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Great Forgotten Canadian Music of the 80s

A few of Eyewear's favourite bands from his teen years...

Chalk Circle was a band that seemed clearly influenced by Big Country and U2 - they had a big sound and perhaps 'April Fool' was their biggest-hearted tune.  Utterly forgotten by most people now.

The Payolas had an echoey guitar vibe that reminds one of 'I'm In Love With A German Film Star' but were - again - Canadian New Wave.  Thus, basically, unheard of now.  Their classic is 'Eyes of a Stranger'.

I saw Blue Rodeo at the McGill Ballroom - for a time they were a kind of local Crowded House.  'Try' is their big hit.

Red Rider's 'Lunatic Fringe' has long been a radio classic.  Few know it is by a Canadian band fronted by Tom Cochrane.

'Nova Heart' by The Spoons is probably the quintessential Canadian New Wave song.  As good as Visage?

Strange Advance were New Romantics North, and 'We Run' from 1985 is their finest moment.

Okay, I was wrong - 'Echo Beach' from 1980, by Martha and the Muffins, is likely the best-known Canadian New Wave hit.

Also from 1980, the very louche 'High School Confidential' by Rough Trade.  This brings back high school viscerally.

Montrealer Corey Hart became - briefly - an international heart-throb (with his Harrison Ford looks, and falsetto whine) - and had a few kitsch hits, most especially 'Sunglasses at Night' which was, for a time, hugely influential as a fashion statement.

Northern Pikes - with 'Teenland' - had another classic Northern Wave hit in 1987.

The Pursuit of Happiness, in 1986, produced a video that really captures what it looked and felt like to be a Canadian teen coming of age, 'I'm An Adult Now'.  The weird guy dancing looks like Robert Lowell on a jag, and the lead singer walks through Toronto that looks as bleak as some Siberian mining town.

The Box scored an unlikely Can-Con hit with their Quebec City featuring video, 'Closer Together', and Jean Chretien delivery.

However, the kitsch crown must go to Gowan, whose 1985 'Criminal Mind' featured the voice (I think) of Paul Soles (Spider-Man in the original cartoon).

Canada's greatest band of this period - the REM of the North - was The Tragically Hip.  Their top song is arguably 'Blow At High Dough'.  It showcases their trademark narrative hi-octane intensity, where small-town lives converge with big emotions and experiences.  I am not sure exactly what this is about, but I love the idea of a film crew coming to a small town and a local guy who "can get behind anything" out at the speedway.

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Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:


THE BARBAROUS CENTURY, Leah Umansky
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SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!