As Canada Day is upon us, many plan for festive bbqs, mapley breakfasts and fun party games to play. What you may have forgotten to plan is a rockin’ Canadian playlist. Well, don’t worry. I have your back. The following is a list of ten musical acts that are a must for Canada Day. It’s a combination of classic and new. Warning: Failure to adhere to this list may result in your citizenship being revoked.
1. Neil Young
Neil Young is Canada. I mean that. Sure the guy spends loads of time in California and has a home in Hawaii but through and through, the man is a Canadian. A lover of nature. A curator of our past. Young’s lyrics touch on important environmental and political issues in Canada and draw from its beautiful landscape. He’s kept up his citizenship and still tours the country often. “There is a town in north Ontario with dream comfort memory to spare. And in my mind, I still need a place to go. All my changes were there. ”
2. The Tragically Hip
Any Canadian who has ever been camping, enjoyed a bonfire or swam in a lake knows that The Tragically Hip are synonymous with the great outdoors. Time and again, our beloved Gordie and his band of merry men (we’ll call them that but they’re all bringing something unique to the table) make us feel patriotic with their lyrics. More than that, their sound regardless of words, does it.
3. Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Lightfoot is a damn national treasure. Although he just doesn’t have the same kick that he once did, his song writing skills are beyond fantastic. Between his ability to help define the Canadian folk movement, his success in the United States and his lyrics that strike strong political chords, we should all be proud to call Lightfoot one of our own. For an example of his lyrical genius, see Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
- Death from Above 1979
Toronto rock duo Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastien Grainger make more noise than most bands of five. With the raw power to bring down any house, this band is a must-see. In 2006, they disbanded in what is known as a very rough breakup and didn’t talk for several years. Lucky for us, last year they reunited and put out a brand spankin’ new album that will blow your socks off!
- Mother Mother
Mother Mother isn’t big or small by any means but personally, they’re one of my favourite newer Canadian bands right now. With a unique set up of a drummer, two female vocalists/keyboardists and a male lead volcalist/guitarist, the band has a really odd and dare I saw awesome sound that you just don’t hear elsewhere these days.
- The Mynah Birds
If you know me at all, you should have known I would weasel Neil Young onto this list twice. The Mynah Birds are perhaps one of the coolest rock bands to ever grace us (ok I wasn’t alive when they were gracing us). Right out of Yorkville, Neil Young and Rick James (yes, that Rick James) along with many, many other members that I won’t name created some really solid, soulful rock. Sponsored by Craig Eaton of the department store legacy, the band was signed by Motown Records in 1966 for a seven-year contract. Unfortunately, Rick James was arrested for deserting the United States Army shortly after. These recordings were put on the back burner. Nicely, Young put out a Mynah Birds single last Record Store Day and what is available to us is rad as hell.
- Big Wreck
Last year, I saw Big Wreck at the London Music Hall. Although I was really excited to hear songs off their latest album, I didn’t think I would know much. My mind was blown when I realized that I knew every single song in the set. This band is ridiculously awesome and front man Ian Thornley is pretty much our Chris Cornell (side note: he’s better).
- Glorious Sons
Glorious Sons, hailing from Kingston are fairly new on the rock scene but in my opinion have some serious staying power. I saw them open for another band last year and loved them so much I totally forget who I was actually there to see! With two albums under their belt now and a very old school rock meets The Doors vibe, you may want to check them out now before they blow up.
- Guess Who
“Guess Who sings this song?(.)” is a statement/question my parents used to torture me with. I think that’s a pretty common experience for every Canadian. This 1960-70s bands has so many hits you won’t know what to do with yourself. Just let the tunes roll in.
- Ian & Sylvia
Ian and Sylvia no longer perform together but during the 60s they reigned. This folk/country duo was a permanent fixture on the Yorkville scene and a total inspiration for Bob Dylan. Both still play today but if you don’t get a chance for a show, I seriously recommend you listen to them even if it’s for nothing more than your own Canadian musical education.
Of course there are many honourable mentions on this list. Tegan and Sara, Rush, The Watchmen…and much MUCH more. Feel free to comment about your favourite Canadian musicians below! Happy Canada Day my fellow Canucks. Keep on rockin’ in the free world.