1 DAVID MURRAY AND THE GWO-KA MASTERS Gwotet (Justin Time) Mad, manic and magnificent modern jazz with relentless grooves and full-blown urgency. Sax sensation Pharoah Saunders is a more than welcome guest on a disc that roars from world music to Philly soul, all anchored by a nasty jazz attack.
2 THE STREETS A Grand Don't Come For Free (Warner) If the term "rock opera" or "concept album" didn't evoke such terror, that's how this amazing narrative disc would be hailed. Birmingham's Mike Skinner lays down urgent beats and has created a compelling look at the life of a yob with few prospects and little cash, reminiscent of British punkers Sham 69's efforts in this area. Never has doing nothing sounded so alive.
3 MOS DEF The New Danger (Geffen/Universal) Hiphop grandmaster Mos Def is back with his most rocking - as in screaming guitars and nasty edge - release yet. From bluesy guitar to Cali punk, Mos Def's brooding, smooth vocals dance on the razor's edge and sometimes blunt it. There's soul, Barry White growls and more music than a pantload of posers could ever deliver.
4 SARAH HARMER All Of Our Names (Universal) No concerns about a sophomore jinx for this talented artist's second solo effort. Harmer builds on the strengths she ably demonstrated in her first solo effort as well as her more rocking days with Weeping Tile, serving notice she's not a slow-burning flash in the pan but a significant Canadian artist just hitting her stride.
5 FEIST Let It Die (Arts & Crafts) Paris's favourite Albertan and sometime Torontonian continues to show why she's one to watch. She's smart and sensual, with breathy, beautiful vocals. Reminiscent of Sade but with tons of edge, better songs and less cheese, feisty Feist is the best new artist of the year.
6 THE MUSIC Welcome To The North (EMI) Offering more hooks than a tackle box, Leeds rawkers the Music proudly wear their influences on their sweaty sleeves. Rush, Zep, U2's anthems, they all stir this rock-pop pot. While it won't change your life, it'll make you pump your fist, rock back and forth and maybe crank up the air guitar.
7 K-OS Joyful Rebellion (EMI) Local hero delivers hooky hiphop with great vocals and grooves. k-os dishes up cool messages and occasional guitar blasts on a disc that would be an international hit if it were coming from Tampa instead of Toronto. His time has come.
8 RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Want Two (Geffen) Ambitious, extravagant and successful return from rehab for the boy with the excellent musical lineage. Wainwright's lush vocal power and luscious ballads express a wonderfully jaded look at life. A bonus full-concert DVD makes this a great package and should show labels that extras, not lawsuits, are the way to get people buying CDs again.
9 ANDY BEY American Song (Savoy Jazz) Long-time veteran jazz vocalist does his own take on Billy Eckstine's supersexycool sensual old-school stylings. If Barry White ain't working any more, try these takes on some American classics - Bey makes them all his own. His version of Never Let Me Go might even rehabilitate jazz flute after Will Ferrell trashed it in Anchorman.
10 ALEXISONFIRE Watch Out (Equal Vision/EMI) Lyrical hard rock that's not afraid of hooks. A West Coast wall of sound by way of Vancouver Island. Rock clichés coexist with punk invention.