Wed, Jun 25, 2014.
Have you noticed that hardly anybody is making rock and roll music any more? At least it seems that way. It's getting harder and harder to hear new rock music, and the radio stations are all about classic rock from the 70's. A friend of mine just moved to Vancouver from Halifax, and everywhere she went, it was all electronic and weird, in her opinion. She asked people, and nobody knew where to go hear rock bands, in Canada's third largest city. Here's the kicker: She's in the music business, and the people she was asking are too. Still nobody knew where rock music was hiding.
Did you check out the recently-announced long list for the Polaris Music Prize? 40 albums, and if you've heard more than five of them, you're probably a Canadian music journalist. I'm one of those on the 200-plus music jury for the prize, and I can tell you, there's precious little rock music there. Arcade Fire, whatever they are, a lot of wildly alternative stuff, some young people doing their versions of folk, and just out-there music of various types. And Drake. Rock is not big.
Except..nobody told us in the East. There's still lots of rockin' around here. I suppose that why there's a ridiculous lack of Maritimers on the Polaris list. Rock and basic folk just aren't hip these days. Rock, the way we make it, like it's supposed to be done. Sort of like craftspeople I figure. Our bands are still doing hand-made, rugged rock, like making hand-made, rugged furniture, while everyone else is making trendy, form-fitting plastic things. Next year, another trend will come along, everybody will rush to that. We'll still be making the strong stuff, and every once in a while, they'll get sick of the trends and come back to hear us.
Right now, we're serving up Gloryhound. The Halifax four-piece has been making waves the past couple of years, releasing the EP Electric Dusk in 2012, and now launching their first full album, Loaded Gun. There's no mistaking what Gloryhound are about. It's electric guitars, bass and drums. There's some keyboard fills, but no samples, no layers of atmosphere, no loops. The band is powerful, tight, and alive. This isn't retro-rock, they aren't trying to revive any particular era or sound from rock's past. It's the group's own spin on all that's come before.
What's cool about that is the way they have made a sound that appeals across the board. There's a bit of classic hard riff-rock. For instance, you can hear the Deep Purple in Suzie Is A Man, with a lyric Lou Reed would appreciate. The title cut and lead single, Loaded Gun, has great big riffs that might have been heard on any favourite high school rock album from the 70's and 80's, but the verses and vocals would surely find appreciation from Joel Plaskett. And certainly anybody who likes the alternative rock that came up in the 80's and 90's will enjoy their stuff. I've seen the band live, they explode with energy and break down all the barriers that used to be there for rock fans. I guess we all have to be together these days, and fight the good fight.
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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).