Archive for the ‘Canadian Music’ Category

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” 

On top of being an electronic/hip-hop artist, DJ and producer, Kaytranada (aka Louis Kelvin Celestin) can add 2016 Polaris Music Prize winner to his repertoire – even beating out the likes of Drake and The Weeknd. The Polaris Prize may not be well known to most, but it is probably one of the most coveted awards out there, and that’s because it recognizes the best full-length Canadian album, based on artistry – not sales or popularity.

Kaytranada is a Haitian-Canadian artist based out of Montreal. 99.9% is an incredibly accessible album, because it has something for everyone. DJ tracks sans lyrics, so you can appreciate his 70s funk-like beats with new age twists, and also his super-synth 80s vibes.

He fulfills the guest artist quota on several occasions. UK electronic pair AlunaGeorge appears on “Together” giving it just the right amount of soul; Toronto-based hip-hop instrumentalists BadBadNotGood show up on “Weight Off;” Rapper Phonte lends his rhymes on “One Too Many,” which marry well with Kaytranada’s sounds to create a classic dance track. Most notably, however, is the resurgence of R&B sensation Craig David on the instant hit, “Got It Good.”

99.9% takes the listener on a musical journey. It’s the type of album that can get a dance party started and keep it going. It’s the type of album that can be on in the background at a dinner party. Distinct and precise use of sounds and instruments, and a wide range of vocals make it the type of album that suits all tastes and is appropriate for any occasion. If you’re still not convinced of Kaytranada’s musical prowess, the following video should make you doubt no more: a dancing robot, scat singing and a dope beat. Gold.

 

Dear The Tragically Hip,

Thank you.

You are the quintessential Canadian band, who sticks to their roots and proudly represents Canada in the best ways possible. You even titled an entire song after a small cottage country town, which speaks volumes about how much you love your country. You’re a spokesperson for our nation, and a vital part of both our music history, and the future of Canadian music. The final show of your current tour will be played in your hometown of Kingston, Ontario, and broadcast/streamed on so many stations/sites because that’s how important you are to Canadian culture.

You’ve never sold out. Even after phenomenal success in Canada, you didn’t seek validation from anyone else. You may not be as famous outside of Canada, but that never seems to have bothered you. Canadian comedian Rick Mercer stated in an interview, that he attended a Hip show in California, but everyone there was Canadian. US fans were unable to get tickets – that’s how much reach you have, that’s how much Canadians understand you and feel understood by you.

You’ve been the soundtrack to so many people’s lives (including my own,) because your lyrics are meaningful and real. You wear your hearts on your sleeves, unafraid to be vulnerable with your words. Not to mention, your songs often have much deeper meanings, and are more layered and complex, than apparent on a first listen. Your music has taught many of us – intentionally or not – so many things, including how to feel more than just what’s on the surface.

 

You know how to rock out. Since your 1989 debut Up to Here, to 1991’s Road Apples; from 1996’s Trouble at the Henhouse, to 2000’s Music @ Work, you’ve penned 13 solid albums, and never disappointed. Your music has evolved with time, but you’ve always stayed true to your music and who you are as musicians. Your music is such a significant part of so many lives, it’s hard to imagine a time when it didn’t exist: I can’t imagine a world where there’s no upcoming Hip album.

Gord Downie: your courage is admirable and you are the definition of true character. You have an incurable brain tumour, yet you decided to tour across Canada to promote your latest album Man Machine Poem. Your unapologetic attitude is both inspiring and contagious. You’re even donating part of the ticket proceeds to the Sunnybrook Foundation, because it’s the nicest and the most Canadian thing you can do.

You move people, in every sense of the word. I was lucky enough to experience you guys live on this tour last week, and Gord’s off-the-charts-energy only proved how one person/band, is able to touch thousands of people with their art alone. Everyone was in high spirits, because you were; everyone was dancing, because you were. Everyone was enjoying their last time with you, because you were enjoying your last time with them. Believe me when I say: your fans are better off for having known you (even if it’s only through your music.)

Thank you for bringing us all together; thank you for everything.