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CBC Radio 3's top 103 Canadian indie songs of 2014

Andrea Gin

Well, we have officially entered December, and it's high time to start summing up the year in music. Here’s our countdown of CBC Radio 3's top 103 best Canadian indie songs of 2014! Our top 103 was selected by our music programmers and reflect what we played the most this year. Each song was released in the past calendar year and are all Canadian independent releases. 

Artist: Scary Bear Soundtrack
Song: "The Longest Night" (feat. Avid Napper)
We discovered this amazing synth-pop band from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, in our Searchlight competition for Canada's best new artist. They rode the strength of this song all the way to the top 10! — Grant Lawrence

Artist: The Wooden Sky
Song: "Maybe It's No Secret"
Toronto's favourite plaid-clad alt-country rockers turn up the tempo on this rollicking track, perfect for soundtracking a trip down the open road. — Emma Godmere

Artist: Zeus
Song: "27 is the New 17"
This Barrie, Ont., pop band has come into form on this album, aptly titled Classic Zeus. Like the Kinks with toques. — James Booth

Artist: Sloan
Song: "Take it Easy"
Yet another fist-pumping, butt-shaking hit from Patrick Pentland and Sloan. This
one comes with its own "Whoooo!" too! — G.L.

Artist: Tokyo Police Club
Song: "Hot Tonight"
Everything you'd want in a summer song and more: jangly guitars, a catchy melody and lyrics about staying out late and coming to terms with your existence. — Jesse Kinos-Goodin

Artist: The Provincial Archive
Song: "Full of Water"
These native Edmontonians tap into their love of Wilco for a simple song speckled with hand claps and shimmering guitar. — E.G.

Artist: In-Flight Safety
Song: "Blue Flares"
A beautiful, swirling pop song by a Halifax band that's a true survivor in the industry. Great to see In-Flight Safety back in 2014! — G.L.

Artist: Hey Rosetta!
Song: "Harriet"
A gorgeous anthem that slowly builds toward a final burst of joy with chorus upon chorus upon chorus. And a good enough reason to name your first daughter Harriet. — J.K.G.

Artist: Viet Cong
Song: "Continental Shelf"
Like a phoenix rising from Arizona, Viet Cong soar with this fuzzed-out dream rocker and show why this band's one of the reasons Calgary is worth listening to. — S.V.

Artist: Rah Rah
Song: "Good Winter"
One of the best bands to come out of Regina moves things forward with this groovy and soulful pop tune. — J.B.

Artist: Operators
Song: "Start Again"
It's always a thrill to hear the next musical project of Daniel Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, etc.), and Operators is no disappointment. As long as Boeckner is singing, it'll be great. — Lana Gay

Artist: Bahamas
Song: "Stronger Than That"
Afie Jurvanen's soulful, breezy tune is sunshine bouncing off the water: an effortless marvel, but a moment of great beauty all the same. — Andrea Warner

Artist: Rich Aucoin
Song: "Want to Believe"
Is this the one from the Subway commercial? Whatever, Rich Aucoin is the East Coast wonderhorse of Canadian music. This song absolutely rips me a new one. — J.B.

Artist: WISH
Song: "Retrograde"
Wish's pseudo-psychedelic "Retro Grade" swirls through your ear holes and into your noggin like a cherry smokescreen and if you can't dig on that, well then I don't know what to tell you. Because it's awesome. — Steve Venegas

Artist: Lydia Ainsworth
Song: "PSI"
Her music is manic, building up like billowing thunder clouds only to land in a clear sky of stars. Her incredible understanding of space and tension sets her apart from your average "orchestral pop artist." — Louise Burns

Artist: Stars
Song: "Trapdoor"
Disco-tinged nostalgia will tug at your heartstrings and get you on the dancefloor. You should take a listen to their entire new album, No One Is Lost, if you haven't yet; it's one of their best in recent memory. — Andrea Gin

Artist: Shad & DJ T.
Song: "Hang On"
Shad & DJ T. Lo throw a ton of hooks and beats into the blender on this smoker. The song's got the groove and Shad's got the flow. — James Booth

Artist: Mo Kenney
Song: "Telephones"
Arguably the biggest CanCon earworm of 2014. Mo Kenney goes on a tear with this Mardeen cover, forcing an irresistible, top-of-the-lungs singalong. — Emma Godmere

Artist: Elliott Brood
Song: "Tired"
Like AC/DC with acoustic instruments, this Windsor trio is back at what they do best: stompin' roots with pure heart. — J.B.

Artist: New Pornographers
Song: "Dancehall Domine"
Greatest/dirgiest keyboard solo of all time. Makes me "WHOOOO!" with admiration every time I hear it. — Grant Lawrence

Artist: High Ends
Song: "Downtown"
Returning to his electronic roots, Jeffrey Innes of High Ends channels late-'90s sounds with mondern construction to make some of the best sounds of the year. — Steve Venegas

Artist: Alvvays
Song: "Adult Diversion"
This was the first track from Alvvays that we added into rotation on Radio 3 from the now classic indie-pop album of 2014, which we rated the #1 album of the year. — E.G.

Artist: SLATES
Song: "Molina Blues"
Heavy but catchy and melodic song from this punk band from Edmonton. — J.B.

Artist: Caribou
Song: "Can't Do Without You"
The lead single from a sonically rich album that’s vulnerable without being self-conscious; accessible, without lacking depth and an ode to love, without relying on the tropes of “baby, baby, baby” choruses of past. — Alanna Stuart

Artist: Octoberman
Song: "Dogwalk"
Toronto's Octoberman have taken the chore of walking the dog and transformed it into a 3-minute toe-tapping treat. — Steve Venegas

Artist: Betrayers
Song: "Spinnin' Wheel"
An organ-drenched rocker from a great new band from Edmonton. We hope to hear more in 2015! — Grant Lawrence

Artist: Rival Boys
Song: "Lives of Plants and Animals"
A Wolf Parade-influenced 3-piece that includes some pretty spirited two-part sibling harmonies. A refreshingly energetic take on indie rock. — Andrea Gin

Artist: Unicorns
Song: "Let Me Sleep"
A lost track from their album of 2004, it was great to get a slice of unheard Unicorns for their reunion year. — G.L.

Artist: The Two Koreas
Song: ""LP Winner!"
Noisy angular post-punk from this Toronto band. It's a fun catchy tune that speeds to its conclusion. — James Booth

Artist: Sam Roberts Band
Song: "Human Heat"
Sam combines his stadium rock sound with a snyth-laden 80s electro-pop groove that sticks in your head and won't get out! — J.B.

Artist: Lowell
Song: "I Love You Money"
Frantic handclaps, a loosely urgent chorus of sing-song taunting vocals AND lyrics conflating money and love? So brilliant. — Andrea Warner

Artist: Gramercy Riffs
Song: "Heartbreak"
The catchiest tune to be put of by real band named after a fictional gang this year. Can you dig it? — S.V.

Artist: The Pack A.D.
Song: "Animal"
Tracks from the Pack A.D.'s excellent Do Not Engage spent a lot of time on our airwaves this year and deservedly so; the album pretty much just out-powered the competition. This song in particular is a beast, — A.G.

Artist: Energy Slime
Song: "Star On The Ground"
The new co-pro from Vancouver’s Jay Arner and Jessica Delisle is a fresh dose of buzzed-out weirdness that's so decidedly different you'll wonder what amazing planet these two came from. — Steve Venegas


Artist: Cool TV
Song: "I Can Handle That"
Rising from the ashes of Apollo Ghosts, its like The Talking Heads hired Grace Jones and took a chill pill from Phil Spector's cabinet. Funky and fresh, son! — Louise Burns

Artist: Elephant Stone
Song: "Wayward Son"
There's not a lot of sitar this time around but "Wayward Son" is one fine and groovy slice of Byrds-esque jangle pop. — James Booth

Artist: Absolutely Free
Song: "Beneath The Air"
Former DD/MM/YYYY spent three years working on this album and the results are beautiful and nuanced; it's what you'd listen to while riding a Vespa around Paris. — Andrea Gin


Artist: Teledrome
Song: "Boyfriend"
This Calgary quartet creates what sounds like a tour of the inside of an '80s-era Apple II computer, complete with buzzy synths and fuzzy guitar. — Emma Godmere

Artist: Chad VanGaalen
Song: "Monster"
Chad VanGaalen's sweet voice and a perfect sing-a-long chorus make the nightmare of turning into a monster sound like a peaceful dream. — Lana Gay

Artist: TOPS
Song: "Change Of Heart"
With a throwback AM-radio pop base and shy, coquettish vocals, Montreal's TOPS captured countless hearts with this shiny new single. — E.G.

Artist: Grimes
Song: "Go (feat. Blood Diamonds)"
Originally written as a summer jam for Rhianna, Grimes' tookback the reins of this pop gem and her own with a little help from producer Blood Diamonds. — L.G.

Artist: Port Juvee
Song: "All That's Fine"
Toe-tapping alternative rock and the lead-off single from this Calgary's band debut release titled "Revenge". — J.B.

Artist: Dearly Beloved
Song: "Enduro!"
Stoner desert rock that is powerful, frantic and meant to be played loud as hell. — A.G.

Artist: Young Rival
Song: "Elevator"
This was the first new music the Hamilton rockers had released in a year and a half. It's poppy and upbeat; they are sounding more and more Beatles-esque with every song they release. — Andrea Gin

Artist: PS I Love You
Song: "For Those Who Stay"
One killer guitar lick runs through the length of this song as the duo throw everything at you, from overdubbed guitars to double time drums. A real treat for those who stay till the end. — Jesse Kinos-Goodin

Artist: Stella Ella Ola
Song: "Hypersleep"
A short scrappy but really fun song that makes me want to put on sunglasses and dance around in my underwear (I'm quoting their bio but it's true!) — James Booth

Artist: Braids
Song: "Deep Running"
This song was actually an out-take but that doesn't matter. Infectious and wonderful, it's like afro-beat meets art pop! — J.B.

Artist: Reef Shark
Song: "Frozen Beaches"
The hot summer vibes steaming off this up-tempo pop-rocker are more than enough to warm your heart and melt any icy swimming hole this winter. — Steve Venegas

Artist: Chromeo
Song: "Play The Fool"
If you ever take a time machine back to the '80s for an adventure, this song would mysteriously be playing during every chase scene. — J.K.G.

Artist: Mounties
Song: "Pretty Respectable"
We've probably added more songs of the Mounties' Thrash Rock Legacy into rotation than any other album this year. Even though this is the fifth song (!) we've playlisted it's just as catchy and singable as the rest. — A.G.

Artist: Thus Owls
Song: "A Windful of Screams"
Devastating, dark and beautifully written, this song will haunt your heart and twist your insides into knots. — Andrea Warner

Artist: Teenage Kicks
Song: "Houdini"
Canada's most underrated, honest-to-goodness rockers heralded the release of their debut LP with this slick single that'll have you head-banging before you know it. — Emma Godmere

Artist: Bend Sinister
Song: "I Got Love"
These Vancouver rock scene mainstays proved they remain at the top of their game with this bombastic, arena-ready single. — E.G.

Artist: Jeremy Fisher
Song: "Uh Oh (Feat. Serena Ryder)"
Whether you like it or not, this song will get stuck in your head. That isn't a bad thing... — Alanna Stuart

Artist: Kevin Drew
Song: "Good Sex"
Catchy, uplifting and unabashedly sex positive. Is it too literal for a makeout mix, or should it just be every song on every makeout mix? — Jesse Kinos-Goodin

Artist: The Wilderness of Manitoba
Song: "Leave Someone"
This was the first single from the excellent Between Colours; the band has fully come into their own here and this folling folk-rocker is the perfect winter song. — Andrea Gin

Artist: Hidden Cameras
Song: "Gay Goth Scene"
This song has the hallmarks of a classic Hidden Cameras song; chantable chorus, danceable beat, and an irreverence that is perhaps unmatched in Canadian indie music. Deservedly listed in our gallery of the 15 Most Influential Canadian indie bands of all time. — A.G.

Artist: Born Ruffians
Song: "Oh Cecilia"
"Ce-seel-ya, how I cant wait to fuh-feel-ya!" — J.K.G.

Artist: BESTiE
Song: "Asleep On The Bus"
Transit narcolepsy sounds likes like a pretty good time if it's anything like Bestie's jaunty stutter-beated pop gem. — Steve Venegas

Artist: Mac DeMarco
Song: "Blue Boy"
The syncopated guitar groove and Mac's reverbed, laid-back vocals make you feel like you're living inside a polaroid of the best day ever. — J.K.G.

Artist: Zeus
Song: "Miss My Friends"
Of all the songs on Classic Zeus, this is the song that probably sounds the most like, well, classic Zeus. Best of all, the sunny retro-rock groove will (almost) help you forget about winter. — A.G.

Artist: The Wooden Sky
Song: "Saturday Night"
Toronto based roots-rockers turn up the guitars and get gritty on this, the first single from their latest album "Let's Be Ready" — James Booth

Artist: Secret Broadcast
Song: "More Than Friends"
Melodic guitar driven rock tune from this former Calgary band that's now based in Toronto. Their whole album has hooks aplenty. — J.B.

Artist: The Courtneys
Song: "Lost Boys"
Another perfect example why The Courtneys are one of the funnest bands today: shiny garage pop with guest verses from Young Braised. — Steve Venegas

Artist: Timber Timbre
Song: "Curtains?!"
The perfect soundtrack to a cemetery night crawl, particularly if you have a slinky, cat-like strut and playfully menacing spirit. — Andrea Warner

Artist: Gay Nineties
Song: "Letterman"
Vancouver indie alt-rockers had a minor hit with this song. Expect to hear more from them in 2015. — James Booth

Artist: Bahamas
Song: "All The Time"
Somewhere between Barchords and Bahamas Is Afie, Bahamas frontman Afie Jurvanen became a man, a deeper, sexier, more soulful man, and this song encapsulates that growth, perfectly. — Alanna Stuart

Artist: Dragon Fli Empire
Song: "Supreme (AJV Droppin' Bombs Remix)"
Dragon Fli Empire were the first band we EVER played on the CBC Radio 3 Podcast back in 2005. Sweet to see this Calgary crew still cranking out the finest of Albertan hip hop beats so many years later. — Grant Lawrence

Artist: The Wet Secrets
Song: "Floating In The Sky"
I was so happy to see Edmonton's Wet Secrets return with a new album this year! "Floating In The Sky" is so good it sounds like a lost track from the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" album. Really. — G.L.

Artist: Odonis Odonis
Song: "New Obsession"
You can find a little bit of everything on Odonis Odonis' excellent 2014 release Hard-Boiled Soft-Boiled: some industrial noise, a bit of shoegazey guitar fuzz, a touch of new wave. "New Obsessions" is driving and relentless; definitely the best of the 'hard-boiled' songs. — Andrea Gin

Artist: Austra
Song: "Habitat"
Haunting electro beats combined with these soulful, beautiful vocals drawing you in, yet still sounding somewhat detached. — J.B.

Artist: Sloan
Song: "Keep Swinging (Downtown)"
Sloan explode and remain relevant on their 11th album by slicing it up into quarters. As usual, the first couple of singles are by the "hitmaker" Patrick Pentland and this boogie thunder rocker is no different. — G.L.

Artist: Tokyo Police Club
Song: "Tunnel Vision"
From its catchy opening bass line to its arcade-game sound effects, this TPC track could pretty much find a home in your favourite classic Mario Kart multiplayer level. — Emma Godmere

Artist: Napalmpom
Song: "Make Me Cry"
Napalmpom's brand of celebratory r'n'r brings back days of ripped jeans and shout-a-longs and is just the thing we need when music take itself too seriously. — Steve Venegas

Artist: The Rural Alberta Advantage
Song: "Terrified"
The RAA roared back into our playlist this year with their classic mix of soaring vocals, brazen guitar, and relentless percussion. "Terrified" sends shivers down your spine, every time. — Emma Godmere

Artist: Lowell
Song: "Cloud 69"
This is the catchy track that introduced us to the electro-popstress earlier this year, and even after hearing the rest of her excellent release We Loved Her Dearly it's still my favourite track. — Andrea Gin

Artist: Rich Aucoin
Song: "Are You Experiencing?"
I first heard this instantly catchy rave up years ago when Rich played it live at the Evolve Festival in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I've been bugging him about it ever since. Great to see it finally released! — Grant Lawrence

Artist: Solids
Song: "Haze Away"
I feel a nostalgic pang in my heart where the '90s lives every time I hear this song. It makes me want to binge listen to Pavement, which obviously is meant as a high compliment. — A.G.

Artist: The Pack A.D.
Song: "Creepin' Jenny"

A blistering, full-on rock freak out. Relentless, fierce and full of mad genius. — Andrea Warner

Artist: July Talk
Song: "Blood + Honey"
Dangerous and dark, the contrast between Leah Fay's sweet purr and Peter Dreimanis' beastly growl is never more perfectly positioned than this late night lament. — A.W.

Artist: Cold Specks
Song: "Bodies At Bay"
The winning combination of Al Spx's haunting voice paired with this rumbling beat produces the shiver-inducing, quick-paced Cold Specks track we've been waiting for. — E.G.

Artist: Arkells
Song: "Come To Light"
Lyrically, it goes from hiding from a storm to trying to save a relationship, plus it has one of the funkiest rhythm sections on a rock song this year. What more could you ask for? — Jesse Kinos-Goodin

Artist: Pink Mountaintops
Song: "The Second Summer of Love"
The crashing drums, rush of guitars and Stephen McBean's droning vocals give this track so much momentum. It pulses and pushes until the sweetly brief respite of the keyboard solo. Strange and mesmerizing. — A.W.

Artist: Caribou
Song: "Our Love"
This heart-on-your-sleeve techno-ballad is both this year’s best song to dance and make-out to. — Alanna Stuart

Artist: White Lung
Song: "Down It Goes"
Is it just me, or does it feel like White Lung is the only band around making feminist punk right now? Even if that's not quite the case, there certainly don't seem to be enough bands like them around; female-centric and unafraid to make aggressive, confrontational music. Turn this one up loud. — Andrea Gin

Artist: Meligrove Band
Song: "Don't Wanna Say Goodbye"
The long-running Mississauga have-not pop band returns with a killer tune featuring lead singer Jason's sister Bernice on perfectly twee backup vocals. — Grant Lawrence

Artist: Mounties
Song: "Tokyo Summer"
There’s just something about this that sucks you into its atmosphere, with a sound and feel described best in the chorus: “hazy, like a Tokyo summer.” — Jesse Kinos-Goodin

Artist: Dan Mangan + Blacksmith
Song: "Vessel"
The first taste of Dan Mangan + Blacksmith’s upcoming release, “Vessel” showcases Mangan’s sound and career evolving. With a tinge of Peter Gabriel influence and even Dave Grohl singing backing vocals, this track is the introduction to a Mangan album that will surely surprise. — Lana Gay

Artist: Weaves
Song: "Take A Dip"
Jasmyn Burke sings atop a wall of trashed sounds, with the wiry timbre of Nina Simone, and the nonchalant cool of a bored teenager, creating a song that both terrifies and intrigues. — A.S.

Artist: Hey Rosetta!
Song: "Kintsukuroi"
The feel-good song of the year. Once again, Tim Baker transforms heartbreak into a heart-soaring ride, producing a triumphant track packed full of sparkling lyrics and shimmering guitars. — Emma Godmere

Artist: Trust
Song: "Rescue, Mister"
This is the signature song off his excellent 2014 releaseJoyland, and it is basically the sound of disco in 2014 (I mean that in a good way). While it is the most dancefloor-ready song on our list, don't get too comfortable: underneath the laser-light exterior lies a pleasingly dark edge. — A.G.

Artist: F***ed Up
Song: "Sun Glass"
F***ed Up's continued evolution nears the singularity between hardcore and pop and this is the event horizon. That means it's awesome. — Steve Venegas

Artist: Library Voices
Song: "Windsor Hum"
Regina's finest return with a crunchy, catchy garage pop ode to the City of Roses, and its weird aural hum. — G.L.

Artist: Sam Roberts Band
Song: "Shapeshifters"
Catchy, toe-tapping pop song from Lo-Fantasy. Even if you didn't like Sam Roberts, how could you not like this song? — James Booth

Artist: Chad VanGaalen
Song: "Leaning On Bells"
Shrink Dust was an underrated album this year; maybe we're all now too accustomed to Chad VanGaalen putting out complicated, beautiful pop? This song spent 9 weeks in our top 30 countdown and is probably the closest he gets to a 'radio single' on the album. Classic VanGaalen. — Andrea Gin

Artist: PS I Love You
Song: "Limestone Radio"
Like a tempered blade, Limestone Radio is PS I Love You honed and focused to an edge that cuts through the noise right to the heart for greatness. — Steven Venegas

Artist: Stars
Song: "From the Night"
Because every bedroom could do with a little more disco. This track will have you dancing and making out til dawn. — Andrea Warner

Artist: Owen Pallett
Song: "The Riverbed"
Owen Pallet steps up with more baroque pop brilliance on a song that you can hear 100 times and not get sick of, and I have and haven't. — Grant Lawrence

Artist: Mac DeMarco
Song: "Let Her Go"
This easygoing blue-eyed soulful indie tune evokes the blissful, euphoric feeling of waking up and realizing it’s the first day of your 2-week paid vacation. — Alanna Stuart

Artist: Operators
Song: "True"
One of the most highly anticipated singles of the year. Dan Boeckner is back and at the top of his game with this steamy electronic beat, made for late nights in sweaty clubs. It's everything you loved about Handsome Furs, taken to the next level. — Emma Godmere

Artist: New Pornographers
Song: "Brill Bruisers"
While arguably their catchiest tune yet, “Brill Bruisers” never delves too far into the bubblegum pop realm. It’s pure pop pleasure, without the guilt. — A.S.

Artist: Death From Above 1979
Song: "Trainwreck 1979"
Death From Above 1979 managed to create the perfect continuation of their sexy-dance-punk roots 10 years and many side projects later. “Trainwreck 1979,” proves they’re back in the game and as good as you remember. — Lana Gay

Artist: Alvvays
Song: "Archie, Marry Me"
Combining a sing-a-long chorus with Molly Rankin’s lovelorn “Hey, Hey”s, Alvvays worked their way into our collective hearts with this catchy tale of modern romance. — L.G.

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