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! 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 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
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