Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Gellar is available at:
The E.P., Softpush is available at:
12th February, 2016
Sarah Michelle Gellar
In a Crowd
FOR the first time this year it is…
back to a band who do things a little differently. Last year- I can’t remember the exact date- I got to review Terrorista and their split-cassette release (they teamed up with fellow Canadians, Outer Rooms). That particular record really excited me because it seemed very retro. and unusual. In this day and age- where everything is digital and intangible- to release something on cassette is a bold move. Like the V.H.S.; cassettes have rightfully been consigned to the annals of history- they were a terrible and flawed invention that were unreliable and frustrating. Given the fact C.D.s has arrived, we can look back with fondness and relief- more bands should release stuff on cassette. One of the good things about Terrorista/Outer Room’s endeavor was the mingling of two like-minded and forward-thinking bands. The Punk/Post-Punk sounds produced really got into my head and elicited something quite wonderful. I hear a lot of bands that use Punk as a template: Splicing in Alternative and Rock sounds to create something modern and direct. Before coming to Terrorista, it is worth talking about their contemporaries in Toronto; other Post-Punk bands coming through- completing with a bit about the wider music scene. I have featured Toronto-based musicians before and compared them with the bands coming through in the city. We all know the hottest U.K. acts emerging- or those relevant to us- but Canada is a bit more of a secret. If you look at the band Toronto has produced- Broken Social Scene, Barenaked Ladies; Crystal Castles and Cowboy Junkies- and you have a vibrant and receptive musical centre. There is not just a particular ‘sound’ or scene when it comes to Toronto. Like all great cities- that promote diversity and variation- you have so many options and alternatives in your music. The bands are not confined to same-old sounds and similar genres. Last years, acts like New Chance and Princess Century were among the most productive and stunning Toronto had to offer. It is not just the sound quality that is amazing (with regards Toronto) but the originality of the dynamics. In some areas, you get predictable four-piece bands and little variation with regards gender and numbers. Toronto has some great female-fronted bands coming through at the moment. Weaves, The Beaches and The Beverleys are just a trio of names that have got critics excited and put their stamp on the local scene. Away from female-lead acts; you have some tremendous duos doing sterling work- Terrorista are among the finest. I love discovering an act that is not your four-piece-making-Alternative-sounds type: The same old band we see shoved in our faces by the media on a daily basis. It does not matter so long as the quality is up there (with regards the four-piece) but there’s a part of the brain that tires of the sameness and turgid lack of surprise. When confronted with Terrorista last year- and not knowing their back catalogue- they instantly appealed to me. It is not just that kinship that gets inside the brain- the boys have a kinetic energy and understanding that enforces their music- but the types of songs they were coming up with. There is scent social media information with regards the boys- they have no official website or biography- so you have to put little bits together to try and get a full impression. What I do know about them- it is the mainly the music and their reviews- is how highly the duo is regarded.
Terrorista are not just confined to local circles and have hometown appeal: They are an act that have translated further afield and are making big waves in Canada. Softpuh is the first E.P. from trhe band in a while and it is great to hear brand-new sounds from a two-piece who have a big future. What I love about Terrorista is the attention and detail they put into their music. The sounds recall Punk masters of the ‘70s; a little sprinkling of Alternative music of the ‘90s/’00s- a dollop of up-to-date Rock. Together, you have an explosion of sound that digs deep and provides colour, emotion and fascination. The song titles are eye-catching, to say the least. Not your average tropes and boring clichés- nothing as pedestrian as Home or I Love You– the boys Hollywood nominals (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) with pithy, intriguing one-worded songs- Canvas and Prig for example. After the split-cassette release of last year- and their Pink Tape work before that- it is exciting to hear the new stuff from the boys. Whereas their past body of work has been cassette-themed/base; here is an E.P. that is purely digital and modern- maybe they will release it on cassette? What does remain is that astonishing confidence and the intriguing song titles. Sarah Michelle Gellar is a curious title- if Fall Out Boy can write about Uma Thurman; why not write a song about the former Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor? – and Morriseau’s Black compels the imagination- Norval Morriseau was an Aboriginal Canadian artist referred to as the ‘Picasso of the North’ whose work depicted struggles between Canadian and European cultures; spiritualism and mysticism. If you look at the Post-Punk bands of the ‘70s and ’80s- The Cure and Orange Juice- their legacy has compelled a lot of modern-day examples. Canadian Post-Punk bands such as Metric, Viet Cong and Fifth Column have shown there is a market for it. A lot of listeners yearn for that revival of Punk: Getting back to basics and producing music that provokes a reaction. Of course, it is hard to really define ‘Post-Punk’ as it’s a sub-genre that straddles geography, sound and dynamics. Each band (that plays Post-Punk) employs different instruments and may take a different direction. For that reason, a lot of media sources are frantically promoting the best of the crop: Rhythm of Cruelty, Freak Heat Waves and Teledrome are among the most hotly-tipped and exciting Canadian Post-Punk bands. Terrorista are getting themselves out there and nestling alongside the finest out there. Softpush is another confident step from a duo that has tremendously conviction, consistency and nuance. In music- and in the wider sense- there is a lack of diversity and originality- the lack of diversity in music (and award nominations) has been lambasted and criticised. For music to grow and inspire, we need to highlight artists that have that diversity and difference- put them at the forefront. The media still has an obsession with a particular type of band and artist. Until they broaden horizons- same goes with award show panels- we are in danger of seeing homogenisation and a rather depressing state of affairs. I feel Terrorista are capable of- in addition to their peers- forming a shake-up in music. Revival, improvement and evolution begin with small steps. By embracing artists that do things differently (and have exceptional quality) it broadens the mind and leads to positive changes- other races being nominated for music awards; a less discriminatory palette. That is a hotcake for another day- an argument I am keen to explore in depth- but for now, I am thankful Terrorista are back in force!
When Terrorista released Terror Rooms (the split-cassette offering with Outer Rooms) and the Colour Tape Compilation; there was plenty of quality and urgency to be found. There have been no radically changes and developments over the last couple of years. So confident and defined early on; the boys didn’t really need to change things too much. With a hard and gritty sound; the biggest change has been the confidence and subject matter development. The production values on Softpush are cleaner and more polished than on earlier cuts: To that end, the guys have grown in stature and confidence and sound completely in their element. Collaboration and touring has strengthened their sound and what you have now- across the four tracks of Softpush– are songs that demand multiple listens and reaction. In their earlier cuts, I was compelled to come back time and time again. This time around, that fascination has not relented for one second. If anything, I find myself more drawn to the songs and the steps Terrorista have taken. Perhaps the tracks are more rounded and accessible than on earlier efforts. Whatever the reason, you can see clear evolution and improvement from a duo that gets stronger with each step. It will be great seeing how the boys develop from here. Whether we will ever see a full-length album from them- or that comes years down the line- I am excited, for one. A duo that is incapable of producing weak songs: Make sure you get a hold of the latest release from one of Canada’s finest acts.
Sarah Michelle Gellar is the first single from Softpush. It is a perfect example of all the ingredients that make Terrorisata stand in the mind: That instantaneousness and raw passion alongside emotional depth and compositional intelligence. Concise, clear and seductive strings open the song: It is a reflective and teasing introduction that gets the listener involved straight away. The sound of the guitar- hard to explain or tie-down- has a romanticism and gracefulness to it. Evocative and strong- knowing the duo you expect an explosion very soon- that guitar starts to move and become more ambition. Recalling Post-Punk bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s; Alternative sounds of the ‘90s- with a bit of Grunge thrown into the mire- and you have a bubbling cauldron of exciting scents and possibilities. I was bracing myself for something bomb-like and bracing. That bolt and brace arrives soon enough and takes you by the lapel. Recalling previous tracks- the sound and force of the vocal- you have some familiarity and consistency to that performance. Fans of the duo’s older work will be pleased the guys have not made any radical departures. New listeners will be drawn into the song’s electricity and sense of fascination. When looking at the lyrics; you get some curious insights and possibilities. The track’s central figure- not sure who it is in the earliest stages- has their face illuminated by traffic lights. Maybe the song recalls/accounts a date or romantic endeavor (our hero waits for a perfect moment to say goodnight) and there is clear tension and doubt to be found. Given the song’s title- and the images that come to mind- I wonder whether the U.S. actor was in mind when the lyrics came out. Maybe our lead saw himself- in a dream or otherwise- courting Sarah Michelle Gellar or involved in some romantic tryst. The listener gets caught in the ferocity and passion of the vocal. Some of the lyrics suffer decipherability issues in these exchanges: The lyrics get buried among the sheer noise and do suffer some clarity problems. It is not a major quibble as the song grips you with its exhilarating slam and intensity. I get the impression the song looks at love and the sheer joy of being involved- the duo may correct me on that. Inside the explosions and raptured utterances, there is subtly and romantic implications to be discovered. Those early lyrics (the reflection of the traffic lights against the heroine’s face) has a mix of teenage awkwardness and Indie movie charm. You picture our lead waiting for the perfect moment to make a move- kiss the girl or leave the date on a high- and there is a great sense of what-if and possibilities. Terrorista display their talent for quiet-loud dynamics and building suspense. The heroine smiles and our boy seem in the grasp of a very delirious and soul-capturing passion. After those near-orgasmic Punk explosions, the boys calm things down and allow reflectiveness and tenderness to come in. Many would expect a Post-Punk band to be all about anger and rebelling against society. It is a cliché and oversite that is seeing some great musicians being overlooked. Terrorista demonstrate how much depth and subtlety you can being together with Punk sounds. Sarah Michelle Gellar juxtaposes its feral moments with some restrained and reflective instrumentations. You have a chance to breathe and reflect at various junctures. The track has a constantly movement and always subverts expectations. One moment it will jagged and savage; the next it will demure and show plenty of heart and soul. While some of the lyrics will be lost and trip over themselves, the central decelerations and emotions are clear. Our man is in the midst of a pure love and with someone who is causing all manner of excitement. Whether this love is reciprocated, it is hard to say: It doesn’t seem to matter at all! That emotion and sheer passion makes everything seem right and positive. The boy will wait until dawn for that perfect moment: He wants things to end of a high and get a chance for another date. Maybe the song is based on an established love- and the bond he has with a girl- or there may be some fictionalisation. It is always great deciphering a song and seeing what inspired it. The song’s heroine may have flaws and human aspects: This reality makes that love more intense and provokes realisation and declaration. You can hear that lust and affection radiate in a vocal that remains compelling and enthralled from the first to final moment. Terrorista are a two-piece that sound like a big band. They have so much power and potency at their disposal it is amazing to think it derives from two guys! What Sarah Michelle Gellar shows (best) is how consistent and impressive the boys are. A perfect example of what Softpush represents: Sarah Michelle Gellar is a memorable track that will linger long in the mind.
Softpush continues Terrorista’s hot run of form and shows just what the boys can do. The four-track E.P. contains no filler: Instead, you have gems that get shinier and more precious as time elapses. Songs that hit you upon first investigation- and reveal new wonder after further study- you have an E.P. that balks against the disposability and un-nuanced bands of the moment. In a Crowd is a quiet-loud brooder that grumbles the one moment; snakes and crawls with venomous intent the next. Little hints of Joy Division appear in the quieter moments: The song suddenly explodes and brings about an intense and venomous delivery. As “We’re all going to go the valley’s edge” where the dead will be raised- not the most evocative image in a song full of memorable visions- you have one of the most visual songs on the E.P. That tight and intuitive bond (between the duo) is at its peak on the E.P.’s closer. Consistently intense and focused: In a Crowd never becomes undisciplined or loses its direction among the throng of sweaty notes and insatiable anger. Rising from piranhas’ jaws; death-defying moments and repeated mantras lodge into the brain and create something hypnotic. The E.P.’s title track has soft and tender beginnings- showing the range and diversity of the duo- that soon shifts to balls-to-the-wall aggression. Snarled vocals are propelled by granite percussion and chugging guitars. The boys’ ability to shift a 180-degree sees the song go from restful to rampant with nary a moment’s breath. One of the grittiest and most direct songs on the E.P. – the best representation of Terrorista’s past sound- it is also one of the deepest and busiest songs, too. The guitar notes create different impressions and ideas- there is so much depth and emotion portrayed- whilst the percussion mixes bellicose tribalism with something accessible and graceful.
The song changes path and evolves as time elapses: A perfect example of how nuanced the duo can be at their peak. Morriseau’s Black starts with rumbling guitars and something quite anxious at the start. Perhaps as conflicted and vivid as its name-sake influence- the Canadian artist whose paintings inspired the boys- you have a song that looks at conflict and clashes. The central vocal has such a passionate intensity and attack to it; you cannot overlook or ignore its ferocity. Among the finest cuts from Softpush: Morriseau’s Black is a song that will leave the listener guessing and wondering- just what inspired the words. Upon first listen, you try and take everything in and remember as much as you can. You will go back and piece new strands together; recalling memories and finding fresh revelation. Perhaps the strongest and most focused work (the duo has created): A confident and exceptional release from one of Canada’s finest Post-Punk acts. Before leaving things, I wanted to (briefly) come back to my Post-Punk points; a word about Toronto music and the emerging acts to watch. In the U.K., there is not a great deal of Post-Punk bands being proffered. Since the days of Echo and the Bunnymen and The Cure- two of the most influential bands of the genre- there have not been too many modern examples pushed to the forefront. That is a shame, because as Terrosita have proved, there is so much potential and excellence to be discovered. We in Britain have some stunning Rock and Indie bands appearing: We need some ambitious Post-Punk bands to arrive and create a bit of shake-up. I mentioned how a lack of diversity in music is creating a negative awards culture. When we look at the nominations for the Brit Awards and the Grammys; there are few black and female faces among the proliferation of white ones. Perhaps it is an age-old issue- when were award shows ever synonymous with diversity and equality- and it is particular prescient in this day and age. If positive changes will occur in years to come- let us hope controversy and protest affect change- I am not sure. What I do know is music is less homogenised than award shows suggest. There are so many varied and wonderful artists emerging- Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly demonstrated that- who deserve great acclaim and attention. In terms of sounds, a lot of people are not as bold and adventurous as they should be. The only way music is going to develop and grow is by taking chances and acknowledging a broader spectrum of musicians. Softpush is a tight and accomplished statement from a duo that do things very diffidently. From their quirky and original cassette releases: We have an E.P. that shows such ambitious, quality and consistency. Canada- and Toronto especially- is hardly foreign when it comes to waves of Post-Punk genius. Many have a particular view with regards Post-Punk: The genre is limited and will just be noise with no depth. That may be true of some Punk bands- who rigidly adhere to particular acts- but Post-Punk has a lot more variation and range than you’d expect. I am glad Terrorista are back and they show no signs of slowing any time soon. What the rest of the year will provide- tour dates or another release- is anyone’s guess. I hope in time they come to the U.K. and play here. Whether financial restraints hold them back- or they feel there is little demand- it is hard to say but there is a definite need for their music on our isles. Check our Sarah Michelle Gellar and Softpush and show how music…
SHOULD be done.