Five Right Now: PACKS

Delivering grunge in an effortlessly laid back manner, PACKS and, in particular, the understated vocals of Maddie Link, are hard not to get drawn in by. Going from college slacker via Southern Gothic, and stopping off for a country tinged number along the way, the band are sure to appeal to fans all over the spectrum of alternative music. Because despite the band’s bed of noise being ever so inviting to get consumed by, should you want to explore, the intricacies hidden beneath their masquerade of fuzz offer far more than meets the eye.

Co-released by Fire Talk and Royal Mountain, we caught up with the Toronto based band to chat through who they’ve been listening to themselves. Here are their picks:

The Effens – Things You Can’t Take Back

Austin Nops (lead singer) has this tiny basement studio (Lootbag Records) in Little Italy. It’s filled with the cream of the kid instruments crop and decorated with illuminated ketchup bottles. I tracked drums down there and did a couple live sessions before I ever saw The Effens perform live. And I was missing OUT! So loud, so hard, and so fun to watch! Austin keeps his guitar at his knees and his hair in his face as he alternates between slurring and belting these beautifully crafted melodic chains. Every element of this band kicks ass. Reminds me a lot of Sunny Day Real Estate.

PONY – Chokecherry

I would give anything to see PONY live right now. When my sister played bass for PONY, I would go to nearly every show, and the habit persisted even after she left. The dynamics of the songs bring out this perfect mix of energies in the audience. We all feel the sheer power and toughness behind Sam’s voice and lyrics, but through her banter and stage presence, she makes it celebratory and poppy. My good friend, Lucas, plays the drums on this track and he kills it with pop punk perfection as per usual!

Los Cogelones – A Donde Quieres Llegar

I was lucky enough to break my nine-month streak of no shows while I was in Mexico for an artist residency. This was the band that broke the streak. It felt like a dream. The men wore loincloths and tribal paint while three or four women dressed like cadettes with snares strapped to their bodies stared menacingly into the ether. They sang in Spanish as flutes whistled in and out of earshot. I like to think that the effect of the chorus snare combined with the high energy of everyone on stage (even the bass player with the broken leg who had to sit) was enough to sustain me if (god forbid) I don’t get to see another live show until 2022. Really nice people too! I hope they come to Canada someday.

Spirit of the Beehive – THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN’T DO

When I saw that Spirit of the Beehive was coming out with new stuff, my heart skipped a beat. I listened to Hypnic Jerks almost obsessively last year, and was afraid I would grow tired of it, but now I can rest easy. The heaviness of the creepily interweaving guitar webs and wistful falsetto accented by the clean and clear acoustic strums cleared away the dust in my brain. Screaming ‘I’ll be your friend’ to finish a song that has no verse-chorus-verse-chorus repetition is the kind of vibe I hope to see a lot more. I’m so excited for the full length!

Joncro – Sakura

Daniel G. Wilson is a huge staple in the Toronto DIY punk and indie scene. We’ve never met in person, but their online presence is legendary. Between loving pie, writing about music and raising up fellow black punk musicians, and founding the Festival Lingua Franca, Daniel is someone I admire very much. Sakura is a forlorn MBV-style banger that hits like listening to Elliot Smith on a hot rainy day. Someday, hopefully very soon, Joncro will have a show with PONY, Los Cogelones, The Effens, and Spirit of the Beehive, and I will be able to die happy!

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