JOEL PLASKETT EMERGENCY at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Saturday (August 4). 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
the joel plaskett emergency's debut album, Down At The Khyber, sounds like the kind of ragged country rock that Wilco fans dream of. But don't expect them to be chasing after the alt country tag. "I love country, but for me this is more about throwing a bunch of things together and seeing what works," says singer/songwriter Plaskett.
"One of my favourite bands were the Band, and I guess they got called country rock, but they were doing soul songs, too.
"Zeppelin are another favourite. They would go from country pedal steel to some kind of Indian thing. It was pretentious as hell, but it was also exciting. It's that kind of excitement that I'm trying to get here."
Plaskett was a principal member of Halifax band Thrush Hermit for 10 years. Just before they broke up, he released In Need Of Medical Attention, a solo album of softer, more traditional songs that didn't fit in with a four-piece rock band.
The Joel Plaskett Emergency is the halfway point between the two. He says the three-piece Emergency keeps things raw.
"It allows the vocals to be more important. There's nothing to hide them when there's just three of us."
The live show is more rock than the album, which featured pedal steel, piano and organ tracks as well as a guest appearance on banjo by his father, Bill Plaskett.
"My dad taught me guitar. He got me into a lot of music -- British folk and bands like Fairport Convention. He played on my first album, too, and got up with us at the CD release in Halifax to do a few songs."
While modest, honest songs might not be the easiest thing to market without a trend to attach them to, the comfortable classic rock feel of Down At The Khyber should satisfy those looking for a summer soundtrack of rootsy pop.
But don't call it roots rock either.