20. Sun Ought To Shine – Hillsburn
Kicking off this list is Hillsburn out of Halifax, NS, a band who has taken their latest record “The Wilder Beyond” as far as a you could expect in a calendar year. “Sun Ought To Shine” comes in with the passionate vocals of Rosanna Burrill which are joined in harmony by the rest of the bands voices, showcasing the groups strength in this area. Their combined wave is constantly ascending throughout the track with violins and horns joining in for a grand effect. The song stops briefly, leaving only Burrill’s voice before joining back in to propel the song to its climax. The group hits an overwhelming high note that hits you straight in your chest, leaving you feel empowered.
19. Lovers And Crows – Sun K
Next is Sun K and their track “Lovers And Crows”, an underrated song on their new album “Bleeding Hearts”. It comes in with an active, groovy chord progression, which leads into a funky, charisma filled chorus. Vocalist Kristian Montano is loose in his vocal delivery, giving this track a bluesy, laid back feel while keeping its rock and roll spirit.
18. Come Back Baby – Pusha T
“Come Back Baby” starts with a grand western intro which leads into this buzzing, bass driven beat alongside a persistent, jabbing flow from Pusha. The western themes fade in for the chorus’ with the lyrical themes and flows getting grimier as the second and third verses get more aggressive in tone.
17. Peace/War – Shad
Punchy bass brings this track in as Shad drops a few opening bars in a very preachy tone. Industrial samples, psychedelic noise and pounding kicks add to the beat as Shad goes in, slinging his lyrics with confidence. He bends his flow in different ways throughout, throwing swagger and confidence in all directions. The beat becomes warped with psychedelic elements taking over in the second half. A flute sample soaks the background of the beat as his flow slows down, dropping these hard, to the point bars to end the song.
16. Gatekeeper – Cancer Bats
This banger comes in with a dark, shrieking note as vocalist Liam Cormier growls the tracks name and harmonics and heavy drums fill your ears. The lead riff flies in with its dizzying bends and Cormier lays down each line, foaming at the mouth with intoxicating energy. The chorus is the textbook southern rock attitude and fuzzy chord progressions we know and love from the band with groovy single chugs serving as the transition at various points of the song.
15. Lost Youth – Elevate The Virus
Eerie guitar lines tingle through your ears as vocalist Justus Adams comes in with whisper vocals, perpetuating an atmosphere of impending doom. The whole band falls into to a vile swing as the track picks up. The song then breaks down with a palm muted rhythm and intense leads. The music devolves further into a groovy, slapping rhythm and concludes with an onslaught of raw, slamming notes.
14. The Seventh Circle – Architects
The UK’s Architects had a lot to deal with on their latest album “Holy Hell”. The band lost their guitarist and lead songwriter Tom Searle to cancer just three months after the release of their last record. So, you could be sure that they would take their emotions out on this one. “The Seventh Circle” is the part of the album where the band is unleashing their rawest anger. One of the most hardcore sounding songs in the band’s history cuts deep with its assault of buzzsaw guitars and frantic energy. Vocalist Sam Carter turns his voice up to twelve while the drums kick you in the chest with every hit. The harmonic noises after each burst of energy add to the atmosphere of total chaos as the group is drowning in the despair of losing their band mate.
13. Words For Days – Town Heroes
This track is solid from top to bottom. Mike Ryan’s vocals have a great amount of narrative, phrasing his lyrics in a poetic way that tells the songs story of managing the barrage of information that is shoved down our throats each day. Ryan even sings louder at parts to emphasize the idea that we all need to listen to our own voice over the constant nonsense we encounter. The bands new additions, bassist Victoria Cameron and guitarist Aaron Greene, really shine on the track with great guitar melodies and a warm bass line that gives the song a nice, tender feel.
12. Genocide – Janowskii
I first heard of this track in the trailer for The Capital Project, a documentary on the music scene in Fredericton and the surrounding area. The track begins with rumbling drums and slow plucking guitars as Keith Hallett’s signature voice provides its bluesy, psychedelic feel. The drums get very open and swampy on the chorus adding to the overall buzzing overtones of the song. Hallett nails the peaks of the track, screaming the songs title while drummer Drew Budovitch lays into these huge snare rolls as the song soars along.
11. Born Of The Same Sun – Orchid’s Curse
This track comes in with a bundle of chaotic energy. Josh Hogan’s vocals are desperate with an intense grain that grabs you by the collar and gets right in your ear. The rhythm section is booming with the gigantic bass tones from bassist Jason Szeto and furious double kicks from drummer Alex Wrathell, both new additions to the band. The lyrics take the bands surrounding world to task on how we mangle our society and each other over minor differences. The wailing leads on this track provide a great extra layer to the song’s bouncy rhythm. Speaking of which, the breakdown of this song shakes the room with its groove before breaking down walls one last time with the songs root rhythm.
10. Glass Atlas – Tactus
The new single from Fredericton’s Tactus leads off our top ten. This track begins with a silky, jazz-inspired opening that leads into arguably one of the best riffs the band has constructed thus far. The quintet comes into its own with the perfect mix of their djent and melodic sides. Jason McKnight’s vocals soar throughout the track with Steve Parish’s bass lines blending effortlessly with the guitars for a full, healthy sound; adding flavor in the moments where its in the spotlight. The solo on this track, while brief, is tasteful and gives the song a golden feel with phrasing that sounds like a mix of Plini and Intervals.
9. Welcome To The Family – Watsky
Watsky comes in with a very laid-back flow with a very polished shine to his delivery, sounding like he is singing while simultaneously hitting his bars. The overdubs on the track are well mixed as it sounds like there is a chorus of Watskys as opposed to a single strong voice. The looping keys of piano are the consistent theme in the beat with various orchestral elements popping in and out. The track also has a fine political overtone, especially towards the end with lyrics like “The rough nights ain’t leaving so why the hell should we?,” a subtle hint at the turmoil of Trump’s administration while providing courage to push through it.
8. Afraid Of The World – The Stanfields
Speaking of which, the next track on this list is much more direct in its assault on Orange Julius Caesar (Credits to comedian Adam Conover for that name). The Stanfields come through with one of the most well thought out rebuttals to the Donald’s nonsense with “Afraid Of The World”, with line after line referencing the obvious atrocities of his discourse. However, opposed to taking the typical in-your-face, finger-pointing, “Fuck Trump” approach, they instead choose the route of empowering their fellow man to break through the rhetoric and be fearless in their pursuit of what’s right.
7. My Blood – 21 Pilots
Vocalist Tyler Joseph comes in with infectious vocals that sweep the listener off their feet. He then adds this grimy bass line to the intricate drums of Josh Dun to create an aura you can vibe and dance to. Joseph is feeling it even more on the second verse, continuing to fill his voice with personality. Some excellent synths come in at this point as well, further filling the atmosphere of the song and providing a luminous finish.
6. Bubblin’ – Anderson Paak
Before Anderson Paak dropped his latest album Oxnard, a great collaboration with Dr. Dre at the helm of production, he took his chemistry with the doctor out for a test drive with the track Bubblin’. The track has, as Paak describes it, a Vegas-themed, James Bond 007 beat with Paak wringing every ounce of charisma out of his person. The track is all about him enjoying his success, but the track is so much fun you don’t even begin to see it as arrogant.
5. Reborn – Kids See Ghosts
The cream of the amazing crop of songs produced by Kanye West and Kid Cudi, also known as Kids See Ghosts, this year. This is the track you need to listen to after you have been fired, broken up with or any other time life puts you in the dirt. Kid Cudi brings this dreamy aura and a vocal performance that most, even his biggest fans, didn’t see coming. Cudi takes the listener on a trip of redemption, self-examination and renaissance that could brighten even the darkest of days. Meanwhile, West drops one of his best verses of the record, where he brings reckoning upon himself for all his mistakes and embraces the pain that goes with it.
4. Pain Of Infinity – The Dirty Nil
“Pain Of Infinity” in 10 years should be remembered as one of the best Canadian rock songs of its generation, if not all time. This song is the apex of The Dirty Nil’s coming out album “Master Volume” which delivered anthem after anthem in its run time. From the feedback opening, to the twangy lead riff and Luke Bentham’s rock god vocals, this track is a fresh new take on the genre. It brings the attitude, emotion, and hook that can send a stadium into a frenzy while maintaining the bands signature bite. This band will be playing exclusively the biggest stages in Canada in a few years time, mark my words.
3. Gibbet – Dumpster Mummy
Dumpster Mummy returned after an extended period between albums to crush your soul with their outside-the-box approach and demented sound. Their best offering being the track “Gibbet”, a track that incorporates twisted licks, riffs and grooves into a dizzying cyclone that will be sure to get the pit moving and bend your mind with its guitar work. This track has the sole feature on the album courtesy of Greber/Fuck The Facts bassist/vocalist Marc Bourgon, who reinforces his part of the song with his beefy grindcore vocals.
2. San Marcos – Brockhampton
The best boy-band in the world right now come in at number two with an emotional offering from their latest album “Iridescence”. “San Marcos” is a track that reflects on the group’s beginnings in their hometown in Texas of the same name, and how they wish to leave it behind for good. The track is set to this clean electric guitar line layered with samples of violins, acoustic guitar, warped operatic vocals and even a children’s choir. Matt Champion’s and Kevin Abstract’s use of auto-tune is nothing short of beautiful while the verses are personal an intimate, the best examples being Joba’s lyrical dive into being suicidal and fearing the prospects of commitment.
1. This Is America – Childish Gambino
Taking the top spot is the controversial anthem from Childish Gambino. “This Is America” begins with blissful, tribal music and glistening vocals from Gambino. The track then falls into darkness with an intimidating, bass-heavy beat with Gambino spitting bars with a dampened monotone flow that sounds like he is delivering news of a darker entity coming to take over. This makes sense as the tracks polarizing music video depict a sobering reality of America’s gun violence, racial homicide and destruction with only brief moments of calming ignorance. The cultural impact and horrific picture that this track paints through music is why it claims the top spot of song of the year.