Sorry, I know we’ve all heard just about enough, but avoiding mention of the pandemic is not possible here — two of the three songs are directly about COVID-19, and proceeds from this 7” are going to help out venues in the UK and Canada. 

A collaboration between the Burning Hell and B.A. Johnston makes a surprising amount of sense. Both have a wicked sense of humour, and both are sharp storytellers adept at incorporating pop culture references into their respective yarns. Mathias Kom’s songwriting generally tends to be more high-minded, though Johnston’s stories of spending GST cheques at Giant Tiger or thinking he’s going to die after a bad trip at a Van Halen concert are no less memorable.

The Burning Hell’s contribution to this split is “I Want to Drink in a Bar,” a song backed by a simple keyboard melody as Kom vents his frustration at not being able to gather with friends. Though the song was written before most cities allowed people to drink in bars, his wish for things to be normal is a sentiment we all can relate to six months into the pandemic. Through the song’s four and a half minutes, he rhymes “Billy Ray Cyrus” and “coronavirus,” drops a Bruce Springsteen reference, and uses the phrase “hazmat battalion.”

B.A. Johnston has two songs on the split. The oldie, “I Want to Drink in a Bar Filled with Aliens,” was included for obvious reasons. Though not directly quarantine-related, it packs a lot of hilarious detail into 90 seconds, including Chewbacca killing a guy for singing something by Sublime. The other song is “Quarantine Supreme,” a song that makes a reference to the toilet paper shortages of early 2020 (thankfully long in the rearview mirror), but also manages to find some joy in being able to do whatever the hell you want when no one’s around to see you, including using your gut “like a dinner plate.” 

Perhaps around this time next year we’ll be able to drink in a bar (filled with aliens or not) with no repercussions or paranoia, but for now, at least we have this split 7” trying to keep those very same bars open until they can welcome us back.

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