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Album Reviews

Potty Mouth - Potty Mouth EP Review

Dan Burney

Potty Mouth
2015 EP – Potty Mouth

The riotous all girl troupe Potty Mouth has moved in a new direction with their self titled second EP. They released the EP on their self-started label Planet Whatever Records on August 21st. After transitioning from a four-piece group to a trio the girls teamed up with engineer John Goodmanson to create their refreshing new sound. The EP doesn’t lose any of the edge or subtle grunge of their older music but distortion is no longer dominating the tracks and the girls don’t have to be slapped with the lo-fi label. 

Working with Goodmanson, who also worked with bands like Sleater Kinney and Bikini Kill, on the West Coast has left noticeable traces in the new tracks. The tracks are more polished, crisp and upbeat demonstrating also how the girls have matured as a band. Comparing the single, Damages, from their previous album to their newest single, Cherry Picking, one wouldn’t expect they were the same band. “Cherry Picking” is also the first track on the EP immediately laying out the themes of rebellion and individualism for the five track bundle. 

The single opens with fuzzy guitar and deep repeating background mantra, “Fresh, Sweet, Cool, Sleek” which contrasts with the lighter vocals of the chorus. The last verses are broken up by a mini monologue asking listeners to take a hard look at what and who is influencing their lives. Another addictive anthem is, “The Bomb” the third track off the EP. It begins with soft vocals and guitar picking then takes a sharp turn into crashing cymbals, flawless harmonies, and even a mini guitar solo. The lyrics explore self-acceptance and relishing in personal flaws even when everything is a mess. The simple yet haunting hook, “I dropped the bomb and the bomb was me” inspires all to let their freak flag fly high. The closing track, “Truman Show” is more fast paced than the preceding and might have been better placed in the middle of the EP. Either way it is just as catchy with quick drum rolls and light background vocals that are reminiscent of the punk girl bands of the 90s. 

Give the EP a listen if you’re curious about the band’s refreshing sound especially if you’re interested in the next generation of power girl rock or you’re a fan Liz Phair circa 1994 and Bratmobile.

By: Helen Kuhn

Ought - Sun Coming Down

Dan Burney

The wide commercial success of Montreal-based Post-Punk band Ought’s debut album More than Any Other Day (April 2014) gave the band the gift of excessive touring, which in return, created the bands progression to Sun Coming Down. It is evident that the Sun Coming Down is, at its core, a live album. The first single, Beautiful Blue Sky, as well as the title track, were both debuted though live recordings before the initial release of the sophomore LP (posted by Pitchfork at the Pitchfork Festival Paris and Pitchfork Festival Chicago).

This doesn’t come off as a surprise when studying the release of Once More with Feeling (October 2014), the 4-track EP that worked as a stepping-stone between the two LPs. The centerpiece track off this EP, New Calm Pt. 2, works as a satire to performing and song structure, addressing the listener as if addressing an entire crowed with lines like “…everybody put your arms in the air/that’s the generally accepted sign for not having a care” and even creating the illusion of forgetting the lyrics “That’s the re- I me now that I am dead inside”, establishing that connection between audience and performer you feel when seeing a band perform live, making you understand exactly what a live show of this band will be like. This song is, again, the stepping-stone to Sun Coming Down, where Ought learns to record songs with the same mannerisms that they perform with live.

The album sounds like hashed out jolts of noise, hastily recorded in between shows, even containing essences of improv in the song. But in no way does this take away from the album or make if feel unfinished. In comparison to their previous album, Sun Coming Down feels much more ‘Ought’ than any other release. Singer-Guitarist Tim Darcy has become self aware after touring More than Any Other Day and has used this knowledge to sculpt Sun Coming Down’s mixing. The slow ballads and forced precision of the More than Any Other Day is absent. What is left is what I believe to be what Ought is best at. They have learned to work with what they’re best at. They use drummer Tim Keen (who must have grew up playing metal with his drum style) to carry each song through the multiple stages present with skillful accuracy, letting bassist Ben Stidworthy and keyboardist Matt May to carry the melody, while Darcy is free to present his lyrics almost theatrically with almost a silly satire, changing the vocal melody as he goes, though still holding strong that what he is saying is serious and important. Darcy guitar work is also vastly changed in this new album, being used as an anxiety driven accent to the songs, rather than carrying the melody. Ought have learned to write songs emphasizing what they know best, rather than forcing songs, which is my biggest critique of More that Any Other Day.

Darcy’s awareness is worth repeating, because Sun Coming Down has a central theme of awareness to your surrounding world. Songs like Beautiful Blue Sky use communication with others to express Darcy’s disconnection from the world. The repetition of 'bullshit small talk' expressions (“How’s the family?[...]Fancy seeing you here[…]Beautiful weather today[…]How’s the church? How’s the job?”) and then following with “I’m no longer afraid to die/ Because that is all that I have left/ Yes” paints Darcy out to be someone to torn down by modern life demands, talking comfort in his self acceptance of death, using it as his only self-fulfilling quality to escape. The satirical presentation of the lines “Gonna figure it out/ And then bring it on in/ There’s a group here/ You’ll fit right in” off the trackCelebration further points towards Darcy’s disconnect. He, when talking about his songwriting, was quoted in an interview with The Quietus “I can safely say that everything on the [More than Any Other Day] is sincere and heartfelt, even the tongue-in-cheek or sillier parts.” Similarly to what the Talking Heads did withOnce In a Life Time, Ought is presenting the difficulties of being modern. Add elements of satire, put them with lyrics focused on the modern man finding the power to change his mundane life, mix this with anxiety-driven dissonant post-punk, and you get the message of Sun Coming Down.

With this release it is more relevant then ever, Ought understands their music more than we do. This may not contain as catchy melodic tracks as their previous album contained, but after listening through the progression of music leading toSun Coming Down, it is the most obvious next step. This album was essentially what 4 Montréal based musicians have to make to become the band Ought.

By Colton O'Connor