Heard Before the Herd

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. 

1. Eight and a Half 
Broken Social Scene fans, rejoice! The latest project from BSS drummer Justin Peroff has him teaming up with Liam O’Neil and Dave Hamelin of another now-defunct Montreal band, The Stills. A holy triumvirate of indie rock, Eight and a Half have a heavy synth-pop sound. Though these guys are moody and gritty, they’ve reached the perfect harmony between rock and electro. For those of us still mourning the loss of their former bands, Eight and a Half have reinvented themselves as an equally-as-awesome experimental pop group. Stream their debut album here.

2. Great Bloomers
Roots, alternative, pop, grunge and…dare we say a tad bit country? Categorizing Great Bloomers is hard to do. But what we do know is that their new sound, littered with vocal harmonies, is heavy, loud and a lot dirtier than their previous stuff. With tones reminiscent of The Rural Alberta Advantage, Library Voices and the Wooden Sky, Great Bloomers are exploding onto the Canadian music scene. And any band who lists the Beach Boys as their main influence are okay by us. Check out their video (which could easily double as Bixi bike ad) for “The Young Ones Slept” here.

3. The Balconies 
This threesome migrated from Ottawa to Toronto, and we’re so glad they did. Brother and sister Jacquie (guitar, vocals) and Stephen Neville (bass, vocals) teamed up with Liam Jaeger (drums, vocals) to create dark, danceable and loud rock that will even have your grandmother stomping her feet to the beat. Notorious for speaker-exploding and drumstick-breaking live shows, The Balconies are energetic and rugged. The track “Kill Count” could serve as the anthem for any Young Professional looking to kick butt and take names. You’ll want to turn your speakers up for this one.

4. Doug Paisley 
On the other end of the musical spectrum is Doug Paisley, who might be considered country music for those who hate country music (read: most of us). The singer/songwriter’s sound is soul, roots, bluegrass and yes, a bit of country, in one easy-listening package. Backed by a bevy of instruments – organ, strings – Paisley’s poetic and reflective voice has flown under the radar and gone virtually unnoticed in Canada. Americans, however, have praised his work, and he’s received glowing reviews from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and The New Yorker. With his new album slated for release sometime this year, it’s about time we show a fellow YP some love. Track: “No One But You

5. Dusted 
Holy F*ck’s Brian Borcherdt has reinvented himself yet again, this time with producer Leon Taheny (of Bruce Peninsula and Final Fantasy). Borcherdt is constantly experimenting with his sound (we remember his gig as an alternative country crooner), so it comes as no surprise that Dusted sounds a lot different from his work with Holy F*ck. Dusted is electro, pop, dreamy, mellow and melancholy at the same time. With Borcherdt on guitar and vocals and Taheny slapping bass and kicking drum machines, these guys are going to put on one heck of a show at this year’s NXNE Festival. Their single, “(Into the) Atmosphere” is a reminder that sweet summer is just around the corner.

Photo: Eight and a Half, by Liam Maloney