There’s nothing better for the first week of summer than discovering a new psychedelic punk album, so thankfully UBT’s third album, Ego Orientation, has arrived. The band is led by former Priestess frontman Mikey Heppner—where he’s joined by his “main squeeze” Kathryn McCaughey and drummer Gabe Rousseau.
Gone are Heppner’s heavy metal roots from the now defunct Priestess. In its place is a self-described psychedelic punk band, but definitely sunshine pop punk band, that suits this latest heat wave perfectly. Stepping out of the spotlight Priestess was starting to invite, Montreal’s UBT is a classic garage band with gritty, unpolished sound.
The 12-song album opens with an energetic chord progression that intros “Follow the Waves to the Coastline,” a surfer-esque punk song that sees the vocals matching the drum beats that accent the chorus. “The Boys Are Out For Blood” feels more metropolitan and plays to the psychedelic influences of the band.
“Bumby’s Song” had me wondering who Bumby was as I listened to the closest thing to a slow song on this album—Heppner’s vocals wail gently as his sings, “I love you, always will. I can see that you know it,” while McCaughey coos into the chorus. “I Feel Like I’m Alive” captures the lethargy of a hot day, the simultaneous urge to do nothing while relishing every minute.
“Gypsy Woman” taps into the surfer sound of the 60s again, of course with a little more edge. “She Does Too” loops back to the psychedelic sound of “The Boys Are Out For Blood,” while the rising “I want you” that makes up the chorus stands out for its dependence on Heppner’s voice.
The claps in “John the Painter” give the song a fun beat that makes me want to dance despite the heat, and “The French Song,” which switches vocalists to McCaughey, invites me to slow things down with a 70s-style high school dance song. All the while, McCaughey croons in French, and the song never feels out of place.
Things segue into the rhythmic “If You Need Somebody” that acts as a bridge between McCaughey’s French ballad and the rest of the album. “I Don’t Care” abruptly transitions away with the first screech of the guitar as Heppner sings about growing his hair long and dropping out of school—classic punk fare that sounds mischievously fun when he says it.
The rapid guitar on “Cool Cave Stomp” shows off a different side of McCaughney’s voice as she races to keep up while wailing into the mic. Finally, “Lady Rockaway” ends the album and steals the show, first with it’s nod to the hipster intro, and later it’s bouncing, dance-inducing beat.
As I sit closeted inside on day two of a heat wave, UBT’s Ego Orientation is the perfect vibe for the weather and my mood. It has just the right mix of psychedelia, surf, punk, pop, and whimsy to make me long for a hot room, a sweaty crowd and a live band.
Top Tracks: “Cool Cave Stomp”; “Lady Rockaway”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)