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My best ’90s tracks

Whatever you think of Pitchfork — the sometimes snooty indie music website — they put together some pretty great lists.

Whatever you think of Pitchfork — the sometimes snooty indie music website — they put together some pretty great lists. They’ve recently tackled the ’90s, coming up with the top 50 music videos and best tracks of the decade. That got me thinking about the music I listened to when I was a teenager.

Mostly, my music consisted of Canadian rock. I’ve decided to put together a little list, too: my top four Canadian albums of the ’90s.

Sloan, Twice Removed
These East Coast rockers were supposed to be Canada’s Nirvana, but after the sludgy rock disc Smeared, the group took a 180-degree turn, writing a very non-alternative album of catchy indie pop. It got them booted off their label, but the record was a five-star collection of infectious hooks, witty lyrics and bright, accessible arrangements — a big difference from their drone-y debut. The songs are now classics and contain some of the best work any Canadian band has ever produced.

Thrush Hermit, Clayton Park
Thrush Hermit was the last band to come out of Nova Scotia — what many billed as “Canada’s Seattle” in the ’90s — before attention turned back to Toronto and Montreal. Their final album came out in 1999 and, if they didn’t break up that same year, the disc could have been huge. The foursome, led by Joel Plaskett’s wild wail, expertly blended Sloan-like power pop with more guts and distortion.

Our Lady Peace, Naveed
Our Lady Peace has made a lot of boring Can Rock, so it’s easy to forget how good their debut was. The record came a few months before grunge sputtered out, so in 1995 it was refreshing to hear something that didn’t sound like a Seattle rip-off. In fact, it didn’t sound like anything I had heard. The band’s blend of ’60s hard rock, U2-like guitars, Raine Maida’s soaring melodies and a subtle darkness, destroyed its competition (that would be Moist and I Mother Earth) — nothing they’ve made since has been as good.

Neil Young, Harvest Moon
I came to this album later in the ’90s — it was released in 1992 — but it was first real taste of Neil Young. Until this point most of what I listened to was power pop, grunge and indie, so I was stunned to hear such Young’s passionate and sometimes uncomfortable thoughts on growing old. The acoustic folk disc is still a stunning listen — the title track’s plodding, but poppy rhythm is a big reason why it’s one of catchiest tracks ever written.

 
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