By Cole Young
It’s far from China Syndrome’s first rodeo, having just released their fourth studio album, Hide In Plain Sight, they’ve designed their own melodic sound fitting best under the title of power pop. The local four-piece band have been working with producer David Carswell (New Pornographers, Destroyer) since the beginning, making sure to give their records that polished touch and their latest offering is no exception.
This time however, the band experimented more with mixing up the songwriting responsibilities. Prior to this album, vocalist and guitarist Tim Chan was the primary composer but for this offering, the rest of the guys : Vern Beamish (guitar), Mike Chang (bass) and Kevin Dubois (drums) hopped on the writing train, bringing out interesting new layers to their sound. Together the band moves in step from the Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque funky sounding track “State of Mind” to “Nowhere To Go,” a tale of the regular guy being worn down by the repetitiveness of the nine-to-five lifestyle, to the sorrowful track “Empty,” which is about coming home and realizing a loved one has mysteriously disappeared. The effect of multiple contributors gives you something new to chew on the whole way through the album.
China Syndrome doesn’t shy away from the letting their instruments speak for themselves either. With two instrumental tracks on the record they really get to show off their skills as players. They also like to get weird. The song “Attack of the Chafer Beetle” starts with an almost bothersome sound, it turns out it’s Beamish’s neighbours dog chewing, the song quickly drops in with a mathy layer of riffs reminiscent of Monks of Doom. It’s in and out, lasting only one sweet minute and, of course, ending with more chewing.
When asked about the pros and cons of self releasing albums, Chan expresses that it’s always nice to have complete control and adds “You know we’d love to have some help for sure, we’ve talked about doing a Go-Fund-Me sort of thing but we then feel like we’re putting the onus on other people. We don’t like obligating other people.” A humble way to go about making art, most of the band makes their income by artistic means on the side as well through visual art, film or teaching music, these guys stay busy being creative.
Looking forward, China Syndrome plan to continue to play as many local and out of town shows as possible while having a great time making new music.
“The most important goal is to have fun,” Chan says.
Hide In Plain Sight is out now on LP, CD and all the streaming services.