The Rural Alberta Advantage – Mended With Gold

Saddle Creek, 2014

Indie-rockers with a folk angle is hardly a novelty today, but this Toronto trio have always been one of the best, despite their relative obscurity. Sometimes layered and fuzzy, other times louder swells of alt-rock with bombastic percussion, the band have always found a nice medium between rowdy, galloping rock and an underlying sensitivity. Somewhat of a hidden treasure on the Saddle Creek roster, TRAA just keep getting better.

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Andrew Judah – Monster

Self-released, 2014

A dark, cinematic listen that encompasses folk, electronica, indie-rock and baroque pop, Judah seems at home with banjos as he does synth. Heavily layered and unpredictable, subsequent listens yield new things to love each time, as Judah explores mysterious, instantly captivating sounds all by himself. This would be a great companion disc to Radiohead’s Hail To The Thief.

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Musee Mecanique – From Shores Of Sleep

Tender Loving Empire, 2014

Layered, gorgeous indie-folk from Portland, MM’s use of cello, accordion and xylophone are paired with hushed harmonies and the sort of orchestral prowess that is only paralleled by the best of the genre. It’s a more personal outing for songwriter Sean Oglivie, and the accompanying instrumentation is intimate, rich and contains subtle power. Often sounding like music filtered through a stained glass window, this is something everyone should hear.

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Young Rebel Set – Crocodile

New West, 2014

The British folk-rockers return with a second album of ’90s influenced Brit-rock as well as nods to American legends like Springsteen. In a display of multi-faceted indie-rock that is both soulful with strategically reckless moments, it mostly offers slow burning, haunting atmospheres where blues and psyche-influenced moments aren’t out of the question. It may take a few listens to really settle, but it’s worth the investment.

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Ben Watt – Hendra

Universal, 2014

Formerly half of Everything But The Girl, Watt goes back to his folk-rock roots armed with a guitar, occasional synth and his gentle voice. It’s a quiet affair, full of intimacy, and though the guitars will get crunchy and blues influenced, it always comes back to his sparse and emotive singing. It’s a far cry from his former band or work as a DJ, but the life stories expressed here unfold with a stark beauty that’s so immediately memorable.

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Greensky Bluegrass – If Sorrows Swim

Big Blue Zoo, 2014

Existing somewhere between bluegrass and rock with an approach rooted in prog-rock, Greensky Bluegrass have amassed legions of fans due to their skilled approach and limitless boundaries. With furious banjo picking and gritty melodies, this fifth album occasional sits in traditional country and bluegrass, but mostly explores how detailed their instrumentation can get without alienating the listener.

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