It was a banner year for Aboriginal music in Canada. Many artists released some great albums in a variety of musical genres. It's really difficult to pick just five. A few artists managed to make the cross over to other genres and found audiences outside of the Aboriginal community, landing their songs as album streams right here on CBC Music.
The top six albums of 2012 run the gamut from electronic to singer-songwriter, to blues and pop. But the number one pick goes to A Tribe Called Red for Electric Pow Wow. This album has done more for positive Aboriginal reflection in Europe and North America this year than anything in recent memory.
So enjoy my selections and remember that the Aboriginal music genre is based on a culture, not a musical style. Take your pick, there is bound to be something you're going to love!
1. A Tribe Called Red, Electric Pow Wow
When a Tribe Called Red released Electric Pow Wow, they never thought by year’s end they’d have toured Europe, Canada and the U.S., or that they would have been longlisted for a Polaris Prize, or that non-Aboriginal audiences would embrace them with open arms. But the group of three DJs from Ottawa have brought First Nations culture to the mainstream with their mix of traditional powwow music and club beats to form a new genre called “powwow step.”
Listen A Tribe Called Red, Electric Pow Wow
Full Album Stream until Dec 23
Bonus: their 10-song album is available as a free download on their website.
2. George Leach, Surrender
We’ve waited 12 years for Leach to release a followup to his critically acclaimed debut album. And it was worth the wait. Leach explores relationships and life journeys on Surrender. Backed by a tight group of musicians, Leach’s guitar work is outstanding, as usual.
3. Christa Couture, The Living Record
This album was funded partially by Christa Couture’s fanbase through crowdsourcing. The whimsicality of this singer-songwriter makes her perfect for folk festivals country-wide, and a favourite on Radio 3.
4. Indian Handcrafts, Civil Disobedience for Losers
This band, with their hard-driving guitars and throwback to punk, is receiving a lot of buzz lately and we’d just like to brag that CBC Radio 3’s podcast Ab-Originals first played them way back in July 2011. So we like to think we discovered them before anyone else in the media.
This duo will now be taking their show on the road and opening for Billy Talent this spring, across the country. Meanwhile, their first single, “Red Action,” off of the album Civil Disobedience for Losers is finding chart action on the R3-30.
5. Indian City, Supernation
This pop-rock supergroup from Winnipeg is the brainchild of Vince Fontaine, who is also the co-founder of the multi-award-winning group Eagle & Hawk. Fontaine brought together musicians like Don Amero, Pamela Davis and William Prince to form this pet project that has taken on a life of its own. Fontaine hadn’t thought of the possibilities of the band playing gigs, but once they did, the requests just rolled in. The year saw them take the best pop CD at the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards.
5 reasons A Tribe Called Red make sense at a jazz festival
APCMAs 2012: list of winners
on Dec 17, 2012