The Weakerthans and the Constantines

Canada's been getting loads of attention this year from stateside indie-rockers jazzed over ornate ensemble productions from "gay church folk music" practitioners the Hidden Cameras and extravagantly spaced-out guitar-popsters Broken Social Scene. Here's two more acts worth your overvalued American dollar: Winnipeg's Weakerthans and Toronto's Constantines, passionate rock believers possessed of fairly different agendas. On Reconstruction Site, smarty-pants Weakerthans front man John Samson (known to some from his days with goofy activist-punks Propaghandi) wants to make a big difference in a small way, telling bare-naked crash-test-dummy stories about "tape hiss and the modern man, the Cold War and card catalogs" over likable folk-rock that isn't afraid of the occasional fist-pumping chorus (provided you can still make out the words). He's good when quoting Martin Amis, but he's better when admitting, "I'm so glad that you exist"; your mom would agree. She probably wouldn't like Constantines singer-guitarist Bry Webb--he spends the entirety of Shine a Light sounding either totally unhinged or royally sloshed. But the band does such a strangely good job of connecting the dots between burly roots-rock and first-gen emo--check the layering of salty guitar and sweet organ in the title track--that you'll want to forgive his vocal excesses and dig into the noise. Yo, Canada: Got anyone else?
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Mikael Wood