Weekly Spins

Experimental Mathematics

Dog Day push old-school punk through shoegazing mono sound.
Battles are back, four years later.

Dog Day
Fundog Records

Cutting out unnecessary members, Halifax duo Seth Smith and Nancy Urich are Dog Day, a lo-fi rock & roll chillout band with teeth. They’re running some of the oldest tricks in punk through one stereo speaker, in an effect that somehow revitalizes the aging sound. With songs about playing in bands, jamming and hanging out, Deformer is a record existing for itself, in itself.

A description like this may lead you to envision two-dimensional punk/wave/whatever sock puppets, but this minimal approach is somehow more powerful than what usually comes from such a two-piece premise. Maybe it’s that the band confidently calls influence from artists older than Sonic Youth, or that they avoid weighing down their songs with indiscriminate reverb. It’s melancholy laying bare, bad singing and slightly out of tune, a simple driving rhythm. It’s slightly defeatist music, the kind that doesn’t care about itself, let alone anyone else.

“Scratches,” the sway-and-sing-along title of their spring 7” makes an appearance as one of the more upbeat tracks, but an elevated tempo doesn’t mean a lighter mood on this record. It’s a steady trip the whole way through, never getting lost in its own ambition. They keep it simple, just pounding out the beat, whether in the garage or onstage.

Dog Day / Sept. 30 / Casa Del Popolo (4873 St. Laurent Blvd.)
- Colin Harris

The Gloss Drop
Warp Records

When these experimental post-math-rockers first hit the scene in 2007 with their colossal debut Mirrored, I think it was fair to say that we were all a little taken aback. The immensity of that record, the weight, and momentum that it gathered, was alarming.

Then suddenly, from the shadows of almost four years of complete silence, and the sudden loss of vocalist/guitarist Tyondai Braxton, New York City’s Battles have emerged victorious with an infinitely more powerful, demonstrably diverse, and sonically vibrant new album, Gloss Drop.

But how, you may be asking?

The mathematics were simple: blow up the old formula, subtract Tyondai Braxton’s whip-snap guitar tracks and cartoon-ishly electronic vocals (though the man is a genius,) and add in an eclectic mix of the most miss-matched underground avant-guardians you can find. Strip away the complications, add a whole lot of energy, and let it ferment for four solid years.

The most attractive element of this album is its incredible diversity. Songs weave back and forth from heavy mega-math monsters, to multi-rhythm tracks of handclapping, fuzzed synthesizer, and sleigh bells. The rhythms move from lively reggaeton jams, awkward but precise polyrhythmic blasts, to the solid driving four-four.

After four years in the dark, the opening track “Africastle” wakes you up with a tantalizingly echoed introduction, before kicking down the door and exploding into full volume with that familiar electronic tremolo and charging low-end rhythm that Battles are known for.

The second track (and first single released off the album) “Ice Cream,” is a vibrant and light-hearted electro-pop seduction, featuring Matias Aguayo, the first of many guests on this record. This song belongs on a beach somewhere in the south pacific.

Among the handful of notable guests, including Kazu Makino of New York City’s Blonde Redhead, and Japanese art-rock wild-man Yamantaka Eye, Britain’s very own 80’s synth wonder Gary Numan crooning wildly on “My Machines.”

One thing is set very clear with this latest album: the loss of Braxton was hardly a loss at all for these guys, and the trimmed down version of Battles is as strong, if not stronger than they’ve ever been. Lets just hope it isn’t another four years before their next release.

Battles / Oct. 3 / Le National (1220 Ste. Catherine E)
- Corey Pool