Various Artists
Grey Matter

by Jim Di Gioia

April 18, 2018

Grey Records gathered a veritable Canadian indie rock brain trust for their first compilation.

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To mark its first anniversary, Saskatoon-based cassette label Grey Records called on friends from far and wide to donate a track to Grey Matter, a compilation of music by artists “with a strong femme presence, who demonstrate inclusive politics in their respective music scenes.” Label founders Lenore Maier (whose band The Garrys appear on the compilation) and Duncan Pickard (of Shirley & the Pyramids and Wizards) are channeling proceeds from Grey Matter to support Girls Rock Winnipeg, who are kicking off their first year of one-week summer camps “aimed at empowering female-identified, trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming youth through collaborative musical creation and performance.” If the premise of Grey Matter isn’t enough to stir you into buying a cassette or digital download, then the stellar roster of independent artists Maier and Pickard tapped and the endlessly enjoyable music they’ve contributed should certainly compel you to part with your cold hard cash.

Compilation projects like Grey Matter are tricky beasts; their track listings often veer from sounding wildly disjointed to mind-numbingly repetitive. And while twenty-two songs sounds like an unwieldy amount of music, Grey Matter is expertly curated and sequenced, clocking in at a very manageable 65 minutes and sewn together by a cohesive, lo-fi/DIY aesthetic. The effervescent punk growl of “Cool Guy” from Vancouver’s Jock Tears is over far too soon, as is the toke-length garage-pop beach party that is “High Wasted” from Montreal’s BBQT. Like me, you’re sure to find musical revelations and new discoveries, like Winnipeg duo À La Mode’s curiously mesmerizing “Est-ce qu’on s’aimera”, the blistering punk of Calgary quartet The Shiverettes (“Justice Robin Camp”), or “Object”, the country-coloured lament by Saskatoon’s Quinzee Town.

Grey Records have hand-picked a veritable Canadian indie brain trust to generate this powerful, altruistic playlist (along with Boston’s Shepherdess, San Diego-based Soft Lions, and Tasmania’s Heart Beach). The concept of releasing a musical compilation to support a cause is nothing new. Projects like these commonly land in my inbox thanks to the relatively low overhead of digital downloads. Still, it’s rare that to find a project as artfully executed as Grey Matter.

Jim Di Gioia

CoFounder at DOMINIONATED.ca
Jim founded the music blogQuick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.

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