Editors’ Picks: Best Canadian Music to Blast During a Pandemic

Peach PitYou and Your Friends

The first time I saw the Vancouver pop rock quartet play live was a few years ago in my brother’s living room in Marpole. The next time will (hopefully) be in July, when Peach Pit takes to the Commodore. Though I’m not overly optimistic that the show will go on as planned, it goes to show the meteoric rise the band has seen over the last couple years. That has a lot to do with both their catchy four-song 2016 EP Sweet FA, and 2017’s debut LP Being So Normal.

But if the first songs are any indication, their next LP is about to really blow up. You and Your Friends is scheduled for an April 3 release, but the first three tracks released by the band have kept me bopping my head and tapping my feet—a good distraction while the world is falling apart. “Feelin’ Low (F*ckboy Blues)” is a smooth and catchy ride that ends with a rocking guitar solo; “Black Licorice” rests on some perfect harmonies; and “Shampoo Bottles” is a triumph—an instantly relatable breakup jam about an ex who left a bunch of stuff at the singer’s house. It hits harder during these times because, well, you can’t go anywhere else.—Nathan Caddell, associate editor

Orville Peck, “Dead of Night”

Oh, brother. When Nathan suggested we get together a playlist for readers, I was all for it. And then when he said, “Let’s make it Canadian!” I thought… nuts. It’s not that I’m not a proud Canadian: I already envision myself bragging for years in the future about how our decision to skip the Tokyo Olympics will go down in sports history as an act of great courage and leadership. Heck, I might very well have chosen a Canadian song in any event (for example, I’m astounded how perfect a pop song the Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” is). But when someone mandates that it be Canadian, then my back gets up, like we’re some sort of sad subspecies that’s in need of protection. And then of course the inevitable argument about the merits of the Barenaked Ladies broke out

But I took a few deep breaths and realized that one of my fave discoveries of the past year is—I have a sorta good authority—secretly a Canadian. Let me explain: I know nothing about country music other than it starts and ends with Johnny Cash, but even I heard about the phenomena that is Orville Peck this year. The twangy singer wears some sort of fringed mask and his identity is a closely guarded secret, but he’s been on a serious tear: appearance on Jimmy Kimmel (that’s where the clip above is from), being chosen to close out Dior’s December Miami fashion show. But there’s a persistent rumour that young Orville is from our own Abbotsford! And the mere suggestion is Canadian enough for me.—Neal Mclennan, food editor

Barenaked Ladies, Anything Released Before 2000

I was going to write about Carly Rae Jepsen again (true national treasure who belongs on whatever the Canadian version of Mount Rushmore might be) but to show my co-workers I am a multi-faceted person who occasionally plays a song that isn’t “Cut to the Feeling,” I decided to put on another beloved national musical hero of mine: Barenaked Ladies (from Gordon to Maroon only, obviously). As Neal mentions above, things got ugly in the group chat quickly, and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever speak to our art director again. (“Canada’s other Nickelback,” she wrote. Sacrilege!) The Barenaked Ladies are the auditory comfort food I need in these troubling times. Back then, they were my very first concert, and a constant presence in my Discman. Today, it feels like the lyrics are speaking to me more than ever. I’m staring out the window, wistfully singing “Hello, City.” I’m lying in bed, just like “Brian Wilson.” I’m a “Lover in a Dangerous Time!” (The “dangerous time” in this particular case being both the virus but also the risk of being trapped in an apartment with another human for two weeks without murdering each other.) Plus, if the dulcet tones of Steven Page don’t soothe you I honestly don’t know what will. —Stacey McLachlan, executive editor

Blue Rodeo, Every. Damn. Album.

Was there any question I’d turn to Jim Cuddy in these dark times? He who I have loved since my first high school dance, when an out-of-town boy asked me to dance to “Try” and I handed my diet Coke to my friend Lola to bliss out to Jim’s soaring falsetto from the dance floor (I have no recollection what that boy looked like, but I do remember the song)? Kind, lovely, ridiculously handsome Jim held a Facebook Live concert last week to kick off Canada Performs—the National Arts Centre-funded project to help musicians who can no longer hold concerts to earn income—and he’s been sharing the odd song live on his Facebook page, including the apropos “After the Rain” from Casino. I’m sure he could hear from sighs from across the interwebs. —Anicka Quin, editorial director

A Song You’ve Never Heard by An Artist You’ve Never Heard Of

You probably haven’t heard, but there’s this really cool new Canadian underground indie artist that I can’t get enough of. Don’t worry, you’ve never heard of her. It’s not your fault you aren’t as tuned-in as me. I do write for a magazine, after all. You could say I’m at the forefront of the media. It’s not a big deal, I won’t brag. This artist was actually once married to another little-known indie rock artist, who you’ve also never heard of, so I won’t even mention him. Alright, enough suspense: I’d like to introduce you to Avril Lavigne, born in Belleville, Ontario. I’m blasting “Sk8r Boi,” a complex narrative musical of sorts following a boy who skates and a girl who rejects him only to find later that she has missed out and the boy has found love in a different girl who also skates. In addition to being beautiful musically, it also preaches saying “see ya later boy,” which is the kind of social distancing we should all be practicing.—Alyssa Hirose, contributing editor