Photograph by May Truong

Photograph by May Truong

As the decade comes to a close and music magazines and blogs publish their “Best Albums of the Decade” lists, we here at Ca Va Cool decided to take a different direction. Sure, we could tell you that Kid A or Is This It is the greatest album of the last ten years, but you’ve already heard that. Instead, we’ve decided to make a list of something we hold very close to our hearts, Canadian music. By counting down the 20 best albums of the decade, we hope to pay respect to truly classic albums and shine a light on some underappreciated gems which can be enjoyed no matter where you come from. From regional hits to international sensations, our list showcases the best albums that music scenes all over Canada, from Vancouver to the Maritimes, have released this past decade. Here, in all its glory, is Ca Va Cool’s Best Canadian Albums of the 2000s.

Photograph by Chris Smith

Photograph by Chris Smith

20. Joel Plaskett EmergencyTruthfully Truthfully (MapleMusic, 2003)

When thinking of the greatest Canadian music genres/scenes of this past decade, it’s seemingly impossible to forget the influence of East Coast pop music. We begin our list with Nova Scotia’s best indie musical export, Joel Plaskett. Carrying the torch from ’90s legends Sloan, Joel Plaskett maintained the chugging electric guitar of 70’s power pop, incorporating the lyrical romanticism of his father’s folk idols, all from his hometown Halifax. On the Emergency’s second album, Truthfully Truthfully, Plaskett’s showcases the best of his charmingly witty lyrics and hook-ridden guitar work. As lovably awkward as Jonathan Richman, Plaskett nonetheless seemed as comfortable rocking out as Angus Young. Following the release, Joel Plaskett became a household name to Canadian music fans. He has been nominated twice for the Polaris Music Prize for his later work, produced countless albums for young East Coast bands, including the wonderful Little Jabs by Two Hours Traffic, and he still lives in Nova Scotia. — Daniel Hernandez

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— , December 7, 2009    7 Comments
Clues - Photo by Riny van Eijk

Photograph by Riny van Eijk

What happens when you put a member of the Unicorns into a car on a collision course with another vehicle traveling at a high velocity carrying a member of the Arcade Fire? The question assumes that we have passed our calculus classes and withstanding that we can find the answer in the smaller venues underlying Montréal’s music scene. The resultant impact has created Clues, more specifically Alden Penner and Brendan Reed along with other Montréal musicians Ben Borden, Lisa Gamble, and Nick Scribner. Employing multiple drummers and a bent Commodore 64, the band’s sharp hooks and spastic jams will excite you in ways that calculus never could. Their self-titled debut is due for release on May 19, on hometown label Constellation Records.

Clues began building two summers ago. Masked by whispered rumours and hyped-up concerts, they played a series of unadvertised shows in small venues finally debuting publicly at Pop Montréal. Their arrival on the city’s already burgeoning pop scene has been nothing short of phenomenal, with their strong ties to the independent music community and a tendency to experiment with their extensive collection of instruments, Clues can do no wrong. Their eponymous album is a reflection of just that, their ability to create a palette of music that is reminiscent of early Unicorns, employing abrupt changes in a mosaic of instrumentation. Clues hop through melodies with a baroque twist on songs like ‘Perfect Fit’ leaving listeners scrambling for their clavichords as they spiral into a thumping bass line.

‘Remember Severed Head’ forms a diverse range of harmonies blanketed by Alden Penner’s imaginative vocals that tiptoe through a minefield of drum kicks. Much of Clues album is like throwing a rhythmic gymnast into North Korea’s Demilitarized Zone. Several moments consist of elegant leaps and graceful spins but ultimately there is satisfaction to be found in the rain of bloody mist that ensues after a tragic misstep. ‘Cave Mouth’ is another monument to Clues eclectic apparatus of amazing sounds, cymbals clashing through interim xylophone solos and Brendan Reed building a crescendo of instrumental dynamics. Grab your favourite set of headphones, throw on Clues and prepare to rock out – calculus textbook not required.

(Photograph by Riny van Eijk)

Clues – Perfect Fit
Clues – Remember Severed Head
Clues – Ledmonton

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— , May 4, 2009    5 Comments

Islands

To go along with the rest of the blogosphere, here is a track from Islands’ forthcoming Arm’s Way. Islands really turned me off a few years back when they played a show here in London. Perhaps it was Nick Diamonds/Thorburn/ Whatever-he’s-calling-himself-these-days being aloof, a bit of an ass, and the general lack of staying power of Return to the Sea that irked me, but I’m really feeling this new song. A darker turn from the previous sugary pop, more ‘Humans’ than ‘Rough Gem’ (which they’ve apparently disowned), Creeper somehow manages to be the catchiest song about a stalker I can remember.

Islands – Creeper

Arm’s Way is out May 20 on Anti.

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— , April 2, 2008    Comments Off on New Islands Single from Arm’s Way: Creeper