Best Canadian Music Writing 2022

Images: Album art for No Longer in the Suburbs by Dylan Sinclair and Let Go by Avril Lavigne.

This list is compiled by Del Cowie, Invisible’s intrepid Bibliophonic editor.

In many ways, 2022 was the year when music stepped outside again. After two years of pandemic restrictions, the loosening of regulations meant many tentatively stepped out into the fray to enjoy and connect with music in communal spaces for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. 

To say it was just like we never left, however, would be naïve. The domino effect of the last two years is often directly reflected in a myriad of factors from the music made by artists, to the closing down of venues and the exorbitant cost of touring,  just to name a few. All of these themes make their way into the pieces selected here, whether they be coverage of high-profile artists or vibrant scenes, opinion pieces, retrospectives, or essays on overlooked and obscure recordings.

This hangover effect has also filtered down to music journalism itself, which has already been curbed dramatically in recent years. In Toronto, NOW Magazine which covered music for decades, recently ceased publication. However, independent media tends to organically surface in these kind of voids and, in this case, publishing spaces for documenting music such as the West End Phoenix, The Local, and The Grind are stepping up to provide context.

As far as Bibliphonic goes, this year marked the publication of book #7 in our ongoing history of contemporary Canadian music: Melody Lau’s Tegan and Sara: Modern Heartthrobs. Written entirely during the pandemic (fuelled by several Zoom calls with Tegan and Sara themselves), the book critically analyzed and reframed Tegan and Sara’s place in popular music and culture. Lau’s book is a necessary intervention and reframing considering the blatant anti-LGBTQ sentiment that greeted their emergence.

With that said, I hope the context and background of the music discussed in these forty articles encourages new discoveries. As has been the case since I began this list in 2018, consider this a subjective snapshot of some of the undercurrents happening in Canadian music in the past year. If you feel your favourite pieces have been overlooked, please feel free to post them in the comments and add to the discussion.

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