Territories - Territories (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Territories (2018)

Pirate's Press Records

Territories have kind of an interesting backstory. The members came from the Calgary band Knucklehead, which was active from 1994 to 2013. They remained friends, and decided over beers one night that they still had songs left to write. Rather than reform Knucklehead, they decided to go in different direction. Territories were born. The band steered away from their previous, more traditional punk sounds, and headed into more modern, emotional places. The new name gives no hint of what to expect. Neither does the photo of the dilapidated house on the cover.

Territories is a record that takes a couple of spins to get into, but eventually it will set its hooks in your head and heart. It’s full of powerful words, melodies and memorable songs. It’s not the easiest sound to describe, but there are traces of things like The Bouncing Souls, Stiff Little Fingers and The Menzingers. While it’s undeniably punk, there are elements of Bruce Springsteen’s working class rock and roll, and maybe even The Pogues’ Irish folk punk. The guitars are not exactly jangly, but they’re not overly distorted either. There are little bits of organ and even a few bluesy guitar solos that would make Mike Ness proud.

The singer’s raspy voice is the perfect vessel to deliver the lyrics, which range from personal to political. Opener “Numb Somehow” is very personal and sets the overall mood. While many of the songs deal with dark subject matter, it generally feels like there is an underlying sense of optimism. “Green Eyes” and “Heart That Breaks” are essentially revved up love songs. (In other words, they’re love songs that aren’t ballads.) “New Thing” would seem to be the “new” band’s mission statement. “Bigger They Come” is probably the most overtly political song on Territories, with closer “Nulla Victoria” not far behind.

Speaking of “Nulla Victoria”, it’s one of the record’s very best songs. While all of the tracks are well crafted, a couple really stand out. The biggest highlight is probably “Quiet Voices”. It’s an earworm of the highest degree. It has a great post punk/new wave vibe that would have made it right at home on an ‘80s Brat Pack soundtrack sandwiched between Echo & the Bunnymen and Psychedelic Furs. The music on Territories varies enough to keep things interesting, but has an undeniable cohesiveness. The common thread is catchy, sing along choruses.

This record is not what you’ve come to expect from Pirate’s Press Records, but the label is putting a lot of promotion behind it. Each of the 12 songs has its own flexi picture disc and lyric video, in addition to more traditional formats. It’s easy to hear why they believe so strongly in this record. There are things that feel familiar about Territories, but they rework their influences enough to make them feel fresh. Territories is definitely a record that you should be listening to.