Tunic – Exhaling

Tunic
Exhaling
Artoffact Records
Winnipeg, MB
RIYL: METZ; KEN mode; White Lung

Within the last year or so, I have spent a lot of time reflecting and I have come to recognize how angry I am. Now I am forced to reckon with how to put down all of this anger. Exhaling is the sound of Winnipeg noise punk trio Tunic putting down their anger. In press materials, lead singer and guitarist David Schellenberg notes, “I need that catharsis of screaming about these things over and over again. These are all things that have unfolded in my life and I use Tunic as a coping mechanism.”

Exhaling is a deep breath out, but instead of a quiet flow of air it’s a frenzied expulsion of squealing guitars, pummelled bass and drums, and ragged yelling. The album’s 23 songs come at you fast and are unrelentingly loud and energetic. Just when I thought Exhaling couldn’t become any more chaotic, the closing track “Frontal Lobe” comes teeming in and makes all of the other songs feel like easy listening music. Here Tunic gives one final tug at their tightly knotted emotions, rip themselves free, and find, I can only hope, clarity.

If you are the type of person who drapes themselves in din, Exhaling has everything you are looking for.

Laura Stanley

Vagina Witchcraft
Vagina Witchcraft
Self-Released
Winnipeg, MB
RIYL: Vile Creature; WAKE; Fuck The Facts

I challenge anyone to find a more impassioned four minutes and twenty three seconds to be put to record this year than the introduction to Vagina Witchcraft’s debut— and that happens before even a note of music is played. Taken from vocalist Kayla Fernandes’ speech at a Winnipeg Black Lives Matter rally in June, which was in response to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Winnipeg’s own Machuar Madut, the intro unequivocally positions the band and their music as anti-racist and anti-oppressive. It’s a bold but important distinction in the realm of metal where many fans and musicians alike either strive for an “apolitical” stance of ignorance and cowardice or are outright white supremacist scum. 

This context helps set the stage for when Fernandes sings the words “fear me, I am the fucking devil” on the album’s first musical track, “Mercury.” Its anguished bass, drums, and guitar punctuate Fernandes’ bellows and emphasize their fury before the group locks into a double speed doomy torrent that sends the song into a groovy spiral. With each subsequent song Vagina Witchcraft deftly deploy some trademark occult themes and depressive soundscapes of true doom aficionados, that alongside their strong political sensibilities make their music a truly vital expression. 

Michael Rancic

Baseball Hero – Salvation Mountain

Baseball Hero
Salvation Mountain
Independent
Winnipeg, MB
RIYL: Diet Cig; Palehound; Alex G

Baseball Hero’s Salvation Mountain is a scrappy and emotionally charged EP. The band – Allegra Chiarella (vocals/guitar), Mirella Villa (vocals/bass), and Lino D’Ottavio (vocals/guitar/drums/production) – are a tight team who make taught, lo-fi, grungy pop-rock tracks that sometimes whine as loud as the feedback from a baseball announcer’s microphone. On the rambunctious standout, “Emo Song,” Baseball Hero sound like they’re having an absolute blast, despite Chiarella cringing at the past: “think of all the stupid things you’ve done in front of everyone.”

If the self-described “slo-pitch slowcore” band had their own baseball card, the blurb on the back would probably read something like this: “The Winnipeg trio aren’t afraid to get their uniforms dirty and lead the league in sliding head first into other players. When not on the field kicking up dust, they can be found in the dugout helping teammates work through their emotions.”


– Laura Stanley 

French Class – Tape 2

French Class
Tape 2
Independent
Winnipeg, MB
RIYL: Junichi Masuda; Brad Allen Fuller; more cowbell

The second tape from Megumi Kimata’s French Class project often feels like a video game obsessed electronic producer trying on different genres, but each track on Tape 2 still feels like an expansive work of world building. “Adventure!” sets the pace with a majestic cowbell gallop, and “Science Techno” and “House Tune” are efficient genre impressions you’re more than happy to revisit, but Kimata’s best when deconstructing the rules. On a tape filled with tracks that mostly hover around two minutes, on the three minute finale “Taxi Cab,” Kimata cuts across lanes to punch up an otherwise zany garage house strut with a battle synth that feels right out of the Immortals’ “Techno Syndrome.” The extra time really lets you bask in the wacky glory of that juxtaposition.

Tom Beedham

French Class – Tape 2

French Class
Tape 2
Independent
Winnipeg, MB
RIYL: Moses Sumney, Sandro Perri, Mocky

The second tape from Megumi Kimata’s French Class project often feels like a video game obsessed electronic producer trying on different genres, but each track on Tape 2 still feels like an expansive work of world building. “Adventure!” sets the pace with a majestic cowbell gallop, and “Science Techno” and “House Tune” are efficient genre impressions you’re more than happy to revisit, but Kimata’s best when deconstructing the rules. On a tape filled with tracks that mostly hover around two minutes, on the three minute finale “Taxi Cab,” Kimata cuts across lanes to punch up an otherwise zany garage house strut with a battle synth that feels right out of the Immortals’ “Techno Syndrome.” The extra time really lets you bask in the wacky glory of that juxtaposition.

Tom Beedham