Metric, Emily Haines and the Canadian Bacon Effect

Written By: Hallie Madenski

I refer to a certain phenomenon as the “Canadian Bacon Effect.” One of my favorite things about living in the Pacific Northwest and America in general is all the juicy fat that trickles into our music scene from Canada. Canadians love Oregon because for most of them it has a similar but less icy feel to their beloved territories to the North. Tegan and Sara recorded their previous album “The Con” in Portland with Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie fame.

Music from Canada doesn’t sound any different from music here, or does it? As I put this thought on the spin cycle for a moment I start to question this theory. Is it me or does the intelligence of the people as a whole seep into some of the indie music of the syrup drinking, hockey-watching country, with its lessened population and good health insurance,The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Tim Horton’s, the largest mall in North America and of course the country’s demonized wintery touch? All these attributes are things to be considered when thinking of the country, where to me, one thing is clearer than Clearly Canadian.

As a music lover first and a person second, I think of music when I think of Canada. Tied for first place as my favorite band, a certain group casts a silvery shadow in my eyelids. A band I want to listen to when I’m working out in the afternoon and then later when I’m trying to banish my neurosis and finally fall asleep. One to relax and to energize. One band to rule them all. Metric.

Named after a system America has never been able to fully convert to, the band is akin in this way. I’ve always felt that Metric never got what they deserve in terms of acknowledgment. A recognized band, but not a stadium band. Always at festivals but never quite top-billed. The difference between Metric and the actual metric system is that others have fully converted to the metric system. While Canada is more aware of the genius of frontwoman Emily Haines, I’m positive that neither country has heard enough of the angelic melodies and inarguably poetic lyrics of the band.

Fans tend to scoff when fame gets out of control. I find myself scoffing at Green Day and The Killers for their over-the-top portrayal of superstars. Well, not portrayal, they are superstars in their own right. There’s something fishy about this though. To me announcing yourself as “the best” instantly drops you from my respect radar. When I saw a Green Day show in 2005 they referred to themselves as “the best punk band ever.” There’s so much wrong with declaring yourself as best band let alone best punk band, not only an extinct genre but a degrading and pompous comment that isn’t even true. “Wake Me Up When September Ends” was one of the most annoying songs I’ve ever heard. The Killers “Hot Fuss” is one of my top favorite 30 CDs and so is Green Day’s “Dookie” but when I see these bands now I feel bad for ever thinking so highly of them. I wonder whether the old synth-happy Killers will ever be back. Or do I have to hear the lyrics “are we human, or are we dancer” one more time? By the way, Mr. Flowers, most of us can tell when someone is stringing random words together to sound intelligent because we do it often ourselves.

I don’t Metric to turn into snobs, so I fear their fame. The concerns of a selfish fan plague me. I want to treasure them and pretend that I discovered them when in reality I only started to listen to them in 2005 though they had been around since 2001. You know the agony of listening to a band before they become big? Your friends and random comrades start mentioning them, boasting of a new great band they found out about. Your teeth start to clench and your fists ball up. Actually, that might just be my own personal mania and ridiculous vendetta against others. Regardless, there’s a monstrous frustration that comes with being concerned about music. I baby it. I rock it back and forth in my arms. I’m the delusional girl that thinks all the pieces in the bowl of candy belong to her, when in fact they are in the open and plainly there to be enjoyed by everyone. Metric is not my own personal piece of candy, and neither is your favorite band.

The blonde leading lady genius of Emily Haines and perfect pieces of the puzzle that are her band, released their most recent CD in April of this year. “Fantasies,” Metric’s fourth full length album, is the creme brulee of music. A hard shell of synth-rock danceable music on the top, with a substantially rich lyrical center. Listen to “Satellite Mind” and “Gold Guns Girls” then tone it down with “Twilight Galaxy.” To be honest you cannot go wrong with any track from this delectable masterpiece. Like Garbage, they are a band incapable of making a bad CD. I’m now certain of that. I would watch Emily Haines in a movie, I would read her book and I would certainly listen to anything she composed even if it was wordless and created with only a hurdy gurdy.

Another band from Canada are the unmistakable identical twins mentioned earlier. Tegan and Sara, who just released their latest CD “Sainthood,” are another anomaly. More famous than Metric but still struggling for America’s full attention, certain audiences tend to linger more than others. With a massive lesbian/calm person following, they may not be your type of thing if you’re, well, not into folk music with a faint drum beat and a forceful unplugged guitar.

Honorable mentions must go to now defunct Edmonton-based Pursuit of Happiness whose classic CD “Love Junk” should be rediscovered by today’s generation as it is a great CD to age with. Artificial Joy Club’s one and only release, “Melt,” is a grungy classic. The Clik’s “Snakehouse” is a brutal masterpiece similar to Metric’s “Fantasies” in that it can pump you up or help you sleep depending on what track you venture towards. Hot Hot Heat used to be good and Feist is worth checking out. Acclaimed bag of poo, The Arcade Fire, are always buzzed about even though I’ve never gotten it, I keep listening hoping my ears will change. The copycat Gwen Stefani vocals of The Vincent Black Shadow are catchy pop infestations. Heavily tattooed Bif Naked deserves a nod as does the forlorn Alanis Morrisette, queen of the breakup CD. Broken Social Scene is moody and fitting for a listen while you take a bubble bath. Last but not least Quebec’s Islands are a favorite, check out the bubbly “Rough Gem.”

Now for a playlist, titled “Songs for a Moose.” This mixed array of Canadian tunes might make you envious of “America’s Hat.” If Canada is a hat to America, America is a poorly dressed retard who drastically needs a stylish hat to add flare to their horribly bland outfit. America is Canada’s soiled underwear. And NO I’m not French, and YES I’m mostly joking.

track 01 – “Wet Blanket” by Metric
track 02 – “Don’t Rush” by Tegan and Sara
track 03 – “Twitch” by Bif Naked
track 04 – “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” by Crash Test Dummies
track 05 – “Love and Death” by The Stills
track 06 – “Silent Seven” by Controller.Controller
track 07 – “The Constant Lover” by Magneta Lane
track 08 – “Creeper” by Islands
track 09 – “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart
track 10 – “Metro” by The Vincent Black Shadow
track 11 – “Hangover Days” by Jason Collett Featuring Emily Haines
track 13 – “Needy Girl” by Chromeo
track 14 – “Video Kid” by The Birthday Massacre
track 15 – “Elevator Love Letter” by Stars
track 16 – “Sick and Beautiful” by Artificial Joy Club
track 17 – “Monday Monday Monday” by Tegan and Sara
track 18 – “Goodnight Goodnight” by Hot Hot Heat
track 19 – “Lay Down” by Priestess
track 20 – “Stopwatch Hearts” By Broken Social Scene
track 21 – “Gold Guns Girls” by Metric


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