Adult Books – Running From The Blows

Adult Books put out an album on Lolipop Records, this one’s on Burger Records and let’s just get this out of the way now: they’re cooler than you. Everybody they know is cooler than you. Their life is one long photo ‘essay’ from one of those magazines that are 90 per cent ads for clothing brands you’ve never heard of.

But damn if, on the evidence of this album, they’re not charming. Their sound is roughly power pop, mostly garage rock, somewhat post-punk, a little surfy in places, there’s synths and holy shit if the songwriting isn’t just there, right where you want it to be. There are a lot of West Coast bands at the centre of the venn diagram created by AB’s genre reference points, and a fair few of them are on Burger Records, and the only thing I can say to make you pick up this and not the grimier together PANGEA, the surfier Guantanamo Baywatch or the party-er Dirty Few is that the songs here just work better. If this was still the kind of musical culture that could make The Lemonheads the biggest indie rock band on the planet then on the strength of the song “Suburban Girlfriend” alone these guys would be huge.

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Big Ups

New York City punks Big Ups talk nerdy to us

CALGARY — In 2015, it isn’t just acceptable to be a nerd; it’s one of the paths to real success. Two of the three most successful films of all time are hard sci-fi about blue cat-people and a superhero epic set in a labyrinthine extended universe, while the latest movie about bros being total dudebros, bro, has languished at the box office. The world has become so complex, knowledge so specialized that a degree from the University of Life with post-graduate work at the School of Hard Knocks isn’t going to get you far. Ostentatious, obnoxious displays of masculinity and conspicuous consumption will make anyone with a clue swipe left the minute you swagger in reeking of Axe. Modern life has but one commandment: don’t be a douchebag.

Most of the bands you’ll read about in these pages might seem like paragons of cool, but get them talking about the intestinal tangle of patch cords on a synthesizer or the right way to mic up a drum kit and you’ll realize that the guys in vintage tees and skinny jeans are as true to their geekery as any Calgary Expo cosplayer.

I write all of the above somewhat frivolously yet seriously. This is because the next band in these pages is Big Ups, whose six-word descriptor could be shortened to the ‘epitome of everything cool.’ They are a New York based post-hardcore band. Beyond that, though, they really love them some Magic: The Gathering.

 

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Screaming Females

Everything New Under the Sun: Screaming Females

Imagine it’s 1988 and somebody puts a copy of Fugazi’s EP Margin Walker in your hands. Hell, imagine it’s 1967 and you get a record with a livid yellow banana on the cover that barely includes the album’s name, The Velvet Underground and Nico. You’d know from the first spin that by all rights, the band should be huge. As the years passed you’d see them continuing to toil away at the edges of popular culture, avoiding the easy ways to make a quick buck. They aren’t an institution, but somehow they are the kind of band that eventually is offered ridiculous sums of money to re-form and they turn it down, being more interested in letting the music remain a motive force.

There are a lot of people who have picked up one of the six Screaming Females albums released over the last nine years and had that moment, or who have seen one of their energetic live show, including high profile sets at Calgary’s own Sled Island. They are, according to Stereogum.com and plenty of others, “one of the best rock bands on the face of the earth.” Their new record, Rose Mountain, is the perfect jumping-on point for new listeners.

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Review: 2:54 – The Other I

It’s never good to point out the single element that ruins an otherwise good record, and it’s even less fun to point out that this element is the vocals and lyrics. Guitarists just have to have their fingers in the right places at the right times, drummers just have to hit things, but lyricists have to look at life and say something interesting and original about it. That’s hard, but people do it every day. On The Other I, London-based sisters Hannah and Colette Thurlow don’t, despite being able to coax some beautiful sounds from guitars and bass.

Collette’s vocal delivery recalls her home country’s trip-hop genre, not exactly somewhere to find exceptional vocalists aside from Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, who could sing the “Chicken Tonight” jingle and still make you cry. The lyrics are just … lyrics. When Garage Band gets sophisticated enough to write words to go with auto-generated music, they’ll sound something like 2:54.

Read More at Beatroute.ca