Let's start with Canada:
Spirit of the West - Home For A Rest
I've loved this band since the very first time I heard them a long time ago - decades ago, actually. The fact that they are Canadians just makes it that much better. Last summer they visited my city and played an outdoors gig. It was the same night we hosted my husband's annual workplace BBQ, but I snuck out early as my husband so kindly agreed to entertain our final guests and take care of the 3 preteen girls who were sleeping over at our house, and headed downtown to see the band. Accompanied by my best friend I danced from beginning to end. When the band finally left the stage for the night my friend disappeared for a bit and then came back and told me to follow her. Knowing that I've always wanted to meet these guys she had arranged to have us head backstage where I had the privilege to meet a few of them, including lead singer John Mann. I told John that I've always thought he has the best voice in Canadian rock, and he suddenly gave me a huge hug. He seemed very pleased at my compliment, but I didn't know why until I found out a couple of weeks later that John had a cancer scare a couple of years ago, and due to some complications thought he'd never sing again. All I can say is that he sings just as well as he did 20 years ago, and perhaps even better due to the maturity that age can bring. My friend even convinced a local photographer to snap a pic of me and the guys so here it is:
Photo credit to Dan Lines, photographer extraordinaire!
Next up, Ireland:
The Pogues - Lorelei
Dear lord, how I love The Pogues! This song is absolutely haunting and beautiful. Speaking of The Pogues I saw Shane McGowan in a more recent video. He performs "Little Drummer Boy" with a group called "The Priests", who are, indeed, actual singing priests. Shane looks a bit like a truck drove over him. And then backed up, and drove over him several more times for good measure. Hard living has taken it's toll on the man, no doubt - but he could always sing like a fiend, and continues to do so. I fear he can't be long for this world at his current pace, though. When Shane goes we lose a true musical genius in my opinion.
And now England:
Men They Couldn't Hang - Rain, Steam, and Speed
I have no idea why these guys weren't bigger in the 80's. They are so very talented, and they should have been huge. Instead they stayed relatively unknown, playing small clubs instead of big gigs and stadiums. I had a chance to see them in Toronto back then and didn't go - I was a fool. I listen to them frequently in my car at top volume, singing the lyrics and pounding the steering wheel. Apparently I'm still a fool.
And England again:
Placebo - Running Up That Hill
If you are a Kate Bush purist this version of the song may appall you - but I love it. I find it absolutely haunting. Kate's original is absolutely lovely, of course, but this is a damn good cover of a damn good song. Again, this gets played loudly at my house. Lots.
And let's end in Canada:
Rural Alberta Advantage- Edmonton
This band is based in Toronto. I was recently introduced to their music by a friend from Ireland. That's right, someone from Ireland had to tell me about a Canadian band that sings about Alberta. That is both so funny and so pathetic that I refuse to speak about it further as my complete lack of musical coolness will become blatantly obvious. Suffice to say I'm just grateful to my friend for recommending them to me as I think they are fabulous!
So, there you go, friends. That's what I've been spinning these past couple of weeks. Hope you find something you enjoy amongst it all. If you haven't been doing it lately try listening to something you love this weekend - and as Spinal Tap would say, turn it up to 11!