Under Review

If you haven’t moshed to a punk rock cover of t.A.T.u.’s “All The Things She Said,” you’ve never truly lived. Russian Tim and Pavel Bures are here to help with that.

The band, fronted by Tim Bogdachev long-time host of CiTR’s own punk rock power hour Rocket from Russia, plan on releasing their first EP this April. Finally, you’ll be able to practice your Russian at home and sing along at their many, many shows.

Russian Tim and Pavel Bures exemplify the strongest values of Vancouver’s local punk scene, and they’ve been a cornerstone of the community since they started playing together two years ago. Tim, Kristy, Julia, Ilya, and Sergei embody the diversity and raucous enthusiasm of Vancouver punk. Of multiple national origins and musical backgrounds, they come together nearly every week these days to play joyous, wild shows to put the fun back in punk. It doesn’t matter that the word “punk” doesn’t have “fun” in it, because they’re going to do it anyway. They describe their performances as “superFUN and megaENERGETIC,” capslock and all, and they’re in no way exaggerating. No one has as much fun as hyped up Canadian punks shouting in broken Russian as they bounce along to Russian Tim and Pavel Bures’ racing, dynamic tunes.

On April 20, to celebrate the digital release of the long-awaited EP, they’ll be playing a release show at the WISE Hall, and they clearly couldn’t be more stoked about it. Though the band says the new EP, titled Greatest SuperHITS (So Far), won’t “change anyone’s life or cure stomach flu,” and you probably won’t understand a single word of their mostly-Russian lyrics, they are quick to reassure you that “the energy of these songs will be super great.”

Super’s a big word with Russian Tim and Pavel Bures, which makes a lot of sense for what is effectively a supergroup. Julia and Sergei both play in Stranded Hikers, an up and coming three-piece punk act, and Ilya plays in multiple groups including Generals of Monrovia, Zafirios, and Blue Wagon. If you’ve heard a trumpet on a track from virtually any Vancouver-area band, it was probably Kristy, and the talented multi-instrumentalist also sings and plays guitar for Rong (another supergroup, where she’s joined by three of the other raddest women of the Vancouver scene, including Emilor Jayne of Pet Blessings). Tim himself has been involved in so many chunks of Vancouver’s punk community that it’s impossible to see him confined to any one role. From show promotion, to hosting radio, to punk rock trivia, to playing in this band himself – Tim is nearly omnipresent.

Together, they bring their diverse experience and forcefully high energy to a unique brand of music: one that started with punk rock covers of pop songs from Russia and grew into its present whirlwind from there. Now, they feel it’s time to set those songs down in a real recording, so they’ll be available outside the context of their enthusiastic yet inherently ephemeral shows. They’ve recorded six songs with Stuart McKillop of Rain City Recorders, and the EP is nearly ready for digital release across streaming services. And it’s only digital release. The band explains, “Rather than spending $3,000 on vinyl, we would rather release more superHITS.” They’re not going to waste time on money on pressing records and CDs when they could be creating even super-er FUN, even mega-er ENERGY, and even more HITS. It’s not the objects that matter to Russian Tim and Pavel Bures. It’s the experience.

Community is the foremost element of that experience. Tim describes a philosophy of punk rock community where bands support each other, promote each other’s shows, and break down the walls of musical cliques. To that end, the band will be joined at the release show by five other acts (and friends) — the Corps, YOU BIG IDIOT, the Greatest Sons, Aanthems, and Modern Terror. These are some of the band’s oldest friends, groups they’ve grown with and collaborated with for years, and that proves this is not only a release show.  When the doors open at 6:30, it’s time for a full-on party. For $10 ($15 at the door,) Russian Tim and Pavel Bures promise an evening of friendship and celebration, musically forced upon you with their tried and true brand of reckless enthusiasm.

They promise they won’t flake – they’re Russians, after all. They just want to see you at the show. It’s time, Tim says, for “great success!!”

Unsurprisingly, the multiple exclamation points are his.

Nicholas Krgovich

“OUCH”

Authors

“Up until last year I’d never fallen in love or experienced a broken heart,” Nicholas Krgovich confides in the liner notes on the Bandcamp page of his latest album, “OUCH” — he describes this as his “breakup album,” the first he’s written in his sixteen-year career. “Not even close really. I can’t believe heartbreak is a thing that happens to pretty much everybody! It’s so wild! Maybe the wildest thing besides having a baby or death! No wonder I managed to avoid it for so long. I don’t think I could have handled it.”

Krgovich’s essay summarizes the mood of the twelve songs on “OUCH” as wry, bittersweet and honest. Much like the rest of Krgovich’s discography, it’s a relaxing listen, but hides depths both emotional and musical.

These are understated, homey songs that occasionally swell with electric organ and/or sax, interspersed with songs that strum along like a Jonathan Richman joint, possibily due to Adrian Teacher, one of Krgovich’s many collaborators on “OUCH” and a noted Richman fan. At first the songs seem to make an attempt to push through the breakup pain Krgovich talks about with dry humor. We hear him sing about regifting presents he never managed to present to his ex-lover in “Hinoki,” while the following track, “Spa,” closes with a voicemail message from a friend: “You are thinking about this too much.”

Soon enough, Krgovich’s true feelings come out, as such feelings do. On “Goofy,” which is arguably the emotional linchpin of “OUCH”, we hear Krgovich plainly lament the breakdown of what he describes in the album’s liner note/essay as a “brief but potent relationship,” singing “I feel duped and robbed / And it’s at odds with the vibrancy of spring.”

Of course, by the time “October” (the song) comes around, Krgovich seems to have gotten through the worst of things, while reaching the album’s closing song “Field,” he is reflective on his whole experience, intoning that though he will carry it with him, he also knows that he is “safe.” Here, there are parallels to be drawn with another local songwriter on what is, in many respects, a very different album: Devours’ Late Bloomer. While Late Bloomer is brash and concerned with beginnings where “OUCH” is wistful and about a singular ending, both albums deal with attaining self-knowledge in relationships, especially as their respective authors are both gay men who, by their own word, came out and/or entered relationships relatively late in life.

Even as “OUCH” deals entirely in “specificity” (as Krgovich admits in the album’s liner notes), there’s a plainspoken quality to its songwriting that makes it universally relatable. Who among us hasn’t had an experience with an ex or unrequited love like the one Krgovich sings about in “OUCH”’s penultimate song, “Lido.” The album leaves us sighing with some degree of nostalgia or resignation, just as he does, “If it is, I’m dying / If it is, I’m alright,” Krgovich repeats at the end of the song, joined by a chorus of looped sighs and backup vocals.

Put simply, when you listen to “OUCH” you know you’re not alone, no matter how you came to feel that way.