Dumb | Mint Records
Dumb has been called snotty. Dumb has been called smartass. Dumb has been called catchy. Dumb has never been called dumb.
The Vancouver quartet plays the kind of taut, tight pop punk that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a bill at Max’s Kansas City in the late-’70s or somewhere at California’s Venice Beach in the ’80s.
In other words, the sound is the sort of angular-but-melodic new wave that doesn’t grow old like punk and hardcore did long ago. Since signing to Mint Records, the band has released Seeing Green in 2018 and now the 14 songs that comprise Club Nites. The title tune already has a pretty hilarious video treatment.
Featuring Pipé Morelli (drums), Franco Rossino (guitar, vocals), Nick Short (bass) and Shelby Vredik (bass), the band is getting out on the road to spread the gospel of Dumb and fans, are waiting to catch the group across Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Here are five things to know about Club Nites:
1. The title has meaning: The title track opens the album and somewhat sets up something like a theme to the music to follow. From Don’t Sleep to Knot in My Gut, the songs appear to chart the types of experience that accompany those who become creatures of the night and club life.
2. Spoken/sung: Rossino has an intriguing vocal style that is as much spoken word as it is any kind of singing, which means that a lot of the melodic component of thrashy tracks such as Beef Hits or the Spanish-language De Màs comes from the backing music and not any chiming harmonies.
3. Literacy: The music may sound like it adheres to the Kiss principle — keep it simple, stupid — but when you are penning lyrics such as “I can’t follow protocol or narrative timelines,” you’re a long way beyond singing about the time you got wasted. The titles tend to be pretty good too with Slacker Needs Serious Work being a personal fave.
4. Liberal feedback: Check out the second guitar in Fugue that does nothing but squeal with feedback for the first 30 seconds or so of the song before tossing in some searing leads and you get that Dumb likes noise. Those 30 seconds are almost a third of the tune’s total length. Of the 14 tracks, only five run over three minutes.
5. CBC Radio 3: The song that closes off the album is titled after the national broadcaster’s network that has “breaking new sound” as its slogan and used to honour Canadian pop and rock with its annual Bucky Awards from 2007-13. Frankly, Dumb probably wouldn’t have made that show as the award tended to favour less-angular artists.
Also out this week:
Badge Époque Ensemble
Badge Époque Ensemble | Telephone Explosion
A group of improvisers drawn from players who hail from backgrounds as varied as U.S. Girls, Blood Ceremony and Biblical to Andy Shauf and others all brought together to perform the music of Maximilian “Twig” Turnbull (a.k.a. formerly Slim Twig). Twig’s writing is sure to appeal to anyone who likes late-’60s prog from the Canterbury scene such as Soft Machine. Numbers such as Milk Spilt on Eternity are groovy, jazzy instrumentals with a heavy psychedelic feel.
Hollowlove | hollowlove.com
This Vancouver electro duo of producer Keith Gillard and vocalist/illustrator Ryan Siemko crafts absolutely pristine pop. Since May 26, 2017, the group has been releasing great singles such as Hazard Lights, Origami Heart and the anti-Trump anthem Serpentine. All told, there are 10 tunes that boast immaculate production and meticulous textures that support the contention that I Love My Computer is an honest title. But the music is equally soulful and intimate like the best of Erasure or Pet Shop Boys. It’s amazing River of Crows hasn’t been used in a Netflix series yet. It’s all about the eerie mood.
Sessa | Boiled Records
One thing you can bank on it that any music coming out of Brazil is going to go well with summer weather. That is certainly true of this album from São Paulo’s Sessa, who has been a collaborator with New York guitarist Yonatan Gat (Monotonix, Yonatan Gat and the Eastern Medicine Singers) and the popular acid funk crew of Garotas Suecas. He leaves almost all of that experimental style behind to construct a lovely album of lilting, mostly acoustic songs that are a lot like the tropicalia/bossa of Caetano Veloso. This is a discovery.
Stax Records Soul Explosion
Various artists | Craft
This is the 50th anniversary of the label co-owned by Al Bell, which managed to drop 27 albums and 30 singles in a matter of months after forming and becoming a chart-topping hitmaker for years to come. The original Soul Explosion album was a double vinyl album featuring a sample of the label’s stars such as Eddie Floyd, the Staple Singers, Albert King and more. The second album included rare tracks from roster acts such as the Bar-Kays (Hot Lips), Ollie and the Nightingales (Heartache Mountain) and others. While songs such as Johnnie Taylor’s raunchy Who’s Making Love and Eddie Floyd’s Bring it on Home to Me are well-known, hearing that Stax also recorded full-on California flower power pop like Southwest F.O.B.’s Smell of Incense is interesting. Naturally, all of the remastering means you can really hear how killer the backing band was too. A great reissue.