A look at 2011...

When I sat down to write my round up of Canadian releases and happenings in 2011 I felt like I was kind of scrounging because the truth of the matter is that I spent 2011 listening to the same record 85% of the time.

I'm not exaggerating. Said record is Charlotte Cornfield's Two Horses. Now, it didn't hit me until right now, now that I'm being all reflective and such, but Charlotte's record is some of the finest writing Canada has had the honour of releasing. At first listen it might be easy to write off but it's the second, third, and fourth listen that will have you intrigued and then the 50th or 80th listen that will really blow your mind. Two Horses is heartbreaking in an humble way. The slow and winding ballads give way to upbeat New York rock inspired anthems and somewhere between the two lives these snapshots in time. The lyrics provoke honest emotions and make you turn her trials inwards to your own plight. Below is a live video of her performing "Port Town" in the park:

CHARLOTTE CORNFIELD - Port Town from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

The rest of the time (the 15%) when I wasn't obsessing over Charlotte's writing I was busy attending music festivals and getting excited about other Canadian bands!

Many amazing festivals came and went this year in Canada but if I had to choose my favourites I would say Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ontario ties closely with Halifax Pop Explosion. Both really pushed the boundaries and offered up an amazingly well programmed onslaught of talent. See below a highlight reel from Halifax Pop Explosion 2011!

With all the festivals and many shows some huge moments stand out. Like getting to see Arcade Fire return home for Pop Montreal and turn the city on it's head. Or living through the near death experience and catching Death from Above 1979 re-unite at Beauty Bar at South By Southwest this year. Being stuck in the middle of a riot has never been so fun, not that I've ever been before that.

The east coast didn't fail on delivering mind bending melodic treats for the rest of the country to swoon over. Hey Rosetta's Seeds paired with their inspiring live performances put them at the top of the Canadian artist pool. A much deserved signing to ATO just recently sealed the deal that they are one of the countries most exciting young bands. Halifax's Ben Caplan made his mark at a number of international festivals, bringing his klesmer-inspiried whiskey soaked soul and winning charm to new ears far and wide (Video below of him playing in a Toronto park). Electronic songsmith Rich Aucoin raised brows with his long anticipated release, We're All Dying to Live and ignited raging parties all the way from Iceland to Halifax.

The west coast sounded back with Winnipeg's adorable and way-easy-to-love Imaginary Cities. Their support tour for the Pixies sky rocketed them from small local to international buzz band. Edmonton's Library Voices stole the hearts of bloggers countrywide. Vancouver's Hey Ocean signed to Universal and unleashed their stunning Big Blue Wave EP. The title single is all the right kinds of honest.

Acoustic video below.

Central Canada had a ball with Canadian Music Week, North by Northeast Festival, and Edgefest. Not to mention a plethora of other memorable fests like Ottawa Blues Fest, Osheaga in Montreal, and Sound of Music in Burlington, Ontario. Stand out acts included The Balconies, The Wooden Sky, Harlan Pepper, Timber Timbre, Coeur de Pirate, Dinosaur Bones, Hollerado, and Sandman Viper Command. Newmarket, Ontario's Ruby Coast self released a wonderful and highly underestimated record in Whatever This Is.

I wouldn't be representing the country well if I didn't give a big hearty congrats to the The Sheepdogs. Reviving and surviving (well more than surviving), these Saskatoon boys swept the grand prize in the Rolling Stone cover competition and we couldn't be happier for
them! The Justin Bieber documentary "Never Say Never" deserves a mention as well. It wasn't until I saw him on screen busking at the age of 6 and playing jazz drums that I realized he is a true star and something Canada can be fully proud off. Bieber Fever, as scary as it
may be, represents hope to me that the younger generation is still very much interested in music and epic-ly massive Beatles-like success is still possible for small town Ontario artists. Thank you Justin.

And with that I'll leave you, I think I've said enough. Happy Holidays friends and here's to more great music in 2012!
All the best,


Sari Delmar is president of a Canadian artist development, marketing, and management company called Audio Blood. Delmar spent years freelance writing before moving over to the industry side. Audio Blood has helped kickstart careers for some of Canada's favourite exports and includes many major and indie Canadian labels on their client list.


Follow Clash: