Music Writer Nick Lyons’ picks:
1. Hank and Lily: Crank City
Victorian music veterans Hank and Lily’s newest release came as a surprise to even their most avid and loyal fan-base. An exercise in diversity, Crank City is a sprawling, multifaceted metropolis unto itself: a veritable concrete jungle made of dubstep, electro-pop, and the finest hip hop ever recorded in this town or any other. Lily’s musical saw is still there, as is her sexy, breathy and mousy voice, but this time it’s found in the context of an immensely different musical landscape. Hank Pine astounds with his ability to morph, even in the space of a song; he raps with himself, and Lily of course, on “Caught In the Gears,” one of this album’s many highlights. Treat yourself: go pick it up at Ditch. It comes with a free comic book, and a sticker, too.
2. Slam Dunk:
Welcome to Miami
With Welcome to Miami, Slam Dunk has achieved the impossible: somehow, the band managed to top its own amazing debut full-length album, The Shivers. Welcome to Miami is evidence of how quickly Slam Dunk has grown in an incredibly short amount of time. The songs are longer, stronger, tighter, and thanks to producer Colin Stewart, brighter. If this album doesn’t make you wanna dance, you must be deceased.
3. Eclipser: Transmissions from the Silver Pyramid
Eclipser’s first and, perhaps, final album (one of its members moved to an even smaller island) is a welcome addition to Victoria’s thriving musical climate. These are songs designed for the end of a long night, week, or year: all who have grown weary, draw near to hear music so foreign and beautiful to a listening ear that even I, who writes about music every day, struggles to do justice to Eclipser’s ambient debut.
Arts Editor Mary Ellen Green’s picks:
1. Aidan Knight: Small Reveal
In my opinion, the biggest album to come off this fine Island this year. Its expansive, yet intensely intimate sound captured my imagination and my heart. The stand-out for me is “Margaret Downe,” a devastating, yet gorgeous song about love and loss. Vinyl now available at Ditch Records.
2. Steph MacPherson: Bells & Whistles
Raw, yet perfected, Bells & Whistles is an honest and infectious slice of country-folk-pop from this Kiwi-Canadian, Island raised singer-songwriter.
3. Jon and Roy: Let It Go
The Island folk-rock favourites’ fourth release is synonymous with summer. Funny, then, that it’s still in my CD player in January. Full of Spanish flare, ska horns and beautiful acoustic guitar. M