Whether or not you buy into the insular scene strife about whether or not the idyllic Xanadu of Torontopia actually exists, it's an unequivocal fact that this city's a freakin' gold mine of creative production. This year saw the emergence of stellar new acts (Ohbijou, Elizabeth Shepherd), great continuing efforts by local heavies (Final Fantasy, Fucked Up) and the reappearance of unsung heroes - the R&B legends on the Jamaica To Toronto comp, which topped our list - who'll hopefully finally get their due. Apologies to all the other killer T.O. artists who didn't fit into this end-of-year roundup.
1 JAMAICA TO TORONTO (Light in the Attic)
A wonderful celebration of the hugely talented singers and players who defined Toronto's thriving 60s soul and R&B scene, assembled with detective-like diligence, deep respect and scholarship by Seattle's Light in the Attic label.
2 FUCKED UP Hidden World (Jade Tree)
It's a Fucked Up year when you go from money-losing vinyl bins and the smudgy B&W-page punk world of Maximum Rock n Roll to being Vice darlings, debuting a big-budget magnum opus on American indie heavyweight Jade Tree. What exactly did FU do right? The mystery lies in the Hidden World.
3 GLISSANDRO 70 (Constellation)
They're not nearly as well known as other Toronto acts, but Glissandro 70 are definitely one of the most innovative. Minimalist guitar, swirling keys and occasional vocal sounds are brought together with an improbable funk feel on their debut disc. Somehow, they cater both to fans of lo-fi ambient rock and forward-thinking ravers.
4 FINAL FANTASY He Poos Clouds (Blocks Recording Club)
It's no surprise that Canadian indie rock's go-to guru for string arrangements snagged the inaugural Polaris Prize for this sophisticated collection of fleshed-out classical pop stunners. Owen Pallett matches the complex dynamics and intricately assembled violin cascades of his tunes with sudden vocal shifts from choirboy crooning to perfectly jarring yelps, sealing the deal with hyper-literate geekcore images that demand multiple listens.
5 BEBOP COWBOYS Canadian Dance Hall (independent)
NOW's roots/country band of the year is joined by Sarah Harmer , Prairie Oyster's Russell deCarle and others to salute the regional artists from small towns across Canada who put a Great White Northern spin on the western swing sound popularized by Bob Wills - their crowning achievement to date.
6 THEOLOGY 3 The Time (independent)
Theology 3's new EP got slept on hardcore, but it's a strong work from one of the city's most dedicated hiphop representatives. Like Flavor Flav back in the day, Theo demonstrates that he knows The Time with brash honesty, focusing on life as an MC in the Screwface Capital, with solid assists from DJs Serious and Grouch .
7 MSTRKRFT The Looks (Last Gang)
With their debut album, MSTRKRFT successfully countered any ideas that they were just the rock remixers du jour or the hobby project of one-half of a popular rock band (the now defunct DFA1979). The Looks is a slick, tight and sleazy collection of pumping electro-house, and it doesn't need to pretend to be anything but.
8 MORE OR LES The Truth About Rap (Villain Worship/Public Transit)
This year, multi-talented MC More or Les, who's worked with everyone from the Second City to the Herbaliser, finally got some of the shine he deserves for his second album. It has some of the best beats of the year, with rhymes coming together to form a super-clever, charismatic MC persona. More or Les's hiphop hunger is only underlined by how many times he busts it about food.
9 OHBIJOU Swift Feet For Troubling Times (independent)
After quietly assembling a mild-mannered army of followers with a penchant for prettiness, Brantford-bred chamber pop softies Ohbijou emerge with a gorgeously restrained set of songs so delicate, you want to cradle them in your palm like baby chicks. Goes down like lemonade on the hottest summer day, with no cloying aftertaste of artificial sweetness.
10 ELIZABETH SHEPHERD TRIO Start To Move (Do Right!)
From unheralded residencies at local piano bars, the T.O. nu-jazz scene's best-kept secret busts out swinging with scorching, key-pounding dance-floor shakers that make forward-thinking fusion heads nod on both sides of the pond. Shepherd more than delivers on her album title's promise with her funkcentric brand of passionate rhythm and grooves.