Thursday, June 7, 2012


(Northern Exposure is a feature where Mark incessantly rambles about music from his home country of Canada.)

When I started doing this feature I had originally planned it to be about Canadian bands, but I think that it’s appropriate to branch out from just Canadian bands so I can talk about whatever is going on in Canadian music that I find important. It just so happens that this week I feel the thing making waves in Canadian music is an independent record label from Toronto called Paper Bag Records. They made some major signings this week that I think solidify them as not only my favourite label, but I think Canada’s best record label.

To start, Paper Bag’s first release way back in 2002 is one of my favourite albums of all time. That album is of course You Forgot It In People by Broken Social Scene. They also released a couple early releases from Canadian veterans Stars. Looking back on it a full ten years later, it’s really kind of astounding that a label could release such significant albums from such significant bands so early on in its career. But, That’s exactly what Paper Bag Records have done, and they’ve been growing strong ever since.

I’ll get to the newest signings later, but up until a few days ago Paper Bag’s roster included artists like Cuff The Duke, Elliott BROOD, Austra, The Rural Alberta Advantage, PS I Love You, Young Galaxy, CFCF, Born Ruffians and plenty more. They really have a stunning roster of bands. I think what might be the most impressive thing is just how diverse their roster is. Just within the artists I mentioned, they run the gamut from country to electronic and everything in between. Whoever is scouting talent for Paper Bag is definitely doing something right.

Another interesting thing that Paper Bag does is with their limited edition vinyl releases. Being a vinyl collector, it seems more worth the effort when what you’re buying is of limited quantity. I own a number of releases from Paper Bag, which are usually limited from somewhere between 300 and 500 releases. The packaging for Paper Bag’s is always interesting and usually deviates from the regular cover art somehow. Almost all of the vinyl they sell is coloured too, which isn’t exactly a unique novelty but I still think that it’s really cool. I just like knowing that some thought and care has been put into whatever you’re buying. This is another case of how I believe that Paper Bag is doing things right.

Now, let’s get to the Awesome news of yesterday with Paper Bag’s latest signings. Yesterday Paper Bag announced the signings of Tim Hecker, Moonface and The Luyas. To be forward, Moonface (aka Spencer Krug) is probably my favourite current musician, so it was kind of exciting when I found out that he was signed to my favourite label. Even more exciting was news that all these artists/bands are working on new material that should be released in late 2012 or early 2013.

The signings of these three acts only amplify all of the good things that I’ve already said. It’s this label’s ability to put out music that is so diverse, yet so consistent that I think makes it stand out in a sea independent record labels all over the country. I know that they’ve gained my respect over the past few years.

2011 may been Paper Bag’s best year to date with amazing releases from Austra, Young Galaxy, the Rural Alberta Advantage and Elliott BROOD. With the music that the label is scheduled to put out in the coming year, I’d say that 2011 can be eclipsed for Paper Bag and I look forward to it, you should too.

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