Photograph by Eric Kayne

For the past six years, fellow Canadian music blog i(heart)music has polled Canadian music writers, bloggers, and photographers to publish its annual Hottest Bands in Canada list, summarizing, well, Canadian bands that are hot. This consensus building seems to have worked as top honours in past years were given to critically fawned-over acts such as the Rural Alberta Advantage, Chad VanGaalen, and Feist.

Since the only two rules stated are that bands submitted must be Canadian, however one defines that, and that they be hot, however one defines that, I put together my own criteria for my top 10 submission. I gauged the quality of the band’s recorded output, in most cases their album release, along with the quality I saw and reverence I perceived towards the act’s live show. I also took into consideration if I think they’ve entered or stayed at the height of their careers, and if we can expect big things to come. Most of all, this list answers the completely subjective question of which bands I found most exciting in 2010.

For more of a scientific consensus, check out the full list and for reviews throughout the year of pretty much every Canadian album of the moment, be sure to check out i(heart)music’s feature section.

10. Basia Bulat

Canada’s folk sweetheart continues to bring her orchestrated indie pop to the masses with the steady touring of her second album, Heart of My Own. A talented songwriter with a keen ear for classic melodies, Bulat has garnered a following larger than anticipated for her humble personality.

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— , November 10, 2010    6 Comments

October 9, 2010 – It was a drizzly night as we arrived at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The weather had only just turned sour, but Vancouverites seemed to have already resigned themselves to their rain-filled fate for the next several months. I for one was okay with that, because the change in the weather signalled a move from backyards, BBQs, and beaches into the indoor spaces of the city. The bill for the evening captured this sentiment pretty well, a kind of anger-tinged celebration of fall’s arrival. Or was it a celebratory-tinged protest of fall’s arrival? Either way this three-way between acts on the avant-garde of Canadian (post-)rock – Japandroids, Ladyhawk and PS I Love You – gave us good reason to let off a little steam, even if it was just the moisture in our damp clothes evaporating.

The Rickshaw Theatre really was a theatre at one point, although unfortunately not in any grand sense of the word, a more recent victim of the rise of the cineplex, or perhaps the unfortunate circumstances of its infamous environs. The seats at the front of the theatre have been removed, making room for both a large stage and a decently-sized standing area which was not even half full when PS I Love You took the stage. The set seemed like the perfect prelude to Vancouver-natives, Japandroids. Both acts rock a similar brand of loud, yet thoughtfully soundscaped rock. Both acts are meat and potatoes combinations of drums and distorted guitar that manage to sound like so much more. And both acts are relatively recent additions to the Canadian musical landscape, with Japandroids debut album being a little over a year old, and PS I Love You dropping theirs earlier this month.

PS I Love You – Breadends

Ladyhawk was actually the question mark for me in this line-up. I had their latest album, 2008’s Shots, on heavy rotation when it came out, but with no records released since, and the bulk of their catalogue leaning a lot more towards a Dinosaur Jr. sound than the two edgier acts they were sandwiched between, I was not sure how it would turn out. In the end, they used their two-man advantage so that their set packed a lot more punch than I expected. They rose to the occasion, but despite being one of two local acts on stage that night, it never really seemed like this was their audience.

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— , October 15, 2010    2 Comments

Named after the frontman’s initials and a tongue-in-cheek nod from friends, PS I Love You are bringing blistering rock back into Canadian music. With shredding solos in searing anthems, Paul Saulnier modestly forges his way through his garage-inspired tunes. Benjamin Nelson – a former bandmate of Saulnier’s from Magic Jordan – joined as the drummer in 2008, and the two have been tearing through live sets together since.

Locals and university students of Kingston, ON may remember Paul Saulnier from the Sleepless Goat, a local favourite café, also a worker’s co-operative and overall cool joint. Saulnier is no longer a member of the co-op, owing to a busy schedule: the duo are embarking on their first cross-Canada tour in support of their upcoming debut LP, Meet Me at the Muster Station, set for release by Paperbag Records on October 5.

Ca Va Cool sat down with Sarnier in front of the Horseshoe Tavern before an electrifying show with The Mystery Jets, to discuss gear, glam rock, and gun-wielding bank robbers.

PS I Love You – 2012
PS I Love You – Facelove (7” Version)

Sabrina: Everything kicked into high gear since the 7″ with Diamond Rings. How did you start working with him?

Paul Saulnier: I met John O’Regan when he was playing with The D’Urbervilles. We opened for them at a show at the Grad Club once. We became friends instantly, and wanted to put out some material together.

Sabrina: Then Pitchfork picked up on it a little while later.

Paul: Yeah, they picked up on his video right away. It took them a few months to flip the record, then they reviewed us. It worked out really well.

Sabrina: They gave you a pretty glowing review. It’s funny the time that lapsed between flipping the record, though.

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— , September 29, 2010    3 Comments