Tag Archives: Gandharvas

Canadian Content

Canadian content rules on radio stations in our country are the source of a lot of speculation during my work hours. Mostly because every other song seems to be Nickleback (ugh) or some other variation of over-played, over-done Canadian artists.

Now, of course, I don’t like to generalize. It’s not every station. Unfortunately when you work in the equivalent of a steel box, radio reception is sketchy at best. So the stations we get are limited. And, despite the inherent gratitude I have for working in a job that allows me to sit in a car and turn on every radio (sorry potential customers, I like to think I’m checking the sound quality in your cars), I lament a lack of good Canadian talent being played. These stations seem to choose only a handful of Canadian artists to play to adhere to those pesky CRTC content rules.

Side point of interest: The CRTC rules state that any commercial/campus radio station must play 35% Canadian content in a week. CBC, conversely, must play 50% Canadian content when it airs popular music. Of course, what makes it Canadian has to do with MAPL (music, artist, performance, artist) rules, but we won’t delve into that today… 

So, I’ve been considering my own Canadian content rules. I tend to gravitate toward smaller, unsigned bands. Which means a fair bit of local talent and Canadian artists. Call it patriotic if you wish. Really, it’s a bit selfish – I mean, the more local talent I check out, the better the chance I’ll see a live show and by now, most of you know my penchant for small venue live performances.

Which brought me to another Top 5 list. But a two-parter. My Top 5 Canadian Artist Picks (past) and my Top 5 Canadian Artist Picks (present). Some have been introduced to me by good people with great music taste. Some I found on my own. I’m sure that weeks from now, the lists will change as I hear more and remember more. But for now, this is it.

Top 5 Canadian Artists (Past Tense)

1. Weeping Tile

Before Sarah Harmer had a solo career, she started a band called Weeping Tile. This band was a huge influence on my late teens. I had moved out of my parent’s house, was living on my own. And the CD played constantly thanks to the influences of the company I kept. The company left eventually (as it does so often when you’re 19 and still finding your way), but the music stayed. Both the Eepee and Cold Snap albums are still stored with all my CDs. I still listen to them from time to time, pulling them out like old memories. The song Basement Apartment (which Harmer went on to record as a solo artist) so perfectly illustrates my story at this point in my life.

 2. Gandharvas

Gandharvas, as I’ve stated before, was my first experience with obsession with a local band. My brother took guitar lessons from Jud Ruhl. Pictures of these guys are in my yearbooks. Friends in highschool introduced me to them when they were The Droogs, playing the Embassy in London. When First Day of Spring was released and the video shown on Much Music, it was a moment of small-town pride to see them “make it”.

 3. High Holy Days

Much like the Gandharvas, it was all about the local band. The guys you know. That I went on dates with the band’s past drummer and had a friend that dated the lead singer. Something about “hanging with the band” and watching performances by people you know. It’s heady stuff. And, of course, the music was good. Really good. It started with River of Styx (memories of slow dances in empty bars) and continued through to All my Real Friends. Even the new stuff Marc Arcand has posted on his website – they continue to impress, even now.

4. Jakalope

We’ll call this my “industrial rock” phase. Strong music, sung by female artists. A theme that stared as a teen and continues today. I noticed the band when Katie B. was heading the vocals and stuck through with them through a lead change when Chrystal Leigh took over.

 5. Kittie

Heavier than their Jakalope counterparts, Brackish became an album anthem of a particular year in my life. Noted by some as my “pots and pans” music, it was music that made me feel better, when I wanted to yell and revelled in angst. In retrospect, I’m well aware I may be a bit of a drama princess from time to time. But music often soothes. And Kittie did. Founded close to home (London, however, I was living northward at the time), the band had the benefit of being both a link to my hometown and an outlet for emotion.

 Top Five (Present Company)

 1. Metric

Formed out of Toronto, Metric is fairly indicative of where I am musically right now. Emily Haines’ amazing vocals, good lyrics, hell, I’m even okay that they are noteworthy and award-winning. Maybe that’s maturity. Letting go a bit of my musical snobbery and recognizing that real talent should beget good recognition.

 2. Hollerado

This? Is a new one. It’s like a Canadian Weezer. And that they were introduced to me by someone who has great musical taste and a lot in common with me, especially when it comes to anything music, makes me like them even more. Kind of like that Young the Giant song – influence is a good thing. And, again, they’re getting an awful lot of radio play. Something I’ve never been quite fond of. Maybe I really am growing up.

3. Hey Rosetta!

It’s East Coast goodness. Layers and interest. I still don’t know a lot about them yet, but what I’m hearing, I’m liking.

4. Broken Social Scene

I don’t think I can have Metric on my list and not include Broken Social Scene. Go ask my good friend Dino about how she hangs out with certain people from BSS and doesn’t realize it, making me and Lila question her sanity.

Broken Social Scene is Canadian Indie at its finest. Ubiquitous and eclectic. Members changing, taking chances and not being anything that resembles a norm. I had to like them. Kudos to Sean B. for the original reminder recommendation of them. As always, he’s played well.

5. Skag Barons

Getting back to my predilection for local music, Skag Barons fits nicely. Based out of London (which seems to produce some great bands), they are still really new. Even to me. But their 3 song EP has really grown on me. At first, I wondered if they were heavily influenced by 90s grunge. They have a very Chris Cornell kind of vibe. But, then I realized, it doesn’t matter. It’s a genre that fits well with my taste and I like it.

Song for Today – A Selective Memory

Remember the week leading up to May 2-4? This interminable excitement you had as a kid; either young enough that the sun and warmth (and inevitable opening of your family pool) were your sole focus, or, as an older kid when plans revolved around who you were sure to hook up with in some random field, drunk on cheap beer stolen from your Dad’s beer fridge (or purchased by that one great friend with a killer fake ID).

Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good long weekend, but the sense of excitement is never quite the same as it was when I was younger. But, I’m not all that nostalgic for it. Sure, being exuberantly bouncy and squealing with immature girl glee was fun, but it was all so dramatic and… well, it’s exhausting.

The Victoria Day long weekend when I was 15 was supposed to be just as fun. The last day of school, teeming with all the possibilities of a traditional “Calithumpian” weekend (trust me, not many will know what that means, but for those that do, the word sparks a myriad of inner chuckles at memories of video dances, parties in fields and the beginning of my love of debauchery). I had a small, select group of amazing barnacle-type friends (you know, the ones you were attached at the hip to). Best of all, I had a Friday night date with a super cute boy. And what a date – dinner, a long walk on the beach (so cliché, it is amusing upon reflection), a movie after (With Honors – seriously, I can’t make this shit up). Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream playing over and over on his van’s stereo.

As I walked in my front door, head spinning with romantic possibility, my narcissistic teen-aged world faced a grim reality. One of my very good friends, Shayne, killed in a car accident just that afternoon. My friends calling my house – a barrage of tears. A returned phone call where I could hardly breathe for grief that felt so heavy it could crush me. Running downstairs to throw on music – as loud as I could – to drown out any other thought (GandharvasFirst Day of Spring). A weekend spent, not up to my usual antics, but at a funeral home and cemetery.

I’m not sure why I’ve thought more of Shayne coming up to this Victoria Day than any in recent history. It’s certainly not a happy story. Perhaps it is with so much change comes a natural instinct for reflection and remembrance. Or maybe I’ve spent way too much time in my own head the last few days. Whatever the reason, the memories are there. And with the memory, comes music.

 Smashing Pumpkins – Today

Share Day! Skag Barons

I’ve always held a special liking for local talent. There’s something to be said for knowing that what you’re listening to comes from a place so close to home. I think my first taste of this was when The Gandharvas hit the music scene while I was in high school. It’s always a kick when people you know (or people you know of because of people you know – that said, Jud Ruhl did once give my brother guitar lessons…and I was introduced to the Gandharvas when they were The Droogs) are the ones you hear on your circa-90s “ghetto blaster”, played at top volume. My appreciation of music found in my own backyard continued during my years in Northern Ontario (North Bay, to be specific) when I met High Holy Days, had an opportunity to see them live in various formats and may have to admit to a brief “groupie” style enjoyment of one of their previous members.

Today I’m sharing Skag Barons. Based out of London, this fairly new group provides a sampling of 3 songs on their website (always a plus in my world).

Admission: I haven’t given the songs a full listen. They’ve only just been loaded on my iPod. I’m going to spend a bit of time tonight with their music plugged in. I don’t even know if I’ll like it. But finding out is all the fun of new music. I’ve also just shared this with my cohort, Lila Lyric. I’m curious to see what she thinks as well. Who knows – Skag Barons may just be our new summer obsession.

So, hi, Skag Barons. Nice to meet you. Let’s see what you’ve got.


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