Spinning Platters Picks Seven: Canadian Artists You Should See at SXSW

by Gordon Elgart on March 9, 2011

Young, wild and free, but not at SXSW this year. But my picks have got the magic power of the music in them, too.

I love Canada. There was time when I could sing “Oh, Canada.” In French. I still know it in English. After all, it’s the home of hockey, Rush, William Shatner, and Molson. These are not trivial things. For years, I’ve wanted to be Canadian, going so far as looking into emigrating. Alas, I’m still here, happy in the Bay Area, but when I really want to feel Canadian, I’ll listen to some great Canadian music. And at SXSW this year, there will be plenty of acts from the Great White North worth checking out. No, Rush won’t be there, but these fine musicians will be:

Braids – I owe this one to my friend Sandy over at Grimy Goods. She made me listen to their album, Native Speaker, and I liked it some on spin one, more on spin two, and lots on spin three. It’s a grower. I’m really bad at saying, “this band sounds like that band,” but other people say “it’s like a girl fronting Animal Collective.” Those people aren’t completely wrong. Really, you should just check it out for yourself.

Dinosaur Bones – Sometimes you hear about bands in the oddest ways. Last year, we arrived at the convention center to pick up our press stuff, and our crew was short one wristband. It was suggested to us that we find another badgeholder who isn’t buying their allotted wristband, and ask them to buy one for us. So we did. And who was it who helped us out? It was a guy who runs the label that puts out Dinosaur Bones. So I checked them out, and liked what I heard. Their new album, My Divider, is consistently excellent, and you should listen to it.

Hey Rosetta! – What brought me to this band? The exclamation point in the band’s name, plus the fact that they’re from Newfoundland, and I couldn’t think of any other bands from there. Although I half-expected low-fi celtic rock, I didn’t get anything even close to that. This isn’t an indie band; this is a band with absolute commercial appeal. Truly, they sound like your girlfriend’s next favorite band, so jump on the Hey Rosetta! train before it’s headlining Alice’s Now and Zen Fest.

Hollerado – Yes, this is the band that did that 8-bit video. But much like another band that’s famous for doing videos, there wouldn’t be any point in watching the videos if the music weren’t really good, too. This is power pop at its finest, and is one of Spinning Platters unofficial all-time favorites. We’ve talked about them before.

In-Flight Safety – Apparently, this is a pretty well known band. Their songs have been used in Dell commercials, on Chuck, and of course, on Degrassi. Being used on Degrassi is probably the Canadian sign for “we made it!” What’s the American equivalent, I wonder? Being in an iTunes commercial? Grey’s Anatomy? Maybe, it’s also being used on Degrassi. Anyway, this is as mainstream pop/rock as you can get, but in all the best ways.

Les Handclaps – This band is here to remind you that much of Canada speaks French as a first language. This is basically French pop from the 70s mixed with French pop from the 80s. It’s wonderful, and the band usually comes with its own pair of dancers. Any band that brings its own dancers earns many bonus points.

The Lytics – I’m recommending a hip-hop group. Gordon, are you sure you’re allowed to do that? You know nothing about hip-hop. That’s true. I do know nothing about hip-hop, so when I hear something I like, it must be really good music. I can’t tell you if it’s good “hip-hop” or not, but it definitely gets my head bobbing, my feet tapping, and my singalong reflex going. Let’s just call it good music.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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