Canada rocks

Start: I love Canadian music. Certainly within the genres of music I’m into, the consistency of quality of the music that comes from this lovely country is fantastic. So here’s me sharing some of my favourite Canadian bands with you; hopefully you’ll find something new you take a fancy to, and if I’ve missed anything, please let me know. I love new music.

First off, let’s nullify the shite. I used “consistency” and “quality” in that first paragraph, and this being the internet, I’m sure some clever twat would have left a comment mentioning Avril Lavigne or Nickelback. Well I have two words for you: Neil Young. He single-handedly cancels out all Canada’s turd (not that there’s a massive amount of it anyway).

(Glen - I’m sorry to be the one to enlighten you, but acts such as Nickleback and Bryan Adams are shite, and should not be played in the office anymore. Thank you.)

Let’s start with some pop music:

I’ve been into The New Pornographers for a long time. Fellow ginger Carl Newman’s main song-writing influences include Brian Wilson, which you can hear in the band’s complicated harmonies and key changes. This is “From Blown Speakers” from my favourite LP Electric VersionThe New Pornographers - Electric Version.

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Broken Social Scene is a collective of 19 members, and the LP You Forgot It In PeopleBroken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People includes some nifty production and loads of instrumentation. Production and instruments aren’t everything however - you need great songs. Here’s perhaps my fave song from the album, “Cause = Time”.

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If you haven’t heard of Arcade Fire then you’ve been living under a rock for a number of years. I’m often surprised that such an arty kind of band can have such a mainstream appeal, but then they do write decent songs, and they do write really, really great albums. Unfortunately I loved the highly original debut FuneralArcade Fire - Funeral so much, they’ve since failed to win my heart to the same extent, but I still enjoy them. This is my favourite song of the aforementioned LP, “Crown of Love”.

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The Dears are a highly underrated band. People enjoy dismissing them because “the singer sounds too much like Morissey/Damon Albarn” - these people are idiots, and are missing this band’s beautifully crafted, atmospheric, dark, orchestral pop songs. My favourite is their second LP No Cities LeftThe Dears - No Cities Left, and this is the first track off it, entitled “We can have it”. I really like how the song builds as it progresses, and note the drum/bass combo when it starts to kick off - super.

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In fact, that was so good that I’m including another one from the same album. This is “The Second Part”.

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Also worth a mention:

The Stills, Chad VanGaalen, Sloan, Weakerthans1

1 Free fact: The guitarist and principal songwriter of the Weakerthans used to play bass, sing and write songs in Propagandhi

For those who like things a little more gritty:

Ladyhawk (not to be confused with Ladyhawke, the pop-shite singer) are a group of hard-rocking, hard-drinking guys who play the sort of heavy, melodic rock popularised by the likes of Neil Young. I’ve only got into this band over the past few months, so there’s not a lot to I can say about them. This track is off their second album ShotsLadyhawk - Shots, and is called "Fear".

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Three-piece bands are great, particularly when they have a nice big sound, so when you come across a two-piece with no guitarist that can make as much noise, you know they’re special. I love Death from above 1979’s dirty, dirgey, disco punk songs – this one is called “Little Girl” and is from their only studio LP You’re a Woman, I’m a MachineDeath From Above 1979 - You're a Woman, I'm a Machine.

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Aside from having an awesome name, Attack in Black started as some sort of hard rock band, but by the time they recorded their debut LP, their sound was magic. A pleasing mix of traditional, new, quiet and loud, this is the the second track on the aforementioned debut MarriageAttack In Black - Marriage. It’s called “Young Leaves”, and the opening riff is killer.

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As with a lot of bands in this little list of mine, Constantines (please note the absense of a ‘the’) are seemingly underrated. They’ve made a good few albums, all of decent quality, and their latest one, Kensington HeightsConstantines - Kensignton Heights, is a classic. Here’s one of my favourite tracks of this album, it’s called “Trans Canada”, it’s got a nice groove cracking off.

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Now for some fast and loud:

You can’t mention the words ‘punk’ and ‘Canada’ in the same sentence without mentioning Propagandhi. They have released five consistently excellent LPs over the last 15 or so years, and through their lyrics, videos and PDF thought-pieces included with their albums they’ve armed a lot of fans with some good knowledge, not to mention some fucking awesome songs. Here’s one of my favourites from Surviving CastePropaghandi - Supporting Caste, “Dear Coach’s Corner”.

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The Flatliners are a band I’ve only been into for a year or so. These youngsters used to play Suicide Machines-style skapunk, but their latest tunes are solid, loud, fast, gritty punk rock, with only elements of the aforementioned style. Here’s “Run Like Hell” of the recent split 7" The Flatliners/The Snips split with The Snips.

PS - I saw them live with my best mate Gilly last week, and they put on a super performance. Very good.

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Fucked Up are an immense band. I’ve sat here for about fifteen minutes trying to write about them succinctly and accurately, but I’ve failed, so I’ll direct you towards the Wikipedia entry. Here’s a great track of Fucked Up’s second LP The Chemistry Of Common LifeFucked Up - The Chemistry Of Common Life, “No Epiphany”. I wanted to play you “Year of the Pig” from the 12" single, but it’s 19 minutes long and my bandwidth would die.

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Time for some pop punk. Chixdiggit! are another underrated band, and they have all the ingredients that make up a decent pop punk group: major chords, catchy harmonies, vocals that are whiny and snotty in equal measure, stupid songs about girls, guitar solos that follow the vocal melody, and a large dollop of Ramones-core. Here’s “Spanish Fever” off their From Scene to Shining SceneChixdiggit! - From Scene to Shining Scene album.

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There’s a lot more decent punk bands from Canada, but these ones come recommended:

The Sainte Catherines2, Cancer Bats, SNFU, Career Suicide

2 Free fact: My friend Pablo plays bass in this band, so make sure you check them out.

So there we go, all done. I Hope you enjoyed some of those songs and found something new. As a special treat for reaching the bottom, you can download all these songs as a ZIP right here: Download gregs-canadian-tunes.zip (90mb)

As an incentive to get downloading, I’ve included a load of tracks that aren’t on this page - it’s a mega Canada-compilation. Remember to buy a CD or LP if you like something, preferably directly from the record label or from an indie record store; purchasing MP3s is very silly and won’t get you invited to my party. Until next time, enjoy the music and look after yourselves.