‘Rock Songs’: Music to Move You

The Newfoundland Herald offers up seminal albums from our very own to help ease the sombre mood of social-isolation during COVID-19


COVID-19 is a life event. We don’t get many of these big kind of seminal worldwide moments we all share a piece of. But it’s here and we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, as we have always done, will endeavour to make the best of it.

While many businesses have shuttered their doors temporarily or have pivoted to deal with the ever evolving provincial rules and regulations for our own mutual wellbeing, most of us are aiming to abide by the self-isolation and social-distance philosophy. 

Savour the sounds

With time to burn for the bulk of us, many are taking time to savour the simple things in life. The company you have on hand – good or bad – diving into a good book, binge watching addictive television or organizing a film marathon, or, if you’re like me, you plug-in to the ever-comforting world of music. 

Whether you dust off the old record player or cd-ready surround-sound system, jump on YouTube or your digital streaming service of choice, there is no shortage of exceptional music across countless genres – whichever sort comforts you – that can help quell this unprecedented situation. 

Here are some of Newfoundland and Labrador’s finest musical exports, past and present, to help sooth the sombre tone of COVID-19.

The Once – Departures 

You’re not likely to find better vocal harmonies and unmistakable chemistry in this list as award-winning folk trio The Once. From delightful holiday albums to a more folk rich beginning, you can’t go wrong with their seminal album Departures. We are all Running is the track to get you started.

Nick Earle – Breaking New Ground

The most recent entry on our list, Nick Earle’s fusion of blues with a rock edge on his latest solo outing Breaking New Ground is a game-changer. 

Possessing skills beyond his young age, Earle has breakthrough star written all over him. Take in the album that helped him clean up at this year’s MusicNL Awards. You won’t be sorry. 

Emblem – Emblem 

The heaviest entry on this list, Emblem embrace the New Wave of British Heavy Metal philosophy of soaring vocals and dueling guitars with some epic mythology and imagery thrown in to perfection. The Mountain Trail and Soldiers of Steel come highly recommended. 

Shanneyganock – Rockin’ On the Water

They’re one of the most recognizable names in Newfoundland and Labrador’s trad scene. Shanneyganock were set to be honoured for a lifetime of music at the 2020 ECMA’s, but sadly the event has been postponed. 

Take a deep-dive through the discography of Andrews, Hiscock and company in tribute. Rockin’ On the Water is a fantastic place to start. 

The Swinging Belles – More Sheep, Less Sleep

Even the kiddos need some good tunes to help squash the home-bound blues! The Swinging Belles are one of the more accomplished children’s groups in all of Canada.

The up-tempo vocals and instrumentation is matched with delightful songwriting that is both educational and entertaining. More Sheep, Less Sleep is the pick for both kids and adults.

The Novaks – Things Fall Apart

Mick Davis is a rock and roll genius, and Things Fall Apart by the beloved band The Novaks is one of the seminal albums of the past 20 years to come from this island.  Why Wonder?, Destroyer and Under Those Wheels all belong in your social-distancing playlist.

Great Big Sea – Play 

 There is arguably no bigger group to ever rise from our rocky shores than Great Big Sea. You likely know the hits,  the good kind of get up tunes that can help break out kitchen parties even in isolation. 

Play is the choice here, with Ordinary Day, When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down) and The Night Pat Murphy Died making a fantastic trifecta for an album opener.

Amelia Curran – They Promised You Mercy

There aren’t enough words to surmise the songwriting prowess of the magnificent Amelia Curran.

She has been honoured both provincially and nationally, and rightfully so, for her body of work. They Promised You Mercy, with the addictive kickoff cut Somebody Somewhere, is a fantastic starting point for new fans and a great throwback for diehards. 

Hey Rosetta! – Seeds 

Though now on an indefinite hiatus, this breakthrough ensemble indie rock band have one of the more passionate fan bases in provincial music history. Fronted by Juno nominated solo artist Tim Baker, Hey Rosetta! has no poor album to speak of, though Seeds is a standout record amongst the gems.

The self-titled opener, epically layered Yer Spring and beloved closer Bandages round out a record that is both subdued and uplifting. 

Ron Hynes – Cryer’s Paradise 

He is our poet laureate, our most decorated songwriter and one of the very best this province, and great nation, ever produced.

There is only one Man of a Thousand Songs, and he left a legacy behind worthy of admiration. Cryer’s Paradise is arguably his most complete record. Atlantic Blue, in particular is timeless.

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