Can’t get down to Parliament Hill this Canada Day? Here are 15.1 albums by Canadian artists to check out on Canada’s 151st anniversary (ranked chronologically):
1. Bryan Adams – Reckless (1984)
Pretty much every song on this album is a classic, from the buoyant “She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancing” to the moody infidelity confessional “Run to You.” And “It’s Only Love” (featuring the Queen of Rock and Roll herself, Tina Turner) is one of the greatest duets of all time.
2. Bruce Cockburn – Stealing Fire (1984)
The folk icon’s 1984 album is quintessential Cockburn, balancing sensual odes to the human experience (“Sahara Gold;” “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”) with powerful protest songs (“If I Had a Rocket Launcher”).
3. The Tragically Hip – Fully, Completely (1992)
The Hip’s classic album features rock songs about Jacques Cartier (“Lookin’ For a Place to Happen”), the 1970 October Crisis (“Locked in the Trunk of a Car”), Maple Leafs player Bill Barilko (“Fifty Mission Cap”), and the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard (“Wheat Kings”). The record reads like a Canadian studies textbook – although with an emphasis on the darker aspects of our national story.
4. The Odds – Good Weird Feeling (1995)
It’s impossible not to like The Odds’s catchy alt-rock and strange, witty lyrics.
5. Avril Lavigne – Let Go (2002)
With frank songs about the restless yearnings of adolescence (reductively referred to as “teen angst”), this empowering album by the Napanee singer-songwriter was the soundtrack to my youth.
6. Kathleen Edwards – Back to Me (2005)
Opening with a pair of twisted toxic relationship revenge tales, Kathleen Edwards’s alt-country masterpiece is at turns both sly and melancholic.
7. Marianas Trench – Masterpiece Theatre (2009)
Josh Ramsey and Co.’s ambitious pop-punk concept album has some of their catchiest songs, ranging from crunchy pop-rock (“All To Myself”) to tender power ballads (“Good to You;” “Beside You”).
8. Arkells – Michigan Left (2011)
With a set of dynamic, intimate story songs, Arkells’s Michigan Left comes close to capturing the energy and enthusiasm of their live performances.
9. Rush – Clockwork Angels (2012)
Rush’s epic concept album weaves a steampunk tale of adventure, betrayal, and the souring of optimism into cynicism. It’s also got spectacular album artwork.
10. Billy Talent – Dead Silence (2012)
Billy Talent’s fourth album is one of their best, enhancing their passionate punk rock with a muscular, almost Iron Maiden-esque sound.
11. Metric – Synthetica (2012)
Metric’s Polaris-nominee blends angsty alt-rock with chilly new wave, exploiting the tensions between the two genres to explore the search for compassion and connection in an artificial world.
12. Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems (2014)
This late period Cohen album, which won Album of the Year at the 2015 JUNO Awards, is undoubtedly his best, setting his evocative lyrics to musical accompaniment that enhances without overwhelming Cohen’s sparse poetry.
13. Diemonds – Never Wanna Die (2015)
The Toronto heavy metallers Diemonds harken back to eighties metal with this brash, defiant record.
14. William Prince – Earthly Days (2015)
Prince’s debut folk album is a lovely showcase for his quietly-moving baritone voice and evocative, soulful songwriting.
15. The Beaches – Late Show (2017)
Blending seventies rock, nineties alt, and girl group pop, The Beaches’ 2017 record is an electrifying debut.
15.1. The Northern Pikes – “She Ain’t Pretty”
Quite simply, the greatest Canadian song of all time: