Midweek Music Mix

Category: music 75

Spotlighting new releases from New Brunswick artists. This week we look at new music from grej, Hum-Drums and Fishstixx. 

Matt Carter

grej – urge

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I honestly believe drummers possess a greater understanding of music’s subtleties and nuances than they are given credit for.  I’m not just saying this because drumming has been a big part of my life for decades now. This goes well beyond the reaches of my own meager ego. In order for any band to function on a level beyond that of a Friday night basement party, they need to possess a certain degree of skill and more importantly, each member needs to be able to hear beyond the sound of their own instrument.

As the glue that holds most traditional ensembles together, drums and drummers/percussionists have to listen with ‘bigger ears’ directing balanced attention to every sound being played. Unlike the melody player who may be focused on delivering their defining leads or other recognizable elements of a song, it’s the drummer who has to hear beyond what most listener’s ears gravitate towards. While often overlooked, this big picture interpretation is where the real magic happens.

To my ears, it is obvious Fredericton-born percussionist Greg Harrison understands ‘the big picture’.

On his latest EP, Harrison shares his ninth release of music created for his solo project, grej. As with several past releases from this project, urge consists of tracks commissioned for dance theatre and is a continuation of work created for Danceworks’ Hanna Kiel (Human Body Expression). His depth of understanding both music’s complexities and subtleties have made him an in-demand musician and urge simply reinforces this fact.  

Harrison will be donating all proceeds of the album to help a close friend who is battling with cancer and the overwhelming costs for her treatments.  urge is available for $5 with Bandcamp.

Hum-Drums – Self-Portrait Before Spring

Over the past twenty or more years now, home recording has sparked an endless stream of new music exploration. Technical ability is no longer a barrier to creating music or calling one’s self a musician. These days anyone with a recording device can create sound-based art in one form or another, and this freedom – a freedom that has helped shape and evolve so many other artistic disciplines – is generating a lot of exciting new sounds while at the same time challenging our understanding of genre and category.

Self-Portrait Before Spring, the latest release from the Fredericton-based sound experiment Hum-Drums is a perfect example of audio freedom. Part audio diary, part self-discovery, this four song recording is a collage of synth effects, acoustic guitar and murmured lyrics that seems to reflect a state of being more than any specific classification. It’s a highly personal meditation on drone and low-fi folk that lasts more than 40 minutes.

Track three, the snow-bank, is my favourite track on this EP. It brings together field recordings, monophonic singing, and a pair of languages on top of a repetitive looped melody that is at times played on guitar, sang or hummed as this eleven minute piece progresses. It acts as an interesting foundation.

I know this kind of thing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I certainly enjoyed giving it a listen.

Fishstixx – April Fools EP

Fishstixx walk the line between honesty and parody so well, it’s sometimes hard to tell where the joke is or if there’s a joke at all (and if that’s actually the joke).

On this EP, released on April Fool’s Day (as the title clearly indicates), Fishstixx offer their take on tracks by Maroon 5, Lana Del Ray, Drake and Lindsay Lohan. And while any EP of cover songs does little to move a band forward in terms of exploring their own sound, it does help us to understand their influences a bit better and reinforce their sonic aesthetic.

Like when The Ramones covered the Spider Man theme song, there was no doubt it was The Ramones covering the Spider Man theme song. If you knew the original song and where at all familiar with the group, the combination was easily identifiable. The same result is achieved here. Fishstixx’ synth heavy melodies and valley girl vocal delivery are unmistakable and I guess that speaks volumes to an identity they have mastered and claimed as their own.

April Fools is no Eviction Notice but a fun listen nonetheless.

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

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