Vince the Messenger – Trustfall

Vince the Messenger
Charlottetown, PEI
RIYL: LXVNDR; Chong Wizard; Da Grassroots

I think I learned about the risks of trust falls before I ever took part in one. By the time it came up in elementary school as a team-building exercise, I was already well aware of the chance that whoever I was paired with might choose comedy or cruelty over actually catching me. 

Whether those lessons actually help to engender trust amongst a group of people remains to be seen, but maybe the deepest truth they offer is that the nagging fear of misplacing your trust in someone never quite goes away. With Trustfall, Charlottetown’s preeminent emcee Vince the Messenger explores what happens when that trust is betrayed. 

The album art depicts Vince plummeting solo through the sky—leaving it open-ended as to whether he’s waiting to be caught—or falling because someone he’s relied upon has already let him down. 

“La Vie En Noir” suggests that regardless, Vince is persevering. Over a murky boom-bap beat, courtesy of local phenom niimo (who has been Vince’s primary collaborator, and who also produced LXVNDR’s killer Warmth EP), he finds renewed clarity and drive, rapping “Still the same Black boy, but now the wind in my sails / Momma told me go get ’em, so I’ma give ’em hell / They might wanna see me fail, but they fake when I prevail.” Elsewhere, a syrupy Smokey Robinson sample is the soundtrack to Vince outlining that the root of his power lies in his outsider status on album highlight “Black Sheep.” 

Though it’s made clear across the album’s 31 minutes that he’s been let down by others, the overlying message isn’t “trust no one” as much as it is “trust yourself”—as having that faith in your own abilities is key to picking yourself back up any time you fall. 

Michael Rancic

Warsh – E.P. II

E.P. II 
High Trash Media 
Charlottetown, PEI 
RIYL: spuds; screaming; sweaty basement shows 

PEI’s self-styled ‘Potato Punks’—Charlottetown-based Warsh—deliver a six-minute onslaught of hardcore sludge on E.P. II, released last December. Echoing the regional slang the band is named after, E.P. II sounds like a local beer-tinged pre-pandemic show in a basement somewhere. You can easily imagine Warsh kicking off their set with the church bell opening of “Big Ego,” the EP’s longest track (clocking in at two minutes). Sophia Tweel’s distant, lo-fi vocals play well with their bandmate’s slight variations in timing, as heard on “Bro Code”—a track whose title makes me really wish I could parse out the lyrics—and EP closer “Program of Terror.” While there are no potatoes on E.P. II (that I know of), the album is just as consumable. 

If Warsh were a potato dish, they’d definitely be hash browns. Don’t ask me why.

Katerina Stamadianos

Allyson Blush – Disappearing Act

Allyson Blush
Disappearing Act
Self Released
Charlottetown, PEI
RIYL: Chelsea Wolfe; Angel Olsen on solo guitar; Mount Eerie

Despite the title of Allyson Blush’s Disappearing Act EP, the stirring songwriter makes a lasting impression. Cocooned in nothing but an acoustic guitar and ambient hiss, her spellbinding, vibrating voice has plenty of space in which to thrive as she sings of abandonment. 

A magician vanishes from the stage on the title track, leaving his audience and assistant bewildered and in tears. “Does it feel good to be out there with the debt and the noise? / With the tuition and the neighbors screaming back at your poise? / … / Are you happy to have an empty kitchen and no more me?” she asks whoever has left her for the city on “Heart Degree.” Like that song, “Trigger” feels urgent, as she fears she’s running out of time: “If there’s a reason that you’re not here, well, honey, I ain’t waiting, so there’s not much time to spare.” 

With minimalistic, haunted folk arrangements that hang like cobwebs in her scenes of abandonment, listening to Disappearing Act is an arrestingly isolating experience.

– Leslie Ken Chu

FSHKLL – Sashimi Shoreline EP

Sashimi Shoreline EP
Charlottetown, PEI
RIYL: Cold Warps; Terry Malts; Tacocat

FSHKLL are goofy and playful, but don’t call them egg punk. They let you know how much they hate the versatile shelled viand on lurching Sashimi Shoreline track “Eggman”: “No eggs in potatoes, no eggs over easy, no eggs in a bun,” singer Brad Deighan decries. 

Elsewhere, the five-song EP is relentlessly catchy, like on the positive mental attitude anthem “Dark Thoughts.” “Let’s do something great and focus on the positive,” he encourages. The soda shop punch of power-pop bottle rocket “Run-Out” makes it the most fun song you’ll hear about beating up Nazis. FSHKLL can pack a wallop, too. They come in hot with snarling EP opener “NYST,” on which Colin MacIsaac’s bass lines swing like a sledgehammer. 

Sashimi Shoreline ends in similarly hard-hitting fashion with the sarcastic “Canadian Dream.” “We comin’ for you,” Deighan warns on “Run-Out.” FSHKLL aren’t coming for me, though, so I’ll gladly chase them for more.

– Leslie Ken Chu