2015 Personal Views Chart Attack

PERSONAL VIEWS: The Best of 2015 from Cities Across Canada

From Halifax to Dawson City, we asked members from music communities across the country to reflect on 2015 in their scene.

- Dec 29, 2015
Personal Views is a ground-level guide to music scenes from around Canada by those who make them move. This week, a look at the best of 2015 in scenes throughout Canada.

In a year when popstars like Drake, The Weeknd, and Alessia Cara focussed the world's ears on "Canadian music" via the sounds of the GTA, the country outside of Ontario's largest urban centre and the tremendous talents contained there went often overlooked. But Canada is a web of vibrant, interconnected art communities.

With the help of staff and contributors (Richard Trapunski, Chris Hampton, Michael Rancic, and Matt Williams), we contacted members from seven music cities across the country and asked them to report on their local scene from ground-level.

What's the best new venue in Whitehorse? What are the top three releases out of Regina this year? It's a scrapbook of snapshots and POVs taken from across Canada in 2015, uncovering gems that you, like us, probably missed if you weren't looking close enough.

Halifax View

Mo Kenney (Musician)

Mo Kenney (by Matt Williams)

Photo by: Matt Williams

Favourite New Venue(s) in Halifax

I’m going to pick a venue in Dartmouth: Jacob’s Lounge. I’ve played there a few times now and it’s always a good time. Nice little room downstairs, easy to book shows. Every time I go it’s too much fun.

Most Memorable Live Show of 2015

"All the Time" by Bahamas (Live)

I had the pleasure of opening up for Bahamas this year at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium. They put on an amazing show. I’d seen Afie play a few times before, but this was definitely the best show I’d seen him put on. Great band, great set list, great evening.

Best New Band


Mauno 'Nothing' on Attic Transmissions

I’d have to go with Mauno. Been a fan of Nick Everett’s for a while. His new trio Mauno is really neat. They’ve released some great music this year.

Top Three Local Releases of 2015

Mauno, Rough Master

Mauno! They released Rough Master in August, it’s a great album. Favourite tune is "Champs."

Vulva CultureRolling in the Creep

Saw a live video they did playing a tune for Exclaim! and instantly liked them. Spooky and dreamy.

Aqua AltaDreamsphere

Supergroup Aqua Alta released Dreamsphere back in March, and it rules. Jenn Grant could sing the phone book and I’d swoon.

Hamilton View

Becky Katz (Strangewaves Festival  co-director, member of Casino Artspace, Sourpussy, glassEYElashes, Earth Wind and Choir)

becky katz

Favourite New Venue(s) in Hamilton

I suppose it's cheesy to say this, but this is the truth:

a. Strangebarn *where I live. I know I'm biased BUT we have been throwing some really exciting shows here since July, within the comfort of my own living room! It's fortifying for me so I can't go wrong.

b. Casino Artspace. Granted I'm a member of Casino (biased, once again) but it's a comfortable maze of a place that is really interesting to poke your head through. The place basically comes loaded with a dozen incredible people, so you're guaranteed to have a blast no matter what is going on.

Most Memorable Live Show of 2015

In Hamilton? That's tough. It's been a long, chock-full year!
Sets are memorable for different reasons, but that being said, these are some highlights:

Ken Aldcroft / Mike Gennaro / John Oswald

a) The OSWALD/MALONE/LEE/FRASER show at Artword Artbar in June as part of the Something Else! Festival presented by jazz-enthusiasts, ZULA Presents.


b) Seeing my pal Patrick Flegel play guitar for Freak Heat Waves at Baltimore House in August.

JOYFULTALK - Possible Futures

c) A show that took place at Baltimore House in September with joyfultalk, Impure Haha, Connor Bennett and my band Sourpussy. It was a memorable night because everyone was excellent, especially Connor who just ripped it on the sax. (As it turns out, I love the sax.) It also happened that Sourpussy performed a special a cappella set that turned out to be a lot of fun and somewhat therapeutic; though it will most likely not happen again.

Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings

d) Sharon Jones during Supercrawl made me cry. Besides her fierce and energetic stage-tearing, it was so heart-melty. It was also memorable because a lady passed out a few feet away from me which was rather distracting. I don't know if she's ok.

e) Decomposeur at Hammer City Records in April. I got to draw on his bare body with colourful markers while he was ferociously singing, and what seemed like praying.

f) Soupcans and Drainolith in my living room (Strangebarn). It was downright exhilarating.

Dune Buddies @ Don Blanche Live 2012

g) Dune Buddies vs. Tartpussy at Casino Artspace in November.

Jennifer Castle - "Nature" (Live)

h) Everything at Strangewaves (hehe), especially Barbara and Jen Castle.

doobie freaks - doobie jam.dtf

i) Doobie Freaks at Hamilton Guest House in January. They played for 3.5 hours. But I only stayed for 2 of them.

Best New Band

Nick Persons

They're not really new, but they're new to me (in 2015). They provide some heavy duty entertainment.

Top Three Local Releases of 2015

Pucumber Sasssquash Family Band, S/T 

Zena, And Sometimes Jazz

Lizzy Boredom/Albert James, Split Cassette

VERY excited for the 2016 releases by Snake Charmer and Jessy Lanza

What's the biggest change you've witnessed in the Hamilton music scene over the last, say, five years?

Since I've essentially injected myself into the music scene over the past five years, I would say the biggest change I've witnessed is the widening of eyes and opening of minds in terms of audiences, and promoters. I'm finding that more and more music listeners are able to get behind the extraordinary and peculiar, and perhaps the less accessible. There you have it: The less accessible has morphed to become more accessible. Go figure. But everyone is still weirded out by Fossils.

How could the Hamilton scene change for the better? What would that look like?

It would look like a multitude of different textures overlapping each other, with dozens of colours and chuckles, and frying pans lining the sidewalk, with everyone wearing tap shoes - even those strapped on their scooters. The Hamilton scene is already changing for the better, and I attribute the positive change to its collaborative, community-based, developmental, and collective-impact framework. The majority of everyone who is putting shows together are team players; they are open-minded, constantly willing to collaborate and share, and are non-possessive nor credit-takers.

It has honestly been a pleasure to work together with other promoters and music fans. A special thanks to the kind folks at HAVN (Hamilton Audio Visual Node) who truly only care about good music. It's incredibly refreshing. I feel very lucky to be a part of the momentum.

Whitehorse & Dawson City View

Emily Farrell (Executive Director of Dawson City Music Festival)

Emily F

Favourite New Venue(s) in Whitehorse and Dawson City

Hamilton & Son Guitar Works in Whitehorse opened this year and presents intimate shows in a unique space, where Bob and Paddy Hamilton also repair instruments and serve up espresso.

Splintered Craft, also in Whitehorse, is a multi-use arts space geared towards youth and the fine folks there have presented several all-ages, accessible shows. They're filling a gap in terms of making music barrier-free for youth with their free, downtown venue. And in Dawson City there was recently a show at the local recycling depot, which is pretty badass.

Most Memorable Live Show of 2015

The Yukon Girls Rock Camp showcase on the Dawson City Music Festival (DCMF) Mainstage. We hosted the first Girls Rock Camp in the Yukon this past summer, and it was incredible. The camp ended with a showcase performance in which each band played a song they had written and rehearsed in the week of camp, and every band was awesome. The best part might have been all the audience members who were loving every minute of it, including tons of Festival musicians.

Best New Band

Soda Pony

They're not super new, but Soda Pony was new to the DCMF stage this year and they deserve recognition. "Friendship" is the catchiest song, and Aiden Tentrees and Patrick Hamilton (yes, the one of Hamilton & Son Guitar Works) are just about the nicest guys around and they've both got major musical chops.

Top Local Releases of 2015

Sarah MacDougall, Grand Canyon

Brenda Berezan, Blue Through the Trees

Best/unique/most memorable about your scene(s) this year.

All of DCMF is pretty memorable... Our tiny town fully embraces the festival, which really takes over for a weekend. I've stage managed for DCMF for the last twelve years and this was my first year at the helm producing the whole thing - it made my heart grow three sizes to see our 300+ volunteers taking such good care of our artists and festival-goers all weekend.

Winnipeg View

David Schellenberg (Co-owner/Talent Buyer at The Good Will Social Club; Artistic Director of Big Fun Festival; Member of Tunic/Living Hour)

David Schellenberg (by Janine Kropla)

Photo by: Janine Kropla

Favourite New Venue(s) in Winnipeg

A fairly biased answer here, but The Good Will Social Club is my favourite new venue. My six partners and I opened up this coffee shop/bar/venue in October of 2014 and it's been an amazing year of hard work and we are all just amazed about how quickly our community has supported us. We host amazing shows from up and coming locals to international touring acts. It's just been awesome.

Most Memorable Live Show of 2015

Iceage Live at Spillover 2015

Iceage, June 23 at The Good Will Social Club. A train wreck of a set in the best way possible. Sloppy and raw. Bodies flaying everywhere, be it the band's or the crowd’s. Iceage commanded the audiences attention and just put on a hot steamy show where they gave it their all in the middle of the summer. Everyone left covered in sweat. It was sick.

Best New Band

Micah Visser

Originally a solo project, Micah has added a band over the last year and it's phenomenal. Brutally honest, well crafted, 10/10 indie rock by the most talented 19-year-old I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Top Three Local Releases of 2015

Cannon BrosDream City

Pure power-pop bliss over 19 songs reminiscent of Canadian east coast greats. Think Sloan, Inbreds, SS Cardiacs meets Guided by Voices.

Brady Allard, Every Now and Again

This one went under a lot of peoples’ radars. Local sideman to every band releases a mini EP on bandcamp of some of the best bedroom recorded lo fi slacker-pop. In the same vein as things like Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and Architecture in Helsinki.

Yes We Mystic, Tour Tape

Local up and comers released a four song tour tape for their Canadian tour this fall. Three songs from their 2016 debut album, recorded by Jace Lasek (Besnard Lakes) and one jam space demo. If the rest of the songs on their debut are as strong as these songs, then shit. Think moody art indie rock, cut from the same cloth as Aidan Knight, The Darcys and even some tastes of The National in there.


Regina View

Carl Johnson (Library Voices)

zorg carl

Photo by: Christina Bourne

Favourite New Venue(s) in Regina

The German Club is a newish venue in town and it's the best place to play for bands coming through Regina for the first time. Great beer, stand up people, the best murals in town and a bathroom that is B.A. Johnston approved. Also not new at all but worth mentioning is the all-father of Regina venues and that bastion of our glorious socialist past, The Exchange. We're lucky to have it.

Most Memorable Live Show of 2015

Andy Shauf - "Jenny Come Home"

Andy Shauf at The Artisan. His set was gorgeous and contained zero bullshit. Just one of those shows with a room full of dazed, transfixed onlookers from the first song to the briefest of encores. Andy represents the best of what Regina can be and we won't be able to call him ours for much longer.

Best New Band

Surf Dads

The Steves

Tie between Surf Dads and The Steves. Surf Dads have been making waves (lol) across Canada lately with their intensely fun live show and the terrific EPs they release every second Thursday. The Steves are the front line of Regina's lofi-garage scene and they have a song about how everyone good from Regina is moving to Saskatoon. Topical stuff.

Top Three Local Releases of 2015

The ExtrovertsDemo 1979

The Extroverts - You Gotta Lose

The Extroverts were Saskatchewan's first punk band. They existed from 1977-1982 and then reformed a couple years ago. Last year they found a cassette of thirty-something year old recordings performed live off the floor onto a 2-track that they'd forgotten ever existed. The resulting record is 13 Canadian punk rock classics that you've never heard before in the vein of Teenage Head, D.O.A. and Young Canadians plus one ripping new song they recorded recently.

Megan NashSong Harvest Volume One

While not technically a Reginian—she lives in the hamlet of Palmer and originally hails from Moose Jaw—I'm gonna go ahead and claim Megan Nash for the Queen City anyways. Song Harvest is bare and raw, a powerful document of transmutation by an artist who's emerging as one of the top song alchemists in the land.

Snake RiverSongs From The Adjacent Room

Snake River have inherited the throne of Regina psych-gaze overlords that The Besnard Lakes vacated more than a decade ago. This record feels like a ghost holding your hand in an abandoned prairie homestead while a whammy bar bends your brain.

Montreal View

Frankie Teardrop and Ethel Eugene (Organizers of Slut Island Festival)


Favourite New Venue(s) in Montreal

It's not very easy to keep DIY spaces running here in MTL because ACAB, and consequently we host most of our events at Casa Del Popolo/La Vitrola/Sala Rosa and they've been extremely supportive to us since the start.

As of lately, we've been trying to have most of our shows at Le Ritz P.D.B. as it is essentially the only wheelchair accessible venue in the north part of the city. We've been thinking about having our own DIY space but accessibility is essential for us and thus it's proven to be really difficult to find.

Most Memorable Live Show of 2015 

Slut Island Festival 2015::: July 10 ::: Psych-Ich Lie, Noia, Dreamboy, White Girl Wasted

Every show has been special for its own reasons. One night during [Slut Island] this year, Psych-Ich Lie, Noia, Dreamboy and White Girl Wasted all played such incredible sets and kept the audience consistently captivated; the energy in the room that night was something special.

White Girl Wasted came up from New Orleans and blew everyone away with her total freak baby performance. These kind of nights remind of the importance of throwing events for and by queer people because they're superstars.

Best New Band


So many good new bands, but we have a lot of heart for OOPS. One of their first shows was with Slut Island and we have been attendees at many of their shows which followed; they have a good thing going. They made aux.tv's list of Canada's best punk demos of 2015, well deserved. Check out Frankie's favourite track "He Went Somewhere" to get an idea of what they're like.

Top Three Local Releases of 2015

MALOKIO, Senza Scampo 

Echo Beach, Fortune 

Xarah Dion, Sillage et Caprice 

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