Modest Mouse / No One’s First And You’re Next EP / Epic
What some bands spend their entire career trying to do on album, that is, to make a profound statement about the human condition, is something that Modest Mouse does consistently on No One’s First and You’re Next. This is all the more remarkable when considering that this is a collection of b-sides. Several listens are required to gather up all of Isaac Brock’s lyrical pearls, delivered in his classic rapid succession, on “Guilty Cocker Spaniels.” Tying together the lyrics on these songs – drawn from recording sessions for Good News People For People Who Love Bad News and We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank - is a theme of frustrated bitterness over always coming up short. “How can someone inconsistent mess up so consistently?” asks Brock on “I’ve Got It All (Most),” joking on the track “King Rat” “Any time I tried an honest job/Well, the till had a hole.” In these songs, even the best of intentions are no match for innately imperfect us.
Download: “Guilty Cocker Spaniels”, “Perpetual Motion Machine”
Set Your Goals / This Will Be The Death Of Us / Epitaph
Set Your Goals’ latest album may feature guest vocals from Chad Gilbert (New Found Glory) on one track, but that doesn’t mean their brand of punk need necessarily be prefixed by that connotation-laden term ‘pop.’ The unfortunately titled album does nothing to separate Set Your Goals from countless generic pop punk groups who would be just as likely to call some three chord ditty “This Will Be The Death Of Us.” Luckily, Set You Goals’ easily apparent talent achieves what the title of the album could not. Righteous political outrage and an appreciable sense of humor (a tough combination to muster) show up at various points on the album in believable doses that warrant comparisons to bands like The Offspring or Gob. With “Gaia Bleeds (Make Way For Man)” the band proves that they’re not afraid to delve into the grimy hardcore side of punk either.
Download: “The Fallen…”, “Gaia Bleeds (Make Way For Man)”
Magnolius / Mary Musth / Independently Released
There hasn’t been that much written in the Canadian music press about Magnolius, the hardworking hip hop duo from Toronto – perhaps that’s the double edge of the sword of being a hip hop duo from Toronto. However, the group has gotten attention in the form of some independent music awards locally and some packed concerts as far away from home as Sao Paulo and Seoul. Mary Musth is an independently released album from Magnolius (Shan Vincent de Paul and Derek DaCosta) who dazzle not only through their strong confident vocal flow, but also through the slick production work they put into the record. Swing piano, funk grooves, horns, and a guitar solo that manages to be as soulful as it is metal all take turns holding time behind de Paul and DaCosta’s lyrics. On “King For Hire” they prove they can make a catchy summer single, but the sprawling “Mary Mary” also shows them capable at weaving a compelling narrative.
Download: “King For Hire”, “Andrebuild”