The most impressive thing about Cochrane, Ontario’s Sage, the brainchild of one Eric Paquet who handles the drumming and singing as well as the songwriting and recording, is that this band does Nirvana dirtier than Nirvana does Nirvana. Not just on their faithful version of “Aneurysm” from the Seattle trio’s B-Side bonanza Incesticide, but on all tracks off their debut release Procrastinate.
This record is so anti-pop it sounds like it’s going to fall apart at any moment. That’s the artist in Paquet, who not only seems to want to embrace imperfection but embody it. Opening track “Sinking Boats” features nauseatingly out of tune vocal harmonies that sound like two Jonathan Davises singing with head colds… underwater. In its short runtime, it zigs back and forth between quick rock rhythms and sludgy grunge jams. “Good Enough” starts as though somebody plopped the needle any where on the record and just decided to keep it going. It’s a slightly more tuneful track, though the truly disgusting overdrive on the guitar gives the feeling of trying to remove oneself from a vat of hot tar. The title track and lead single (the video for which incidentally looks like something directly out of the 70s) is dark as hell and its evil riffs really make their way under your skin. As a drummer, Paquet understands phrasing and his fills work as hooks of their own and move through every transition with finesse.
Having said that, the recording could have been tighter. I understand the overall aesthetic. They’re going for niche, avant-garde, post-modern, 70s counter-culture, ironic, and whichever other hip buzz word you wanna throw at it to make it stick. And for the most part, it totally works. But the punches are just off enough and the vocals are just grating enough and the guitar is just out of tune enough at times to make it a difficult listen. Fans of moody music will eat this up, but it might be a little too out there for your typical average listener.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy