Weekly Spins

Get Your POP On

Fucked Up bring their behemoth punk-rock assault to POP. Photo Credit: Daniel Boud
Catch Power Pop Topanga for their first festival appearance.
The Deep Dark Woods become even better at their haunting prarie tunes

Fucked Up
David Comes To Life
Matador Records

After winning the Polaris Music Prize in 2009 for their second studio LP The Chemistry of Common Life, it would have been pretty difficult to imagine that Toronto’s hardcore heroes Fucked Up could give us one-better. Two years later, and after hundreds of loud, sweaty, and violent shows, they’ve done just that.

In short, David Comes To Life is an 18 track, 72 minute, four-act epic that tells the story of its central character, David, and his dreamlike discovery and subsequent loss of Veronica, and the nightmarish weirdness that follows.

The sounds on this album can’t be pinned to one genre or category by any means; the guys (and gal) of Fucked Up left all that bullshit at the door. Instead, what’s produced is a mad rolling thunder of tracks so diverse and unexpected that the listener is left gripping the bow of this sinking ship, laughing the whole way.

Songs weave through soft and anticipatory sonic landscapes (“Let Her Rest”) then submerge themselves beneath heavy and aggressive behemoth punk-rock assaults (“Running on Nothing,” “Ship of Fools.”) A sharp, charging rhythm section backs aggressive guitar melodies that dip and sway as close as menacing hardcore can get to pop, creating savagely catchy tunes that keep your toes tapping and your fists clenched.

The cherry on top of this album might be the great little crew of outsiders that the band called upon to seal the deal: blogosphere sweetheart Madeline Folin of Cults sings along as the voice of Veronica on “Queen of Hearts,” while Canadian folk-popper Jennifer Castle and Philadelphia alt-shoe-gazer Kurt Vile lend their voices to the oddly optimistic finale of “Lights Go Up.”

With one prestigious Polaris in their pocket, a notorious reputation for buck wild live performances, and backed by this monstrously moving punk-rock epic, Fucked Up are defying the laws of tradition, taking punk rock and hardcore to places its never been before.


Fucked Up play L’Eglise POP Little Burgundy Sept. 22 11:00 p.m. & Sept. 23 3:00 a.m.
- Corey Pool


Topanga is one of those bands that somehow manage to get your toes tapping before they even find their touring legs. The Toronto quartet have been together for less than a year, but have been working hard to spread the good word, bringing them to POP this weekend.

Their songs form from the sheer energy of Blue Album tributes and party punk-meets barber shop quartet singing. The lyrics are simple, but that just means they’ll get stuck in your head all the faster. Gang vocals take up a good chunk of this album, and they’re the kind everyone can join in on at the show.

There’s quite a lot of nostalgia packed into this record, old school rock & roll rhythms sped up and whisked into the bedrock of each tune. It’s a balancing act that takes time to achieve, but this band is well on their way. Topanga is a little (and free) record, but in its 4 songs you get a few different sides of this (kind of) self-proclaimed ugliest band in rock has to offer.

The two rockers “Lionheart” and “Back Against the Wall” show that Topanga have long removed their training wheels, moving at full throttle and building momentum. The two ballads presents the band’s range, especially album closer “Whiskey and Water” shows a whole other side of this young band. More than a little twang is deeply set into this end-of-the-night drunken singalong, a welcomed angle that just may set this band apart.

Topanga play Royal Phoenix (5788 Saint-Laurent) Sept. 24 7:00 p.m. & Les Trois Minots Sept. 25 2:30 a.m.
- Colin Harris

The Deep Dark Woods
The Place I Left Behind
Six Shooter Records

Saskatchewan doesn’t offer itself up to easy lyricism, let alone Saskatoon, which sits uneasily atop the prairie vista like a dishevelled squatter, tempting you to ignore or dismiss them as featureless, voiceless. It’s far from the truth, but neither really cares if that’s recognized. It’s this sensibility that the embodies alt-country stalwarts The Deep Dark Woods’ new densely nuanced, but unassuming new record.

The group’s fourth album elaborates the sonic template of 2009 indie-press darling Winter Hours, towards a truly signature sound, and may well bring in that harvest, being the best articulated statement of DDW’s vision to date. Why? Perhaps just achieving veteran comfort over time. Maybe the catalyst of keys player Geoff Hilhorst making his first studio appearance with the band. His work – from elegiac organ lines to Billy Powell-quality saloon piano – is major.

That said, no single element is permitted to outshine the whole, in its careful veneer of sparseness. Whether it’s Lucas Goetz’ sinewy lap-steel, Burke Barlow’s tasteful, emotive guitar or the meticulously arranged tripartite vocals, each works within its own space for a uniquely evocative tapestry.

The songs themselves have reached a new level of memorability and diversity, demonstrating an almost Nick Cave-like dexterity to contemporize from a rich sense of musical past. When the trad-tinged “Never Prove False” shifts into a waltzing, string-led crescendo, it’s clear a special kind of songcraft has flowered in DDW’s approach. The tunes don’t jut from the album’s landscape, but roll, revealing their features gradually.

Dealing with great subtlety in isolation, distance, silence and longing, Place is a veritable Sinclair Ross novel of a record. Its prairie birthplace haunts each song as it might a hitchhiker thumbing his way through a late-October snow – the outskirts of Saskatoon well behind, and a long highway stretching ahead.


The Deep Dark Woods play Café Campus (57 Prince Arthur E) Sept. 23
- Ian McLeod