Shocks & Surprises Exclaim! Writers Assess 1999

Alex Megelas Montréal, PQ

Surprises

Various Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be: A Tribute to AC/DC (Reptilian)
Tremolo Faites L'amour Aux Fleurs (Ozone)
Les Marmottes Aplaties, "Détruire" from Episode Sanglant (Farmer)
Various Pop Romantique (Emperor Norton)
Thrush Hermit Clayton Park (Sonic Unyon)

Disappointment

Andre Williams & The Sadies Red Dirt (Bloodshot) Should have been a masterful meeting of old and young but instead ended up as pretty standard fare.

Local Hero

Scat Rag Boosters. They look like they're not even trying and they end up pulling it big time as the rockest blues band in town.

The Future

Theremin punk. People will combine the unearthly mewlings of theremin with the fast-drivin' power of punk to create all-out attacking sounds that are out of this world.






Andrea Gin Vancouver, BC

Surprises

Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs (Merge)
Dressy Bessy Pink Hearts Yellow Moons (Kindercore)
TLC Fanmail (LaFace)
Various Rushmore
Low Secret Name (Kranky)

Disappointment

Stereolab Cobra & Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night (Elektra) After coming up with brilliant album designs on a regular basis, this one just didn't look that good.

Local Hero

Flash Bastard. Vancouver's glam rock boys did our city proud by getting kicked off the Mötley Crüe/Scorpions "Maximum Rock" tour for, among many other things, chasing the Scorpions' Klaus around backstage with a pitchfork.

The Future

The end of irony, ushering in the Age of Earnestness. People will say what they mean and mean what they say.






Andrew Duke Halifax, NS

Surprises

Kit Clayton Nek Sanalet (DM/~Scape)
Dan Curtin Pregenesis (Elypsia)
Drexciya Neptune's Lair (DM Tresor/Caroline)
Legion Of Green Men Floating In Shallow Water (Post Contemporary/Outside)
Super_Collider Head On (Loaded/Medicine)

Disappointment

DJ mixed CDs that are either badly mixed by a DJ and/or "mixed" via ProTools by a studio engineer. As the electronic music scene sees DJ culture growing exponentially, it's not surprising that this is happening, but it shows an obvious concern for money over music.

Local Hero

Stinkin' Rich, aka Buck 65, continues to blaze trails for every up-and-comin' turntablist/wordologist, while juggling cross-country (Canada and U.S.) recording sessions and memorable live performances.

The Future

Continuing a back-to-basics approach in electronic music, whether it's the usage of more musicians (as opposed to one person-plus-computer bands) or simply acknowledging that less can be more and busier is not always better.






Anna Lazowski Winnipeg, MB

Surprises

Chris Cornell Euphoria Morning (Universal)
Nine Inch Nails The Fragile (Universal)
Various Run Lola Run (Universal)
Tom Waits Mule Variations (Epitaph)
Beth Orton Central Reservation (Heavenly/BMG)

Disappointment

Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication (Warner) With the return of John Frusciante, and the relative strength of the first single, I was optimistic that the Chilis would have something new to offer. Unfortunately it seems they've taken more steps back than they have forward.

Local Hero

Weakerthans. Their ability to combine a fierce conscience with delicate vulnerability is truly astounding.

The Future

Community. Hip-hop artists have been collaborating and promoting each other for years; more musicians will reach out to diversify in genre and style.






Chris Ayers Lake Wylie, SC

Surprises

Monstrosity In Dark Purity (Olympic)
September Plateau Occasional Light (Elsie + Jack)
Wellwater Conspiracy Brotherhood of Electric: Operational Directive(s) (Time Bomb)
Goatsnake I (Man's Ruin)
Gordian Knot (Sensory/Laser's Edge)

Disappointment

Nebula To The Center (Sub Pop/Warner). After three barn-burning releases, these Fu Manchu expatriates and producer Jack Endino sabotaged their meteoric rise with this utterly flaccid full-length.

Local Hero

Seven Foot Spleen. Only a small town like nearby Granite Falls, NC could spawn such proficient, Eyehategod/Iron Monkey sludge-slingers.

The Future

Relapse Europe. Euro-metal hoards, beware: Relapse has a new office in Germany and will infest the continent with their contaminated brand of death/grind/spazzcore mayhem. God love 'em!






Chris Gramlich Toronto, ON

Surprises

Dillinger Escape Plan Calculating Infinity (Relapse)
Botch We Are The Romans (Hydra Head)
Today Is The Day In The Eyes of God (Relapse)
Fantomas (Ipecac)
Isis The Red Sea (Second Nature)

Disappointment

Nine Inch Nails The Fragile (Nothing/Interscope) An inordinate amount of time was taken to release what is basically a longer, more self-indulgent, rehashed version of The Downward Spiral .

Local Hero

The End. A more violent, less jazzy Candiria with a stage show to match.

The Future

The return of '80s glam/cock rock. Because everything old is new again and glam is already making its return in the punk scene.






Chris Rolfe Toronto, ON

Surprises

Stereolab Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night (Elektra)
Mercury Rev "I Only Have Eyes For You" from Goddess On A Hiway EP (V2)
Vengaboys "We Like To Party" from The Party Album (Strictly Rhythm/Groovilicious)
Jimi Hendrix "Stone Free" from Live at the Filmore East (Universal)

Disappointment

1999. I consequently spent the entire year buried in used record bins.

Local Hero

Klave Y Kongo. Entrancing, traditional Cuban son music that sounds even better after a few rums and a crafty spliff out back.

The Future

People will stop putting so much importance on commodified music, and remember what it means to create something themselves.






Chris Wodskou Toronto, ON

Surprises

Beta Band Three EPs (Astralwerks/Outside)
Bows Blush (Beggars Banquet/Select)
Ibrahim Ferrer Buena Vista Social Club Presents (World Circuit/Nonesuch)
Freakwater End Time (Thrill Jockey)
Mos Def Black on Both Sides (Virgin)

Disappointment

Basement Jaxx The Remedy (XL/Beggars Banquet) It's been hyped to the skies as a revolutionary dance album. What's revolutionary about combining Daft Punk and Massive Attack knockoffs on the same album?

Local Hero

Oh Susanna. Largely for that resonant voice, but also for her lyrics, which come the closest to describing a Canadian roots gothic of anyone today, including the Rheostatics.

The Future

Young music fans will see through the bogusness of all things marketed as alternative and the vacuity of karaoke hip hop and become fed up with being shamelessly pandered to by focus-grouped kiddie pop groups.






Christopher Waters St. Catharines, ON

Surprises

Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs (Merge)
Death In Vegas The Contino Sessions (Time Bomb/BMG)
Low Secret Name (Kranky)
Joel Plaskett In Need Of Medical Attention (No Alternative/Sonic Unyon)
Matthew Sweet In Reverse (Zomba/BMG)

Disappointment

Beta Band The Beta Band (Astralwerks/Virgin) My new favourite band lost the plot when it came to crafting a full album. While the ensemble's excellent live show in Toronto helped numb the pain a little bit, the wound remains.

Local Hero

Chris "Cashmere" Wojtowicz. The Revenge of the Egg People bandleader and founder of the annual S.C.E.N.E. festival, makes it his business to keep an original music scene flourishing in city where most bar owners would rather book lousy cover band tributes to crappy mainstream rock bands.

The Future

Tokyo cut-ups, such as Cornelius, Fantastic Plastic Machine and Color Filter continue to be the ones to watch. Inventive pop collages that surf genres to deliver up-beat soundtracks about life and how to live it.






Chuck Molgat Winnipeg, MB

Surprises

Joel Plaskett In Need Of Medical Attention (No Alternative/Sonic Unyon)
Frank Black & the Catholics Pistolero (Sonic Unyon)
Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin (Warner)
Cuba Leap Of Faith (4AD/Beggars Banquet/Select)
Granelli Music Has Its Way With Me (Perimeter/Universal)

Disappointment

Gomez Liquid Skin (Virgin/EMI) The UK's next big thing does the sophomore stumble and comes off sounding like Blind Melon doing a Grateful Dead impersonation.

Local Hero

The Hummers. An increasingly popular live draw, these innovative jazz-funk instrumentalists just released the dynamic Caywan , their second outstanding disc of 1999.

The Future

The return of airline disaster movies: Tragedy breeds commerce, and with CNN handling the publicity, this popular '70s film genre is cleared for another morbid money-making takeoff.






Craig Daniels Toronto, ON

Surprises

Turbonegro Apocalypse Dudes (Man's Ruin)
The Screws (In The Red)
The Nerves New Animal (Thrill Jockey)
Quintron These Hands Of Mine (Rhinestone)
Tricky Woo Sometimes I Cry (Sonic Unyon)

Disappointment

The Donnas at the El Mocambo in Toronto. The show was so crowded that it was virtually impossible for most people to see the band.

Local Hero

Danny and Reid's Motion Machine. They synchronise clever, minimalist live music with Super 8 films of their own creation.

The Future

A New Wave revival. It has to happen because the garbage bag and electrical tape look is due for a comeback.






David Dacks Toronto, ON

Surprises

Tony Allen Black Voices (Comet)
More than two dozen never-before-reissued Fela Kuti albums (Barclay/Universal)
FunkStar Deluxe/Bob Marley "Sun Is Shining" remix. Kudos for remixing the superior Lee Perry version.
Bob Haack The Best of Dimension 5 (Emperor Norton)

Disappointment

Breakbeat Era (XL/Beggars Banquet) For a CD so dependent on vocals, the vocalist didn't have great rhythmic or melodic chops. Compared to New Forms , Breakbeat Era's overall lack of subtlety left me cold.

Local Hero

Eric Chenaux. The sounds he can produce are only tangentially related to guitar technique.

The Future

ProTools and other digital editing systems. Digital editing is cheaper, more available and a greater part of the creative process for all genres of music than ever before. Whatever the format, everyone has to learn the same keyboard commands to slice and dice digitally.






David Lewis Hamilton, ON

Surprises

Captain Beefheart Grow Fins (Revenant)
Jamie Fielding Notes From The Underground (AIJA)
Various Deep River of Song Series (Rounder)
Harry Partch Enclosure 5: The Delusion of the Fury (Innova)
Louis Armstrong/Billie Holiday New Orleans (Jazz Crusade)

Disappointment

CIUT. Because the ongoing crisis at Canada's largest campus/community radio station has become an ugly can of worms that reveals ineptitude and gross fiscal mismanagement; an utter failure of communication between core staff and the volunteer membership; the fascist face of commercial power politics.

Local Hero

Flux. Because they groove with a sound that is sexy, young, vibrant and very much their own.

The Future

Audio art. Recombinant, xenochronous, creative fusion: improvising with the "fixed statement" of recorded sounds, crossing all genres, from acoustic roots music to noisecore.






Del Cowie Toronto, ON

Surprises

Roots Manuva Brand New Second Hand (Big Dada/Ninja Tune/Outside)
Mountain Brothers Self: Volume I (Pimpstrut)
Polyrhythm Addicts Rhyme Related EP (Wreck/Nervous)
Da Grassroots Passage Through Time (Conception/ Nu Gruv Alliance)
Christian Falk Quel Bordel (Warner)

Disappointment

NAS I Am ; Nastradamus (Columbia/Sony) Even with the lowered expectations that now accompany Nas releases, these two efforts confirm Nas is wasting his considerable talent (see 1994's "Illmatic") and is in serious danger of becoming a perennial underachiever.

Local Hero

Ivana Santilli As well as releasing her polished and soulful debut Brown , this multi-instrumentalist along with her tight band, has grown and developed into a bonafide live draw.

The Future

The West Coast. With upcoming material from Dilated Peoples, Jurassic 5 and Black Eyed Peas, MCs like Planet Asia and producers like Peanut Butter Wolf, Evidence and Madlib, the West Coast underground looks primed to achieve widespread currency and influence.






Denise Benson Toronto, ON

Surprises

Nick Holder From Within (NRK)
Roots Manuva Brand New Second Hand (Ninja Tune/Outside)
Future Pilot AKA Vs. A Galaxy of Sound (Sulphur/Beggars Banquet)
Peace Orchestra (G-Stone)
King Kooba Enter the Throne Room (Second Skin/Fusion III)

Disappointment

Luscious Jackson Electric Honey (Grand Royal/EMI) I've had a soft spot for LJ since the In Search of Manny EP, but if this is "maturing" then count me out. Overproduced pap, with a few bright exceptions.

Local Hero

A:xus aka Abacus. The man has mad, broad, production talents. It's dance music that's all about the soul, whether minimalist, Detroit-influenced techno, moody d&b or dance floor friendly house. A Soundtrack for Life brings it all together.

The Future

More live vocals and instrumentation in dance music. Sampling will wear thin for loads of producers, they'll want to challenge themselves and work with more real live people, and dance music of all stripes will grow even more textured and soulful.






Gary Rusak Montreal, PQ and Toronto, ON

Surprises

John Prine In Spite of Ourselves (Oh Boy)
Dr. Dre 2001 (Aftermath/Interscope)
The Lovedaddys Mr. Popularity and Other Short Works (Tuesday Hi Fi)
Stan Rogers From Coffee House to Concert Hall (Fogarty's Cove Music)
Emily Kurn Lake Louise (Independent)

Disappointment

Ween Painting the Town Brown (Electra) Does anyone really need a 27-minute version "Poopship Destroyer"?

Local Hero

Big Bat and the Blue Balls. Every Friday and Saturday night at the Cock and Bull in Montreal. This soulful working class three piece blues band skilfully wails over drunken chatter until the wee hours of the morn.

The Future

One word: Pokémon






Ian Danzig Toronto, ON

Surprises

Low Secret Name (Kranky)
Add N to (X) Avant Hard (Mute/Fusion III)
Beta Band The Three EPs (Astralwerks/Outside)
Five Style Miniature Portraits (Sub Pop/Warner)
Pinback (Ace Fu)

Disappointment

Wellwater Conspiracy Brotherhood of Electric: Operational Directives (Time Bomb/BMG) Wellwater's previous full-length, Declaration of Conformity was a brilliant and gritty '60s psych garage throwback. 1999's follow-up had none of the raw passion or '60s rock fixations and sounded like much of today's alterna-rock fodder.

Local Hero

Legion of Green Men. Toronto's electro duo of Lex and Ru continued to transcend genre with their gorgeous sophomore full-length , Floating In Shallow Water , released earlier this year, full of exquisite textures, warm melodies and hypnotic beats.

The Future

The Past. We're entering the new millennium transfixed on the past and suddenly anything dating back to the 19 prefix will ring nostalgic. The culmination of complete digital access and the growing prevalence of sample culture will ensure that tomorrow will have more of yesterday then ever before.






James Covey Halifax, ON

Surprises

North of America These Songs Are Cursed (Matlock)
June of 44 Anahata (Quarterstick)
Thrush Hermit Clayton Park (Sonic Unyon)
Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars (Sappy)
The Goods Dream Sequence (Independent)

Disappointment

Superchunk Come Pick Me Up (Merge) A good album with three or four great songs, from a band that usually delivers nine or ten.

Local Hero

Piggy. The "calypso orchestra of the Maritimes" were the only local band to make the cover of Halifax's weekly ( The Coast ) this year. I can only imagine the mania that will surround their "Y2Kalypso" party for the release of their debut CD Don't Stop The Calypso.

The Future

Halifax hip-hop. Now that his 1998 masterpiece Vertex is more widely available on CD, I expect Stinkin' Rich (Buck 65) Terfry to be the thin edge of the wedge that includes SixToo, the Goods, Tachichi, Josh Martinez, Skratch Bastard, and maybe DJ Granny, if she comes back from Vancouver.






James Keast Toronto, ON

Surprises

Damian Jurado Rehearsals For Departure (Sub Pop/Warner)
Richmond Fontaine Lost Son (Cavity Search)
Julie Doiron & Wooden Stars (Sappy)
Ben Folds Five The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (Epic)
Beulah When Your Heartstrings Break (Sugar Free)

Disappointment

Rachel's Selenography (Quarterstick) The sound of being boring. Pleasant and innocuous shouldn't be appropriate descriptions for this usually edgy string collective.

Local Hero

Tamara Williamson. She moves to the beat of her own effects pedals, weaving pop music in layers of wondrous echo.

The Future

Disco will suck again. This year's releases by Chemical Brothers, Jamiroquai and Basement Jaxx will be burned publicly by hordes of people who just want to rock.






Jason Schneider Kitchener, Ontario

Surprises

Wilco Summerteeth (Reprise)
Mark Lanegan I'll Take Care Of You (Sub Pop)
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band Mirror Man Sessions (Buddha)
Blurtonia Adventures In the Kingdom of Blurtonia (Web of Sound)
Tricky Woo Sometimes I Cry (Sonic Unyon)

Disappointment

Guitar players. The reason guitar rock sucks is because everyone took this minimalist approach way too far. If you're only gonna play power chords, at least do it with some style. Long live Tom Morello.

Local Hero

Shannon Lyon. New album in January should put him in his rightful place as a major Canadian songwriter.

The Future

New blood in Canada. The heavy hitters ain't getting any younger; it's time for the labels to start taking some chances.






John F. Butland Saint John NB

Surprises

Marty Stuart The Pilgrim (MCA Nashville)
Dolly Parton The Grass Is Blue (Sugar Hill)
Teddy Morgan And The Pistolas Lost Love And Highways (Hightone)
Jimmy LaFave Trail (Bohemia Best)
Michael Carpenter Baby (Not Lame)

Disappointment

Public Enemy There's A Poison Goin On (Atomic Pop) The greatest rap act in history is now just tired, cranky, and mundane, despite the Sly Stone allusion in the title and the cutting edge web commerce-based marketing.

Local Hero

Anyone who doesn't leave Saint John for Toronto or Halifax.

The Future

A bunch or really stupid names for the first ten years the 21st century, which by the way doesn't start until Jan 1, 2001, you innumerate bastards!






Jon Bartlett Ottawa, ON

Surprises

Doug Gillard Malamute Jute (Cushion)
Lee Hazlewood Cowboy In Sweden (Smells Like)
Notwist Shrink (Zero Hour)
Of Montreal The Gay Parade (Bar/None)
Greg Weeks Fire In The Arms Of The Sun (Ba Da Bing!)

Disappointment

Kleenex Girl Wonder Ponyoak (March) After months of hype, I was convinced this album would alter the way I thought and, although it wasn't that bad, it failed to excite and amaze as last year's Graham Smith Is the Coolest Person Alive still does today.

Local Hero

Pete O'Connell Trio. Like They Might Be Giants with Rob Crow (Heavy Vegetable, Thingy) on vocal duties, Pete O'Connell Trio are succinct in song length, harmonically stunning and full of lyrical wit.

The Future

The Saskatchewan Sound. Prairie rock has yet to take hold of Canada as it could, but my inside source says the next font of rock is soon to exhale from the Central Time zone.






Kevin Stewart-Panko Toronto, ON

Surprises

Dillinger Escape Plan Calculating Infinity (Relapse)
Botch We Are The Romans (Hydra Head)
Meshuggah Chaosphere (Nuclear Blast)
Core The Hustle Is On (MIA)
Candiria The Process of Self Development (MIA)

Disappointment

That the Dillinger Escape Plan full length just came out and the metalcore scene is already being inundated with weak-ass technical riffing and "confrontational" live bands.

Local Hero

The End. Not only does their Unfortunate Fall demo rule, they never fail to deliver live.

The Future

Every musical genre will continued to be littered with copycats, bandwagon jumpers, unoriginality and money grubbing opportunists. 80% of everything that gets released will be garbage, which will make us all appreciate the 20% of releases that are actually listenable.






Lia Kiessling Ottawa, ON

Surprises

Moby Play (V2/BMG)
Velvet Acid Christ Fun With Drugs (Metropolis)
Death Cab For Cutie Something About Airplanes (Barsuk)
Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs (Merge)
Meg Lee Chin Piece and Love (Invisible)
Various Gone Too Far! An EST Records Comp , (Est)

Disappointment

KMFDM Adios (Wax Trax/TVT) Cheesy lyrics, horrible keyboard lines, terrible mixes - there's just nothing right with this, which is a shame since their last work, the symbols album, was without question their strongest ever.

Local Hero

The Dead City Rebels. This is probably one of the best rock bands I've seen yet.

The Future

Rock'n'roll! Punks are looking for something different and bands like Murder City Devils, Nashville Pussy, Gotohells and Dead City Rebels have the look and feel of their old tunesters but with a slight twist that's guaranteed to please a much broader crowd.






Matt Mernagh Toronto, ON

Surprises

Ariel Big to the Sky (Plan Eleven)
Frank Black and the Catholics Pistolero (Sonic Unyon)
Nau Ensemble The Eternal: Variations On Joy Division (Atrium/Warner Sweden)
Black Tape For A Blue Girl As One Flame Laid Bare By Desire (Projekt/St. Clair)
Travis The Man Who (Independiente/Sony)

Disappointment

Beta Band (Astralwerks/Virgin) Their phenomenal EPs tantalised us and built their reputation. Tragically they let us down with a debut album full of B-sides.

Local Hero

Robin Black and the Intergalactic Rock Stars. Not only are their outfits and hair improving, their music is too.

The Future

Early Retirement. Senior record execs finally turn out their office lights for good, signalling a new day in the music industry not seen since they lost it in the '80s.






Michael Barclay Guelph, ON

Surprises

Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs (Merge)
Feist Monarch (Independent)
Quasi Field Studies (Up)
Legion of Green Men Floating in Shallow Water (Post Contemporary/ Outside)
Tricky Woo Sometimes I Cry (Sonic Unyon)

Disappointment

Sebadoh's new album was remarkably tuneless and pointless. Listening to the stellar Folk Implosion album, it's obvious where Lou Barlow's priorities are.

Local Hero

Jim Guthrie compiled his home recordings of the last five years on A Thousand Songs , formed a mind-blowing live band, and left his basement to wow Ontario audiences and "Brave New Waves" listeners.

The Future

The death of cool. Borrow and steal (don't beg). Dream in tapestries of colour. Don't connect the dots. Everybody put your hands together! Irony is such a bore. Bleed all the lines. Fresh air.






Michael Edwards Fredericton, NB

Surprises

Aluminum Group Pedals (Minty Fresh)
Mogwai Come On Die Young (Chemikal Underground/Matador)
Beulah When Your Heartstrings Break (Sugar Free)
Whistler (Wiija/Beggars Banquet)
Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin (Warner)

Disappointment

Manic Street Preachers This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (Virgin) The band gets bigger and bigger in the UK, but this horribly average album won't break them across the pond.

Local Hero

New Brunswick's premier indie label, Sappy Records, has recently relocated to Fredericton bringing some optimism for an increased number of gigs in town next year.

The Future

Indie-rock/pop is going to get driven even further underground, finding it almost impossible to cross over to the mainstream. Those looking for some quality music will have to become a lot more resourceful and adventurous.






Mike White Vancouver, BC

Surprises

Japancakes If I Could See Dallas (Kindercore)
Tindersticks, Can We Start Again? (Island UK)
Boxhead Ensemble Niagara Falls EP (Atavistic)
Vinicius Cantuaria Tucuma (Verve/Universal)
Moffatts Until You Loved Me (Capitol/EMI)

Disappointment

Built To Spill Keep It Like A Secret (Warner) Another group thrillingly at the cusp of going too far, retreat from possibility and decide to be an indie rock band again.

Local Hero

Wilder. Owen Keenan and Marc Jenkins play guitar like Television and write songs like Gram Parsons. If only they hadn't withdrawn like Nick Drake.

The Future

Independence. Now that self-sufficiency is a necessity (rather than an option) for virtually any forward-thinking artist, expect them and their labels to flourish (rather than whither) in the shade of Merger Music Inc.






Patrick Lejtenyi Montreal, PQ

Surprises

New York Ska Jazz Ensemble Get This! (Moon Ska)
Dave Hillyard and the Rocksteady Seven Playtime (Hellcat)
Kingpins Let's Go To Work (Stomp)
Laurel Aitken and the Skatalites Ska Titans (Moon Ska)
Planet Smashers Life of the Party (Stomp)

Disappointment

Skavenjah Little Monsters (Stomp) Despite talent and great liner note art, the band wimped out by producing an uninspired, boring melange that couldn't decide if they really wanted to be Barenaked Ladies with horns or not. Vapid and unchallenging.

Local Hero

The Undercovers. Interesting mix of '80s pop, ska and new wave that actually works, with Gus Coriandoli (ex-Me Mom, now Smitty's) producing.

The Future

The Toronto mod scene is going to spread to other cities in the next wave of revivalism to sweep the continent. It must, however, get away from straight Britpop mewling, posturing and posing and get pissed off, angry and into serious drugs. Watch out for the Datsons.






Prasad Bidaye Toronto, ON

Surprises

Basement Jaxx Remedy (XL/Beggar's Banquet)
Armand Van Helden "Flowerz"
Blue 6 "Sweeter Love"
Chemical Brothers Surrender (Virgin)
Pet Shop Boys Nightlife (EMI)

Disappointment

Joi One and One Is One (Real World/Virgin) During their sound system days, Joi were among the first to seriously wreck beats with South Asian music. It's a shame that they couldn't bring that seminal energy to their long-awaited debut album. The bigger shame was that founding member Haroon Shamsher passed away shortly after.

Local Hero

Public Transit Recordings. Moonstarr, Genetix, Abacus, Lal & Murr and other artists on PTR synthesize elements imported from underground drum & bass, house, hip-hop and acid jazz in a way that's very Torontonian in its hybridity but universal in its appeal.

The Future

Body & Soul and Spiritual Life Music. DJ/producers Joe Claussell, Francois K and Danny Krivit are taking house towards the level of a spiritual revival with their Sunday afternoon sessions better known as "Body & Soul" in New York City. Their sets beautifully weave obscure funk, Afro-Caribbean and Brazillian music within a garage vernacular. Take this music to the rest of the house community and they'll lose their fix for E.






Rob Bolton Toronto, ON

Surprises

Justin Clayton Limb (Ultimatum)
Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin (Warner)
Travis The Man Who (Independiente/Sony)
µ-ziq Royal Astronomy (Astralwerks)
Manic Street Preachers This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (Virgin)

Disappointment

Blur 13 (EMI) "Tender" wasn't bad, but the rest of the album sounds like the art-school boys have succumbed to the temptations of the experimental self-indulgent wank album - blame guitarist Graham Coxon.

Local Hero

Hollowphonic. So what if their shoe-gazing influences are obvious - their ability to create a real atmosphere in both their live and recorded material puts these guys out front.

The Future

Synthesisers and indie rock! Previously limited to quirky art-pop bands, we should see a noticeable increase in the use of synthesisers in the core melody of the higher unit-pushing "alternative" fare.






Rob Ferraz Toronto, ON

Surprises

Bonaduces The Democracy of Sleep (Endearing)
Various Cinema Beer Belly (Hopeless)
DBS Some Boys Got it Most Men Don't (New Disorder)
Built In Shellbrook Airs and Graces (Independent)
Pezz Warmth And Sincerity (BYO)

Disappointment

Englebert Humperdinck The Dance Album (Interhit, 1438 N. Gower St., Bldg 42, 4th Fl., L.A., CA, 90028) You can't teach an old dog new tricks. He should have gone the Tom Jones route and made a guest appearance on The Simpsons .

Local Hero

Marilyn's Vitamins. These cats have the attitude and talent to rock the world. And they didn't take the easy way out by trying to sound like a mall punk band.

The Future

The return of '80s hair metal. White male teens, unable to perfect the "urban" look, grow their hair, shed their Yankees ball caps, baggy pants and Korn Bizkit CDs and flash the sign o' Satan in a non-ironic fashion. Tight jeans abound. A penniless Fred Durst is killed during a $10 crack deal.






Roman Sokal Hamilton, ON

Surprises

Sparklehorse Good Morning Spider (Capitol)
Dr. Dooom First Come, First Served (Funky Ass/Nu Gruv)
Jessica Bailiff Hour of the Trace (Kranky)
Radar Bros. The Singing Hatchet (SeeThru Broadcasting)
High On Fire (Man's Ruin)

Disappointment

Matthew Sweet In Reverse (Volcano/BMG) Generic muzak for soft 43 year-old domesticated types who also enjoy listening to Perry Como on expired anti-depressants.

Local Hero

Shallow, North Dakota. More ominous than its smokestacks, these crushing stalking-music makers give even more reason for outsiders to be scared of Hamilton.

The Future

One man operations. We'll be hearing more genius works of sound arising from rural schizoid basements that feature innovative instrumentation, such as Bob Log III's use of mammary clapping.






Sam Thompson Winnipeg, MB

Surprises

Long Beach Dub Allstars Right Back (Dreamworks)
Kingpins Let's Go To Work! (Stomp)
Pietasters Awesome Mix Tape #6
Planet Smashers Life Of The Party (Stomp)
Buck-O-Nine Libido

Disappointment

The constant barrage of rap/metal à la Limp Bizkit being played on radio stations of all genres.

Local Hero

Whole Lotta Milka. The best ska band in Winnipeg; the proof can be found on their upcoming sophomore album Al's Diner .

The Future

Reggae. With the advent of new reggae acts like Long Beach Dub Allstars, veterans like Buju Banton, and a few new Marley tribute albums, expect a reggae renaissance.






Sean Palmerston Hamilton, ON

Surprises

Possum (DROG)
Seven Percent Solution Gabriel's Waltz (X-ray)
Low Secret Name (Kranky)
Madonna "Beautiful Stranger" from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Burning Witch Crippled Lucifer (Southern Lord)

Disappointment

CSNY Looking Forward (Reprise) After years of speculation, this once mighty '60s supergroup have recorded a brand new album. Why? Neil Young should know better than to waste four perfectly good songs on these has-beens. Truly embarrassing.

Local Hero

Transylvania 500. Two brothers, Count Suckula and Wolfboy, make up the most wicked organ/drum garage duo this side of the Goblins. And they suck blood too!

The Future

The return of real metal to a more mainstream audience seems imminent. And it's about time too.






Shawn Merrill Vancouver & Prince George, BC

Surprises

Anti-Flag A New Kind of Army (Go-Kart)
Choking Victim No God No Managers (Hellcat)
Kingpins Let's Go To Work (Stomp)
Hellacopters Payin' The Dues reissue w/ bonus live disc, (Sub Pop)
Murder City Devils "In This Town" from split EP with Glucifer, (Sub Pop)

Disappointment

Misfits Famous Monsters (Roadrunner) As much as I'll always have a place in my heart for the Misfits they should just remain a live, touring band and cease lame attempts at new recordings.

Local Hero

Black Halos. There's nothing like a band who can kick you in the groin, spit in your face, and bleed on your shoes, while pounding out the best raw spirited punk rock tunes this side of New York circa 1978.

The Future

The resurgence of the almighty Devo, porn punk and industrial polkas.






Skip Viitala Toronto, ON

Surprises

Kingpins Let's Go To Work (Stomp)
Victor Rice At Version City (Stubborn)
Skalars Change Up (Moon Ska)
Various Roots, Branch and Stem Volume 2 (Stubborn)
Planet Smashers Life Of The Party (Stomp)

Disappointment

Ska bands that release covers. From Catch 22's ska punk version of "American Pie" to Toots' version of "You Really Got Me," it seems ska bands everywhere are stretching the limits too far. They are trying to do ska versions of every song they can imagine without much success.

Local Hero

Mugshot is a refreshing three-piece ska outfit from Orillia, Ontario that will rock your socks off!

The Future

Southern Ontario, Winnipeg and the BC interior will become hotbeds for ska while Montreal will still be the ska capital of Canada.






Stuart Green Toronto, ON

Surprises

Farside The Munroe Doctrine (Revelation)
Sense Field Part of the Deal EP (Grape OS)
Burning Airlines Mission: Control (DeSoto)
Promise Ring Very Emergency (Jade Tree)
Roads to Space Travel The Ballad Jazz Waltz (Amish)

Disappointment

AFI Black Sails in the Sunset (Nitro) East Bay hardcore heroes went soft with this experiment in bad heavy metal.

Local Hero

Trigger Happy. They rock my world and tickle my funny bone.

The Future

Genre Bending. Increasingly frustrated by the stagnant state of music, more bands, at least the better ones, will fuse disparate genres to create exciting new music.






Thomas Quinlan Toronto, ON

Surprises

Soul Scream Positive Gravity (Future Shock)
Shapeshifters Planet of the Shapes (Independent)
Hawd Gankstuh Rappuh Emsees Wid Ghatz (Black Hoodz)
Presage Outer Perimeter (Future Primitive Sound)
Twiztid Mostasteless (Psychopathic/Island)

Disappointment

Company Flow Little Johnny From The Hospital (Rawkus) Straight instrumentals that are not nearly as interesting as the ones they normally choose to rhyme over.

Local Hero

Governor Bolts. Experimental beats by DJ Moves and surreal tales by Paul The Apostle become the best combination since that tasty chocolate fell in the tub of peanut butter.

The Future

Halifax. The East Coast city is destined to do for Canadian hip-hop what the Bay Area did for American hip-hop.