Halifax instrumental post-rock powerhouse Kuato recently released their debut The Great Upheaval, and since we don’t make it to our beloved Halifax near as much as we’d like, the band compiled some of their favourite past and present (and mostly local) peers to dig into.
Here at camp Kuato we all have an affinity for dark, gloomy, and downright crushing music. The soundtrack to our long drives consists mostly of bands we’ve loved our whole lives, with a few new gems creeping in once in a while. Here’s a snapshot of some of our individual favourite bands to blast on the highway. Most of them are from the East Coast because we’re loyal like that.
Not very often, you’ll come across a band that is so good that it actually makes you feel like shit about yourself. Tomcat Combat was one of those bands. They set themselves apart from the rest of the Halifax music scene by being a rare, purely instrumental band that had the power and intensity to hold your attention without the need for lyrics.
A relatively short lived group, with only two official releases under their belts before their split, they managed to put together a virtually perfect album with I’m Okay, You’re Okay, 45 minutes of pure post rock bliss. Here’s hoping for a reunion in the very near future. (Adam Toth, guitar)
North of America
It’s hard to think of a band that better defines the “Halifax sound” than North of America. They were raw, aggressive, chaotic, and best of all: they were ear shatteringly loud.
Although they’ve been disbanded for over a decade, a handful of reunion shows and a slew of killer bands formed from the past members (The Plan, The Holy Shroud, VKNGS, Instruments, Union of the Snake) has kept them burned in the minds and ears of indie kids to this day. (Adam Toth)
For me, Contrived was the first band I ever saw that made me feel like music was this intense, primal thing that could take someone out of their own headspace. It was also the first time I had to wrap my head around lo-fi production. I remember the first time I heard their album Pursuit of Plots. I hated it. My best friend Andre had bought it and would listen to it constantly, and to someone like me who had only heard well-produced, professionally recorded albums, it just sounded wrong.
I was 15 when I finally caught a live set. I can remember being at the front of the stage to the left, near the drums and bass amp, and from the first note I felt everything inside of me stir. I had never heard anything so loud and chaotic and beautiful in my entire life. It was pure, raw energy, and all of a sudden I understood that mainstream music, even the heavy stuff I was into, was really lacking in pure heart. From that day on I think I listened to Pursuit of Plots every day for a solid year just to re-create that feeling. I would go on to see them play over 20+ shows, making drives to Moncton, Halifax, or Yarmouth to catch multiple shows in a row whenever I could. I have all three Contrived albums on my iPod at all times and will for the rest of my life. (Josh Pothier, drums)
Instruments are three maritime music veterans (Jun Hutt, J. Lapointe, and Daniel MacDonald) who are extremely creative musicians with top-level recording equipment at their disposal, and no sense of urgency with regard to the release of music—this means they have a limited output of amazing material. In over eight years they’ve released just two EPs and a remix album, and performed maybe a dozen shows in that time, but they are definitely the Maritime’s best secret band. (Josh Pothier)
Zaum is a two-piece, middle eastern influenced, mantra doom band from Moncton, NB. Yes. Seriously. Our friends Kyle McDonald and Chris Lewis have always been involved in awesome bands, but Zaum is one of the most interesting things to come out of Atlantic Canada in a while. Their debut album Oracles is four sprawling, trippy, HEAVY, tracks that make you drop what you’re doing, zone out, and worship the RIFF.
I had a few too many when I saw Zaum play at Gus’s Pub in Halifax a few months ago. Actually, it might have just been a really weird dream. I remember dim, red lights and a candle-lit stage. Chris was bashing away on the drums behind a thick cloud of smoke while Kyle stood there chanting over a bass sound too huge to have been made by just one dude/instrument. They transformed that little neighbourhood pub into some kind of ancient temple. These guys definitely have a few tricks up their sleeve to make them look and sound larger than life. We can’t wait to tour with them in August. Shit’s gonna get weird. (Stephen MacDonald, bass)
USA Out of Vietnam
I don’t know a whole lot about Montreal’s USA Out Of Vietnam other than I love their album Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes. Our drummer Josh told me to check them out after he saw them open for Mogwai.
USA Out Of Vietnam is re-paving the road made by Godspeed You! Black Emperor years ago. They’re doing a damn fine job of it too. Crashing… has all the dark, crushing, heaviness mixed with minimalistic beauty that fans of GY!BE, Mogwai, Russian Circles, and Pelican are already familiar with. It’s a bit different this time though. This band is a fresh take on the post-rock genre. I really hope I can see these guys (and girl) live sometime soon. (Stephen MacDonald)
Shallow North Dakota
Shallow North Dakota wins the award for sludgiest band in the universe. Their tones are bone crushing. In fact, when I was in high school, I used to blast them in my Dodge Shadow and it blew the speakers because it was mastered so loud. This band is one of Canada’s pioneers of sludge. (Mike D’Eon, guitar)