As year-end lists start rolling out everywhere, we're getting a glimpse into what albums, artists and songs critics truly fell in love with this year. But, what about the musicians themselves? Surely the people making some of our favourite tunes also had music they were obsessed with this year.
We surveyed some Canadian musicians and asked them to tell us their favourite album of 2018. Scroll down to see what Arkells' Max Kerman, Cadence Weapon, Lydia Képinski, Shad, Helena Deland and more loved this year.
Arkells’ Max Kerman on Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour
“Beautiful songs, immaculate production. Amazing songwriting. The songs go down like any great Fleetwood Mac tune: like butter. There's no meandering around — they're all hits.”
Safia Nolin on Boygenius’ self-titled EP
"I really think that this album is perfect; three singer-songwriters who made a great EP. I was psyched when it dropped, and I could listen to it until the end of time. Three women who write f--king beautiful songs that will make you cry, yeessssssss.”
Barenaked Ladies' Ed Robertson on Donovan Woods' Both Ways:
"From the first notes of 'Good Lover,' you’re drawn in. Deeply personal and compelling. All of his previous records did this too, so we’re lulled in to a false sense of familiarity with this new material. That comfort zone is shattered with the driving 'Burn That Bridge' — one of my fave tracks, period. Also, this record introduced me (way too late!) to the remarkable Rose Cousins, who grabs your heart with both hands in 'I Ain’t Ever Loved No One.' I’ve been listening to this record top to bottom many times a week since its release. If you don’t like this record, I probably wouldn’t like you."
Lou Phelps on Playboi Carti’s Die Lit:
“My favourite album of 2018, if I exclude myself, goes to Playboi Carti. Die Lit is the ultimate album if you wanna turn up, or wanna get ready, or even take a shower. Good for cooking, good for working out at the gym. I just see so much good use to this album, I listen to it at least once a day.”
Shad on Saba’s Care For Me:
“There’s so much music these days that I’m usually playing catch up with my listening. I spent most of 2018 listening to stuff that came out the previous couple years (Alvvays, Daniel Caesar, Natalie Prass' first album), plus my usual rotating old obsessions (Candi Staton, Labi Siffre, Shuggie Otis, Bee Gees, Nina Simone, Prince). But 2018 was a great year for hip hop. I enjoyed the J. Cole album, the Pusha T joint, the Black Thought/9th Wonder project, Phonte's album, Kids See Ghosts, J.I.D, Scorpion. But I think I was most impressed by Saba's album. Emotional, soulful, creative. Beautiful album that felt special from beginning to end.”
Dilly Dally's Katie Monks on Surfbort's Friendship Music
"One-hundred per cent, my favourite album of 2018 was Surfbort's Friendship Music, and the song that really grabbed me was 'Dope,' one of the more melodic and emotional tunes off the record. The Instagram campaign was fire and breathes life into the idea that DIY shit can still happen. There was something so natural and free about it all. Proper punk. Respect xxxxxx."
Helena Deland on Tirzah’s Devotion
“Addictive, rough, imperfect, honest and beautiful. The production is amazing and her voice is an angel crossed with Arthur Russell.”
Hubert Lenoir on Travis Scott’s Astroworld
“I remember the first time I heard this album. It was summer, I was in Florida, it was 32 degrees outside. I was in the house, sitting in the air conditioning and I knew for sure that my life would never be the same again. I love the absence of song structure, I love every single thing about it. This album is definitely connected to some higher divine power or some shit.”
Art d’Ecco on U.S. Girls’ In a Poem Unlimited
“My favourite record this year. What a dynamic album — the production, the songwriting and performances truly embody everything I love about music. Meg Remy is a rock star in every modern sense of the word, too — intelligent, poetic and mysterious.”
Chromeo’s Dave-1 on Adeline’s self-titled album
“With so much music coming out, we wanna try to point out a release that's totally independent and under the radar: Parisian-Brooklynite Adeline is a beast on bass and vocals, and her album is a generous offering of drum-machine funk, italo and neo-soul. Super well produced, conceptual — all tracks flow into each other — and endearing. A truly worthwhile disco-very.”
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan’s Alaska B on Sophie’s Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides
“A sublime experience narrated by processed vocals of all kinds, this is the kind of maximalist electronic record I have been waiting a long time for. Emancipatory queer anthems collide with aggressive alien house in this labyrinthine trip.”
Lydia Képinski on Feu! Chatterton’s L’oiseleur
“My favourite album of 2018 is L'oiseleur by French brigade Feu! Chatterton. I cannot possibly count how many times I listened to this record. I heard one of their songs at Radio-Canada and was haunted for days not knowing who this group was. Then I remembered the lyrics, ‘Comme apollinaire,’ and found the mysterious musicians who combine old French poetry and cosmic synthesizers. I am utterly captivated by this very French melancholy embodied by lead singer Arthur Teboul yet the danciness of the whole album/masterpiece.”
Cadence Weapon on Tirzah's Devotion
"My favourite album of 2018 is Devotion by Tirzah. It's a genre-defying mix of bedroom R&B, shoegaze, grime and warped club music produced by Mica Levi, a.k.a. Micachu. It has a rawness and intimacy to it that you don't typically hear in albums with this style of singing. It's hard and soft at the same time and feels like a modern update to '90s trip-hop."
Born Ruffians' Luke Lalonde on Parquet Courts' Wide Awake
"There are very, very few artists reflecting the current state of America as clearly and artfully as Parquet Courts. Some are cashing in on empty political platitudes, others are trying to entertain and distract us. I’d argue that among those trying to make a point, none are as inspiring, poignant or urgent as Parquet Courts on Wide Awake!. Their finest album yet and, without a doubt, the finest release of 2018."
Dizzy's Katie Munshaw on Lucy Dacus' Historians:
"Lucy Dacus' record, Historians, rocked my 2018. Each song feels like it's been with me forever. Sometimes I walk away from a record believing that me and the artist must have always been intertwined somehow in some secret universe made only for people who feel things the way we do; because how else would they describe my heartache so spot on? We must exist in the same secret universe. Finding artists that just get you is the most rewarding part of being a music listener. That's how it felt with Lucy, and I'm so happy to have found this record this year.”
Echlo (Chloe Charles) on Sevdaliza's The Calling
"It brings me back to all the things I love about Portishead and takes it even farther. The grooves are trip hop-ish and then she throws in these big drops and surprises. I feel like I am invited into her world of hedonism, sensuality, class and heightened intellect. Her lyrics resonate with my existentialist core. She’s a siren luring me closer."