The richness of the Toronto music scene has long been undervalued, at home and abroad. Perhaps size and stylistic diversity work against our metropolis, seeing critics latch upon more homogenous communities like Seattle, Athens (in the ’80s), Manchester, and, more recently, Montreal, appointing them musical hotbeds for a few short years each. We did get some overdue recognition in the mid ’00s, thanks to Broken Social Scene, Death From Above 1979, Feist et al; as for me, after three decades of writing about hogtown’s music scene, I’d still take it over that of any other Canadian city. Our sports teams might suck, but our musicians rule. Here, five albums in five different genres to prove the point, and the passion.
Fucked Up, David Comes to Life
Forget Green Day. For a punk rock opera with real gravitas and a kick-ass sound, check out Fucked Up’s masterpiece. Critics around the world are salivating over this one, perhaps because it sees its narrator battle its protagonist for control of the album itself, but likelier because it simply rocks out. Let’s hope those rumours of internal dissension are unfounded.
Recommended track: “Queen Of Hearts”
Sloan, The Double Cross
To call these Canrock veterans a Halifax band hasn’t been accurate for quite some time. They’re deeply entrenched in Toronto’s musical community and we’re glad to have them. Melodic and intelligent pop-rock doesn’t get much better than this, the 10th album of an illustrious career now spanning 20 years.
Recommended track: “Unkind”
The Warped 45s, Matador Sunset
Toronto is heavily populated with roots bands and singer/songwriters of real quality. These Parkdale cats deserved more recognition for this invigorating and musically dynamic album.
Recommended track: “Grampa Carl” (a Canadian equivalent of Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road”)
Cinque, Catch a Corner
A new jazz-funk supergroup, Cinque features three ace Toronto players alongside American legends Steve Gadd and Joey DeFrancesco. Their sparkling debut was written and recorded here for a Toronto label, so we can justifiably claim them as our own.
Recommended track: “Conflicting Advice”
Chris Donnelly, Metamorphosis 11
Donnelly is a jazz piano virtuoso, but this highly adventurous solo piano album belongs in the classical realm. It comprises a single 50 minute composition inspired by the well-known 1939 work of the same name by MC Escher. Simply mesmerising.
Recommended track: All of it
Images courtesy of uselessrebel.