Like every second New Brunswick band I can think of right now, Butcher is a bit of a supergroup. Butcher has pedigree. So many of our local musicians aren’t only pulling their own weight but – if you were ever too unmotivated to write a song – they’re pulling your weight too. Butcher is heavy lifting. Butcher is made up of members of Bad People, NVN, Adam Washburn, DFO, Hand Drawn, Sheik, Subtle… this four piece (you see what I did there) have just released an exasperated yelp into the crisp, foggy, Autumnal Saint John air. Bring a sweater.
So I Can Go Away is a five-track EP and their first release. It’s a strong one. It’s a recording that is mostly tension with little release. Or it’s almost entirely release? Either way, it’s filled with a thick, dark urgency. It churns like a muddy Reversing Falls. Frontman and primary vocalist, Cole Savoie, pushes his voice past the limit in a way that makes him seem perpetually unhinged and exhausted. Guitars are pushed hard in a way that speaks to a punk heritage of filthily-clean tones, breaking amps as they go; greasy and jangly. It all feels like you’re watching a band about to throw its instruments on the floor and leave the venue. I once suggested to guitarist Drew Sweet that it would be really funny if he interrupted a show I was playing to try to wrestle me. I think it makes way more sense if Butcher stopped mid-show to wrestle each other.
It’s an act, though. They’re all sweeties, even if this recording doesn’t necessarily reveal it. You can catch a waft, maybe, when the band occasionally stops to take a breath. 10 seconds of sustain on the track Mental Health reveal that even they need to rest. There’s a narrative desperation in these songs that’s as tender as the delivery. This is a record about stress. It’s a record about how filling sadness can be. I think. Almost nourishing… like the catharsis in yelling. It’s aggressive and vulnerable.
Though the tones throughout aren’t super varied, you can hear each member’s individual influence on the tracks available here. Frontman Cole Savoie is also the human being chiefly behind the beautiful-folk-punk-about-people-being-flayed-alive of Bad People. These songs retain some of that same feel but with far more frustration and grit. Won’t Let This Go is sort of like Bad People off their meds. Mental Health shows me a shimmer of Drew’s emo heart (I can actually see Drew’s emo heart from space). Ultimately, it’s 16 minutes of infectious turmoil. It’s fun to be tossed around in the waves sometimes, even if the water is cold. It’s not easy to write about music that is about unpleasant things. So I Can Go Away isn’t a record full of hooks. But when you’re jammed in tight quarters with Butcher at an all ages show you will be bobbing your head, arms crossed. You get it. Contrary to Cole’s refrain on the track Hope, you sorta know that it’ll probably work out. It’s an intense and intimate record. It’ll fog up the windows. It’ll get into nooks and crannies.
I sometimes wonder how people would talk about Saint John if it were 25 years earlier. Saint John has a sound as much as Halifax ever did and Butcher are within that scope. It’s a vital scene, fighting the same noise-complaint and condo-encroachment felt in larger cities. It is, arguably, the heart of [Anglo] New Brunswick music right now. The trophy isn’t impressive. It’s just a can of Alpine with a bow on it, but it’s theirs.
So I Can Go Away was released December 1, 2017.
Butcher + Tooth & The Fang + Hitman + Diner Drugs | December 1 | Claude’s House | Moncton | View Event
Butcher + Young Satan In Love + Von London + Jerry Faye | December 2 | Read’s newsstand and Cafe | Fredericton | View Event
Butcher + ER and the Other + Cassette Tapes | December 3 | Taco Pica | Saint John | View Event