As a proud Canadian, I always feel the need to point out other talented Canadians. I know I’m not the only one. If someone were to bring up Alessia Cara or Shawn Mendes, I would say “they’re Canadian, you know.” This compulsion to acknowledge famous Canadians might be as ingrained as saying “sorry” or “eh.”
In the wake of the Canada 150 celebrations, it’s apparent that Canadians have a lot of talent to share with the world. Let’s take a look at the bands we may have forgotten hail from the Great White North.
1. Broken Social Scene
These Torontonians are the definition of a Canadian music collective. Many of the members are associated with other Canadian acts in and around Toronto. Formed in 1999, the core members include Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. After a seven-year hiatus, the band has returned with the release of their fifth studio album, “Hug of Thunder.”
Another Torontonian band led by front woman Emily Haines. She is also a member of Broken Social Scene and attended the Etobicoke School of the Arts with Kevin Drew. The bands fourth studio album “Fantasies” won for “Best Alternative Album” at the 2010 Juno Awards (the Canadian version of the Grammys). One of the singles from that album, “Gimme Sympathy” asks a hard-hitting question: “Who would you rather be/ The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?” The answer is still to be determined.
3. Tegan and Sara
This indie pop duo hails from Calgary, Alberta, giving western Canada some much needed musical representation. Formed in 1998 by identical twin sisters Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Keirsten Quin, they have released eight studio albums together. Both are openly gay and active advocates for LGBTQ equality. At the 2013 Osheaga Music Festival in Montreal, Macklemore spontaneously invited the duo on stage with him to perform “Same Love,” a song with a powerful LGBTQ message.
4. Arcade Fire
These indie rock gods originated in Montreal, Quebec. Win Butler and Josh Deu met in high school and later formed a musical duo during their time as university students at McGill. Butler also met his future wife, Regine Chassagne, at McGill and she agreed to join them. This trio expanded and evolved into the band we know and love today. Their fifth studio album, “Everything Now,” is set for release July 28, 2017.
5. The Arkells
This modest and energetic band formed in Hamilton, Ontario in 2006, and they have gone on to win multiple Juno Awards, most recently for their 2015 album, “High Noon.” The band has since revealed to the McMaster Daily News that they named themselves after Arkell Street in the Westdale neighbourhood of Hamilton, where they lived and practiced throughout their university career. Lead singer, Max Kerman, declares “we are proud to identify ourselves as a Hamilton band.”
6. Billy Talent
This popular pop punk band formed in 1993 in Mississauga, Ontario. They were floating around the music scene for roughly ten years before reaching mainstream success in 2002 with their self-titled album “Billy Talent.” This album received widespread critical acclaim with singles such as “Try Honesty,” “Nothing to Lose,” and “River Below.”
7. Simple Plan
The anthem of the early 2000s, you’ll never forget singles like “I’m Just a Kid.” Being a kid was tough, and Simple Plan just got it. From Montreal, Quebec, the band formed in 1999 and went on to release five studio albums. In 2016, they performed the Canadian National Anthem at the NHL Winter Classic.
8. Sum 41
This Canadian rock band hails from Ajax, Ontario. The band formed in 1996 under the name Kaspir, eventually adopting the name Sum 41 with the release of their first studio album in 2001, “All Killer No Filler.” Lead singer Deryck Whibley was also briefly married to Canadian pop punk princess, Avril Lavigne.
9. July Talk
This up and coming rock band from Toronto formed in 2012 and has earned a reputation for explosive live shows. The stage is where the band has “made their name and reputation.” In 2015, they performed at the first Wayhome Music Festival (Oro-Medonte, Ontario) in front of 10, 000 people. They are now regarded as Canadian festival veterans, and are set to headline the 2017 Festival of Friends in Hamilton, Ontario.
10. The Tragically Hip
Perhaps the best-known Canadian rock band, The Tragically Hip, or “The Hip,” have had a long and successful musical career which includes 14 studio albums, 54 singles, and 16 Juno Awards. The band formed in 1984 in Kingston, Ontario, performing various gigs around Queen’s University campus. In 2012, a Kingston street was renamed “Tragically Hip Way” in their honour.
In 2016, lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. This prompted the band to embark on a Canadian tour for their thirteenth album “Man Machine Poem.” Their final stop was the K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario, broadcasted globally by CBC. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, sporting a jean jacket and band shirt, made an appearance in support of the band.
As if they could not possibly get more Canadian, the band’s song, “Ahead By A Century”, is the theme song for the new rendition of the classic Canadian story “Anne of Green Gables.” Titled “Anne,” the series was released on CBC in March 2017 and on Netflix for American audiences in May 2017.
Of course, there are plenty more talented Canadian bands but that would make this list endless! Let us know which Canadian bands you think deserve an honourable mention in the comments!