I’m always amazed by the number of bands coming out of Hamilton, Ontario. I suppose it makes sense if you consider punk bands like Teenage Head and the Forgotten Rebels who made waves in the late-70s and early-80s, putting Hammertown on the rock ‘n’ roll map. The latest group of rocking youngsters to emerge from the scene is Shade, who dropped their debut album Combat Rave in May.
Judging by the first couple of seconds of the opening track, “Brain Suck,” I thought this would be another generically plain, millennial radio rock record. Stephane Senecal-Tremblay sings in a nasal tone while strumming an electric guitar. Then the fuzzy distortion comes in, the intensity picks up and I become a lot more intrigued. The band integrates vocal effects, modular synths and squealing feedback. The party rages with more bumping garage rock bangers like, “Colour of Dreams,” “Combat Rave,” and “Controller,” but that intensity begins to lose steam when an acoustic guitar is introduced on the more mellow, “She Told Me” and almost comes to a full stop on the dreamy yet slow, “Tell Me.” However, the final track, “GTFO,” redeems the album, ending with a hard and memorable crash.
Shade threw together a Spotify playlist of songs that influenced the band while writing this album. Some artists like Oasis, Radiohead and Nirvana are obvious contributors to Shade’s sound. But I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of tracks by Ty Segall, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and My Bloody Valentine, which explains some of the experimentation and overall weirdness found throughout Combat Rave.
I can definitely imagine hearing Shade being played on a mainstream radio station, but I hope they continue playing around with different effects moving forward, enough to dissuade any record executives looking to make a quick buck from messing with their sound and making it more palatable to the general public. Stay loud and stay weird, boys.
Written by Chris Aitkens
*Edited by Anna Della Zazzera