Heard Before the Herd: Week of June 8, 2012

Got the mainstream music blues? Sick of Bieber fever? The underground music scene is oozing with new and notable talented musicians. Herewith, five under-the-radar bands that should be on every YP’s iPod. 

Said the Whale 
They may have started out with just a small cult following, but now that they have a Juno for New Group of the Year under their belt, Said the Whale set the bar pretty high for their latest album, Little Mountain. And the Vancouver indie rockers have met and surpassed our expectations. Their latest effort has incredible range, making it accessible for just about anything on a YP agenda – from kumbaya bonfire singalongs to Tuesday night hunts for post-bar snacks (we can’t be the only ones, right?). Check out their barf-inducingly cute video for “Loveless.”

If classical music was brought into modern day, it might sound something like Austra. The Toronto trio’s jagged and edgy electronic vibe is matched by lead singer Katie Stelmanis’ ethereal soothing voice. She may have been classically trained as a singer with the Canadian Opera Company, but she still maintains serious street cred. Stelmanis is probably the definition of a Young Professional – she’s handled just about every aspect of her musical career. And she’s still managed to maintain a haunting and distorted electro-pop sound that is rare to come by. See her very weird (in a good way) video for “Lose It.” 

Justin Rutledge 
It came as somewhat of a shock to us that Justin Rutledge – whose music conjures images of hammock-lazing, lush forests and ocean waves – hails from Toronto. Not that the concrete jungle isn’t inspiring, but listening to this folksy, roots, twangy singer-songwriter will make you want to brave rush hour traffic and head up to cottage country. His latest album, The Early Widows, was even co-written by Canadian literary heavyweight Michael Ondaatje. So prepare yourself for some lyric-heavy poetic goodness and storied songs that will inspire your next road trip. Recommended track: “Jack of Diamonds.”  

Though there are only two of them, Japandroids have a huge, massive sound. When they first started out, Vancouver natives Brian King (vocals, guitar) and David Prowse (vocals, drums) didn’t want to sing at all, but they scrapped their plans to enlist a lead singer and decided to do it themselves. And we’re so happy they did. This week, they released Celebration Rock, their sophomore album, and it’s every bit as loud and heavy as we’d expect from the rock gods. With tracks such as “Younger Us” and “Young Hearts Spark Fire,” their sound was practically made for the YP generation. You won’t be able to get this one out of your head. 

Sandman Viper Command 
With an ambitious name like Sandman Viper Command, the music just has to deliver. Which it does for this foursome. Think: if The Strokes had a baby with Sloan and it was raised by The Cure, it might sound something like these guys. Though they may be young (their combined ages average about 21), these YPs have an old school, classic rock vibe. Bonus: throw “Midwest Moses” on a mixtape – oh, who are we kidding – a digital playlist for date night and we guarantee you’ll get lucky (with stimulating conversation, of course).

Photo: Austra