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.
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!)