Give Up The Roast is a column that collides delicious caffeine with auditory revelry a la a bi-monthly coffee and album pairing—the perfect combination for perking you up during that midday slump. Here, columnist Shannon Shreibak investigates all of the notes, from fruit rinds and spices to perfect fifths smothered in grinding distortion. So come on all you coffee shop novelists, DIY freaks, and connoisseurs of fine taste—keep your mind here in the GUTR and catch a buzz with us.
After years of toiling and terrorizing in basements shows across the continent, Vancouver ‘core-pop band White Lung has finally broken the cusp of the “mainstream” with their most recent LP, Paradise. While Paradise is a feat in itself for its countryside storytelling and haunting songwriting, it’s the band’s sophomore release, Sorry, that left me singing praises and championing their Teenage Jesus-meets-L7 vigor for years.Paired with one of Chicago’s most assertive coffee concoctions, this week’s Give Up The Roast match is made in well…Paradise.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN (BACKGROUND)
Forming in Vancouver in 2008, White Lung honed their sound in the wake of famed (and doomed) DIY space The Emergency Room‘s omnipresent influence. Following up a cantankerous debut LP and clocking in at just 19 minutes, Sorry could have withered beneath its own brutality, overshadowed by its own sonic impose. But Sorry is a purpose-driven LP, hellbent on disproving the band’s home base as the No Fun City and carving out their own space between hardcore and pop. Not unlike the album at hand, Ipsento’s signature latte is a hometown heavyweight built on pride and flair.
BRASS TACKS (THE COFFEE)
Some call the Ipsento Latte “best thing to happen” to the category, but I call it the best thing to happen to my waking caffeinated life. Cranked and crafted by the jovial pros of Bucktown’s Ipsento Coffee, the charming shop’s signature drink is an invention of Charlotte Jarrow, sister of Ipsento owner Tim Taylor. While Ipsento slings out perfectly delectable lattes of the Nutella and cardamom rose varieties, the IL’s combination of coconut milk, dairy, honey, cayenne pepper, and espresso is a life-altering amalgamation of richness, earthy grit and south-of-the-border heat. When approaching the lipstick-smeared grit of White Lung, the Ipsento Latte is the only beverage to encapsulate the harmony amidst the contradiction that makes the band so wonderful.
WHITE NOISE (THE MUSIC)
Contrary to the album’s name, White Lung sounds anything but sorry on their sophomore effort. Sorry was not only a watershed album for White Lung—it was a do-or-die, a Hail Mary into the pit of their crumbling DIY scene. Following the demise of their beloved Emergency Room and the departure of guitarist Natasha Reich, the rubble of White Lung knew that the band would either break up or break down amidst the stressors of an artistic life.
Luckily, the band united amidst the discord and released an airtight 19 minutes of cacophonous hardcore, flaunting the rock-solid backline pushing Mish Barber-Way’s deranged yowls to the forefront. In album opener, “take the mirror”, Barber-Way is held hostage in her own relationship, left kicking and screaming for her freedom. “I’m tied to the seat/ Stuck with your feet/ Coiled tight, dead around my neck,” she wails atop Anne-Marie Vassiliou rapid-fire drums and a fret groping riff lobbed out by Kenneth William.
The tumult continues with “St. Dad”, a showcase of Barber-Way’s vocal gymnastics and Courtney Love idolatry. The bleach blonde powerhouse has plenty to expound upon and only does so in superlatives: loudest, shrillest, growliest, especially on hook-mined thumper “Bag” and the paranoia spiral of “Those Girls”.
“Thick Lip”, a bruised and battered stunner in the 10-song lot, keeps the pace breakneck with a delirium-inducing bass line volleyed with frenzied riffage. Thanks to Barber-Way’s unwavering conviction, simply stated defiance (“But your thick dumb lips/ Tell a real dumb truth”) never sounded so hallowed. The band feeds the veracity with “Glue”, a pretty pit singalong fed by the refrain “You’re a dead horse riding…” And ride they do, toward a new beginning for White Lung and beyond.
Column by Shannon Shreibak. Go forth and be loud with her on Twitter @ShannonShreibak.