• By: Owen Maxwell

Album Reviews: Be Your Own Pet, Cindy Wilson, Flasher

Be Your Own Pet – Mommy (Nashville, TN)

When they broke up 15 years ago, Be Your Own Pet had some of the most furious punk albums of the era, and now they’ve returned to fight for their spot on top again. While we never expected any album from them again, we’ve been gifted with a great return to from by a band that has only matured since their time away. Balancing takes on S&M and people who blindly worship their own oppressors, “Worship the Whip” feels just as saucy as it does politically punchy, and has the riffs to match. The rasps and amazing riffs (both vocal and guitar) set “Erotomania” off on a catchy high, tapping the most into the band’s pre-breakup tracks as the record gets. We get a whole decade-plus catchup on the band’s internal thoughts on “Goodtime!” as they rationalize a young heart with adult realities, and find new grimy frustration in reconciling the two feelings. The stadium-rock styling of “Pleasure Seeker” is a more chunky and riff-focused energy than they had ever touched before, but it roars with such a fire that the slower pace doesn’t really hurt.

Joey O’Neil Phantom Vibes (Dawson, Yukon)

Taking ghosts as more of a thematic starting place to look at life, Joey O’Neil delivers an intimate record of personal stories, enhanced by its use of the all-too-underused theremin. The tender guitar tones create a soothing emotion on “Ghost Me” despite its rather downtrodden story, but that chorus theremin run gives us even more chills than the spooky tones that run out its latter half. The moody break in “Mirroring” creates a viscerally pained space in the track, going beyond where words eventually stop. The serenity at play on “Phantom Vibes” offers a quiet interlude in the album, as you’re swept up in a swirling wash of vibraphones.  The geographic love pains of “Neighbour” are palpable through O’Neil’s earnest performance, as the small changes in her vocal delivery subtly tells all the small truths that she may have decided to hold back in the lyrics.

Cindy Wilson – Realms (Athens, GA)

In the most punk-sounding days of the B-52’s, Cindy Wilson’s voice was a Swiss Army knife that could flip from glamour to terror at the flip of a hat. Now, Wilson applies that same versatility and fierce approach to the music of her own, while exploring sonic worlds that feel more imaginative than ever. “Midnight” drops us into a psychedelic disco, touching on a cosmic feeling Wilson has danced around her whole career, and with a newfound wonder. There’s a boldness to the grime of “Daydreamer” that shows a hunger for exploration in Wilson that is refreshing this far into her career, which itself enhances the track’s ode to longing for something more every day. Something in the dynamic range of “Wait” gives it a direness that allows Wilson’s intense vocal performance to soar and really tear at your heartstrings, leaving you wanting to call out into the cold feeling of the song with her. The delicious riff Wilson lets loose on “Delirious” instantly pulls you into its kaleidoscopic world, as she runs across the gamut of her vocal power from empowering belts to glossy harmonies to growls into the darkness.

Allison Russell Stay Right Here (Single) (Montreal/Nashville, TN)

Through its bumping piano and string drive, “Stay Right Here” finds Allison Russell begging listeners to join her in saying now to hate, fear and self-doubt. There is a magic feeling to the arrangements here, feeling equally disco and symphonic to inspire your soul even higher. The strings really fly in the bridge as well, to truly match that feeling of taking in beauty and wonder, and flourishing with it. Russell’s unique vocals have a rich and deep tone to them, really giving the heft the song needs, while also colouring its more subdued moments. Russell constructs such a heavenly mood on this song, it’s easy to forget the darkness of the world for a minute and glow in the high of her uplifting track.

Flasher In My Myth (Washington, D.C.)

Following an album that departed quite largely from their debut, Flasher return with an EP that finds synergy between their spacey and rock-driven sides. Despite the dramatic injury that started of Flasher’s year, if all goes well on recovery, they’ve got an EP that will make their return to the road all the more satisfying to hear later. “Eastern Ave” shimmers like rays of sun dancing on your face, always feeling like a warm breeze despite its melancholic undertones. The ambiance is played against abrasive synths and stop and go beats on “Adriene” as Flasher commits to a full sensory emotional experience, drifting subtly out of its pop for something deeper. “Motive” delivers a hazy punk daze full of bongos and a delirious swing of howling guitars with an almost slovenly quality to their timbres. While the downbeat verses of “Hands On” seem almost too downplayed at first, the sprinkled trumpets and eventual crash into all the harsh and blinding guitar lines opens the track into a triumphant emotional space by its finale.