Ah, sweet 16. The age where many of us got the keys to our parents’ cars. It was when we received our first fake I.D.—and it worked. And it’s a year commemorated endlessly in pop culture, think Sweet Sixteen or Sixteen Candles, MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen, or Hilary Duff’s “Sweet Sixteen” just to start.
Indeed, it’s a milestone birthday, and this year these 16 Canadian albums, all of which were released in 1997, celebrate theirs. Raise a Mike’s Hard!
Our Lady Peace’s Clumsy
While 1994′s Naveed established Raine, Jeremy and pals as bona fide Edgefesters, Clumsy cemented the lads as genuine chart- (and Chart-) busting stars. And for good reason. I mean, can anyone deny the metaphor that the world is, in fact, a subway? Anyone?
Sarah McLachlan’s Surfacing
This, the peak of Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair apex. We won’t lie: We still surrender to Surfacing, especially on nights spent in the bathtub with a decent pinot, something Jane Austen, and, of course, our trusty toe rings. How sweet it is.
Age of Electric’s Make A Pest a Pet
Age of Electric’s Make a Pest a Pet was a fitting snapshot of grunge sputtering to its late-’90s death: It was an album conflicted by the scrappy pop leanings of the Dahle brothers—who would go on to front the still-loved Limblifter—and the butt-rock tendencies of Todd Kerns, who would eventually man the axe for Slash’s backing band.
The Tea Party’s Transmission
Yes, the Tea Party used to mess around with Eastern-tinged hippie fare, but with Transmission, they emerged as a sensual, faux-industrial force. Yo, Moist, watch your back: Here, a contender for the copulation-rock championship belt. May the winner sit atop a throne of flesh! (EW EW EW EW EW)
Headstones’ Smile and Wave
People remember the Headstones as a punk act, largely because of Hugh Dillon’s starring role in Hard Core Logo. But don’t confuse late ’90s Dillon with the Hugh of present. In the Smile and Wave era, they were a rock-solid alt-rock act—and thanks to their theatrical penchant, it’s easy to see how the Headstones’ frontman went onto a stellar career in film and TV.
Thanks to their flawless debut—Fluke, for those wondering—Rusty have earned their spot in Canrock’s canon. Sophomoric never reached Fluke‘s heights, but it boasted the band’s biggest single, “Empty Cell,” while dabbling in quintessentially Torontonain genres: Urban country and garage. (Also, eyes out for Danko Jones in the video below, fellow nerds.)
Thrush Hermit’s Sweet Homewrecker
Sweet Homewrecker was Thrush Hermit’s debut full length, their sole major-label effort (Elektra!) that introduced the world outside of Halifax to baby-faced Dartmouth icon Joel Plaskett. For that, we’re thankful.
It’s an LP as synonymous with Calgary as ginger beef, cowboys, and Cowboys (the bar). Plus, “Andromeda” transports us to a time when our closets were filled exclusively with Skechers, Candies, and baby blue Mod Robes scrubs.
Killjoys’ Melos Modos
No, it wasn’t the album with “Soaked,” “Dana,” or “Today I Hate Everyone.” But Melos Modos might’ve been the Killjoys’ scrappiest album—even if it was brimming with pitch-perfect harmonies and squeaky clean power pop. Bonus points: They foreshadowed pop-punk’s obsession with all things pizza-related by a solid decade.
Econoline Crush’s The Devil You Know
Or, the album Bif Naked-inspired mall goths blast when it’s time to get sensual.
Holly McNarland’s Stuff
Reason no. 3876 that we love Holly McNarland: She clearly does not give a fuck. I mean, she gave her album the most like, whatevs title ever: Stuff. Its cover had a half-assed photo of her, perched inside the mouth of a freakin’ Jack Russell Terrier (???). And despite it all, she just happened to churn out massive hits like “Numb.” No, Holly gave precisely zero fucks and she made it look easy.
Big Wreck’s In Loving Memory Of…
DAT ASS? MORE LIKE DAT SONG.
The shit is this? Rage Against the Machine with some band-class saxophones?
Change of Heart’s Steel Teeth
Steel Teeth was Change of Heart’s final album, but it wouldn’t be the last we’d hear of bandleader Ian Blurton. Rather, after Change of Heart’s dissolution, The Beard would produce some of Canada’s most iconic albums while fronting Blurtonia and C’Mon, two loud-loud-louder bands that’d change Canadian hesherdom forever.
Anyone remember seeing these guys on Camilla Scott? That ruled.
Matthew Good Band’s Underdogs
Underdogs is the last album on our list, but it might be the best. Indeed, beyond being one of Good’s most-cherished album, “Indestructible” (below) had the Vancouver-songwriter firmly grasping the late-’90s zeitgeist: The video’s all janky fonts and retro Atari shirts, stitched together by graphic design that’d feel right at home on the underside of a Rossignol snowboard. It’s scorchingly ugly, maddeningly beautiful, and… Oh god, Matthew Good. We’re feeling so many feelings right now.