Tops of 2012

OK, enough wasting time, let’s get this list out there. 2012 was another banner year for music with many of our favourites putting out some really strong albums, and some new discoveries that rocked our world, as well. So, I present to you, the OFFICIAL list of albums that mattered in 2012:

Old favourites who once again came in strong:

Del Barber Headwaters (our boy Barber took some chances this year with an American producer and a bigger, fuller sound. For some, it took him a bit outside of their comfort zone, but for me, it’s challenging, fresh, and exciting. Job well done and another dynamite album that deserves to be heard by a much broader audience. Here’s hoping the fame will come soon. Watch this dynamite live video.)
Rose CousinsWe Have Made a Spark (Once again that powerful voice, combined with some heartbreaking songs makes for a magical product, but add in some of her talented friends from Boston – including a great visit by Mark Erelli on a beautiful Springsteen song, and you’ve got yourself something truly special.)
Keri Latimer Crowsfeet and Greyskull (I admit, I’m a Nathan fan through and through, so I got worried when Keri went solo, but luckily, she doesn’t stray far and turns in some personal and powerful songs on an album that couldn’t disappoint any Nathan fan.)
Shannon LyonBroken Things (Shannon has been one of my favourite writers for almost a decade, and this is truly his most powerful and memorable album since Wandered first blew me away. Some truly stark, obviously personal songs here. Prepare to be moved by this one.)
Christina MartinSleeping with a Stranger (Another songwriter who deserves much more fame and fortune – hopefully this strong album with a great video will spread the word. CBC seems to be catching on, thankfully.)
Matthew RyanIn the Dusk of Everything (This guy seems to keep popping up on my lists, and rightly so, but not all of his recent albums have been as immediately accessible as this one. As good a place as any to get in to the fanclub, songs don’t get much more raw and powerful than these.)

Can’t Help But Fall (further) In Love (folks we’ve known for a while, but really came through big this year):

Bahamas Barchords (Lots of hipster acclaim this year, and rightly so. Some really remarkable songs here. Some of them worked much better live, but overall, this is a great album and should launch Afie real big.)
Dustin Bentall & The SmøkesOrion EP (Barney’s boy keeps learning and growing and moving forward, and we’re along for the ride and loving it. Sometimes, a really strong EP is the way to go, as it gets you really hungry for more, without any throwaway songs. They don’t come much stronger than this, so I am indeed eager for more.)
Kathleen EdwardsVoyageur (Kathleen has been a favourite since her debut full-length almost a decade ago, but the last couple of discs haven’t hit me as hard. This one couldn’t be more powerful with some really personal songs and progressive production. This got lots of attention this year, and rightly so.)
JP HoeMannequin (JP’s been a friend and a favourite for years, and he finally comes through with the stellar album we always knew he had in him. With a lot of touring and a really amazing video, this one seems to be moving him forward. Good on him. Don’t forget about us little folk when you’re a big star, eh?)
Danny Michel & The Benque Players – Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me (Such a great live performer, but his albums don’t generally have the same power for me. He teamed up with his friends in Belize and ended up with a really fun, upbeat album.)
Dale MurrayDream Mountain Dream (More than just Christina Martin’s hubby, Dale has been a top-notch player with the likes of The Guthries, Matt Mays, Cuff the Duke, and more, but it turns out, he’s a great songwriter and performer on his own, too. This one took me by surprise and kept me coming back for more.)
SkydiggersNorthern Shore (Deluxe Edition) (not only is the new album a dandy, but the Deluxe Edition truly lives up to its name with THREE extra discs of great rarities, leftovers, and alternate versions. A true box set at a silly low price. If you missed out on this package, shame on you.)
Liam Titcomb Cicada (Engaging my inner pop-child with some memorable melodies alongside some intelligent lyrics and great playing. This young guy continues to impress.)

Love at First Listen (Newcomers who had us at “Hello”):

Lee Bains III & The Glory FiresThere Is a Bomb in Gilead (I’m a Beatles man, never really got The Stones, but this band has me thinking twice. The most engaging example of Stones swagger I’ve heard. Really great stuff.)
Rayland BaxterFeathers & Fishhooks (This guy looks like classic James Taylor and puts forth lots of the same charm, great lyrics, and melodies. Can’t wait to see where this guy goes – I’m along for the ride.)
Andrew CombsWorried Man (One foot firmly planted in classic country and one standing alongside great Texas songwriters, Andrew Combs is without a doubt the new discovery of the year. An album that is solid as can be all the way through, and one that I can’t get enough of. Truly impressive debut.)

The Official Afterparty (not quite on the official list, but well worth an honourable mention):

Cory Chisel & The Wandering SonsOld Believers
Delta SpiritDelta Spirit
Dave Gunning No More Pennies
Harper Blynn Busy Hands
Jason Isbell & The 400 UnitLive from Alabama
Murdoch & Sparrow Dominion Day (buy this album and support TTBTGH at the same time!)
Drew NelsonTilt-A-Whirl
Melissa PayneMelissa Payne
Jay Sparrow – White (buy this album and support TTBTGH at the same time!)
Leeroy Stagger Radiant Land
The Tallest Man on EarthThere’s No Leaving Now
WhitehorseThe Fate of the World Depends on this Kiss
Yukon BlondeTiger Talk


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