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The Best Saskatchewan Albums of 2023

#VERYPRAIRIE     #SASKMUSICAWARDS

#VERYPRAIRIE     #SASKMUSICAWARDS

The Top 10

From the diverse Saskatchewan albums released in the past year* and submitted through the Saskatchewan Music Awards 2023 intake, our jurors first assembled a Long List of 36 albums. A combination of public vote and industry jury then determined our Top Ten: the Album of the Year nominees for 2023. (With ties, there are 14 albums included on the short list). The top-placing album was announced on December 2nd at the 2023 Saskatchewan Music Awards ceremony in Saskatoon and received the award for Album of the Year.

Best Saskatchewan Albums and the Saskatchewan Music Awards exist 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.

Long List Playlist on YouTube
Long List Playlist on Spotify 
Album of the Year:
Jake and the Kid - Baby Bro
Top 10 (in alphabetical order):
Adéola - Afrocology
Alexis Normand - Mementos
Deeper Life - What We're After
Ellen Froese - For Each Flower Growing
GreenWing - Late Bloomer
Hunter Brothers - Burning Down The Barn
Jake and the Kid - Baby Bro
Kara Golemba - Keep These Stories Safe
New Jacobin Club - Empire of Dis
NUTANA - NUTANA
Raj Ramayya - Spice Age Adventures
Shantaia - Exes and Friends
Son of Han - SON OF HAN
Untimely Demise - Maverick

See more information on each of the top 10 albums below.

Long List (in alphabetical order):

Aaron Karpinka - The Current

Adéola - Afrocology

Alexis Normand - Mementos

Brock Fehr - More Sense

Dan Cugnet - Badlands and Badlands II

Deeper Life - What We're After

Eliza Mary Doyle - Pretty Strange

Ellen Froese - For Each Flower Growing

Factor Eight - II

Falynn Baptiste - Home

GreenWing - Late Bloomer

Hunter Brothers - Burning Down The Barn

Jake and the Kid - Baby Bro

Jesse Brown - 20023

Kara Golemba - Keep These Stories Safe

Lova Lamp - everything U feel

Nige B - U R What U R

NUTANA - NUTANA

Patrick Moon Bird - Away From the City

Peace Flag Ensemble - Astral Plains

People of the Sun - People of the Sun

Prasunuh - Always Timeless

Raj Ramayya - Spice Age Adventures

Richard O. Burdick - Found These: Three (19th century horn music)

Runway - Runway

Ryan Hicks - Experience

Shantaia - Exes and Friends

Shirley & The Pyramids - Maid of Time

Softlung - Second Chances

SON OF HAN - SON OF HAN

Surf Dads - Baby Blue

The Corner Hotel - Earth from the Moon

The New Jacobin Club - Empire of Dis

Theo Noble - Noble World

Untimely Demise - Maverick

Wishbook - Everything Fades

*Albums released between September 15, 2022 and September 25, 2023 were eligible for 2023 Album of the Year.

Adéola: Afrocology

 

Adéola, a versatile artist hailing from Nigeria and now calling Regina home, is a passionate Canadian musician who brings years of experience to the world of Afrobeats. By day, Adéola is a dedicated Project Manager, but under the stage lights, this multifaceted international talent transforms into a captivating performer. With a deep-rooted connection to his cultural heritage and a profound love for Afrobeats, Adéola blends Afrobeats, R&B, and hip-hop soulful style. On December 22, 2022, Adéola unveiled the "Afrocology" album. Comprised of nine soul-stirring tracks, this album delves into the very essence of Afrobeats. It weaves stories of love and cultural influences, drawing inspiration from the vibrant and dynamic mix of the Nigerian and Canadian entertainment scenes. 

 

Adéola's music isn't just about beats; it's a cultural journey, an expression of inspiration, and a testament to the power of music to connect people across borders. With his evocative sound and engaging performances, Adéola is making waves in the world of Afrobeats and inspiring positivity wherever his music is heard.

 

Adéola was also nominated for 2023 Afrobeats Artist of the Year.

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Alexis Normand: Mementos

 

For over a decade, Alexis Normand has forged herself a path of authenticity with her down-to-earth sound and demeanour.  With Mementos, her new and most personal album to date, the singer-songwriter sheds an honest and vulnerable light on herself. Drawing inspiration from the infinite horizons of her Saskatchewan home, she explores the dualities of a francophone identity on anglophone soil with a velvety voice and a candid approach to the contemporary folk sounds which suit her so perfectly. The result is a collection of delicate songs, each exploring an important moment of her life; overcoming a challenge, a defining moment in time, a deep understanding of the inherent contradiction that is her life.

While her previous opuses emphasized the fracturing of her two cultures, Mementos marks a turning point in her artistic approach. Alexis now embraces the dualities of her identity – she is bilingual, anchored in the Canadian Prairies, proudly resisting linguistic, commercial, and political diktats. She composes and writes in her two languages, c’est tout. A singularity which her award-winning documentary Assez French, produced by the National Film Board in 2022, also attests.

Alexis Normand was also nominated for 2023 Roots or Folk Artist of the Year.
 

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Deeper Life: What We're After

 

Deeper Life is a worship collective who strives to pursue the Person and Presence of Jesus in simplicity, honesty, and unity. The singular goal is to encounter Him.

 

DL desires to produce sound and lyrics that are atypical to the church, filling in much-needed gaps of expression and understanding. Their influences and styles are broad and experimental.

Deeper Life was also nominated for 2023 Inspirational or Spiritual Artist of the Year.
 

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Ellen Froese: For Each Flower Growing

 

Ellen Froese is what you'd call a “prolific artist”; committed, too. For someone who only just passed the threshold of their mid-20s, she's amassed a resolutely solid body of work and, with a variety of projects, achieved more than some many years her senior. For Each Flower Growing, Froese's fourth full-length, produced in collaboration with the Sheepdogs' Sam Corbett, is her most accomplished statement to date, drawing on her established sound as a folk & country-based singer/songwriter while incorporating a wider frame of reference in the rich production, supple instrumentation, and overall sonic soundworld. It's much harder to pin down than any simple description can convey, making it all the more worthwhile to check out.

Ellen Froese was also nominated for 2023 Roots or Folk Artist of the Year.
 

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GreenWing: Late Bloomer

 

Established in 2021, GreenWing's early days saw them living through Covid lockdowns and the harsh Saskatchewan winter while finding sanity through collaborating on a collection of songs and the hopes of one day returning to stages and touring. “Late Bloomer” leans heavily on driving rhythms and pop-laden hooks, reminiscent of the punk and post-rock they grew up listening to while incorporating themes of self-reflection, grief, and a newfound sense of self.

Once lockdowns lifted, GreenWing quickly made a name for themselves with tour dates that featured their signature singalong hooks, infectious driving energy, and chaotic stage presence. In short order, the band was enlisted for opening gigs for the likes of Three Days Grace, Reignwolf, Mom Jeans, Dirty Nil & Daniel Romano, garnered multiple regional awards and making multiple "Best Of" lists.

GreenWing was also nominated for 2023 Rock Artist of the Year.
 

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Hunter Brothers: Burning Down The Barn

 

Real-life brothers, J.J., Dusty, Luke, Brock and Ty, are no strangers to hard work, perseverance and discipline. Life on a family farm wasn’t always easy, but the brothers attribute much of their success to their rural upbringing in a home dedicated to faith, music and sport. With over 76 million video & audio streams to date, Hunter Brothers have amassed a large volume of industry credibility in a record amount of time, including multiple CCMA Award nominations, JUNO Award nominations and SCMA Award wins.

On May 12, 2023, they released their highly anticipated new EP Burning Down The Barn. With the six-track release, Hunter Brothers continue to evolve and elevate their sound. Proving their versatility as vocalists and performers, the EP features high-octane, dance-ready anthems such as title track "Burning Down The Barn" and Top 40 radio single “What Colour You Drive," while still maintaining their trademark harmony driven style, such as the heart filled ballad “At The End Of The Day,” and jovial, laidback track “Peace Love and Country Music."

Hunter Brothers were also nominated for 2023 Country Artist of the Year and Single of the Year.
 

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Jake and the Kid: Baby Bro

 

Jake and the Kid is an Indie Rock band from Regina, Canada. The band was founded by bassist Jakob Bjornson, saxophonist and vocalist Sam Stawarz, and guitarist Joe Roussel. Trumpeter Levi Brown, multi-instrumentalist Theo Deiana, drummer Vynz Hipolito, and trombonist Nathan Syrnick have since been added to the band's lineup.

Though Jake and the Kid was formed in mid-2020, the original three musicians had been playing together since as early as 2016, in garage bands with their now producer, John Glanville.

Jake and the Kid’s newest endeavour, "Baby Bro" was released February 22, 2023. The EP tells the story of growing up and the struggles of leaving your childhood behind through a genre-bending mixture of Jazz, Indie, R&B, Folk, and Shoegaze. Jake and the Kid is frequently playing shows around Regina and writing more music.

Jake and the Kid won the Sask Music Award for 2023 Album of the Year.
 

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Kara Golemba: Keep These Stories Safe

 

Kara Golemba digs deep to draw strength from her roots. Having grown up and lived in cities across Western Canada, it took moving to small town Saskatchewan to find her voice and be able to succinctly portray her unique perspective on life and love. Through music, she is dedicated to exploring new realms of emotion, thoughtfulness, and compassion with her audience.

Her debut EP, Every Little Light, is a down-to-Earth mix of country, folk, and roots music and established her as a part of the emerging independent prairie music community. Golemba spins her songs from the threads of her daily experiences, relationships, natural environment and ancestral heritage. Her voice can be a sweet mixture of warm honey with a little grit, or she can raise it up to rattle the teacups.  Often, Golemba is compared to artists like Susan Tedeschi with her powerful vocal or Brandi Carlile for her unique lyrical perspective. Her single ‘Box Labelled You’ released Fall 2017 has certainly gotten her fans excited about the upcoming full length album release. 
 

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New Jacobin Club: Empire of Dis

 

New Jacobin Club has been one of Western Canada's most enigmatic independent bands for over two decades, weaving tales of Lovecraftian horror with overtones of Oscar Wilde and a cheeky sense of self-awareness.

The sextet is led by both male and female vocalists and accompanied by a dark shimmering wall of guitars, electric cello, keyboard instruments, and theremin - “a sound that brings together a cauldron of classic goth, 70’s rock, and power metal.” (Rue Morgue Magazine). It is the perfect soundtrack for their infamous live show that features everything from elaborate costume changes to fire breathing, sideshow stunts, swords, torches, and sledgehammers.

New Jacobin Club was also nominated for 2023 Metal or Hard Rock Artist of the Year. 

Please note: Empire of Dis is available for purchase exclusively through New Jacobin Club's official website. 

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NUTANA: NUTANA

 

Sam Corbett, founding member of Juno Award-winning band The Sheepdogs, presents NUTANA, his towering debut solo album, featuring 10 original songs (plus two captivating covers) he wrote while stepping away from the band to undergo cancer treatment, one month before his first daughter was born.

NUTANA finds Corbett singing lead and playing drums, percussion, and keyboards on a dazzling and highly nuanced set of songs certain to appeal to both Sheepdogs fans and discerning rock lovers. NUTANA features contributions from Jim Bowskill (Blue Rodeo), Chris Mason (The Deep Dark Woods), Clayton Linthicum (Kacy and Clayton), Shamus Currie (The Sheepdogs, Bros) and former Sheepdogs guitarist Leot Hanson.

NUTANA was also nominated for 2023 Rock Artist of the Year.

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Raj Ramayya: Spice Age Adventures

 

Indo-Canadian Singer/Songwriter/Composer Raj Ramayya has been a consistently strong force on the international music scene. Featured as a guest Singer/Composer with several distinguished artists ranging from Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in The Shell, Wolfs Rain) Tatsuya Oe (Chic, Serge Gainsborough) Chris Mosdell (Eric Clapton, YMO), Songwriting Guru Ron Sexsmith, Duran Duran, Mos Def, and a host of others. In addition, he has produced and collaborated on over 26 albums released internationally.

Ramayya’s personal music projects such as the internationally acclaimed Indian influenced Folk Rock Band “The Beautiful Losers” have seen placements on several MTV USA reality shows such as “Pimp My Ride” and “Two A Daze” and opening slots for The Indigo Girls, Matt Nathanson, and Coldplay.

Raj Ramayya was also nominated for 2023 Pop Artist of the Year and Single of the Year.

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Shantaia: Exes and Friends

 

2023 SCMA Female Artist of the Year Shantaia is a Nashville based singer/songwriter who was born and raised in the tiny town of Spiritwood, Saskatchewan. Showcasing powerful and unique vocals, Shantaia’s voice, much like her name, is unforgettable. Influences like Martina McBride, Shania Twain, and Maren Morris shine through vocally and stylistically. Shantaia recently toured with The Washboard Union, and has also opened for names such as; Kane Brown, Chris Lane, Ryan Hurd, Emerson Drive, Charlie Major and more.

 

Shantaia has played festivals all over Canada, including Cavendish Beach Music Festival, North by North East, Dauphins Country Fest, Country Thunder Sask, Calgary Stampede and because of SaskMusic and Breakout West, Shantaia played an official Americana Fest Showcase in 2019 in Nashville.

Shantaia was also nominated for 2023 Country Artist of the Year and Single of the Year.

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Son of Han: SON OF HAN

 

‘Son of Han’ four time JUNO award winner, Leot Hanson, invites the listener to join him in an honest and intimate journey through his 20 year musical career. Hanson cut his teeth with ‘The Sheepdogs’, the first unsigned band to make the cover of ‘The Rolling Stone’ Magazine, and fans saw him on stages around the world with the likes of ‘Kings of Leon’, ‘John Fogerty’, ‘The Tragically Hip’, ‘Cake’, ‘Black Joe Lewis’ and the list goes on. Collecting Junos, WCMA’s, Much Music Video Awards and CASBYS along the way. He later joined ‘Il Creatura’ (formally ‘The Pistolwhips’), ‘Velvet Threads’ and ‘The League of Wolves’, which he continues to play with today. Part owner of ‘Skullcreek Studios’, co-owner of ‘Capitol Music Club’ in downtown Saskatoon, SK, Hanson is behind the scenes bringing in big name acts from across North America to the stage in Saskatoon. An influential musician in the Saskatchewan music scene, and beyond, Hanson is passionate about his new album and confident in the unique sound that he hopes will inspire folks globally.  

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Untimely Demise: Maverick

 

Dubbed by Metal Hammer magazine as 'Sophisticated Thrash with Deathly Touches', the Canadian metal outfit Untimely Demise (circa 2006) has been inscribing their mark on the metal scene by harmoniously blending influences like Megadeth, Testament, Death, and Arch Enemy, into an ambitious package that places paramount focus on guitar-work and musicianship. Having toured Canada extensively for 15 years now, the group has built a reputation as formidable headliners, but also as capable support for genre heavyweights such as Suffocation, Death (DTA), Goatwhore, Death Angel, DRI, Razor, Demolition Hammer, Pestilence, and Toxic Holocaust. Receiving numerous accolades, the band garnered nominations for a Sirius XM Canadian Independent Music Award for Metal Group of the Year in 2012, as well as a 2017 Western Canadian Music Awards nomination for Metal/Hard Music Group of the Year.

Untimely Demise was also nominated for 2023 Metal or Hard Rock Artist of the Year.

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