We Are the City – Killer B-Side Music

A new discovery for me this week with We Are the City, a Canadian progressive rock band from Vancouver, BC. They’ve been putting out experimental albums for over a decade, tweaking their musical form that entire time to include (according to various reviews) hooky pop-rock, jagged electronic soundscapes, and artsy prog-rock. Their newest record, RIP, follows the death of a long-time childhood friend of the band members (Kyle Tubbs) and, in their own words, marks an important moment for the group. On their Facebook page, they wrote:

RIP is our step forward, but it feels comprehensive. It does feel like a culmination. And it does feel like the next music will be the beginning of a new journey. RIP is a love letter to everyone who has shared their life with us and who has let us share our lives with them. It’s a love letter to our youth. And, most of all, it’s a love letter to Kyle Tubbs.

Being new to this band and a neophyte in prog- and art-rock, I can’t comment on We Are the City’s musical evolution or where they fit among peers and in the indie scene. But, I can say what I really like about the record — punchy lyrics; spiky punk-pop melodies; moments of raw, ragged rock; and songs that manage to sound individually unique and interesting, but that hang together as an album.

The track that first grabbed me (and continues to grab me on each listen) is Killer B-Side Music, a song that starts quiet and builds to a thunderous, shattering, fuzzed-out chorus that feels like a howl. A howl of rage, release, triumph, frustration….really, whatever it needs to be for you. The mix and production are interesting; very little bass in that big chorus, so it’s all screaming guitar in the treble register that only adds to the ragged, slightly unhinged quality. If you’re not paying attention, it will startle you for sure. My kids love that.

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Mannequin Pussy – Drunk II

Spotify’s data indicates that this song has been streamed 337,702 since it’s release about a month ago. I account for a significant percentage of that total because Drunk II has been repeatedly blasted at full-volume in my car, in my earbuds, in my spouse’s Bose Quiet Comfort noise-canceling headphones (shameless plug; I love them), and into my poor, throbbing ear drums.

I’m new to Mannequin Pussy, a Philadelphia-based punk band formed in 2013 and set to release their third full-length album this month, June 21, titled Patience. Drunk II is the lead single off the record. The band has earned a reputation for raw, raging music that can deliver tightly-crafted, melodic hooks in the midst of the sound-and-fury of blistering, thrashing punk rock.

Similarly, their lyrics are as intimate and vulnerable as they are defiant. Like on Drunk II, (which, is simply a brilliant break-up track), when lead singer Marisa Dabice rages “I still love you, you stupid fuck” before the plaintive chorus, “And everyone says to me / ‘Missy you’re so strong’ / But what if I don’t want to be.”

This song’s crisp production and tight blend of power and fragility is compelling as hell.

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Feature Photo: Marcus Maddox