I first heard London, Ontario's Single Mothers when they opened for Touché Amoré with an impressive set in Toronto. While thanking the other acts, Jeremy from TA informed the crowd Single Mothers were one of his favorite current bands. Impressed with what I saw and intrigued by the shout out, I grabbed the band's self titled EP off Bandcamp when I returned home. Two weeks and numerous plays later, I can safely say I echo Jeremy's sentiment wholeheartedly.
Single Mothers play a clever blend of melodic hardcore and fun, gritty punk rock. There's a definite element of sleaze on this EP, thanks in large part to it's scratchy, lo-fi production and distorted-to-hell buzzsaw guitars. Vocalist Andrew Thomson's snotty, almost sarcastic bark complements the band's vibe perfectly, as does his subject matter--he likes to sing about girls, getting drunk and well, getting drunk with girls. The quick and dirty description for Single Mothers has to be "four blasts of punk rock attitude straight to the face."
Wait, what's that you say? What I just described sounds like Cerebral Ballzy at best? Well, don't fear my good reader; these dudes fortunately have the chops to back up all their bratty angst. First off, the "basement demo" vibe was definitely by design--there's no way you get cymbals to sound that good by accident, especially when a dude from Attack in Black is mixing your record. Furthermore, underneath all that fuzz and feedback, these lads lay down a mean tune. From the Mod Life meets MCD melodies on “Hell (Is My Backup Plan)” to the stoner-metal tinged breakdown on “Baby,” the band manages to keep it fresh on every track without losing an ounce of that aforementioned attitude.
As for Thomson's lyrics? Just because his subject matter isn't exactly brain food, doesn't mean his lyrics aren't. Sure, the words “girl” and “drink” show up a disproportionate amount of the time, but there's also a fair bit of reflection and commentary on the life he's singing about. Where others may draw a caricature, Thomson's raw emotion and thoughtful honesty allow him to paint a rather interesting portrait of the liquor-loving ladies man he (presumably) can be.
Perhaps what's most striking about this EP is how dangerous it sounds. Not dangerous in a violent “Hatebreed” way--more in a self-inflicted, “Charles Bukowski's liver” kind of way. Or maybe a “don't leave these dudes in a room with your sister” kind of way. Whatever the case, Single Mothers has a fervent energy that harks back to a time when punk was truly for degenerates and damaged weirdos. Basically, if you listened to this in high school, your parents would have been pissed.
Before I get ahead of myself; let me clarify: this EP isn't perfect (it needs six more songs, for starters). It is, however, a very exciting first look at a band we should be hearing a lot more from in the future. Hit up these dudes on Bandcamp and catch a show if you're in the area. I guarantee they won't disappoint.