The top albums from Toronto artists in 2015 ranged from the city's underground punk and rock bands to the rapidly expanding hip hop scene. With some massive chart topping albums from the likes of Drake and The Weeknd among the countless incredible releases from smaller acts, Toronto musicians had one of their best years to date.
Here are my picks for this year's top releases by Toronto bands and artists.
BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah - Sour Soul
BadBadNotGood have paired up with rap artists such as Frank Ocean, Tyler The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt before, but their collaboration with Wu Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah surpassed everything they've done before. This instrumental jazz trio made one of the best hip hop albums of the year.
METZ - II
METZ created a lot of buzz with their debut album three years ago but their second album, aptly named II, saw the band really define their sound. METZ come across sounding like Nirvana put through a dozen fuzz pedals. Tracks such as "The Swimmer" or "Wait In Line" dig themselves into your head and leave a grimy trail behind.
The Weeknd - Beauty Behind the Madness
Scarborough native The Weeknd enjoyed career-defining success this year. Beauty Behind The Madness spawned some of the year's top tracks such as "The Hills" and "Can't Feel My Face," but the album as a whole was a masterpiece of beautifully dark R&B that puts you in a blurry trance.
Black Lungs - Pagan Holiday
Alexisonfire vocalist/guitarist Wade McNeil's side project Black Lungs made its long awaited return this year with Pagan Holiday. The punk rock banger "Stay Out Of Parkdale" and the mosh-inducing sounds of "Class of 98" made the four year wait for the album seem irrelevant.
Drake - If You're Reading This It's Too Late
If You're Reading This It's Too Late showed that Drake is still growing as an artist. While earlier albums show Drake dreaming of becoming an icon, he seems to have actually achieved that with IYRTITL. The beats on the album perfectly match up with his vocal style and his lyrical content shows him at peak bravado.
Shipley Hollow - Normal Soup
Math rockers Shipley Hollow latest release has a catchy, uplifting vibe all throughout the album while still being confusing as all hell. The mind bending breakdown that ends "Salamander Sweater" makes you wonder how the band was able to go from an upbeat track to an alien sounding close in the span of a few minutes. The album as a whole is a roller coaster ride of emotions and sounds.
Cancer Bats - Searching For Zero
The latest offering from Cancer Bats was a bit of a step away from what they're known for. While there's still a punk edge, this is a more sludgy rock style similar to Black Sabbath on Searching For Zero. Tracks such as "Arsenic In The Year Of The Snake" and "All Hail" brought a familiar sound while songs like "Beelzebub" and "Cursed With A Conscience" witness the band stepping into uncharted territory.
Seaway - Colour Blind
Oakville pop punk band Seaway have done an amazing job of growing their sound since their debut album came out two years ago. Colour Blind is an incredibly catchy and energetic record with enough toned down moments to subdue you only to bring you right back to the action. Tracks such as opener "Slam" and the anthemic "Freak" make you want to chant the choruses out loud.
k-os - Can't Fly Without Gravity
The latest album from k-os continues his legacy of making some of the most inventive sounding hip hop. Tracks like "WiLD4TheNight (EgoLand)" and "Hustle & Flow" show how k-os is getting better and better with his lyrical flow and production skills. Can't Fly Without Gravity is a solid album beginning to end with every song sounding innovative in its own right.
Young Guv - Ripe 4 Luv
Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook is very busy with his countless projects but his solo band Young Guv stands out. Cook creates some of his most captivating songs to date. Tracks such as "Aquarian" and the beautifully summery sounds of "Kelly I'm Not A Creep" are a refreshing reminder that pop music doesn't need to be mindless.
What did I miss? Add your favourite Toronto releases of 2015 in the comments.
Photo by NRK P3
by Joe Smith-Engelhardt via blogTO