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This Is Pop!: Gathering Canada’s punk on one tape

Tuesday 23rd, October 2018 / 10:35
By Arden Burtnik

CALGARY – Our homogenizing, warp speed digital era demands that nostalgia keep up, thus nods to prior eras have become increasingly closer in time. It was only last decade that the past which music borrowed from was safely distanced and tucked into a pocket of the twentieth-century. Bands like The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs riffed on 70s and 80s rock (Lou Reed, The Replacements) while other musicians merely continued Kurt Cobain’s alt-rock blueprint which either turned to indie-rock (The White Stripes, Arcade Fire) or pop-punk (Weezer, Fallout Boy). But because the nature of nostalgia in the 2010s is that references are closer in time—searching through and expanding on just last decade’s greatest hits—it makes sense that pop punk would be due for a revival.

This is the subject of Edmonton musician and producer Ben Disaster’s forthcoming compilation, THIS IS POP! by his label of the same name. The album is composed of seventeen tracks by seventeen Canadian artists, spanning coast to coast. Disaster says he likes “theme and consistency” so the lyrics here stay true to pop-punk’s mandate: venting the sensations of adolescence, relaying the crucible of one’s arrested development. The mulish desire to never grow up is felt across every chorus, but it’s the ninth track by Nova Scotian trio Designosaur that most effortlessly captures the sentiment of angst. “I wanna run away somewhere I have been/With you/I don’t know what to do/I don’t have a clue anymore,” lazily sings vocalist Becca Dalley, fortifying her need to equivocate between infinite freedom and finite familiarity. Other songs take on a tone that places them closer to adulthood, from the Corner Boys’ singing “Where did I go?” alongside a zippy guitar as the squeaky heir to The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I go?”, to the surf rocky Sorels’ crooning “She’s in the gang/Baby she’s kinda cool.” These artists maintain their pop-punk allegiances but now offer respite from the Jr. High-levels anxiety.

Disaster’s mission was to “create something that stuck around.” Judging by his beginnings as a radio host on CJSR with branded THIS IS POP! swag, it’s like pop-punk never left in the first place.

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