By James Sandham
Here on the Canadian Music Hall of Fame blog we often talk about big names and JUNO Award–winning, internationally renowned Canadian talent, but of course there’s a whole other side to the Canadian music scene: the hardworking indie artists who tirelessly plug away at their craft. This week I thought we’d take a look at a few of them and see what they’re producing.
Grimes – “Genesis”
This is the tune that got me thinking about the idea for this post. It’s the latest from Vancouver native and Montreal transplant Claire Boucher, who is better known as the experimental musician Grimes.
This song comes from her third album, Visions, which was released in January of this year by British label 4AD. The video has had more than a million views on YouTube so far, so maybe we can’t really consider Grimes “underground” anymore, but it’s an interesting look at what’s happening outside of the mainstream Canadian music scene. Interesting fact: Boucher’s grandparents are apocalypse-ready survivalists who live in the mountains, and it was through them that she developed an appreciation for shooting guns. Apparently her grandparents own a lot of them. Huh.
Planet Creature – “Das Pirates”
OK, here’s something a little more legitimately “underground” – a cute little video by Toronto girl-pop band Planet Creature. They’re part of Toronto-based record label Optical Sounds’ psych-garage micro scene, and their video was shot in and around their home base in Toronto’s Kensington Market. Interesting fact: The “bad guy” in the video is ex-Hoa Hoa’s singer/current B-17 member/local indie DJ Richie Volume.
The Snips – “Better Part of Never”
The Snips are a punk band that came out of the Rose City Hardcore scene, and their latest album, Highs of Low, was just released through Rival Party Records. The band has been dogging it on the Canadian punk scene for many a year, working hard as hell, and their singer, Ricky Pridmore, owns the screen-printing shop that makes most of their merch. Very DIY. Very worth a listen.
Daniel Romano – “Time Forgot (To Change My Heart)”
Here’s another artist who came out of the Rose City scene. Daniel Romano was part of the moderately successful punk band Attack in Black, but ended up going in a very different solo direction, as evidenced by this track. He’s since collaborated with City and Colour (former Alexisonfire member Dallas Green, another figure from the Niagara punk scene) and is a partner in his own independent record label, You’ve Changed Records. This tune comes from his 2011 sophomore album, Sleep Beneath the Willow.
Diamond Rings – “Wait and See”
Last of all, here’s one from another Toronto musician: former D’Uberville’s member and North by Northeast favourite John O’Regan or, as he’s now better known, Diamond Rings, one of the latest artists signed to the EMI/Astralwerks record label. A lot has changed since he released this song two short years ago. Even the album from which it came, Special Affections, originally issued by Montreal’s Secret City Records, has been re-released under the aegis of his new label. It just goes to show that Canadian underground artists often don’t stay that way for long. So keep your ear to the ground.