Scene Specific: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Believe it or not, that logo was take three or four for this feature…

Within the music world, certain areas are known for producing certain genres: California and New Jersey are meccas for punk, Seattle for indie rock (and grunge in its heyday), Scandinavia for metal, etc, etc.  “Scene Specific” aims to cover various scenes around the world in recurring fashion, be they cities or regions, and maybe introduce you to some cool acts.  I’ve long been someone who will sooner listen to an artist based on where they’re from, because I know they’ll likely have a sound I’ll enjoy.  I figured we’d debut this with my home scene: Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The thing about Halifax, and the east coast of Canada in general, is the local music scene is very folk-centric: if you like the singer-songwriter thing, you’d be in your glory here.  But, there are definitely some cool rock acts too.  Ahem…

Alert The Medic: This might be my favourite Halifax act.  The four-piece has released two albums – 2006’s Alert The Medic and 2009’s We, The Weapon – and are reminiscent of Brand New, No Motiv (especially Daylight Breaking-era) and the recently disbanded Ten Second Epic.  ATM are in Toronto working on their long-awaited third album The Phantom Moves, with former Our Lady Peace and current Crash Karma guitarist Mike Turner.  That’s a sick combo, and The Phantom Moves will surely be another blast of solid alt-rock.

The Stanfields: The easiest way to describe The Stanfields is probably “the Halifax version of The Dropkick Murphys“: their heavy, punk-inspired sound is drenched in Celtic flavouring.  Jon Landry’s gravelly vocals are a match for the Murphys’ Al Barr, and when you listen to The Stanfields you’re going to have a good time.  They have three albums: 2010’s Vanguard of the Young & Reckless, 2012’s Death & Taxes and last year’s acoustic effort For King and Country.  Over the past couple of years they’ve really become the biggest thing out of the local rock scene, and why not: they’re solid standouts.

The Big Get Even: These guys are pretty new, and have a riff/fill-based indie pop sound that’s pretty strong.  Depending on the day, they’re comprised of three – singer/guitarist Tyler Dempsey, bassist Neil Spence and drummer Josh Noiles – to six members, when you factor in frequent keyboardist Jason Keddy (of The Stogies), and backup singers Giverny Mercier (of Roxy & The Underground Soul Sound) and Jessie Brown.  TBGE has a self-titled EP out and are working on their debut full-length, and I would toss Echosmith in there as a band they’re similar to.

Quiet Parade:  Is this band quiet?  Sometimes, yep.  Nice, acoustic-based indie rock, that you’d likely enjoy if you’re into The Early November, Dashboard Confessional and Secondhand Serenade.  They have two EPs – 2010’s This House Is Haunted and 2013’s Old Haunts – and one full-length, 2012’s Please Come Home (We Hate It Here Without You).

Like A Motorcycle: Ah, punk rock.  When I first saw this all girl three-piece live I thought “now this I dig”.  They’re fast, loud and bitchy, with Hole/Veruca Salt-like vocals belting out over power chords and blitzing drums.  You can check out their Motorpool EP and beyond, and enjoy the vroom-vroom (see because they have “Motorcycle” in the name?  Huh?).

The Scoop Outs – Another punk outfit that makes more use of clean, open chords and a riffy, almost folky tinge at times.  They released their self-titled debut full-length in 2012, so go and “scoop” it out!

And so on, and so on.  I decided to keep this to Halifax-based artists, or I totally would’ve elaborated on other Atlantic Canadian acts like Saint John, New Brunswick’s The Playdates, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island’s Paper Lions and Sydney, Nova Scotia’s Slowcoaster.  So, if I can inappropriately borrow Ontario’s tourism slogan, the Halifax scene, and every scene we cover in this feature, is “yours to discover”.

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