Best Saskatchewan Albums of 2019
The Top Ten!
(December 20, 2019) - The fifth annual Best Saskatchewan Albums poll has concluded, and we're pleased to announce the winners! From the albums released in the past year*, our jury first assembled a Long List of 40 diverse albums, and sent it forward for voting by the general public, with thousands of people participating from 34 countries. We hope you find something new to enjoy here, whether it's from the Long List or from the greater list of eligible releases that came out. Support local, support live, buy an album today!
The BSA project is to promote and celebrate Saskatchewan music. We seek to raise more awareness of our province's music and celebrate our artists’ many successes over the past year. The top album as decided by this poll has also been awarded the 2019 Saskatchewan Music Award for "Album of the Year."
#1. The Dead South: Sugar & Joy (Bluegrass/Roots/Americana)
In achieving the #1 position, The Dead South are the winners of the 2019 Saskatchewan Music Award for Album of the Year
With their critically acclaimed 2019 full-length, The Dead South continue to delight their growing fan base, garnering them the #1 spot on this year's list. It's no fluke, though - the band garnered the #1 spot in our BSA 2016 as well, for "Illusion & Doubt", achieved a Canadian certification of Road Gold, a Gold single certification, and recently picking up the 2019 Roots/Folk Artist of the Year (Saskatchewan Music Awards, in a tie with Kacy & Clayton). They're also internationally renowned for their high-energy, engaging live show.
"A bluegrass album for those who think bluegrass is a genre that won’t appeal to them. The songwriting, playing, arrangements and production are all first class, which is why ‘Sugar and Joy’ will broaden The Dead South’s fan base and why this album deserves your time." - PennyBlackMusic
#2. Amy Nelson: Good Intentions (Country/Pop Country)
Coming in at #2 on our year-end album poll, we've got Amy Nelson with her latest release "Good Intentions."
Regina's Amy Nelson is an established country artist (with 40 Saskatchewan Country Music Association award nominations, winner of Entertainer of the Year 2018), a winner of Big Dog 92.7's The Next Big Thing, 2019 Saskatchewan Music Award nominee, and the 2019 CKRM Proudly Saskatchewan winner. Amy has also had impressive success in Australia, with two Top 10 singles so far along with major festival appearances.
Good Intentions is available through Apple Music, Amy's website, and at Boston Pizza locations across Sask (with $1 from every BP album to local summer music camps for kids.)
#3. Robot Hive: Prophylaxis (Electro-Rock/Pop/Electronic/New Wave/Alt Rock)
Regina electro-rockers Robot Hive claim the #3 spot with their full-length debut "Prophylaxis."
Undeniably catchy melodies and dancey hooks, born from experimentation. Robot Hive is something of a collective, with the end goal being 'to create a unique and musical experience and to break boundaries.' Robot Hive is Dan Besuijen, Chris Notenboom, Les Schaeffer, Matt Kaip, Greg Flichel, Elton Roscoe and Henry Brass.
#4 Hunter Brothers: State of Mind (Country/New Country)
We arrive at number four on our year-end, fan-voted poll to find Hunter Brothers, "State of Mind."
"If you are looking for seamless harmonies that send chills up and down your spine, raising the hair on your arms, you’ve picked the right album to listen to!" - Complete Country
These five talented brothers have had an amazing year, including a recent Gold certification for single "Lost," with a 2019 Saskatchewan Music Award "Single of the Year" for that song as well. They also achieved the #1 most-spun Canadian song on the country radio charts in 2019 (Mediabase) and were the only Canadian artists in the top ten list of all artists for country radio play.
#5 (TIE) Reignwolf: Hear Me Out (Rock/Indie Rock)
|Close Talker: Website|
#6 (TIE) Foxwarren: Foxwarren (Indie Pop/Alternative)
Kacy & Clayton: Carrying On (Roots/Americana)
The #6 tie in our Top Ten comes with a 1-2 punch from a knockout pair, with Foxwarren's self-titled release and Kacy & Clayton's "Carrying On."
"Foxwarren’s 10 tracks range in tone from brooding Elliott Smith-like ballads to Paul McCartney ditties. As a whole, though, they fixate on the dream realm, with the shimmer of warped synths and eerie vocals suggesting a distant surrealism." - Pitchfork.
“A beautiful mix of Kacy's crystalline vocals and Clayton's inventive, deep-groove country guitar.” And a greater attention to detail in their songwriting; with narrative tales of loss, regret and yearning alongside vivid portraits of the Northern Great Plains and its isolated inhabitants." - Mojo
|Kacy & Clayton: Website|
#7 (TIE) Despite the Reverence: Plethora (Metal/Rock)
Alex Bent + the Emptiness: Baby (Pop/Hip Hop)
The seventh spot of our year-end countdown is a tie, with Despite The Reverence's "Plethora" and Alex Bent + the Emptiness's "Baby" making their appearance!
"With their fourth studio album, Despite the Reverence provides us all with a plethora of tunes that every lover of heavy, atmospheric tunes will certainly enjoy." - Belgian Metal Shredder
"Likened to that of hip-hop/R&B artists Post Malone, Joji and Frank Ocean, (Alex) Bent mixes his own twist of nostalgia with the current trends of the genre." - artist bio
|Despite the Reverence: Website|
|Alex Bent: Website|
#8 (3-WAY TIE) Dayda Banks: "We Should Go To Japan" (Hip Hop/Rap)
Ellen Froese: "Fightin' Words" (Folk/Roots)
Eekwol and T-Rhyme: "For Women By Women" (Hip Hop/Rap)
"Dayda Banks floats somewhere in between Nas and Eminem, with all the intelligent storytelling that makes certain rappers truly noteworthy - and without ever ripping anyone off." - Hidden Sound.
"Whether performing a folk traditional, a rock 'n' roll classic, or her own compositions, Froese handles it with an air of authenticity – all tempered with a healthy dose of humour and self-deprecation." - ellenfroese.com
For Women By Women (FWBW) is the debut album of veteran rappers Eekwol and T-Rhyme, who team up to relay powerful messages about hip hop, Indigenous experience and being women with style, skill and fierceness.
|Dayda Banks: Website|
|Ellen Froese: Website|
|Eekwol & T-Rhyme:||
#9. Too Soon Monsoon: "Waves: We Provide What We Absorb, We Absorb What We Provide" (Alt Pop/Indie Pop/Pop Rock)
Flowing into #9, we've got Saskatoon's Too Soon Monsoon with their full-length concept piece, Waves. With nods to influences like Fleetwood Mac, Metric, Fiona Apple and The White Stripes, the band creates a fresh sound by fusing elements of alternative-pop and rock.
#10. Chris Henderson: Point of View (Country)
We began our countdown with country artist Chris Henderson Music claiming the #10 position for his latest album, "Point of View." The 2019 Male Vocalist of the Year (Saskatchewan Country Music Association) presents a "blend of modern country sound, with strong traditional roots."
*Best Saskatchewan Albums of the Year 2019 process
The Best Saskatchewan Album of the Year project is in its fifth annual iteration. This category is based on an album, as a whole, released during the time period of October 15, 2018-November 1, 2019. SaskMusic researches and collects eligible album releases for this time period to the best of our ability, however, artists/labels are encouraged to submit to ensure that no eligible releases are overlooked.
All genres of music are included in consideration. Official reissues/compilations of previous material, where released as a new package with a new UPC number, will be considered.
Album Criteria. To be considered in this category, the album
- Was released by an artist residing in Saskatchewan (physically living in the province at the time of the album's release date regardless of where artist is living at the time this list is underway).
- Is a) at least 30 minutes in length, or at least b) 5 tracks >20 minutes in length.
- Was first released to the public between October 15, 2018-November 1, 2019. The first verification we will use will be its date of release in iTunes. If not on iTunes, we'll accept other forms of verification of both "release date" and "commercial release" at our discretion (ie manufacturer's shipping date). Please contact SaskMusic if your release date is between October 15-November 1/2019 to arrange provision of pre-release materials for the jury.
- Albums that made the Top Ten in the Best Saskatchewan Albums previously will not be in consideration this year, even if reissued.
- A list of eligible releases will be compiled. To help ensure we don’t miss an eligible album, submissions are encouraged through the SMA nomination process.
- A jury of industry professionals and peers will listen to the qualifying albums to help us determine the longlist. The longlist will be announced at the Saskatchewan Music Awards, November 28.
- The longlist will be open for general public voting, exclusively online, from November 29-December 13 (extended from December 12). These votes alone will determine the Top 10. Only one vote per IP address will be recorded.
- The Top 10, aka shortlist, will be announced online beginning December 16 (tentative date). Please note, ties would result in more than 10 albums appearing on the shortlist.