Five local bands to watch in 2012

The Uniter’s annual round-up of Winnipeg musicians you should keep an eye on

The Blisters. Supplied
Still Lights. Supplied
Softcore. Supplied
The burning Kettles. Supplied
Fire and Smoke. Supplied

The Blisters

Since getting his first guitar at 14 and learning some chords from his mom, Selkirk’s Daniel Monkman has made three albums. Having various friends back him over the last few years, he finally solidified a lineup as The Blisters this year after a move to Winnipeg.

“I got in contact with (Montreal/Winnipeg-based label) Woven Records and they told me I should start up an actual band,” says Monkman, 20. The label released the My Bloody Valentine-inspired Insects EP late last year.

“I got really into the Beach Boys when I was younger, that’s still my main inspiration,” he says. “The next album might change to a different style, it depends on what I’m into at the time.”

The Blisters are currently recording a new LP and plan to tour it with Woven’s assistance.

“I like Winnipeg a lot, but I know there’s so many other places where people are raving about music even more.”

Check out The Blisters live at the Edge Gallery on Tuesday, Feb. 14 for a My Bloody Valentine tribute show and Friday, Feb. 24 with Absent Sound at the Rudolph Rocker.


Still Lights

In the early 2000s, Winnipeg had a heavy love affair with the sounds of Manchester and ‘90s Brit pop.

Taking things back a notch is Still Lights, a five-piece that includes Kris Buhrer, Andy Haleen, Jean-Louis Wittinger, Kyle Satterthwaite and Cory Thomas.

Harking back to Joy Division and Depeche Mode, Still Lights actually holds a former U.K. resident among its ranks in the South African-born Buhrer.

Trading demos with Thomas, the two formed a bond over the need to create something new.

With a rare, unapologetic darkness to it, Still Lights’ debut four-song Dead of Night EP promises to deliver the new wave sounds you’ve been craving. Watch for it on Montreal’s Galy Records.

Still Lights release the EP with a show on Friday, Feb. 17 at the Park Theatre.



Formed a year and a half ago to score singer Lasha Mowchun’s film Confetti!, this fem-punk trio is rounded out by Taylor Burgess (2Tailz) on drums and David Dobbs (Vampires) on guitar.

“Lasha, Taylor and I seem to fall into place together when creating music,” Dobbs says via voicemail, as we were unable to nail down an interview time during the band’s rigorous recording schedule. “We challenge these aspects in our everyday lives along with our careers as individuals.”

With a sound heavily influenced by Kathleen Hannah (equal parts Bikini Kill and Le Tigre), Softcore is as known for its ragged, chaotic tunes as it is for its manic stage presence.

“The band is a trio working its way through the underground messes of Winnipeg, the social scenes and how we generally misbehave with ourselves everyday,” Dobbs says, cryptically.

Hear Softcore’s five song Dissues sampler at

The Burning Kettles

This seven-piece anti-folk outfit was formed out of a partnership between singer-songwriters Bryn Rieger and Rebecca Hill. Though the current seven-piece lineup has only been together about six months, it just recorded an EP at the Mid Ocean School of Media Arts.

“Becky and I would hire random musicians to play shows with us and we just became friends with them,” says Rieger, 20. “Band dynamics are weird. We built it around two individuals, but we sound like a band.”

Having released a solo disc last year, the nine-song The Big Fysch, Rieger quickly grew tired of the solo lifestyle.

“I’ve been playing (folk music) since I was 15. I just needed a change and wanted to be louder,” he laughs. “We’re kind of fleshing out our sound and this EP was really good and encouraging for that I think.”

Visit The Burning Kettles online at

Fire and Smoke

French/English folk duo Fire and Smoke’s formation was all thanks to a chance meeting at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 2010.

“I was walking around the campground at 2 a.m. and I wound up at a campfire jam. Dan was there and we started playing together. He came up to me after and said, ‘Who are you? Why haven’t I seen you play before?’” says Claire Morrison, 20.

“(He later) tracked me down on Facebook and said, ‘Hey, do you want to keep playing together?’ I couldn’t say no because he had already booked our first show.”

Daniel Péloquin-Hopfner, 25, and Morrison have already released the Maiden Voyage EP, recorded with award-winning engineer/producer Norman Dugas. Recorded live off the floor in September 2011, it was out by November.

“We were dedicated to keeping it similar to our live sound,” she says. “If we hire session players, we can’t reproduce that live. It should still sound like you’re in the room with us when we play.”

After winning prize money from Radio Canada/Chant’Ouest, the duo is slated to record again, but have to finish it before the end of the fiscal year. Since Péloquin-Hopfner is currently touring with Red Moon Road, they’re arranging the songs over the phone.

“I think of it as a challenge so that I don’t get too scared of it,” Morrison says. “Maybe pressure like that is good, even if I don’t necessarily enjoy it.”

Check out Fire and Smoke at this year’s Festival du Voyageur and online at

Published in Volume 66, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 8, 2012)

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