It’s that time of the year again when media outlets look back at the year that was, and perhaps look ahead. Let’s see how many headlines are prefaced with “2020 visions:” (You heard it here first.)

The past year saw me finally catch up with music streaming. Before that, it was CDs and records. Now I’m doubting I will ever buy a CD or record again. I’m still amazed that I can have my whole music library on my phone — if I choose to download it — or can just access it in the streaming service, in my case, Google Music.

I live for music, and I have been a rock ‘n’ roller since I was a kid. There is so much good rock out there, and not enough time in a lifetime to sample it all. Still, I have been sampling a lot this year, and some new faves have emerged.

Drum roll, please . . .


My greatest discovery this year is Warpaint, an indie all-female band from L.A. that formed in 2004. I found them on a list of “dream pop” artists, though I wouldn’t label them as such. I suppose there is some dream pop elements in their music, but mostly they have both a fresh and timeless rock sound that sometimes reminds me of the music coming out of San Francisco in the Joplin/Airplane era.

But they are distinct. I am totally hooked and eagerly await a new album that I’ve heard will be landing next year.

Here is one of my faves by them with a bit of that San Fran sound I mentioned.

Helena Deland

Next up in my great finds of the year is Helena Deland from Montreal, my hometown. I am so in love with this young woman’s music, which is mellow with a soft rock sound, but again, quite distinct. Her music is introspective and dreamy, which pretty much describes me much of the time, hence the connection. She calls it “sincere pop,” and I think that nails it.

I so wanted to see her in concert at a small venue in Montreal this past summer, but I had to work that evening. I also found myself suffering from some self-induced ageism: would I fit in with the young crowd that would have been there? And I felt a bit guilty: what if I bought tickets and some young fans wouldn’t have been able to attend as a result?

I decided I’ll catch her in concert when she plays at a bigger venue.

(On the other hand, I will have no problem scooping up tickets for Warpaint no matter the venue, if I ever get the opportunity. Sorry, kids . . .)

Here’s one of my favourites from Helena:

Lisa Caruso

I loved her music the first time I heard it. She has that effect on people, apparently. The song was Shake Baby Shake, played during a final tense scene in an episode of Good Girls. I immediately sought it out on YouTube and, behold, another great find in 2019.

Lisa, from Australia, is an emerging artist (as is Helena Deland). She doesn’t have a large body of work yet, but you know she is going to be a major force in the music business.

A piece about Lisa on the Pile Rats website says this about Shake Baby Shake: “Channelling her inner ’90s rock goddess, the latest single is a sinister, sultry new jam that instantly draws you in.”

Like I said . . .

Here’s the song:

Other great finds this year include Molly Burch, Madeline Kenney, Cynthia Tauro and J.S. Ondara.

Yes, I’ve been listening to a lot of female artists this year, and only J.S. Ondara in my list of exciting new finds is male.

None of the above are getting airplay on the top local rock station, CHOM-FM, which is a shame. Now I am listening to commercial radio less and less.

Of course, I still kick back with some Stones and Zep at times, as well as other rock masters. But I really wanted to catch up with young and emerging female artists. There are so many good ones, and my list above barely scratches the surface.

How about you? What musical discoveries did you make this year?

— Jillian