reviewed by Jack Derricourt
Do you like the snow? It’s a simple question really, one that brings you back to younger days of tobogganing and hot cocoa. Or Slayer records and wood pallet bonfires — whatever your fancy.
I am not a snow fan. My favourite winter sport is fireside reading, and I’m currently sitting in my chilly apartment, wishing that the white powder would leave me be, and bring back the birds. But I could change my mind if a certain local musical release were to come along and beautify the process of cold winter days for me . . .
“Winter In the City” is the snowstorm portion of Rare Drugs records’ newest release, Sunshine/Winter. It’s the kind of quiet, distilled sonic landscape sculpting that always ends up on movie soundtracks; but this time, the movie is your time spent making your way through the season. Kuba Pie tells it like it is over his slightly dissonant acoustic guitar on “Paper Tigers,” going on about watching “the open sky become my mind.” Layers build up like sedimentary precipitation, then melt away; the image of the fierce, ephemeral Tiger plays out perfectly. Ed Munstay provides a beautiful counterpart with “Girl In the Sun,” a song that depicts a snow-ravaged 401, and the insanity of watching the world through your mind’s eye, when the outside world becomes a bleached miasma. Munstay’s haunting piano line gains a harmonica accompaniment as the song progresses; but honestly, the vocal was so good on this song, I could have listened to it a cappella. Snow be damned if this music can happen in the wintertime.
Now for the painful portion. I guess Sunshine would be the A side, in the classical, “put the pop tune on the first side and the weirdo tracks on the b side” sense. Sunshine Goes Electric sounds like high-minded Beck in a slick LA nightclub. “Anything But Sweet” is a hot mood, with vocals pumping hard at the front and synth drums and melodies put down with some tambourine to make the air vibrate with “a dream about the sunshine.” The deep cut is “Sunshine and Lucy,” a track that has more to say about love than all of Plato’s Symposium. The guitar drones on, pulling melody and rhythm duties with aplomb, the drums and shaker make Venice Beach come alive like a Paul Thomas Anderson vignette. The final sound of two voices, lazily discussing amour, pizza, and Nixon-shaped constellations is one heck of a way to finish your side of a split. “Fuck this love, let’s get out of here.” Too true.
This is a great little cassette release. Buy it for someone you like, or someone you “like” like, and show them that winter is both not the worst, and that it will end soon enough. Now excuse me while I go do my best Edgar Allan Poe impression over my meat tea.
Top Tracks: “Paper Tigers” ; “Sunshine and Lucy”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*