The best Toronto records of 2013 were those that surprised, excited, and disturbed.
In many ways, 2013 was the year of the music festival for Toronto. As we moved closed to a Music City Alliance with Austin, Texas—home of SXSW—the fests and events and celebrations that call Toronto home continued to flourish. Canadian Music Week announced that next year, it would be expanding its programming and moving the festival from March to May; NXNE added more interactive sessions and visual art exhibits; we gained the Grove Music Festival, and though we said goodbye to ALL CAPS, Wavelength’s programming will be expanding into new and exciting territory as well.
Live music in Toronto continued to thrive this year, and the records that were released reflected the rich, performative culture of the city. While it’s easy to associate Toronto with the glossiest, largest-budget releases of the year, it was in fact Toronto’s underground scene, nurtured by the rich and vibrant live music culture in the city, that produced the most exciting and dynamic albums of 2013. Raw production values, aggressive music, and live-off-the-floor recordings characterized the year’s most stunning work.
The best Toronto albums of 2013 were gritty and gothic—the noisy, restless, and haunting records that unsettled instead of soothed most captured our attention. While Toronto is perhaps still best known for pleasant, plaintive indie rock and bouncy synths, of which many fine examples where produced this year, we found ourselves drawn to everything sharp and strange.
Chris Dart’s Toronto Top 5
1) Drake — Nothing Was the Same
2) Tasha the Amazon — FiDiYootDem
3) NBS — TheLegendsLeague Presents Naturally Born Strangers
4) Derek Christoff and The Arkeologists — the d.ark tape
5) Art Imperial — Crush
Natalie Zina Walschots’ Toronto Top 5