Riff Raff

By Bryce Dunn

Friends, isn’t it time you got back to basics? Back to a time when music was heard on a hi-fi and not a hard drive? Where the grooves of a record, not the bytes of a computer file, sent warm, inviting, simple yet seductive strains of melody to the ear? Stop me before I sound anymore like the K-Tel compilation ads of the past, but Chains Of Love hearken back to those halcyon days befitting of dance halls and dingy dives with their debut seven-inch of seasoned soul. A fortuitous meeting between members of other current “hip” bands has begot this incredible musical maelstrom, and at the eye of this storm we find the duet-ing duchesses Nathalia Pizzaro and Rebecca Marie Gray. “You Got It,” with its Northern soul inflections, backed by the rollicking bass bounce of Clint Loftkrantz and some springy keyboard action from Henry Beckwith, will make pulses race and feet bee-line for the floor. “Black Hearts” kneels whole-heartedly at the Shangri-Las’ shrine whilst wrapped in a hazy wash of guitar grit from Felix Fung and the biff-bang-pow of drummer Al Boyle. While there has been a recent swell of girl-group-idolatry-meets-rough-and-ready-R&B building among the garage rock elite (Modern Superstitions and the Vibrating Beds come to mind) Chains Of Love add a welcome want of this immediately catchy and retro vibe to the masses. Soak it in, guys and gals—they plan to stick around for a while.

Vancouver’s twin towers of trouble White Lung and Nü Sensae, have just unleashed a new split single to coincide with a gargantuan U.S./Canadian tour that finds these combos traversing abroad to terrorize everyone with their punk rock racket. White Lung serve up “Aristocrat” with a decidedly different treatment of Mish Way’s trademark snarl, which is dialed back but now multi-layered for maximum whiplash. Kenny McCorkell’s staccato guitar strikes lay perfectly in the cut over top the frenzied bottom end of Grady MacIntosh. Add Anne-Marie Vassilliou’s breakneck drum-bashing and we’ve got another winner on our hands. Not to be outdone, Nü Sensae’s bar-room brawler, “Eat Your Mind,” has Andrea Lukic switching between a haunting croon and a shrill shriek without missing a note, while drummer Daniel Pitout’s caveman crunch makes the earth shake and reverberate amidst a sea of feedback and fuzz. Be warned: this tour and single will blow minds.

Heading east over the Rockies, another release from Calgary’s rollin’ and ramblin’ ambassador to the stuporstars, Handsome Dan, has unearthed another collection of sonic shredders from his group, Spastic Panthers. Here we get more of the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it brand of beach punk ragers they are affectionately known for, as on “(I Don’t Believe In) Moderation” and “I Can’t Make The Scene (Without Caffeine).” Some surprises do pop up though, such as a reverb-drenched solo courtesy of Al Von Zipper on “Panther Bomb” and some nifty bass work on “Cocaine Werewolf” that’ll have heads boppin’. The flip introduces us to fellow Cowtown cohorts Teenage Rampage, and their feverish brand of hardcore hi-jinx. The soundtrack to growing pains (“What’s The Rush”), workin’ for the man (“Sick Of The Cold”) and other odes of angst are backed by gnarly guitar work and thunderous drums that’ll appeal to the back-patch sporting, alley-puking punk set in spades.

Finally we rest in the big T.O., where I just recently returned from whilst on tour. I was lucky enough to have met and played with the svengali-like pop princes First Base, with whom I fell in love with a year ago after hearing their song “Nobody Makes My Girl Cry But Me” done by the pepperoni-slinging impresarios Personal & The Pizzas. Well, the favour has been returned on First Base’s recent single with an exciting take on “I Don’t Feel So Happy Now” (from the P&TP Raw Pie album) as well as their own girl-happy go-getters, “I Saw Her First” and “Get A Taste Of Her Love Again.” Brimming with spritely guitar work and fresh-faced enthusiasm, fans of Nobunny, Lover! and Beach Boys harmonies are gonna fall all over this, guaranteed.

Muchas gracias, amigos!

Chains Of Love: Hi-Scores Recording Library
White Lung/Nü Sensae: Nominal Records/Deranged Records
Spastic Panthers/Teenage Rampage: Handsome Dan Records
First Base: Ric Rac Records