The Weed Slam

PITHCHBLENDE signaled the onset of an art-punk explosion in Washington D.C. and this EP was a powerful primer to the sound. Sonic modulation, guitar interplay and improvisation, nontraditional song structure, and stream of consciousness lyrical output from a man whose Driver’s License proves his name really is Treiops Treyfid only touch the tip of this complex iceberg (Also available as part of Jade Tree’s retrospective CD, The First Five Years (JT1050)

1. Weed Slam
2. Ask Rexella
3. Ursa Minor

Treiops Treyfid: Vocals, Guitar
Justin Chearno: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Scott DeSimon: Bass, Backing Vocals
Patrick Gough: Drums, Backing Vocals
Recorded August 1992
Released October 1992
Recorded at Inner Ear, VA
Engineered & Mixed by Charles Bennington
Mastered by Michael Sarsfield at Frankford Wayne, NYC
Layout/Graphics by Treiops
Photography by Bennett Simpson

Split

Critically acclaimed and sorely missed, EGGS and PITCHBLENDE were at the forefront of a wave of early 90s indie bands that played as much with their hearts as they did with their brains. Precursors to the smart-pop and math-rock aesthetes, respectively, this record still bestows an aura of simplicity, honesty, and dedication to the idea that good ideas were meant to be fucked with. (Also available as part of Jade Tree’s retrospective CD, The First Five Years (JT1050)

Eggs:
Andrew Beaujon: Vocals, Guitar
Rob Christiansen: Guitar
Jane Buscher: Bass
Ben Currier: Drums

Pitchblende:
Treiops Treyfid: Vocals, Guitar
Justin Chearno: Guitar, Vocals
Scott DeSimon: Bass, Vocals
Patrick Gough: Drums, Vocals

Eggs Recorded September 1994
Pitchblende Recorded September 1994
Released November 1994

Eggs
1. Song With Contemporary Influences
Recorded by Ian Jones in Arlington, VA
Mastered by Michael Sarsfield at Frankford Wayne, NYC
Graphics: Treiops Treyfid

Pitchblende
1. Windshield Kiss
Recorded at SNP, MD
Engineered by Charles Bennington & Ken Olden
Mastered by Michael Sarsfield at Frankford Wayne, NYC
Graphics: Treiops Treyfid
Illustration: Jane Buscher

1. Song With Contemporary Influences
2. Windshield Kiss

The Weed Slam

PITHCHBLENDE signaled the onset of an art-punk explosion in Washington D.C. and this EP was a powerful primer to the sound. Sonic modulation, guitar interplay and improvisation, nontraditional song structure, and stream of consciousness lyrical output from a man whose Driver’s License proves his name really is Treiops Treyfid only touch the tip of this complex iceberg (Also available as part of Jade Tree’s retrospective CD, The First Five Years (JT1050)

Treiops Treyfid: Vocals, Guitar
Justin Chearno: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Scott DeSimon: Bass, Backing Vocals
Patrick Gough: Drums, Backing Vocals
Recorded August 1992
Released October 1992
Recorded at Inner Ear, VA
Engineered & Mixed by Charles Bennington
Mastered by Michael Sarsfield at Frankford Wayne, NYC
Layout/Graphics by Treiops
Photography by Bennett Simpson

1. Weed Slam
2. Ask Rexella
3. Ursa Minor

Despistado To Play Reunion Shows

“Any despistado fans left?”

This was the question posed via local act Rah Rah’s Twitter account this past Wednesday. An hour and a half later, they followed that tweet with this:

“Yeah man! Despistado in Regina and saskatoon Aug26,27,28. Details soon! RT @scallen: @rahrahband uh-huh?°¦ reunion plans?”

They’ve recently confirmed that beloved Regina band Despistado, who broke up in 2004, will be playing at August 26 at the Lazy Owl in Regina, August 27 at Cafe Solla in Saskatoon, and August 28 at the Exchange back in Regina.

I haven’t seen any mention of any of this outside of Rah Rah’s Twitter account, but, considering former Despistado members Joel Passmore and Leif Thorseth are both in Rah Rah these days, we can probably consider this announcement legit.

Despistado [I]The People Of And Their Verses[/I] Review

Ultra-hyper Saskatchewan spaz-rockers Despistado (that’s "confused" in Spanish) may have prematurely disbanded, but they leave little to be disappointed about. The foursome’s hype was glowing white-hot after 2004′s splendid The Emergency Response EP, but just a year later their career fizzled out like a bum Fourth of July sparkler, too intense and searing to sustain itself. A year of rigorous touring rendered their internal relationships as jagged and volatile as their staple post-punk sound, and by January 2005 the band was champing at the bit just for Jade Tree to digitally release their full length in late spring.

Fortunately, this strife hardly taints the consistent, clockwork precision of The People of and Their Verses. For a band with their hands around each other’s throats, Despistado manage to maintain breakneck tempos and tortuous song structures with the exactitude of prog but the immediacy and intimacy of punk. Whether or not the band knew this would be their last recording is debatable, but the album displays an undeniable prescience. There’s a concerted effort to run the gamut between loud and soft, melodic and raucous, proto-punk and screamo, as if to leave no stone unturned. As a result, the LP fails to reproduce the incredibly dense and immaculately threaded string of ideas that decorated Despistado’s EP, but the blemishes are far from glaring.

Headbanging opener "Burning House" sets a jolting tone early as frontman Dagan Harding and guitarist Leif Thorseth crash guitar riffs into each other beneath Harding’s stratospheric howl, which uncannily resembles Cedric Bixler pre-Geddy Lee posturing. "If Relationships a Construct, Then I’m a Construction Worker" redeems its pretentiously indie title with a pinpoint central riff intricate enough to challenge even virtuosos the Advantage or Pretty Girls Make Graves. Okay, not to blow my riff load here, but just gimme one more– the jaw-dropping "Victim". Bend-happy Thorseth struggles to keep his strings on the guitar until he and Harding fire intersecting raga riffs over a frenetic chorus.

Despistado stretch their talents thin, however, on mid-tempo numbers that fumble for the epic hook needed in justifying their length and lack of urgency. Melody isn’t Harding’s bread and butter, and some choruses fall flat without sufficient guitar and bass complementing. Regardless, the band exudes enough vigor to gloss over said weaknesses, most of which likely stem from their self-destructive work schedule in 2004. Although longevity is a commodity in the screamo/post-punk scene (see Cap’n Jazz, At the Drive-In, Sunny Day Real Estate, et al), this album, and to a greater extent Despistado’s career, is sadly truncated before the brink of greatness.

Despistado [I]The People Of And Their Verses[/I] Review

I remember the first time I heard the At the Drive-In masterpiece Relationship of Command. My New Found Glory-tuned ears were mesmerized that a band could still be in the punk spectrum and sound so creative and weird. That record opened me up to the world of post-punk, and I soon began to discover other outstanding bands in the genre like the legendry Fugazi and Frodus. Jade Tree Records act Despistado can certainly be labeled a post-punk act, and their sound does remind the listener a lot of early At the Drive-in and Fugazi. With Fugazi on a long hiatus, and all the other aforementioned bands broken up, Despistado is a band that showed a lot of promise to carry quality post-punk through the 2000’s. Sadly, the young foursome from Saskatchewan, Canada, decided to call it quits prior to releasing The People and Their Verses, their debut album.

The People and Their Verses is a collection of passionate songs featuring frenzied guitars, running bass lines, riding cymbals, and gang vocal choruses; in short what you would expect from a post-punk band. Vocalist Dagon Harding even manages to sound a bit like Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. Despistado’s influences are clear, but their sound never appears derivative or dated. The band plays these songs with conviction, and there are many outstanding moments on the album that will stick with the listener. Opener “Burning Honor” starts the album off right with some frantic guitar work and punk-rock vocals. Despistado slows the tempo down a bit for the catchiest song on the album, “Magnetic Streetlights,” which features dual vocals, a memorable chorus and a great bass line. The song is a nice change of pace to the upbeat songs that dominate the album. The drawbacks to The People and Their Verses are forgivable for a young band: As with a lot of the records in this genre, some of the songs tend to be virtually indistinguishable from others, and the standout songs on the album are obvious.

Despistado have released an album that will probably never garner the attention it deserves, with the band being broken up. Also, Jade Tree has opted to release the album through digital means only, an understandable business move, but unfortunate in terms of artistic value. The People and Their Verses is certainly not a perfect album, but it is obvious that the band was on their way to fulfilling their obvious potential to release a truly great album.

Despistado Bassist Muses About What Could Have Been

It’s a story that began with hope, excitement and promise and quickly plunged into frustration, anger and disappointment. One year ago, Regina-based quartet Despistado had everything going for them: the band were blowing minds with their punkish angular rock, they had a freshly minted, worldwide deal with American mega indie Jade Tree and tens of thousands of dollars in sponsorships were filling the band’s bank account, giving them touring security and the ability to pay the people who had worked so hard for their success.

The band’s fans were dedicated and grassroots buzz spread quickly among similar musical circles across North America, thanks in large part to the backing of the Jade Tree name. But in the summer of 2004, the band returned from a cross-Canada tour fed up with each other and the road. The members took the summer to prepare for a fall of touring and to focus on making the opportunity work; sacrifices had, after all, been made for the sake of the band — one member had passed on a scholarship to play basketball overseas while others put intense work schedules and personal relationships on the back burner.

The band were to tour Canada and the U.S. for three months, return for the holiday season and take on Europe in early 2005. Bassist Joel Passmore, the only member with significant financial and familial responsibilities, opted to stay home and bank money in preparation for the overseas leg. To replace him, guitarists Dagan Harding, Leif Thorseth and drummer Brenan Schwartz called on Robin Sernich, an all-purpose musical man-about-town type who had previously travelled with the band as road manager and merch guy.

The tour began near the end of September and within days it was evident the old tensions hadn’t cleared up. Members took issue with everything from significant others to how to best handle the group’s growing profile, the latter coming under even more scrutiny after the band accepted a sizeable sponsorship from American wireless provider T-Mobile. Arguments over how to use the money deepened the rift between members and with Passmore at home, news of the deteriorating situation on the road came to him in sporadic phone calls that left him feeling helpless.

This is where the frustration begins to creep in for many. It’s fine to hold certain socio-political values close, but when you’re operating within an industry that, despite its corruption and dissonance, values what you do, you dial down and find a way to make the machine work for you. Despistado had people on side that aligned with the band’s collective moral conscience. They had opportunities falling from the sky that independent bands — especially from Regina — could only dream of.

None of this was news to Passmore, who could only sit at home, feeling increasingly powerless.

"I think the biggest thing was that people just lost perspective of what exactly they were doing and how that fell into the grand scheme of things," he says. "The whole band wasn’t into it anymore. Obviously there were relationship issues that started to take over. I wasn’t there, so it’s really hard. It shocked me as well, to hear over the phone that they decided there was absolutely no way to resolve anything.

"Basically, people weren’t happy anymore. I talked to everyone and everybody gave me the same story. It was a combination of people not getting along, which I can see if you’re on tour for three months and there are already issues at hand and some people deal with pressure differently than others. I don’t think we ever figured out a way to deal with each other and to deal with the idea that people are always looking at you and the only thing you have to offer is music.

"I knew so-and-so didn’t get along with so-and-so most of the time, but you deal with it and get on with things. To get the phone calls and hear the circumstances about how it all came to a head, then to hear the stories afterward about how it really happened, I had to wonder why when I was asking how things were why all I heard was ‘OK.’"

As the van turned around just days short of the end of the tour, news of the split began to break at home. Passmore did his best to control what he says became a "big melodramatic thing," but diplomacy didn’t lend itself well to the situation.

"It’s not like I’ve got nothing, but it did feel like it," he says. "If you think about being at home and working every day with that stuff to look forward to, a month and a half before it’s supposed to start you say ‘Nevermind, I’ll just keep going to work.’ For me it was like ‘Are you serious? You guys would just rather go to work at the Freehouse? Yeah that’s awesome, that’s way better than playing music.’"

Next came dealing with Jade Tree, the label that had taken a risk on the young Canadians and had handed them a worldwide record deal late in 2003. Home to Pedro The Lion, These Arms Are Snakes and renowned for launching the career of the Promise Ring, breaking the news to owners Darren Walters and Tim Owen wasn’t easy. Even still, the label has stood by the band and released their full-length debut, The People Of And Their Verses, in digital format only through jadetree.com on Tuesday.

With all members of the band back in Regina, Passmore is focusing his efforts on Sylvie, his critically acclaimed (nominated for a 2003 Western Canadian Music Award) band that have just been asked to join a number of dates on the upcoming Death From Above 1979/Controller.Controller tour. Harding is in a new group called Darling, and Thorseth and Passmore have been playing together informally in a yet-unnamed band. No one has heard from Schwartz since the tour ended in December.

Passmore is intent on putting the past behind him and sums up the lifespan of Despistado in one sentence:

"It was a moment when all of our lives could have changed, and they didn’t."
Sylvie tour dates:

April 6 Edmonton AB @ Starlite Room w/Death From Above 1979 & Controller.Controller
April 7 Calgary AB @ Warehouse w/Death From Above 1979 & Controller.Controller
April 8 Saskatoon SK @ Louis Pub w/Death From Above 1979 & Controller.Controller
April 10 Winnipeg MB @ West End Cultural Centre w/Death From Above 1979 & Controller.Controller
April 12 Toronto ON @ Horseshoe
April 13 Montreal QC @ TBA
April 14 Ottawa ON @ Mavericks
April 16 Thunder Bay ON @ Appolo

Despistado [I]The People Of And Their Verses[/I] Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Last summer, a band from Saskatchewan, Canada called Despistado appeared out of nowhere to join the Jade Tree roster. The always trusty label released an EP by the band called The Emergency Response that was brimming with bouncing guitar riffs, quirky rhythms, shouted vocals, and an undeniable dance vibe. The band got a few comparisons to At The Drive-In, which seems a bit out of place as they are more comparable to a group like Modest Mouse. Whatever the case, the EP was definitely a fun and catchy listen that had many new fans waiting for more. Soon after, they entered a studio in Vancouver to record their debut full-length, The People Of And Their Verses. Once they were done, they hit the states for the first time with a number of talented bands only to pull out half way through the dates. A month or so later and it was known that Despistado was breaking up. This left Jade Tree with a full-length and no band to tour behind it. In turn, The People Of And Their Versus has become a digital only release that adds onto what the band accomplished with their EP.

With the EP, Despistado crafted a few standout tracks that were danceable and quirky. They were also quite catchy, especially "A Stirstick’s Prediction" (which was used in a T-Mobile commercial here in the states), and the songs also had a vintage tone to them as they used several raw sounds. All of the aforementioned characteristics come into play with this twelve song release. The very first track, "Burning House", is all over the place with a thudding bass line helping move the song forward along with a seriously catchy riff. Vocalist Dagan Harding shouts the words in a quick manner while another band member yells "hey, hey, hey" directly behind him. You won’t find a lot of lyrical content here as the song moves along at a fast and upbeat rate, much like the rest of the disc. One new element with this disc is a surprisingly melodic approach to a few tracks. In "If Relationship Is A Construct, Then I’m A Construction Worker" the band drives the song along with a much more laid-back guitar approach that features many melodic tones. Harding’s voice is still upbeat but to a lesser degree. Another track that takes this same approach is "This Neighbourhood". It is driven by a mix of raw and melodic guitar tones as well as solid drumming that adds to the already present rhythm. Overall, these two songs show that Despistado really were looking to expand their sound a bit. Of course, there are a lot more upbeat tunes here. One such track, "My Definition Of A Tragedy", features the same Despistado guitar sounds that make them recognizable. However, the thing to listen for here is how they blend both their upbeat and melodic qualities in such a great fashion. It also features vocals that go back-and-forth much like how they did on the EP track "Lipstick".

The People Of And Their Verses showcases Despistado’s music in a good way. It doesn’t quite live up to what might have been expected after such an impressive EP, but it is an all-around solid effort. The fact that they expanded on their upbeat sound to add in more melodic, Minus The Bear-esque moments is enough to warrant a listen or two. Adding to this, a few of the danceable tracks feature a bit more technicalities, especially with "My Definition Of A Tragedy" and its blend of two different sounds. The only problem with the disc is that Despistado broke up. Like the EP, this full-length contains a lot of promise from a band that hasn’t quite reached their full potential. Now, we’ll never know what that full potential was. All in all, at least this disc didn’t get scrapped because there are some pretty good tunes here that will hopefully let Despistado make some kind of mark on the music scene.

Standout Tracks:
"My Definition Of A Tragedy"
"If Relationship Is A Construct, Then I’m A Construction Worker"
"Test Tube"

Despistado [I]The People Of And Their Verses[/I] Review

Despistado understand that energy and conviction are often more important than originality; even though The People Of And Their Verses is basically a signpost of their direct musical influences, it’s a fairly impressive distillation of everything that came before it. They’ve whittled down late ’70s British punk (See Gang of Four, Wire), early ’90s DC hardcore (see Nation of Ulysses or Repeater-era Fugazi), mid-’90s Midwestern emo-core (see Cap’n Jazz or Boy’s Life) and turn-of-the-century indie-art-punk (pre-Vaya At the Drive-In or Q And Not U) into a digestible and thoroughly enjoyable creation. On the whole, this amalgamation never sounds too derivative of any other band; Despistado always tweaks the sounds with just enough innovation to keep cynics quiet.

The People Of And Their Verses’s most engaging moments far outweigh its minor flaws. Opener "Burning House" bursts out of the gate with a dual guitar attack, some snappy snare work and vocal howls that demand attention, setting the album’s frenzied pace. Likewise, "If Relationships a Construct, Then I’m a Construction Worker" draws listeners in with agile guitar work and Dagan Harding’s melodic wail, which here bears a little too much resemblance to a young Cedric Bixler. Furthermore, just when The People Of And Their Verses seems to reveal itself as heavily front-loaded, the pulsating "Magnetic Streetlights" re-energizes the album with its immediate, commanding vocal chant. Although the guitars, drums and vocals are what jump at you initially, bassist Joel Passmore is Despistado’s most valuable asset. His nimble yet rhythmically sound bass lines literally hold everything else together. The vocals, guitars and drums are always flying all over the place and Passmore’s presence works in much the same way that John Entwistle’s did with the Who — he keeps all the rambunctious energy in check by giving the surrounding chaos a firm foundation. His funky swagger on "The Memory of This History" is a perfect example: the shout-along vocals and fractured guitars would never be as effective without his bouncy bass intro. Overall, the songs get better on subsequent spins, revealing intricacies that reward listeners who pay attention to details.

Wisely, Despistado never try to slow the pace too much, recognizing that their final album isn’t the best place to screw with the formula, and that an exit is most potent when taken at full speed. Though The People Of And Their Verses doesn’t necessarily capture a band that fully realized its potential, it’s another left-behind gem in punk’s live fast, die young history.

Song, Details from Despistado’s Final Album Online

While Saskatchewan based Despistado disbanded earlier this month, they did leave behind a full length worth of material for release on Jade Tree. The label has set an April 5th digital release date for The People Of And Their Verses, so it’s still unknown if there will be a physical CD release at this point. A song from the 12 track collection is online now, so check out "Burning House." The full track listing and cover art for the release can be found on the label’s website.

Despistado Play Two Last Shows Before Finalizing Divorce

To say that the last 12 months were hectic for Despistado is a huge understatement. The band became Jade Tree Records’ first international signing and the label re-released their Emergency Response EP, they toured throughout North America and played successful showcases at NXNE, SXSW and CMJ, their music appeared on a couple high profile compilations and they recorded their debut full-length. This year was shaping up to be even better for the Regina quartet — Jade Tree was preparing to issue their new album and a European tour was being booked. However, after working so hard and finally beginning to gain some serious interest, the band have shocked fans by announcing that they’re disbanding.

No official reasons have been issued for the break-up. When asked about the matter bassist Joel Passmore doesn’t offer much insight, aside from saying that the choice to separate wasn’t shared by all members.

"The details aren’t important," he explains. "The band couldn’t go on. It wasn’t a mutual decision, but what can you do? Think of it like a marriage. If half of all married couples get divorced, then I’d bet the odds of divorce are better when four people are involved. You either work through your differences or you don’t."

Despite the split, Jade Tree is going to release the band’s final recording, The People Of And Their Verses, digitally on April 5. Passmore says that it means a lot to the group that the label is still supporting the band and is choosing to make the new material available. He feels that the album, which was recorded in Vancouver last year, provides an accurate portrayal of what the band strove to accomplish with their music.

"I think the album is a better example of what the band did," he says. "The EP was a good sample of what we were about, but I think the album will be a stronger representation of what we did on stage and who we were. It seems like people have been waiting a long time for the record. I hope they like it."

Before packing it in for good, the guys will perform two final concerts in Regina. Passmore feels the shows will be similar to the numerous energetic performances the group have ripped through over the last four years, but admits that things may get a little emotional.

"As far as I can see, after these two that will be it," he says. "People can expect the same type of show as we’ve been playing for the last four years. Emotions might run a bit higher and we may possibly let go a little more because of the closure involved. I think people expect there to be more tension between members, but that’s just the product of gossip and the rumour mill."

As for post-Despistado projects, Passmore and guitarist Leif Thorseth have decided to form another group together. The act are still working on a name, but have already written several songs and will most likely begin performing in a couple of months. For the last eight years, Passmore has also played guitar and handled vocal duties in Sylvie. The band recently finished their sophomore album and are hoping to release it some time this spring.

Despistado Tour Dates:
January 21 Regina, SK @ The State
February 5 Regina, SK @ University Of Regina Multi-Purpose Room

Despistado – 11/24 – Rock Island

If only Repeater-era Fugazi had sounded like the members were actually having fun, or (International) Noise Conspiracy had come from freezing Regina, Saskatchewan, instead of freezing Umeå, Sweden, then Despistado’s twitchy take on obliquely political hardcore might not sound so fresh. As it is, these four friends — the first non-U.S. band signed to Jade Tree — blow the doors off a self-regarding scene with white-hot dance-floor hardcore from the Great White North. While vocalist Dagan Harding shouts enigmatic lyrics about love, laws and materialism, guitarist and lifelong friend Leif Thorseth jerks and shudders. Meanwhile, drummer Brenan Schwartz and four-stringer Joel Passmore doggedly pound out a rump-shaking foundation. Coming from a city that boasts only 2,365 hours of sunshine each year, it’s no surprise that Despistado generates plenty of intelligent hardcore heat.

Despistado Enjoy The Warm Bosom of the Jade Tree Family

Since signing with Jade Tree Records earlier this year, Regina-based Despistado’s popularity has been steadily rising throughout North America. The re-release of their excellent Emergency Response EP has been met with nothing but praise from critics and new fans alike. This, along with their recent inclusion on a couple of high profile benefit compilations, should help to further establish their name with music lovers.

Last week Vagrant Records put out In Honor: A Compilation To Beat Cancer. Proceeds from the release are being split between The Syrentha Savio Endowment and The Sean McGrath Fund. Along with Despistado, bands such as Taking Back Sunday, Face To Face, Thrice and Thursday appear on the disc.

Next week Sub City will be unveiling the fourth installment of their annual Take Action! album. This time Despistado’s music will be presented alongside the likes of NOFX, Coheed And Cambria and The Dillinger Escape Plan to help raise money for The National Hopeline Network, a suicide prevention and crisis hotline.

Guitarist Leif Thorseth says that quartet’s involvement with the projects came as a result of Jade Tree being approached by both labels. He says that the band are very pleased with their new home and appreciates the expertise and knowledge that their new bosses are passing on to them.

"Life on Jade Tree has been really awesome," he says. "Tim Owen and Darren Walters have been so great to work with and our very supportive of what we are trying to achieve, which is to get our name out there and be a band."

Looking to take full advantage of the buzz that’s been building, the group will be releasing their debut full-length in early 2005. After their original plan of working with Phil Ek fell through, the band hooked up with Colin Stewart at Hive Studios in Vancouver to record the album last spring. When asked what people can expect from the album, Thorseth simply replies "a lot more oomph!"

Seemingly always up for another batch of tour dates, the group are playing a handful of Canadian shows on their way to the CMJ Music Festival in New York. Having already turned heads at this year’s SXSW and NXNE (where they snagged fourth place on ChartAttack’s 2004 NXNE Honour Roll) with their intense brand of post-punk you can bet the band will be going all out when they perform at the Jade Tree showcase. Joining them on the bill will be label mates These Arms Are Snakes and From Ashes Rise. According to Thorseth, Despistado really enjoys playing industry events if for no other reason than just to check out acts that may not visit Saskatchewan.

"Industry festivals are a lot of fun," he says. "Just because we get to meet a lot of people and especially since where we’re from we hardly get any bands coming through. I think that we approach these gigs quite similar and just play hard and have fun. Maybe we get a little bit more nervous for some unknown reason."

Despistado [I]The Emergency Response[/I] Review

In reading the “hype” about this band, it was apparent that Jade Tree was billing them as the next big thing referencing them to At The Drive In and using the word “explosive” to describe their live show. Usually references such as those would turn anyone off as it usually turns out to be a crock and the band sounds like The Vandals.

For our sake, Jade Tree is always right on in their calls and this is no exception. Using the tricks that At The Drive In used during their “Acrobatic Tenement” period, Despistado are quirky post punk at it’s best. Being from Canada, it might take awhile for audiences over here to catch on but I have a feeling that once they begin to concentrate their live attack on the states, it will be a different story. What the record lacks is a punch in the recording but as this seems more like a glorified demo, don’t fret as their full length will undoubtedly be leaps and bounds better.

Yes this is not the most original releases around but that intangible quality of fun is ever present during this EP and their moves forward will be that much more exciting to watch.

Despistado [I]The Emergency Response[/I] Review

This Canadian band is catching everyone’s attention. Despistado comes from the prairies and the group is able to mix DC style post-punk and a bit of a retro punk sound along the veins of Gang Of Four. A little more post-punk than that retro sound and it’s all good. The Emergency Response is the first effort that these guys have taken the time off of touring to lay down on tape. This little EP kicks off with a firecracker and the best song, "A Stirsticks Prediction" kicks in with a bass riff and some nonsense singing seconds before the rest of the group kicks in and lets you know what you are in for during the next 20 minutes. "Hi-Fi Stereo" is a track that really wouldn’t sound that out of place on the Dischord label. In fact it sounds a lot like their new band Black Eyes. All is not top-notch though. I felt that "Bubbles" could have easily been left off the EP and I would have felt much better about it. Small complaint about an introduction to a new band. I’ll be keeping my eyes out for the Despistado full-length album. I guess my question to leave you with, how in the hell did the prestigious Jade Tree Records ever hear about this Saskatchewan group?

Despistado [I]The Emergency Response[/I] Review

According to the English-Spanish dictionary I purchased during highschool during my ill-advised attempt to become bilingual, the word "despistado" means "confused". Now, when we apply it to the band Despistado we surmise that the band name isn’t that indicative of the song that you can expect to hear from the band, but it’s also not completely inaccurate. "The Emergency Response" is a twenty minute slab of energetic, angular post-punk music that is all over the metaphorical shop, yet doesn’t particularly suffer because of it.

Everything that the band is capable of doing right is neatly summed up by the opening track, A Stirsticks Prediction. In the course of three and a half minutes, the band unleashes a furious assault of noise, with shards of guitar noise cutting through the mix, anthemic shouted lyrics, and swathes of percussion that rain down all over the music. It’s compelling, it’s intense, and it’s by far and away the best song here.

In fact, after the brilliant opening track, the rest of the album does sound a little flat. I realise that it’s probably simply not possible to keep the level of intensity displayed in the opener up for a whole EP, but it still ends up sounding a little disappointing. Not that the other five songs here are crap or anything, the intertwined guitars of Lipstick are impressive, as is the dense, stuttering bass of Taste This Picture. It’s just that after the superb first track, they just don’t measure up. Still, if these five tracks were all that were here, I’d still be impressed, and the band experiment a little on the later songs, which is a pleasing sign that the band have more in their bag of tricks than one awesome song.

"The Emergency Response" is about as good a debut EP as you could possibly ask for, and it’s one that can easily stand up to releases from more established bands. Despite the name, there doesn’t seem to be any confusion in Despistado, the band know exactly what they’re doing, and they do it very well.

Despistado [I]The Emergency Response[/I] Review

Straight out of Saskatchewan and straight into the CD player < Despistado delivers the indie rock/emo goods on the six-song EP. Whereas emo can sometimes (read often) come off as whiny and annoying, Despistado¹s version
is a catchy and energetic mix that smacks of originality and movement. A Stirsticks Prediction kicks off this debut disc in a flurry of loud guitars and is immediately followed by the solid grooves of Can I Please Have an Order of Girl w/a side of Confused and Taste This Picture. The vocal interplay of Dagan Harding and Joel Passmore works well throughout, and jangly guitars and quick rhythms keep things loose and flowing. This short disc checks in at just over 20 frantic minutes and will leave you wantingmore.

Despistado [I]The Emergency Response[/I] Review

Despistado’s “The Emergency Response” is the first release for a non-US band for Jade Tree, the label that ought to apply for a patent for bringing in new sounds to our community. This band resides in Saskatchewan, an area high up north in Canada, where days in winter are cold and don’t have a lot of hours of sunshine.

Thankfully, these 6 songs have nothing frozen in them. I’m not sure if post-hardcore is the description to use for their sound, but I can’t really give it a better description than being a quirky mixture of early At The Drive-In, some Fugazi inventiveness and a slightly Refused experimentational weirdiness. Starting off “A Stirstick Prediction” with a genuine scratching intro in conjunction with a soft bassline and spastic singing, the song suddenly bursts open with stoccato guitars, the coolest basspart I heard in a while and potent vocals with accompanying backings. It all sounds pretty lo-fi, although they manage to keep more drive into the song than we’re used to in this category. A really good opening song indeed, and what follows is not bad either. The next 2 songs show more of unusual tempo-changes in the percussion, and although you always have the impression that this music is a non-flowing sound experience, they manage to insert very recognizable parts of powerful and grabbing tunes in these songs. “Bubbles” is the more laidback song of the 6, with only the drums maintaining a galloping pace and tingle-tangling guitars all through the song. But the best is yet to come. “Hi/Fi Stereo” has a softer part at the start but than gradually has the guitar breaking into first fuzzy and hard-hit strokes, while the vocals first twist themselves into some kind of Rage Against The Machine style, but then later on in the song scream and shout in full distortion. “Lipstick” is at first minimalistic sounding guitars and vocals accompanied by some handclapping, but later on evolves into some nice multi-layered vocals and a rather catchy guitarded song.

I’d have to warn that this is a pretty unusual album, in a sense that it doesn’t sound anyway near anything you’re used to lately, unless aforementioned bands are still fresh to your memory (but even if they are, this is something that doesn’t sound like a replica of them). And although I often dislike elements of experimentation in music, there’s still enough power and flow all through the songs to make me look out for their next full-length that should be coming out soon on Jade Tree.

Despistado

For most bands, Regina is a stop between Winnipeg and Calgary on the grueling trans–Canadian tour route. For Despistado, however, it’s the place they call home. The guys—Dagan Harding (guitar, lead vocals), Leif Thorseth (guitar), Joel Passmore (bass) and Brenan Schwartz (drums)—have remained loyal to their hometown pedigree instead of making the jump to a more urban centre.

It wasn’t a tough decision., either. Despistado aren’t shy about their political leanings—a strong belief that puts relationships and community above all else. “Our sound probably comes from the scene we grew up in,” Thorseth said from the highway as the band made their way into Toronto for a NXNE showcase. “The local community has a Washington DC kind of feel to it. The whole early ‘80s or ‘90s influence. I love all those
bands. There are so many words to describe it, but those words just don’t have meaning anymore. How I perceive it is punk music. If someone wants to see it as something else, that’s cool too. It’s not Minor Threat punk and it’s not disco punk, but you can dance to it.” Despistado are the first Canadian signing to Jade Tree, the Delaware-based label that has maintained a fiercely independent punk rock attitude since its inception in the early nineties. Fortunately for Despitado, calling Jade Tree home also guarantees them a wide reach, especially in the U.S. and Canada through Jade Tree distributor Mordam’s extensive network. Although the band were fans of the label, they had only joked about how great it would be if they were signed.

“We were shopping (the EP) around and our friend and manager sent over our CD to Jade Tree,” says Thorseth. “He just sent it and said, check out this band.”

Then at the end of January, Jade Tree co–owner Darren Walters came to Regina to hang out with the band.

“He froze his butt off,” laughs Thorseth. “We didn’t even talk business, we just hung out and then a week or two weeks later, he called and said I’d really like to work with you guys. We freaked out. We were extremely bewildered, but it’s awesome.”

Despitado made it down to SXSW earlier this year, to participate in the Jade Tree showcase and the trip helped to solidify their friendship even further. Since signing, (and even pre–signing) the band had spent most of the time in the van, touring around Canada and converting fans with their furious angular sound.

“Our tour is going awesome,” says Thorseth. "It’s been a lot of fun. On the western half of our tour we were touring with Statistics. We’ve never really toured with a band constantly for that long. It was great to hang out with two new people. To make it more of a community, not just something I’m in with four friends. It’s hectic, but it’s been easy.

“Our van is running fine, now that we’ve spent a lot of money on it. I love it. I remember last year we were touring and I looked outside the van and realized, ya this is amazing. It’s a test just like any other life test. Some people do things they love and I realized that I’m in a position right now where I’m doing something I absolutely love, there are struggles and everything, but it makes me really happy to do this.

“We’re expecting to tour as much as possible and that’s it. We’re just living in the present and trying to meet new people and have new experiences."

With a new record slated for October release, Despistado are excited at the opportunity to spread a new gospel. The EP was a re–release teaser by Jade Tree that was
re–pressed after the initial independently released version went out of print.

“I’m really excited to release that record,” says Thorseth. “I would like to tour our new stuff, which we are; I mean we do play new stuff now but… I think the new album has the same feel as the EP, (The Emergency Response) but we’re more in your face, which I really like.

“I think it’s a good album. There’s more oomph. The songs are what they are, I guess.”

Punk rock has a history steeped in politics, so where will Despistado show their support in the upcoming election?

“Our politics are all individual, but they are on the side of for the people. I really want to know the person that will be in my community is the best for my community. I’m going to have a week to go home and study, and I will do that.”

Most importantly, Thorseth encourages everyone to “support your local scene and anyone who’s coming through town. Go out and have some fun.”

Despistado [I]The Emergency Response[/I] Review

Canadian prairie-rockers and Jade Tree’s most recent signing, Despistado, are as much a mix of WIRE’S artful passion as MODEST MOUSE’S steadfast quirk. With "The Emergency Response," they finally make their spastic and raging debut worldwide. Squelching guitars, yelping hooks, and a stabbing rhythm section unfurl with the subtlety of a steamroller. Angular, driving, and thoroughly commanding, Despistado are just out the gate and ALREADY are the band to watch in 2004.

Despistado [I]The Emergency Response[/I] Review

It seems as of late, the focus on bands from Canada has been one of pure experimentalism: noise drones, instrumental theme albums, and bland musical obscurity.  Then come Despistado, from Regina, Canada, touted as the coldest place on earth.  Like a knight riding a fiery horse, they’ve galloped in with a glowing sword to slice through the thick ice of Canada, and bring a brighter, bolder, tougher sound.  Their 6-song EP, The Emergency Response, is a shining beacon of what’s to come.

Despistado combine the sharpness of Q and Not U with the dark undertones of Fugazi to create a unique blend of their own.  Every song on the EP is a gem.  One could easily mistake them for a Dischord band, and I have a feeling that anyone on the Dischord staff who catches Despistado will almost immediately regret they hadn’t found them first.

Their sound is infectious, and with the promise of a full-length recording waiting in the wings, I look forward to hearing what they bring to the table next.  And, I might add, they scored an opening gig for the Pixies at their Canadian show.  Bring on the warmth.

Despistado [I]The Emergency Response[/I] Review

Though the Spanish to English translation of Despistado is “confused,” this four piece are all but that on their debut EP that rocks like hard in a post-hardcore sound that defies any true genre. “A Stirsticks Prediction” sounds like the Operation Ivy/At the Drive In collaboration that never was, with its upbeat rhythm and frenetic vocals. Latin influenced percussion and angular guitar riffs flow like wine on these six tracks, one of which was recorded live in the studio in one take. Rhythms will keep your body moving (I dare you not to dance to the intro to studio jam, “Hi/Fi Stereo”) and the lyrics are sharp enough to keep you from ignoring them completely. Brazil should take notes, this is what an ATDI-influenced band is supposed to sound like. Los ventiladores de At the Drive In no desearán faltar hacia fuera en esta gema de un EP.

Despistado [I]The Emergency Response[/I] Review

In late 2001, four young musicians, determined to break out of the isolation of the Canadian tundra, formed Despistado as a creative outlet. Since then, the band has been touring non-stop around the Saskatchewan area, fine tuning their live show, and now, their debut EP, The Emergency Response will be released in the United States by Jade Tree Records.

Upon the first listen to The Emergency Response, the music of Despistado (the Spanish word for "confused"), seems to be very reminiscent of a more upbeat At The Drive-In (without the made up words). Especially on the track, "Can I Please Have An Order of Girl With A Side Of Confused?" The last thirty seconds of this song sound almost identical to ATDI’s In Casino Out years.

Despistado’s light, mathy guitars combine with the drummer’s interesting percussion stylings to form six songs that clip along at a quick pace, and clock in at just over 20 minutes, which is just enough to keep my attention. Anything much longer than that, I think the vocals would begin to irritate me because of the singer’s slight identity crisis with At The Drive In.

As a whole, The Emergency Response is a fantastic debut from a young band, but I’m hoping their full-length will showcase a little more of what this band is capable of.

Despistado [I]The Emergency Response[/I] Review (8 out of 10)

This four-piece hailing from Saskatchewan will appeal to the fans of angular and harmony filled songs ala At the Drive-in, and this six song EP is just the beginning. I found that upon first listen I was a little skeptical of whether or not I liked this record, but after repeated listens I knew that it was a truly unique and indispensable first effort by a band that is not afraid of challenging the boundaries of indie rock. The Emergency Response will strike you the way that Milemarker does and aggressively move you like At the Drive-In used to. A rhythmically complex and melodic record that will hopefully show up some of the new and supposedly "amazing" bands out there posing.

Despistado [I]The Emergency Response[/I] Review

Mix early At the Drive-In flavors (circa Acrobatic Tenement) with in-your-face indie-rock like Brooklyn’s Pilot to Gunner, and you kind of get a rough idea of the musical framework Despistado constructs on their EP The Emergence Response.

Regina, Saskatchewan’s Despistado attacks by cutting indentations into the listener’s inner ear with saw-toothed, jagged sounds and emotionally astute lyrics: "That’s very anti-patriarchal of you to accuse that man of rape." Their energized jangly drive is pulled by dynamic, quirky guitars and great dual singing. Dargon Harding’s vocals roll off his tongue in a manner akin to Cedric Zavala (At the Drive-In, The Mars Volta), which is probably why Despistado always gets the ATDI influence thrown at them. These Saskatchewanians succeed at ignoring the unbearable coldness of their hometown (one of the coldest places on the earth) by playing rocking waves of red hot heat in defiance.

Joel Passmore describes the hesitance to escape their small-town surrounding as: "The isolation of Saskatchewan lends itself to creating a cohesive, supportive community." And this mentality is definitely found in Despistado’s highly-energized, tight-knit delivery.

Refreshing, lively, and just downright rocking, Despistado’s The Emergency Response is a six song adrenaline shot that shouldn’t be passed up. A hand to Jade Tree for picking a damn fine group from the Great White North and exposing this boisterous rock outfit to a broader audience.

The second song, "Can I Please Have an Order of Girl with a Side of Confused?" is probably one of the most infectious tracks I’ve heard so far this year. Rock!