Group Chat: EXits; </DAD>
Art by: Michael Rancic | EXITS photo by: Agnes Benson; </DAD> portrait by: </DAD>
Welcome to New Feeling’s Group Chat. In this feature, we invite a panel of writers to give their takes on two songs selected by our editorial team, with the goal of offering a variety of perspectives of each track and discovering common threads of interest, analysis, and interpretation.
In our latest edition, Tom Beedham, Leslie Ken Chu, and Daniel G. Wilson plunge into the deep metalcore waters of “The Forever Crashing of Waves” by Edmonton heatseekers EXITS. And Beedham, Galen Milne-Hines, and Wilson offer their vivid thoughts on the lo-fi abstract hip hop of Taloyoak, Nunavut-based producer </DAD>’s “Better Then the Worst.”
Note: We’ve had to stylize </DAD>’s name as just “DAD” in places because WordPress thinks its code. Fun!
EXITS – “The Forever Crashing of Waves”
Tom Beedham: In Kondratiev theory, the world economy cycles through a series of growth waves every 50 years: expansion, collapse, stagnation, and recession. Edmonton metalcore unit EXITS desperately motion toward that brutal economic determinism all over “The Forever Crashing of Waves,” transcending its predictability in the process. The title suggests eternity, but freshly inaugurated vocalist Jon Baker sees the pattern as an opportunity, piercing through the heavy rhythmic onslaught to stake a claim: “This time it’s gonna be different / I won’t be right back where I began.” Screaming out as if he’s drowning, there’s no doubting Baker’s urgency as he begs for support in this effort, and the band rides that energy all the way through to a palm chugging finale breakdown begging for a pit. Change requires mass resistance, and Baker reiterates the directionless default desperation through repeated lines of exhaustion before the song’s collapse: “Are we just running and running around? / Running ourselves into the ground?”
Leslie Ken Chu: Writing about metalcore bands like EXITS is challenging for me. It’s not their meticulous arrangements and airbag-triggering time signature changes that I can’t follow, it’s their impenetrable screaming. Halfway through “The Forever Crashing of Waves,” I gave up worrying about the possible meanings circling the song’s ocean of noise. I just clamped my eyes shut, held on for dear life, and let EXITS haul me through their sonic wake. But after a dozen listens, I realized why the song clicked with me: compared to the literally cartoonish melodramas of more agile metalcore bands, “The Forever Crashing of Waves” contains few frills—no parrying, no strafing, just a straight punch to the gut; Killswitch Engage can keep their theatrical flare to the ring. By the time this epiphany hit me, I was ready for another round.
Daniel G. Wilson: Edmonton’s EXITS zero in on the chaotic aspects of mathcore with bone-crushing precision. On “The Forever Crashing of Waves,” harsh metallic guitars cascade over pounding drums and aggressive rumbling basslines that constantly sound like they are on the edge of implosion. Jon Baker’s shouted vocals are a call to action, blurring the line between a lyrical vehicle and an instrumental texture that acts as a guidepost for the listener. The quieter breaks throughout the song add a nice counterbalance to the all-out assault of the louder sections. A lush and melodic eye within the maelstrom of distortion and shifting time signatures provides emotional catharsis and space for contemplation, showing a mastery of compositional dynamics at the heart of this frenetic song.
</DAD> – “Better Then the Worst”
Tom Beedham: Working under the remarkably unGoogleable project name </DAD>, Taloyoak, Nunavut-based, Toronto-born hip-hop producer Jonathan Nuss seems intent on obscurity. Building beats (and their samples) from scratch, the project certainly boasts an air of comfortable self-reliance, Nuss patiently transforming field recordings and homestrung instrumentals into the laid back atmospheres that permeate his tracks. Bumping along to burbling bass lines, “Better Then the Worst” underlines that sense of ease with a series of breezy guitar chords that spill into surfy vibrato washes. Unpacking scenes of elemental abundance, rapper Kai Waves steps in with a feature that throws shade at the darker sides of ambition, making a case for building sandcastles rather than empires.
Galen Milne-Hines: As a producer, Nunavut-based </DAD> describes his style as “abstract hip-hop,” which makes sense as you hone in on the textures and colours compressed into “Better Then the Worst.” Each listener can easily come away with their own descriptors—it’s a good thing we have three different writers reviewing such a cool song even though it’s less than two minutes long. For me, it’s the sense of contrast built into the woolly production. Bright chords overtop a loping beat switch up with warmer, darker guitar hits, somehow bringing to mind the sound of an old Western, albeit one perhaps set in the tundras of the far north. Guest emcee Kai Waves grounds the track with verses that feel confidently defiant and perfectly suit the “dad-fi” vibe.
Daniel G. Wilson: The sound of late ‘90s underground hip-hop is alive and well on “Better Then the Worst” by Taloyoak, Nunavut’s </DAD> featuring American rapper Kai Waves. The entire vibe of the song is heavily reminiscent of a track found on a Def Jux comp or an Adult Swim bumper back in the early ‘00s. That is to say: “Better Then the Worst” provides hard-hitting yet boom bap-esque beats with a delicate eye for sampling and low fidelity texture smeared across the production. Kai Waves’ verses are delivered with a confident and dynamic flow that merges succinctly with the underlying music, never taking away from the beats while using them as a springboard to deliver observations about life. In combining these elements, </DAD> keeps old school reference points alive so that they will continue shaping the future.