Canadian Indie Music Spotlight: East Coast (Part 1)

12 04 2013

As a born and proud Canadian I get easily frustrated when people say that we don’t have much of a music scene. The truth is, we have a vibrant music community from coast to coast spanning alternative, rock, folk, electronica, hip hop and pop. Everyone knows the classic Canadian rock bands like Rush, The Guess Who, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Great Big Sea, The Tragically Hip, etc. Recently, numerous Canadian musicians have also generated international acclaim like Metric, Feist, Bloc Party, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Sloan, and a lot more. But none of those are the focus of this series. Instead, I’m going to be focusing on the heaps of talented indie bands from four main areas: the East Coast, Ontario, Quebec and the West Coast.

The East Coast has always had an active music scene with hubs like St. John’s and Halifax acting as melting pots of different cultures and musical stylings. Here are some fantastic Maritime bands that are more than worth your time and (hopefully) money:


The Joel Plaskett Emergency

Joel Plaskett is inescapable when mentioning anything about music on the East Coast. He’s either mentored or heavily influenced all of the bands on this list yet never broke through internationally like. say, Sloan. He’s a brilliant songwriter with simple chord progressions and an incredible amount of soul. In many ways, Joel Plaskett defines the Canadian indie rock sound for me. My advice to you? Begin with his first album with The Emergency, Down At The Khyber and work your way up through his discography.

Essential Song: Down at the Khyber

 


Hey Rosetta!

Hey Rosetta! are the pride of St. John’s, Newfoundland and for good reason. Their music shifts effortlessly from soft and introspective to grand and uplifting. Their songwriting ability of this band is sublime. Frontman Tim Baker anchors each song with his passionate voice while strings swirl around him, and the rhythm section perfectly cradle the sheer enormity of it all. These qualities shine through on their records but really captivate live. In fact, it wouldn’t be considered strange to see members of the audience cry at their shows.

Essential Song: 1000 Suns

 


Two Hours Traffic

Two Hours Traffic hail from Prince Edward Island and create some of the catchiest music in the entire country. They specialize in pop-rock, pumping out so many sing-along choruses that they make it look like child’s play. Their first three albums were produced by none other than Joel Plaskett, who helped craft their sound and establish them as a major player in Atlantic Canada. Start with their Sophomore album, it’s one of the most impeccable pop albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Essential Song: Stuck For The Summer

 


Mardeen

Mardeen is a five-piece pop band from Halifax that seem to be cut from the same cloth as Two Hours Traffic. With two albums under the belt (that you can download for free) they’re no strangers to the scene, yet somehow noone seems to have heard of them. Everyone I’ve showed them to has become a instant fan. The songs are just too catchy and irresistible. See for yourself: www.mardeen.ca

Essential Song: Honour

 


The Danks

Criminally underrated is the first thing that comes to mind about The Danks. The band was formed in Prince Edward Island by Brohan Moore and Alec O’Hanley (the former guitarist of Two Hours Traffic) and they’re by far my favorite band on this list. With an insane sense for pop hooks, the “don’t give a fuck” attitude of The Strokes, and a bass tone that would make the Kings of Leon jealous The Danks always deliver the goods. This band will blow you away.

Essential Song: Planet Beach

For more awesome music from the East Coast also check out:

  • Boxer The Horse
  • Paper Lions




Mr. Hudson – Fred Astaire

2 04 2013

Keeping on the funky/retro vibes I’ve been feeling for the past couple weeks, I present you “Fred Astaire” by G.O.O.D. Music songsmith Mr. Hudson. The song gives off a 50s doo-wop vibe that is simply irresistible unless you actually dislike happiness (seems unlikely). It’s extremely simple, which adds to its charm and makes for some easy listening. This is the first we’ve heard from Mr. Hudson for quite some time, but I hope this signals a triumphant return.

Bonus: Another track called Fred Astaire by the extremely talented band San Cisco!





Glastonbury Lineup Announced

27 03 2013

 

Large Version

Leave it to Glastonbury to make a mockery of all the festivals we North American hold dear. Despite the hundreds of festivals that pop up left, right and centre this year’s Glastonbury lineup proves why it’s the one of the world’s greatest. The headliners for the festival are Arctic Monkeys, THE ROLLING STONES, Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend, and CHIC FT NILE RODGERS. Mind you those are just headliners, the rest of the artists are the best of the best spanning a multitude of different genres. Plus there’s more artists to be announced before the festival actually kicks off. Before I leave you to salivate and convince your friends that plane tickets to England aren’t that expensive here are my favorites from the lineup:

  • Arctic Monkeys
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Primal Scream
  • Elvis Costello
  • Ben Howard
  • HAIM
  • Portishead
  • Chase & Status
  • The xx
  • Foals
  • The Smashing Pumpkins
  • Alt-J
  • Two Door Cinema Club
  • Alabama Shakes
  • Of Monsters and Men
  • Chic ft Nile Rodgers
  • Public Enemy
  • Major Lazer
  • Django Django
  • Solange
  • Half Moon Run
  • Crystal Castles
  • Phoenix
  • Bastille
  • James Blake
  • Johnny Marr
  • Tyler, The Creator
  • Frightened Rabbit
  • Local Natives
  • Nas
  • Disclosure
  • Rudimental
  • Skream & Benga
  • Sub Focus
  • SBTRKT
  • Netsky
  • Dogblood
  • Gary Clark Jr
  • Lucy Rose

Aaaaaaand I’m done. Best festival ever? I think so.





Tuxedo – Tuxedo EP

26 03 2013

Alright so it seems like a funk/soul epidemic has hit the web and I am just having the time of my life. This band Tuxedo, just came out of the blue and set the blog world ablaze. This stuff sounds straight off of a Mayer Hawthorne album and I mean that as a big compliment. The EP is free to download and features three funky tracks. It ranges from the smoothness of “Do It” to the bouncy California sounds of “So Good” and ends with the superb slow jam “Get You Home.” I could’ve sworn that Jimmy Fallon was going to make a surprise appearance on the last track to slow jam the news.





Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines (ft TI & Pharrell)

20 03 2013

The return of Justin Timberlake’s falsetto seems to have lured Robin Thicke out of hiding. Robin Thicke, to the surprise of pretty much everyone, released a new track today called “Blurred Lines” and gets Pharrell and TI to lend a helping hand. The track is funky, playful and completely unlike anything on the radio right now. It instantly transported me to a time when no one knew who Justin Bieber, Katy Perry or Kesha were. I’m definitely not complaining.





The Strokes – Comedown Machine (Album Stream)

18 03 2013

ALBUM STREAM

The Strokes surprised fans with a full stream of their new album “Comedown Machine” on Pitchfork one week before it hits shelves. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this record. I’ll let you know my initial thoughts on The Strokes’ latest effort this week once I’ve given the whole thing a couple listens. Same thing with JT’s new LP.





Vampire Weekend – Diane Lane/Step

18 03 2013

I have to be honest, I wasn’t that excited about Vampire Weekend’s upcoming album “Modern Vampires of the City.” Their last album didn’t really do it for me and with so many albums coming out this year, they just faded into the background. But that was before I heard these two magnificent tracks.

“Diane Young” brings a 50s dance-vibe alongside signature twists from the band like frenetic drumming, vocal pitch bends and some scratchy guitar solos. The result is a song that sounds classic yet fresh and how can you not love the perfect breakdown that puts a spotlight on Ezra Koenig’s amazing vocals.

“Step,” on the other hand, is a ballad that feels much more typical of Vampire Weekend. There’s even baroque harpsichord opening! Who knew? All jokes aside, this is an elegant and sweet number that will no doubt be featured in many indie rom-coms.

Vampire Weekend has succeeded in peaking my interest with two awesome but very different songs that restore my faith in the Brooklyn four-piece. If the rest of the album is anything like this, I’m in 100%.