In My Country…

Chris McCluskey is all over the scene.

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Mainstream music’s trendy genres are transient—most recently indie rock and new wave sounds have dominated the airwaves. But now as those genres’ widespread popularity seems to be waning, many signs point to country as the heir apparent. Alex Madsen, lead guitarist for outlaw country group The Divorcees, agrees and disagrees.

“My honest opinion about it? I think people just want to hear some songwriting. I don’t think people could give a rat’s ass if it’s country or not, I really don’t,” he says. “The thing all these guys…Waylon, Johnny and Kris Kristofferson, what they have in common is great, great songwriting. And I think that’s just the bottom line.”

Madsen and the New Brunswick buzz group’s other members—guitarist/vocalist Jason Haywood, drummer/vocalist Brock Gallant and bassist/vocalist Denis “Turtle” Arsenault—have all played in bands from punk to alternative, but came together when they discovered country music resonates with all of them.

“When Waylon came out, he was doing very traditional country. He turned to rock and roll when country didn’t give him what he wanted,” Madsen says, describing the group’s journey. “We came from rock. And we did everything we could and didn’t get what we want, so we turned to country. And it worked.”

The result is a band in the happiest situations any of them have experienced.

“We had four guys searching through various styles and happy to play them,” says Madsen. “We found this philosophy that Johnny Cash showed to us more than anyone—keep it simple. You know, no cryptic lyrics, none of this over-the-top screaming, no frills…just say what you mean and mean what you say. In the process of doing that, I think it woke us up somehow.”

The Divorcees release You Ain’t Gettin’ My Country on August 24 at the rockin’ Rodeo in Dartmouth and August 25 at Stage Nine. Madsen says its title represents the band’s attitude.

“It’s not a call-out to the artists, it’s a slight against the industry who tries to shoehorn that artist,” he says. “I’ve had more than one high-end artist come to me and say they’d love to put some songs like that out.”

Haligonians in other towns

The Ghost Bees have embarked upon their first Canadian tour and will experience a taste of the nation’s most lucrative music-industry market.

Ontario will be serenaded by the identical twins’ smooth vocal stylings on four of their five end-of-summer dates from August 24 to September 2.

Signaling the end of a much longer excursion during the summer months, upstart rock group Turnstiles will finally reach Whitehorse (three times!) for the finale of a marathon 25-date cross-Canada tour, which began way back on June 17 in Riverview, NB. Upon their return to Halifax, they will release their video for the single “Better off Lost” from the debut 13 Telephone Towers.

Pop-up line-up

It’s still two months away, but confirmations have begun rolling in for the Halifax Pop Explosion. Raising the Fawn, Joel Plaskett, Great Lake Swimmers, Cadence Weapon, Pony Up, The Sourkeys, Duchess Says, We Are Wolves and Jon-Rae & The River are among those who will venture east between October 17 and 21. Keep posted for more announcements.

Announce yourself: scene@thecoast.ca

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