The tumult of the past fourteen some-odd months afforded everyone the free time to dig deep through the vast catalogues of music they’d been meaning to give a proper listen, including the musicians themselves. While Montreal emo rockers Gulfer were working on their excellent soon to be released self-titled third album, they spent a great deal of time bumping Marquette, MI’s Charmer and their 2018 self-titled record. Meanwhile eight hundred miles west of Montreal, while Charmer were working on what would become their fantastic sophomore album Ivy they were bumping Gulfer’s Dog Bless. While the two groups never met in person, they had a mutual admiration for their counterparts across the border cranking out mathy emo tunes in the frozen tundra that became their home, recognizing they were doing the same not too far away. Like all great courtships, the two bands’ split EP which dropped today started off with a casual slide into the DM’s. One of the lads from Charmer hit up the Gulfer boys on twitter saying how much their whole band loved Gulfer’s stuff, eventually positioning the idea of putting out some tunes together. Charmer had been fans of Gulfer since the Montreal group put out a 2015 split with Buffalo emo legends Del Paxton and wanted to do the same. Gulfer got to writing and six months later had their track ready.
That track “Look” opens the split with a mellow math infused rhythm. It sounds more like something that could have fit on Dog Bless than last year’s self-titled, but regardless is well within the scope of Gulfer’s sound. Lead singer Joseph Therriault laments about the rapidly declining state of the American global empire as our awful state of affairs leaves him reevaluating who he can and can’t trust. Joe doesn’t come to any solid conclusions on the matter, letting us ruminate on our sordid world we live in as noodly guitars and a brooding harmonica lead us out. While being rhythmically unpredictable there is a comforting familiarity to “Look”, where you didn’t know where it was going in the moment but feel the end result was ultimately inevitable after getting to hear how things turned out, not unlike this bizarre, crumbling planet we all live on.
Charmer kick their track “Diamond (Sprinkler)” off with a sample of Cameron Frye debating whether he should actually give in to Ferris Beuller’s wild plan for the day, eventually deciding, “I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go.” The Marquette boys use poor Cameron as a muse to channel their own frustrations with keeping up with the world around them. Lead singer David Daignault sings about wanting to wake up from what feels like an endless dream, with the world changing rapidly around him as he’s stuck immobile. The track climaxes with a joyous but understated guitar solo, matching both the intensity and tenor of the subject matter at hand, and one that I absolutely cannot wait to hear live.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that both bands decided to put together tracks that are both existentially difficult while also being catchy as hell, truthfully it’s a testament to exactly why this split made so much sense. Gulfer and Charmer have both been cutting their teeth in their respective music scenes, shoveling their driveways so they could go play basement gigs eight hundred miles apart. Despite that vast distance, their shared lifestyle and love of the sadder strains of indie rock left the two groups with many of the same perspectives on life that bled naturally into their music. And while the two groups are still yet to meet in person, one of the strongest commonalities between these two tracks is how amazing I bet they’ll sound live. I suggested the two groups do a mini tour from Marquette to Montreal to commemorate the tape, and if they do go through with that you’ll find me somewhere in the middle of the Algonquin Provincial Park jamming with these soon to be fast friends soon enough.