Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

Season Of Lists, Eh?

Following up on the brilliant shitstorm success of Information Leafblower’s “Top 40 Bands In America” poll, Matthew over at I Heart Music thought it’d be splendid idea to conduct a similar poll, but of the best acts rocking the Canadian passport – and here are the results.

I’m looking at the discrepencies between my list below and the final standings, and am trying to figure out the disconnect. First, I think I was still operating on Leafblower’s more subjective “favourite acts of the year” criteria rather than Matthew’s more objective, “acts that were hot in 2005”. For example – even though I haven’t fallen under their thrall yet, I’d be an idiot to deny that Wolf Parade were hot this year. But I (mostly) stand by my picks, though I sort of wish – as I did for Leafblower’s list – that I actually gave more thought to my selections. Maybe for next year I’ll actually think about this more than an hour before sending my list off. But anyway, here’s the list, followed by some rationales, followed by some more contemplation.

1. Broken Social Scene (2)
Broken Social Scene responded to huge expectations by releasing an album confounding, initially impenetrable but still inexplicably engaging. It started as a grower and it hasn’t stopped. It’s like kudzu. Related – Pitchfork talks to the Broken Social brain trust, aka Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning and Dave Newfeld.

2. The New Pornographers (6)
Though Twin Cinema seemed to put off some people, it’s the album that really made me love the New Pornographers. All-out pop is great, but the fact that they were able to make something as beautiful and downbeat as “The Bleeding Heart Show” put them in another league completely, as far as I’m concerned.

3. Feist (5)
I still listen to Feist’s Let It Die. A lot. And her Canada Day show this Summer? One of the best nights ever. Cha Cha Charming has an interview (via For The Records).

4. Stars (7)
I’m inclined to agree with the esteemed Mr Wherry in saying that Stars have the potential to out-sell both Arcade Fire and BSS – and to do it, they wouldn’t have to change a single blessed thing. Sublime pop with just a hint of teeth. Baby teeth, but teeth nonetheless. At SxSW, they were one of the acts that everyone I met was talking about.

5. Metric (8)
I’m going to admit something here – I slotted Metric in here without a) having heard Live It Out or b) having seen them live in over two years. Their rank was based mainly on past accomplishments and expectation of a constant upward trajectory. Well I got their new album this past weekend and am thinking maybe I expected a little much. Live It Out goes a little too hard for the throat and occasionally stumbles on the way, but it’s not bad at all… But I’m sure their live show still kicks – and speaking of which, they’ve just announced a show at the Kool Haus on February 24. Tickets $22.50, on sale Saturday at 10AM, presale today.

6. Arcade Fire (1)
I’m surprised that Arcade Fire topped the list overall – I didn’t consider rereleasing the EP to be all that big a deal and while yeah, the live show still astounds, for me 2005 was a less AF-saturated year than the last four months of 2004, and it’ll surely get taken up a few dozen notches next year when the sophomore album comes out. See, I’m just thinking relatively.

7. Neil Young (-)
Neil Young just turned 60 a couple weeks ago, and dammit, listen to On The Beach and I defy you to give me one reason he shouldn’t be number one on this list, no matter what the year.

8. The Hidden Cameras (-)
The Hidden Cameras are a bit of a left field pick for me, as I’m not really that big a fan, but I’m going to see their “In The Boneyard” show with the Toronto Dance Theatre tonight at Harbourfront, and I suspect that I’ll be converted after that.

9. The Airfields (-)
10. The Empires (-)
My last two picks are local Toronto acts which, while they don’t have too much profile yet, actually caught my ear, and for whatever reason there’s not too many local up-and-coming acts that do that. While not as groundbreaking as the bands that did make the list, they make the sort of music that the nostalgist in me wishes people still made (C86 indie pop and space rock, respectively) and probably live just down the street from me.

Getting back to the list now, I’m seeing a lot of acts there I’ve never heard (or even heard of) while other am familiar with and happily stand by my excluding them. But it did get me thinking – it’s undeniably a unique and exciting time for Canadian music, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been neglecting some of the homegrown talent on account of pressing my nose up against the window of the neighbours’ houses. In my defense, I find there’s a definite trend in Canadian music that leans a little too much to the arty or ironic for my personal tastes, but it’s probable that’s making me overly prejudiced when it comes to stuff spawned locally. And so, that is something I aim to remedy in the new year with – get ready for it – increased Chromewaves Can-Con! Yay. Ideally I’ll be able to do this without letting great music from beyond borders slip under my radar. How? Sleep even less. Great.

np – Wheat / Per Second Per Second Per Second Every Second (Nude recordings) (Thanks Bill!)

By : Frank Yang at 8:46 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post23 Responses.
  1. Brent Uptain says:

    RE: Neil Young. You tell ’em, boy!

  2. suckingalemon says:

    i really based my list on what was popular in 2005, or else i would have mentioned alot of other artists who have not really done much lately.

    im just happy jon rae made it on. hurrah.

    and btw can i ask what you meant with your comment "a definite trend in Canadian music that leans a little too much to the arty or ironic for my personal tastes"?

    btw i am seeing the hidden cameras friday, are you planning on bringing your camera?
    the back of my ticket says not to but i emailed them and am still waiting for a response about small cameras with the flash turned off.


  3. matthew says:

    Thanks very much for your list, Frank, and I promise that next year, there will be a lot more time to submit your list.

    As for the arty comment…I don’t think that’s really a bad thing. I mean, compare now to the ’90s, when every Can-rock act (Moist, OLP, Tea Party, IME, etc.) seemed to be aiming for constant radio-play and stadium-sized shows. I’d take the likes of BSS and Arcade Fire being successful any day…

  4. Frank says:

    what can I say, I’m a pop guy, and when people have raved about an act and I go check it out, on more than a few occasions I’ve found it to be so deliberately lo-fi or screamy or sloppy or jokey that it’s unlistenable to me. I have no time for irony in art. I certainly don’t object to it existing or the fact that lots of folks seem to like it, but it seems a lot of "the scene" is coming from a very different place from me, musically-speaking.

  5. Frank says:

    oh yeah, I will probably bring my camera tonight, but don’t plan on being to shutter-crazy. Doesn’t seem like the proper environment. If I can a couple of good pics for the blog, I’ll be satisfied.

  6. elva says:

    good call on the airfields! they make me realize how much i miss the unironic pure pop music days of yore.

  7. suckingalemon says:

    let us know how it goes.


  8. bgm says:

    this is the nerdiest thing i’ve ever seen.

  9. Frank says:

    but, sadly, this is far from the nerdiest thing I’ve ever done.

  10. graig says:

    Watch out for Carla and I after the show tonight and we’ll meet up for a drink if you want. I’m assuming (considering different price points of tickets) that it’s assigned seating.

    I’m about as big a Hidden Cameras fan as the come, and I have to say, honestly, that their recorded output isn’t even half as amazing or powerful as their live show. The energy they produce, especially when in full force with over a dozen musicians on stage and a back-up choir, is so infectious and, in a sense, enlightening. You come out of a HC concert feeling energized and uplifted, and I’ve rarely had that kind of experience at any other show.

  11. Ryan Waddell says:

    Umm… If Neil Young should be at the top of the list, why is he only #7 on your list? :P

  12. Frank says:

    Graig – I will keep an eye out, and I agree. That’s why the Cameras are on the list at all – the one time I saw them live a couple years ago, I left the biggest Cameras fan in the world. The albums simply haven’t managed to sustain that giddiness, but I’m counting on tonight to totally top that back up.

    Ryan – because I’m capricious and easily swayed by peer pressure.

  13. Chris says:

    The results tell me that most of the Bloggers surveyed (with the exception of you Frank!) don’t actually pay attention to music at all!!

    Where are The Russian Futurists, where are Caribou? In fact, I don’t even think the ‘Bou show up in the list of those who didn’t make it! Sheer robbery. And Ladies and Gentlemen are way better than, say, Buck 65 (no offense Buck, but I haven’t heard the new disc).

    Lists suck. I love lists!

    Have Islands even released anything? Ninja Highschool might just go down as the worst band in Canada in my books – I would rather listen to Kittie.

  14. A Soundtrack for Everyone says:

    The Airfields are totally amazing, and readers of this blog should definately head over to their website and download all the tracks they have available. It’s really, really good.

  15. suckingalemon says:

    I was surprised at the lack of Caribou as well,

    as for russian futurists and ladies&gentleman i don’t think enough people have listened to them for them to get on the list. because both have been kicking around plenty this past year.

    Islands played at pop montreal (i beleive), opened up for BSS in montreal, played that big festival in toronto with elbow, and have members of the unicorns w/ jim guthrie. i think all that hype is enough to get them on a list. + there are plenty of bootlegs circulating around the internet for people to hear them.

    and NHS, you have to see them live to really get it.

    Regarding the Cameras –

    they played some GREAT shows this year.
    their haloween show a while ago at lee’s palace (part of vazaleen) is on my top 3 list of the fall/winter season for sure.


  16. Aaron says:

    Frank: Neil Young almost made my list. I was really seriously considering him, but he got bumped, in part, because…

    Chris: I included Ladies and Gentlemen. One of my favourite records this year.

  17. MemyselfandI says:

    well – yes – your list is supernarrowminded…..mostly being buzzie arty bands.

    You seem to have forgotten actual rock bands that write songs you can sing and dance to – such as Matt Mays and El Torpedo, Joel Plaskett and Elliott Brood. Or what about the ever annoying Trews? Or Hot Hot Heat? Or K-OS?

  18. Matt says:

    All right, Frank. I’ll keep listening to the Broken Social Scene album on your recommendation. The first 2 times were tough.

  19. Frank says:

    mr memyslefandi – I can’t tell if you’re being facetious or not… yeah, neil young is really buzzie and arty. I stand by my choices.

  20. Anthony Chu says:

    hey frank, I’ve been reading your site for a bit now, and i noticed that you finally got the whole Per Second…. nude records version. As a fellow wheat lover, I BEG you is there any way I could possibly get a copy from you? I would owe you ALOT, but I am dying to hear the Nude Records version..please get back to me and let me know either way.


  21. david says:

    A greta list, Frank, but what do you know about kudzu?

  22. Frank says:

    everything I ever needed to know, I learned from Wikipedia:

    I also know that it’s all over the cover of R.E.M.’s "Murmur".

  23. The hottest bands in Canada 2010 | MP3 Music at MixBurner says:

    […] and found that I Heart Music had been running his “Hottest Bands In Canada” poll for five years running already, making the 2010 edition – unveiled last week – the sixth […]