Monday, January 16, 2012

Canada is Just Plain Better at Music

It wasn’t until I started doing research for this article that I discovered how important the 1990’s were for Canadian music. During that glorious decade Canadians were producing some of the finest examples of contemporary soundings. While us U.S.ers were certainly churning out the hits, Canadians weren’t content merely to do the same thing well; they wanted to do it beauty. Canada took it from mere musicianship to pure artistry, honing each style into its philosophical essence as if distilling from an undisclosed variety of average grains only the finest of whiskys. Who can forget the saucy rock baladeering of Bryan Adams, who although he had a number of hits in the 80’s, managed Jesuslike to pinch off a second Billboard No. 1 hit in the early 90’s. It’s as if NAFTA resurrected his rock. There was of course also the reformulation of feminism into mass marketability which can be attributed at least in part to Canadian Sarah McLachlan, the songstress who stormed the adult contemporary field in 1993, taking her sweet grrl time to found Lilith Fair four years later. And then of course was perhaps the brightest of Canada's stars, North York native Snow who simultaneously pushed two genres, rap and reggae’ into previously uncharted territory and was also justly rewarded with a Recording Industry Association of Japan Best New Artist Award. The list goes on, but I think I’ve made my point. Texas may think they’re not to be messed with, but actions speak louder than words my friends, and Canada doesn’t answer to anybody, they already are their own country.

Still, there was one genre of music that dominated them all to define the 90’s. In the United States a lot of people, at least in my generation, look back at the Clinton Era with a sense of shame or bemusement. Sure, we wore a lot of stupid clothes and listened to a lot of shitty music, but hey, at the time it was all optimism and progress right? For the first time in 12 years we had a president that actually seemed like he might be a genuine bro. Well anyway, he knew how to burn one and liked to jam. Economically we were more prosperous than any time in the last two decades and it looked like an awesome future was literally right at our fingertips. Leave it to white people to be all depressed and despondent when they have it so good. And yes, the Canadians once again showed us how it was really done. No I’m not talking about Saints and Sinners because nobody was listening to metal in the 90’s. I’m talking about the band that boiled the Grungy slacker essence of poor-little-rich-boy Anglo-Saxon misanthropy into a potent sauce of pure despondency. I’m talking about Grivo.

Formed in Toronto in late 1995, Grivo came on the Grunge scene pretty late, but man they were fucking apathetic. Taking their name from front man and vocalist Dan Grivo, the band featured former members of a number of unremarkable Canadian alt-rock bands, but the new combination was magical. Unfortunately, as we know from far too much experience, a star that burns fifteen times as bright burns only 6.66 percent as long, and Grivo was no different.

Although the band had yet to record an album, by the following year they were already well known outside of their home country as one of the most nonplussed bands of the decade. It would be hard for me to describe it better than Wikipedia, so I won’t: Grivo became phenomenally “famous for their bleak lyrics, as well as a general indifference toward their audience, fame, and music.” Although rumor had it the band might be working somewhat half-assedly on some recordings, nothing ever materialized and it seemed that Grivo had all but disappeared and left virtually no record of their passing except for fragments of a single live performance in early '96.

Suddenly, as that same year was drawing to a close, Dan Grivo himself reappeared backed with an entirely new lineup. Making their debut on MTV, their very first  music video went on to win the Best New Video in the Jangly Upbeat Pop category for that year. And for a second time in less than 2 years, Grivo again proved that lightning strikes lots of times in Canada. They just does things better than we do up there.

Thanks to TooYube user Badjackcutter for the rare archival footage.


Media Tree said...

bruce looks like glenn...

DoomUnicorn said...

Canada's better at virtually everything.

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

One word - Voivod.

post-felix said...

I'm always quoting this movie and getting dumbfounded blank stares. People have no culture.

Shelby Cobras said...

You're hanging with wrong people.




ido said...

Grivo used to smoke up with Brucio backstage:

Canada gave us SKINNY PUPPY and Kids in the Hall. I thank them every day of my life for both.

The Goodkind said...

I was always more of a D.O.A. man myself but the point has been made.

Sancho Panza said...

Ah yes, the excoriated pit and crevace marred visage of Bryan Adams from my wonderful hometown shitdump of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Check the 2nd Sweeney Todd LP "If Wishes Were Horses" (1977) It's glam rock with a 15 year old Bryan Adams falsetto on vocals. They missed the trend by a few years but I'd take this LP over T.Rex any day.

I used to see Blasphemy play back in the day. SCARY