Five years back, assembling a list of Canadian bands we want to reunite would be dead simple: Rusty, Limblifter, Grade, Thrush Hermit, North of America, and Lowest of the Low would’ve headlined that list. But Canada, as elsewhere, got wrapped up in reunion fever—hell, even effin’ Shotmaker reunited—and all of those bands have been back. In 2013, however, the list thins out—I mean, who else needs to reunite? Prozzak? Well, not quite. Here’s a list of 20 defunct bands we’d love to bring back from the dead. Add your picks in the comments!
1. The Killjoys
The Killjoys—led by their vaguely Mike Dirnt-esque singer, whose NAME WAS ALSO MIKE—were a perfect post-Ramones power-pop band. When they existed, we never gave them enough credit: We thought they supplied filler tracks on Big Shiny Tunes. Boy, were we wrong. Midtempo and chock-full of vocal harmonies, their most identifiable songs, like “Dana,” “Today I Hate Everyone,” and “Soaked,” were the soundtracks to the summers of our collective youths—and still stand up as summer anthems in 2013. Thankfully, Gimme Five and Starry, their most memorable releases, are available on Rdio.
2. Risky Business
Remember when hardcore was fun and goofy and precociously self-aware? We do, and it was a golden moment in the early 2000s when Lockin’ Out—the Boston home to Mental, Righteous Jams, and loboto Beastie Boys knockoffs RZL DZL—ruled punk rock playlists. Halifax’s Risky Biz was Canada’s answer to the phenomenon. Though they eventually grew into harder-edged NYHC influences on the Some Days, their demo included the hilarious, unstoppable mosh anthem “Risky Business,” whose singalong deadpanned, “Risky / Business / Risky Business, that’s us.” Well duh.
Regardless of what you thought of Cash Crop—I’ll go ahead and say it was rock-solid—there’s no doubting that “Northern Touch” is a cornerstone track in Canadian hip hop. We’d love to see it live (with Checkmate, Kardinal, and Thrust in tow).
4. Love Inc.
Love Inc.’s take on sugar-shocked eurodance probably wouldn’t fit in with modern electronic music, but we’ll be honest: if we saw Chris Sheppard rocking “You’re A Superstar,” we’d dance and dance and never stop dancing. Top it off with an all Pirate Radio DJ set and it’s all bliss. No mollies needed.
In a previous story, I erroneously listed Pluto as a one-hit wonder. They’re not, of course, but it’s an easy mistake to make: “Paste,” with its bubbling bassline and iconic pick scrape, is one of the best songs written in Canada. Ever. But behind their singles, they also quietly produced wonderful albums of post-grunge alt-rock, brimming with buzzsaw guitars, imperfect power-pop harmonies, and occasionally dense lyrics. In fact, it’s arguable that their take on guitar pop fell in line with commonly cited Vancouver greats: This is the kind of stuff that’d find kinship with Zumpano, early New Pornographers, and Limblifter.
6. No Warning
Contrary to popular belief, No Warning never wrote a bad song—and they’re one of Canada’s best all-time hardcore bands. Ben Cook’s proto-Fucked Up band was the biggest of its era, thanks to his impeccable, tough-as-nails songmanship and dueling guitars from Yacht Club’s Matt Delong and Terror’s Jordan Posner. The band evolved from a harder-edged youth crew style to a classic ‘80s NYHC aesthetic, eventually settling on a high-gloss sound that earned them the nickname Nu Warning. All were good.
Cook has recently announced that the band’s planning one more 7-inch, though we’re not holding our breath for a real-deal reunion. The band also released some ridiculous new merch designs, which include a rasta-themed tank top, but No Warning can pull it off because it’s No Warning and just take my freakin’ money Ben Cook.
7. The Pursuit of Happiness
If you’ve read AUX producer Sam Sutherland’s book, Perfect Youth, you’d know that Moe Berg was a seminal figure in Canada’s first wave of punk rock. The Pursuit of Happiness was Berg’s post-punk pop act, and he produced everything from jangled-up reverb stompers to “I’m An Adult Now,” a spoken-word Can-classic. Even if you don’t remember TPOH, you remember TPOH—it seemed like, for a period, they occupied every other slot on Videoflow.
8. Age of Electric
9. Serial Joe
Because a Serial Joe reunion would have the exact same awkward vibe as a NKOTB concert—it’d be full of full-grown adults losing their minds like preteens.
10. The Constantines
Constantines, we barely knew ye. Even if you were like, oh, just the nation’s most beloved band for a solid effin’ decade. Bry Webb—one of Canada’s most consistently riveting musical figures—and Stephen Lambke still continue with their musical careers, but their Guelph-Toronto band still remains their defining project. Whether they tooled with bottom-heavy post-hardcore, reverb-driven classic rock, or Crazy Horse-indebted folk, the Cons never put out a bad album—or a sour track. They’re a beacon of Sub Pop’s ’00s fascination with Canada, and even beyond that distinction, were a band we’re proud to call ours. Here, one of the best tracks from their early career.
11. The Rheostatics
Not that they haven’t tried to reunite—a 2012 tour was cancelled due to Martin Tielli’s health concerns. Nonetheless, the Rheos were one of the most adored bands of the 1990s—and their fans frequently squabbled over whether Whale Music or Introducing Happiness was better, or whether Dave Bidini or Tielli were better songwriters. They’re the very definition of a cult classic, even if Bidini’s gone onto a successful career writing about hockey, music, and culture.
We could wax poetic about Chris Colohan’s contributions to Canada’s heavy music scene, or about how Cursed’s dirge still lives on in bands like Quebec City’s Cold North. We could do that—but we won’t. Instead, we’ll just leave you with the opening moments on Cursed’s One, where, after a moment of gut-rumbling guitars and a few cymbal crashes, Colohan positively commands that song with a spine-tingling “RAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGHHHHHH!”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Without any hint of irony, Souldecision are incredible. Timeless. Untouchable. Can you imagine “Ooh It’s Kind of Crazy,” remixed by a modern-day Italo-house obsessed DJ? Or a chillwave producer? Or being covered by DIANA? That shit would be all over Urban Outfitters. At least singer Trevor Guthrie is kinda getting that shot with his hit Armin Van Buuren collab.
14. Marilyn’s Vitamins
It’s a shame that this essential Toronto punk band—who made an appearance on Damian Abraham’s list of the city’s punk all-timers—don’t much recognition outside the city; within Hogtown limits, there’s a guy who’s walking around with Marilyn’s Vitamins hand tattoos (sup, Ed?). We digress— while their uber-political lyrics may seem a little hokey in retrospect (they sang a song called “How to Debate a Nationalist and Win,” whose call-to-action was to “stand up and walk past those who’d have you kneel”), their penchant for combining gritty, Dillinger 4-esque pop-punk with anthemic street punk made them one of Canada’s most beloved. Members went onto Bombs Over Providence, The Hostage Life, Victim Party and, in Rob Moir’s case, a solo career. All post-Vitamins projects were good, but none achieved the full-scale adoration of MV.
They went out on top with the untouchable Meanwhile During the Class War 7-inch, which contained a ridiculous love song to free speech called “Ernst Zundel, Voltaire, and Me.” Here, their final show.
There are few bands that performed stylishly snotty, Brit-indebted power pop as well as Subdury, ON’s Statues. (Still, shout out to Tranzmitors.) Though there are few duds in their jittery discography—which, along with a spattering of 7-inches, includes the P. Trash-released AUX and New People Make Us Nervous—their final 2010 LP, Holiday Cops, is a personal favourite.
Cub were one of the earliest bright spots on Mint Records, a classic West Coast label that’s undergoing something of a renaissance. The trio, though, would sound just as modern today as they did in the early ’90s—they were an all-girl trio who, across four albums, developed a style of scrappy pop-punk that’d easily charm twee enthusiasts, K Records fetishists, and pop-punk crowds alike. If you have any of their LPs around—because I don’t—hit me up.
17. The Red Light Sting
We’d love for Vancouver’s the Red Light Sting to reunite, if only to hear singer—and Exclaim! writer—Greg Adams squeal like a pig in Deliverance.
18. Flashing Lights
Yes, Matt Murphy’s arguably superior project—the Super Friendz—have reunited. But the Flashing Lights, Murphy’s project after he moved from Halifax to Toronto, hasn’t. And they should: Over two albums, he progressed his signature vintage British pop sound with flecks of sauced-up glam and ’70s garage riffage, all while never losing his ability to craft a honey-soaked pop hook. Both the Flashing Lights’ albums, Where the Change Is and Sweet Release, are endlessly listenable—and they sound like they haven’t aged a millisecond.
19. Go It Alone
OK, amazingcore’s biggest Canadian luminary—Aram Arslanian, who played in Champion and The First Step—is now a communications consultant in Vancouver. What that means? Canada is sorely lacking a dominant youth crew act. Get your shit together, Go It Alone.
20. A hack squad of ’90s Sonic Unyon bands
OK, Hayden’s still doing his thing. But can we start a supergroup with members of Tristan Psionic, hHead, and Sianspheric already?