Archive for the ‘Canadian Music’ Category

If you grew up listening to alternative in the 90s, this will be a nice trip down memory lane. If you didn’t, here’s what you missed.

“In the Meantime” – Spacehog

There’s nothing particularly fascinating about this song: it doesn’t relate to a specific memory, there’s no outstanding hook, the guitar-playing isn’t out of this world. It just always reminds me of the 90s, so I had to include it.

“Blurry” – Puddle of Mudd

Lead singer Wes Scantlin showed even post-grunge rockers have a softer, sensitive side. It gave the band some much needed depth, and although it wasn’t their only hit in the 90s, it was definitely their best.

“Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in my Hand” – Primitive Radio Gods

The main appeal of this track was that it was just so cool: the unnecessarily long title; the almost-dance beat in the background; the random yellings of some guy. What isn’t there to love?

“Inside Out” – Eve 6

Whenever I hear this track, the only thing that pops into my head is their album cover: a large fly on the front, a heart with arrows in it on the back. I will never forget it because I bought the album based on this track alone, and stared at it endlessly, desperately seeking another likeable track. No luck there.

“Through the Looking Glass” – Stone Sour

Hard rockers getting in touch with their innermost thoughts, taking a stab at self-reflection, and discussing feelings, all through vocals full of vulnerability. It was emo, even before emo was emo.

“Curious” – Sandbox

A staple in the Canadian alternative music scene. Plus, how could you ignore the echo-y microphone effects (aka 90s autotune) and the catchy hook?

“Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” – Brand New

It’s fast, it’s slow; it’s loud and in your race, it’s quiet and mysterious. It has it all, which is why I still love this track.

“If You Could Only See” – Tonic

This is lathered in so much 90s nostalgia, I can’t even handle it.

“Freshman” – The Verve Pipe

To be fair, this entire album was pretty good, but this track really stood out. It was seriously heavy, but also seriously great. It hits deep down, no matter how many times you listen to it, no matter how long it’s been since the first time you heard it.

“Popular” – Nada Surf

It’s so high school, so 90s, and so everything.

I remember a time when the MuchMusic Video Awards (aka MMVAs) were everything. They were surrounded by so much hype, and because they shut down Queen St. and performed in parking lots, it made this awards show young, cool, and quirky. Over the years though, the intensity of the frenzy diminished, mostly because MuchMusic stopped really being about music. The MMVAs – now called iHeartRadio MMVAs – are coming up this weekend, so I thought I’d take a look at some of my favourite MuchMusic memories.

5 Intimate & Interactive

A few hours dedicated to interviewing a particular musician, and also having them perform live, while surrounded by their fans in the MuchMusic studio. VJs would take on hosting duties, and find out things like which members of the Backstreet Boys wore boxers, and which ones wore briefs. Or what was Avril Lavigne’s deal with skater boys? The performances were often more stripped-down, cozier versions of original tracks, making the musicians more accessible to fans, who also had the opportunity to engage with their idols.

 

4 Big Shiny Tunes

The be-all and end-all of compilation albums. If you didn’t own either BST1 (released in 1996) or BST2, we definitely were not friends. They had all the best rock/alternative tracks of the year. It wasn’t always the big names either; they also included the likes of Poe, Wide Mouth Mason and Placebo. I tapped out after the 2nd volume, but apparently they went all the way up to 14 (2009.) If you want to impress anyone with 90s music knowledge, check them out.

 

3 The VJs

I used to watch hours and hours of MM after school, so I felt like I personally knew all the VJs. I’m not talking about the ones that are still on TV like, Devon Soltendieck, Rick (the “temp”) Campanelli, or even Geroge Stroumboulopoulos. I’m talking about the ones that truly defined the classic MM VJ.  Like Bill Welychka. He had 90s Eddie Vedder hair (that he eventually cut, making him unrecognizable,) and wore plaid shirts. Master T: the dreadlocked rap connoisseur. Sook-Yin Lee, aka the Asian hipster, before Asian hipster was even a thing. Being a MuchMusic VJ was my dream job for a very long time. Too bad it never worked out.

 

2 Speaker’s Corner

This was such a staple of the downtown Toronto community. A video booth where you could rant and rave about whatever you wanted. You could talk, sing, scream, complain, support, encourage, whatever came to your mind, no matter your mood. It was such a Toronto thing, and the chosen ones’ videos would get broadcast on TV. More often than not, at strange hours of the day, but sometimes, in those strange hours, Speaker’s Corner was exactly what was needed.

 

1 Electric Circus

Doesn’t matter what music you were into, everyone wanted to be on Electric Circus. A full out dance party/rave in the MM studios, hosted by none other than the Monika Deol. There were so many theatrics going on, because everything was being broadcast on TV. Fluorescent make up, arms flailing with glow sticks in hand; 10″ heels, so much pleather, tube tops, and shiny silver pants. And of course the gyrations, bare midriffs, and indoor sunglasses. My favourite though, were all the fame chasers who dance so hard when the camera came near them, as though they were about to be discovered. What an iconic show.

 

Oh MuchMusic, I miss you.

 

We’ve all been there, it’s happened to each and everyone of us: the good old heartbreak. Whether from a significant other, a family member, even a friend, we’ve all been down the treacherous self-loathing path of why is this happening to me? I’m the misery-likes-company type of person, so when I’m down in the dumps, I need some friends to help me feel it all; here are some I’ve found along the way. (Note: in an attempt to broaden horizons, I’ve distanced this list from well-known artists, so don’t freak out.)

10. “I Hope Your Heart Runs Empty” by Neverending White Lights feat. Scott Anderson

Okay, so this track dates quite a few years back, but still has a way of getting under my skin. NWL is actually a one-man band of Daniel Victor who writes, performs and produces all his music, then gets quasi-known singers to provide vocals. In this case it’s Canadian punk band Finger Eleven’s lead singer. He has such a harrowing voice, it just crawls all over you.

Best line: “Stole a look away from your eyes, stole a look and finally paid your price”

9. “Cup of Coffee” by Garbage

Although it’s one of the lesser known tracks from this fantastic rock band, it’s also one of their most moving ones. It’s frustrating and angering, and so disheartening. Shirley Manson’s voice is heavy but tender; the music is both harsh and eerie. When someone ends things with you and you feel blindsided, this is probably how you’d feel.

Best line: “It took a cup of coffee, to prove that you don’t love me”

8. “Run” by Snow Patrol

From the initial guitar hook, to the aura of defeated in the vocals, this track had me instantly. This band has put out a lot of great tracks, but this one just has something special about it. It’s tragic, but it’s also heartfelt. It’s about two people who need to separate (geographically, it seems) and are having a tough time with it. Who can’t relate to what’s happening here?

Best line: “To think I might not see those eyes, it makes it so hard not to cry”

7. “Walk Away” by Ben Harper

The classic tale of knowing when to let go, even if you’re not ready to. If a relationship has ended due to circumstances or timing (and not because the love has faded), this is your jam. Harper has this insanely telling voice, full of so much expression and each and every intonation possible. His words cut deep, hit hard and make you want to cry all over. It’s a true lesson in doing the right thing, even though it hurts. A lot.

Best line: “But I would rather be locked to you, than live in this pain and misery”

6. “Personal” by Stars

One of the best ways to truly depict troubles in a relationship is to use both male and female vocals. You get to see/hear both sides of the story and feel even more immersed in the emotions. This track actually makes you feel like you got punched in the gut. Girl likes online version of boy, boy likes online version of girl. They decide to meet in person, but one of them decides they don’t like the real-version of the other. It shatters your heart in so many ways, addressing all our insecurities and how we think others see us.

Best line: “I was sure you saw me, but it wasn’t meant to be”

 

5. “Lost & Found” by Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas needs more credit: she’s phenomenal. She’s part R&B, part singer-songwriter and all soul. There’s a bit of a naiveté and innocence to her voice, which makes her sound even more relevant. It’s like she’s experiencing all these things for the first time. She’s exploring the world and finding out that sometimes it’s painful and it sucks and it’s confusing. This tune is part introspection, part crushing, and all therapy.

Best line: “You broke me and taught me to truly hate myself”

4. “Angels” by The xx

The xx are one of those bands that understand music and sounds so incredibly well, they know exactly how to bring all elements of a song – instruments, vocals, production – in perfect harmony, so that the track is felt from every direction. When Romy isn’t singing, the instruments and music do it for her, taking the listener on a continuous journey. This track is all about finding that elusive connection we all seek, and how overwhelming it can be we it’s found.

Best line: “You move through the room, like breathing was easy”

3. “9 Crimes” by Damien Rice

Damien Rice has such a delicately refined voice, able to hit all the lows and reach all the highs. What makes this track so engaging is it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on. It’s dramatic and heavy and ominous. There seems to be some sort of adulterous situation going on, there are guns involved, and the male and female vocals both talk about bad timing and being horrible people. I have yet to identify 9 actual crimes, but man, this is a good one.

Best line: “Leave me out with the waste, this is not what I do”

2. “About Today” by The National 

I’ve written/spoken about this track time and time again. It should be a staple go-to track in everyone’s life. It’s one of the most real and honest tracks about the dissolution of a relationship. It’s awkward and tense, and you feel the constant knot in your stomach growing and growing, until you find yourself audibly sighing, because you know where this is headed. It even sounds like the violins are crying. If you don’t find yourself crawled up in the a fetal position by the end of it, you have no soul.

Best line: “You just walked away, and I just watched you; what could I say?”

1. “Poison & Wine” by The Civil Wars

This song pulls at each and every heart string one by one, and letting every single one echo for what seems like eons. It’s so full of pain and hurt and despair. It’s melancholic but folky, and sung with so much precision and sadness, you can’t help but feel all the dread in the air. This couple is on 2 completely different pages, and take turns expressing their inner monologue. Every line is full of contradictions, just like so many relationships. Ugh.

Best line: “I don’t have a choice but I’d still choose you”