Prince Edward Island’s music scene exists. No really, it does. With bands like Paper Lions, Boxer the Horse, and The North Lakes, PEI indie bands are making a name for themselves now more than ever.
Indie pop-rock quartet Two Hours Traffic has been pounding out addictive tunes for over a decade. The band has been nominated for a
Polaris Music Prize and several other Canadian music awards. Their song “Heros of the Sidewalk” was featured in an episode of The OC and Little Jabs won Alternative Recording of the Year at the 2007 East Coast Music Awards.
After a three-year production hiatus, Two Hours Traffic released Siren Spell on Sept. 11. Several significant changes occurred in between albums; Siren Spell features a new band member, new producer and a new musical influence — Motown.
“The album is basically songs we’ve been working on for the past two years. It was a bit of a different process this time obviously, because Alec [O’Hanley] is no longer in the band, so Liam [Corcoran] and I did more of the song writing. It was a good challenge,” said guitarist Andrew MacDonald, who formerly played bass, but took over guitar after O’Hanley left in 2011. Nathan Dill, the lead singer of The North Lakes, now plays bass, while original members Liam Corcoran and Derek Ellis stick to vocals and drums, respectively.
Two Hours Traffic also parted from past producer Joel Plaskett to work with Darryl Neudorf, who previously worked with Neko Case and The New Pornographers. Neudorf’s rural recording studio, outside of Orangeville, Ont., rests by a large field and pond, and includes an apartment for band members. The setting came as quite a change for the band that had always recorded in downtown Halifax, but MacDonald sees it as a beneficial adjustment.
“It is kind of interesting being in such an isolated area. There was nothing around. We just sat in the studio all day, everyday,” said MacDonald.
As far as sound goes, Two Hours Traffic retained its catchy, feel-good melodies, but was able to add more electric guitar and rock ‘n’ roll rhythms, giving their sound a newfound maturity
“[Neudorf] had cool ideas about the sound of the songs. In “Amore Than Ami,” which is the original demo and was a bit more traditional rock sounding, we fooled around with some things between the drums and the bass, turning it into something totally different,” said MacDonald. “It’s great when you’re working with someone who can bring something to the table you’d never think of.”
When Two Hours Traffic recorded in Ontario this June, the band successfully completed an entire record. Just to tease what is yet to come, they decided to release Siren Spell, which includes two songs that didn’t make the final album cut, and two songs that will be heard again on their upcoming, full-length album.
“[The final album] is all done, it’s just sitting at the apartment right now, waiting for artwork,” said MacDonald, who had his roommate and close friend, Phil MacIsaac, design the cover.
At formation in 2002, Two Hours Traffic was just learning how to play their instruments properly and perform on stage. Now, with ten years under their belts and six albums released, the Maritime rockers are back in action, proving that Two Hours Traffic is a long-standing contender in the Canadian music scene.