Title: How It Is//I’ll have the milk steak, boiled over hard, and your finest jelly beans, rawArtist: Open Letters71 plays
Open Letters // 1-6
I’ve struck pop punk gold. If you turn your nose up at the scent of the genre, well then you’re gonna have to just get over yourself. I know that a lot of it can be painfully obnoxious, but if done correctly it can be a heck of a lot of fun. Take Vancouver trio Open Letters for example.
Having a lot more in common with punk than pop, these three young kids absolutely shred their way through this 5-song EP. There is a lot to love about this EP, and it all starts with how aggressive it is. Yes, it’s really catchy music with high-pitched (verging on nasally) melodic vocals, but the music is furious and the lyrics are packed with anthems of youthful angst. Lines like “Eat shit and die!” and “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, fuck everything!” are delivered with a laugh and a wry smile. Also in true form the song titles are ridiculous and ridiculously long. It just goes to show you how much fun this band is having and how much fun they want you to have.
Their EP 1-6 is available as pay-what-you-want on their Bandcamp, but know that any and all money made from the digital sales goes straight to the WISH Drop-In Center Society (a non-profit that helps women involved in the sex slave trade). That’s just another reason to be in love with this band.
The Vancouver punks in White Lung are back with their followup to 2010’s It’s the Evil. The album is called Sorry and it pretty much picks up right where their debut left off. After hearing a couple of tracks from this album I went back and checked out their debut (thanks to a recommendation from Waylon Thornton) before I really delved into Sorry. Man, if you guys are looking for some good, energetic punk to give you the old one-two, then you’d do well to check out White Lung.
I think the greatest thing about the band is that they carry a bittersweet edge. As far as punk rock goes, Sorry is pretty catchy and accessible, but the band never forfeits any of their edge in the process. It’s still pretty cutthroat and it slaps you upside the head with furious pace (the album clocks in at around 20 minutes). Wall of noise thanks to screeching guitars? Check. Chugging bass and monster percussion? Check. Confrontational aggro vocals? CHECK! Don’t sleep on this thing, it’s out now on Deranged Records.
Ever since his exit from Chains of Love, Clint Lofkrantz has turned his vision towards greener pastures… well, gardens. Grey Gardens is his newest project and once you listen to the handful of tracks he has on his Soundcloud account, I think you’ll agree with me that it was a move best taken.
Sticking to what he knows best, Clint anchors these tracks on one thing: the guitar. I’ve heard it said that he is one of the hardest working musicians in Vancouver so whether he is shredding with distortion so thick you’ll need a machete to hack through or hearkening back to jangling eras gone by, Clint is proving his salt. Check out his track “Baby” to see what I’m talking about.
Oh, and here is some more good news. In addition to working on Grey Gardens Clint told me that the finishing touches are being put on the new Manic Attracts album. And all God’s people said, “Amen!”
Clint Lofkrantz, one of the masterminds behind the totally awesome Chains of Love, sent me this track from his other band, Manic Attracts. Seeing as Chains of Love points themselves towards a specific sound, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Manic Attracts. What I got was a pleasant surprise.
Now I can see where the connection between the two groups lies. Manic Attracts is pretty lo-fi, using alot of reverb. However, instead of focusing on soaring vocals like Chains, Manic Attracts seems more intent on creating a wall of noise. In their track “Death of Your Heart”, the band almost lulls the listener into a false sense of security with gentle guitar work and a drum beat straight out of the Phil Spector canon. Then the caravan slowly begins moving faster and faster. Pretty soon you’re on a runaway train heading straight for a brick wall of blistering noise. Instead of blasting apart on impact, the noise inject the track with vibrant color. There is life in this track and like an infection, it creeps slowly through your veins until there is nothing left but to give in to the brain fever. And it feels oh so good.
You can get this track on the band’s LP Eyes Wide Shut, which you can order from Dead Beat Records. If you wanna hear a few more tracks first, then check out Clint’s SoundCloud to do just that.
Although SouncCloud confuses me, I occasionally navigate my way around it just enough to discover something truly great. In my inbox there I found a single track by Vancouver band Chains of Love. Now the name Chains of Love would be a strange choice if the group was going for anything but a 1960’s girl group sound. Lucky for them (and me) that is exactly what they are going for, and believe me, they nail it.
Now before your thoughts go straight to bands like Vivian Girls or Dum Dum Girls or any other girls, let me stop you. Chains of Love doesn’t really sounds much like those bands at all. If I had to compare them to a modern band it would probably be The Bitters if they cleaned up and became a bit more accessible. No, their sound is pretty close to original 1960’s acts like The Ronettes or The Crystals, just with a lo-fi garage rock twist.
For proof, listen to the song I’ve included below. After falling in immediate love with it, make your way to their bandcamp and scoop up the other three songs that they have for download there. I assure you, they are just as good.