Misanthropic Minds – Welcome To The Homeland, Greetings From The Wasteland

Misanthropic Minds
Welcome To The Homeland, Greetings From The Wasteland
Sewercide Records
Halifax, NS
RIYL: Reagan Youth; crusty hardcore; running through walls

The new EP from Halifax-based hardcore band Misanthropic Minds is a delightful blast of lo-fi punk. It counts five tracks that together clock in under 10 minutes, and the brevity is welcome: attention spans are shot and catharsis is rare, and Welcome To The Homeland, Greetings From The Wasteland is a sludgy salve for both of those conditions. 

Opener “Silver Spoons & Silverfish” is a rampaging double-time slice of classic hardcore, while “The Homeland” sweeps in on a Pixies bassline and temporarily-restrained heartrate. “Fascist Frat,” at 63 seconds, is the EP’s shortest and most brutal track, a pure, eye-bulging sprint. The EP is remarkably clean given its chaos and aesthetics; guitar work is mucky but defined and the drums on closer “Kill Hubtown” suggest that the most impressive percussionists of the moment are cutting records in their garages with friends.

Joining recent releases from Booji Boys, Abraxas, and Warsh, Welcome To The Homeland, Greetings From The Wasteland registers another ephemeral and thoroughly loveable entry from the East Coast’s prolific hardcore community.

Luke Ottenhof

Terry Uyarak
Nunarjua Isulinginniani
Aakuluk Music
Igloolik, NVT
RIYL: Death Cab For Cutie; Elisapie; sled dogs

The first sounds you hear on Igloolik singer/songwriter Terry Uyarak’s debut record Nunarjua Isulinginniani are the groans and yelps of sled dogs, followed by boots crackling on hard snow. The dogs, the snow, and the impossibly powerful voice of elder Simon Qamaniq featured in interludes recur throughout the record as leitmotifs which unite Uyarak’s tender pop and folk songs.

Nunarjua Isulinginniani means “before the world ends” in Inuktitut. In Hell World 2020 the phrase feels like a corrective to end-of-days anxiety and a nudge toward memory, joy, and connection. “Anuri” is a gorgeous ballad with Panniqtuq superstar Riit, building with dazzling strings before Uyarak’s tenor and guitar lay the track to rest. “Aniqsaatuinnarit” is backed by a marching snare and shimmering vocals from Becky Han. “Tasiunnga” brings in bedside throat singing from Celina Kalluk on the way to the stomping kitchen-party closer “Igloolik.”

Backed and empowered by his community, Uyarak has produced a serene, lovely debut. The elements present in his work—and in the recent records put forth by other Inuit artists like Riit, Silla and Rise, FxckMr, and the late, dearly loved Kelly Fraser—articulate a listening experience and pop form that reconfigure and exceed industry standards. Pay attention to the depth of artistry coming out of Nunavut and Nunavik right now.

Luke Ottenhof

Owen Meany’s Batting Stance – Feather Weights

Owen Meany’s Batting Stance
Feather Weights
LHM Records
Halifax, Nova Scotia
RIYL: The Weakerthans; Neutral Milk Hotel; a less hyper John Darnielle

For folks who grew up playing hockey in Canada, it can still feel gratifying (if not altogether revolutionary) to name and discuss the ways that the sport scarred its participants. It usually feels like a useful allegory for all the other ways society fucks us up before forbidding us from discussing them. 

That’s part of why “The Androgynous Hockey Stick,” the lead track off Feather Weights, the new record from Halifax band Owen Meany’s Batting Stance, lands so squarely in my heart. It’s a bit of alt-folk-rock perfection with a cheery, wistful trumpet melody and an imaginative attention to minutiae that would make John K. Samson blush. The narrative finds vocalist Daniel Walker fielding homophobic slurs and cruel jeering after he opts to aid an opponent rather than capitalizing on their misfortune. He’s made a misfit for demonstrating care rather than aggression. This doesn’t feel like a hockey story; it feels like a life story.

The rest of the record never quite reaches the melodic or narrative heights of that opening, which is perhaps to be expected, but it paws successfully at the same form: careful, dense lyricism, spacious arrangements, pop-but-not structure, and Walker’s endearing vocal deliveries. The comparisons to the Mountain Goats and Neutral Milk Hotel hold water, and the writing, composition, and targeted tenderness on Feather Weights rise to the competition.

– Luke Ottenhof