Fri, Jan 18, 2013.
The Strain, from Wakefield, Quebec, is making its way through the Maritimes. No, it's not the flu strain, but a quirky indie-pop band out of that pretty little town 20 minutes outside Ottawa. It also happens to be a hub of great music, thanks to its famous club The Black Sheep Inn, which hosts most of the best musicians in the country, filled to the brim almost any night of the week. I love the place, and if I had grown up there, I'm sure I would have picked up an instrument along the way as well, just to join the fun.
The Strain are touring in support of a second EP, Hush Hush, a six-track affair that sees the group lay down its own sound, complete with lots of danceable tunes, fun numbers, and a guitar edge that keeps them on the rock side. There's heavy use of synth throughout the songs, but I'd never call it synth-pop. Rather, it's power pop with synth, for lack of a better term. Roar is a big-beat number, the synth lines and drums straight out of the 80's box, with some robotic vocal effects, Duran Duran if they'd never gone chart-happy. Cold Shot Girl is bright and cheery, with a la-la-la-la-la-la playground backing vocal. But opener Untold is more mysterious, allowing the synth to sound super-cool. Meantime, The Rapture rocks out while keeping the beat up.
It's funny how young indie bands have embraced the old-school synth, finally finding ways to make it fit in to a full band, instead of having it dominate everything like the 80's bands did. And along the way, it's made the cool clubs safe for dancing again. Catch The Strain on tour at the following:
Jan 19 - Fredericton, NB - The Capital
Jan 21 - Halifax, NS - The Carleton
Jan 23 - Truro, NS - Split Crow
Jan 24 - Springhill, NS - Split Crow
Jan 26 - Saint Andrews, NB - The Red Herring Pub
Jan 28 - Montreal, QC - Petit Campus
Jan 29 - Toronto, ON - Horseshoe Tavern
Jan 30 - Peterborough, ON - Red Dog Tavern
Jan 31 - Kingston, ON -The Mansion
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).