Thursday, August 12, 2010

Plumtree, Scott Pilgrim & the Halifax Pop Explosion

With all of the hype about Michael Cera's new movie Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, the retired Halifax band Plumtree is getting new attention for the old song Scott Pilgrim. If I have my info right, the graphic novel that the film is based on took its name from the song.

I was never a big Plumtree fan, but I don't know why. The band's simple, infectious pop is enjoyable, and Scott Pilgrim is a joyous little ditty. Maybe, like Jale, I thought I heard echoes of Juliana Hatfield in their music and I already had enough Hatfield. These are all unfair comparisons, now that I hear them back to back, but there you go.

At any rate, Plumtree and Jale were both Halifax bands, and they remind me of the whole Halifax Pop Explosion. Wikipedia calls the original 1993 Halifax Pop Explosion music fest "a platform to celebrate Halifax's new found fame as the "Seattle of the North" and home of Canadian grunge". I don't think you could call any of the bands involved grunge, but that's always been a slippery, greasy term anyhow. But I sure liked a lot of those artists. Everyone knows Sloan, but there were a lot more Halifax-and-surrounding-area artists worth your attention.

Thrush Hermit you've already heard of because of Joel Plaskett's well-deserved success. Thrush Hermit may not have loaded as many singalong songs and hummable melodies into radio-ready tunes as Sloan (especially when the Hermit covered Budgie), but to me they were right up there. Here's an early one:

Hardship Post was originally from Newfoundland but became based in Halifax later. Out of all the dead bands in the world, this is the group I would most like to reform and come play in my basement or living room or anywhere really.

Superfriendz were a supercool Halifax power pop band. I'm pretty bummed that I couldn't find the video for Karate Man on YouTube. It's a bleedin' shame.

Moncton's Eric's Trip were lo-fi before lo-fi was lo-fi. Not that they invented it, but they ran with it way before people used that term up.

The Inbreds were originally from Kingston, but moved to Halifax. Which made sense, 'cuz Halifax seemed like the place to be for clever indie-pop. You can download many free rare Inbreds mp3 from the band's web site. Also, I recommend former Inbred guy Mike O'Neill's solo stuff, which you can sample here. I think the song Alsatian is an underappreciated gem.

Halifax's Bubaiskull I didn't really get into at the time. I never liked the name, so I never went out of my way to check 'em out. All of their stuff is free to download from their website.

I was into music from anywhere on the East coast, I even picked up Hip Club Groove, which was pretty far out of my league. You will recognize at least 2 or 3 people in this 1994 video.

If you're quick, you can listen to the entire Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World soundtrack at Spinner (featuring Plumtree, Beck in a couple of different guises,Frank Black, Metric, Black Keys, even The Bluetones!) as well as the score.

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