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The Grid Reviews EMERGENCYs

On the opening verse of this rarities collection, the famously mild-mannered Joel Plaskett enjoys an uncharacteristic ego moment: “I want a place named after me,” he hollers, “is that too much to ask?”

The Nova Scotian songwriter’s demand is bold, but not unreasonable, especially since the 20-song historical expedition heard on Emergencys… is the best illustration yet of how Plaskett continues to evolve into a Canadian rock icon.

With more demos than B-sides, the track list functions like a bizarro greatest hits, showing off Plaskett’s best songs in their gestation phase. The winning melodies arrive fully formed, but the informal, live-off-the-floor production values turn throwback ditty “A Million Dollars” and slacker anthem “Drunk Teenagers” into gleeful, fuzz-rocking rave-ups.

The carefree sounds are captivating, but the true showstopper is the early demo of “Clueless Wonder,” an arty take on one of the best songs in Plaskett’s catalogue, and the tune they should play when he eventually gets that national park renamed in his honour.

by Rob Duffy