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- Posted by Joshua Ostroff
10. Final Fantasy, 'He Poos Clouds' (2006)
In between arranging strings for Arcade Fire and Hidden Cameras, Owen Pallett's elegant, video game-inspired solo project mixed 'Dungeons & Dragons' arcana, evil condo developers, same-sex love, looped violins and delicately dramatic vocals. The result was a chamber-pop classic and inaugural Polaris Prize win.
9. Akufen - 'My Way' (2002)
Montreal microhouse maestro Marc Leclair presaged the mash-up craze with his cuisinart take on dance music, recording hundreds of hours of radio before cutting and pasting the split-second samples into a gleefully experimental electronic classic that was as likely to fill dancefloors as inspire thesis projects.
8. The Constantines, 'Shine a Light' (2003)
The Cons' stellar self-titled debut came packaged with a wooden match, but the Guelph-bred band didn't fully set the music world ablaze until their second record -- released on Sub Pop internationally and on late, lamented Three Gut Records at home -- which took their vaunted Springsteen-meets-Strummer sound, added keyboards and made this collection of arms-up working-class anthems sound utterly their own.
7. Cadence Weapon, 'Breaking Kayfabe' (2005)
Launching a thousand "Straight Outta Edmonton" headlines, Alberta rapper (and current poet laureate) Rollie Pemberton went from teenage Pitchfork writer to hyper-literate rhymer with a debut that soared on its Aphex Twin-inspired bedroom beats, anything-goes insouciance and detailed dispatches from the heart of Texas North.
6. K-OS, 'Joyful Rebellion (2004)
Once upon a time, hip-hop was whatever the hip-hop artist said it was. But while genre boundaries were subsequently solidified, nobody told k-os. The Toronto MC's sophomore record was a perfectly-named crossover smash that mixed rhyming, crooning, live instruments and a b-boy stance that won over hip-hop heads, indie kids and the mainstream masses alike.
5.F---ed Up, 'The Chemistry of Common Life' (2008)
Toronto's hardcore heroes may boast a bleeding, naked bear of a lead singer but their second full-length proves the band's ambitions lie far beyond shock value. Their Polaris-winning album layers flutes, mega multi-tracked guitars and philosophical life cycles into an angry epic that doesn't just blow a seemingly limited genre wide open, it threatens to eliminate the word genre altogether.
4. Jill Barber, 'Chances' (2008)
Just as Amy Winehouse reinvigorated retro-soul, East Coast crooner Jill Barber breathed new life into old-school jazz, rescuing it from festival banality with an album that was unafraid to take, well, chances. Abandoning roots-rock, Barber brought big band music into the new millennium with a record that would have sounded just as beguiling regardless of the decade.
3. Feist, 'Let it Die' (2004)
Before she belonged to everyone, Leslie Feist became the unlikely darling of the indie scene with this Paris-recorded, Gonzales-produced and temporally displaced collection of jazzy chansons that lamented lost love and urban ambivalence, covered the Bee Gees and Ron Sexsmith and introduced a singular voice to the world stage.
2. Metric, 'Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?' (2003)
Fleeing Manhattan after the towers fell, Metric's Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw returned to Toronto, where they wrote synth-fired rock songs about phony wars, sexual politics, dead discos and love battlefields, all of which boiled down to the band's indelible cri de coeur: "I'm sick, you're tired, let's dance."
1. Broken Social Scene, 'You Forgot it in People' (2002) / Arcade Fire, 'Funeral' (2004)
The Beatles and Rolling Stones of Canadian indie rock have unnecessarily divided music fans, so rather than arbitrarily choose which band made the better album of the decade, we shall admit an artistic tie and praise these classic albums together. 'Forgot' arrived first, 'Funeral' broke bigger, but both celebrated boundless spirits, eclectic instrumentation, sprawling collectives and planted flags for indie as the new pop.