Such a bold title deserves at least a few bold perspectives on the musically inspired year that was 2019.
It’s ridiculous to try and narrow down New Brunswick’s year in music to just ten releases. From my perspective, there have been over 40 albums and EPs that defined our year as a province, not to mention at least three times as many singles scattered across the past twelve months. From metal to dance, pop to rock, hip hop to country and numerous uncategorizable sound experiments, New Brunswick artists produced a staggering amount of music in 2019.
I’ve listened to well over 100 albums, EPs and singles this year – all made by people right here in our province. Some by career musicians, some by part-time musicians, some by music hobbyists, and others by people who don’t even consider themselves musicians at all. And this year, like every year, I find the range of creativity incredibly inspiring.
So, while we’ve already established that no list of ten albums could possibly sum things up for us as a province, I thought I’d share ten releases that I thoroughly enjoyed this past year. Maybe you enjoyed these too. Maybe you missed a few of them. My only hope in putting this list together this that perhaps you’ll take a chance on one or several of these releases if you haven’t already.
Many thanks to the hundreds of musicians who helped make 2019 such a good sounding year for all of us.
Cursing & Swearing – Cursing & Swearing
Feminist party music from Saint John? Yup. That’s exactly what we got on the debut album from Cursing & Swearing, a dance rock trio featuring dual basses, synth beats and the superb vocal work of Jennifer Megeney. Cursing & Swearing played only a handful of shows in support of this EP and I missed them all. If 2020 brings a few musical miracles my way, I’m hoping one will be a chance to enjoy these songs live.
Fishstixx – Eviction Notice
Possibly my favourite release of the year, Fishstixx’ debut album caught me completely off guard. The track, Visa, has been on regular rotation in our household since this album dropped in February. The whole album is packed with hard riffs on pop culture, the bar scene, and rudderless millennials. It’s Peaches meets The Kardashians without being overly sexual or immersed in gender politics. It’s a fucking incredible release.
Hard Charger – Vol. 4 – Take The Guff and Suffer
The latest album from Hard Charger rages at blistering tempos pretty much the whole way through. It’s totally exhausting, in-your-face crust punk delivered by veterans of the loud, noisy and the ripping. The album came out in May and the band have dropped three videos from it already. Much like the band itself, Vol. 4 – Take the Guff and Suffer is a gift that keeps on giving.
Jamie Comeau & The Crooked Teeth – Jamie Comeau & The Crooked Teeth
Somehow, I snoozed on this album when it dropped back in August. But thankfully, since then, I’ve come back to it more than once to admire its range, energy and the many influences that have been distilled down to create these eight songs. Jamie Comeau has a spirited edge that channels a bit of Tom Waits, a little Screamin Jay Hawkins and a young (and less reckless) Nick Cave. Backed by a confident band that have yet to realize their full collective abilities, this album is raw, palpable energy.
Kill Chicago – The Fix
I’ve already delivered my sermon on this album so I won’t go back down that road right now. But I will say, with The Fix, the members of Kill Chicago have proven themselves masters of their craft. The level of detail evident in these compositions speaks for itself.
Little You Little Me – Hard to Say, Not Knowing
This is the album I was most excited about at this time last year. I knew it was coming and I was lucky to get an early listen. I have listened to it at least once every week since. I love this band and I can’t get enough of their contrasting vocals, blazing guitars, and their near-perfect songwriting. Are they the band that will save rock and roll? Probably not for millions of rock fans, but for me, they’ve made me a believer once again.
My Black Ram – My Black Ram
Some have called it a side project. Others, a new beginning. But however you decide to categorize the debut from My Black Ram, there can be no avoiding the catchy pop energy that carries through this entire record. With a stacked lineup of solid players (three of the four have been playing together for over a decade), My Black Ram provides songwriter Peter Hicks with a whole new avenue of sound to explore.
Motherhood – Dear Bongo,
Another album well worth the wait, Motherhood’s Dear Bongo, finds the band digging deeper into their own world of weirdness, carrying many of us happily along for the ride. It’s a clever and unexpected ride, and one guaranteed to divide audiences and generate more than a couple of in-depth conversations. What more could you want in a piece of art?
Pallmer – Grass Garden
Grass Garden may only include three tracks, but it hints towards big things to come. Pallmer released their debut EP near the tail end of 2018, introducing the duo’s complex neo-classical arrangements to indie-loving audiences in the group’s hometown of Fredericton. Grass Garden finds cellist Emily Kennedy and violist Mark Klyen well on their way to bridging genres and audiences with a sound that speaks as much to the indie folk crowd as it does to life-long devotees of classical music.
Young Satan in Love – Dancing With A Goblin
2019 will forever be remembered as the year I finally figured out Young Satan in Love. That is to say, I still don’t understand what they’re all about, but accepting that was key to forming the initial grounds of my now growing appreciation for their next level shenanigans and preachy soap-box sermons of the absurd. This album features some seriously fine playing behind an enjoyable romp through heaven and hell. At least, I think it does.