Notice I was careful to say “releases” instead of “albums”. Yeah, this list is a mixed bag of re-releases, live recordings, EPS, side projects, and… well… albums. Partly because this is how I roll. I don’t normally buy new albums right away. I wait for a deal unless there is a pre-order discount or a limited release from smaller bands I like. The other reason I think my list shook out the way it had are the side effects from the pandemic. With no real certainty that they will be able to tour most artists are working on small projects.
With this in mind, is it fair to put the guitarist for The Tragically Hip’s side project up against an early 70s Neil Young release when he had the entire world by the balls? No, it is not. So here they are, in no particular order, my favourite releases from Canadian artists in 2021!…
…Well, alphabetical is an order, so… in no ranking order!
PS: Sorry for the artsy-fartsy photos. Sarah had my usual spot taken up with a jigsaw puzzle so I had to improvise.
Coney Hatch | Live at the El Mocambo
The Hatch put together one of the finest live shows I have ever heard. It is rockin’ and the most personable rock show put to vinyl. This was my most listened-to album in 2021.
Gord Downie | Coke Machine Glow | Songwriters’ Cabal
Gord Downie’s debut solo album Coke Machine Glow was originally released in 2001, so of course, that means a 20th-anniversary re-release for 2021. The included demos on this version make it worth a re-buy. A full album of Gord messing around on an acoustic? Yes, please.
Freeways | Spark Eliminator EP
We could only manage to get two new tracks out of Freeways this year, but dang… both are can’t miss old-school metal in the vein of Thin Lizzy that deserves to be heard. Grab this digitally on Bandcamp for $3! Worth it!
Max The Axe | Oktoberfest Cheer EP
I can see Uncle Meat’s eyes rolling with this inclusion as he is not a fan of the closing track. But for me, the EP’s original tune Pygmy Blowdart and the Black Flag cover of Thirsty and Miserable are mighty fine.
The Sheepdogs | No Simple Thing EP
The Sheepdogs brand of 70s throwback rock ‘n roll armed with Allman-like dueling guitars and catchy melodies continues to be glorious.
Strippers Union | The Undertaking
I put this on the other day and Sarah asked me if we were listening to the expanded edition of Tom Petty’s Wildflowers. I can’t think of a better compliment. Rob Baker from The Tragically Hip brings his delicious slide guitar and mixes it with Craig Northey of Odds zesty lyrics to create Canada’s most underrated side project.
The Tragically Hip | Saskadelphia
It wasn’t hard to believe the posthumous releases were going to be coming fast after Gord passed away. So, it is not shocking to have TWO of them on my list this year. Saskadelphia is made up of tunes that were left off of The Hip’s 2nd album, Road Apples. After listening to it all I could think is… how did they keep this under wraps for so long?
TUNS | Duly Noted
TUNS is a Canadian indie rock supergroup with Mike O’Neill of The Inbreds, Matt Murphy of The Super Friends, and Chris Murphy of Sloan. This side project does sound like Sloan’s younger brother which is a very good thing. This is their 2nd album and it is as solid as the first.
Neil Young | Young Shakespeare | Way Down in The Rust | The Times
It just wouldn’t be a Mars top ten without a bit of me
cheating changing the conditions. Like Spinal Tap, my list goes to 11 with Neil Young taking three spots! Young Shakespeare features Neil alone on stage with an acoustic in 1971, which makes for a perfect Sunday morning listen. Way Down in The Rust is my personal favourite incarnation of Neil with Crazy Horse, live and supporting the Ragged Glory album. The Times is Neil in 2020 strumming an acoustic in his backyard while denouncing Trump. All three are the greatest things ever for very different reasons.