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Top local releases in 2018: #20–11

By Greggory Clark on December 30, 2018









Apt613 has a unique take on the “best” albums of 2018. We look to the charts published by CHUO 89.1FM to see which records made the most/highest weekly appearances. Campus and community radio stations send play logs to !earshot, a website where you’ll find the national Top 50 reported weekly.

Not every album was released during the 2018 calendar year. In several instances, you’ll see a 2017 release which stayed in the charts. There are one or two much older releases.

All of the Top 50 records are streaming for free—enjoy listening! A great deal are available online and at local record shops. Paying for a download or dropping $ on vinyl and concert tickets is still the number one way to support local music today. ✌️


Title: Go To SleepWeeks: 3
Artist: Blve HillsPeak: #1
Label: IndependentAvg: 3.67

Last year’s most prolific artist, Blve Hills has a strong presence in the 2018 year-end list. Their record I Scream Love squeaked in at #48 in the 2018 countdown. This 2018 single, “Go To Sleep”, has a music video you will either love or hate. You’ll know within the first ten seconds.


Title: Empty LifeWeeks: 6
Artist: Empty Nesters and Soft LifePeak: #7
Label: IndependentAvg: 17.00

A pair of indie rock bands collaborated on this split EP, which was issued as a limited edition cassette in February 2018. There’s an “Empty Side” by Empty Nesters and a “Soft Side” with tracks by Soft Life. The limited physical edition sold out, but you can still stream Empty Life on Bandcamp.


Title: SecondsWeeks: 6
Artist: Average TimesPeak: #7
Label: IndependentAvg: 16.67

Average Times put out this garage rock record in September 2017. Although, it took until February 2018 for Seconds to appear in CHUO’s Top 30. The album entered at #17 and peaked at #6 during an impressive six-week run in the charts.


Title: NightshadesWeeks: 4
Artist: NightshadesPeak: #2
Label: IndependentAvg: 9.25

Poppy garage rock music is dominating this end of the Top 50. Here’s another such album by local grunge trio Nightshades. Their self-titled release went all the way to #2 in the CHUO 89.1FM charts last winter.


Title: Bad MantrasWeeks: 4
Artist: BoyhoodPeak: #1
Label: Shuffling FeetAvg: 9.00

It’s fair to say Boyhood (aka Caylie Runciman) blew it out of the water with Bad Mantras. Her new record was a #1 hit at our hometown CHUO and appeared in the charts published by five Canadian radio stations (Sackville, Montreal, Vancouver, Guelph, Ottawa). It’s the first Ottawa-made record (in a long time? possibly ever?) to be championed by indie music tastemakers like Gorilla vs. Bear and CBC Music alike. Bad Mantras is undeniably catchy. This record is jam after jam after jam so just put it on already.


Title: We're All In This Together But YouWeeks: 4
Artist: ValoisPeak: #1
Label: IndependentAvg: 8.75

Valois is the only band to appear in every Top 50 since Apt613 started publishing a year-end list in 2016Love Dies But You Won’t appeared at #27 in 2016. “Heartsparkle”, a single off We’re All In This Together But You, came in at #41 in 2017. Now here’s the full-length at #15 in 2018. Over three years, that’s a combined 16 weeks in the charts for Valois.


Title: My HeadWeeks: 6
Artist: Plastic HeadPeak: #7
Label: IndependentAvg: 15.83

If you started this countdown at #50 (if not, why not?) then you’ll know I already gave away Plastic Farm at #14. Another of the band’s 2018 releases, Hope Hypnotic, made it to #31 in our year-end list of CHUO’s most-played records. I suck at surprises.


Title: DeathlandWeeks: 4
Artist: CurlPeak: #2
Label: IndependentAvg: 5.00

Curl also made it into the Top 50 with two popular releases. Their self-titled EP was #24 this year and their followup, Deathland, did even better with CHUO selectors. Although Deathland never reached #1, this garage rock record has a remarkable 5.00 average position (2nd overall). To put that into perspective, the average for Top 10 records is 12.50 this year.


Title: Show Me Your FearsWeeks: 6
Artist: Pony GirlPeak: #3
Label: Pop DroneAvg: 13.50

I can say without a doubt that this is the oldest local record to resurface at CHUO this year. I was there when, in 2013, Pony Girl played this debut album to a small audience of forty or fifty so people in La Petite Mort Gallery (permanently closed, but once a fixture of Ottawa’s contemporary art scene). Pony Girl hasn’t performed since December 2017 at the NAC 4th Stage, so I’m at a loss to explain why Show Me Your Fears charted for six weeks this year. That’s a head scratcher. I even considered disqualifying Show Me Your Fears from the Top 50—full disclosure: I play in the band—but you know, the charts don’t lie.

Pony Girl is recording a third full-length album this year, which is being produced by Philippe Charbonneau (Scattered Clouds, Her Harbour, Bosveld, Claude Munson, Hilotrons and more).


Title: Sprinkle on a Cake (Single)Weeks: 7
Artist: SparklesaurusPeak: #4
Label: Record Centre RecordsAvg: 15.71

Dreampop standouts Sparklesaurus came this close to cracking the Top 10. Still, it’s a jump up from #16 in 2017 for Sparklesaurus. This group is still one of my favourite local acts to see live—they are so tight and get better every time. The same can be said about Sparklesaurus’s releases, and since they’ve been picked up by Record Centre Records, I’m thinking it’s likely we’ll see this promising band in the Top 10 one year soon.

A total of 69 local albums made it into the CHUO 89.1FM charts this year. Watch this space while the Top 50 countdown continues daily until NYE.