While many Canadians cite The Tragically Hip as “Canada’s band”, I’ve always preferred their quirkier and lesser known contemporaries the Rheostatics. Formed in Etobicoke, Ontario in 1978, active until 2007 and reforming in 2016, the band have recorded 12 studio albums to date, including Melville and Whale Music, which have been cited in numerous critic and listener polls as among the greatest Canadian albums of all time.
The band’s eclectic style endeared them to fans, but it also made them difficult for a major label to market. On a national level, the Rheostatics are likely destined remain the Replacements to the Hip’s Beatles or Byrds – Bobby Baker of The Tragically Hip remarked in 1997, “I think maybe they’re a little too good for their own good.”
The Rheostatics’ slightly warped pop and rock songs often use Canadian imagery, though never in a way that feels inauthentic or forced. And yet while references to provinces and territories, cities and street names, ice and snow, The Guess Who and Video Hits, Kodiak boots and hat tricks are all part of their lyrical fabric, the songs are strong enough to hold up on their own. They did a cover of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” that is so evocative of the ship sinking that it gives me goosebumps every single time I hear it. And they also used the phrase “californication” a full six years before a certain band synonymous with that part of the world did.
Have a Great Night Thread, Avocado!