Black Mastiff/André Ethier

Black Mastiff

Loser Delusions (Out October 18th) // Grand Hand Records

Full Disclosure: I've always been impressed with the way this band makes it all seem so easy. Case in point, 2015's Music Machine did not leave my turntable for several weeks. Imagine my excitement being asked to review their latest Loser Delusions.

Bobby's distinctive delivery. Allan's freewheeling fills, Clay's pounding baselines. How on earth do they come together so clearly. And yet leave enough space to play off each another? My guess is as good as yours. 

Although, after much consideration, my hunch is, they are well versed in active listening. They listen first to understand. Then they'll tackle the problem solving afterwards. It's as if they are encouraging the listener to pay attention. As if to say, "hey!!! We aren't just another fuzzed out stoner band. Now we will impress you."

My initial excitement was warranted. 

After a half dozen listens, the songs really begin to sink in. You appreciate and anticipate every pound-rolling bassline, every held back hit.

The way this album hits makes you think they achieved what they set out to do. Which, for me is terribly exciting. One of my favorite bands, hitting stride, rocking out, producing sounds they want to make, for no one but themselves and the listener. That's sorta what it's all about. 

I firmly believe that any decent band, and the products they create, hold true the notion that the whole is greater than the sum of all parts. They make me wish I had the talent and tenacity to create and communicate at this level. Loser Delusions is locked on heavy rotation until I see them live this fall. Catch them if you can with Calgary labelmates Chron Goblin:

- Drew Cox


André Ethier

Croak In The Weeds // Telephone Explosion

Well crafted albums yield a power that many other art forms can’t touch. They can create mood, transport listeners to a different place, or bring forgotten memories storming back into ones psyche. André Ethier’s new album, Croak In The Weeds, has these attributes. 

After cutting his teeth with The Deadly Snakes, (one of Canada’s best rock bands ever) Ethier began working on his own. His first recordings after the demise of his former band was The Blue Fog trilogy which proved a bridge between his raucous days as a Deadly Snake and the sonic territory he’s diving into with this new trilogy. The trio is produced by Sandro Perri, (Ethier made a vocal appearance on Perri’s 2018 release, In Another Life) and Ethier’s new stylings are a perfect match for Perri’s unique musical mastery.

Croak In The Weeds, (the second album in the instalment) is sparse, yet lush. Ethier sets a mellow mood through all nine songs. The record is a perfect accompaniment to the end of a long night, pouring one last glass of wine while watching the evening give way to dusk. There’s an adult contemporary feel like Destroyer’s Kaputt, and like that release, a distinct coolness permeates the songs as Ethier gently sings about flora and fauna throughout. Lyrically it’s a cunning and contemplative foray into how we are interconnected with nature. Ethier mused that he drew inspiration from a pond and relationship amphibians have to it versus mammals. Perri’s flourishes don’t go unnoticed as synthetic sounds quietly accompany Ethier’s gentle strummed acoustic guitar. Bird chirps and frog croaks add ambiance to select tracks but never sound out of place. The production is such that one can picture Ethier and Perri in a swamp, quietly tinkering with these songs.

Croak In The Weeds is transformative. It has the ability to conjure a specific time and place. It may be a place of imagination or a place pulled from the murky depths of forgotten memories. It’s a preciously beautiful work.

- Jeff MacCallum