I bought my first brand-new car ever in March of 2007, and with that car was the XM Satellite Radio package. I have never listened to terrestrial radio since. I was wandering the channels in amazement at the variety of great music available; music you would almost never hear on terrestrial radio. Certainly not in Sacramento!
There were music stations dedicated to older music, newer music, rock music, classic rock music, alternative rock music, Grunge, Metal, Hair Metal, Neu Metal, Techno, House, various Country genres (blech!), and everything else you could hope for. Bob Dylan had his own radio show, and so did Tom Petty. There was a Grateful Dead channel (cue the choir of angels…), and a channel dedicated to Jam Bands. There was a station dedicated to hipster college music that no one had ever heard before, which then became totes uncool once you heard it.
But, by far, the most significant station on XM for me was The Verge; a station dedicated to Canadian Indie music. I had no idea that Canadian Rock was even a thing, let alone a genre of music. There were bands that I had never heard before. Some were outrageously new and innovative, while others were just merely cool derivations of Classic Rock, or even 80s synth rock.
I fell in love with so many bands in such a short period of time that I could not buy their music fast enough. Bands like Broken Social Scene, Metric, Great Lake Swimmers, Sam Roberts, Matt Mays, Raising the Fawn, Stars, Feist, Wintersleep, Arcade Fire, The Acorn, Elliott Brood, Land of Talk, and The New Pornographers played on the radio, and then my iPod in constant rotation.
Some bands were clunkers, and others were good, but not interesting to me, but overall, this new genre was blowing my mind!
I remember thinking in the late-1990s when the Grunge and Alternative scene had played itself out, and horrible bands like Nickelback, Creed, and Eve 6 were getting all the “alternative” radio play, that I could not wait for the next Nirvana to break open the music world again. In my opinion, it did happen, but on a much smaller scale. For the most part, Canadian Indie bands remain obscure and often break-up without ever getting any radio play on US terrestrial radio. And that’s a shame, because I think that some of my favorite music has come from this little known market.
Here is a sampling of some of the music that transformed me in 2007. I do not have any rights to any of this music or videos. I am just sharing it out of love! Hopefully the links work.
The Great Lake Swimmers – “Passenger Song”
This is where it all began for me. I remember the first time I heard this song, I thought it was a lost Neil Young track from the 70s (there are plenty out there that we haven’t heard). The haunting melody and fragile vocals make this song so gorgeous to hear, especially late at night when you are driving alone with the radio blasting.
Raising the Fawn – “You Are the Enemy”
Raising the Fawn – “Two Wives”
I have to mention both of these songs because I love them both equally, and apparently back in 2007, so did The Verge. The first, “You are the Enemy”, is a brief rocker that I always wished that I could write. At barely two minutes, it says everything that needs to be said in that song. The second song, “Two Wives” haunted me in a similar way as The Great Lake Swimmers’ “Passenger Song.” Stark, moody, and mournful, it is another lovely song to have all to yourself in the car on a long drive at night. Raising the Fawn has since broken up, and the rhythm section is now with City and Color. They were so unknown that I could not find any videos posted on YouTube.
Sam Roberts – “Mind Flood”
Goddamn!! I love this song. There are many choices that I could have listed for Sam Roberts in 2007, but this song is part Stadium Rocker and part Psychedelic trip. The lyrics match the musical tour-de-force, and tell a warning tale of spiritual awakening. It makes me want to drive fast!
Land of Talk – “All My Friends”
Punkish and raw, I think that Land of Talk is the closest thing to the original Grunge movement that I have heard since 1993. Well, they were; they have since softened their sound. Their first EP is still my favorite. Besides, like with Metric, I like to hear girls say “Fuck!”
Metric – “Dead Disco”
This song told me that Candian Indie was not merely repackaged Neil Young songs for a new audience. The driving disco beat and crunchy guitars matched with a synth-pop sensibility convinced me that there was a newness and urgency to this genre. I imagined Emily Haines as a rough-and-tumble punk girl, snarling at her audience. I was way off!
Broken Social Scene – “Bandwitch”
This song dug its hooks into me instantly. There is something very ethereal about how there is no obvious instrument making up the melody. I love how all the sounds seem to weave into each other without form. Yet, there is a distinct form holding the song together. Even the lyrics interweave with the music and have no discernable voice. I always feel a little off-kilter when I hear this song, and I love that!
Matt Mays – “850 Commando”
The last entry for tonight is my anthem. Remember in the movie I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” when the hero, John Spade, was waltzing around town with a band following him? His brother asked, “Who are these guys?”, and John replied, “They’re my theme music. Every hero’s got to have some.” Well, this song is my theme music. Loud and proud, this song just charges like its namesake motorcycle. The song comes from an odd movie concept that never happened, and I think it is about some guy whose lost lover’s soul goes into his motorcycle. I dunno. Something like that. Anyway, this song kicks more ass before 5:00 am than most songs do in a day! When I stalk the streets fighting crime, this is the song that plays in the background!
Anyway, if you haven’t heard any of the aforementioned bands, I heartily encourage you to check them out and buy their music. The samples that I posted are a mere scratch on the surface to what is out there waiting to be heard.