A Vancouver band with a folk-pop take on alternative rock, 54-40 formed in 1981 as a trio consisting of bassist Brad Merritt, drummer Darryl Neudorf, and vocalist Neil Osbourne. (The band took their name from James K. Polk’s presidential campaign slogan, “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight,” which sought to expand the U.S. border northward.)
Dear Dear Initially, 54-40 toured the Western Canadian club circuit, without gaining much attention. In 1984, Phil Comparelli was added on guitar and vocals; Neudorf left shortly thereafter and was replaced by Matt Johnson (not the The’s frontman). By the time of the band’s self-titled album in 1986, their folk/roots approach had earned them favorable comparisons to R.E.M. Subsequent albums found the band moving into harder-edged territory. A lack of U.S. interest led to 1992’s exclusively Canadian release Dear Dear, but by 1994, continued success in their homeland helped to make a U.S. release possible for 1995’s Smilin’ Buddah Cabaret. 1996’s dark and cynical Trusted by Millions went platinum, while 1998’s Since When, which signaled a return to the folk-inflected sound that dominated the band’s early days, went gold. Casual Viewin’ arrived in 2000, followed by Goodbye Flatland (2003), Yes to Everything (2005), Northern Soul (2008), and Lost in the City (2011).
54-40 is available for corporate events, private shows, milestone celebrations (birthday, anniversary), fundraisers, festivals, and more.