2010: Stellar Standout Songs

For those with short attention spans in this iTunes single age, here’s a list of great Canadian songs from 2010 that deserve to be heard. Seriously, you can get each one for less than a buck, and you’ll get so much more out of enjoying them.

These aren’t meant to be the 10 “best” songs of the year, because what the hell does that mean, but they are 10 songs that you really should hear and I know you’ll enjoy.

1. Miles and Years by Del Barber, from Love Songs for the Last 20. http://www.myspace.com/delbarber. Nobody released a better record in 2010 than Del Barber, and I’d stand in Richard Flohil’s living room WITH MY HAT ON and tell him so. Sensitive, funny, interesting, melodic, powerful, witty, man, the guy’s songs have just about everything. Listen to this one and you can really feel the scene as it comes alive in living colour. Brilliant writing for a kid who’s only at the beginning of his very exciting career. Watch out for big big things from this guy, I’d bet on it.

2. Goodbye by Lynn Miles (with Jim Bryson), from Fall for Beauty. http://www.lynnmilesmusic.com/. Lynn Miles can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. Any time she puts out new music is cause for celebration, and her new disc is no different. The standout track is this absolute heartbreaker about a relationship that’s just run its course. Listen to the depth of feeling in the voices of Lynn and guest Jim Bryson. Both are brilliant, but neither has ever reached into my heart quite like this before. Sad, beautiful, absolutely perfect.

3. Daisy by Christina Martin, from I Can Too. http://www.christinamartin.net/. She was brilliant on her last record, so I wondered whether there was room for growth, but this song (and the whole disc) takes things up more than just a notch. Still the same powerful songs and moving melodies, this one is amped up a bit by producer/partner Dale Murray with some driving guitar lines. This one’s about the best pop/rock song of the year, and if anything deserves to be screaming out of radios and car windows, this is it.

4. Eulogy for You and Me by Tanya Davis, from Clocks and Hearts Keep Going. www.tanyadavis.ca. Another victory for the amazing Jim Bryson. He took this amazing, relatively unknown songwriter and, as producer, gave her one hell of an amazing sounding record. This is another of those heartbreaking sad songs that just reaches into your heart and mind and won’t let go. And what a melody, and what playing by Mr. Jim.

5. My Love Comes Stepping Up the Stairs by Old Man Luedecke, from My Hands Are on Fire and other Love Songs. www.oldmanluedecke.ca. Sweet and beautiful and playful, all the things that make Old Man Luedecke, and this song, so charming. He can do so much with just a simple idea and a banjo. Of course, the disc is helped out a lot by producer Steve Dawson (and special guest Tim O’Brien), but at the heart, Chris Luedecke doesn’t need much help to make magic happen. This one is simple and fun, no heartbreak involved.

6. Turn the Radio Up, Brian MacMillan, from Shine. www.brianmacmillanmusic.com. Sometimes, we all just want to have fun (not just the girls), and upbeat songs like this are just what the doctor ordered. MacMillan is one of my favourite discoveries of the year. He’s kind of a mix of a lot of fun music (Jack Johnson, Paul Simon, Bob Marley, whatever) and with some great songs, this one is probably the feel-good album of 2010.

7. Paper and a Promise, by The Blue Shadows, from On the Floor of Heaven (deluxe reissue). www.bumstead.com/theblueshadows. The Blue Shadows (and primary members Jeffrey Hatcher and Billy Cowsill) are one of those amazing gems that not nearly enough people appreciated. They existed for only a couple of records in the 90s, but left behind some amazing songs. I really hope that people are picking up this record, which deserved to do much bigger things when it was released, if only for the amazing disc of cool covers and amazing leftovers, like this one. I can’t believe that a song this good was unreleased for over 15 years. Criminal.

8. Wherever You Go, by Paul Quarrington, from The Songs. www.paulquarrington.org. Paul Quarrington wasn’t even that well known as an author, although he deserved to be, because for my money, he was one of the great authors of our time. Even lesser known are his wonderful songs, primarily written and recorded with his band, Porkbelly Futures. As his time on Earth drew to a close, he sat down to create what would be his only solo album, and it contains some really wonderful songs. He left a lot of good on this Earth, the least you can do is allow this song into your life. (hopefully, it’ll open the door to his other music and writings!) This one’s about as real a love song as I’ve ever heard. I know that many of us guys (and some gals) can understand this one.

9. Michigan Love, by Jack Marks, from Lost Wages. www.myspace.com/jackmarksmusic. Honestly, I don’t know a whole lot about this guy yet, but judging by songs like this (and The Dress Song, off of his previous release), I should, and I will soon. He’s a young Toronto songwriter with a whole lot of heart and a whole lot of promise. I know I need to hear more from this guy, and you do too.

10. First Class, by Greg Macpherson, from Mr. Invitation. http://gregmacpherson.com. I’m sure that he gets tired of the comparison to Bruce Springsteen, but really, it’s true and it’s honest and it speaks to how powerful and interesting Macpherson really is. Old folkies like me can still rock out from time to time, and this year, no song rocked me more than this one from Winnipeg’s own Greg Macpherson. I still think this guy should be a huge star some day. Here’s hoping.

and one freebee extra:

Rust and Fade, by Jim Bryson, from Kelp 16. http://kelprecords.bandcamp.com/ and http://jimbryson.org/. Jim Bryson has been a pretty well-kept secret, but hopefully this is the year that blows the secret for the rest of the world. I’ve loved everything this guy’s ever touched (OK, some of those Punchbuggy records were a bit silly), so it’s no surprise that everything he put out this year was good, but there’s just so much (see the entries on Lynn Miles and Tanya Davis above, or his wonderful collaboration with The Weakerthans this year.) With so much to choose from, this leftover track might just be my favourite Jim moment of the year (in a year filled with great ones.) Download it for yourself, FREE, to hear why.

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