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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.