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- Posted by Joshua Ostroff
Canadian music in 2009 continued to feel the reverberations of the early-decade indie supergroup phenomenon, with Broken Social Scene and Wolf Parade-affiliated acts fully coming into their own with band-defining new albums. They were joined by eager upstarts and grizzled veterans, all of whom reached for that golden ring and came back with albums that were about more than their singles.10. CFCF - 'Continent
Naming himself after a defunct Montreal TV station, melodic dance producer Michael Silver's CFCF is not just a going concern, it marks him as the year's most exciting new electronic talent. After winning a Crystal Castles remix contest, CFCF wowed with his debut digi-EP. But this Italo-influenced and pop-infused full-length on indie stalwart Paper Bag Records proved Silver had the skills to take over the whole continent. Next stop, the world.
9. Junior Boys - 'Begone Dull Care'
Hamilton's electro-pop revivalists remain fixated on sonic detailing but for their third effort they remember the dancefloor -- thanks to producer Matt Didemus' relocation to Berlin -- while singer Jeremy Greenspan further perfects his sad-sack soul singing.
8. Classified - 'Self Explanatory'
Some Canadian MCs try to obscure their north side origins, but Halifax rapper Classified goes so far as to rap over the national anthem. But patriotism isn't why he's on this list, it's because after 13 albums, Classified's mic skills, storytelling acumen and beatsmithery are, well, self-explanatory.
7. Alexisonfire - 'Old Crows/Young Cardinals'
The most unlikely mainstream band in Canadian history warned their fans, "We are not the kids we used to be. Stop wishing for yesterday." Then they proceed to bash out a mature, melodic and still-pummeling opus that leaves their screamo label in the past while boldly advancing into the future.
6. Drake - 'So Far Gone'
The Internet may've changed the music industry, but mostly it's created cult heroes. Then along came unsigned T-Dot rapper-slash-child star Drake who rode a grassroots online wave (150 million MySpace plays!) to superstardom with this heavily downloaded and decidedly moody mixtape that covers Lykke Li and Santigold while delivering enough homebrewed hits to warrant an EP rerelease and Grammy nods.
5. Tegan and Sara - 'Sainthood'
Having shed the media's "OMG identical twin lesbians!" blather along with their folk-rock shtick, the sisters Quin are finally free to make their own way as pop stars on 'Sainthood,' Displaying an increased confidence in their songwriting skills and sibling harmonies, their sixth album has as many potential singles as there are saints in heaven.
4. K'naan - 'Troubadour'
The polyglot promise of Somali-Canadian rapper K'naan's debut album came to fruition on this fierce follow-up. Largely recorded in Bob Marley's Trenchtown studio and embodying the new Obama era, K'naan uses head-nodding, thought-provoking wordplay and African-influenced soundscapes to pioneer refugee rap.
3. Japandroids - 'Post Nothing'
With hearts on sleeve, instruments on fire and shared vocals dialed in from a distant apocalypse, Vancouver duo Japandroids' debut produced some of the dirtiest-sounding punk-pop music since 'Bleach'-era Nirvana. 'Post-Nothing' is the music of wayward youths, exhilarated to be on their own but scared they won't find their way back home.
2. Metric - 'Fantasies'
Years spent ramping up their synth-rock to stadium size resulted in Metric's most triumphant sounding album yet. Brushing the hipster backlash off their shoulders, the Emily Haines-fronted quartet produced an indie effort with pop aspirations, a dance record with big ideas and posed a Beatles vs Rolling Stones question that they answered by splitting the difference.
1. Handsome Furs - 'Face Control'
Inspired by a tour through the post-communist, pre-democratic former Eastern Bloc, Wolf Parade co-frontman Dan Boekner and his synth-slaying wife Alexei Perry delivered a startling, brilliant electro-punk album merging the region's icy demeanour, desperate yearning and lustily beating heart. Don't call it a side-project, Handsome Furs will be here for years.