Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Saskatoon singer-songwriter John Antoniuk has been a constant fixture of the Saskatoon music scene for over fifteen years, whether performing solo, with his partner Jen Lane or in front of his band Smokekiller. Chiba, Smokekiller’s third release, contains seven songs worth of Antoniuk’s signature alt rock coolness. Fans of Joel Plaskett and Paul Westerberg will love Chiba’s guitar driven swagger, memorable melodies, and strong songwriting. Antoniuk is one of Saskatchewan’s foremost talents and Chiba is an album that shines among the year’s best.
Standout Track: "Stars"
The Basement Paintings Antipodes
An instrumental post-metal band may seem an unlikely candidate for best record of 2020, but Antipodes is a beautiful, powerful effort which earned five star reviews and an SMA nomination for the not-yet-awarded “Metal/Loud” category. Wholly unique while evoking shades of artists such as Tool and Isis, The Basement Paintings craft carefully measured songs which build patiently, and aim to connect on a subconscious level. Antipodes is impressive in it’s complexity yet consistently accessible to a casual listener. This is virtuosity without ego, “prog” without “shred”, brilliant musicians and lifelong friends collaborating in perfect balance to make something truly special.
Standout Track: "Instinct"
The Pxrtals One Night
The word ‘alternative’ is widely applied to music today to the point of being almost meaningless, but on One Night, The Pxrtals have taken it back. The passion project of Saskatoon’s Lévi Soulodre, One Night is a delightfully weird experience that stands confidently apart from the crowd. Though loud guitar rock at its core, the album is a melodic, psychedelic swirl of choirs, strings, and keys. The lush, dense wall-of-sound production is a nod to the late 1960s that would make Phil Spector and Brian Wilson proud. The songwriting and musicianship is top notch, but the absolute icing is Soulodre’s vocals. Channeling the best parts of Jim Morrison, Roy Orbison and Morrissey, Soulodre’s big, bold, ambitious voice is fantastic and fun. The Pxrtals are one of the most distinctive and interesting musical artists in Saskatchewan today, and One Night is the band at it’s absolute best.
Standout Track: "Collider"