tough age Shame (CD, £11.95)label: mint
In the two years since Tough Age's second LP, I Get The Feeling Central, the curmudgeonly comic book loving band have reinvented themselves. Founding members Jarrett Samson and Penny Clark relocated to Toronto from Vancouver, channelling their love of Flying Nun indie-pop into a new three-piece line-up with drummer Jesse Locke. Honing their econo jams on tours across North America and over the sea to Tokyo, the trio has re-emerged with a fresh set of songs that are simultaneously minimal, dynamically propulsive, and eerily experimental. Shame's first side is charged with fuzzy pop energy, from frenetic opener "Everyday Life" to the herky-jerky punctuations of "Piquant Frieze". On the b-side, Tough Age delve into their emotional honesty with the swooning "Pageantry" ("The biggest bummer of a song I've ever written, which is saying something" laughs Samson) and the powerfully contemplative title track, closing the album with extended surges of feedback. The band used very limited overdubs while trying to record as much live in the studio as possible. On Shame, the influence of New Zealand acts continues to loom large with Tough Age's tribute to The Clean on the slyly titled "Unclean". Less obvious inspirations include early '80s London, Ontario group The Hippies, the off-kilter drumming of U.S. Maple, and the austere lyricism of The Urinals' "punk haikus".
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