CD review: BETTER DAYS
By: Dan Brisebois
Throughout Canadian rock history, Winnipeg has always served as a breeding ground for a lot of the country's most original music.
The Perms are a four-piece band whose honed their chops on the circuit for several years. Comprised by Shane Smith on bass, Chadwick Smith on guitars, drummer Marty Champman and Scott Perry on horns and keys, the band's paid their dues and is ready for the next step, and easily one of the shining stars in Manitoba's independent sceme.
Isolated from the production line mentality of Toronto or the Vancouver scenes, they've generally been able to nurture their sound into a unique combination of rhythms and melodies that are distinct, carefully thought out, and a whole lot of fun to listen to.
Their third release, BETTER DAYS, shows the band's maturity in songwriting, as well as featuring a helping hand from Joao Carvalho, Neil Cameron and Lloyd Peterson. Together their collective works include the likes of Sloan, Tragically Hip, The Watchmen and Sam Roberts. The ablum is a breath of fresh air, injecting the independent scene with vigor and zest.
The band possesses a quirky charm that mixes of elements of a variety of sounds, blending them all into something truly unique. Probably the most original sound you're bound to hear anytime soon, the album's full of blazing guitar solos mixed in with a pounding backbeat, complimented by of all things, a full horn section.
From the opening of the lead-off "Bring You Down" know you're in for a wild ride, BETTER DAYS is jam-packed with real gems, a treasure chest full of clever arrangements and catchy hooks. The energy is non-stop on this disc, and their just isn't a single lull in production, evidenced by "Saturday Night," "Second Thoughts," "The Comfort of It All" and "Hermit," among others. "Holding On" is a heart-felt ballad that shows the band's versatility, full of honest emotion.
But it's the shifting gears in mid-stride that makes the track so appealing, and one of the band's true highlights. They avoid being typecast or labelled, because their music is just too unpredictable to be put into a mold and categorized. They're the Perms, and they play Perms music, that's all.
Their really isn't a single lull on BETTER DAYS. It's well-crafted, thoughtful, and entertaining. Every song is a shining example of how doing things your own way is the key to making a disc that truly stands out above the rest. This band, and the album do just that.
Over the course of five albums, The Perms have become not only one of Winnipeg's hottest unsigned talents, but also one of the most cleverly creative independent acts in Canada.
The band consists of brothers Shane and Chad Smith on bass and guitars, and drummer John Huver, and their latest offering is 2012's SOFIA NIGHTS, full of energy and spunk from start to finish.
The production is clean, and from the lead-off "High School High," the album kicks off with attitude and never lets up. This guitar-driven album only has two gears - full throttle. Make no mistake about it, the band doesn't know how to say 'i love you - the sky is blue'. But "Make It Through" and "Skin and Bones" show a slightly toned down side of their all-out rock assault, giving the listener a glimpse of a musically versatile group.
The writing in "You I'm Thinking Of," "Said and Done," and "Slipping Away" is their strongest to date, with totally relateable lyrics, catchy hooks, and danceable beats. Practically every song on the album falls in that category. "Mannheim" and "Over and Over" are indicative of the album, and the band - fun to listen to. The fact the songs are just as much fun the second, third, and fourth go-round is a testament to the band's fortitude.
They don't try to convolute their sound by trying to get artsy or see how many time shifts they can squeeze into three and a half minutes. This is a party band that's comfortable in its skin. This is a party album - ten tracks of pure, unadulterated fun. It's what they do best, and better than most.