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The Georgia Straight - - Music -

STRANGE DAYS AHEAD Jack White has told Bill­board he’s putting the fin­ish­ing touches on a third solo al­bum, which he cryp­ti­cally de­scribes as “bizarre” and great for “reroof­ing the garage”. Yes, folks, even the man who saved rock with the White Stripes has given up on sav­ing rock.

BACK AT ’ER Eleven years af­ter her de­but, Paris Hil­ton is hard at work on a fol­low-up that she prom­ises will de­liver a whole new sound. Un­for­tu­nately, she’s promis­ing a mix of deep house and elec­tro- and techno-pop, in­stead of what we were all hop­ing for: the sound of si­lence.

BUTT OUT In an at­tempt to curb lowlifes hawk­ing nude pics of her, Sia re­leased one of them her­self, tweet­ing a blurry shot of her butt—which is just as well, since no one knows what her face looks like any­way.

TROU­BLE IN PAR­ADISE Fa­mous phi­lan­thropist Bono has been named in the Par­adise Pa­pers leak for evad­ing tax on his in­vest­ment in a Lithua­nian shop­ping cen­tre. We ex­pected it of Trump’s cab­i­net mem­bers—but re­ally, Bono? You too?


Our Free­dom Day (In­de­pen­dent)

There’s a com­pletely le­git case to 2

be made that the likes of Green Day, Good Char­lotte, and Blink-182 ru­ined it for ev­ery­one. Who in the fuck wants to form a punk band to smash the state or sound­track an An­ar­chists Anony­mous meet­ing when, by sweet­en­ing the mix a lit­tle, you can dream of mas­sive roy­alty cheques, pri­vate jets, and sold-out hockey rinks?

Pop-punk is the last thing that Reds give a shit about on Our Free­dom Day. This is old-school thrashamatic punk for those who’ll ar­gue that Tim Arm­strong is more prin­ci­pled than Bil­lie Joe Arm­strong will ever be. Only four of the 12 tracks make it past the two-anda-half-minute mark, with “O.F.D.” wrap­ping up in a tightly wound one minute and six sec­onds.

As much as lead singer DK tends to sound like a gut­ter punk who gar­gles with un­cut lye and whiskysoaked Lucky Strikes, Our Free­dom Day isn’t afraid to make the odd sonic di­ver­sion. The gui­tars are more clas­sic-emo sheen than Never Mind the Bol­locks on “White Light­ning”, while the oc­ca­sion­ally heav­enly clos­ing track, “Um­bil­i­cal”, starts out by al­ter­nat­ing be­tween acous­tic gui­tar and mourn­ful cello.

Fur­ther bonus points go to Reds for putting out the al­bum on glo­ri­ous 12-inch vinyl rather than shitty old com­pact disc, and for lyrics that ac­tu­ally seem like they weren’t writ­ten on the back of a Player’s Light pack af­ter a cou­ple of pulls on a glue bag. Take a lis­ten to the im­pres­sively snotty “As It Is” and its un­flinch­ingly hon­est lines “I’ve got no am­bi­tion to make it in your world/your

Shame (Mint)

It is a tough age, in­deed. Dur­ing 2

the record­ing of their sopho­more al­bum, 2015’s I Get the Feel­ing Cen­tral, found­ing Tough Age mem­bers Jar­rett Sam­son and Penny “Agamem­non” Clark were, like so much of the city’s great tal­ent, com­pelled to make the move from the in­creas­ingly un­af­ford­able Van­cou­ver to Toronto, and change has been a con­stant ever since.

Most notably, Tough Age has stream­lined from a quar­tet to a trio, adding on drums the no­to­ri­ous Jesse Locke, with whom Clark plays in Cen­tury Palm, but Clark’s in­creased work­load on vo­cals can­not be over­looked. She takes the lead on “Me in Glue”, a thrashy garage-rocker that puts Tough Age in line with the Court­neys, and the siz­zling re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of “Ghost” by the Drearies, tak­ing it a lit­tle more up-tempo and a lot tighter than the orig­i­nal.

Even in flux, Tough Age con­tin­ued its ca­reer tra­jec­tory with Shame, mov­ing far­ther away from the lit­eral garage sound to­wards more pol­ished pro­duc­tions, with­out sac­ri­fic­ing an iota of en­ergy. Some 20 tracks were recorded for this al­bum, taste­fully edited down to the eight es­sen­tial cuts. The false start and chuckle on “Pi­quant Frieze” add to the live-offthe-floor feel they were go­ing for, and achieved most spec­tac­u­larly on the clos­ing ti­tle track, which progs out for 10 of the al­bum’s 32 min­utes, end­ing on an ex­per­i­men­tal sim­mer­ing of ef­fects and hum that puts you right there in the stu­dio with them. Shame is all plea­sure, no guilt.


In a world where ag­gres­sive fu­ture 2 bass is the go-to for big clubs, and groove-driven house and techno are en vogue in the un­der­ground, it’s a bold choice to pro­duce an al­bum that bor­rows more from trance—a genre tied closely to the ’90s—than the trends of the day. But in­stead of cre­at­ing a record that’s a homage to the past, DJ For­est Walker—or Jor­dan Mccuaig, to his mom—has neatly dragged the sound into 2017, thanks to a healthy dose of trap mu­sic.

A con­cept al­bum of sorts—as far as a lyri­c­less elec­tronic record can be—his de­but full-length, Project Ar­bu­tus, weaves a nar­ra­tive across its 14 tracks. Each song of­fers a dif­fer­ent mood or chap­ter, and is de­scribed by enig­matic, space-themed ti­tles like “So­lar Flare”, “Or­bital De­cay”, and “Event Hori­zon”. It might seem a lit­tle lofty and in­ac­ces­si­ble, but the mu­sic is any­thing but.

The record is named af­ter the or­ganic world—namely, the trees that thrive on B.C.’S Sun­shine Coast—but the al­bum has a dis­tinctly sci-fi feel, with cold, im­per­sonal synth lines and mi­nor chord pro­gres­sions scor­ing the ma­jor­ity of the tracks. Sounds like the gritty, dis­tor­tion-drenched lead in “Track­ers II” and trap mu­sic’s ticky drums cap­ture the feel of the ur­ban jun­gle rather than ver­dant forests— but that cool­ness serves to highlight the mo­ments that have real warmth.

Al­bum stand­out “An End­less Fog”, for in­stance, is filled with lush pads and rich, sus­pended chords that drift be­hind a jazzy sax­o­phone riff. The only track to fea­ture vo­cals, it adds a hu­man touch to a record dom­i­nated by synths. “Cas­cade”, too—a song that blends a Top 40–es­que beat with elec­tric gui­tar and pi­ano lines—adds a new tim­bre to the pro­ceed­ings, and is nicely com­ple­mented by funky stom­per “The Look­out”.

Mccuaig has an ear for rhythm, and is able to ma­nip­u­late drum sounds to be­come the fo­cal point of the song, rather than just its frame­work. It’s that in­no­va­tion that lets Project Ar­bu­tus cap­ture the themes of the past while sound­ing un­de­ni­ably fresh.


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