Our Musical Neighbors to the North

It used to be that Canada's music scene was best known for its Celine Dions and Avril Lavignes, but our neighbors to the North can now claim something a bit more remarkable: the breakthrough buzz created by Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. And with the success of such offspring/side project bands as Stars, Metric and Feist, there looks to be no letting up for this formerly barenaked nation.

At the same time, however, another Canadian act has gained popular recognition, appearing everywhere from department-store television ads and concert lineups with ska pioneers the Skatalites to the top of BBC radio charts. Named Bedouin Soundclash (after the 1996 album of Jerusalem-born music producer Raz Mesinai), the Kingston, Ontario, group sounds less like what nomadic tribesmen would enjoy than what Rastafarians would listen to—and yes, you just read that right: Kingston. Ontario. Which makes it all the more coincidental that the band sports a heavy reggae influence and has collaborated with some of the genre's biggest names, including the Maytones' Vernon Buckley, who perfectly compliments vocalist Jay Malinowski's raspy, Marleyesque wail.

But Bedouin Soundclash isn't exactly your traditional reggae group—for one thing, the band lists drum-and-bass guru Roni Size as an influence and a live recording of "New Years Day" on their MySpace page even borrows lyrics from the Clash's "Police and Thieves." The band also appeared on the entire 2005 Warped Tour, which seems to have influenced some tracks on their latest album, Sounding a Mosaic.

And who knows what the future holds? Bedouin Soundclash could turn out to be the next great Canadian export. Or their songs could simply remain harmless pop music destined for college radio stations. Either way, it sure beats Alanis.

Bedouin Soundclash with John Brown's Body at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930. Fri., 8 p.m. $12.50. All ages.


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