limited edition of 200 one sided 12" on grey vinyl with hand stamped packaging.
released 25 April 2014
The defunct post-punk act Women weirded Calgary. Probably bored with Stampedes, maybe unconvinced by the promise of fat oil jobs in the North, they tapped into some nihilistic psychic urge — largely under-exercised among Calgary kids — and turned Cowtown into a kraut-punk oasis in the heart of cowboy country. In their wake, a whole gang of Calgary upstarts, many who would have come of age seeing Women on scuzzy stages across the city, have taken their cue. In the Calgary of my imagination, records stores can't even keep Chairs Missing or the Neu! debut in stock.
Telstar Drugs, who've since transplanted to Montreal, are one of the groups leading what music textbooks might one day call "the Calgary post-punk sound." On April 25, Perdu will put out the band's sophomore release, an EP called Endless Straight (on grey swirl vinyl, if you're so inclined). Jag at Perdu (and also WTCHS) introduced me to the band, saying they sound hypnotic, "like a murder scene in slow motion."
"Unglued," the track they've dropped off today, is appropriately titled — a slow-growing din of anxieties. It sounds like rats running around in a maze, bumping into walls, getting turned around. There are no prizes. There is no exit. Surprise: we're the rats. Welp, happy Monday!
Is there anything better than high-treble, metronomically entwined guitar lines to soundtrack a blissful bummer? Human history has yet to reveal an equally satisfying alternative. Telstar Drugs, outstanding anthropologists that they are, understand this, and have done the world a favour by issuing another twelve-inch wide contribution to the cause.
A four-piece hailing from Montreal via Calgary via Hamilton label Perdu, they don’t deal in the same kind of darkness as labelmates WTCHS and CROSSS, instead choosing to hypnotically lull you into a shimmering night-haze. They’re loose, and consequently, dangerous – nowhere near as mathematically uptight and slavish as some of their post-punk peers. Think the first Beach Fossils record, but with the stick up its ass replaced by a joint in its hand.
Endless Straight is the name of their new four-song EP, and it’s aptly titled. These songs play deadpan, and sometimes they feel like they can keep expanding forever, winding further and further down the funnel of your mind.
What makes Telstar Drugs special are these slight fluctuations in the flatline, like the weirdly sad bassline that runs through “Pressed”. Or the pauses in “Still” that eerily replicate the pull of sleep as you begin to nod off at the end of the day. This is where all of Endless Straight lives: that weightless, blank space betwixt consciousnesses. It isn’t until the final minutes of “Glass Bottle”, when the thump-and-stab attack falls away to a floating glimmer, that you are reminded of the sun. And gasping for air, you wake.
To put my excitement for this record into perspective, I have to acknowledge Telstar Drugs as one of a handful of bands that genuinely changed the way I listen to music. Their debut tape was one of the most potent transmissions of 2012, setting up a new radar along the way. Reckless energy and patient skill showcased the hallmarks of a group of musicians fully accomplished yet constantly moving. On Endless Straight their motions make progress by pointing inward rather than forward. To chase the rhythm is to outpace yourself. The quicker you move, the further you are from the end; it is these sacred repetitions you’re chasing after all. A long overdue appearance on wax furthers the gripping fever for this one.
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