Talk of the town: best music of 2009

It was a colossal year for Halifax music. Team Coast rounds up the top local releases of 2009, and a few favourites from away.

A History Of
Action in the North Atlantic (Noyes)

High-octane, Maritime-themed math rock? Yes, please. A History Of gets the Halifax music scene right, and finally gives us a full-length record. —LK

Black Moor
The Conquering (Diminished Fifth)

The stuff of heavy metal legend: surviving a car crash, Black Moor channels death and Kill Em All hooks making you wonder why you stopped headbanging. —ML

Self-Explanatory (Half-Life Records)

The DIY work aesthetic and tightly wound flow of Enfield's Classified paid dividends in 2009 with his latest disc, Self-Explanatory, blowing up across the country. —TS

Construction and Destruction
Video et Taceo (independent)

"I've got the heart and stomach of a king/eat that you motherfucking princes." This duo makes surprisingly catchy and suddenly beautiful music as bold as it is prescient. —TT

seven-inch (Black Raven Records)

The first release on Victoria's Black Raven Records is this debut seven-inch from Halifax's Contagium. Three songs of classic crust inspired by Amebix and Heresy. —MB

Erin Costelo
Fire & Fuss (independent)

Costelo's voice, in both senses of the term, sets her apart. Lyrically, she offers fresh metaphors and takes new routes to meaning. Vocally, she commands attention. —SF

Out on Town (Youth Club)

A quintessential Halifax low-fi gem---as depressing as uplifting, with sounds as melodic as a clear summer's day and as distorted and creeping like a fog bank. —ML

Amelia Curran
Hunter, Hunter (Six Shooter)

We all knew Hunter, Hunter would be fantastic, and Curran did not let anyone down. But now that others have finally picked up on her talent, our "told ya so" may soon become "we knew her when." —DH

Dog Day
Concentration (Outside)

Once again Dog Day delivers smart and subtle pop songs, proving things don't have to be overdressed or obvious to work and to work well. —SF

Dog Day
Elder Schoolhouse (Divorce)

Recorded with Rick White, there's an eerie feeling throughout to this record, building up to a long noise piece that's definitely not a pop song. —LK

ECT/Reclusive Mute
split seven-inch (Radiator Collective)

Electro Chiac Therapie is arguably the most unique punk band in the Maritimes. Combining punk, electro and French pop, this team-up with Gary Flanagan delivers. —MB

Treat of the Day (independent)

Peanut butter, poutine and tasty hip-hop? Sounds like Saturday night, thanks to our smooth emcee and guest spots by Edgar Allen Floe, D-Sisive and more. —SCF

The Gideons
Oxford Street (independent)

This teddy-boy party band has grown into an assured group of songwriters. This album is its swan song---cheeky, ragged, heartfelt. —AL

Jenn Grant
Echoes (Six Shooter)

Her first record was charming, but Echoes is spectacular, with that effortlessly breathtaking voice draped around richly textured, sometimes dark and melancholic songs. —DH

Sa-ba-da-OW! (independent)

Awarded best jazz recording at Nova Scotia Music Week, this is a must for every cool cat, but too genre-bending for jazz obscurity. Be a real hipster and finger-snap along. —ML

Love's Dark Season (independent)

This rapper and poet explores the fallout of a failed marriage with a skilled, soulful patter that's forever on the cusp of breaking. —AL

Husband and Knife
More of Them (Than Us) (Divorce) KC Spidle hits lower lows than last year's An End, but with a creepy, intense psychedelic feel. There's something new in this tape every time I listen. —LK

In-Flight Safety
we are an empire, my dear (Night Danger)

A true band effort, all four members make memorable contributions to this melancholic and uplifting album. People will play it for many years to come. —SF

Machines to Make Us Wet (independent)

The boys wanna be her, the girls wanna be her. Jen Clarke's electro-raunch-pop is like a diamond-encrusted boxing glove to the head: tough but glittery, and a shitload of fun. —SCF

Primary Colours (Noyes)

A Kestrels song will draw you in with keening voices and melodies. Then the band opens its gullet, smacking you with a headful of fuzz. A good way to die. —AL

Minivan Halen
seven-inch (Kingdom of God)

The late, great Minivan Halen's seven-inch on Kingdom of God has riffs for days, which only makes it more painful that this band's career was so short. —SJ

Ruth Minnikin and her bandwagon
Depend on This (Songmill)

Out December 16 and produced by Andrew Watt, Halifax's first lady of folk moves in a new direction, collaborating with Chuck Blazevic (Dreamsploitation) on production and arrangements. —SCF

Joel Plaskett
Three (New Scotland)

A well-told story from a guy who just may be Canada's Paul Westerberg and who recognizes there's room for multiple voices (Rose Cousins, Ana Egge, father Bill). —SF

The Prospectors' Union
Old Wonders (Just Friends)

This digital EP, available at, is a night-winding-down companion to the stellar Syracuse---a bit softer, a bit lighter, a touch twangier, but just as hard-hitting and deftly played. —TT

River Water
Long Lake (independent)

Made entirely in February, Josh Dean's sonic experiment is a scrappy soundscape pierced through with lyrics about his day-to-day, sung in earnest and with full heart. —TT

Meaghan Smith
The Cricket's Orchestra (Sire)

Beneath my leather-clad chest is a heart that melts for Meaghan Smith's unaffected old-timey pop. It's too good to wait for the coming Canadian release. Download it on iTunes now. —ML

The Got to Get Got
Sahalee (Noyes)

Halifax's super-group, led by Mark Mullane, doesn't disappoint with their debut album. A fun, joyful cacophony of sound, that is as fun to listen to on headphones as it is to watch live. —SCF

Tongan Death Grip
seven-inch (House Party Records)

I strongly believe Tongan Death Grip's seven-inch is the wickedest recording of the year. I would stake a lot of money on that, if anyone is interested. —SJ

Dinuk Wijeratne/Kinan Azmeh
Complex Stories, Simple Sounds (Incognito)

When these two old friends and established composers/performers catch up, they make music. Recording in a Lunenburg church, Wijeratne and Azmeh extend greetings and talents here. —SF

York Redoubt
Cheap Funerals (Hot Money)

The tape Cheap Funerals, available for free download on Hot Money Records, has four amazing songs that will get nostalgia going for this band for years to come. —SJ

York Redoubt
York Redoubt (Noyes/Hot Money)

The city's most promising debut this year, York Redoubt goes on all of my mix tapes for out-of-towners and ex-locals with their well-crafted, distorted indie rock songs. —LK

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