Imagine That

There’s great music being played all over the country, every single minute of the day, year after year. Sometimes it’s easy for us Canadians to feel like our northern notes aren’t being heard from beneath the shadow of our big American sibling, but in my mind – Canada’s music has never sounded better. It’s innovative, it’s current, and it’s often setting the tone for musical trends we continue to hear around the globe (Arcade Fire, anyone?).

Whether out of a basement, a grungy club or in front of throngs of fans at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, Canadians are making themselves heard as headliners, opening bands and musical anomalies left, right and centre. In particular, a Canadian indie sensation that seem to be the center of many spotlights these days is the up-and-coming musical duo better known as Imaginary Cities, who hail from Winnipeg, Manitoba. This alt-indie-pop pair, made up of Marti Sarbit and Rusty Matyas (an accomplished Canuck musician already – formerly from The Waking Eyes and currently a part of The Weakerthans), are sweet and strange and everything in between.

Currently supporting acclaimed American indie-rock veterans Pixies on the North American leg of their Doolittle tour – this band is garnering growing attention with every new performance. Their February 2011 debut release, entitled Temporary Residents, is a beyond charming collection of Marti’s casually soulful croons effortlessly nestled within the band’s catchy melodies. The album sounds to me like the ultimate soundtrack to the Canadian girl’s life, with Marti’s tasteful vibrato vocals narrating an independent and adorably quirky life in the city.

Temporary Residents is perfect for any occasion, which is a huge plus in my musical books. “Marry The Sea” is upbeat and addictive with lyrics like, ‘I would dive into your love/ And I would go as deep as my lungs would let me/ If I were to marry the sea.’ One of my personal favourites (because of the opportunities it gives me to dance in my underpants) is “Ride This Out” - a flapper-friendly anthem that sounds like it would pump from the basement of a 1920s speakeasy with its rat-a-tat percussion and “Fever”-esque piano backing. Listen to or watch the live video to understand the full underpants effect. Endearing and precious can be heard in “Where’d All The Living Go“, a wise lyrical performance full of lovely harmonies that seem perfect for those sunny day strolls we’ve been treated to lately. If you’re wondering if you’ve ever heard Cities before, the tune you’ve most likely caught on CBC Radio 3 would be “Hummingbird“, the one you can’t help but repeat after hearing the gorgeous pop-piano loop and uppity drumming beneath Marti’s raspy pipes and the all-together-now harmonic finale.

Bottom line: this honest and creative pair, who came together in a chance meeting, have now become something we need to watch out for. They’re unique, unpretentious and amazingly inclined to write those indie-pop hooks that will rope in even the most reluctant of listeners. Listen to this album and indulge in Marti’s creamy smooth vocals, and you’ll find yet another reason to be extremely proud to be a young, Canadian woman… in a nutshell.

Ride This Out – Imaginary Cities

Hummingbird – Imaginary Cities