2009 was an interesting year in Canada. Vancouver was plagued with a considerable amount of gang violence to start the year, while George W. Bush showed up in Calgary to speak. Barack Obama, meanwhile, became president in the United States and made his first visit to Canada in February. There was the tragic Newfoundland helicopter crash, too, and the first Canadian cases of swine flu that emerged in April.
2009 was an interesting year personally, too. I spent considerable parts of it exhausted by my anxiety and by persistent panic attacks, learning more about my limitations and my expectations day by day. Friends saw horrifying times, with my best friend seeing the hope of fatherhood smashed against the rocks of tragic loss in just a few short, agonizing months.
In instances like these we look for meaning. We look to art, film, literature, music, sports, food, drugs. Some of us have the courage to look within ourselves for the help that we need, but for the rest of us we need the assistance of a well-worded lyric that cuts deep. Or we need the work of a dedicated actor with presence and timing. Or we just need a laugh.
Whatever we need and for whatever reason we need it, it’s always good to reflect back on years gone by and to remember what we needed most. I think that’s why we make year-end lists. I think we like to remember what touched us most and what helped us most and what made us smile most.
And so, for 2009 anyway, I decided to look back on what I found myself returning to most in terms of Canadian music. Year-end lists are, by no means, exact. It was hard to confine my list to ten and it was hard to keep up with everything this year, but time does pass and so, without wasting any more of your time, here are my picks for the 10 Best Canadian Albums of 2009.
This album caught me coming out of a drained period at the end of 2008 and gave me the boost I needed. The Halifax four-piece constructs pure, memorable, anthemic rock music and this record, their third, should help solidify them on the Canadian scene.
9. D-Sisive – Let the Children Die
Morbid and dark, D-Sisive’s rap lurks in the shadows. This Canadian rapper emerged from a six-year absence after his father’s death and after battling depression to turn out hip hop that is as real as humanly possible. Let the Children Die is an astonishing rap record.