Charlottetown a Canadian music hotbed

The only time Alec O’Hanley’s East Coast humility fails him is, oddly enough, when he’s talking about his hometown.

Two Hours Traffic from left: Alec O’Hanley

Two Hours Traffic from left: Alec O’Hanley

TORONTO — The only time Alec O’Hanley’s East Coast humility fails him is, oddly enough, when he’s talking about his hometown.

“I think, per capita, Charlottetown is the most talented scene in the country, far and away,” said O’Hanley, who plays in two of the cities’ bands: Two Hours Traffic and the Danks.

“It’s a burgeoning scene, if you want to call it that. It’s nice to be around people who really bleed music.”

Six of those people comprise Two Hours Traffic and the Danks, who begin an extensive Canadian tour together in Saint John, N.B., on Friday.

Both bands have albums out this year, with Two Hours Traffic having just released Territory — the follow-up to their Polaris-nominated sophomore record, Little Jabs — on Tuesday.

They are the most visible of a rising group of buzzworthy Charlottetown rock bands, and — luckily for the other fledgling groups in town — they aren’t shy about endorsing their hometown scene.

“We like to spread the word about the bands in our region,” said Two Hours Traffic guitarist and lead vocalist Liam Corcoran.

“We’ve been across the country three or four times now, and I know we can compete with other cities. There’s a lot of great music coming out of here, but it’s far away from the bigger cities, so people might not know about it. But Charlottetown is really kind of booming right now for music.”

Right now, much of the rock activity in the city orbits around these two bands in particular. O’Hanley co-founded Collagen Rock Records, a label that includes his bands as well as Smothered in Hugs and Mardeen, who hail from Cape Breton, N.S.

Corcoran calls the label “a collective of friends who play together.”

Comparisons between Two Hours Traffic and the Danks have been persistent, which doesn’t bother Corcoran — he figures they’re probably inevitable.

“Brohan (Moore), who sings in the Danks, he’s played in a number of bands, but we’ve basically always played with whatever band he was in,” Corcoran said.

“We learned to play in a band together. We watched each other play for six or seven years now. … If you take the six people who make the Danks and Two Hours Traffic, we hang out most every night we have free. So I have no problem with people comparing the two bands. It’d be strange if we weren’t similar.”

For all their similarities, each band has a distinct sound.

On Territory, which was produced again by Joel Plaskett, Two Hours Traffic continues to ply a brand of hook-laden power-pop rarely attempted anymore, bearing the influence of bands such as Big Star and Teenage Fanclub.

Corcoran and O’Hanley say they aimed to limit the sweetness on their new record, after worrying that some of their past lyrics might have bordered on cloying.

“We really decided we didn’t want to go that far (lyrically) this time around, and explore some other not as happy themes,” Corcoran said.

The Danks, meanwhile, released their debut, “Are You Afraid of the Danks?” earlier this summer. The album is a breathless rush, clocking in at just over 30 minutes of full-tilt guitar-pop anthems.

The Strokes are an oft-cited hallmark, but the urgent onslaught of hooks also calls to mind pop-punk progenitors the Buzzcocks, whom O’Hanley cites as an influence.

“It’s not background music,” he said in dryly summing up the album.

In addition to sharing two members (Andrew MacDonald also plays in both bands), the Danks and Two Hours Traffic also have a keen eye for melody in common, as well as an unpretentious predilection for delivering three-minute guitar pop tunes.

That many of the Maritimes’ greatest rock exports over the last decade share that appreciation for melodic pop is not necessarily a coincidence, O’Hanley says.

“I think maybe it’s the Celtic thing here in the Maritimes, where the traditional sense of melody creeps into a lot of people’s ears,” he said. “It’s pretty pervasive. And there’s no escaping a good pop song, and I think a lot people realize that around here.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

École Secondaire Notre Dame High School Grade 12 students Lily Forsyth (left) and Allyne Simonot helped design the “Big Smile” burger. Throughout May, for every Big Smile burger sold $2 will be donated to the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation. (Photo contributed)
Red Deer students design burger to raise funds for mental health awareness

Cilantro and Chive donating $2 from every Big Smile burger to Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation

Red Deer Regional Airport CEO Graham Ingham has ambitious plans for the airport. (Advocate file photo).
Red Deer Regional Airport revenues climb in 2020

Bringing in more business is the 2021 goal, says director

City council will have to wait longer to hear back from administration on possible alternative sites — if the homeless shelter is moved from Red Deer downtown. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Alternative sites for homeless shelter will be explored by the City of Red Deer

Council gave administration more time to return with a report

Quentin Lee Strawberry was found not guilty of second-degree murder in connection with stabbing death of Joseph Gallant in March 2019. (Photo from RCMP)
Updated: O’Chiese man found not guilty of 2019 stabbing death of Red Deer man

Quentin Strawberry found guilty of assaulting murdered man’s common-law partner

Vancouver Canucks’ Nils Hoglander (36) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during first-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Edmonton Oilers' Dominik Kahun (21) celebrates with teammate Connor McDavid (97) after scoring the third goal against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (34) during second-period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Rory McIlroy tees off on the fourth hole during the fourth round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow on Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

Canada , left to right, lead Briane Meilleur, third Val Sweeting, skip Kerri Einarson, and second Shannon Birchard discuss strategy against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. Both of Canada's teams were shut out of the medals, marking the first time ever that Canada did not reach the podium at either the men's or women's worlds in the same season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Oilers plan to keep playing McDavid, Draisaitl as NHL regular season winds down

Oilers plan to keep playing McDavid, Draisaitl as NHL regular season winds down

Canada's Tyler Ardron, right, tries to block the kick by Italy's Callum Braley during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match in Fukuoka, western Japan, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kyodo News via AP
Canadian men to face Wales and England in July rugby test matches

Canadian men to face Wales and England in July rugby test matches

John Velazquez, right, rides Medina Spirit ahead of Florent Geroux aboard Mandaloun to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Darron Cummings
Casse believes colleague Baffert deserves “due process” folowing positive test

Casse believes colleague Baffert deserves “due process” folowing positive test

Canada forward Liam Millar (23) moves the ball past Bermuda defender Eusebio Blankendal (2) during the second half of a World Cup 2022 Group B qualifying soccer match Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-John Raoux
Canadian men to play next two World Cup qualifying matches in the U.S.

Canadian men to play next two World Cup qualifying matches in the U.S.

Most Read