Riff Raff

By Bryce Dunn

Hard to believe summer is on the outs, dear readers, but at least Boats! has the right idea in taking their summer vacation while they have the time. They swung through Vancouver last month and I was quick to swipe up their debut 7” Summer Vacation—aptly titled after their seasonal excursion and the sunny disposition left by their well-crafted pop punk hooks. It will leave you (as it left me) yearning for long lost days at the beach. Tracks like “Heart of Gold,” “My Mother Was Right” and “Twenty One” give off an early Queers/Scared of Chaka vibe whilst guitarist Matt sings with a scratch in his throat and his heart on his sleeve. Meanwhile “Pool Party” is the only cut that really sums up a favourite summer-past, but still bounces like the inflatable tube you’re floatin’ on while soaking up some rays. Like our fleeting hot months of the year, soak this one up while it lasts.

Speaking of fast and fleeting, blink and you’ll miss the B-Lines EP come at you like a horde of pesky mosquitoes lookin’ for blood. Singer Ryan Dyck has been known to draw some of his own whilst the band plays its Killed By Death Records-styled punk mess—and who better to satisfy the needs of the A.D.D. generation than these fine gents. Barely two-minute blasts of songs about failed relationships, corporate stiffs and death by household appliance, I heard the Urinals, Dead Milkmen and early Rip Off Records in among brother Bruce Dyck’s herky-jerky drumming of “Leaving,” “Busy Man” and “Crazy Glue,” but somehow it sticks together with Adam Fothergill’s sturdy bass anchor and Scotty Colin’s punchy and punctuated guitar bursts—like on “Social Reatard,” a song that definitely won’t make the request list at the next PTA dance. Political correctness be damned, the B-Lines are poised to take on all comers with label honcho Sean Nominal sparing no expense (and no trees apparently) as this release comes equipped with digital download coupons, as if your attention span is going to be better off downloading a megabyte the size of a speck of dust. Meh, who am I to stand on the way of progress? Just go get this record already!

And while you’re at it, score yourself ex-Mutators Justin Gradin’s new combo Random Cuts on the aforementioned label. Not as noisy and discordant as his prior project, Gradin’s got a brand new bag of tricks that lay somewhere between the post-punkisms of Wire and the new-school proto pop of their contemporaries Defektors (particularly on “Rat Capacity,” but “Destroyed” also displays some chops that fans of some of the current crop of In The Red Records groups like the Intelligence may agree with). Apparently two more singles are hot off the press and ready to go, so you’ll probably see more ink being spilled on this group in future.

With such a diverse array of influences as Devil Eyes lay claim to, from Motorhead to Ministry to Muddy Waters and back again, it should be a no-brainer that these Montrealers’ difficult comparisons be a watermark for the band’s sound, rendering it jaw-droppingly unclassifiable. After all the good tunes I’ve heard up until this point, unfortunately the only thing dropping on this release is my mood. I found “Rip My Heart Out” and a cover of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates rockabilly rave-up “Please Don’t Touch” just barely remarkable—and it’s not for their lack of trying, I assure you. Maybe they just tried too hard. The first song could have benefited from vocals that absolutely HOWL instead of just scratching the surface. Instead this just bombs, and when the cover song fares better than the original, something’s missing. Hopefully these guys and gal find it on their next outing.

Over and out folks!

Boats! | May Cause Dizziness Records

B-Lines & Random Cuts | Nominal Records

Devil Eyes | Signed By Force Records