5 - 1
This is 30 minutes of blazing, punishingly tough punk rock played with an authority and an unmistakable musicality undeniable as well as infectious. Toronto-based METZ has emerged fully formed with this outstanding debut record. Melody hides beneath layers of noise, sneaking around in the depths—you listen to the blitz of guitar/bass/drums, the ear-splitting loudness of the performances, and walk away humming a tune you didn’t even know you had heard. One of Toronto’s best live bands, too.
A spectral mood washes over this deeply beautiful record from Montreal’s Luyas. Drenched in echo and reverb, this haunted house of an album is alive with sweet, high-register vocals and layers of keyboards and guitar. Written and recorded in the wake of the sudden death of a close friend of the band, the songs explore the ache of loss, the arc of grief, and the challenge of continuance. The result is a nourishing, mesmerizing catharsis.
3Godspeed You! Black Emperor
‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
As I wrote on this site back in early October: Does this new record—comprised of four tracks, two of which clock in at about 20 minutes—improve on the post-rock formula that animated the now-classic Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)? Maybe. Like some harrowing fun house ride through a gloomy, slippery tunnel, toward a darkness that looms ever larger, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is a strange and unsettling journey. But it is a mesmerizing, thrilling, unforgettable journey nonetheless.
2Neil Young & Crazy Horse
An idiosyncratic, erratic, and frequently frustrating artist, Neil Young has made more than his fair share of lousy records over the past 15 years. He has ambled around in the twilight of his career, trying on different hats, and few have fit him as well as many of his listeners had hoped they would. But here, playing a collection of “standards” that he claims to have been formative in his musical development, backed by the sloppiest, greatest garage rock outfit you can name, Neil Young is utterly at home, journeying through the past. It’s a mess. But it’s a joyful, swirling, rocking mess.
A heartbreaking, heartbroken album full of glorious melodies, lush production, and terrific songwriting, this stunner of a “break-up” record snuck into my head back in February, sat down in my favourite chair, and put its feet up. It’s not going anywhere. “I don’t wanna feel this way,” Edwards sings on standout track “Pink Champagne”. But if she never had, we’d never have gotten to hear this record.