Collective Concerts & Indie88 Present
147 Danforth Ave
Toronto, ON, M4K 1N2
Doors 7:00 PM
This event is 19 and over
The music of The Growlers is unmistakable.
Sure, you can hone in on some influences baked into the work of this California-bred band. Heck, even they'd cop to a few, like Ricky Nelson and The Clash. But once those same RIYL tags have been filtered through the minds and hands and voices of this five-piece, there's simply nothing else like it.
The Growlers took the phrase "Beach Goth" as an apt descriptor of their music. Sunburned and salty, that term perfectly describes their distinctive melding of reverb heavy surf guitar and Bakersfield-style honky tonk with '80s post-punk.
This is especially true of Chinese Fountain, The Growlers' fifth full-length set to be released on September 23rd via Everloving Records. The 11 songs found on it are some of the strongest that they've committed to tape yet; a byproduct not only of eight years in the trenches together, but finely honing their gypsy folk dirges and psychedelic sea shanties to fans at close to 150 shows each year. The connection between vocalist Brooks Nielsen and guitarist Matt Taylor (the principal songwriters of the group) has only grown deeper.
"The band played better than they've ever played," says Nielsen. "We've got the process down now. There's less screwing around to get the songs laid out and we weren't waiting around for take after take. We knew it and we played without much time to spare."
That confidence bleeds through every track on Chinese Fountain, with the band assured enough to layer in shades of many new influences: the loping ska beat of "Dull Boy" and "Going Gets Tuff," the playful disco beat behind the title track, or the Teardrop Explodes-like agitation of "Good Advice."
Not that the band left themselves much room to second-guess anything. The five spent about three weeks writing the tracks, and about half that time in the studio recording them. That may sound rushed, but it's not as if you can hear any strain on the finished product; Chinese Fountain is as rock solid and watertight as anything in their still-growing discography.
There's evolution to be heard in Chinese Fountain as well, courtesy of some of Nielsen's most pointed and poignant lyrics to date. He takes our obsession with the online world to task on the funky title track. When he drops the bomb that obliterates that most famous of Beatles' claims with "The internet is bigger than Jesus or John Lennon" he re-contextualizes Marshall McLuhan's "the medium is the message" in the same breath. He urges positivity no matter the obstacles ("Going Gets Tuff"). Too, he reveals a tattered heart to the world on tracks like "Rare Hearts" and "Love Test."
"This is my chance to let it all out," Nielsen says of these songs. "I kind of bottle things up and don't really get emotional. But I think if I don't open up, I'd be a really stale person."
Joseph Campbell describes a shaman as "person, male or female, who…has an overwhelming psychological experience that turns him totally inward. It's a kind of schizophrenic crack-up. The whole unconscious opens up, and the shaman falls into it." We'll never know the whole truth about what happened when (Foxyen drummer and former Disney child actor) Shaun Fleming moved from the West Coast suburbs to New York, but whatever it was fractured his psyche, opened it up, and gave birth to Diane Coffee.
In 2013, after joining the band Foxygen, Shaun Fleming left the green and golden fields of his hometown of Agoura Hills, CA to become the third roommate in a 700 square-foot, pre-war, closet-free Manhattan apartment. He was welcomed to The Big Apple by a nasty flu virus that drained the last bit of California sunshine out of the skinny, Macaulay Culken-looking 26-year-old's body. As he recovered, cabin fever supplanted the flu, and his relentless creative drive took over. Low on funds and bored out of his mind, he spent the next two weeks alone in his bedroom writing and recording what would become the debut Diane Coffee LP My Friend Fish.
Despite his limited means (using a pseudo drum kit consisting of a snare, one broken cymbal, and a metal pot, recording parts with an iPhone's voice memo app, playing a detuned guitar rather than a real bass, etc) My Friend Fish sounds fully realized and remarkably polished. From a Donovan-esque song about Sriracha, to experiments with distortion and garage-rock, to songs like "All The Young Girls" in which he gleefully channels Tom Jones with sex-bomb confidence, on My Friend Fish Fleming's spell-casting powers are in full effect, inspiring panty-tossing glee. After you finish listening, you'll wonder as you stretch out in bed and enjoy a cigarette, "Who is Fish?"
$35 .00 - $49.50
Advance tickets also available at Rotate This & Soundscapes