Spotlighting new releases from New Brunswick artists. This week we look at new music from el_benderman, Fishstixx and Youstuva.
El_benderman – Feb. 18, 2019
There’s a strong nostalgic vibe to this collection of demo recordings from el_benderman. The straight-to-tape recording sounds a lot like the cassette demos that were once a band’s only means of sharing music. It’s a trip back to the 80s and 90s, to a time when bands would do their best to capture their music using only a single mic strategically placed somewhere in their jam space. The hi-hats are peaking, the drums a bit muddy and the vocals lost somewhere amongst it all. Clarity isn’t the goal here and that’s completely OK.
There’s a lot of fun things happening across this EP’s six rock inspired tracks that continuously build up and break down. There’s also an obvious understanding and appreciation for dynamic control. That’s something older sound engineers yammer on about, lamenting the overuse of compression and how it has weakened the overall musicality of so many of today’s bands. Nowadays that’s something you can only find on a raw recording like this one if you’re lucky.
This is the group’s second collection of music posted online this year. The previous recording Jan. 27, 2019 carries a similar sonic delivery. Both of these releases are like an open invitation to a rehearsal. It’s almost like sitting there with them while they hammer out ideas, one after another. It’s a different take on an all too familiar routine.
What would be really interesting is if el_benderman decided to only release their music this way. If you want something a bit cleaner, you’d have to check out a live performance. I think that would be a welcomed twist on home recording and everyone’s seemingly obsessive commitment to capturing perfect sound quality.
Fishstixx – Eviction Notice
Before I get into this, I have to admit seeing this album on Bandcamp for the past few weeks and passing it over, this decision based entirely on the album’s artwork and a 5 second listen. I didn’t think it would be something I could suffer through just to write a short paragraph about, but I came back to it this week because the longer I saw Eviction Notice sitting amongst other New Brunswick releases, the more I got curious as to what it was all about. I’m really happy I did.
Fishstixx is an electronic, pop music project by a pair of Saint John musicians who, much to my surprise, are doing something pretty unique. That’s not to say there isn’t an abundance of original music coming out of that city. Artists like Philip Clark, Dan Chamberlain and other have been putting out some amazing dance music in recent years through their various projects (Shrimp Ring, Gold Punks, Jaguar Knight, etc.) but there have been few releases that willingly channel what I can only assume are the sounds of a modern dance club. It’s not hard to tell I’m at a bit of a loss with how to properly describe what Fishstixx are doing. That said, what they’re doing is wonderful.
Eviction Notice riffs hard on pop culture, the bar scene, and rudderless millennials. It’s Peaches meets The Kardashians without being overly sexual or immersed in gender politics. With polished pop production, sound samples and field recordings, Fishstixx sing about maxing out your Visa, being drunk at a baby shower and daydreaming about dating movie stars, Jon Hamm specifically.
Possibly the biggest takeaway for me, the biggest lesson Fiststixx has taught me is that I shouldn’t judge an album by its cover. After listening to Eviction Notice for most of the day, I get it. The artwork is also a perfect fit to what’s happening across these nine tracks. The irony is waist deep.
I know it’s only March but I can already confirm this album will make it to my end of year Best Of list.
Youstava – Axioms
I love this. Call it math rock, or post rock, or prog rock, call it whatever the hell you want, but this debut from the Moncton quartet Youstava definitely a fun listen. There are so many changes happening throughout each of these tracks that it gets a bit exhausting, so I would recommend sitting down for your own safety.
According to the liner notes, Youstava is a project that evolved out of an earlier band called Reverb Basement that dates back to 2011. By the sounds of things, they’ve been practicing ever since.
Axioms is a 30 minute instrumental rock album performed by highly skilled players looking to push sound in new directions. The compositions are aggressive and well thought out, with each player confidently occupying their own space.
We want more.
Send us your Music!
If you are a New Brunswick artist or group, have new music on the way and would like to be considered for a future edition of Midweek Music Mix, send us the details at gridcitymagazine(at)gmail.com