New Music issue 2015 | Music | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Twenty-seven new bands to sink your teeth into this summer. From metal, rap, blues, jazz, rock, pop, punk, folk and some new genres that haven’t been invented yet, there’s something for you. Do yourself a favour—support live music and new, local bands. So much better than a Netflix binge.

Anteater (Improv jazz)
Arsoniste (Dance pop)
Beauts (Pop rock)
Born in the Harvest (Indie-folk)
Crossed Wires (Pop punk)
Cryptorips (Math rock)
Designosaur (Alt-rock)
Don Lovely (New wave)
Fossil Cliffs (Garage)
Gift From God (Experimental)
Harley Alexander & The Universal Lovers (Soulful pop)
Hillsburn (Folk)
JonahMeltWave (Electronic)
MAJE (Hip-hop)
Mauno (Pop)
The Negligents (Blues rock)
The New Bridge (Jazz)
Ochre Acres (Pop)
Old Man Coyote (Rock & roll)
Owen Meany's Batting Stance (Literary folk)
The Pretty Nihilist (Punk)
Primenine (Punk)
Scumgrief (Metal)
Shy Boi (Rap)
Teleri (Alt-rock)
Unreal Thought (Post-punk)
Wayne World (Math metal)

High intensity jazz from a revolving door of nine talented musicians.

Thursday, July 9, 3pm
Halifax Jazz Festival Main Stage, Lower Water at Salter Street Streets

An improv-based jazz group comprised of names from the jazz scene like Geordie Haley, Andrew Jackson and Andrew MacKelvie, Anteater has been nosing around Halifax for the past year. Most of the musicians studied together at St. FX, and the band has grown out of projects started at the university. "We all play a lot together, so we're able to bring together what we have in other bands," says bassist Casey Jones. He describes their music as "high intensity." "We try to play some new music we can't play by ourselves." Right now, the band is working towards its upcoming Halifax Jazz Festival performance next month, where it's also been nominated for the Rising Star award. Anteater is hoping to do some recording in the future, but with a revolving group of nine members, some currently off studying around the world, it may take a few more months to get everyone in the same location. —Laura Kenins

Boundless yet intimate, Arsoniste creates beautiful, meticulous pop.

Arsoniste at Casino Nova Scotia artist in residence showcase
Friday, June 12, 8pm
Schooner Showroom, Casino Nova Scotia

As Arsoniste, Rachel Sunter makes music that feels at once boundless and intimate. Her songs are peppered with vivid recollections and internal conflicts—or, in Sunter's words, "which path to choose.

in life; which person to date; how to resolve an argument; how to love myself." Fleshed out as a duo with Alex Meade in March 2014, Arsoniste now straddles two different—and in some ways opposing—sounds. "I meticulously arranged the cello, trumpet, synth and vocal harmonies with an exact vision in mind," says Sunter of Arsoniste's new EP, Where There Is Dark. "Alex, on the other hand, favours polished, synthesized pop and dance music." Instead of choosing one direction or another, the duo decided to tackle both. "I felt weird about the stratification between genres," she says, "but at this early stage in my career I decided I would send out both sounds, and really listen to fans and see what resonated." —Brennan McCracken

Quick, distorted rock that's gliding slightly off the rails.

Friday, June 27
The Seahorse Tavern

There are some old hats and some new hats in beauts, a pop-infused rock outfit with Darryl Smith (Writers' Strike, Rich Aucoin) and Erik Van Lunen, complemented by a freshly pressed Palmer Jamieson (guitar/vocals) and Jeff Lawton (vocals). "I think everyone was itching to do something different, something with more energy," says Lawton. "I've never done anything musical before so I was just happy to be involved." In April, Beauts released two tracks that show off quick, distorted rock with layered vocals, a sneak peek into the band's potential. "There's an understanding that we're probably going to be pretty loose and wild during shows," Lawton explains. "And personally I don't want us to have a cool demeanor. It would be nice if we looked like a train wreck." After a mini-tour, beauts plays The Seahorse on June 27. —Adria Young

Born in the Harvest
A deeply collaborative collective of folk fans.

Born in the Harvest w/Cheap Gas, American Eric, Once Gentlemen
Friday, June 12, 10pm
Gus' Pub

"We helped harvest some of the garden and spoke about music and what it all means to us. By the end of the night we had decided we needed to start a band," says Jessica Lake of Born in the Harvest's too-good-to-be-true origin last September at Owlwood Farm. The group, which also features Callum Moscovitch, Brody McGee, David McInnis, Joesie Palmer, Andrew Seth Jamieson, Pete Watershed and Emilie Michaud, draws on a variety of influences to arrive at its indie-folk sound. Later this month, Born in the Harvest will be playing the Full Circle Festival. Staying true to its deeply collaborative roots, the show will see the group shuffling through different instrumental and vocal duties. "We all take turns sharing the spotlight and are fluid in our roles in the collective," says Michaud. "We try to stay focused on the fun and social aspects of making music together in a supportive environment rather than commercial concerns." —BM

Crossed Wires
Perfect pop punk gems with a hint of shade.

Crossed Wires w/Solids, Heat
Thursday, July 30, 10pm
Gus' Pub

"This is my first time writing songs or fronting a band. It was something I'd wanted to do for almost a decade but it was also really intimidating to me," says Heather Grant. Judging by Crossed Wires' EP, released last August, you'd never know Grant's new to this. Her vocals have the casual feel of jale's Jennifer Pierce, but with some serious punk shade thrown in: "Can't wait for your story to end," she sings on "Name Dropper." Add the fuzzy psych-rock tones of Kayla Stevens (Saffrons) and the upbeat timing of Dewayne Shanks, and you can grab the thread of an exciting new tangle. After almost a year together, "It feels pretty natural now," says Grant. Crossed Wires is working on another EP and plays next with Solids and Heat at Gus' Pub on July 30. —AY

From the ashes of North of America comes the cryptic Cryptorips.

Cryptorips is currently maintaining a presence as cryptic as its name, but we manage to track the band to the Echo Chamber studio, where it's in the process of recording some new tracks ahead of a summer tour with shoegaze band The Swirlies. "We've really only played four songs ever"—at its single live show in December—guitarist Mark Mullane says. Comprised of members of North of America, Holy Fuck and Long Weekends, the band was born out of Mullane's desire to use song ideas he'd been working on with North of America's 2010 reunion tour. It started taking shape over the past couple years and really took form when Matt McQuaid of Holy Fuck relocated to Dartmouth. Mullane took his North of America math-rock ideas and started writing more songs in a similar vein, though the songs gradually took on a life of their own. He hopes the current recordings will become part of a full-length eventually, and a 7" in the short term. Here's hoping for a hometown performance soon. —LK

Designosaur's debut EP is packed with golden age alternative rock.

click to enlarge New Music issue 2015
Jayson Lemoine

On Monday nights, Reflections Cabaret hosts $Rockin 4 Dollar$, a rock and roll open-mic contest that is the point of genesis for many Halifax bands. When AJ Boutlier, 21, and Sean Parsons, 23, met there and randomly played together, it quickly turned into Designosaur. Last week, the duo released their '90s-inspired EP Premature Since Birth: "It's filled with distortion and feedback and pop hooks," says Boutilier, who played every instrument on the album during production. Parsons adds: "The mastermind behind the operation is AJ. He wrote all the songs, recorded them all, and mixed and mastered them himself. He plays guitar and bass and sings his heart out." As far as the sounds they like, Parsons says, "We are hugely influenced by bands like The Inbreds, Sloan, Weezer, Joel Plaskett, all the good stuff." They also like dinosaurs, obviously. —AY

Don Lovely
Scrappy lo-fi songs about persona and fantasy.

click to enlarge New Music issue 2015
Andrew Mazerolle

From Tomcat Combat to Long Weekends to Moon, Noel Macdonald is one of the city's finest post-punk song-writers. Joined by Alex Mitchell (Bloodhouse) and Dexter Outhit (Barlow), Don Lovely's scrappy but melodic lo-fi jams are the stuff of dreams. "Persona and fantasy are two big themes for this band. I hear 'Don Lovely' and I think of a charismatic man who's cool with ripping his shirt off in public and crushing some hot smoky riffs," says Macdonald, who loves writing cheesy, fun lyrics, which you can hear on the recently released, Three Songs for Hunky Bunker, with synths by Outhit, sing-songy "hoo-hoos" and lots of crashes; a perfect summer tape. Know what else is lovely? Macdonald says: "Fine wine, candles, roses and a tube amp." —AY

Fossil Cliffs
Mellow garage with pure punk grit.

Fossil Cliffs
Wednesday, July 15
The Seahorse

"I've always enjoyed a wide variety of interests," says Mike D'Eon. "Everything from garage rock to hard-core to soft melancholy music; Fossil Cliffs is kind of a combination of all these." In October, D'Eon put out a self-recorded, self-titled five-track EP that features a '90s post-punk sound with staccato vocals, personal themes, plus keys and vocals by Julia Weir, giving these songs a jagged edge. He recorded them at The Acadian Embassy, the homebase of the indie label of the same name. It's a jump from the lush instrumentals of D'Eon's other band, Kuato. He defines Fossil Cliffs by his aims. "I don't want to scream in this band," he says, "I want to work on vocal harmonies and I want to have some mellow moments that have punk-rock grit." You can dig him live on July 15 at The Seahorse. —AY

New Music issue 2015
Elyse Moir

Gift From God
beautifully elusive trio Summons the spirit of a sabre-tooth tiger.

"The shows we've played have been entirely improvised," says Kira Daube, poet and vocalist of Gift From God, which also features Lindsay Dobbin (drums) and Elizabeth Johnson (keys and drones). Gift From God, which recently played OBEY, is an experimental performance that combines the talents of this holy trinity. "The ultimate intention is to go on a journey together," says Dobbin, whose drums measure Daube's pained vocals like a heartbeat. "We establish a collective vision before we play. The vision guides the music. Sometimes it's an object, an animal, or a series of images. We never say, 'Let's improvise in the key of D.' It's more like, 'Let's summon the spirit of the sabre-tooth tiger.'" As each performance is unique, and as all three work on their own art practices this summer, catching the band is a miracle. "It makes every sound that more special," says Dobbin. —AY

Harley Alexander & The Universal Lovers
Loving and lo-fi, The Universal Lovers provide the sunshine.

It's no wonder that an online note accompanying Harley Alexander & The Universal Lovers' new album Gold Shirt is signed "forever springtime"—from its name to its soulful, danceable pop, this band radiates sunshine. After a summer spent planting trees in British Columbia, Alexander reconnected with Adam Gravelle and Robert Loveless last September and the trio started to make music together. Rounded out by Peter Sarty, John Lake and Scott Nicks, Alexander now calls The Universal Lovers "a super band comprised of members from all [his] favourite local groups." As for that bright, happy energy, Alexander explains that it stems from a deliberate choice. "I've always used music as my own form of meditative therapy," he says. "And in this world I want to be a positive force—I intentionally only share the music that I feel is from the most open, loving and thoughtful place." —BM

A folk pop group that has something for everyone.

Folk-pop harmonizers Hillsburn had a flurry of activity recently, making it to the Top 10 in CBC Music's Searchlight competition. The group beat out 150 other Nova Scotian entries to become the regional winner. Though they didn't win the grand prize, the competition still had value. "Searchlight was a really interesting experience for us. It was amazing to have our song, 'Farther In The Fire' played on the radio and to hear people speak about it. We got to meet some really great artists from across the country as well," says Paul Aarntzen, who along with Jackson Fairfax-Perry and siblings Clayton and Rosanna Burrill makes up the band. Summer's busy: There's a full-length album to record, a slot at the Full Circle Folk Festival and CBC's Info Morning birthday party June 24th. Part of Hillsburn's wide appeal is the fact that, musically, there's something for everybody. Says Aarntzen: "We all come from different musical backgrounds so it's not hard to avoid getting trapped within a particular genre." —Stephanie Johns

Dartmouth transplant JonahMeltWave's vibes are out of control chill.

Originally from Baie Sainte-Marie, JonahMeltWave (AKA Jonah Guimond) is giving Dartmouth some really good vibes with his sample-based electronic chillwave tracks, which you can hear on his fresh EP2 (make sure to check out "Sometimes Ya Can" featuring BuckieB@). His work features French and English titles and the 19-year-old says he's inspired by "nature, vegetables, soul and jazz," which will, in turn, inspire the trippy wilderness that is Evolve, which he'll play in July. He also promises "secret collabs" soon and he'll be booking shows in Halifax and Moncton in the summer and fall. What would be his dream gig? "The party would be in a basement," he says. "The lighting wouldn't be very good but the sound system would be amazing. Everyone is sitting on the floor awkwardly. Psychedelics are involved." —AY

MAJE talent
Michael Earle, AKA MAJE, wants to change the world with his music. Read more here!

Prolific pop songwriters keep things concise.

"We work together well because we're all inventive and all really good at arguing," says Nick Everett of pop-rock trio Mauno (pronounced "mao-no"). Last fall, Everett brought his two jam-pals Eliza Niemi and Evan Matthews (The Everywheres) together for a whole new sound. "And since then, we've been writing and playing like mad," he says. He ain't lyin'. In February, Mauno released a split tape with Vulva Culture. There was a new single last week and the band is looking forward to its debut full-length, Champs, in August, while also currently doing a two-month cross-country tour. "We all love pop song writing so a lot of what we do is similar to what we've done [in other bands] in the past," says Everett. "Only with a focus on our strengths as musicians and on concision." —AY

New Music issue 2015
Peter Barss

The Negligents
An amalgam of blues, funk and soul from some seasoned players.

Though Brad Conrad, Mike Farrington Jr., Clint Newcombe and Benn Ross are all scene veterans, before they played the first show with their new project, The Negligents, they admitted they had jitters. "We all have played in front of some pretty large audiences so when we confided in each other before our first gig that we were all a little nervous we took that as a good sign," says Conrad. Putting a twist on some classic songs, the response so far has been great, and more and more originals are sneaking onto the set list. Things are ticking along, says Conrad: "It's not a stretch to say we may have a EP within the next six months. We're channelling our blues, funk and soul influences into something without any clear genre boundaries," he says. "We aspire to have something fresh and individual." —SJ

The New Bridge
Jazz, classical and pop hybrid The New Bridge is full of possibilities.

The New Bridge
Saturday, July 1, 1pm
Halifax Jazz Festival Main Stage Lower Water at Salter Streets

The new bridge may represent a mere inconvenience for most of us lately, but in the jazz world, The New Bridge is full of possibilities. A Halifax supergroup formed of members of Gypsophilia, a Symphony Nova Scotia member and other jazz musicians, the band has been playing together since last summer. Guitarist Ross Burns describes the band as allowing "fun possibilities" for experimentation; the band uses improvisations and influences from jazz, classical and popular music. "We've played tunes from High School Musical, Tom Waits and Yusef Lateef," Burns says. Their work's been paying off: they just completed a session for CBC on the East Coast Music Hour, and Burns describes every show as full of "too many great moments to mention." Their next performance is at the Halifax Jazz Festival on July 11, where they've been nominated for the festival's Rising Star award. They're looking forward to putting together a record in the fall, as well as touring, including a potential trip down to South America. —LK

Ochre Acres
Sway to the sounds of gentle pop with Ochre Acres.

Ochre Acres is as brand new as bands come: the trio of of Amy Wells, Robin Fraser and Alyson Randles started jamming together in January of this year and played their first show together (a fundraiser for Alice Housing on International Women's Day) a mere two months later. "Robin and I have had this band as an idea for the last year or so since around the time we started playing together in Belladonna," explains Randles. "Luckily, I had recently met Amy and found out she was starting to play drums, so we asked if she would be interested in starting something with us." The band plans to play more shows and release new music later this year, but until then snippets of its songs (which Randles characterizes as "music you can sway to") can only be found on Instagram at @ochreacres. —BM

Old Man Coyote
Solid rock music that goes well with beer.

Old Man Coyote w/Willie Stratton, Lindsay Misiner, Cold Light
Friday, June 19, 9pm
Gus' Pub

"Something you can swing your hips and drink a beer to," says Old Man Coyote's Brendan Morley about the band's sound. Formed late last summer, Old Man Coyote took its time rehearsing the rock and roll riffs that make up its live set. Though Morley and bandmates Michael Sheldon, Joshua O'Reilly and Ian Smith aren't reinventing the wheel, sometimes swinging your hips and drinking a beer is just what the doctor ordered. "I wouldn't say we're stuck in the past but that's certainly where our influences come from—Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Velvet Underground, Stones. This was just the style that came out when we started playing together. It was pretty implicit. Having two lead vocalists/songwriters puts us in a unique position to be dynamic and keep it fresh." There's an EP coming out in the fall, and "in the meantime we're just trying to stay out of trouble and play more shows around town." —SJ

Owen Meany's Batting Stance
Brainy pop from a new Haligonian.

Owen Meany's Batting Stance
Wednesday, July 22
Gus' Pub

Toronto transplant Daniel Walker took a break from academia a few years ago, fell in love with Halifax and started crafting brainy folk pop in the style of The Weakerthans and The Mountain Goats. "I've had four 'gut feelings' in my life that I can identify, and moving to Halifax in the fall of 2013 was the most recent," he says. After getting the lay of the land and playing a few solo sets, Walker expanded the project into Owen Meany's Batting Stance. "During the first week of March this past winter, Evan Matthews, Neil Reid, Laura Fraser, David Archibald and myself went to record OMBS's first album at the Old Confidence Lodge with the wonderful Diego Medina." Expect to hear the results late fall. In the meantime, Walker has his eyes on the road, with plans to tour the Maritimes with "a special focus on Sackville, NB." —SJ
Music Nova Scotia

The Pretty Nihilist
Unnecessary teen angst never sounded so good.

If all of us who had vague plans in high school to start a band that never materialized had grown up with Rebel Girl Rock Camp, we'd have more stories like The Pretty Nihilist's: friends Miranda Davidson and Sophia Boutilier had "tried to form a few bands, but they were all pretty unsuccessful," Davidson says. At last year's camp they teamed up with bandmate Catherine Hutt and became a band that's been performing around town since last August, including a ferry performance at Nocturne. "The camp kind of showed us just how much we could accomplish and also gave us a lot of resources that encouraged us," Davidson says. She describes the band's sound as "queer trash can symbol or unnecessary teen angst." They're so in tune that once all three each dyed their hair purple without consulting one another. Catch them soon: "We really want to play a lot of shows this summer!" Davidson says. —LK

Concept punk that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Punk concept band goofballs Primenine just want to have fun. The band formed a few months ago, even though the members— Jeremy Caillié, Kyle Fraser and Jayson LeMoine—have been buddies since high school. As one does, they first created a complicated concept for the group's origin involving a slighted space monkey, some powerful radiation and massive amounts of earthly destruction. "We don't take the concept very seriously, we write some songs about it and like the concept but we don't take ourselves too serious at all," says LeMoine, who says the band is in the process of recording its first EP. "Primenine is a badass looking space ape though." If it wasn't already clear, in their short time playing music together LeMoine says they've "been having insane amounts of fun." —SJ

Fast, aggressive music that rips.

Propagandhi w/Like a Motorcycle, Scumgrief
Monday, June 22, 8pm
Marquee Ballroom

"It's been a slow start," says Trevor Barnaby of thrash metal throwback Scumgrief. The band was founded by a vocalist who then went AWOL. "So Adam [Stanley] and I regretfully decided to take the vocal duties on ourselves. We hate it," says Barnaby. Late last spring, they released a hardcore demo, Fuck Em All, a riff on Metallica's 1983 debut—and arguably its best—record: "Kill Em All is a fucking ripping album. The idea of Fuck Em All came from almost everything else Metallica has released after that, which is not as ripping," he says. "That's what we want to do. Just write fast and aggressive music." An EP is coming this month with "five new bangers." —AY

Shy Boi
Rapping since he was seven, Shy Boi is the real deal.

Shy Boi's a business, man. "I'm 19 and I rap," says Shy Boi (AKA Shyhiem Willis). "I was born in Ottawa, and raised in North Preston and Halifax area. Chill dude. My mom's from Scotia, and my dad's from Jamaica." He's been dropping fresh tracks on his Soundcloud and amazing visuals shot in Berlin, Poland, New York, Nova Scotia and Ottawa. He released his first mixtape this month, The Ssance: "We simply jammed out in the studio on instruments and came out with a gem." No surprise. He's been rapping since he was seven. At 13, Shy Boi recorded his first studio track, "Rain or Shine," with his cousin, the legend James McQuaid (MCJ & Kool G). Now he's building his own label and apparel line, OhDEC, and will be touring the world "to work with masterminds." Unique flow and tight beats—Shy Boi's the real deal. —AY

Jangly indie rock with icy-cool vocals.

Playing guitar-driven indie rock with a slight jangle, Teleri comes in classic Halifax style. "We've had [our sound] described to us as spry guitars, driving rhythm, low sensuous vocals, and a thudding bass that holds the whole thing together, but I think we would describe it as four friends who just want to write music," says bassist Iain McColl. The band has been playing for just over a year, recorded an EP together, and is currently working on a new four-track EP mixed by Tri Le. Vocalist Robin Fraser plays with Belladonna and Ochre Acres; McColl, drummer Nate Veinot and guitarist Will Kerson play in various side projects. With the new EP, "the writing process was much more collaborative than the first time round and all the songs came together very smoothly. I think we were all pleased with that," McColl says. The band plans to release the new tracks this month. —LK

Unreal Thought’s process
Dark, icy and goth, Unreal Thought is a musical departure for three hardcore fans. Read more here!

Wayne World
Complicated, interesting punk music from inside the box.

"Wayne World is basically one huge accident. The sound, the name, all oopsies," says drummer Cheryl Hann. "We wanted to be in a punk band but we are apparently incapable of making uncomplicated music?" Between Hann, Nathan Doucet (Heaven for Real), Andrew Neville (Moon) and Mark Grundy (Heaven for Real, Quaker Parents), Wayne World is a bit of a scene, man. The live show features Grundy singing from a box on stage, "because it's warm in there," he says. Wayne World just recorded seven songs for a fall release. "The band vibe is—I don't know," Hann says. "It's non-hierarchical, which is why it sounds like a bunch of different shit. No one person is at the helm so influence and ideas vary greatly. So I think the overlap on our Venn diagram of influence is like math-rock and death metal. We are embarrassed by that." —AY

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