St. Catharines – the city in Ontario, not the band from Montreal – is seeing a change in the semi-recent punk scene. Low attendance and minimal support over the past five years has only recently given way to growing audiences.
A handful of bands in those years had to keep up their hard work on passion alone; one such band was a local favourite, STANDARDS, who released three singles and two EPs of driving grunge-rock in their few years of activity. This was before they broke up in mid-2015 to the dismay of our small scene, releasing a brand new EP in time only for their farewell show.
Plunged into darkness without the four-on-the-floor of Andre Dupuis and Jesse Boulay, our city suffered.
To my delight however, Dupuis and Boulay have returned with a new project entitled OUTPUT; adding bassist Adam Warren to round out the trio. They’ve released two singles since their inception and the songs sound familiar. The same simple hard-rock chord progressions support Dupuis’ confident vocals, much like in STANDARDS, but their compositional tastes have matured; opting for more conceptual lyrics and more decisive structural choices than the simple verse/chorus of the former project.
The first single, “Sad Excuse” starts with Dupuis plucking the strings above the nut or below the bridge on top of a dirty, lo-fi bassline, calling to mind a little Drive Like Jehu until it crashes into a heavy hook. There’s an unmistakeable aggression in the instrumentation on the first half of the track, which smoothly transitions into the gentle, melancholic atmosphere of the second half. Here the guitars and drums back off and give some space to Dupuis’ smooth emoting about growing cold and old, then the tempo slows and the rhythms settle to a halt before careening back into the stomping chorus, as if they suddenly remembered that they had a serious point to make.
Their second single, “Swell”, was released last week and isn’t much of a departure from the first. A steady tempo throughout, “Swell” manages to retain the same pensive atmosphere as the bridge in “Sad Excuse”, while making you want to speed down the highway at the same time. It is this ability to simultaneously convey an aggressive feeling of forward motion, mixed with Dupuis’ relaxed, soulful vocals, that is definitely a strong point for this new project.
OUTPUT is a lot like a drunken bear walking the downtown streets at night, alternating between anxious introspection, and animal rage. They’re also a rock band from St Catharines.
-Julian Ozkur, Contributor