on this record: prairie folk, outlaw country.
Field + Stream – S/T
After 10 years as a band Smokey and the gang finally archived their work, a tape-recorded, tape-released collection of heavy, grungy folk. You can hear the work on this record — the setbacks overcame, the time it took to get the songs, the lineup, the tape just right. Listen through “Chores.” It gets me every time.
The Bravest Ghost — The ‘Nicotine Hymns’ Demos
This collection is a fundraiser for a full length record, but they stand alone. The simplicity of the record is deceptive: guitar chords or additional voices seem to come from nowhere, at once supportive of and playing the foil to the gentle picking pattern and soft voice. Recorded on tape by my friend and Slowcoustic favourite Zach Lucky.
Selkies — Tall Grass
Haunted lyrics accompanied by ethereal flute: a ghostly, half-human arrangement. I listened to this record once alone in a dark part of a strange house and it scared the shit out of me. I wrote about it over on Argue Job (http://arguejob.com/2012/08/10/selkies-tall-grass/) in August.
There are a few other sounds that filled my ears this year. One I can’t show you: a live recording of Brody Irvine from Wool on Wolves (and the tender violin part on my song “Ben”) playing solo in my apartment. One from last year: Fred Squire’s “Shenandoah…” is an obsession. And two from next year: I can’t wait to share Mike Tod’s new songs, or Nick Everett’s.
Thanks to Tyler for sharing some great music! You can find more (and listen/purchase more) of Tyler Butler via his Bandcamp page.