What’s the first thing you imagine when you think about Canada? Well, speaking very stereotypically it may be wide open frozen tundras, rugged lumberjacks, Poutine, or unfailing politeness. Lower down on that list would probably be a thriving musical scene.
But Canada’s rock and roll credentials are long established. They’re perhaps best known for their solo performers - Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Snow (OK, maybe not him), but they’re no slouch when it comes to amazing bands, too. From old school roots rockers to virtuoso metal to the indie acts pushing the boat out today, the great white north has produced more than its fair share of incredible acts.
To make a clumsy comparison, it’s not unlike the relationship between English and Scottish bands - contrasting the populations of the USA and Canada, the folks above the border have overperformed to say the least.
These 10 bands only scratch the surface of the wide range of music the fine folks of Canada have produced over the years, but go some way to illustrating the sheer level of quality the nation has to offer.
10. Arcade Fire
The world always needs a big, sincere rock band, and for the first (and most artistically successful) portion of their career, Arcade Fire were producing some of the grandest, heart-on-sleevest music yet to make its way to an arena.
2004’s Funeral remains one of the greatest indie debut albums of all time. The material was curious, taking cues from world music but packed with vibrant modernity. The sheer numbers the band boasted burst through the speakers on stompers like “Wake Up” and perfect festival call and response “Rebellion (Lies)”.
Neon Bible and The Suburbs continued the band’s success, the former experimenting more with form on the whispered title track and raucous “Intervention”. The latter took the sound to the mainstream; they achieved their clear destiny of headlining festivals and began to scoop Grammies and the like.
Double album Reflektor laid bare the band’s grand ambition, and if their most recent album - easily their worst - wasn’t a worthy addition to the canon, it’s not for lack of trying. They’ll reinvent and be back bigger - and hopefully better - than ever.