Under Review


Opening Band (Hockey Dad Records)

by Fraser Dobbs

Tour de force. There is no other way to describe B-Line’s fantastic Opening Band than to fall back on anglicized French phrases: it’s just that good. The remarkable follow-up to 2011’s self-titled LP debut, this new nine-track offering is a smashing success of a melee for the punk-rockers.

Following in the footsteps of Canadian art-core giants Fucked Up, Opening Band seems aimed squarely at the Polaris crowd. Yes, the rapid-fire punk delivery is still present on songs like long-time crowd favourite, “Do You Know Who I Am,” but each song breathes with such intelligence and literacy that it’s hard to imagine the record not getting a nod from the Prize’s long-list this year. Frontman Ryan Dyck’s gentle crooning fits perfectly with B-Lines’ expanded sound, especially as he delivers the cobweb-wrapped metaphors in “I Vibrate.” Age-old punk fans won’t be disappointed with the breadth of material covered under Opening Band, which gyrates between classically-infused ’80s hardcore and contemporary influences.

Naysayers will be quick to point to the collection of sub-two-minute songs as “dense” when packed so full of philosophical musings and sociopolitical commentary, but these high-impact, low-on-time musical packages are exactly what Canadian art-rock has sorely needed. It would be no huge stretch to call B-Lines the Arcade Fire of the West Coast — albeit, trading piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass (etc.) for false teeth and copious amounts of spittle. Fortunately, Opening Band hardly suffers for lack of orchestral arrangement — instead, B-Lines have crafted a superbly high — concept rock-opera-esque soliloquy that is pushing Canadian hardcore into the 21st-century.