Home of the New Totem
This record is a great plague for me. Sean, the musician behind this project, is a friend of mine. He is the Technical Director for HPX, he is one of Halifax’s few drummers (note to people from Away – send us your drummers), he is a former member of the Burdocks, and this is his solo record. It is fantastic. His band and this record are currently not signed to a record label. It should be.
The record brings to mind the writing strengths of the Weakerthans, though it ranges from the hard driving post-punk ending of “Do the Suburban,” a white collar call to arms for all the office worker oppressed, to the indie power pop gem “Unnatural,” a song that one Sloan obsessed fella I know thinks is the best song on the record. A record that can please in parts fans of North of America, the Weakerthans, and Sloan, is a pretty ambitious project, but “Home of New Totem” pulls it off.
Clocking in at just thirty five minutes and nine songs, this record has no filler. I have no perspective left on the record, and its hard for me to choose three standout tracks. “Karoshi” starts the record of with a lyrical ode to the over worked problem solving bad manager, delivering the opening line of the album “I was born to burn the candle at both ends, putting out fires with the sweat that drips from my brow.” The first time I heard this I thought it was about Sean being overworked when he was Production Manager at the Coast, but I am assured it is not autobiographical. “A Trained Eye” is a more contemplative rocker, singing to relationships and regret. There are mid song tempo changes combined with lyrical cleverness that take this song a step beyond. “Do the Suburban” would be the final must listen to track. The use of office lingo, such as “there is no I in team” and “I think the plan is better with you in it” sets the stage. An anthem to cubical angst, this song starts off as a fairly straight forward rock song, with the tone and tempo increasing as it approaches the final chorus, where it becomes positively Fugazi-esque with the angry repeat of “this is a black mark, on your permanent record!”