One-on-One with F&M

Photo: Jim Johansson

Photo: Jim Johansson

by Michael Thomas

After a brief discussion of the musical process of F&M, Ryan Anderson finally pares the band’s ethos down to one sentence: “We’re really neurotic, reclusive introverts who overthink everything—we analyze everything to death.” But the Edmonton band is not just a collection of nitpickers—they’re deeply passionate about everything from Portuguese wine to theatre to urban design.

At one point, Ryan goes on a rant. “There was a point where I was so tired of irony in music that I was like ‘Let’s be as authentic as we can be,'” he says. “There’s only two types of songs, music to shag to and music to dance to, and after that, it’s one of those things where it’s okay to be okay with love. And romance is great. “

Rebecca Anderson, his bandmate and wife, then interrupts and says “You’re getting ornery.” This passion and easy chemistry is what makes F&M such a compelling act. The Andersons, along with the quiet but confident Bryan Reichert, have recently released At Sunset We Sing, an aptly-named and beautiful album, and are currently touring Canada to put it out there.

The band formed when Ryan, who comes from a punk-music background, heard about classically-trained Rebecca’s shows. The two eventually decided to form a band together as they started dating, and they were known as Foster & McGarveys.

“I put out a record and we just didn’t know what we were doing,” Ryan says. “It’s all right, but it’s not very good. It’s very, very amateur.” At some point they went to Reichert, both a multi-instrumentalist, for guidance.

“We met with him and bunch of other guys and we’re like ‘How do we become better?’ and he gave us a lot of brutal, honest tips,” Ryan says. The band then shortened their name to F&M, at least partially because an Edmonton funeral home has the same name.

In 2011, with the release of Wish You Were Here, the band shrunk down its membership to just three—the Andersons and Reichert.

“[Reichert] became an integral part of F&M,” Rebecca says. “We really became a trio and he was more a part of the creative process, not just the studio process.”

It would be a long road to At Sunset We Sing, however. The year 2012 went wrong for the band in a number of ways. Ryan broke his hand within the first two months of the year, and Reichert got a fracture above his knee that prevented him from walking for months. But they still fulfilled their show commitments.

“We hobbled into Montreal one time and they’re like ‘Are you kidding me?’ And Becky’s hauling the gear in, Bryan’s sitting there on stage,” Ryan starts.

“We just had to place him on stage and he’d have to stay there, even when there was an opening act,” Rebecca continues.

“No joke, it was brutal,” Ryan concludes.

Rebecca also studied in Moscow, completing a graduate degree in Soviet studies. She wrote on rock and roll during the Glastnost period, focusing especially on Viktor Tsoi, who died in 1990 but was influential as the front man of the band Kino.

“I’m still really fascinated by Soviet history, and by the power of music,” Rebecca says. “How does music shape history and how does music shape identity?” Eventually F&M decided to release a four-song EP as a way of telling people they’re still making music. “It was just a way of keeping hopeful and doing something and also paying homage to something I still really love.”

Both Ryan and Rebecca have vivid descriptions of what the city was like. Ryan describes it as “New York on crack.”

“It was beautiful but the disparity was a little bit shocking,” Rebecca says. “And then the size of the city, I felt like I was in Gotham City sometimes because it just seemed like a comic book, weird landscape.” She describes the Russians she met as similar to Americans during the George W. Bush presidency—apologetic for their government’s actions and ready to drink with you.

New Year’s Eve 2012 would also be the spark for At Sunset We Sing. While drinking Portuguese wine, the band decided Portugal would be the impetus for the new record and took to Victoria, BC to get some songwriting done. They were especially into Fado music, a popular style of the region.

“If you go to Portugal there’s Fado bars and people just go up there and sing,” Ryan says. “They belt, and they emote, but they sing sadly. And it’s this beautiful thing.”

“Fado means embracing your fate or your destiny,” Rebecca says. “And singing about ‘It sucks to be poor’ or ‘I’m in love…’ And enjoying it too, not dwelling in it. When you’re singing about it so emotively it’s cleansing your soul and celebrating your life.”

“This is something we strove to capture in the recording,” Reichert says. “They have a great passion about wine and food and music and life in general. I think that’s what we strove to have come out in this record, in a great amount. More so than what we’ve normally done, just that it’s so apparent that it’s about passion.”

Fado also inspired the band’s tagline: “A joyful melancholy.” But happy or not, it didn’t make their recording process simple.

“We can be brutally honest with each other,” Rebecca says. “Bryan’s voice is more quiet but in the studio he runs the show.” He wasn’t satisfied until a song was “good enough”—the Andersons say that “And We Will Mend Our Broken Hearts” had more takes than they could count.

Many songs went through numerous iterations. “Show Me Your Light” started as a number with all three members singing, but it eventually was stripped down to just Ryan singing and Reichert’s guitar.

“‘There is You,’ that used to be a fast piano number,” Rebecca says. “And then I was just goofing around like ‘Hey guys, this is a lounge number now,’ and playing the vibraphone sound, and the guys are like ‘No, that’s it.’ And then I came up with the parts for the guys to sing.”

And while the band didn’t intentionally strive for a whole album theme, there is plenty of intention elsewhere, right down to the make of guitar Reichert would play.

“It sounds cliché, but you always do what serves the song,” Reichert says. “You know instantly when that occurs, when there’s this long process.” He mentions the many iterations of “Mend Our Broken Hearts and says “When we had the current [iteration], we said “That’s the way we need to do it.” It was just that simple. It was a struggle but once you reach the right direction it comes together.”

The Andersons and Reichert also see themselves very much as a product of their home town of Edmonton. They’re huge fans of the musicians there; Mark Davis (a person hero of Ryan’s), Ariane Mahryke Lemire, Gold Top, Tyler Butler, Doug Hoyer, Mitchmatic and Caity Fisher are just a few of the names they mention as some of their favourite local artists.

“Our music is so connected with our environment in Edmonton, which is stark, it’s cold,” Ryan says. “It’s a writer’s town. If you want to write music, -40 does it.” He adds that the architecture of Edmonton is inspiring too—urban design is another thing they’re passionate about. Then Ryan adds “We’re a punk band at heart.”

On this point, Rebecca says, “We both enjoy the concept of punk and the lifestyle, the meanings, what does it mean to be punk. But as far as the sounds we create, it doesn’t necessarily sound like punk. It’s still punk at heart.”

She pauses for a second.

“We’re passionate about too many things.

F&M’s next stop on their At Sunset We Sing tour will be December 3 in Vancouver at the Railway Club.

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Review – “FINN” – FINN

reviewed by Eleni Armenakis FINN Album Cover

FINN might be one of Winnipeg’s youngest bands, having only formed in September of last year, but they’re already starting to make a dent with a couple of singles from their upcoming debut EP. Brothers Daniel, John and Matthew Baron grew up on traditional folk and that influence is all over their self-titled release, modernized with the addition of members Darren Hebner and Cody Iwasiuk.

FINN is filled with solemn numbers that range from indie folk to stylized country, hitting the melancholic notes in between. The music sways dreamily and the beat languidly moves along, filling each note with weight and accentuating every peak and break. There are touches of their influences, Half Moon Run, Local Natives and Band of Horses, but it’s traditional folk, with its sense of struggle and stripped-down simplicity, is what stands out most from this debut effort.

“I know I’ll find my love here, I know I’ll find my fear,” is the opening line of single “River Shore” and kicks off the album. It’s that kind of darkness-meets-light that sets the tone for all five tracks—romanticism matched with anxiety that builds to a flurry in the opening minutes of the EP.

“Father’s Chair” builds off of that, filled with regret and crying out “death follows me.” But it’s “Shadow Of A Doubt” that fully embraces those themes with a mesmerizing solemnity that plays up the brother’s traditional influences. It’s imagery of surrender and battle tap into classic folk roots and emphasize the sense of nostalgia woven through the album. As a harmonica bridges the verses, it’s impossible not to want to get lost in the song and just let the sense of loss wash over.

“Man and Beast,” which features singer/songwriter Sierra Noble’s gentle voice, brings some levity but only briefly, and “Cold Comfort” offers up just that—a final, slow number that lets the world “home” reverberate with all the longing it could possible have attached to it.

FINN’s debut might sound like it’s full of sadness, but through the careful crafting of the music the deep, plaintive vocals don’t feel as troubled—the regrets aren’t as close and the preoccupation with loss doesn’t feel as devastating. Instead, the album’s longing and dark dreams are built into something captivating and—maybe oddly—soothing. It’s dreamers’ music, perfectly timed.

Top Track: “Shadow Of A Doubt”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

You can download a track off the upcoming release here.

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Review – “Modern New Year” – Sam Tudor

Reviewed by Jack Derricourt

Sam Tudor

An electric beat twists into your ears. It’s followed by dry vocals, forecasting melancholy longing and revelatory situations. There’s also some delicate fiddle accents that sound a lot like giraffes. Yes, it’s Sam Tudor’s new set of recordings, Modern New Year. Good guess.

Sam the man hails from Vancouver, a place where alternative folk stands up straight and true. Shades of AC Newman, Beirut, and Sufjan Stevens flock around the central contributions of Sam’s rich, pleading voice throughout the album’s twists and turns. There is a secret story going on in each of these songs, slowly revealed through the careful, unaffected reveal of each orchestration. The production sets the field of play up for the elements at hand, and then moves off, happy to let what will be be. Everything leans towards layered vocals, soft acoustic, fiddle, and minimal percussion; there’s very little to get in the way of the tone of each song, the atmosphere often betraying precarious associations and larger, self-conscious, modern problems.

The structures of the songs are definitely more alternative than folk. Verse, chorus, verse, but nothing out into the ether of repetition as in some folk music. This selective, precise format for the songs leads to some brilliant musical highlights, as Sam paints a picture with brief shades from each colour in his palette; my favourite example of this is “The Darkness Song,” in which a beautiful banjo part takes a turn at the wheel.

The song that beats the mould is “Lottapeople Blues.” All the elements are there: vocals, guitars, accents of booming percussion; the tone is melancholic, and the song’s content betrays a bitter pill of a future to swallow. But the song itself has a hypnotic round style to it, perfect for a closing track, that leads to deeper resonances than other sounds on the record.

Modern New Year is a solid release, populated by the darkness and the light. I would have liked to have seen a little more variety in the production — the promise of the title track never really returns — but I think the sound on the record does exactly what it’s supposed to. Sam, keep on folking in the free world.

Top Tracks: “Centrefold Blues” , “Modern New Year” , “Lottapeople Blues”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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Still Boys, Zoo Owl and Bataille Solaire @ The Music Gallery

Still Boys

Still Boys

by Michael Thomas

The wonderful weirdness of Adam Bradley’s taste in music is most often seen within the confines of a Wavelength show, but his time at the Music Gallery has finally amounted to a show there.

A church hardly seems like the place for the interactive synth-music/puppetry of Still Boys and the madness of Zoo Owl, but the Music Gallery held these minions of the bizarre and the audience embraced them. Even when it involved getting eaten and being forced to get into a van.

Bataille Solaire

Bataille Solaire

Starting off the night, though, was Montreal’s Bataille Solaire, known at first as a backup musician for Jef Barbara. He’s struck out on his own and arms himself with a compact table filled to the brim with electronics.

His set was wordless and was mostly him fiddling with knobs and pushing buttons for a thoroughly ambient 30-minute set. His beats at times explored darker sounds, while other times becoming something more melodic and beautiful. The projections also played a part in his set, sometimes making his music feel downright spooky.

Zoo Owl

Zoo Owl

No two Zoo Owl shows are exactly the same. It seems like every time he does a show, he ups the ante a little–maybe he adds a laser show, maybe he’ll leap onto a monitor, but it’ll always be slightly different. Such was the case last night, this time forgoing the crazy light show for a “chronicle of a summer spent.”

With the stage adorned in greenery and branches, Zoo Owl’s music also seemed a little more serene. For the majority of his set, he sang clearly along with almost R&B sounding beats. But soon his set got creepier, as he donned his trademark goggles and began jumping around and on top of several objects. His seemingly carefully choreographed set eventually finished off with a bit more of his aggressive and confrontational side with “Twin Mirror.”

Still Boys, featuring a dancing, anthropomorphic CN Tower

Still Boys, featuring a dancing, anthropomorphic CN Tower

Not even the antics of Zoo Owl could prepare anyone for Still Boys. The band/collective/puppetry act has been around for some time, but those who had seen them before said that this was the biggest and best Still Boys act yet. There aren’t enough words to describe Still Boys and do them justice, but essentially the act involves a giant eye, giant lips, electronic music and later a digestive tract.

The beats are just enough to keep people moving as the eyes and lips move about. Eventually actual people dressed up in various costumes will be expelled from and sucked back into the mouth. At one point, a guy who sort of camouflaged as a rock gets out of his costume, reaches into the mouth and blow-dries his hair.

Still Boys

Still Boys

And then, as the music starts to get more inviting, the giant cyclops starts singing “Come in my mouth,” and the audience actually gets to crawl through the mouth, through a digestive tract and then outside, where we were told to exit through a van. A little unnerving, but a wholly new experience.

What Still Boys did may not be conventional fare for a music venue in a church (and the Silly String will probably be hell to clean up) but it was a great picture of how progressive the Music Gallery can be. It’s literally a place where anything goes, and more Toronto venues need to be pushing boundaries like that.

Zoo Owl

Zoo Owl

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Audio/Visual Hoots: The Bandicoots, Emilee Sorrey, So Young, The Written Years, Gdansk and daysdeaf

The Bandicoots – “Just After Dark” 

In a cute tale about a absentee heart, the debut single from Hamilton band The Bandicoots is a very fun. A bouncy beat and a familiar pop-rock sound heightens songwriter Justin Ross’ quirky love song and makes “Just After Dark” a good one to throw on when needing a pick-me-up.

Emilee Sorrey –  “You Love Me” 

Everything feels easy and fresh in Emilee Sorrey’s song “You Love Me.” The subtle gentle electronic elements allow the song to warmly drift by but it’s the backing classical guitar really kicks things up. “You Love Me” feels like a summer’s day where the humidity won’t quit and poor decisions are made; somehow making it perfect for this season. Keep watch for that upcoming debut EP!

So Young – “He Had It Coming”

So Young’s newest single “He Had It Coming” comes from their forthcoming (January 2015) record Try Me. “He Had It Coming” continues lead singer Paterson Hodgson’s honest and moving lyrics and the band’s delightful pop-rock sound. Try Me promises to be another triumph from a very special band.

The Written Years – “It’s Not Your Fault” 

Vancouver band The Written Years’ new track “It’s Not Your Fault” is an emotional journey. Although the song title suggests that the song is an emotional one, it is lead singer Wade Ouellet’s voice that creates this powerful response. At times seemingly overcome with anguish, a highlight is following the line, “it’s not your fault” he yells “you know!,” the song is genuine and a great introduction to the band for those unfamiliar.

It’s also a win/win to buy the band’s EP that “It’s Not Your Fault” appears on! The band will be donating all proceeds from the EP  to different organization which help to present sexual and physical abuse, violence, and assault against women, as well as shelter and empower victims of these acts.

Gdansk – “Atlas”

The Hamilton band has been busy this year, having released EP1 earlier this year and with EP2 coming out on Nov. 25. First single “Atlas” was released before, but the band redid it and it comes out as a satisfying mix of soft synths and subtle guitars. A dreamlike wave of synth opens the song, along with modded vocals, eventually unfolding to allow in some guitars. By the time the four minutes is up, the song has exploded like a supernova and then faded out into quiet contemplation.

daysdeaf – “Silver (oh Mercury!)”

The band released a very colour-oriented album earlier this year, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the dance-oriented track “Silver (oh Mercury!)” also plays with the spectrum. Split between scenes of full colour and black and white, the video navigates a seemingly dead-end relationship. But when one half the pair makes a bad move, anger erupts—and so does almost every colour imaginable.

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Review – “Bones Of Things” – Meligrove Band

reviewed by Elysse Cloma album artwork

Throughout their decade-long career, mainstream success seems to have eluded Meligrove Band. Their tendency to push past the comfortable confines of pop takes listeners into a world of experimental, prog-rock, surf, and psychedelic. Despite their digression into multiple genres of music, Meligrove Band’s overall pop aesthetic is magnetic. On their latest album Bones Of Things, they’ve followed their tradition of crafting songs with uppity, clever hooks that dare to get little weird.

Bones Of Things is predictably unpredictable. Woven with prog-rock, surf, and folk-pop, it’s the kind of album that only Meligrove Band could make, staying true to their trademark shout-singing, using ample amounts of electric guitar, and rhythmic rock piano.

Jason Nunes at the Meligrove Band record release party, Horseshoe Tavern, 6.11.14

Jason Nunes at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto 6.11.14, Record Release Party

The many paths the songs on Bones of Things takes is both surprising and unsurprising all at once. The introduction on “I Do” is reminiscent of early Tokyo Police Club – à la “Nature of the Experiment” – but it takes on a surf direction with bouncy bass and doo-wop backup vocals. The opening track “Ichi Ni” is an infectious prog-rock song with a hyperactive hook. The sonic journey doesn’t end there; “Bones of Things,” and “Sunrise Old” are folk-pop songs that remind me of the better parts of Said the Whale’s music, mostly because of the drumming style, and the strumming patterns on the ukulele and mandolin. The beauty of Bones Of Things is that Meligrove Band’s multi-genre approach somehow remains cohesive.

Bones Of Things proves that, time and time again, Meligrove Band is able to experiment with music and successfully make it their own. Their ability to fuse different styles of rock into their Meligrove brand is simply good musicianship. If there is a difference between Bones Of Things and Meligrove Band’s previous albums, it’s that each song maintains a character rather than diverging in different directions mid-song. Whether or not this is for the better is up to listeners to decide.

Bones Of Things is pyrotechnic. It’s explosive and all over the place, consistently unpredictable, “out there”, and artful.

Top Tracks: “Ichi Ni”; “Bones Of Things”

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent)

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Review – “Deperuse” – Deperuse

reviewed by Laura Stanley a2894492362_2

Kevin Echlin is a bit of a mystery to me. His covers, Youtube videos, and various other projects linger in the corners of the internet that I hang out in. I want to tell everyone about how great he is and just when I do, he disappears. In his grand return to my earbuds, Echlin, disguised under the name Deperuse, moves away from the folkier sound of his other works and creates a layered, lo-fi dreamy pop outfit for himself. For a one man show, it’s pretty impressive.

As evident in his other projects, the Windsor native wears his influences on his sleeves. Whether it be Fleet Foxes, Camera Obscura, or as evident here, Mac DeMarco, Echlin is not afraid to show what other artists inspire him. Despite this, with his powerful voice and natural talent at seemingly every instrument, Echlin’s stylistic flairs allow him to standout in these well-worn styles.

In the latter track, “DIY Uncertainty,” Echlin’s anxieties about being a musician and many of the emotions that are present in the record are at their loudest. Despite its late album appearance, “DIY Uncertainty” is the needed introduction to Echlin’s headspace. The time occupied by melancholy, where “everything is uncertain,” as he sings, and general poor mental health often has a vortex effect. Days go by without notice and things are forgotten. It’s done in a simple line but Echlin captures this effect with great accuracy when he sings, “…Just want to read my books again to find out how they end.”

Lyrical strength aside, “DIY Uncertainty” is littered with multiple time changes and warm guitar riffs that makes it easy to absorb. Sure the lo-fi sound is a giveaway of Echlin’s recording process but without Echlin’s description of the project as “one dude,” you would assume that Deperuse was the product of a late night jam session between friends. Which, to be fair, it probably was. Just a solitary session. A creative cliche yes, but the isolation of the creative process here shows how gifted Echlin is.

Like “DIY Uncertainty,” the actual album opener, “It’s All The Same” moves through numerous phrases. Heavy with harmonies and featuring the lightest melody of the group, at just over a minute and a half, a banjo makes a surprise appearance. For a record that fulfills much of the lo-fi pop record quota, the banjo is welcoming just as much as it is a surprise.

Amongst Echlin’s basement bedroom induced dreamy haze, other highlights include the heavy sounding “Working Hard,” which nicely mirrors the sadness of the number, and the urgency that fills “I’m Not A Shark!” As early blizzards reign down around us, “Winter Banal Blues” is a surprisingly fun ditty worthy of a spot on your winter playlist and a reminder that your winter induced sadness ain’t got nothing on the sadness that summer brings.

Whether in a band, a cover band, under a moniker, or under his own name, Kevin Echlin is full of talent. Now stop forcing me to go across the internet to find your stuff! 

Top Tracks: “It’s All The Same” “DIY Uncertainty”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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Review – “Tape 7″ – Babysitter

Reviewed by Jack Derricourt

Babysitter, Tape 7

Tape Seven. The God Tape. At least, in Frank Blank numerology.

With the depths of a John Tory winter striking into Toronto, winds reaching out to slap us in the jowls, it’s hard to remember back to the spring this new Babysitter tape was created in. Thankfully, the boys in the band are ready to utter growls of sunshine and fresh shredding rain. The ten tracks on Tape 7 are ten ghostly flowers, filled with pumping drums and chainsaw guitars — the petals of garage pop.

But Jack, you ask from behind the deli store counter, isn’t this just like the six great tapes that came before? How much Babysitter can really be smeared over the cassette toast?

You’re thinking too much. Things are different. The sound collaging on Tape 7 is saucy, and Mr. Kristian North has found some new toys to play with in order to satisfy your mind’s lust for novelty. The tone of the tape is subdued and twisted. The sound manipulation found all over the tape is a cheeky twist witnessed on the band’s more off-hand, carefree releases, as well as on the recent teamups with JLK.

What is the world concocted by North? His lyrics read like a dime store dystopian soap opera fan magazine: coffee shop confessionals, bdsm cuteness, and now dilapidated cheerleaders. The stories told by Babysitter are the undercurrent of the day: every day is more fucked up than the papers would allow you to believe.

My blinking Nintendo heart cries out for the CCRamones punk bleat of “I Swim In Shit.” The loins of my LP collection want to hug the mellow groove of “Look Both Ways” into their grooves. The songs utter grotesques and refuse to turn down the volume of their eccentricity.

There’s no room for soft tones or a downbeat on this new tape. Guitar, vocals, bass, and drums sounds simple. Babysitter proves with Tape 7 that nothing could be weirder, nothing could be more wonderful.

Top Track: “I Swim In Shit”

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent)

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Review – “Through the Days” – Layten Kramer

reviewed by Eleni Armenakis cover

Canmore, Alberta native Layten Kramer may have funded the pressing of his solo debut with a successful Indiegogo campaign, but Through the Days hardly sounds like the homemade result of three weeks spent recording in Canmore and Vancouver, B.C. Then again, the young musician, who’s been grabbing headlines since the age of 16 with The Eerie Green, has never really sounded like an amateur.

With three go’s at the Calgary Stampede’s Talent Search, it’s no surprise that this year’s entry, with “Sea of Glass” off his debut took home first prize—just that it took so many tries for his experimental folk, as he calls it, to finally take home the win. Kramer, who recorded the album with friends and current tour-mates Dean Kheroufi and Connor Ellinger, already has quite the resume—he’s supported or worked with the likes of Classified, Dan Mangan, Zeus Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and Jordan Klassan—and clearly absorbed whatever there was to learn from them before embarking on his own release.

There are Mangan-like flourishes of trombone as the songs on Through The Days plunge into the chorus and the trills give off a familiar shiver as the song surges. Even when Kramer isn’t driving onwards with a powerful melody, as with his eponymous finale, there’s something captivating about the delicate cords and the steady tapping of the drum in the background like a heartbeat—an apt accompaniment for an EP that focuses so heavily on the passage of time.

In fact, that’s near enough the title of Kramer’s open. His preoccupation with the ticking clock of life kicks off the album as he sings, “So today I found Heaven/She’s up there in the sky/There’s just one problem/It’s that I haven’t died.” And while Kramer doesn’t have quite the baritone that the song’s obvious influence does, as the strumming picks up and the trumpet rings out, he still channels that emotional resonance and turns this into one of the album’s strongest tracks.

With two other songs titled “Pendulum” and “Grown Ups,” it’s hardly a theme that’s merely bookending the album. Maybe it’s the confession in “Pendulum,” as he boldly claims he “has so much to say” that reveals what’s pressing on him, or his belief in the latter track that he’s “all grown up.” And while that’s scarcely the truth at 19, those early worries are clearly doing him a favour and pushing him forward.

At its richest, on “Passing of Time” and “Sea of Change,” Through the Days is full of potential—the kind that makes you sit up and focus on the notes ringing out. And as the album rolls out its mournful, echoing close, the buildup becomes less about the song itself, but wondering what more will come when Kramer starts making use of all the time he has left.

Top tracks: “Passing of Time”; “Sea of Change”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*

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Review – “Fuck You I’m Dead” – ¡FLIST!

FLIST_FYID_artworkreviewed by Michael Thomas

Never has a musical descent into hell been so incredible to witness. ¡FLIST! (aka Charlie Twitch) doesn’t pull any punches on this wild debut album, from the bellicose title of Fuck You I’m Dead to the general atmosphere of horror and anguish.

It’s no mistake that this album seems jittery and occasionally angry—as Twitch told Chart Attack, he spent about eight years getting this thing together, and some of the lyrics on the album can be seen as a testament to the anxiety of perfecting one’s debut album and releasing it to the world.

To even begin to categorize this beyond ambiguous terms like “cinematic” would be impossible. At times, Fuck You I’m Dead could be the theme music for an Alfred Hitchcock film, but more often than not it provides a type of horror Hitchcock could never pull off.

Twitch’s vocals could be compared to a more unhinged Taylor Kirk of Timber Timbre but with far more expression. The combination of a huge dose of reverb and his occasional shrieks help to emphasize that recurring theme of anxiety, from all angles of what could cause it.

The riotous piano of “Fat Square,” for example, provides the backdrop to a song about not quite fitting in. At one point he says “You ain’t nothing but a round hole and I guess that I’m just scared…” with each verse punctuated by a few of his shrieks. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any stranger, they do before the song ends.

Or even more telling, in “Tuberculoma” — almost a part two of the spooky instrumental number “Cruoritosis” — Twitch sings “I got soul-crushing problems that are probably nonsense, like I’m so bad at everything and nobody wants me.” Or even more on-point, the opener “Purify Your Soul,” which mentions phrases like “Why couldn’t I work this out?” and later “Drowning in a wave of doubt…”

It’s not all directly anxious lyrics, though. “Mercury’s Net” takes the cake for most disturbing lyrics on the album, at one point focusing on images of wings glistening with blood. The song’s instrumentals could be compared to the “VHS horror” of Edmonton’s TAIWAN, adding more effect to Twitch’s gruesome imagery. “Dents de Fer” also dials up the horror with a plea for “anesthesia, take, take, take me/to the dollar store…” amid its heavy piano sounds and generally dark mood.

It’s a good thing that this ¡FLIST! album could finally see the light of day—deeply unsettling, meticulously crafted and gleefully vicious, Fuck You I’m Dead will challenge you to accept all that hell has to offer.

Top Tracks: “Fat Square”; “Latrine”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*

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