Last week all eyes in independent music were on Halifax for their annual Pop Explosion. Since 1993, the event has been showcasing the amazing music of the East Coast music scene and beyond, and since I can’t get through a conversation about the city without getting a little nostalgic for the ’90s, when it was indisputably Canada’s musical mecca. A time when indie was known as “alternative” and Seattle was Grunge Jerusalem. So, rather than play you some new stuff this week, I wanted to take a look at a trio of bands from that era who each played at the very first Pop Explosion.
First up, a band who became Canadian indie icons—Thrush Hermit. After their breakup in the late ’90s, frontman Joel Plaskett went on to even greater artistic and commercial success, but the band will always remain—save for perhaps Sloan—the quintessential Halifax rock n’ roll band. Their quirky cool was equally informed by glam rock as it was punk. Here’s “French Inhale” off the band’s 1994 release Smart Bomb:
Next is Jale. I feel like every origin story in the Halifax music scene begins with band members meeting at art school. Jale’s story is no different, except that they were quite a bit more successful than most. It took Jale all but three months of existence to get noticed beyond the Halifax city limits and signed to alternative heavyweight label Sub Pop. You can get a sense of why with “Not Happy,” a grungy dose of melodic fuzz:
Finally, another Sub Pop band, Eric’s Trip. Originally from Moncton, New Brunswick, Eric’s Trip made “sappy, melodic, pop music on top of thick distortion.” The band broke up in 1996, but all members are still performing in some capacity. Julie Doiron records under her own name, while Rick White records with the his band Elevator. Here’s “Viewmaster”: