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Artists You Should Know

One of the great pleasures of filling in on “Morning Becomes Eclectic”, as I did a couple of Thursdays ago, is that I get to share some of my favorite hidden gems that are normally only heard on my Sunday night show.

This time around, the selection that seemed to garner the most attention (based on the various Twitter and Facebook responses) was “Lightning Bolt” from Canadian trio Joel Plaskett Emergency.

Joel is a longtime participant in the vibrant Halifax indie-rock scene, alongside the likes of Sloan and the Super Friendz.  Over the past 18 years he has released nearly a dozen records as a solo artist, with the Emergency and with his prior bands, Neuseiland and Thrush Hermit, receiving numerous Juno and Polaris Award nominations (including a Juno win for Adult Alternative Album of the Year in 2010).

But his latest, “Scrappy Happiness”, may be his best yet.

“Lightning Bolt” shows Plaskett at his best, offering up a meditation on the inexorable march of time framed as an epic bit of dynamic power pop (including an honest-to-goodness guitar solo!).

What I like best about the song is that it genuinely takes you on a journey, with the song ending up in a very different place than where it started, a seemingly lost art in today’s marketplace where merely repeating a catchy hook over and over qualifies as songwriting.

It’s an unrepentantly crafty rocker, with echoes of Jack White, Graham Parker and that most revered of Canadian guitar-playing icons, Neil Young.

With “Lightning Bolt”, Joel Plaskett Emergency clearly have a four-alarmer on their hands!

by Eric J. Lawrence