Album Review: Solids-Blame Confusion

Because Montreal based two piece fuzz outfits can’t get enough of Kevin Smith’s 1995 slacker ode ‘Mall Rats’, Solids gave the cover of their debut album over to a Magic Eye painting. Can you see the picture? Just squint!

Or maybe you’re like me, and sees through the bullshit that is a Magic Eye painting. That shit isn’t real! It’s an elaborate ruse, a distraction from the  freakin’ media, to ensure we’re a bunch of confused, cross-eyed idiots! Did you even realise that we elected Tony Abbot Prime Minister of Australia? What the shit? How fucking enthralled were we in Magic Eye paintings that the people elected that idiot?

Solids, like me, see through the bullshit. They don’t have time to sit down and talk about feelings with an acoustic guitar in hand, and there’s two reasons for that. 1. Folk singers never accomplish shit (even Bob Dylan agrees) and because going faster than the vomit escaping one’s mouth upon hearing ‘Achy Breaky Heart 2’, is badass.

Solids never withhold their blistering pace from the audience, ensuring that your ears are in tatters by the end of a single song. There’s a disgruntled howling guitar monkey that went to the studio with Xavier Germain-Poitras and Louis Guillemette the day they started ‘Blame Confusion’, and he didn’t leave the entire time. Instead, any time either tried to play an instrument, the beast would open its mouth and bellow unruly fuzz-isms into the microphone. Eventually, the pair were resigned to letting Mr. Monkey fuck shit up, and record drums and vocals behind whatever glorious cacophony the ape could muster.

Even though they are armed with a sonic ball-buster capable of summoning Cthulu, a significant reason as to why Solids sound so great on ‘Blame Confusion’, is because they muster some intensely genuine melodies on their songs. Opener ‘Over Sirens’ pummels, but it does so with fists like the ones Rocky would throw at Apollo Creed when they were training buddies. The viciousness is done in good humour, not with the intent to harm, but to build. It is also done with incredible technique, showcasing Solids’ ability to be your mate, slowing down where absolutely necessary, and speeding up to ensure you don’t become a little bitch about it. Same is the case for the melody-injected ‘Cold Hands’ and ‘Traces’. The ability to throw in as much energy as Solids do, and still have a thrusting, towering riff at the centre of the piece, like some sort of charismatic Eye of the Storm…well, that’s just a little bit breathtaking.

However, sometimes Solids don’t connect with that strong point of that full propulsion as with aforementioned songs, and this can cause these tracks to drag a little bit. Instead of nail-biting, attention-hogging, nuclear-fuelled garage explosions, we’re dealt with reverb that whizzes by, but doesn’t force you to choke on the sonic boom it leaves in its wake. Unlike fellow country-men and ambitious sources of pure energy, Japandroids, Solids lack some depth in a few songs that don’t hinder the album, but blur the edges a little bit of it being a sharp, focused peice.

So, although you could never accuse Solids of never putting in 150%, sometimes they hit, sometimes they don’t. For a debut album to take on a challenging noise-pop concept that’s really only been perfected by No Age and Lightning Bolt, and succeed for the most part, is a nod in the right direction. ‘Blame Confusion’ has all the signs of being a strong building block for future successes, and a band like Solids is going to be on the rise.

Pick up ya copy of ‘Blame Confusion’ here.

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Album Review: The Dirty Nil-SMITE EP

It’s not secret that I’m a pretty big fan of Canadian band The Dirty Nil. If you don’t believe me, well then just look here or here or here. That’s called evidence. Motherfucking CSI shit. Straight out of a crime lab, and served up to you on an Internet screen with an abundance of F-bombs. You’re welcome.

Anyway, after three years of churning out some glorious singles that were made to put Sum 41 to shame as the go-to teen angst rock band for 15 year olds (me), The Dirty Nil have released their debut EP. And believe me, they’ve gone from mere prodigies of alternative rock and pop-punk to actual disciples of dead set punk. There’s still some of the glorious anthem qualities that ‘Fucking Up Young’ and ‘Verona Lung’ initially showcased. But instead of leaning on the big hook/chorus combo, The Dirty Nil have gotten dirtier, filthier and more ragged. They’ve stripped back the fleshy pop tendencies. Or rather, they’ve skinned them alive, and feasted on the gory remains. Then they’ve gotten up on a stage and bombastically torn down all cynical expectations.

So, where there first stood a band that could’ve easily gone the way of New Found Glory or The Ataris, there’s now a band that screams authentic punk right in your fucking face. It’s so close, your ears actually get monsooned from all the flecks of spit flying from the stage. Take ‘New Flesh’, the paranoid track that squirms and retches with all the potency of some of OFF!’s best tracks. It’s bile-ridden, scourge-infested zombie carcass grabs you by the neck and throttles you until a coma seems like a nice way out. And ‘Pale Blue’, which starts off with a wildfire dash towards creating as much musical havoc as possible, builds and builds itself until there is literally no escape from the crumbling tower of the world’s tallest song metaphor.

However, The Dirty Nil haven’t completely abandoned their roots of delivering solid tunes with just enough pop sheen to cause an entire audience to collectively abandon moshing for a heart-warmin sing along. This pop genius comes in the form of ‘Wrestle Yü To Hüsker Dü’ a track that would make Bob Mould so proud of punk music that he could wish his hair back into existence. This is a song so emotionally wrought and perfectly crafted towards making a stadium’s worth of teenagers sway with lighters in the air, and yet it doesn’t feel like a tired, by-the-numbers piece of shit. Woah….that’s crazy unique, man.

So, for a band with not all that much material, The Dirty Nil can only impress. Within five songs they can tear off your genitals, patch them back together, and then tear them right off again. They’re genuine, they’re passionate, and they’ve got all the elements for what should be a super successful rock group that doesn’t make you want to slit your throat. Really, there’s only a couple popular modern bands out there like that (*cough, Japandroids, Violent Soho, Cloud Nothings, cough*) and The Dirty Nil have more than enough panache to join that group. If you’re the sort of person that likes music with balls and grit, get this fucking EP.