Pick up a hockey stick and pour maple syrup on something at your local Tim Horton's because today Canada turns 146 years young! Celebrating the enactment of their Constitution Act, Canadians coast to coast have the day off to reflect on their own Canadian-ness. Along with Wayne Gretzky, Cirque du Soleil and Norm MacDonald Canada's contributed a great deal of wonderful music to the world as well. While many stateside today may be thinking of Rush, Barenaked Ladies or Bryan Adams, we at the Weekly thought today would be a great day to look at some of Canada's finest lesser-known exports. After all, this is a country that has produced some of the most legitimately kick-butt children's television music ever broadcasted well as is the home of the greatest music journalist on the planet so, with our best pair of Bret “Hitman” Hart glasses on we take a look at five of our favorite Canadian produced jams.
The Nylons – “Up the Ladder to the Roof” 1982
Longstanding Toronto a cappella group The Nylons have dazzled audiences for over 30 years with their inventive enriching takes on several genre's gems. Perhaps their finest hour is their take on The Supreme's 1970 hit “Up the Ladder to the Roof.” Fully making the song their own to the point where it's almost entirely unrecognizable, there's something really special about the harmonies and execution of the group's fast paced take on the Motown single.
Cub – “My Chinchilla” 1993
Is there a more lovely opening line of tribute than “Satan sucks, but you're the best?” Vancouver indie punk outfit Cub gave the world several adorable singles, to the point where some critics dubbed their brand of sweeter-than-Sweettarts tunes “Cuddlecore.” Case in point, the group's lovely ode to one very special chinchilla. “My Chinchilla” was covered last year by Kate Nash for Nardwuar and the Evaporators' Busy Doing Nothing LP. Cub's no stranger to having their work covered, their 1995 single “(Everyone's Your Friend in) New York City” given a second-life stateside after being covered by They Might Be Giants.
Nomeansno – “Hello/Goodbye” 2000
Victoria, British Columbia's proud prog-punk outfit Nomeansno has been an underground sensation since the early 80s. With an international cult following thanks to their distribution through Alternative Tentacles, the group's managed a fresh eclectic sound that's as satisfying as it is unpredictable. Case in point, the group's ninth album One which featured a 15-minute cover of Miles Davis' “Bitches Brew” and a four minute cover of Ramones' “Beat on the Brat.” Also present on the album was “Hello/Goodbye,” displaying the group's technical excellence and enigmatic execution, constantly rewarding listeners' repeat listens.
Bruce McCulloch – “Sucre Papa” 2002
Edmonton, Alberta's Bruce McCulloch is probably best known as a member of beloved comedy troupe Kids in the Hall. Following the end of the group's hugely influential original series, McCulloch put out two comedy albums in-between his directorial projects. While his first, Shame-Based Man got the nod of having a few songs turned into “Saturday Night Live” sketches, his 2002 follow-up Drunk Baby Project was mostly made available during the group's 2002 tour. Both releases are excellent, the latter boasting the hilarious “Sucre Papa,” a musical dispute between a sugar daddy and sugar-recipient.
E-Dot “My All” 2003
Also from Alberta is underground rapper E-Dot. Signed to New York-based underground favorite label Uncle Howie in the early 2000s, his full-length album for the label unfortunately never materialized. Lucky for us, we at least got the outstanding single “My All” / “R U Up 2 It,” both of which made an impact on college rap radio and underground playlists in the mid-2000s. E-Dot did release an EP called Thirsty prior to his Uncle Howie singles, and does continue to make music to this day, garnering the most attention for his 2008 Hero project.
BONUS BEAT: B4-4's “Get Down” 2000
Of course, we'd be remiss if our discussion of memorable Canadian music didn't include this unforgettable video from Toronto boy band B4-4. We didn't feel comfortable placing it a midst our five favorites since we like this for completely different reasons, but here it is. One of the most thinly-veiled suggestive pop songs ever marketed, B4-4's “Get Down” is an oddity only made more bizarre by its accompanying video. Why is this song being sung to a child who finds a Viewmaster? If there's one sure-shot fun way to celebrate Canada Day, it's unpacking every innocently unsettling thing about this clip.