It is amusing to think that the majority of quality music produced has been the result of some sort of hardship that in one way or another has befallen said musicians. Poverty, social segregation, supposed “lack of current relevance,” geographical isolation – all can play a part in a musician’s crafting of quality song. Perhaps it is because their situation presents them with greater experience, or that maybe their circumstances provide the necessary drive to provoke change in their surroundings (because lets face it, when you throw a million bucks at someone with a guitar, what follows is more than likely to be a piece of shit). It has been the foundation of all great music revolutions, and while Despistado are far from sparking a neo-uprising, they once again prove that reaching a destination going uphill is far more rewarding that plopping on to the summit from the industry’s silver highway.
If a group of musicians were to write a great song in the remote locale of Regina, Saskatchewan (where apparently there are more hand-planted trees than people), would anybody hear it? Indeed, if geographical isolation were a tough hill to climb, try being musicians in a far-off part of Canada. Thankfully, Regina has been blessed with modern discoveries like the mailbox and with the blessing of such advancement, their music wound up in the hands of longtime purveyors of quality-above-profitable music Jade Tree, who promptly snatched them up from the wintery freeze of creative seclusion.
So what does less than 3000 hours of sunshine a year do to able songwriters? Well for starters Despistado demonstrates a high level of energy not usually reserved for hibernating weather. The Emergency Response is very much built on spastic high-octane treble guitar strums and machinegun snare strikes that is very much up-and-go from the onset. And while the release is unapologetically lo-fi, the snazzy pitch does add plenty to the appeal.
“A Stirstick’s Prediction” very much paves the way for the rest of the tunes. Highly flamboyant (that opening bass line is killer), frenetic, and unabashed about just how damn catchy it is; it could easily parade itself on the dance floor before skipping over to any scummy back alley. Before you scream “Dance?!” put away any notion that they may pogo-along to The Rapture or Gang of Four; they’re more likely to garner comparisons to Wire’s spindly build or early At The Drive-In (both are inescapable references). Nonetheless the songs do envelope certain body-shaking vibes, but they’re more disorganized flailing and less routine steps.
There is hesitance to shove them in to the post-punk caste; but if the need to do so should arise, it would perhaps be the most accurate labeling. “HiFi Stereo” is another fine example of how they tend to skirt around these more accessible means with passionate disobedience. The band’s inventive instrumentation is extremely solid, shown here to breed rhythmic structures with chaotic dissonance; all before longtime neighbors Dargan Harding and Joel Passmore wail in with their beautifully obnoxious vocals.
While the EP isn’t complete by any stretch, it demonstrates a set of songs worth exploring. If anything, it provides a daring thirst for more. And with a full length sure to follow, one can hope that Despistado will take what The Emergency Response has so proficiently shown, douse it with kerosene, and then light the son-of-a-bitch. Pay heed world! Regina, Saskatchewan is about to put itself on the map.
(Jade Tree Records)