In May we were hosted by Lauren Armstrong, a Canadian living in Birmingham who was keen to nominate one of her favourite bands for our Canada-themed event. Here’s what she said about the theme she chose:
“Canadiana is, as you’ve likely guessed, a classification of Canadian themed work. The Weakerthans fits perfectly within the tapestry of the Canadiana theme as they originated from the heart of the country, Winnipeg, Manitoba. You really can’t get more Canadian than that. Imagine corn and wheat fields as far as the eye can see, harsh and unforgiving winters, as well as blistering hot summers that bring the mosquitos and shad flies.”
Despite most of our attendees having never been to Canada, this didn’t stop over 20 people showing up to hear from The Weakerthans and listen to this mixture of indie rock, lo-fi folk and punk-influenced alternative. The album is noted for its storytelling and vignettes, with even the Wikipedia page listing track-by-track notes explaining context and history behind the characters and sons. Lauren introduced this:
“It’s story telling narration in music form and the tracks on this album are a great introduction to anyone unfamiliar with The Weakerthans. Every song on this album transports you and has you living it. From the first song about a bus driver navigating the tricky roads of Winnipeg, to the cat who ran away and forgot her name, to the man walking past a window of a deceased loved one – this album is packed with emotion and the simple minuitia of Canadian living to the historical significance of various Canadian events makes it a joy to listen and discover.”
The group settled down to listen and although running at almost 40 minutes, the album felt well-paced, varied and interesting. We rated it at an average of exactly 6.8 (as new attendee Hannah correctly predicted!) and there was a mixture of words picked to describe it, mostly picking up on the lyrical storytelling nature of the songs.
After refuelling it was time for the rest of the group to nominate their choices for ‘Canadiana’. This was perhaps the most popular theme yet with host Matt having to cut things short at 10pm with several people still wanting to nominate their choice (sorry Stefan). The ones that made the cut are below:
- Calum: Joni Mitchell – “Free Man In Paris”
- Rebecca: Caribou - “Yeti”
- William: Jane Siberry - “Red High Heels”
- David R.: Fucked Up - “Sun Glass”
- Stefan: The Tragically Hip - “Wheat Kings”
- David P.: Metric - “Collect Call”
- Martin: Mother Mother - “Hayloft”
- Simon: Eric Chenaux - “Skullsplitter”
- Abdul: Ought - “Pleasant Heart”
- Andrea: Stompin’ Tom Connors - “The Hockey Song”
- Hannah: Patrick Watson - “Beijing”
(Sophie also nominated two songs but had to leave before we played them and I managed to lose the paper with them written down – sorry!)
A great event hosted by Lauren who shared her own stories and history along with the album, and a great mix of newbies and old hands made this another great OTR (if we say so ourselves). Happy Canada day!
Spotify playlist of songs
See above to see who nominated each song which matched our theme, "Canadiana".