NMC Staff Pick Top 10s of 2014

December 11, 2014

Timber Timbre_Hot DreamsTimber Timbre’s record Hot Dreams was a favourite among NMC staff. Credit: Lucia Graca.

Staff at the National Music Centre (NMC) share their fave Canadian releases, songs, live gigs, or whathaveyou over the last year. From Heart-of-the-Continent post-punk, Mellotron-drenched noir pop, and what-decade-is-it? Cancon, behold their eclectic selections.


Barbara Bruederlin, NMC Volunteer, and Amplify Contributor

Top 10 Albums of 2014
1. Reuben and the Dark – Funeral Sky
2. Pink Mountaintops – Get Back
3. Alvvays – Alvvays
4. Elliott Brood – Work and Love
5. Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
6. Stars ­– No One is Lost
7. Bry Webb – Free Will
8. Owen Pallett – In Conflict
9. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Mended with Gold
10. Shawn William Clarke – William

Instruments from NMC’s collection contributed to Timber Timbre’s Polaris Music Prize shortlisted album Hot Dreams.

Julijana Capone, Publicity Coordinator

Top 10 Songs of 2014 (compiled into a mixtape)
1. Cousins – “Phone” (The Halls of Wickwire)
2. Conduct – “Contract Killer” (Fear and Desire)
3. Renny Wilson – “Youngsters” (Punk Explosion)
4. Dead Soft – “Everything” (Dead Soft)
5. Ought – “Today More Than Any Other Day” (More Than Any Other Day)
6. Viet Cong – “Continental Shelf” (Cassette EP)
Pink Mountaintops  – “Ambulance City” (Get Back)
8.  Mac DeMarco – “Chamber of Reflection” (Salad Days)
9. Timber Timbre – “Hot Dreams” (Hot Dreams)
10. Jessy Lanza – “5785021” (Pull My Hair Back)

NMC’s Education Department: Kate Schutz, Evan Rothery, and Natalie Marsh

*For kids, teens and learning, in no particular order.

Top Albums
1. Rattle and Strum – Rattle and Strum

Watch Rattle and Strum performing at NMC as part of CIBC Showtime!

2. Tanya Tagaq – Animism

Watch Tanya Tagaq performing at NMC as part of CIBC Showtime!

3. Helen Austin – Colour It
4. Marie-Claude – Mon coffret à surprises
5. Splash’N Boots – Coconuts Don’t Fall Far From the Tree
6. Seanster and the Monsters – Yay!

Top Songs
7. Charlie Hope– “Little Maple Leaf” (Sing As We Go!)
8. Gary Rasberry – “Razzletone” (What’s the Big Idea?!?)
9. A Tribe Called Red – “Burn Your Village to the Ground”

Top Video
10. Andrew Huang – “99 Red Balloons”

Watch Andrew Huang performing at NMC as part of CIBC Showtime!

Andrew Huang covers Nena’s “99 Luftballons” with a bunch of actual red balloons. 

Adam Kamis, Ayatollah of Rock ’n’ Rolla, and Event Coordinator

Top 10 Live Shows of 2014
1. Viet Cong, Modern Aquatics and Un Blonde (Palomino, June 2013)

Two generations of some of Calgary’s best bands. The new, (Viet Cong) and the newer still (Un Blonde) were so good that night.

2. Kris Ellestad, Brushsigns, Tigerwing and Knots (National Music Centre, August 30, 2014)

This night was pure magic. Every band was on fire, but Kris Ellestad was without uttering a word able to compel a room full of people to drop whatever they were doing and give him their complete attention. A truly otherworldly show.

3. Viet Cong, Teledrome and Burro (Local 510, November 12, 2014)

I go see a lot of shows, but this one stands out as a concert from recent memory that was full of excellent bands at the peak of their powers doing what they do best.

4. Roman Polanski’s Baby, Each Other and Mindtroll (The #1 Legion, Sled Island 2014)

A couple of Sled Island 2014’s guest curator Kathleen Hanna’s picks did not disappoint. Roman Polanski’s Baby were quite a zesty discovery from this year’s Sled Island. I think Montreal’s Each Other were also on this bill and they blew my mind wide open too.

5. Merzbow, Holzkopf & Botfly, Bitter Fictions (The Palomino, May 22 2014)

This is easily one of the loudest shows I have ever seen. If the fact that uber-prolific Japanese vegan noise hermit, Merzbow was playing in Calgary at the Palomino BBQ restaurant wasn’t astounding enough, the crushingly intense sonic ride that he took all in attendance on was a clinic on the power of a defined artistic vision.

6. Tony Molina, Lab Coast, The Pygmies, The Fags (The Palomino, July 4, 2014)

For my 2014 year in concerts, Tony Molina’s show at the Palomino was at the same time one of the most challenging, enjoyable, exciting and memorable shows I’ve seen in recent times. The dude totally shreds! Go see him next time he’s in Calgary!

7. Crazy Spirit, Mongoloid, No Problem, Aboslut, Thee Nodes, Pure Mania, Glitter, Strangled and Slurs (National Music Centre, May 2, 2014)

This all-ages night at NMC was part of the Garbage Daze punk rock festival that has been happening now over the past couple of springtimes in Calgary. Most of the bands were quite good. Special mention go to locals Glitter and No Problem (they both released killer albums in 2014) and to out-of-towners Thee Nodes and Crazy Spirit for really bringing the ruckus that night.

8. Sled Island Rock Lotteries (The Palomino, May and October 2014)

The Sled Island Rock Lotteries are pretty much the most inspiring musical events that happen in Calgary. The premise is that a bunch of local musicians form bands in the morning, spend an afternoon writing and rehearsing a 20-minute or so set and then performing said set at nighttime. It is truly awe-inspiring to see what can be produced when art is being created at gunpoint. Youtube it—it’s great!

9. Purple Ryan for Torrid Thursdays (Pizza Bob’s, August 2014)

Calgary’s premier Prince tribute band’s debut show at Pizza Bob’s this summer for Torrid Thursday was truly a night that everyone could be their purple-est. Led by Ryan Scott as the midget from Minneapolis and also featuring some very capable hands as the band, Purple Ryan are a scream! Go. See. Them. Now!

10. Naomi Punk, Weed, Glitter (Tubby Dog, October 11, 2014)

Killer good evening of great punk rock. I must say that I love Tubby Dog so much—it’s probably my favourite place in Calgary. They make ridiculously delicious hot dogs, but also serve the best hamburgers and tacos in town, too. Oh yeah, they usually have stellar shows like this one all the time.

NMC’s own Ayatollah of Rock ’n’ Rolla, Adam Kamis, says you need to see Viet Cong live.

Footage from the Sled Island Rock Lottery in October of 2014. 

Mary Kapusta, Marketing and PR Manager

*Sidenote: I wish I could make Basia number 1-10. She is so kind and talented and I am obsessed with her voice. Samantha Martin is awesome too, but her album is old.

Top Albums
1. Basia Bulat – Tall Tall Shadow
2. Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
3. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

Top Songs
4. Basia Bulat  – “Never Let Me Go” (Tall Tall Shadow)
5. Timber Timbre – “Hot Dreams ” (Hot Dreams)

Top Live Shows
6. A Tribe Called Red (National Music Centre, June 17, 2014)
7. Tanya Tagaq (Polaris Music Prize Gala, September 22, 2014)
8. Samantha Martin (Dakota Tavern, August 1, 2014)

Dream Bar Band
9. Gord Downie and the Sadies

Top Music Moment
10. Cape Breton bonfire ceilidh

Basia Bulat has performed at NMC several times. She is a big fan of NMC’s Hammond Novachord and TONTO.

Adam Fox, Director of Programs

Top 10 Albums of 2014
1. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
2. Dean Drouillard – UFO Houses
3. Cousins – The Halls of Wickwire
4. Tanya Tagaq – Animism
5. Joshua Van Tassel – Dance Music: Songs for Slow Motion
6. Caribou ­– Our Love
7. Chad VanGaalen – Shrink Dust
8. Christine Bougie & Dafydd Hughes – It Will Record
9. Amelia Curran – They Promised You Mercy
10. Barzin – To Live Alone in that Long Summer

“War On the East Coast” off Brill Bruisers, the sixth studio album from Vancouver super-group The New Pornographers.

Chad Saunders, Manager, Operations and Special Projects

*In no particular order.

Top Albums
1. Reuben and the Dark – Funeral Sky

Can’t get “Rolling Stone” out of my head. p.s. Rueben was going to build a deck for me this past summer. I hope his success continues, so he can enjoy sitting on a deck rather than building them.

2. Clinton St. John – The Minor Arkhana

Ever wonder what outside would sound like? Listen to the album, The Minor Arkhana. You can practically smell the grass and see the wind when you hear “Moth on a Drift.”

3. LA Cops cassette release – Spread ‘Em

Buddy cop electro pop.

Top Song
4. Napalmpom – “Guided By Volume” (The Unconditional Love Of Napalmpom)

That song and their live shows. Enough said!

Top Music Moments
5. Joel Plaskett stepping in to headline Sled Island’s Friday show at Olympic Plaza, becoming the festival’s unofficial patron saint.
6. High Hopes concert.

Seeing local bands Fox Who Slept the Day Away, The Ashley Hundred, Windigo, and Jesse and the Dandelions raise funds for the charitable organization, Zackariah and the Non-Profits, was truly inspiring.

7. Being asked to judge the Calgary Folk Music Festival annual songwriting contest’s Sonic Youth category.

Vincent Lee Christianson’s “Storm of Life” won top prize, but all of the performers were great.

8. The Return of Art Bergmann.
9. To all the bands that played live on-air on my show on CJSW Radio (Fridays 2-4pm if you must know).

Always amazing. Hats off to Störc for playing like it was their last show in front of thousands. The CJSW live studio will never be the same.

10. To all the people that make a live show a part of their regular routine—thank you.

Nothing is better than swaying/bopping/sweating/ebb n’ flowing with a bunch of people to the sounds of live music. Try it sometime.

Napalmpom’s video for “Guided by Volume” might be the best thing ever.

Julien Sicard, Annual Giving Officer

*In no particular order.
Top 10 Songs of 2014 By French-Canadian Artists 
1. Coeur de Pirate – “You Know I’m No Good” (Trauma)
2. Loud Lary Ajust – “Automne” (Automne)
3. Machines Gents – “Moi, j’ai quelque chose à dire”
4. Ariane Moffatt – “Soleil Chaleur”
5. Les Deuxluxes – “Traitement Deuxluxe” (Les Deuxluxes)
6. Monogrenade – “Cercles et pentagones” (Composite)
7. Jason Bajada – “Tes Rêves”
8. Le Couleur – “Vacances de 87” (Voyage Love)
9. Philippe B. – “Une nuit de la St-Jean sur le Mont Chauve” (Ornithologie, la nuit)
10. Chocolat – “Mefiez-vous du Boogaloo” (Tss Tss)

Ariane Moffatt’s electro pop-laced “Soleil Chaleur.”

Jason Tawkin, Collections Assistant

Top 10 Albums of 2014
1. Chad VanGaalen – Shrink Dust
2. Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
3. Pink Mountaintops – Get Back
4. Mac DeMarco Salad Days
5. The Wet Secrets – Free Candy
6. 36? – Where Do We Go from Here?
7. Death from Above 1979 ­– The Physical World
8. Mother Mother – Very Good Bad Thing
9. Fucked Up – Glass Boys
10. Napalmpom – The Unconditional Love of Napalmpom

 “Ambulance City” by Pink Mountaintops.

Dave “What Year Is It?” Walsh, Assistant Director of Finance

Top 10 Songs That Are Not From 2014
1. Gowan – “(You’re A) Strange Animal” (Strange Animal)
2. Platinum Blonde – “Doesn’t Really Matter” (Standing in the Dark)
3. Payola$ – “Eyes of A Stranger” (No Stranger to Danger)
4. Parachute Club – “Rise Up” (Parachute Club)
5. Loverboy – “Hot Girls in Love” (Keep It Up)
6. Chilliwack – “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” (Segue)
7. Corey Hart – “Sunglasses at Night” (First Offence)
8. Honeymoon Suite – “New Girl Now” (Honeymoon Suite)
9. The Nylons – “Oo Wee, Oh Me, Oh My” (Seamless)
10. Men Without Hats – “Safety Dance” (Rhythm of Youth)

Gowan’s “(You’re A) Strange Animal” is a must on any holiday staff party playlist, according to NMC’s Dave Walsh.


–Julijana Capone
Wanna talk music? Email me at julijana.capone@nmc.ca or follow me on Twitter @thejulijanaruin.

About the Author

Julijana Capone

Originally from Winnipeg, Julijana is NMC’s senior publicist and the managing editor of Amplify. In addition to her role at NMC, she is the founder of Light of Day Publicity, a company she formed to promote the work of emerging Canadian artists.

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