Sounding Board: Stegosaurus

Category: music 239

Sharktooth Records offer a seasonal theme with deeper meaning. “Ottawa wants to fuck me over!”

Matt Carter @m_j_c73

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https://sharktoothrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pummeled

Sharktooth Records have been championing some of the best new sounds to surface from the Saint John, New Brunswick over the past couple of years.  Focusing largely on guitar-driven, lo-fi recordings that range from catchy pop to full-blown experimental rock, this little label offers those of us who live further inland (and elsewhere), a window into a scene that has consistently produced some of the most underrated acts on the East Coast of the country.

While the term “underrated” could easily be applied to any number of Saint John recordings to surface over the last several years (see Wooden Wives, Hospital Grade and Little You, Little Me), we’re turning our attention this time towards the Stegosaurus album Pummeled, and to be more specific, the album’s second track, Ottawa.  Because let’s face it, this song is not only catchy but also depending on your interpretation, somewhat topical with a federal election on the horizon.

“Ottawa wants to fuck me over,” sings guitarist/vocalist Stuart Buckley on this anthem of love or hate or broken hearts.

Ottawa is about my first year away from home, going to university at Carleton,” said Buckley, who also runs the Sharktooth imprint.  “I was young and naive and decided to continue a relationship despite the substantial distance and issues that were there before the move.  I ended up dropping out of school after having a really hard time handling the stress of a mercurial, failing relationship along with the pressures of school and living in an unfamiliar city.”

The song’s theme extends over a two-year period as the relationship (and the players involved) refused to give in.

“The next year, instead of making the decision to move on, we moved in together in Ottawa and that lead to a pretty intense break-up that put strain on myself, my girlfriend and everyone around me,” said Buckley.  “The first verse is about the first year, feeling like I was wasting my time with school and also waiting to find the right time to break up, all the while being confined to the bleak trash heap that was my dorm room.

“The second verse was actually written by our original bassist Seth O’Neill, and although I’m not sure what it means to him, to me its a verse about my rational voice of reason beating at my skull, trying to get my attention to say, ‘hey dude, this is a bad idea’, but my irrational romanticism is just drowning it out, continuously chanting, ‘if it’s love, it’s worth it’.”

The song’s chorus is what initially drew me towards this track.  While a challenging relationship may be at the heart of the story, the chorus easily lends itself to the present day, with a national election beginning to dominate all the news, all the time. In a different time and place, Ottawa could be a universal anthem for Canadian federal elections.

“The chorus is my refusal to take responsibility for my own decisions,” said Buckley, “blaming all of the heartache and depression on what is actually a lovely, harmless city.”

While it probably won’t be played on the campaign trail anytime soon, Ottawa and the entire Stegosaurus album, Pummeled, deserve a good, attentive listen.  The songwriting and arrangements are incredibly strong throughout.  Let’s not let this one get overlooked.

Check out Pummeled and other Sharktooth Records releases. Full album downloads range from $5 to free.

Sounding Board takes a look around the East Coast, profiling fresh new sounds that deserve a good listen.  One track at a time. 
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