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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Band Rock World


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Great riffs, catchy hooks and a driving beat that makes driving too fast a pantload of fun"

One of Canada's most popular bands is back with their first album since 2005's magnificent "Yes To Everything". Much to every 54-40 fan's delight this disc offers more of what makes these guys a genuine Big Deal- great riffs, catchy hooks and a driving beat that makes driving too fast a pantload of fun.

These guys have sold over a million albums, spawning a dozen top ten radio hits that get you singing along before the first chorus. That continues here as "Snap", the first single, has that unmistakable 54-40 sound. Neil Osborne's voice is instantly recognizable and the band continues to perfect the craft of songwriting.

There's a darkness to 54-40's songs that attracts me. You might expect the title song to be an uplifting rocker, but it's a heart-breaking ballad about parents sending their children off to war and having them come back in coffins. It's ridiculous that songs like this still need to be written.

"Northern Soul" will have you tapping your size tens, singing along and thinking, often at the same time. "Oh my darlin' how I fell for you/ on the shores of darkness I fell too soon/ teach me love and how to hold on to your fire". Yeah, that Neil Osborne sure has a way with words- whew!

Bottom line: if you like 54-40's other stuff, you'll dig "Northern Soul" too.

KEY CUTS: "Northern Soul", "To Face Your Eyes", "The Chant", "Snap"
- Gonzo Magazine

"A testament to how real music can be played"

It is difficult to believe that 54-40 have been around for 20 years and even more difficult to understand how a band this good have been under the radar in the UK all this time.

Neil Osborne writes songs dripping with melody and with lyrics that will resonate with anyone with any experience of life and whose horizons are further away that the next screw or promotion. The band he fronts - Dave Genn, Matt Johnson & Brad Merritt – play with real skill and the sympathetic interplay between them emphasises the quality of the songwriting as well as standing as a testament to how real music can be played.

The title song is a timeworn statement about personal loss in the midst of national concerns and a war that is not understood by the people whose sons are taken from them – resonances with life in Britain today?

All the songs have the feel of music that is felt as well as written – 'Shade Grows’ makes the listener feel the subject as much through the way the music is played as through the lyrics – old age and the growing together is about as universal a subject as you can find but one that is rarely treated with real understanding as it is here.

This is a fairly mainstream album as far as Canadians go – not as 'out there’ as Grand Theft Bus or as emotionally deep as the Olympic Symphonium – but if you are after folk and rock in an REM style, played brilliantly and with songs that bear listening to many more than one time through then 54-40 are well worth a look at. - Music-News.com

"54-40 have a rosy future as well as a respectable past - 8/10"

Certainly not to be confused with either The Verve's album of (almost) the same name or the discerning '60s club scene, this 'Northern Soul' quite possibly refers to 54-40's home base, the north-western Canadian metropolis of Vancouver.

Having solved that geographical cipher, we can get down to business and discover that 54-40 are actually long-standing homeland heroes. Their press release speaks of huge Canadian sales, a clutch of Top 10 radio singles, contracts with Columbia and Warner Brothers and further success by dint of their tune 'I Go Blind' being covered by the much-maligned Hootie & The Blowfish.

Not a bad return all told. Even if they don't quite make the grade as international megastars, they've had a career heading for three decades and the solid, sometimes inspired 'Northern Soul' suggests there's plenty of life in them yet.

Most of the album's best tracks come in a flourish at the start. Opener 'The Chant' has an exhilarating, windblown intensity, propelled by layers of guitars and the emotional bloodletting of the lyrics (e.g: “Oh my darling, how I fell for you on the shores of darkness�) suits Neil Osborne's grainy, lived-in vocal, which at times veers towards Michael Stipe territory.

It's a good start and they build upon it with the almost-Power Pop of the anthemic 'Snap' and the excellent 'The Scare of Meaning Less'. This latter's title alone sums up the modern malaise most of us seem to be grappling with daily if we're over 25 and it's hard not to relate to lines like: “you feel you're being punished when you've only ever done your best/ and the force of life just shakes its' head� in the current scheme of things.

The album arguably peaks with the title track. A duet between Neil and Coral Osborne, it tackles the horrors of war (Iraq, presumably) head on, from the point of view of a bereaved couple who've lost their son in action. A poignant ballad, the lyrics are (inevitably) laden with emotion (“'cause you made him with your love and he flies above/ and we both know he was better than this war�) and the music has a grace and dignity which is entirely fitting.

To be fair, it's hardly all downhill from there. Songs like 'Where Did The Money Go' and 'To Face Your Eyes' peddle a satisfying line in world-weary observations allied to sprightly tunes; 'The Wind Down' boasts a yearning chorus which could provide easily an addition to those radio hits and 'Moonbeach' has one of those apparently naff hooklines (“go go go, go baby go�) you'll end up humming in spite of yourself.

Yes, there's the occasional less than essential moment. 'Shade Grows', for example, is rather abstract and slight and 'One Hundred Songs'' unlikely banjo motif wrong-foots you, although it grows on you with repeated exposure. More effective is the closing 'Lucky', which again chooses the 'acoustic postscript' option on the menu. It's a naked and sparse thing with a gentle, rising shimmer of strings adding subtle, distinguished colour and Osborne's lyrics (“in our hearts we're looking for something more/ to find in darkness a reason to keep beating�) again searching for a way ahead. It wears its' vulnerability well and it's an ideal way to wind the record up.

'Northern Soul' wears its' bruises with pride. It's borne of experience and rolling with the punches. At its' best, it converts its' creators' round-the-block-a-few-times experiences into something very satisfying indeed. It would suggest 54-40 have a rosy future as well as a respectable past. - Whisperin & Hollerin

"54-40 release a real northern treasure"

4 (out of five)

Nearly 30 years into their career, Canadian rockers 54-40 continue to prove they're as much a fabric of the nation's soundscape as The Tragically Hip and Neil Young. A gorgeous album from start to finish, Northern Soul is trademark 54-40 from Neil Osborne's distinctive vocals to the floating guitar licks. But the West Coast foursome also show their age and experience by offering up tracks more important for their message than single potential.

The haunting "Shade Grows" and the title track tell stories about war -- one from the perspective of parents who have lost a child and the other from an eerie first person viewpoint. Even more unnerving is the video for "Northern Soul," with animation reminiscent of Pink Floyd's The Wall. Coral Osborne joins father Neil for the vocals on "Northern Soul," showing she might be predisposed to following in dad's footsteps.

The album has just as many light moments. With its perky piano, horns and cheerful chorus, the band must have had a good time recording "Where did the Money Go?" Smitten and sweet, "The Wind Down" is a comforting reminder the group hasn't become jaded in the least, and can write songs with bright-eyed perspective of a new artist.

While solid through all 11 songs, "The Chant," "The Scare of Meaning Less," and "One Hundred Songs" have that spine-tingling quality that keeps a record forever in a playlist. The latter of the bunch is pure Canadiana as it blends harmonica, xylophone and banjo with one of Canada's best known rock voices.

Sadly, Northern Soul probably won't lift the group any higher into the public consciousness, but those who pick it up will realize what a northern treasure we have. -- Erin Harde - Erin Harde, Andrew Matte, The StarPhoenix


2008 Northern Soul (True North Records)

2006 This Is Here This Is Now (True North Records-DVD)

2005 Yes to Everything (True North Records / Universal)
2003 Goodbye Flatland (SBEC/Divine Industries Inc./RED Canada)
2002 Radio Love Songs: The Singles Collection (Columbia)
2000 Casual Viewin (Columbia)
1999 Heavy Mellow (Columbia)
1997 Sound of Truth: The Independent Collection (Columbia)
1996 Trusted By Millions (Columbia)
1994 Smilin' Buddha Cabaret (Columbia)
1992 Dear Dear (Columbia)
1991 Sweeter Things (Warner Bros)
1989 Fight For Love (Warner/Reprise)
1987 Show Me (Warner Bros)
1986 54?40 (Warner/Reprise)
1983 Set The Fire (Mo Da Mu)
1982 Selection (Mo Da Mu)



5440 are one of the most important popular music groups to emerge from the Canadian cultural landscape. With more than 2 decades of performing and recording behind them, the band has an unbelievable catalogue of hit songs. Lead by chief songwriter Neil Osborne, 5440 have carved out a legacy of gold and platinum albums and a outstanding reputation for their live performances that carries through to this day. Over 25 years, 2000 performances, and 16 releases the secret to 5440's longevity is their ability to redefine and reinvent themselves, taking long time 5440 fans on a ride that is bound to pick up new young fans on the way. To experience 5440 in concert is to experience how songs have touched and continue to touch people's lives. From people who have followed the band from their humble beginnings in east Vancouver to new young fans that have discovered the truly original band that is 5440, a 5440 concert is an extraordinary affair that bridges the gaps of generations through a shared love of music.

"I simply can't find the right words to describe 54.40, one of the most respected Canadian bands ever. Can one possibly gauge the accomplishments they have attained during their two-decade-long journey in one sentence? The answer in my mind is no," Scene Magazine.

In its original trio form, 54.40 played its first gig on New Year's Eve 1981 at the 'Smilin' Buddha Cabaret' in Vancouver. After recording a couple of independent releases and reconfiguring the band as a foursome, they signed with Warner Brothers in the US and released four albums. Then in 1991, 54.40 found a new home on Columbia Records at Sony Music Canada.

Since then, the band has toured throughout the world, released 9 more albums, received numerous awards and has achieved almost a dozen Top-10 hit singles. Along with their incredible songwriting ability, 54.40 expanded their horizons by opening their own studio, racking up producing and mixing credits. Neil Osborne produced Juno nominated Jets Overhead and Winnipeg singer songwriter Cara Luft, while guitarist Dave Genn produced up and coming rock bands Marianas Trench, Arm Chair Cynics and is a co-songwriter for the chart topping Hedley.

In 2005, the band appropriately signed a recording agreement with True North Records, one of Canada's longest standing independent labels. Since hooking up with True North, the band released the acclaimed "Yes To Everything" album and followed it with a live DVD titled "This Is Here This Is Now. The latter recorded at the magnificent Commodore Ballroom during their traditional annual October appearance at the Vancouver landmark.

Throughout their journey, 54.40 remains creative and fresh, growing musically and lyrically with each project. "A band has to evolve with its audience to keep their interest," stated Brad Merritt. "We make records based on where we're at, at that time. So it's kind of like a time capsule."

When asked about their track record Matt Johnson once commented, "one thing we hear consistently is 'I didn't know you guys had so many hits,' but we just consider ourselves songwriters. We enjoy the craft and whether we're trying to write an eight-minute epic or just a three-minute pop song, it's very enjoyable for us and we're not afraid to do either." (London Free Press)