New Music | Friday Roll Out: Samurai Banana, Miesha & The Sparks, Grandbrothers

The German duo of Grandbrothers never fails to surprise, but always in such a way that leaves you confused in an attempt to make sense of it all. It could be overthinking on my part but while many have noted the outfit as an electronic group, it’s easy to see it as something much different. The Grandbrothers have a wide pallet of colors draping over Late Reflections (City Slang) and while there is truth to the electronic aspect, one can’t help but think how well it would fare lumped together with some of the classical greats. The dueling pianos are rich with texture, and one can almost taste the flavors pouring out of these songs that leave you in awe after every listen. The songs have a clear sheen of pop sensibilities that’s undeniable while never relinquishing depth and fervor within the music. This is beautiful beyond belief.


Most music listeners have short attention spans, that’s just a fact. When the material doesn’t um, materialize quickly, well, people tend to forget with a resounding, “Who? Oh yeah, they released an album at one time…” Well, actually a couple of them but we’ll get to that. If you think about it really, listeners are a finicky bunch; couple that with spurts of silence and they scatter like roaches when the lights turn on. It happens.

After a five-year wait since releasing its last album Girls Girls Girls, the Canadian Miesha and the Spanks release its new Unconditional Love In Hi-Fi (Mint Records). One would imagine with such a lengthy stall in between albums, there might be an encounter with performance rust and the band wouldn’t be able to get to where it was prior… that may not be the case here. Given, Girls Girls Girls was a fiery release, filled with catchy hooks and melodies but this time around it seems the band has matured.

The 23-second opening salvo to “Dig Me Out”- which I’ll get to – entitled “necwiyéwt” is a statement, an apology to the native people for atrocities committed by Christian colonization. Interesting considering vocalist/guitarist Miesha Louis is mixed-Secwépemc, the Shuswap First Nation people that live in Canada. It offers light on the indigenous community. It’s commendable and doesn’t seem to infringe on the music. She continues to rock and shred, and for the last 5 years working with Sean Hamilton, the latest member of the group that’s possibly the most potent drummer she’s worked with. It’s not difficult to figure out Miesha and the Spanks, considering the outfit wears its influences directly on its sleeves, hiding nothing from the world. Runaways, The Gits, Stooges, and Bikini Kill are but a few the band lists and you know what? That’s ok because the Spanks aren’t some third-rate carbon copy of what’s come before them, no, it’s a continuation of what’s made those groups so amazing. But back to “Dig Me Out,” the band is ferocious in its attack with nimble percussion stopping at the drop of a hat, allowing for that dynamic shift. Miesha sings occasionally without the need for instrumentation with an almost spoken delivery at times. The track sets the tone for the release but gets better.

There are songs that simply hit differently because they’re filled with bounce and melody that may not explore new territory but do deliver with passion and the occasional vehemence. With “So Mad,” Miesha takes the power back and there’s nothing old out of touch white men can tell her to do. Her body, her choice, her mind, her decisions. All that coupled with an infectious melody that only gets stronger on “I Can’t Wait.” From the get, guitars fire off fiery riffs that get stuck in your head as soon as fingers burn against strings. This seems to be the year of Miesha because in between cooing backing harmonies she sings, “I can’t wait, I got a lot that I want and I wanna get it all.” Now, while it’s all done well and leaves a lot of wiggle room for the band to try different things, the shifting rhythm of “It’s My Year” is fucking downright anthemic! The Riot Grrrl in the band has been releases and will not be leashed. Rhythmically, the band is literally unleashed and it’s clear from its delivery, the power cannot be contained.

The band leaves no stone unturned and hot damn, they bring the rock. “GRLSROK” moves in a frenzy, and you might expect Lemmy to start singing but we get Miesha rocking, kicking the power boost of her jetpack. “Bear Kids,” is more autobiographical, with deep-laden stories of family and loss. We all feel it through the change in dynamics. For those that know, “Mom Jeans // Mom Genes” probably hit home in every household across the world. We all understand the changes gone through, as bodies shift from one direction to another and there’s sometimes no control over what happens. Miesha captures that in her words over the din of instrumentation here. It’s reality, as is “I Was Gonna,” which isn’t so much about failed dreams but more of a shift in responsibility. It’s punk fervor at its best.

One thing about Unconditional Love In Hi-Fi is, well, it doesn’t disappoint. Fans of the band will eat this up because it’s Miesha and The Spanks at its best. As for everyone else, yeah, you definitely should too.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Riding a current of instrumental music can be, um, tricky. In the last few years, we’ve seen a few releases that have stressed inventiveness and unconventionality while others have fallen short of even breaking the wall of mediocrity. It’s a skill set that some have mastered that has the ability to stand alone even without the need for vocal attachments. Fortunately for sound manipulator Samurai Banana, he’s had a wealth of experience with both. Samurai Banana has worked with a number of artists, from the likes of Guillotine Crowns, and Teddy Faley, to the Karma Kids, the NYC-based rap collective of which he is a member.

But it’s his reverence for manipulating sounds, creating a hodgepodge of measured tones incorporating samples to synths to theremins that probably sets his distinctive music apart from others. Samurai has released Just Tired (Uncommon Records), the follow-up to 2021’s Human Error, a release that isn’t difficult to grasp it’s filled with sounds that shouldn’t be able to go together. While not every track is layered with heady juxtapositions, the album may not be easily digested by some. That’s not to say Just Tired isn’t rife with interesting concepts and sound landscapes because this seems like another world altogether.

“Violent But Friendly” is layered with a distorted melody that makes way for another on top of it, with its plinking keyboard added in as well. Its lumbering rhythm is large and cavernous, as it begins to take a life all its own. There’s plenty of room for the delicate bassline which takes a backseat to the other tones that dominate. It’s Samurai Banana’s ability to lure listeners in with drawn-out imagery that’s alluring which he captures on the title track as well, creating a somber panorama free of melancholy. Strange, I know but it works. It’s when we get to “Demon Dancing” where things flip topsy turvy, with bizarro melody and scratching that seems to sometimes move in slow-motion, allowing us all to capture and bask in its glory.

Things do take a dark turn on “Shattered Glass” with its wordy sample revolving around murder and death. Musically, it maneuvers itself downward, spiraling out of control but fully focused in its approach. It’s deathly captivating but I think that’s the point. It isn’t easy to shut the album off at any one point because the songs all seem to be attached to one another, even if they move in opposite directions.

Unconventional is definitely the word to use for Just Tired, which is loaded with intricacies throughout the release. It’s a fascinating release that we shouldn’t take lightly. It’s never going to be the soundtrack to our lives, but maybe the soundtrack that heralds in the end of the world. And I mean that in the best way possible.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram