Baba— Baraka Moon, “Julay Julay”
You’ve probably heard some form of ‘Must Must’, it’s a Sufi chant, ‘Julay Julay’ is another form of the same. Songs of praise regarding the ecstasy of mystic from Sind, Pakistan – Lal Shahbaz Qalandar; revered by millions in the Indian subcontinent and beyond…
Orest Soltykevych— Rajaton, “The Little Drummer Boy”
Rajaton is a world-renowned vocal sextet from Finland. The group was formed back in 1997, and to date they have recorded 13 CDs. They perform almost exclusively a cappella, and often imitate percussion instruments with their voices. They performed in Edmonton and Calgary last April.
Kodi Hutchinson— Rubim de Toledo, “Proven Remedy”
Really strong album from one of Alberta’s top jazz musicians. One of my recently released ‘Essential Albums of 2017. Check out the full list here.
You’ll notice that my top picks encompass 10 of my favourite Albertan Jazz Albums from this past year.
Monica Miller— First Aid Kit, “Fireworks”
The lovely harmonies of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg – Sweden’s First Aid Kit – sweep us away once again. “Fireworks” comes from their upcoming new release “Ruins” (January 2018). They’ve enlisted Tucker Martine (case-lang-veirs, The Decemberists, Aiofe O’Donovan …) as producer. Bonus!
Bob Chelmick— Cat Jahnke, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”
This Winnipeg songstress created my perennially favourite Christmas album in 2010. ‘O Night Divine’ features spare arrangements of classic seasonal hymns. Her voice has a pure tone and perfect pitch and in an era of almost ubiquitous computer-adjusted vocal tones, this recording is perfectly refreshing. Her other CDs don’t do anything for me, but here is music to be savoured, if only one season of the year. Glorious, indeed.
Lisa Wilton— Low, “Just Like Christmas”
Next to The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York, this is my favourite modern-day Christmas carol. Plaintive and hypnotic, you can find it on Low’s 1999 EP, Christmas, which the A.V. Club website described as ‘a religious album even heathens can love.’
Amy van Keeken— Baby Jey, “Veneera”
Originally released on “Best Wishes” a cassette released in May of this year, Baby Jey (Jeremy Witten) has re-released it as a single with b side “Your Peers Are Changing Gears”. Evoking a sound that is unexpected and fresh but at the same time conjures feelings of the jazz pop, lush and smooth sounds of the 70s and 80s…..you will smile when you hear Jey sing “IN CANADA” in a dramatic turn of musical phrase. Baby Jey performed live on Alberta Morning on CKUA’s 90th birthday! He is also one of my favourite host/producers on Edmonton campus community radio cjsr. His show is always introducing me to new sounds (and old sounds!) and teaching me so much about the history of popular and obscure music.
*This song is not available on Spotify. Listen to it here.
Baba— Sultans of String, “Himalayan Sleigh Ride”
It is the week leading up to Christmas, so a bit of ‘seasonal’ music with an Eastern bent. Merry Christmas!
Grant Stovel— Dr. Dog, “”Christmas Party””
Ever since this Christmas EP came out in December of 2013 as a streaming-on-YouTube-only release (!), this has become an indispensable part of my holiday season.
The song’s sweet, giddy bounce is kind of like the musical equivalent of sipping on a rum ‘n’ eggnog. But despite the track’s goofy charm, the lyrics convey a marvellously joyous inclusivity. It’s just about celebrating togetherness.
“All ye fruitcake haters/ All ye four-legged aviators… All ye sugarplum dancers/ All ye eggnog enhancers… All ye snowflake sweaters… All ye red poinsetters — Come and share the joy!”
(I swear I can’t get this song out of my head till, like, February every year.)