Nicholas’ Personal Best of 2018 – Top 25 Albums

25. Ellemetue: En pays lointains (Dare To Care Records)

24. Efrim Manuel Menuck: Pissing Stars (Constellation Records)

23. The Gateless Gate: Nothing Is Missing (self-released)

22. Cheer-Accident: Fades (Skin Graft Records)

21. Jean-Michel Blais: Dans ma main (Arts & Crafts)

20. Die Wilde Jagd: Uhrwald Orange (Bureau B)

19. Midas Fall: Evaporate (Monotreme Records)

18. GoGo Penguin: A Humdrum Star (Blue Note Records)

17. Perfect Beings: Vier (InsideOut Music)

16. Riverside: Wasteland (InsideOut Music)

15. Gösta Berlings Saga: ET EX (InsideOut Music)

14. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan: Dirt (Paper Bag Records)

13. Lunatic Soul: Under the Fragmented Sky (Kscope)

12. Dog Drive Mantis: How Did We Get Here? (self-released)

11. Other Families: MOONROCK (self-released)

10. Alec K. Redfearn & The Eyesores: The Opposite (Cuneiform Records)

9. Fifth Species: Life in the Punch Line (self-released)

8. The Slyde: Awakening (self-released)

7. Gleb Kolyadin: Gleb Kolyadin (Kscope)

6. TesseracT: Sonder (Kscope)

5. Sandro Perri: In Another Life (Constellation Records)

4. VERSA: VERSA (self-released)

3. Jeremy Dutcher: Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa (self-released)

2. Renard Blanc: Nuit (Sexy Sloth Records)

1. Nosound: Allow Yourself (Kscope)
Nosound_AllowYourself

Honourable Mentions:
akey: drawing (Dewfall Records) | Always a Bad Thing: Always a Bad Thing (Baffled Octopi Records) | AWOOGA: Conduit (Rockosmos) |Baby Labour: Full Legal Stop (self-released)| Blanket: How to Let Go (Music For Nations) | Brad de Roo: Brad de Roo’s Chimeras of Decline (self-released) | ce qui nous traverse: Volume/Incident (Cuchabata Records) | Del Suelo: The Musican’s Compass- A 12 Step Programme (Wrist Shot Records and Books) | envision audio: Emotives (self-released) | Everett Bird: People Person (Royal Mountain Records) | Gazpacho: Soyuz (Kscope) | Gecko: Beautiful Violence (self-released) | Giraffes? Geraffes!: Memory Lame (Topshelf Records) | Haken: Vector (InsideOut Music) | Haolin Munk: Planestasia Suite (self-released) | Iamthemorning: Ocean Sounds (Kscope) | Jason Sharp: Stand Above The Streams (Constellation Records) | Jessica Moss: Entanglement (Constellation Records) | Joshua Van Tassel: Crossworlds (Backward Records) | Kontinuum: No Need to Reason (Season of Mist) | L CON: Insecurities in Being (Wildlife Sanctuary Sound) |The Leaks: Discorporate (self-released) | Luge: Tall Is Just A Feeling (self-released) | Lunar Lemur: You Can Tell Because The Quantum Cat Version Has An Origami Face (Trinket Trance) | Masters of Nothing: Heat Death (self-released) | musicformessier: Protoplanet (self-released) | Nils Frahm: All Melody (Erased Tapes Records) | Ninja Sex Party: Cool Patrol (self-released) | OddsFiche: Can’t Autograph a Snowball (self-released)| Oh.: Metallia (self-released) | Omhouse: Eye To Eye (self-released) | Peripheral Vision: More Songs About Error And Shame (self-released) | The Pineapple Thief: Dissolution (Kscope) | The Purveyors of Free Will: If They Mention My Name in Hell, Just Keep Runnin’… (Baffled Octopi Records) | Qais Essar: The Ghost You Love Most (self-released) | Rhye: Blood (Last Gang Records) | Seth Graham: Gasp (Orange Milk Records) | Shmu: Lead Me To The Glow (GTZ Records) | Silent Island: Stormvalley (self-released) | Stvannyr: Secrets of the runes (self-released) | This Will Destroy You: New Others Part One (Banquet Records) | Twilight Fields: Our Time Is Now (self-released) | U.S. Girls: In a Poem Unlimited (4AD) | Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Sex & Food (Jagjaguwar / Outside Records) | Witch Prophet: The Golden Octave (88 Days of Fortune)

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Nicholas’ Personal Best of 2018 – Top 50 Songs

50. “Not to Scale or Painted” by Cloudkicker

49. “Sign Of The Times” by Cloudy Head

48. “Chemicals” by Forest Pilots

47. “Goat Lore” by The World Next Door

46. “Vestibule of Hell” by Voices From The Fuselage

45. “The Adulthood Lie (Edit)” by The Tangent

44. “Féminin Masculin” by B LE U N U IT

43. “Soyuz One” by Gazpacho

42. “Under the Eye of the Sun” by Steve Hackett

41. “Origin” by Hold My Hand Spaceman

40. “時(Toki)” by SweetSleep

39. “Insane!” by Sweet Toothe

38. “Nocturne” by OneOverZero

37. “Nova” by Bastila

36. “Grey Shapes on Concrete Fields” by Kino

35. “Far Below” by The Pineapple Thief

34. “ZERO” by Red Cain

33. “Leave This Place” by Bilateral

32. “The Best of Days (ft. Steve Hogarth)” by Gleb Kolyadin

31. “How Big The Space” by Steven Wilson

30. “Summon” by VANCORVID

29. “Something In The Trees” by cecs
Exclusively Premiered on The Sentinel’s Marvellous Kaleidoscope at CFRU 93.3 FM – Show 74: That Jazzerfied Intonation (Hour 1) – http://archive.cfru.ca/archive/2018/05/28/The%20Sentinel%E2%80%99s%20Marvellous%20Kaleidoscope%20-%20May%2028,%202018%20at%2015:00%20-%20CFRU%2093.3.mp3 (Skip to 27:20)

28. “alt to unending conquest (dreams version)” by Luyos MC / Anthony Donovan

27. “LuvBytes” by Dusts of Binary

26. “Vale of Tears” by Riverside

25. “Oubliette” by Raphael Weinroth-Browne

24. “Wilderness Chant” by Stvannyr

23. “War” by Subterranea

22. “Eclipse” by OVILOR

21. “Waterhole” by AWOOGA

20. “Cocaine Kangaroo” by Moths & Locusts

19. “The Colour Pink” by Bodhi Jar

18. “Are All Fish the Same Shape If You Stretch Them?” by Lunar Lemur

17. “Finna Skedaddle” by ART the Band

16. “Là où les veines rétrécissent” by Renard Blanc

15. “Poisonous Kiss” by Archipelago

14. “City Apart (Single Edit)” by Fifth Species

13. “Diamond Duller” by Dizzy Mystics

12. “Anunnaki – Patterns of Light” by Perfect Beings

11. “Untamed” by Lunatic Soul

10. “Landslide” by Arcane Roots

9. “The Weight of History” by Brian Eno & Kevin Shields

8. “Golden Prayers” by Leprous

7. “Danny Don’t You Know” by Ninja Sex Party

6. “Puzzle Box” by Haken

5. “King” by TesseracT

4. “Don’t You Dare” by Nosound

3. “Fukue’s Theme Part I (from the Finding Fukue Soundtrack)” by Jessica Stuart

2. “Wasteland” by Andy Wiseman

1. “I Need A Change” by That Joe Payne

Nicholas’ Personal Best of 2018 – Top 10 Videos

10. “Lucid Dream” by Hello Moth and Glass Apple Bonzai

9. “Emperor Bespoke” by Gazpacho

8. “Glue” by Midas Fall

7. “Poisonous Kiss” by Archipelago

6. “Mercury” by Other Families

5. “This Is Living (feat. Nick Johnston)” by AfterWake

4. “Tombeau de robot” by Renard Blanc

3. “Odyssey 88” by MICROPANiK

2. “Waited Long Enough” by VERSA

1. “Madonna Trash” by Future Peers

Honourable Mentions:
“420” by Baby Labour | “A Way to Escape” by Marc Durkee | “Filthy Shreds of Forgotten Thoughts” by General Gruff X The Purveyors of Free Will | “5/4 (from Ocean Sounds)” by Iamthemorning | “Head Boy” by Luge | “(I’m tired of) Western Shouting” by MIEN | “They Fade” by Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungly | “The Adulthood Lie” by The Tangent | “King” by TesseracT

Baffled Octopi’s Top 25 Canadian Albums of 2018

claude

25. “It Will Come to You” by ACTORS

24. “Pure Pain” by Shirley & the Pyramids

23. “Trespasser” by Art d’Ecco

22. “Have a New Name” by Wax Mannequin

21. “Lightbringer” by Still Fools

20. “Queller” by Ivory Towers

19. “Fever Feel” by Fever Feel

18. “Aleppo” by Tremblers of Sevens

17. “Patient Problems” by Problem Patient

16. “The Golden Octave” by Witch Prophet

15. “Lush Life” by Bonjay

14. “Angels of Death” by Jennifer Castle

13. “Heart Shaped Bed” by Nicole Dollanganger

12. “Bird/Alien” by Wallgrin

11. “Into the Sun” by Freak Dream

10. “Basic Behaviour” by Frigs

9. “Monkey Paw” by Phono Pony

8. “Puff LP: In the air without a shape” by Bernice

7. “Rebirth” by Cursed Arrows

6. “Cotton Candy Jet Engine” by Expanda Fuzz

5. “Strange Prison” by Astral Swans

4. “Montreal” by Elizabeth Shepherd

3. “Drugs in the Water” by TETRIX

2. “Trade Winds” by Hello Blue Roses

1. “Cuntrol+Z” by Claude l’Anthrope

 

(Baffled Octopi = Mark Anthony Brennan)

Review: “Life Goes On” by Diamondtown

Review by Jackie Stanley

Rifting, gliding. Forever forgetting what we’ve so often been told. There are nuances to both depression and joy: subtle inflections of voice and shifting of weight both physical, and metaphysical.

KC Spidle is no stranger to dark subject matter. Since his days as a drummer in The Hold, Made In The World, and Dog Day right through his seamless debut as a solo songwriter via Husband & Knife and half of the duo Air/Fire (which also featured longtime collaborator and studio genius Evan Cardwell). From the ballsy yet wankless slow-punk of Bad Vibrations (again with Cardwell) through to his newest record, Life Goes On, Spidle tells it like it is. Not the parts we all know, necessarily. The things we leave unsaid; the tiny moments of weakness and defeat that might – in less adept hands – leave us feeling broken. He writes and sings them without shame, pairing them with amiable guitars, relentlessly listenable backing beats and ambient room sounds.

Realism abounds. Something always feels familiar, and enticing. Beckoning. Lyrics about devil’s dust, stealing shit, and hitting the deep end are delivered with a dulcimer ease that makes us want to listen. This album comes closer to the untouchable Elliott Smith than anything else Spidle has done, and it does so quietly. Unassuming. Just following its gut. Uplifting even as it deals with boggy feelings stuck down in the dreadful mire. Like ancestral spirit moths to a flame, those of us who’ve felt some pain – who’ve seen some shit – lock into this songwriting as soon as it alights.

There’s an era-less, genre-elusive appeal to this record. Album based rock, sure. Gothic easy listening, perhaps. A healthy masculinity – elusive in Western culture since the fall of partnership-based societies of millennia past – weaves its way through every note. The confessional lyrics offer a subconscious critique of the paternalistic, hierarchy based culture in which we presently find ourselves. Is there a way back out? Back up into the harmonious clouds?

Egos by the wayside, slapback delay, and jovially present reverb on everything. Clever moments of vocal panning and a relentless vintage drum machine that serves as a perfect symbol for the weathered artists behind this record. Confident in their own skins, determined to tell the whole truth, consistently, no matter how long it takes. They’re in no hurry, and neither are we by the time we’ve listened all the way through. We can tell something has shifted in our consciousness, ever-so-slightly. We feel gently renewed.

Chris Thompson (Eric’s Trip, The Memories Attack, Moonsocket) joins Diamondtown in their latest incarnation. We can’t wait to hear what this ‘town sounds like next.

Review: “Cotton Candy Jet Engine” by Expanda Fuzz

Review by Mark Anthony Brennan

expanda fuzz

First there was the idea to cover a Pink Floyd song.
With a female voice.
And a lot of layered fuzz distortion.
And beats from a sampler.
And played at a really, really slow tempo.
That’s how Expanda Fuzz was born.

Not my words but theirs. I couldn’t have explained it any better myself though. Produced by a couple of musicians hailings from Ottawa the music sounds like “a cotton candy jet engine” according to an observer at Calgary’s Sled Island. Hence the band’s first full-length album title.

The tone is set with the opening track “The Ghoul in the Clean White Shirt”. A thumping beat accompanies a menacing drone as the dream pop vocals ooze out sweetly and melodically. The sweetness cannot overcome the edgy guitar, however, and we end up with a female version of the Jesus and Mary Chain.

The guitars are no less fuzzy on the next track “Ghosts and Flowers” but definitely less shrill. The pulsing rhythm is mesmerizing, especially with the line, “Now my visions blurred from acetaminophen/I saw ghosts and I saw flowers at the medic tent/And the machine plugs in and takes me somewhere I’ve never been”. So, yes, we are still talking quite strange. That part doesn’t let up.

Other highlights include the feisty “At War With Summer”, the ’90s influenced “The Last of the Who Heads” and the charming (by their standards) “Got My Spirit Cat”. The duo even like to get experimental, including interesting elements throughout, especially on the intros and outros. Tracks like “Your Sonic Halo” sound like an earthier take on The Knife, with an exotic beat and vocals that are more chanted than sung.

Cotton Candy Jet Engine? Sure, I’ll buy that. Downbeat, fuzzed-out gloom/dream never sounded so good.

Highly Recommended

Review: “Montreal” by Elizabeth Shepherd

Review by Mark Anthony Brennan

Elizabeth Shepherd spent four years interviewing various people (strangers) in Montreal. Ending up with essentially a “people’s history” of the city she loves so much she then wove the stories into eleven original songs. Significantly, this is her first bilingual album, with 2/3 of the songs in French and 1/3 in English — a proper representation of the two languages in Montreal.

The resulting album is a wonderful example of Shepherd’s art. Overall the vibe is breezy and jazzy, with vocals that nimbly bounce over the music. The beats are interesting, such as the shuffling percussion on “Tio’tia:ke”, which counterbalance the melodic baroque pop. Shepherd also plays with discordance, although in tastefully small amounts. The jazz meltdown that happens towards the end of “Reine du monde” is a good example.

Her lyrics in English are certainly expressive enough, as in the funky “Our Lady” which deals with a woman escaping an abusive relationship (“New life, new song, new breath – gotta keep moving on/New child, fresh start, one chance – gotta keep moving on”). However, Shepherd somehow finds even more expression in French. “C’est le temps” features a passages in which she harmonizes quite cleverly with herself as she states flatly “c’est le temps” (it’s the times). She later sings, “le choix illusoire nous soutien a travers le chaos, gravite et souffrance”, sounding far better in French than the awkward translation “The illusory choice supports us through chaos, gravity and suffering”.

“Montreal” is a triumph that clearly demonstrates the depth and breadth of Shepherd’s abilities and also allows us to share in her love of her hometown.

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