This review was shockingly hard to put together, and it’s a bit hard to be comprehensive about why. Part of the reason is technology based. I lost my mp3 player (an old iphone I got for free); my laptop slowed down almost beyond functionality, being twelve years old. This eliminated the two standard ways that I’ve listened to music for the past 12 years. I had an office job, and I would listen to Spotify and Bandcamp at work, but that contract ran out in February.
The reason is also financial. At the start of the year I resolved to “go see more live music” I went to a one concert in January (Shannon and the Clams). Unemployment brought austerity to the entertainment budget so seeing Doug Hoyer, Karimah and Baby Grayden was paid for by my girlfriend, and Bardic Form’s show was free (not relevant, but there was a bird there that almost seriously derailed the performance, and frankly they should have charged tickets to watching the flute player continually laugh and have to restart the tune). I even skipped volunteering at the Folk Fest because I was working a short renovation contract and had to keep applying for jobs.
Even still, though, the reason remains only partially articulated. It was a grim year in a lot of ways. I’m not a person who can ignore music; I have no choice in whether or not I’m absorbing it. When I got work in September, it was in a warehouse and I had to listen to mainstream radio, which, after years of retail and restaurant work, made me want to give up on the concept of music. Every day I was exposed to of 100s of songs that I don’t like, but have memorized note-for-note. The Hits of the 80’s, 90’s and Beyond. Classic Rock stations that haven’t changed their playlists since 1990, but have cranked up the conservatism. Edmonton’s Best Rock, somehow not airing a single band from Edmonton*. I genuinely think that mainstream radio made me exhausted with music.
Anyways, you know how this goes by now: in no particular order, these are the top albums that I found in 2019. Continue reading