As June winds down, most Americans turn their thoughts to family gatherings and backyard barbecues for the Fourth of July long weekend (although some poor schmucks like yours truly have to work on Monday). Similar plans are being hatched north of the border, but for a different national holiday: Saturday is Canada Day. As a native of the true north strong and free, I thought I'd provide the denizens of clicky clicky land with some Canadian content before Senor Breitling returns from his tropical sojourn.
For a relatively small nation (33 million), Canada has certainly made a large impact on the music scene. There are the well-known (Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Barenaked Ladies, Rush), the cheesy (April Wine, Aldo Nova, Men Without Hats), the less well-known in the U.S. but popular in Canada (the Tragically Hip), and of course, the recent string of great indie bands and their various offshoots (Broken Social Scene, the Dears, Stars, the Stills, Black Mountain, the New Pornographers, Feist, Metric, etc.).
All these bands are worth checking out. I'd to throw a little spotlight on the band Sloan, which in its 15-year career has been a major-label darling, a has-been, and currently an indie act toiling in relative obscurity. Originally out of Halifax, Sloan was signed by Geffen in the early '90s when somebody decided Halifax was the "next Seattle." Other bands to emerge from that scene include Eric's Trip and Jale. Their 1992 debut album saw the band melding power pop with Sonic Youth-esque feedback. Smeared caught some MTV and radio play with the single "Underwhelmed," but the band quickly faded from sight. Sloan didn't help matters with its 1994 followup Twice Removed, which featured a quieter, Beatles-influenced sound with contributions from all four band members. The band was dropped from its deal and actually broke up (although that may have been to get free of Geffen) before re-emerging in 1996 with the outstanding One Chord to Another. With no radio or video exposure to speak of in the U.S., the band has continued to produce excellent albums (four studio, one live and a greatest hits collection) and tour regularly. They're currently in the studio preparing a September release. As Kurt Loder used to say, "DO check them out" in this 1996 performance on the old MTV show Oddville of "The Good in Everyone":