by Myke Mazzei
Patrick McCormack’s Dust & Fumes is an immediately approachable, artfully-crafted E.P. channeling early 2000’s alt-rock in the vein of Built To Spill or a subdued American Music Club, with a folk delivery.
Featuring six dirges orchestrated with subtle percussion, memorable piano riffs, and a varied and colourful bed of guitar work, the programme ties its themes together successfully via crossfades and transitions, and one 24-second interlude. It is a balanced response to the Chicago artist’s 2010 Fresh Paint release.
Opener “Up At Dawn” eases into the set: “Short flights home always drag/Is home all we ever have?” muses McCormack rhetorically, and the music answers, fittingly, in a sparse manner.
“Mile Away” comes across as a recording that everyone had a lot of fun creating in studio, and could easily be a popular number on college radio and blogs. Portland’s Shelley Short contributes a perfectly-matched harmony vocal to McCormack’s near whisper in this upbeat number.
Alternating back into a slow-groove, country-tinged “So Long” has the strongest vocal delivery and is augmented by Sam Wagster’s tasteful pedal steel guitar playing, while “Dim Lights” particularly recalls the comparisons to the alt-rock maevens above, and is deceptively catchy. Both are particularly well-recorded by Jamie Carter (CarterCo Recording, Chicago), with reverbs placing the instruments in specific sonic locations, and the drums’ presence is enough to carry the songs forward without any interference.
The recording’s title song “Dust & Fumes”, accompanied by its pre/interlude, is an Eastern European-flavoured ballad that sounds close to what Havalina Rail Co. might have stashed as a bonus track on ‘Russian Lullabies’. Its form consists of two segments, both of different time signatures and rhythms, which is at once jarring yet suited to the song’s diatribe: “Beneath the floorboards and the grid/Beneath the frequencies and hiss/That’s where I must’ve given up”. Eerie imagery and appropriate instrumentation make this work.
A stripped-down backing of a simple piano riff, lightly-strummed guitars, paced snare and kick drum, and bass synthesizer brings the closer “Breaking My Heart” around to unity gain. Its understated progression veers almost back into rock territory just before stepping back and—
Well, there’s a better way to experience the song cycle of Patrick McCormack’s Dust & Fumes… he has released it digitally at http://patrickmccormack.bandcamp.com as a pay-what-you-want download. His Fresh Paint E.P. is there as well (from which the song “Ovenbird” was selected for the 2011 Edward Burns film Newlyweds), and both are a steal. You may also contact the artist via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Up At Dawn 02:06
Mile Away 02:54
So Long 03:43
Dim Lights 03:24
Interlude (free) 00:24
Dust & Fumes 03:03
Breaking My Heart 04:02
Freeman Dre and the Kitchen Party’s Red Door Second Floor
by Nik Beat
There is a song a decade ago that has as its refrain: ‘what the world doesn’t need now is another folk singer’. That came to mind my mind when I heard the first tune ‘Oak Tree’ from the kitchen party’s new cd. I nearly quaked in my respective Doc Martens that I would be subjected to folk world rotgalore which I am deeply prejudiced against, having been a punk folkie myself and done an enormous round of open mics, when I first moved to Toronto year and years ago and been Xposed to the worst trappings of folkie excess.
Freeman Dre and THE Kitchen Party had a surprise for me: the next song, Six Hundred Feet kicked in and I was literally steering myself from going into the ditch and back on the road for a journey that kitchen party were determined and seductively going to take me on for the rest of their album. No more crazy spells of suicidal desires to go off into the nearest expressway railing!!!!!
These guys are Canadian to boot and regard themselves Parkdale Street Folk Punks and I so regard them after listening to this cd, which has been out for less than a year. It was sent to me by friend and folkie indie label personage, Bev Kreller of Speak Music.
The group take their name from the timeless as they put it, east coast tradition of friends and neighbours getting the royal Canadians together in their kitchens for music and fun and a few dozening drinks thrown in for good measure. They actually sound more like a combo of Tom Waits with smoother vocalizing’s and Irish Punk group The Pogues!! They are religiously minded punk folkers on tracks like Babylon and Magdelena and its good to have faith in the lord. They are Toronto conscious folk punks on tracks like Saturday night in Parkdale and the song, went to town. They are goodtime rockin punk folkers on lets take the show on the road and they are situationist social critics on needle in your eye and these walls (they listen). In other words deez cats got it comin!!! Two thumbs up from this reviewer.
ALL tracks Produced by Freeman Dre and John Critchley
Six Hundred Feet 04:15
Went To Town 03:27
Oak Tree 03:09
Needle In Your Eye 04:46
Funny Situation 03:32
Do Widzenia 03:15