Whether your 2010 was simply terrible or simply fantastic, you’ll be glad to hear that it was an amazing year for Canadian music. In fact, Canadian music has joined hockey players, lumber, and beaver fur as Canada’s most popular export (the demand for beaver fur has slackened quite a bit since the 1750s, but is included here to give you a sense of just how important Canadian music is). Let’s take a look at the 5 best home-grown releases of 2010.
Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart.
Wilderness Heart is easily one of the finest rock albums in recent memory. Building upon their sophomore release, 2008’s In the Future, Vancouver’s Black Mountain trim down their 8-minute psychedelic grooves for an album which is tighter, more focused, and in every way more accessible to listeners. Vocalist Amber Webber and vocalist/guitarist Stephen McBean duet and share vocal duties more frequently on this album, and their haunting, powerful voices provide the perfect complement for the band’s heavily Black Sabbath/Led Zeppelin-influenced sound. This album isn’t just for hard rock aficionados though; it’s for anyone who loves powerful, expressive music. Wilderness Heart is a stirring mix of ballads and heavy psychedelic rock, and anyone listening to it will have a hard time skipping even one track.
Caribou – Swim.
Electronic music can have a hard time bringing in fans. The beauty of Caribou’s Swim is that it provides the listener with lush, fully-danceable and easily accessible tracks while simultaneously being well-crafted enough to provide electronica fans with a great headphones-on experience. The fact that this album and Caribou’s previous effort, 2007’s Andorra, were shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize (Andorra won in 2008, Swim did not in 2010) speak to his talents as a musician.
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest releases of 2010, Arcade Fire’s third studio album is a wistful reflection on pain and youth, with just a splash of cynical humour thrown in to keep the whole album from descending into indie self-parody. The Suburbs primarily concerns itself with those thoughtful, reflective moments we all have when we’re driving (most of the album’s tracks involve driving around at some point). Not nearly as bleak in outlook as their previous effort Neon Bible, Arcade Fire still manage to inject enough heartbreak and seriousness into each track to touch the listener. It’s a frequently melancholy album, but it resonates beautifully.
The Sadies – Darker Circles.
If you can’t stomach even a hint of country in your music, you’re not going to like The Sadies. But if you don’t mind a little twang now and again, Darker Circles is going to blow your mind. The album shows The Sadies in top form, once again filtering their old-school country influences through Pink Floyd and surf rock. Lyrically the album is moody (it seems like everyone wanted to write a depressing album in 2010), but The Sadies are easily one of Canada’s finest bands, and this album cements their reputation as a national treasure.
Drake – Thank Me Later.
Surprised? If you’ve heard Thank Me Later you shouldn’t be. This is easily the best hip-hop album of 2010. Drake’s skill as a lyricist is what makes this album such a great listen. As boastful and self-absorbed as any self-respecting rapper should be, Drake supplements standard hip-hop attitude with a more reflective style, one that meditates on a life without fame and fortune. Make no mistake, Drake wants us all to know how well he’s doing, but he demonstrates a maturity and thoughtfulness that sets him miles apart from his contemporaries.