Monday, March 2, 2009

Seven Years in Canada

On this date in the year of our lord 2002, I crossed the US/Canada border from Port Huron, Michigan, to Sarnia, Ontario, and filed my papers to legally work in the Great White North. Of course our good friends at Canadian Customs and Immigration listed me as a man, and I did not notice the error until I started my job on March 4, but that was a minor detail.

About this time, what I like to refer to as the "The" bands were supposedly going to "save" rock and roll, as if it needed saving. Bands such as The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Hives, and The Vines, were all heading a new revival in garage rock, and hearing their albums from this time period always reminds me of moving to Canada.

I first remember hearing Detroit's The White Stripes "Fell in Love with a Girl" on the local alternative station while driving around the west side of Toronto, completely lost. I was like, "Whao! (a la Keanu Reeves in The Matrix) Who is this?" Love at first listen. A few days later I saw their magnificent Lego video on Much Music.

The White Stripes subsequently released three more albums (six in total), and each album brought them more mainstream radio success. All of their albums are great, but White Blood Cells remains my favorite.

Fell in Love with a Girl.mp3
Buy: White Blood Cells (2001)

The first concert I went to in Toronto was The Vines at the Opera House. I won the tickets and their debut CD Highly Evolved from a contest at Eye Weekly. I attended the show with my friend Kathleen, and Chicago's OK Go opened. The boys from Sydney, Australia, put on a crazy show and trashed the stage, which made me yawn. I was not impressed. But I did listen to the heck out of Highly Evolved. Lead singer Craig Nicholl's was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome shortly after this tour, but after Nicholl's sought treatment the band regrouped as a trio and put out three more albums. The subsequent albums had little commercial success in North America, but their 2004 single "Ride" has been featured in numerous advertisements for products such as iPods and Nissans.

Get Free.mp3
Buy: Highly Evolved (2002)
(Sorry the bitrate is crap. I cannot find the original CD and this is the only copy I have!)

When I first moved to Toronto I had a terrible commute on the streetcar from Etobicoke to downtown Toronto. I passed the time listening to CDs on my discman, and listened to a lot of The Hives debut, Veni Vidi Vicious. These boys hail from Sweden, have bizzaro stag names, and always dress in black and white matching outfits. I have never had the chance to see them live, but I hear that they put on a great show. They have released three albums, most recently The Black and White Album, and are about to embark on a US tour. All three of their releases are solid.

Hate to Say I Told You So.mp3
Buy: Veni Vidi Vicious (2000)

The Hives and The Vines appeared together at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. This video kills me. Watch the poser audience pretend to care. You know they are all just there to see that dreamy Justin Timberlake. Howlin' Pele Almqvist of The Hives is hysterical, and much like the show I saw in Toronto, Craig Nicholls of The Vines tries to trash the place. Too funny.

My buddy the She-dog and I gawked and drooled at the 2002 Rolling Stone issue that featured The Strokes. These boys from New York were hot, in an unshowered, greasy kind of way. They and their music also got an enormous amount of hype in the press, especially in the UK, and they were crowned the new "saviors" of rock and roll practically before their album was released. Their debut album Is This It is amazing, one of my favorites of this decade. And, of all of these groups, The Strokes had the most success in terms of album sales (3.5 million units sold as of 2007). Their two follow-up albums were not nearly as commercially successful, but did get some alternative radio play. Guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr., put out two decent albums in 2007 and 2008, and other band members have also done/are doing solo projects.

Last Nite.mp3
Buy: Is This It (2001)

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