1. Aline Morales - Flores, Tambores e Amores (Independent release)
Brilliant new album from Brazilian expat Aline Morales now based in Toronto. David Dacks in The Abstract Index has been touting the pleasures of this recording since it came out in May. Written over the winter months with producer David Arcus, Morales, formerly lead singer with the drumming ensemble Maracatu Nunca Antes, has created a hot summer record full of fantastic tunes.
2. Destroyer - Kaputt (Merge Records)
Dan Bejar's Baudelairean take on life in Vancouver ticked a few people off. Romantic, modern and kitschy all at the same time, it wasn't what was expected from him, but that's sort of the point - Bejar insists on doing things his own way. The result is a great experimental pop record with any connections to Al Stewart's nauseating Year of the Cat purely coincidental.
3. Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (Constellation Records)
Live off the floor single-take solo saxophone recorded at Montreal's Hotel2Tango studio. Stetson, who has opened for Arcade Fire among others, is going for sonic extremes here tempered with with guest vocals from Laurie Anderson and My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden. Heavily influenced by Sweden's Mats Gustafsson (who he shared a stage with at Performance Works last week as part of this year's jazz fest) Stetson reaches out to new audiences with an uncompromising music that ignores borders and takes no prisoners.
4. Junior Boys - It's All True (Domino Records)
Bedsit electronic soul from Hamilton, Ontario. Jeremy Greenspan has been getting more and more confident in his vocals and that shows throughout this latest fine effort.
5. Imaginary Cities - Temporary Resident (Hidden Pony Records)
Excellent indie pop debut from Winnipeg duo, featuring singer Marti Sarbit and Waking Eyes/Weakerthans' multi-instrumentalist Rusty Matyas. Sarbit's vocals give the material an extra dimension. Beautifully done.
6. Stripper's Union - The Deuce (Bhaji Maker/Universal Music)
Second collaboration between The Tragically
Hip's Rob Baker and North Vancouver ubermusician Craig Northey sounds like a great lost Odds record and that's exactly what it is. Northey's bandmates complete the sound with West Coast indie pop panache. This thing rocks from beginning to end.
7. Louise Burns - Mellow Drama (Light Organ Records)
Total surprise from former Lillix member. New music with an old school feel as Louise Burns conjures up past pop favourites from the '50s and '60s in her own music. Familiar yet completely original.
8. Braids - Native Speaker (Flemish Eye/Kanine Records Records)
Indie pop band from Montreal, by way of Calgary, leave lots of room for experimentation in their sound. Like Bjork, lead vocalist Raphaelle Standell-Preston has a way of keeping things interesting and changing things up.
9. The Luyas - Too Beautiful to Work (Dead Oceans/IdÃ©e Fixe Records)
Another Montreal band focusing on distinctive, original material. Owen Pallett arranged some of the tracks on this stellar album where most things work beautifully. The rhythmic interplay on the title track is reminiscent of Steve Reich's minimalist gamelan pieces.
10. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972 (Kranky Records)
A group of men push a piano off the roof of a building in the cover photo that graces the latest work from ambient artist Tim Hecker. The album's sonic material is based on a single day's worth of recordings of a church pipe organ in Reykjavik, Iceland which the Vancouver-born, Montreal-based conceptual artist than uses for his own purposes in tracks such as "The Piano Drop," "Hatred of Music I and II" and "Analog Paralysis, 1978." Great, timeless stuff which deservedly made the long list for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize.