Album reviews: The Perms, Fantasy Prom, and Sprïng

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The Perms – Aberdeen EP

By Tessa Perkins

Having been a fan of The Perms since 2010’s inventive pop-rock album, Keeps You Up When You’re Down, and continuing to follow their music with 2012’s Sofia Nights, I’m glad they’ve released a few songs for us to enjoy while they work on their next full-length album. The Aberdeen EP is four songs of catchy, energetic pop-rock goodness that will leave you wanting more.

An alt-rock trio from Winnipeg, The Perms, made up of Shane Smith (bass/vocals), Chad Smith (guitar/vocals), and John Huver (drums), formed in 1998. They’ve released five full-length albums and this EP proves they continue to mature and evolve.

With a stirring, punk-rock vibe and fast-paced, energetic guitar and drums, “It’s Mania” has an apt title as the song feverishly propels forward. The edgier sound of this track is a nice contrast to some of their other songs.

Sounding a bit like Weezer or Blink-182, the band delivers an anthemic, emotional head-nodder with “Aberdeen.” Beginning slowly, the song builds into something that I can picture a crowd jumping up and down to. Similarly, “The Parent Thing” is an aggressive drum-heavy track full of building melodies and strong lyrics.

“Walk Away” is the most radio-friendly, with its balanced melody and relatable lyrics: “I’m not ok, walk away.” The Aberdeen EP is just a taste of what The Perms have to offer, but it demonstrates their ability to write consistently catchy songs with strong melodies that are not your average pop/rock fare. Their sound is distinct, and they deserve a listen.

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Fantasy Prom – Swirl

By Jacey Gibb

When it comes to the shoegaze genre, people seem to either love or hate it. Admittedly, this genre and I have had our differences over the years (and it’s still near the bottom on my list of favourites), but then acts like Fantasy Prom come along and cause me to feel instantly guilty for not being more open-minded.

The most recent in a string of singles/EPs that started last September, Swirl stands out as Fantasy Prom’s best release yet. The five-track album starts out loud and heavy with “Like I Care” (previously released as a single) and “Ugly Turn,” a potent duo that will have you cranking the volume, lowering it because you don’t want to disturb anyone else, and then ultimately deciding to leave it blasting. Neither of the tracks shy away from Fantasy Prom’s obvious influences like My Bloody Valentine, but this doesn’t make the songs any less genuine or amazing.

The momentum built up by the first shorter tracks wobbles substantively at the halfway mark with “Swirl.” When the album is named after one of its tracks, the listener is usually on alert for something special — which sadly isn’t the case. A three-minute repeat static fest that would have served better as a short intermission, it’s the only track I found myself skipping over on a regular basis.

The last two songs on the EP, “Vulnerable” and “Sparks Made Us,” embody the perfect shoegaze characteristics in a perfect balance, with longer running times and just the right amount of heaviness.

At just over 20 minutes, the EP does what it’s supposed to do: gives people a taste of what Fantasy Prom has to offer and leaves them clambering for the next offering. If you find yourself enjoying Swirl, definitely check out some of their previous releases on Bandcamp.

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Sprïng – Celebrations

By Jacey Gibb

Vancouver is an elephant graveyard of sorts when it comes to musical groups. But the high mortality rate for bands is by no means a concern; in fact, the ever-shifting community is to thank for some of the most prominent, creative band lineups currently dominating the scene.

Such is the story of Sprïng, with two of their four members coming from dearly departed noise-rockers the SSRIs. Our time to grieve is over people; there’s new music to gorge upon.

To say Celebrations is eclectic would be both an understatement and a cop-out. It’s a total genre-bender, with freak-out rock tracks immediately followed by sleepy summer numbers. For a more upbeat track, check out “Secrets” or “Pax Calx”; if you’re interested in something mellow, “Paradise” or “Loretta” have you covered.

The diverse sounds of the album come largely from the way it was recorded — the band has an in-home studio, meaning they could get as serious/silly as they wanted and experiment with whatever was on hand.

The gamble doesn’t always pay off though, as some tracks like “Show Don’t…” miss the mark completely, coming across more like instrumentals from a horror film than something you’d find on a rock album like Celebrations. Then again, maybe that’s the point?

It’s not the easiest listen the first time through, but Celebrations is a mighty fine debut and will undoubtedly help music fans Sprïng into the warming weather outside.

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