Favourite Canadian Albums of 2011

on 7:36 pm

And yet another year comes to a close, one that was undoubtedly full of great music coming out of the Great White North, aka Canada.

And so for the second year running, I give you my 20 favourite Canadian albums of 2011. Without any further adieu, here they are with myspaces, bandcamps and soundclouds for your further listening if you're interested.

1. Sam Roberts Band – Collider http://www.myspace.com/samrobertsband

2. Cuff the Duke – Morning Comes http://www.myspace.com/cufftheduke
3. Elliott Brood – Days into Years www.myspace.com/elliottbrood
4. Sloan – The Double Cross http://www.myspace.com/sloan
5. Matthew Good – Lights of Endangered Species http://soundcloud.com/matthew-good
6. The Sheepdogs – Learn & Burn www.myspace.com/thesheepdogs
7. Hooded Fang – Tosta Mista www.myspace.com/hoodedfang
8. One Hundred Dollars – Songs of Man www.myspace.com/1hundreddollars
9. Dog Day – Deformer http://www.myspace.com/dogdaytheband
10. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing www.myspace.com/theraa
11. The Flower City 3 – Brampton Comes Alive! http://theflowercity3.bandcamp.com/album/brampton-comes-alive
12. The Deep Dark Woods – The Place I Left Behind www.myspace.com/deepdarkwoods
13. Sun Wizard – Positively 4th Ave http://sunwizard.bandcamp.com/album/positively-4th-avenue
14. Sports – Sports http://sports.bandcamp.com/
15. Hey Rosetta! – Seeds www.myspace.com/heyrosetta
16. Arkells – Michigan Left www.myspace.com/arkellsmusic
17. Chad Vangaalen – Diaper Island www.myspace.com/chadvangaalen
18. Dark Mean – Dark Mean http://darkmean.bandcamp.com/
19. Dinosaur Bones – My Divider www.myspace.com/dinosaurbonesband
20. The Dears – Degeneration Street www.myspace.com/thedears

Compilation: Have Not Been the Same - Vol. 1: Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die, tribute album based on the book: Have Not Been the Same: The Canrock Renaissance, 1985-1995. http://www.zunior.com/product_info.php?products_id=3362

So there you have it. For any of you out there who check in from time to time, we thank you and all the best in 2012 to everyone.

Boxing Day in Canada

on 10:33 pm

Today is Boxing Day in pretty much all countries that were once, or still are, part of the British Empire. In Portugal, nobody has faintest idea what Boxing Day is, mind you in Canada, many don't really know what the day is all about either. Apparently there are two stories that somewhat serve to explain how Boxing Day came about. First, back in feudal England, it was common for the lord of the manor to provide his servants with a gift the day after Christmas, a gift that was, of course, given in a box. The second story, also dating back to the same era in British history, relates to servants being allowed to take home a portion of the food leftover from the Christmas celebrations in a box to their families, this in conjuction with the distribution of alms from the church collection boxes to poor parishioners.

Of course today, the term Boxing Day makes very little sense. If anything, in todays day in age, the name can be best applied to us boxing up unwanted Christmas gifts and returning them. Boxing Day, however, very much like Christmas in general, is a day that's become wrapped up with the culture of consumerism where 'mad prices' are abandant, where everything is 20, 40, 50, 70 per cent off, and where all stock must go - it's the Boxing Day sales! Images such as these have become synonymous with this day.

People lining up at dawn in the freezing cold outside of a Best Buy waiting to get a deal on the latest technological gadget.

Once the doors are open, it's the mad, crazy rush to be the first to get their hands on what they've come for, or to buy as many as they can, or to get their hands on the limited stock of merchandise, or perhaps a combination of any of these. With this tradition having become what it is, many stores have even gone on to apply special opening hours on this day.

Now although Boxing Day is a Canadian federal holiday, it is not uniformly observed in all provinces and territories. It is not an official holiday in Quebec, for example, nor is it a statutory holiday in Alberta and British Columbia. As well, in some provinces, namely the Maritime provinces, stores are not open on Boxing Day which means that all Boxing Day sales actually start on December 27th.

Ok, sofar I've made it sound like Boxing Day in Canada is all about people getting their greedy hands on products made available at incredible discount prices all in the name of satifying their needs for pleasure and consumerism. Yes it may be true, but Boxing Day also goes beyond that. Also synonymous with Boxing Day in the Northlands is ice hockey (we are after all talking about Canada) as every year, on the 26th of December, Canadians gather around their newly purchaced 64 inch televisions to watch the kick off of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. Very much ingrained as a holiday tradition for millions of Canadians, the World Juniors brings together leftover turkey, qualify family time and the red and white of Canada, all in the name of cheering on the Canadian kids in a tournament they are expected to win every years. In the picture below, Portuguese descendant John Tavares celebrates after helping win gold for Canada in 2009, something he had done the year before as well.

Here in Portugal we have no Boxing Day, we have no mad rush to buy the latest cheap products (especially this year) and we don't have a major hockey tournament the whole country can rally around. As Boxing Day is non-existent here, this day is simply the day after Christmas Day. Still, it was good to see Canada beat Finland 8-1 in their opener today. It's great that some Canadian Boxing Day traditions can follow us around even when we're far away. Thanks internet!

Christmas ... again it's all about food isn't it?

on 11:45 pm

Well Christmas is fast approaching and with that, here's our Christmas post with all kinds of interesting facts about Christmas and about Canada and about Portugal and about eating and about doing nothing and about waiting for it all to be over and done with.

So if you're here in Portugal, when the 24th roles around, I'm sure you'll be slapping the good old bacalhau (or cod) on the table for all to enjoy, I'm I right? Or maybe if you're in northern Portugal you might be having polvo (in English that would be octopus) instead. In Portugal, Catholicism is to thank for the tradition of eating bacalhau and polvo, as back in the day the church would particularly not permit meat eating on those days of fasting. Bacalhau was particulary the common mans food, and in most of Portugal the tradition of eating it on Christmas Eve has remained. And so has the way it is served up; the easiest and simplest way possible: boiled and served up with potatos and coves (Portuguese cabbage). Here's what we'll be eating on the 24th:

Of course the next day we're back to good ol'fashion meat: goat, lamb, pork and of course, turkey.

Ok now lets look at Canada. When it comes to Christmas Day, we all know that Turkey is king. When it comes to Christmas Eve, however, there is no specific food typical to that night - there is no Canadian version of bacalhau. So what is a typical Christmas Eve diet in Canada? Well, in my house growing up it was bacalhau just like it was meatballs in Swedish homes or borscht in a Ukrainian home. In other words, Christmas Eve is all about ancestry when it comes to the 24th. The following day, however, for all of Canada, Christmas is synonymous with this:

Tasty butterball with all the trimmings, and that includes the stuffing as well. Of course in Canada you might get regional differences to boot. For example, don't be surprised to find your turkey accompanied with either fresh or smoked salmon if you're out in British Columbia, for example.

And then comes desserts. Well in Portugal we have sonhos, rabanadas, filhós and then there's the bolo rei, the Christmas cake I'm pretty sure the whole world shares; in Canada better known as fruit cake, mind you in Canada they don't look quit the same as they do here in Portugal. Here's the very lively and always colourful Portuguese version to the right.

So now if you're a Canadian here in Portugal missing certain aspects of Canada this Christmas, we offer you these down below to help put a little bit o Canada into you Portuguese Christmas this year. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!