by carl wilson

Canadian Music Weak

Today's column hasn't exactly drawn a roar of response, which makes sense since it was written from about 3 to 10 in the morning as I fell asleep in the middle of sentences - I promise this is not the usual routine, but it happens. The sleepless haze tended to obscure the point of the discussion of Cyndi Lauper and Joan Jett, so it was a bit too much lecture-hall disquisition and too little lively barroom argument (a feel I think even the most lyrical music writing should retain, since that is how people sound when they are talking passionately about music - the same goes for political writing, by the way).

But all mea culpas aside, I think maybe the silence has to do with the fight I mostly chose not to pick, and indeed tried experimentally to embrace, which is why the hell the speakers at Canadian Music Week this year are two rock stars from the early 1980s. [...]

The drably predictable answers (Joan Jett loves rock'n'roll! Cyndi Lauper just wants to have fun!) reflect the pointlessness that haunts that Toronto festival this week. I'm sure there are artists I don't know about that I should really go discover at CMW this weekend, but there are artists I should really go discover in Toronto clubs every week, and the festival has done nothing to convince me that this set is any more special. I suspect that's because it's not. I don't really comprehend the selection process, but aside from a few obvious showcases - tonight's Hewitt/Nobel/Tangiers/Metric blowout, which is obviously creditable to the tasteful music staff at Eye, not to CMW itself; and Saturday night's Weewerk showcase, which shows us what CMW organizer Phil Klygo actually likes instead of what he is being paid to like - CMW seems utterly unreflective of all the thrilling stuff going on in Canadian music right now. This year's should have been the best CMW ever, and it's quite the opposite.

By the way, kudos to Eye's Joshua Ostroff for pointing out a very cool CMW hip-hop showcase that I totally slept on in my picks in the paper. If only CMW itself had thought to call my attention to it, but for some reason that seems to be against the event's religion. I know it ain't the organizers, who do good things for music in town when they're not working for the fest. It's the System, man.

And on that note, elsewhere in Eye today I'm struck by something Emily Haines of Metric said:

Your experience with the Canadian music industry: To be honest, for the most part it was really negative. All the bands that I know in Toronto encountered this huge gap between what was really happening in the smaller clubs and people's home studios and what the labels in Canada seem to acknowledge and get behind. I learned from first-hand experience that a lot of it has to do with people being too comfortable, too tenured in their positions at the major labels and answering to their US counterparts, like not really having the power to get behind anything except what has already been proven to sell in America.

The evidence of label blinkeredness gets more severe the healthier the Canadian scene gets. (With a half-exemption to MapleMusic, which has backed a lot of winners lately, though decidedly the tamer kind of winners for the most part.) Without getting into a high-school civics lesson on balances of payments, etc., this country's music biz still needs to throw off the branch-plant mentality (rock it Canadian Auto Workers style, boyo!) but the pressures, sadly, tend the other way around. As I've written before, it all makes me root for the guerrilla fighters of the downloading hordes. "Home taping is killing music," but not fast enough. This industry, like most corrupt modern combines, should be displaced by some pomo frankenstein of commerce that can at least let a little air into the sweatshop.... Free the CMW three hundred and fifty!

Read More | Via Toronto | Posted by zoilus on Friday, March 05 at 2:12 AM | Linking Posts

 

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Zoilus by Carl Wilson