If your impression of the music scene Down East starts with Sloan and ends with Great Big Sea, you're missing out big time. Here's a random sampling of bands to listen for.
Winter Sleep If one Hayden is beautifully bittersweet, imagine four of 'em in one band! St. John's boy Jud Haynes, ex of hardcore cult rockers Bucket Truck, serves up something completely different with his new project, Winter Sleep: gauzy indie-rock minimalism, like Tortoise fronted by Tom Waits. Haynes and co. recorded their debut disc in August, and it's set to drop in December.
The Jimmy Swift Band Alterna-stars of this year's East Coast Music Awards, the Jimmy Swift Band make lush, poppy alt-rock with a difference -- they can actually write good songs. (Guitarist/vocalist Craig Mercer snagged second place in a national industry songwriting competition.) Jammy, jazzy, hook-laden, electro-jarred pop.
The Joel Plaskett Emergency One of the only survivors of the early-90s Halifax pop explosion not to defect to the gritty T-dot, the former Thrush Hermit member returns to provide another generation of boy-lovin', be-toqued Canadian indie rock girls 'n' boys with shaggy-haired wet dream material. The Cheap Trick-meets-Wilco Emergency is edgier than Plaskett's sappy solo stuff but takes things down a notch from the alt-rock fizz of his Hermit days.
The Heelwalkers Considering that Sweden's currently leading the rock 'n' roll Olympics, it's no surprise that one of the most ass-kicking garage-style bands on the East Coast is fronted by a dude from the Hives' and Hellacopters' homeland. With the recent release of their self-titled debut on cool indie Brobdingnagian, Benny Bjabin and his band of MC5-lovin' Nova Scotians are out to turn Canada into the next Detroit er Sweden. See interview, page 50.
Slainte Mhath Sure, combining Celtic melodies with slippery techno beats conjures up shudder-worthy memories of a Dance Mix 2001 Richie Hawtin remix of Enya's New Age keening, but Slainte Mhath (pronounced "slawncha va," Gaelic for "good health to you") are worth checking out. The five-piece have a solid following around the world, boosted by their newest album, Va, which hit the shelves in August.