Casper Skulls emerged from the Toronto exurbs in 2015, bursting onto the local scene with a studied sound and supercharged live performances. Following an early 7” on the band’s own label, Hip Priest, the quartet released the Lips & Skull EP on Buzz Records in late 2016. Described by MTV as a collection of “confrontational art rock that bleeds with sincerity,” and drawing comparisons to luminaries like Television, The Fall (The Toronto Star), Pavement, and Sonic Youth (Noisey), the EP attracted immediate attention from audiences first in Toronto and increasingly up and down the Eastern seaboard as the band toured outside of Canada for the first time and began sharing stages with acts like Cloud Nothings, Thurston Moore, Suuns, Weaves, The Julie Ruin, Speedy Ortiz, Greys, and Hop Along.
Over the course of their young career the band’s sound has remained difficult to pin down, shifting through a broad collection of influences and jamming a raft of new ideas into each song, giving the impression that the 7” and the EP were “just the tip of the iceberg” (Noisey). The band’s debut full length, Mercy Works, released November 3rd via Buzz Records, only serves to deepen that impression, making good on their early promise with a release that constitutes a startlingly ambitious statement of intent.
The album, which was recorded in early 2017 with co-producer/engineer Josh Korody (Fucked Up, Dilly Dally), and mixed by Alex Newport (At The Drive-In, Death Cab For Cutie), is densely arranged, intricately written and performed with an uncommon earnestness. While the rough and ready post-punk and lo-fi early ’90s indie influences present on the band’s first recordings still provide the foundation, there is a sense of scale on display in their swelling guitar figures and sweeping string arrangements (provided by Toronto musician Paul Erlichman) that is mirrored by the songwriting of dual lead vocalists Melanie St. Pierre and Neil Bednis (originally from Sudbury). The real-life couple seek to represent lived experience in immense detail – engaging with a diverse palette of references, both musical and lyrical, to explore two intensely personal perspectives of emotional growth.
NLFB is a non-profit, charitable music presenter in Northern Ontario. The organization provides valuable exposure and career development opportunities for emerging artists, while also presenting highly acclaimed artists, and keeping the region on the map for acclaimed touring acts. The signature annual festival takes place in Sudbury, ON, on lands traditionally shared by the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and Wahnapitae First Nation.
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