11 July 2015

Canada #2: Punk, rock and grunge

This is kind of a theme post. Last May I did a similar thing: at first I made a regular feature post featuring one country's, in that case Finland's, music fitting to a certain theme. The following post was a Favourite Artists post (in those posts I feature my ultimate top favourites, whose fan I have been for years) featuring one of my top favourite bands fitting to the theme started in the previous post. Now I will be doing the same thing, except with Canadian music of a different theme. The last time my theme was Finnish heavy metal, this time it is Canadian punk-rock with a bit of grunge.

Wikipedia: Canada

When I think of Canadian music, the first thing that comes to my mind is punk and rock music. Canada of course has great musicians in other genres too (like the three classic ladies in my previous Canada post), but my Canadian favourites tend to be punk and/or rock; Particularly the band that I will feature in the Favourite Artists post in couple of days. From reading this blog it is obvious that I favour pop music, but I also love music from all other genres too and my ability to even recognize genres from each other is horrible at the best. The artists featured in this post are some of my Canadian punk/rock favourites, most of them I have a fan of for a quite some time already.

Did you know?: Grunge is a subgenre of alternative rock, having its roots in Seattle in the mid-80s. I was not aware of this genre until some time ago, though that is not too surprising considering the said genre knowledge I have. Grunge took influence mainly from hardcore punk, heavy metal and indie rock. Nirvana in example, is one of the best-known bands to have played grunge. In ten years, grunge switched into post-grunge. Post-grunge is a more commercial version of grunge, if you put it in simple. Post-grunge had its peak in success during late-90s and early-00s. In this post it is post-grunge, rather than grunge, that is featured.

And here we go off with the first song:

And so all of the readers disappeared... Please, bear with me! Haha. Nickelback. In the magical place called the internet, Nickelback has a not-so-good reputation and people tend to say that everybody hates the band. This obviously can not be the case since Nickelback is actually one of the best-selling Canadian bands and they have a 20 year-long career behind them. With their fame and record sales, it would be almost a sin not to feature them in a punk-rock themed post. And honestly, I do truly enjoy few of their songs.

Nickelback was formed in 1995 in a town called Hanna, which is in the province called Alberta. With the population of 2600+ people, it is actually very interesting that a worldwide famous rock band comes from this small town. The band is fronted by the lead singer and lead guitarist Chad Kroeger. Other members are rhythm guitarist Ryan Peake, bassist Mike Kroeger and drummer Daniel Adair. The three first one are original members of the band and only the drummer has been replaced few times, with Daniel Adair joining ten years ago. I always find it interesting, and respectful, when a band can stay together for such a long with pretty much all of its original members. It is really not foregone.

The song I am featuring from Nickelback is called Photograph. This is my favourite from them and also perhaps the first I heard of their music. The song was a worldwide hit and one of their best-selling singles; I remember it being played on MTV all the time. Photograph was released in 2005 and it is an alternative rock and post-grunge song. In the lyrics the singer reminisces about his youth and wonders how much things have changed. Even though I like the music too, the lyrics are my favourite part of the song. The singer Chad's vocals are very recognizable, which some seem to hate, but I like since his voice gives Nickelback's music a certain sound that can not be mistaken for any other band.

Photograph is from Nickelback's 2005 album All The Right Reasons.

Next up is another very famous Canadian name: Avril Lavigne. Avril has had worldwide success with millions of album sales and multiple number one hits, especially during the noughties. She was born in 1984 in a city called Belleville, in the Ontario province. She is Canadian-French. Avril started her career as a 15-year old in 1999 and in 2002 her first single already became a major hit. Avril writes or co-writes pretty much all of her songs. Her main genres are pop punk, pop rock and alternative rock, though her earlier material includes also post-grunge styles (like I mentioned, the genre was on its peak during the beginning years of Avril's career). On a side note, let's mention that Avril is married to Nickelback's Chad Kroger, which could have made a good bridge between these two acts, but I did not remember this fact while planning this post.

The first song from Avril is called My Happy Ending. This is one of Avril's best-selling singles and my own personal favourite. I remember listening to this, along with other Avril's songs from her two first albums, a lot when I was young. Which would have been quite hard not to, since they were playing her music on MTV all the time, haha. I still love this song and now it has an added nostalgic value to it too. The song was released in 2004 (I feel so old...) and it is a post-grunge and alternative rock song. Avril sings about a relationship, that was suppose to be her 'happy ending', but was not.

I must admit that I have not been much into Avril's newer material which ranges from her usual sound to somewhat obscure songs. My favourites from Avril come from her earlier years and actually while I was planning this post I realised that all the songs I considered to feature were actually from her second studio album, Under My Skin. I did not want to feature songs from just one album, so I ended up picking one from her first album instead as the second song: Complicated. But needless to say that Under My Skin is by far my favourite album of Avril's.

Complicated was Avril's debut single. It was a worldwide hit with number one spots in the charts of FOUR different continents. Go big or go home, eh? Complicated was released in 2002 (!?! I feel the wrinkles coming in...) and it is a pop rock and pop punk song. I think music-wise the song is a bit more relaxed than most of Avril's songs (even her ballads) and it has interesting sound effects. Avril's message in this song is for people to stop being pretentious and be themselves. A good message, that is.

My Happy Ending is from Avril's 2004 studio album Under My Skin and Complicated from her debut album Let Go, released in 2002.

The next singer is called Skye Sweetnam. Compared to the previous acts of this post, Skye is a very small scale artist, but she has had also some success, home and abroad. Skye was born 27 years ago in a place called Bolton, near the most-populous city in Canada, Toronto. Skye started studying singing and dancing from a young age and in 2002 she started her professional career with her debut single being released in 2003. She sings alternative rock, teen pop and pop punk, and she also co-wrote all of the songs on her two solo albums.

I came across Skye's music during the era of her first studio album, Noise From The Basement, which was released in 2004 (gosh, this post makes me feel so old!). Perhaps I was going through some punk-rock phase back then, since most of the artists I like of this category, I found back then. I have not been listening to Skye's music much in the recent years, but I still found them really good, and now of course they have that nostalgia feature too. I really liked many of her songs from the debut album, but my top favourite from Skye is a song called Human from her second studio album, released in 2007.

Human was released as a single in 2007 and it is an electronic rock song. The lyrics are quite common theme for a rock/punk song, but I find these better than usual; She sings about how things around us try to brainwash us. The music is very catchy and I particularly like the verse parts (well, that is a new one since I usually names choruses as my favourite bits). The music video also is interesting; a bit weird, but finds the song nicely. Zombie-dancing in a wasteland? Don't mind if I do!

Human is from Skye's 2007 album Sound Soldier.

The song starts around 4:26.

In 2011 Skye took a stage name Sever and joined forces with three guys to form a punk metal band called Sumo Cyco. The other members of the band are guitarist M.D., bassist Thor and drummer Wolf. The band is independent and somewhat small-scale, but they sure have an interesting style, to say the least. Sumo Cyco plays alternative metal, hard rock and alternative rock music (all the genres come from Wikipedia, since my mentioned skills in the genre knowledge sector), so it is a bit darker from Skye's solo music. I do not know what I expected when I first looked into this band, but probably not something quite as insane as this.

I am not even going to try explaining Sumo Cyco's style, since even to me it is pretty messed up. But in a good way, at least most of the time! Just look at the music video above and you get the idea. So far Sumo Cyco has released one album: Lost In Cyco City. The song above, Interceptor (yes, I had to use a translator to figure out what that means), was released in 2011 as one of their first songs. The song weird and I certainly had a moment of WTF when I first listened to this (also the first song I listened from Sumo Cyco, so I was not well prepared), but now I actually quite enjoy this song. The music video too is pretty messed up, but I actually like it a lot. Trust me to like anything that is weird and creepy!

Sumo Cyco's album Lost In Cyco City was released in 2014, but Interceptor was not part of it nor was it released officially as a single either. But it is available on iTunes at least.

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