The Best New Music of 2016: We Review Nine of the Most Okayist Sask Artists

Do you like Saskatchewan’s most okayist artists, bands and musicians?

Because we sure do! Here are nine more prairies peoples playing the punk rocks – among other things!


Man Meat – Hail Nothing, Eat Shit

Saskatoon trio Man Meat assert a unique brand of dark punk that’s both gloomy and groovy. Hail Nothing, Eat Shit is a document proving the band has polished themselves into a very fine post-punk band with songs that draw inspiration from the likes of Siouxsie & the Banshees as well as emotive-hardcore group Four Hundred Years. Using the standard equation of furiously bellowing vocals, thumping percussion, and a curious-but-compelling interplay between bass and guitar, Man Meat are attaining a distinct quality that will only ferment and improve like a ripe bottle of Baby Duck. Here’s to many, many more bottles. /AS


The Switching Yard – Yet Again

Saskatoon stoner punks The Switching Yard show up to the party with glazed eyes and a can of beer in hand with their new full length album Yet Again. Cool mid-paced rock chugs along like a choo-choo train going uphill through a cloud of dank Broadway weed smoke. The album kicks off with a sweaty Stooges swagger and just a blip of “Suck My Kiss” vocal delivery, and continues into the space rock worship for which The Switching Yard have been so lovingly known. “Behind The Gates” flows in hazy fashion with acoustic guitars and vocals chill into some neo-psych vibes, which is one of the highlights of the album, and breaks from the four on the floor driving rock ‘n roll. There is good shit going on here, even if some songs lean a little too heavily on the music and groove of Shooting Guns. Which makes sense, considering both bands share two members. /AS


A Ghost In Drag – heck

The term “heck” is probably an intentional understatement to this metal-infused mathcore blizzard turned-upside-down, so kudos to A Ghost In Drag for including a sense of humour along with their all-guns-firing (albeit at different times) approach. Opening with an absurdly off-kilter conversation between two errant guitars set at gloriously alternating paces, heck sees the Saskatoon four-piece launch into a pounding rendition of a solo–happy rampage that occasional takes a few meanders into melody. But while most “mathcore” bands tend to opt for over-the-top spazzy energy and manic compositions, A Ghost In Drag keeps a fairly mid-tempo pace, allowing the listener plenty of time to ponder the technical mastery, life and the vocals that run the gamut from grizzled to gullet-shredding.

Not to say there aren’t moments of guitar grandiosity – while “Wart” opens with some sludgy groove riffing, the song quickly meanders in about eleven different astral directions all at once, with the band members eventually converging in a single dimension by the end of the eight-and-a-half minute opus. Speaking of humour, the seven-second “I’m So Sad, So Very, Very Sad” was similarly presumably added as a brief knee-slapper. Welp, the lulz were on mute for that one. /CM


Soul Mates – “The End” & “Bad Blood”

Comprised of equal parts of shred and shriek, Soul Mates serve up a particularly cantankerous take on locally-bred hardcore. Hinting at the ferocity of their upcoming full-length album Snake Oil, these two new singles somehow manage to combine a flailing whirlwind set of riffs that never feel out of step with the pummeling rhythms. At times nightmarish and dissident, “The End” in particular sticks out due to singer Tyler Baptist’s alarmingly vicious take on microphone ownership. /CM


Natural Sympathies – All Wrong

Featuring stripped-down percussion beats, obtuse synth sounds and melodic vocals comes the premiere single from Regina’s Natural Sympathies. The solo EP comes via Amber Goodwyn, her first music project post-Cobra & Vulture, a Montreal guitar-drums trio. While the drum machine pops and propels, Goodwyn’s strong voice takes centre stage with loops providing a ping-pong backing effect amidst the occasional stark guitar chug. It’s a satisfying listen that seems to hint that there is much more pulsing and oscillations to come. /CM

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Rah Rah – “Chip Off The Heart” (We Were Lovers Remix)

We Were Lovers’ take on the hyper-catchy pop-rocket from the latest Rah Rah album Vessels is a pretty pleasing result, albeit one with few surprises. Whereas the original version of the song is a total dance-pop rager, seemingly ripped from the pages of that early 2000’s DFA Records sound, the remix instead turns to a slightly more stripped-down take that’s heavy on on the dream-synth jams that WWL are so eerily good at. Also, ech-ech-ech-echoes abound! /CM


Untimely Demise – Black Widow

Saskatoon thrash lords Untimely Demise have seemingly made it their mission to make me, and everyone else, feel musically inferior. Rife with technical prowess and ear-catching riffs, the band blast through nine songs with power, efficiency, and some of their best production/mixing so far. The old school elements are still there, but they’ve finally nailed down a more contemporary sound. The album art continues their visual theme, though this one may throw a few people off. I get the fascination with sex and death and the exploration of both themes, but it may put some female listenership in an uncomfortable spot. Shawn Drover, a Canadian likely most known for his time in Megadeth, appears as a guest drummer, which is pretty cool. Easily Untimely Demise’s finest work yet. /AS


Oiseaux – The Hanged King

Daaaaaaamn, this is cool. If Regina wasn’t such a fucked city to me, I’d wanna live there. There’s no shortage of friendly people and great melodic rock. Oiseaux is scrappy and noisy. Organ synths melt nicely into some sweet lo-fi guitars, loosely keeping together really fine jammers. /AS


Wenches & Rogues – self-titled

Having revealed three tracks from their upcoming self-titled full-length, Celtic punks Wenches & Rogues pack plenty of oomp, grit and swagger into their soaring metal-esque balladry. A blend of Irish and Scottish music with hard rock heavy metal, the group manages to infuse their songwriting with equal parts fist-pumping pomp and bittersweet drinking anthems that blend traditional instrumentation with heavy-picked punk. /CM