Ought featuring Flasher and guests
Where: Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club
109 7 Avenue S.W Calgary
When: Monday March 26th , 2018
Admission: Advance Available at https://slothrecords.wordpress.com/ or www.myshowpass.com
Ought’s 2014 debut More Than Any Other Day brought the Montreal quartet sudden and universal critical acclaim – including high praise from Drowned in Sound, Exclaim, Rolling Stone, NME, and a Best New Music nod from Pitchfork. They have been riding a wave of furious productivity ever since, spending much of the past year on the road – where their channeling of passion, politics and charisma consistently connects with and galvanizes each and every audience.
Based in Montreal, Ought are a thrilling and adventurous quartet, delivering an earnest and exuberant post-punk: dextrous and exacting while bursting with propulsive and fluid energy, as indebted to Cap’n Jazz as to Talking Heads. The band shifts adeptly from sharp angles and stuttering counterpoint to softer edges and chiming flow, the instrumental interplay consistently whipsmart, supple and deceptively simple. Guitarist and vocalist Tim Darcy’s declarative, observational style ranges from stately, composed oratory to ragged, impassioned yelp, by turns wide-eyed and worried, but never submitting to cool irony or emotional detachment.
Their new album, Sun Coming Down, maintains the band’s tight, twitchy and economical sound, with the unfussy, understated rhythm section of drummer Tim Keen and bassist Ben Stidworthy anchoring Tim Darcy’s electric guitar and Matt May’s fuzzed-out keys (sounding, as often as not, like a second guitar). Ought pursue an artistically apposite austerity in committing these new songs to tape, referencing the arid and unvarnished production of no-wave and early indie rock while balancing carved-out angularity against an evolving comfort with textural coalescences and measured pacing. It makes for an album that’s consistently, insistently propulsive but also feels unhurried and pleasantly unhyped. Songs like “Beautiful Blue Sky” (already a fan favorite from live shows) and “Never Better” unfold with gradual and deliberate ebb and flow, where scratchy guitars play like dappled shards of light on gently roiling waves of bass and organ; “The Combo” and “Celebration” keep things crisp and concise. Darcy’s voice and lyrics continue to distinguish and define the personality of the band: his blend of ironic detachment, declarative insistence, fragmentary stammering poetics, and the occasional direct aside to the listener, finds various ways to weave within or drive through the mixes.
Sun Coming Down confirms the distinctive vitality and purposive naturalism of this band; Ought resists facile primitivism and overhyped dynamics in equal measure, keeping things hermetic but never airless, ascetic but never dispassionate, literate but never prolix. The band’s steady and subtle charms don’t make them the cool kids or the iconoclastic freaks - just a satisfyingly unrefined and substantive rock band that eschews indulgence or aesthetic bandwagoneering to seek a humble, thoughtful corner from which to articulate a position within and contribute meaningfully to a 40-year continuum of indie, punk and DIY tradition.
Formed in 2015, Flasher is Taylor Mulitz (guitar, vocals), Daniel Saperstein (bass, vocals), and Emma Baker (drums, vocals). Long-time friends, they are also established members of Washington, D.C.'s re-emergent DIY music scene.
However, while Flasher is a product of that crew, its music operates with different physics. Where their local peers favor direct and volatile gestures, Flasher's music exists in the tension between conflicting feelings and sensibilities. They're jagged, but woozy. Tender, but aggressive. When you're singing through peavey speakers on sticks in a venue that's more underwater ashtray than group house living room, it's hard to project anything resembling sensuality. Flasher does, though.
Originally, released on cassette in April of 2016 and now reissued on vinyl, the band's self-titled debut includes seven songs recorded at Lurch, a studio run by Saperstein and Owen Wuerker (fellow D.C. resident and member of Big Hush).
The songs are born from a process of deconstruction and reassembly. Melodic motifs are transmuted into fodder for the rhythm section. Call and response vocals warp and skew established gender roles. Lyrically, the trio take on experiences of shame, guilt, and pleasure, and haul them away from abstraction toward a place of physical expression. The songs are intended as experiment in how far a body - whether composed of flesh and bone, or melody and rhythm - can be restructured and reinvented while remaining desirable or even functional.
The results speak to the band's transformation over the last year, both in personal matters and as artists. Closing track "Destroy" began as a heartsick home demo written years before Flasher formed. At that time, the chorus, "I just want to be your boy," was a plea for connection. Here, the song is fundamentally changed for the better. There's more bite in Multiz's delivery, maybe even a bit of sarcasm. "Destroy" ends amid layers of guitar skree and volume. What was a moment of vulnerability is now all attitude.
*This event takes place on the territory of the Blackfoot and the people of Treaty 7 Region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Siksika, the Piikuni, the Kainai, the Tsuu T'ina and the Stoney Nakoda First Nations. Calgary is also home to the Metis Nation of Alberta, Region III.