Hang in with this one. Friends and I just finished silk screening 150 posters and we’re in the process of hand-stamping two thousand record labels. In the middle of those processes, you, as the stamper or ink-puller, can see the little imperfections, especially when directly compared to a particularly nice screen print or stamp impression. But the person who’s going to get a copy of what we’re making only sees one, maybe two copies of what was made by hand. The maker sees the entire landscape and can have a better eye for separating the runts from the studs. The receiver gets a snapshot, a freeze frame of a larger motion. On to band fandom. I do believe I own every piece of vinyl that Canadian Rifle’s released. The very first 7” had two guitars: one sad, one happy. Since Canadian Rifle are from Chicago, the instant comparison for me would be Ben Weasel’s perma-whine counterbalanced with Jughead’s ray-of-sunshine guitar work. And that’s what I thought was particularly nice about Canadian Rifle’s first 7”. “You dipped your happy into my sad! Take your smile out of my frown! I know, let’s celebrate melancholia and ennui! (The sound of a missed high five. Charlie Brown zig-zag mouth.)” But, let’s suppose this was Canadian Rifle’s first piece of released music and it changes a bit. From the topicality of the lyrics (microbes in sponges, swallowing landfill, sickness), the gruffness of the voice, and, well, the handwriting, Off With Their Heads comparisons wouldn’t be too far off the mark, except that OWTH have equal numbers of claymores pointed at themselves and the audience and Canadian Rifle seem content with the existential fact that we’re all fucked regardless. And so I took the LP around the track several more times. Oh, you sneaky Petes. On several songs (if not all; I’m not a sound engineer), there are multiple guitar tracks—lead and rhythm—and sometimes, they weave, bob, and buzz around like bees in flight. Really nice; it works great in “Live Infected.” As talented as guitarist Jake Levee is, I don’t think he has four arms, and Canadian Rifle is a three piece so, in the studio, two guitars it is. Makes me wonder how it’d come across live… Synopsis: Knowing their legacy, this LP is not as instantly blinding as the interrogation light of the first 7”, but it has plenty of warmth, heat, and charms of its own.
–todd (Residue/Squirrel Heart)