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Bands across the water 

A musical oasis lies just across the Detroit River. There, a collection of Detroit-based indie rockers, unlike many of their peers, grew up fascinated not by Canada’s lowered drinking age, but by the rock ’n’ roll sounds that sprang from the somewhat socialistic country’s sometimes greener pastures.

We’re not talking Brian Adams and Celine Dion here, but Sloan, Thrush Hermit, the Hardship Post, Jale and Hayden. If hearing the names of these foreign rock outfits instantly transports you to a time when you skipped school, jumped in the car and headed to Windsor’s Dr. Disk to pick up Sloan’s One Chord to Another before it was released in the States, then the kids over at Plumline Records have a treat for you.

Spearheaded by New Grenada bassist Nicole Allie and former New Grenada guitarist Mike Chavarria, Plumline Records was created as a vehicle to release works by local bands like Cloud Car and the Trembling. But this April, Allie and Chavarria are poised to release their true labor of love, One Scene to Another, a compilation of Detroit indie rock bands paying tribute to the Canadian rockers they grew up listening to, adoring and even befriending.

“Mike and I would drive all over the place to see these bands,” Allie says. “We would drive to Windsor, London and Toronto to see the Inbreds, the Wooden Stars and Thrush Hermit. I always thought it was so cool to be able to go see one of my favorite bands, and be able to meet them so easily.

“It was really exciting to be able to just pull up to a club, go inside and meet everyone in the band. How many people can say that about their favorite bands?”

Coming up through the scene, and eventually becoming musicians themselves, Allie and Chavarria started meeting other Canadian rock fans who were starting bands. Eventually, a tightly knit group of like-minded kids began passing cassettes and fliers to each other, promoting their own music. Though several of those bands have since gone the way of the dodo, the influence that stemmed from much of that mid-’90s Canadian rock is alive and well.

Allie and Chavarria thought producing a tribute album was the best way to pay homage to the scene that was — and still is — so important to many Detroit bands’ musical evolution. The 16-track compilation features several D-town bands performing Canadian songs.

Getting participants for the project proved not only easy, but slightly overwhelming. “There were so many people who used to go to all the shows and who we knew were in bands now — we actually had too many submissions and didn’t use everything,” Chavarria says.

What they did use, however, were tracks recorded by more-than-deserving local bands. From the Mood Elevators’ stripped-down version of Sloan’s “Money City Maniacs” and Ten Words for Snow’s roughed-up take on Zumpano’s “I Dig You” to the Tiny Steps’ Clash-inspired rendering of the Superfriendz’ “10 Lbs” and W-Vibe’s eccentric version of Thrush Hermit’s “French Inhale,” each track gets special treatment from some of Detroit’s finest.

Groups covered on the album have even weighed in on One Scene to Another. “Sloan’s Chris Murphy seems pretty excited about it; he heard the first six or so songs,” Chavarria says. “The Inbreds’ Mike O’Neill and Jennifer Pierce from Jale have also e-mailed me about it. It’s all been positive. I think they’ll be flattered.”

In celebration of the release, Plumline is having a release party featuring four of the bands on the compilation — New Grenada, the Hard Lessons, the Trembling and the Recital. Allie and Chavarria say they hope the show and the compilation will turn more people on to the kind of Canadian rock that existed long before the Arcade Fire, Death from Above 1979 and Broken Social Scene first picked up their instruments.

“A big goal of the comp is to try to recapture and pay tribute to what we feel is a group of incredible but underrated bands,” Chavarria says. “New people will be introduced to these bands because of the tribute CD, and the Detroit bands will get exposure to an audience who might not otherwise hear them.”


Friday, April 15, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700.

Ryan Allen is a freelance writer. Send comments to

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