By Team BeatRoute
1. Johnny de Courcy – Alien Lake (Neptoon Records)
Johnny de Courcy has been a hard-rocking Wizard, an acoustic troubadour and the leader of the Death Rangers, and all of that experience has culminated in the stunning Alien Lake. Over the course of 10 diverse cuts, de Courcy explores freaky garage-jazz, lush folk, neo-classical piano and towering guitar heroics — and yet this adventurousness never comes at the expense of his boppy retro-pop smarts. De Courcy proudly lets his freak flag fly and, in the process, gives us an accessible pop opus that almost anyone can enjoy.
2. Baptists – Bloodmines (Southern Lord)
Deadly and destructive, our favourite fun lovin’ longhairs go above and beyond, delivering their signature brand of metallic hardcore just as angry as their debut.
3. Pink Mountaintops – Get Back (Jagjaguwar)
Stephen McBean (also of Black Mountain) takes us on an exciting romp through sunny pop pastures and dingy garages. Bonus points for the WTF-worthy porn-rap outro of “North Hollywood Microwaves.”
4. Sabota – Sabota (Hybridity Music)
Humans member Robbie Slade joins producer Max Ulis for a collision of pop and cerebral house. It’s a soundtrack for blazing at home, or for taking something stronger on the dance floor.
5. White Lung – Deep Fantasy (Domino Recordings)
With 10 songs tearing past in 20-something minutes of punk fury, Deep Fantasy is more or less a retread of White Lung’s last two albums. Which is to say, it kicks ass.
6. Sinoia Caves – Beyond the Black Rainbow (Jagjaguwar/Death Waltz Recording Company)
Black Mountain synth sorcerer Jeremy Schmidt conjures up eerie electronic incantations with strains of John Carpenter on this spooky soundtrack from a 2010 horror film.
7. Fountain – Fountain (independent)
Hailing from the holy land of Victoria, BC, this young and well behaved post punk outfit bring us the closest we’ve ever come to an enlightening religious experience with this earnest debut.
8. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers (Matador)
The Pornos reclaim the title of our city’s finest power pop export. Gone is the glum baroque-folk of the last couple LPs; in its place are arpeggiated synth twinkles, danceable rhythms and soaring choruses.
9. Cool – Paint (Yellow Plum Records)
Before they added at “TV” to their name, this Apollo Ghosts spinoff got us dancing with a funky new direction incorporating ‘70s soul and Talking Heads-style grooves.
10. Nicholas Krgovich – On Sunset (NK World Service)
The latest from the former P:ano/No Kids/Gigi frontman is melancholic portrait of Los Angeles set against a shimmering backdrop of infectious R&B and Old Hollywood grandeur.
11. Prairie Cat – Who Knows Where to Begin? (independent)
Who knows where to begin? Maybe start with songwriter Cary Pratt’s quirky masterpiece of deadpan keyboard pop. Heartbreak has seldom sounded so charming.
12. Dead Soft – Dead Soft (Kingfisher Bluez)
Long live the ‘90s! Get decked out in your baggiest flannel and wack slacks as you headbang along with these nine slices of poppy slacker-rock magic.
13. Bend Sinister – Animals (File Under: Music)
Animals is the year’s most uninhibited album, as the hirsute dudes of Bend Sinister dive off the deep end with their dizzying, fun-loving take on ‘70s prog.
14. B-Lines – Opening Band (Hockey Dad Records)
By B-Lines standards, these nine songs display a newfound sense of maturity — which isn’t to say that Opening Band is anything other than a snarling explosion of snotty punk mayhem.
15. Needles//Pins – Shamebirds (Dirt Cult Records)
These local burrito connoisseurs do what they do best, cranking up the amps and blasting through a string of dirt-streaked garage-pop scorchers. Ballads are for suckers.
16. Energy Slime – New Dimensional (Mint Records)
How many songs will fit on a 7-inch? If they’re short enough, it’s possible to pack an entire album’s worth of hooks into 13 minutes of slimy pop goodness.
17. Slim Fathers – Goldie Hawn in the Blue Light (Boat Dreams from the Hill)
Twin River’s Courtney Ewan recently moved to Montreal, but before she left, her band Slim Fathers treated us to another collection of good ol’ fashioned indie rock scorchers.
18. Reef Shark – Better Weather (independent)
Reef Shark may have been hoping for Better Weather, but we’re perfectly happy with the spaced out scuzz-pop sweetness of the outstanding single “Frozen Beaches.”
19. Shimmering Stars – Bedrooms of the Nation (Almost Musique)
Shimmering Stars invite us into the garage and conduct a prickly pop experiment involving hazy retro beauty and ominous fuzz-mongering. The distortion is murky, but the harmonies shine through.
20. Cowards – World Champions in Male Chastity (Majorly Records)
A collection of songs written by the mish mash of members that spanned their existence, this dark and twisted tale is torn from the pages of the Albini bathroom reader — Very poignant and menacing all at once. RIP Cowards, you will be missed.
21. Sunny Pompeii – Vinegar (Leisure Suite Records)
These instrument-swapping friends seem to be good at just about everything, whether it’s straight-for-the-gut pop-rock, gentle art-folk, or sprawling 11-minute psych-prog jams.
22. Red, Gold & Green Machine – Planet Africa (Water the Plants)
Dub will tear us apart, but Red, Gold & Green Machine bring us together with their blend of hip hop and reggae, as we feel their spirit of their Planet Lovetronian Vibes.
23. Eli Muro – Dreamtime Hunter (Jellyfish Recordings)
Dreamtime Hunter explores man’s relationship with technology by combining heavy synthesized sounds, dreamy vocals and live instrumentation. Muro even created an accompanying augmented reality app LAYAR, that is sure to wake you up.
24. Dada Plan – A Dada Plan Is Free (Kingfisher Bluez)
The latest from Sun Wizard/Capitol 6 frontman Malcolm Jack. These atmospheric psych ditties aren’t free, technically speaking, but the LP is well worth the $17 it will cost you.
25. Young Liars – Tidal Wave (Nettwerk Records)
With sparkling synths and glimmering pop-rock guitars, Young Liars show up to the party sounding pristine and impeccably precise as always.B-Lines, Baptists, BC, BeatRoute Best Of 2014, Bend Sinister, Best Of 2014, British Columbia, Cool, Cowards, Dada Plan, Dead Soft, Eli Muro, Energy Slimes, Fountain, Johnny de Courcy, Needles//Pins, New Pornographers, Nicholas Krgovich, Pink Mountaintops, Prairie Cat, Reef Shark, Sabota, Shimmering Stars, Sinoia Caves, Slim Fathers, Sunny Pompeii, The Red Gold & Green Machine, White Lung, Young Liars