20th Anniversary

The Flatliners

Pet Symmetry, Taking Meds

Thursday, November 17
Doors: 7:30pm | Show: 8pm
$16

THE FLATLINERS

Being a band for 20 years won’t just change you. It changes how you see the world, and your place in it. For long-running Toronto punk mainstays The Flatliners, a new record meant a new opportunity to examine the legacy they’ve inherited, and the one they’ll eventually pass on. It’s an imperfect one, but not without hope.

“This record is us sitting in an uncomfortable moment, with the world around us falling apart, and then trying to learn from it,” says vocalist and guitarist Chris Cresswell. “No one needs to listen to us, but we want to try.”

New Ruin is a shot of adrenaline from a band striking out at outdated institutions and ideologies via pointed lyrics and their heaviest songs to date, attacking each with a ferocity that will surprise even longtime fans. From the monstrously discordant hits that open the album through the de facto thesis statement of “Heirloom,” it’s clear that The Flatliners are angry in a way we’ve never heard before.

At the same time, they’ve never been more in control. Produced by Cresswell along with the rest of the band, songs like “Performative Hours” and “Recoil” boil with livewire post-hardcore energy while “Souvenir” and “Big Strum” offer a more tightly coiled aggression that hints at the band’s anthemic punk past. Recorded at Toronto’s Noble Street Studios and Genesis Sound with longtime friend and engineer Matt Snell, the album sounds both open and immediate, the cumulative effect of two decades performing together. Says Cresswell of taking the reins, “At this point, if you’re 20 years in and don’t trust yourself…”

Brought to life by what he calls a “dream” team with mixer Anton DeLost and mastering courtesy of the Blasting Room legend Jason Livermore, New Ruin deftly combines the pop ambition of Inviting Light with an aggression the band has only hinted at before, giving in to their grarliest tendencies. It’s an approach the songs – and the moment – demanded. Take “Heirloom.”

“It’s hate mail to the previous generation,” says Cresswell. “All their brilliance and ingenuity has just left our generation and future generations in the dust and unable to afford the world we live in, with this enormous emotional and environmental toll. It’s so demoralizing.” But amidst the rubble of the modern hellscape, the band isn’t without hope. Album closer “Under A Dying Sun” offers its own version of solace and salvation, bringing the crashing album to a close with a thoughtful grandiosity that hints at some light at the end of the tunnel.

It might be because, despite the darkness, The Flatliners were having fun for the first time in a long time. Producing themselves, recording with friends, and playing music together after almost 600 days apart – their longest stretch since forming in 2002 – New Ruin is also the sound of a band rediscovering the joy of making something meaningful together. Cresswell calls it a gift.

“There is another side to the negativity that lives on this record,” he says.”It’s also a powerful time. So many more people are talking about things that really should have been talked about a long time ago. It’s one step in the right direction. Art and music can be part of that. We all kind of fucked up, so we can try to fix it. It’s not too late, but it’s almost too late. It’s almost too late.”


PET SYMMETRY

Pet Symmetry is BACK baby! Always remaining classic but always ahead of their time — The FUTURE… or at least retro future. Future Suits.

Future Suits is 11 songs which blaze past at just under 40 minutes and finds the band fully realized and better than ever. The cover of the record is a living, breathing, fully scan-able QR code. This lends itself to a completely modular digital layout experience which will find itself changing over time.. Really any time.. At the band’s will. Who knows what you’ll find over the coming days.. weeks.. years.


TAKING MEDS

Taking Meds are back with Terrible News From Wonderful Men, a 10-song LP that is unequivocally their strongest material to date. Dissonant, soft guitar work reminiscent of the Dismemberment Plan is woven together with massive, Jawbox-esque riffs and bookended by catchy choruses that evoke Archers of Loaf and Superchunk. The band has managed to craft hook-heavy ear worms that still hold fast to the overarching sonic philosophy established on previous efforts.

One of Taking Meds’ greatest strengths is musical friction—Their ability to insulate instantly hummable hooks with their signature brand of disjunct, off-kilter energy and atmosphere. As a result, the moments where each element coalesces into straightforward, melodic concord feels incredibly well-earned. There’s an old standby in the alt rock toolkit of juxtaposing quiet against loud for dynamic effect, but Taking Meds instead pits the complex against the accesible, marrying their contrasting sensibilities in a way that creates a captivating push/pull.

Taking Meds are not of this era. It’s easy to imagine a world in which they’re co-headlining tours with Chavez in 1996, but the space time continuum dealt them a bad hand. Terrible News will undoubtedly register with younger music fans, but there’s just as much on offer for old school holdouts from the golden era of Merge Records and college radio. Whether you’re booking basement shows or hiding your hairline under a Sub Pop hat, Taking Meds is making music for you.