Published Jan 31, 20111. The Sadies Darker Circles (Outside)
The Sadies continue to evolve and sound refreshing. Live, they are a joy. There is something profound about this quartet in that they encompass our Canadian heritage in both sound and imagery.
Timothy Hawkins, Toronto ON
The lads have come a long way. This album in particular has fused together several different styles to create one cohesive, brilliant sound. Some of the songs are quite soothing and mellow like "Tell Her What I Said," while others like "Postcards" are livelier and fun. The whole record has a distinctive sound to it that the band have carefully crafted over their career and the quality that the listener can really take away is the Canadian-ness of it.
Ashkon Hobooti, Vaughan ON
The Sadies are such an amazing band, through their great talent and ability to play their instruments. Darker Circles definitely is a great addition to the other works of the band, with exceptional technical playing that emotes phenomenal feeling.
Lucas Zielke, Fort McMurray AB
I wish the Sadies won the prize money for the Polaris based solely on the fact that I am curious as to what kind of new rhinestone-encrusted, weed-motif matching suits they would have bought.
Chris Morin, Montreal QC
It's really difficult to pigeonhole the Sadies into any one genre, and they have definitely straddled and blurred the lines more and more with every album. Nonetheless, they have always had that country-tinged style in their music, albeit with heavy psych, rock, and surf influences. Darker Circles is an amazing album that finally shows why they are one of Canada's (and the world's) ultimate live bands. A must hear album. Don't miss these guys if they come through your town alone, or backing one of a multitude of different artists!
Steve Neely, St. Catharines ON
2. Taylor Swift Speak Now (Big Machine)
Hard to deny that Taylor has the staying power and the star power to rule country music for years to come. Not her best album to date but still brings her A-game to the table.
Philip Jurychuk, Burlington ON
Amazing vocals & lyrics. Taylor Swift is just awesome in general.
Kara Carnegie, Burlington ON
A very talented young lady with the voice of an angel.
Jim Topham, Woodstock ON
3. The Tallest Man on Earth The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)
Folk music is becoming more mainstream every day, and it's great. It's a much more traditional and pure way of speaking through music. It's simplicity makes folk/country songs easy to relate to yet completely unique in their own way.
Sarah Sleeth, London ON
It starts, the music is charming, you're all into it and then you hear THAT VOICE. You have two choices: turn it off and do something else, or get used to it. Then you do get used to it and you realize that music would be impossible to enjoy if it didn't have that distinctive voice behind it. Terrific.
Caley Middleton, Kelowna BC
This album drips sincerity. It's honest, diverse, interesting and heart-felt without being cheesy or overdone. It also helps a lot that Kristian Matsson has a voice that could make an angel cry and puts on one of the best shows of the year (he made the entire El Mocombo shut up and listen to him with only an acoustic guitar; I've never seen that happen). He commands presence and is one of the best things to happen to a man and his guitar since Johnny Cash.
Jonathan Cabatan, Toronto ON
4. Basia Bulat Heart Of My Own (Secret City)
A few years ago Sarah Harmer released I'm A Mountain. Since then I have been trying to find a folk album with replay value. This year there were quite a few good albums as well as some exceptional surprises (props to Old Man Luedecke), however Basia Bulat took the cake with Heart Of My Own. The vocals are top-notch and musically (as one of my university professors would have put it) the instrumentation "marries well" with both the themes and the vocals.
Bobby Hiltz, Chester NS
Basia Bulat's second album is a lot more developed and controlled than her first album. On Heart Of My Own, Basia engages you with her incredible voice, and keeps you locked in with her lyrical dynamism. The songs on this album start at a very surface level, but as they progress they get deeper and deeper and never let you go.
Matthew Tobin, Ajax ON
5. Carrie Underwood Play On (Arista)
Country rocks my pants.
Ian Yeung, Vancouver BC
How can you not listen to her fantastic voice.
Theda Prahl, Calgary AB