Various The Canadian Independent Box Set

This is a monumental undertaking to say the least. The set includes nine CDs plus a Meathead records sampler and one by folk rocker Lenore. The point is to show the state of independent music in Canada is a healthy one indeed. With 190 bands in total, it's difficult to do this justice in one short review. Luckily, the discs are split by genre with a bit of everything. The first disc is on the punk side of things, with songs by the Dinks, the Special Guests, Sin-Tones and more. Number two is more along the heavy-alternative/grunge line and although most of it is too commercial for my tastes, it's at least on par with the mainstream alternative that graces your average teen movie soundtrack. Fans of grindcore, death and the other heaviest of the metals will dig disc number three. It starts off with the scorched vocal stuff then moves into grunge territory with a nod to the local mosh pit. Number four is the electronic/ambient/industrial contribution to the set. It offers an interesting contrast to the other material and there's even a song from Nash the Slash and a few '80s-style new wave tracks on it. The fifth disc represents the old-style punks still skulking around out there, with tunes by the Dayglo Abortions, the Riptides and 2 Pump Louie. Also on the punk tip is disc number six, but this time it's more new school pop stuff with songs by Racer 10, NFA and the Retreads, among 22 others. Number seven is more of a rock disc, with a few Sarah McLachlan type songs throw in. The kind of thing 30-somethings who've "been there, done that" would probably appreciate. The eighth one is, according to the guide, the "funky and folkie" one. Add jazzy and bluesy with a dash of adult contemporary to that and you've got it. And, finally, number nine continues with the folkie rocky stuff to end things off. The only major flaw on here is the hit and miss nature of compilations. It's also a cumbersome mix that will see some disks getting played while others remain untouched. The grindcore fans aren't likely to be down with the folk rock and vice versa. But even if you don't like everything on here, chances are you'll like something. Almost every disc runs at over 70 minutes, with almost every province represented, so there's a lot of listening to do. (Meathead)