Riff Raff

By Bryce Dunn

Well all you vinyl fanatics out there, it comes with a sad face and a single tear to admit that this will be the final Riff Raff column in this here space. Time for this scribe to move up and out into the great unknown and start the next phase of whatever it is I plan to do in life. Before you drag out the Kleenex though, let’s turn those frowns upside down with one last installment and remember that yours truly will always be on the hunt for fresh and exciting sounds that spin right round, no matter what.

You should be surfing for singles too, especially when there’s no shortage of smashingly superb local gems out there like Korean Gut, a four-piece combo new to these ears who have been plying their Phantom Surfers-meets-scruffy-pop trade for a few months now. The recently released Your Misery, Our Benefit EP kicks off finely with the treble-inducing tuneage of its title track, while the vocal-only number “If You Want” makes me shimmy with glee. Things get spooky on “The Creeper,” but closer “Gin Gold” ends things off with strumming and drumming good times. Instantly likeable, the EP gives a nostalgic nod to the lo-fi instro-craze that engulfed the Coast in the decade previous—and they do it with mucho gusto. Find it and flip out!

The Gooeys are the newest and maybe weirdest kids in Calgary—the kind of kids that hang out in the graveyard and guzzle gasoline, read too many issues of Cracked magazine and freak out straight-laced suburbanites with their tripped-out, garage pop glop. Just as Jim Jones’ followers downed the purple poison to purgatory, the Gooeys want you to take a “Scary Black Cherry Nap” via their sticky-wicky keyboard lines and sharp-edged guitar jabs. A “Suspicious Hunch Amongst The Bloody Mary For Lunch Bunch” may just tip you off before you “Lay Down & Die” from the sounds of the tub-thumping drum and bass rumble. “I Don’t Know Why” anyone would be left standing, ‘cuz this EP knocks ‘em dead! Calgary continues their time-honoured tradition of making musical magic, so get this and get gone!

Edmonton’s Nervous Wreck deliver a potent power-pop pill with their debut EP, Double the Dose. The title cut takes Eddie & the Hot Rod’s “Teenage Depression” to new hip-shakin’ heights, while the misleadingly-titled “Down” does just the opposite by going up, up and away like a rocket with its Lurkers-channeling twin guitar attack. The weekend wake-up call “2/7” proves these lads have been fed a steady diet of English first wave punk, and it’ll make ya pogo ‘til ya puke!

Lastly, a reissued blast from the past from Birmingham beat-happy bunch the Renegades, who are revered for their revved-up R&B tunes, their U.S. cavalry costumes and for being the first beat combo to conquer Scandanavia—a year before the Rolling Stones, even! Included on this platter is their celebrated 1964 remake of the Vince Taylor rockabilly rave-up “Cadillac,” and the flip features a moodier mid-paced number called “I Was There,” originally written by the Shamrocks. For those who dig the early rock ‘n’ roll style, this single (as well as their second, a romper stomper take on Bill Haley’s “Thirteen Women”) are essential listens and worth tracking down. Now hop to it, hepcats!

It’s all over now, baby blue… Thanks a ton for reading! Viva la vinyl!

Korean Gut/The Gooeys: Mammoth Cave Recording Co.
Nervous Wreck: No Front Teeth Records
The Renegades: Norton Records