Ilia Nicoll & Victor Lewis

Two of the most vital artists on our local music scene teamed up to create this captivating collection of gentle, dreamy songs for late nights and hazy morning afters. Ilia’s soulful croon weaves around the shimmering guitar of opener “When You Know” with beautiful results. “Written On the Wall” has a new age  waltz feel, sounding like a fusion of Joanna Newsom and Enya. Vic-sung tracks like “Dreaming On the Bus” and “Neighbourhood Watch” recall the late 60’s/early 70’s pop esthetic of his 2008 masterpiece Death Come Creepin’, complimented by some subdued synth and tasteful violin from Ilia for further surrealistic effect.

Sludge Bucket Jones

While most of us were toiling away on our RPM albums in the bitter cold of a Newfoundland February, Sludge Bucket Jones packed up his six-string and headed for Mexico. While there he recorded a collection of ten laid back ditties as warm and inviting as the breeze that blew across his guitar strings as he penned them. Wiry slide leads slink and bend around scratchy acoustic rhythms and obscure lyrics that are completely in what I assume is Spanish, but
it doesn’t matter, we get the point, this is an album spawned from a care-free state of mind with nowhere to be and time to just be.

Elling Lien

The man who gave the gift of RPM to Newfoundlanders everywhere has also been a regular contributor to the Challenge. His past projects have been creative to say the least, ranging from an album of music made only with his mouth to a recording of paragraphs from Finnegan’s Wake with the vowels punched out, and run through a music box mounted on the wall in his bathroom. This year Elling discovers his inner mashup artist by bending, distorting, and time shifting snippets of radio hits and local radio DJ yammer into obscurity until they become fresh and original compositions in their own right.

Blair Goudie

I’ve been a fan of Blair’s music ever since I first discovered his band Face the Day back in the early 2000s. Since then, he’s become a prolific solo artist fusing his punk-pop writing sensibilities with acoustic compositions, programmed beats and electronic textures. This year Blair stripped away all the beats and synths to produce his first ever strictly acoustic album. That being said this is not some guy singing into a 4 track. Blair’s production background shines through with some beautiful layering and mixing, but despite all the fancy doctoring it’s the strength of the songs that make this album great.

Notes from the feild

“I let my mind go where it wants, let the thoughts come tumbling out of it.” So goes a line from album opener “Adrift,” perfectly summing up this collection of half sung, half recited stream of consciousness poetry over sparse, acoustic guitar scratching. I know nothing about this artist or album other than the fact I am intrigued by them both. Listening to it I picture an early 90’s PJ Harvey sitting on the edge of her bed trying to turn poetic ramblings from a notebook into songs. A riveting listen from start to finish.