Monday, November 21, 2011

OPINION: Best Bands I've Discovered In The Past Year

by Mark Gillis

In the past year my musical exploration has exploded. Sure, in the few years prior to this year I discovered that I really loved music but I didn’t get as involved in searching out music as I did in 2011. So, in this article I’d just like to discuss a few of my favourite finds of the year, whether they be old or new bands.

1. Lost Sounds/Jay Reatard 
I have to give a shoutout to Kyle on this one for making me listen to Lost Sounds’ self-titled album. There aren’t many albums that I’ve ever listened to and fell in love with instantly, but that album was one of them for sure. I just fell in love with how fast and messy all the songs seemed but at the same time they still felt really fun and poppy.

From Lost Sounds I went on to listen to Some of Jay Reatard’s solo efforts, which I fell equally in love with. His album Blood Visions highlighted the exact same things that I loved about his work in Lost Sounds. It was so aggressive and in your face but it still just felt so fun to listen to.

I hate the fact that I only discovered this guy’s music after he passed away. I really realize now what an amazing artist we lost.

2. Sloan 
I’d always known about Sloan, and I knew most of their hit songs, it’s impossible not to when you grow up in Nova Scotia. This past year I finally got the chance to delve into their entire discography of ten studio albums. Needless to say I was impressed by their work. These guys have been making amazing pop/rock music for 20 years, that must mean they’re doing something right.

Even though their music was undeniably great, I think the most important thing I took away from Sloan was how important they were to the evolution of Canadian indie music. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a band who used money they made from a record deal with Geffen in the mid/early 90’s to release music from other east coast acts like Thrush Hermit and Eric’s Trip on their own label called Murderecords.

I just really believe that this ‘do it yourself’ attitude that they showed so long ago was really far ahead of their time. Today you see a lot of bands starting their own labels and self-releasing their music along with music from other bands, but it was over 15 years ago that Sloan did the exact same thing.

I also really appreciate how they brought so much attention to the underground music scene from Halifax in the 90’s. The impact of what they did is still being felt in Canadian music. Sloan is still going strong and Joel Plaskett from Thrush Hermit is currently one of the country’s most beloved songwriters. Sloan is a band that defined an entire decade of Canadian music and I think their contributions to the music scene from Halifax may be even more important than the music that they’ve created.

3. Dog Day
While I’m on the topic of Halifax I have to mention this band. Like Sloan, Dog Day are another Halifax band who are currently making catchy as hell pop/rock tunes. Given how relatively unknown they are outside of Nova Scotia though, I feel like they’re kind of my little secret. I’d always heard about them but never gave them a serious listen until this year. Like Lost Sounds, this was another instant love for me. The dark and infectious brand of indie pop is really similar to what a lot of other bands are doing but for some reason all of the songs this band makes just resonate with me.

In the past couple of years this band has been through a lot, they lost two members, but the remaining two (Seth Smith and Nancy Urich) kept on making music. They released a new record this year called Deformer and like I mentioned with Sloan earlier, they really prescribed to the ‘do it yourself’ theory by self releasing the album on their own label and even hand screen printing all of the album art. I think when bands take their work into their own hands like this it just really shows that they care about what they're doing.

I had a chance to have a short conversation with them a couple of months ago after a show and these are definitely some of the nicest people I’ve met. I hope they keep putting out music for years to come.

So there you go, those are three artists that I discovered this year that I really fell in love with.  I discovered a lot more this year but those are three that really stuck out to me. I’d of course recommend that you check them out and I really hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.

1 comment:

  1. I too didn't start listening to Jay until after his death, it's frustrating knowing that there's never going to be any more music. What's more frustrating is that despite all of the claims to the contrary, a very smart, and good human being is no longer with us.