A Taste Of Honey (1994)
It's their Screamin' Fist 7-inch single that everyone knows, but this 1977 live-to-tape session resulted in a full album's worth of teenage fury, which didn't see the light of day until 17 years later. The vitriol and nihilism of these songs is a vital reminder of the time when punk still seemed tangibly dangerous.
19. Maestro Fresh Wes
Symphony In Effect (1989)
Long before industry pundits started pinning the fate of Canadian hip-hop on a child star from Degrassi, Scarborough native Maestro Fresh Wes tuxed up, let his backbone slide and dropped the needle on the way-underground late-80s homegrown rap scene. His major label debut, Symphony In Effect, is an old-school classic, but its influence is still being felt today on both sides of the border.
18. Rough Trade
It wasn't until 1980's Avoid Freud that Rough Trade hit their commercial stride, but their direct-to-disc debut fused the art/punk/funk/queer scenes from which core members Kevan Staples and Carole Pope sprang. When Pope invited listeners into her cage - I mean her room - Rough Trade made square Toronto seem dramatic, glamorous and hilarious.
17. Cowboy Junkies
The Trinity Session (1988)
Few albums have ever captured a specific sense of space and time like this one-microphone live recording at the Church of the Holy Trinity. The eerie atmosphere and intense intimacy suited the band's spooky reimagining of country and blues perfectly, making this a disc that still sounds like nothing else.
16. Ron Sexsmith
Ron Sexsmith was still working as a courier when he wrote many of the songs on his majors debut and second album, which includes his most-covered song, Secret Heart (Rod Stewart, Feist and Nick Lowe have all done it). You can also hear the mark left on Sexsmith by other songwriters who frequented Fat Albert's open stage, notably Bob Wiseman (who produced Sexsmith's independent 1991 debut) and Kyp Harness.
15. The Deadly Snakes
Ode To Joy (2003)
Starting out in Kensington Market, finding a spiritual home at the Silver Dollar and naming a song after a Trinity Bellwoods side street, Deadly Snakes are unequivocally Toronto. Their mix of garage rock, gospel- and soul-swaggered roll brought much-needed sexiness to T.O.'s early 00s scene.
Bahamas' sophomore album, Barchords, came out less than a year ago, but it's got all the earmarks of a classic. Charming lyrics built from hard-won truths about troubled love. Intimately sung and entirely memorable melodies. Some of the finest, subtlest guitar-playing you'll ever hear.
13. Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
Dim The Lights, Chill The Ham (1991)
Indelibly connected to the Rivoli, courtesy of their connection to the Kids in the Hall, this instrumental trio played brief, vibrant bursts of music, culling inspiration from surf, punk, sci-fi and 60s pop. Together with Savvy Show Shoppers, Dim The Lights is the sound of thrift stores and extensive record collections.
Take Care (2011)
Drake's sophomore album is a tumultuous head trip of lavish highs and druggy lows that blends rap, R&B and a dash of house into an unabashedly introspective sound. Its themes of self-doubt and disillusionment make it a quintessential record for the successful (and self-conscious) Canuck in a crumbling America.
11. Glenn Gould
Bach: The Goldberg Variations (1955)
Most of the time, Toronto is a rock city. But one of the most transcendent recordings made by a Torontonian is Glenn Gould's Bach: The Goldberg Variations. Brash and invigorating, Gould would later criticize and re-record the piece as a slower, more embellished work. But the original is all youthful energy and perfectionism.