Volume 96, Issue 83
Friday, March 7, 2003

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Rock: minus the pond sludge

Chris Lackner

To begin with, let me just state that I'm a big "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" kind of guy.

I like sex, however, my attempts to woo woman can be equated to that "gopher-bashing" game people play at carnivals. I play the gopher, popping out, "wooing" and such, while various bewitching nymphs hammer me back into my proper place.

Drugs are slightly easier to procure than female companionship, but not quite as rewarding.

Rock 'n' roll – now we're talking. Good music will never let you down.

I'll be the first to admit that my evolution as a wannabe musical connoisseur has taken many twists and turns throughout the years.

I'm not ashamed of my Grade 6 love for M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice (recently reincarnated as that moron Shawn Desman), however, as I grew older and wiser, I realized nothing could top the sound of a guitar.

Like most men of our generation, I went through the whole grunge phase during early high school. I wore flannel shirts, viewed the world with a fabricated indifference, and grew my curly hair to an atrocious length, while daily attempting to flatten it with mounds of hair gel. I'm told it took on the shape of a "penis." Yes, I was a loser.

Much like a fine wine, my tastes matured with age. I fell in love with the true geniuses: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Tom Petty, the Velvet Underground, the Rolling Stones, etc..

Then came the dillema: where did one go for new musical inspiration? Most popular, modern rock music is the musical equivalent of United States vice president Dick Cheney skinny-dipping in pond sludge. For every one mainstream act that possesses genuine talent, such as Coldplay, there are 25 half-wits like Uncle Cracker, Nickleback, Linkin Park and Creed who deserve to be castrated and then fed to Marlon Brando.

Fortunately, there is hope at our own backdoor. Over the last seven years, under the tutelage of many people who are far smarter and cooler than I will ever be, I've begun to immerse myself in the world of Canadian independent music.

I have not been disappointed.

This past weekend, I attended the Canadian Music Week in Toronto, which featured over 150 artists from across Canada.

Some of the high profile acts had already signed contracts with major record labels – most, after many years of struggle. Others seemed on the cusp of musical greatness – the odds are, even many of these will never achieve commercial success. Others seemed happy just to be part of it all.

There are two main reasons that I recommend Canada's indie music scene to any of those people who have given up on most of the trifle found on FM radio and Much Music.

First of all, nothing beats a live show at a small venue. Standing 12 feet away from a performer adds a splendour and intimacy to a live show that can never be duplicated in a stadium-style setting.

Secondly, the music is at it's most genuine and passionate. Indie artists are often at early stages of their careers – many of which are short-lived. They're playing music because it's what they love to do, and, for the most part, they are unhindered by the strings that come with success.

I know it's only rock 'n' roll, but I like it.


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