I’ve Liked Plumtree for a Thousand Years: The Canadian Girl Band You’ve Never Heard Of

One two three GO! 

If you’re anything like me—Haythony Muntano, Canada’s busiest music nerd—you’re always looking for Canadian music that isn’t, you know, Dad’s Tragically Hip tribute band or, *ahem* Drake (seriously, stop calling Toronto the 6ix). Want a recommendation from yours truly? Check out a Nova Scotian female four-piece just as powerful as their power pop: Plumtree. 

Nearly lost and forgotten in the 90s, indie rock band Plumtree was thrown back into the limelight in 2010 thanks to Scott Pilgrim, a film and graphic novel series whose namesake is Plumtree’s only hit.

Anyone who’s seen (or read) Scott Pilgrim (Please read it!), knows how quintessentially Canadian it is and it’s immortalized both itself and Plumtree in Canadian pop culture history. So why check out the band, besides the fact Bryan Lee O’Malley and I told you to? Because it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

Scott Pilgrim is featured on Plumtree’s most famous (and arguably best) album, Predict the Future. Think Diet Cig’s Over Easy, except it’s a longer, funnier take on female young adulthood. They mesh riotous guitars and catchy melodies with personal, clever lyrics that deal with normal teenage problems in a way that is both humorous and incredibly emotional.

“Racing Gloves” is probably the funniest song off the album. Calling out the haters before Taylor Swift even had any, Plumtree tells the story of a girl who gets a haircut and tells everyone who hates it to eff-off. A few tracks later we get “Fatherhood”, a song about a girl and her deadbeat dad, which takes on a completely different tone. The album ends with “Your Mouth Shoots Off”, which has a chorus so full of energy it must be indie rock’s equivalent of Mozart’s “Surprise Symphony”.

If you’re looking for some local lo-fi, check out Plumtree’s debut album, Mass Teen Fainting, recorded right here in Ottawa. While it’s rougher than Predict the Future, it has the same kind of humour and pop-punk melodies that make it worth the listen. And if you want something with a little more ephemeral angst, MTF is definitely your go-to. It's more aggressive than their later discography, featuring songs like “In The Sink” and “Only In The Movies”. The fast-paced melodies, angry vocals, and lyrics about pet worms and being afraid of the dark are what made Plumtree the most innocent Riot Girls of the nineties punk revival.

While Plumtree broke up in 2000, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still making music. Carla and Lynette Gillis, the two original members of the band, live in Toronto and make music under sister duo “Overnight”. You can find their 2015 release, Carry Me Home, on Bandcamp.

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