The Run To Greatness (Part 2)

I’ve decided to skip the rules and explanation of this article and jump directly into the thick of things (you can find the rules back over in part 1). I have to admit that I had a blast putting together part 1 of this article and was happily surprised at the amount of discussion it brought my way.

Part 2 is slightly different in that it consists of five bands that you might not have heard of and five of my favourite bands. Once again the rules I’ve put together, in order to be on this list, can be found over in part 1. (Yup, I”m making you read part 1 before you can continue on)

Five You Should Know

1 – The Rural Alberta Advantage (Departing, 2011)

This Canadian trio, based out of Toronto Ontario, have spent the past 8 years honing their sound and style from one coast to the other. Known as a band who leaves it all on the stage, the RAA might not be the most technical band, but there is little doubt when talking about songwriting and showmanship. More often than not I find myself disappointed in how a band/crowd relationship evolves, during the course of a show. Bands go through the motions, fans sing the songs they know and back off when they might not know a song. This is not what happens during an RAA show. This band has the ability to grab you right from the opening chord and hold that grasp up until the last moment when that last note rings out. Tracks – 6 -8 – Stamp, Tornado 87, Barnes Yard

2 – Of Monsters And Men (My Head Is An Animal, 2011)

This Icelandic group do a beautiful job of using the call and answer dynamic between lead singers Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir and Ragnar Porhallsson. Musically they’re best described as a light, airy walk on a warm summer evening. The acoustic, indie folk sound which they’ve carved out for themselves is both infectious and sustaining. Of Monsters And Men will keep your feet stomping with powerful, grande melodies that will stay with you for hours on end. Tracks – 3 – 5 – Numb Bears, Sloom, Little Talks

3 – Arcade Fire (The Suburbs, 2011)

At this point in their career, everyone has heard or heard of Canada’s own Arcade Fire. The Suburbs was Arcade Fires return to the large stadium filling sound that we came to love during from their Funeral album. This album allowed Arcade Fire to not only retain their hold over all Canadians, but it also opened up the door to the world by winning a Juno Award and Grammy for Best Album, a Brit Award for Best International Album and a Polaris Prize for Best Canadian Album. Another band known for putting on a great show, Arcade Fires ability to blend their indie sound and vibe with a large anthemic feel is just one of the many reasons that these Canadians will find themselves playing for years to come. Tracks 1 – 4 – The Suburbs, Ready To Start, Modern Man, Rococo

4 – The Arkells (Michigan Left, 2011)

Another Canadian band to add to the list (once again proving that Canada has some major musical chops). From the very first song on this album to the last, The Arkells play with a cool, calm, confident swagger. Always upbeat and never getting into the game of loudness, Michigan Left is a great piece of Canadian pop/rock. Borrowing from past bands like Hall & Oats and Fleetwood Mac, The Arkells were able to create an album that is clean, energetic and exciting to listen to. Tracks – 1 – 6 – Book Club, Where U Goin, Michigan Left, Coffee, On Paper, Kiss Cam

5 – Hey Rosetta (Into Your Lungs (and around in your heart and on through your blood), 2008)

My favourite band to come from the East Coast in years. Somehow Hey Rosetta have been able to take songs, seemingly crafted for a solo acoustic act, and turn them into full on pop/rock anthems. Lead singer, Tim Baker, has a raw, quiet, powerfulness to his voice which is really brought to the forefront during live shows. Musically the band is tight; they keep things neat, tidy and simple while still finding a way to layer their way to largeness. When put together, it truly is a fantastic musical experience. Tracks – 6 – 8 – Black Heart, Red Heart, We Made A Pact

Five of My Favourites

1 – Awolnation – (Megalithic Symphony, 2011)

I have to admit, this album definitely won’t be creeping up on any greatest lists, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dig it. It’s the perfect combination of pop, rock and scream-O electronic. My brother was the first one to provide me a glimpse of Awolnation when they had just released their 5 song EP in 2010 and right away I recognized that voice. It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized this lead singer also fronted a little band called Under The Influence of Giants (an album I had in my collection for the past 6 years). Although this album has an overall positive message to it, I would say that it relies on the musical aspect more so than the actual content. Regardless when I feel like bopping my head a little bit, this is one of my go to albums. Tracks 3 – 8 – Soul Wars, People, Jump On My Shoulders, Burn It Down, Guilty Filthy Soul, Kill Your Heroes

2 – Bloc Party (Silent Alarm, 2005)

This is the one that got me right out of the gate. I had just moved away from home, found myself in a city for the first time in my life, and wasn’t really sure how it was going to work out (luckily I had a great group of friends and a massive music collection). Being an early riser, there were many Saturday and Sunday mornings where I found myself alone in the apartment, laying on my bed and digesting any new album I could get my hands on. It was during one of these sessions that I discovered my love for Bloc Party. I remember being blown away by how raw and energetic they sounded. This album was nothing like what you’d find in the North American music scene (once again another win for British Music). They played with an edge that set them apart from everyone, and helped fuel the machine known as Bloc Party. To this day I keep this album spinning regularly on both my home computer and iPod. Tracks 1 – 6 – Like Eating Glass, Helicopter, Positive Tension, Banquet, Blue Light, She’s Hearing Voices.

3 – U2 (Joshua Tree, 1987)

In all honesty, this album could have easily found itself in part 1, but I just had to have it on my favourite list. The Joshua Tree allowed U2 to push themselves over the top and become international superstars. The album sold over 25 million copies, and produced three of the greatest U2 songs ever recorded in “With or Without You”, “Where The Streets Have No Name” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. You can still hear each of those songs played regularly on classic rock stations on all different platforms. I have to admit that I didn’t grow up on U2’s music, but once I was introduced I’ve never been able to look back. I had the opportunity to catch their show in Moncton, N.B. in 2011 and 24 years after The Joshua Tree was released the songs sounded just as great. A true testament to how U2 have held up over their 30 year career. Tracks 1 – 5 – Where The Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, With Or Without You, Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still

4 – The Killers (Hot Fuss, 2004)

Every now and then a band comes along with a song that not only takes over the airwaves, but also provides that band the opportunity to take off and blossom into a world renown act. The Killers can thank “Somebody Told Me” for that exact opportunity. This British Band (everyone thought these guys were British when they first hit the airwaves) Las Vegas foursome roared onto the music scene like a bat out of hell. Singing songs about boyfriends who look like girlfriends, cigarette smoking girls and souls vs soldiers, The Killers became an over night sensation on dance floors across the globe. Much like relationships, I’ve enjoyed the evolution of The Killers over the past nine years, but you never forget your first. Tracks 1 – 5 – Jenny Was A friend Of Mine, Mr. Brightside, Smile Like You Mean It, Somebody Told Me, All These Things I’ve Done

5 – The Barenaked Ladies (Gordon, 1992)

How could we not have some Canadian representation on this list. Of course everyone remembers BNL for their massive hit, “If I Had 1000000”, but what you might not realize is how freaking awesome this entire album is. I’ll admit that there is a certain looseness and silliness to the album, but that’s what makes this recording so special. BNL knew exactly what they were going for, stepped up to the plate, and nailed it right out of the park. They knew that this album wouldn’t cross that line of humour, which would place them into a comedy genre, but they also knew that the lightness of the tone is what made them special. Will this go down as the greatest Canadian album ever….nope, but it has a fantastic chance of finding itself in the top 10 (go ahead and make a list….it’s in my top 10, along with Neil Young, Rush and Bryan Adams). As a bonus, there are songs on this album that are always requested during camp fire sing-a-longs. Tracks 1 – 5 – Hello City, Enid, Grade 9, Brian Wilson, Be My Yoko Ono.



About the author


Jeff is one-fourth of the group that makes up HAFILAX. His usual ramblings can be read right here on the website. If reading isn't your thing, he also hosts the Basement Tapes podcast.