Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2020: #25 Gateway Drugs “Wait (medication)”

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Back on Cinco de Mayo, 2015, I went to see Swervedriver perform at the now defunct Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa’s Byward Market. I had been excited to see yet another re-formed shoegaze legend, but as much as I enjoyed their set, I found myself quite surprised to leave the show even more impressed by the opening act.

Los Angeles-based four-piece, Gateway Drugs, had only just released their debut album, “Magick spells” the month before, and they had already toured as support for noise rock and shoegaze icons Ride and The Jesus and Mary Chain. They were led by a trio of siblings – Noa (guitars), Liv (guitars), and Gabriel (drums) Niles – each sharing vocal duties, while the fourth member, Blues Williams, simply looked cool and accompanied them on guitars and bass. The quartet were all in black, leather, furs, and sunglasses and were playing a garage rock infused shoegaze that sounded at different points like early Dum Dum Girls, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I left the show with a copy of the aforementioned debut album on CD and duly fell in love with it. Its accomplished sound and the pop sensibility that lies just beneath the surface of all those roaring and screeching guitars could easily be traced back to the music surging through the veins of the Niles siblings (children of The Knack’s Prescott Niles).

I was convinced they were going to be huge.

But then, there was nothing but relative silence from the group for almost five years.

Fast forward to 2020, just a few short days after the WHO declared COVID-19 to be an honest-to-goodness pandemic and things started to shut down in earnest, a new Gateway Drugs single appeared, seemingly plucked out of the ether and there finally came the news of the long-awaited sophomore release. I say this last bit with my tongue firmly planted in cheek because perhaps I was one out of only a small handful whose interest hadn’t waned in the interim. This first single really got me excited and that was only multiplied by fifty or so when I learned that “PSA” was produced by The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner.

“Put myself on a leash, I’d stay
Kill myself just to hear you call my name”

Of course, that first single was none other than “Wait (medication)”, our song of focus today. I’ve read that Liv Niles has called it a reflection on excess, madness, addiction, and how “extreme highs give way to extreme lows.” It’s an apt Coles Notes for the jackhammer drum beat, crunchy bass line, clanging and twangy guitar screams, and the dual vocal assault by Liv and her brother Noa. It is a four-minute salacious stroll down the chaotic and messy trail blazed by the JAMC and the BRMC.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2020 list, click here.

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: Gateway Drugs “PSA”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Gateway Drugs
Album Title: PSA
Year released: 2020
Details: standard black vinyl, booklet included

The skinny: In a couple of weeks time, I plan to start counting down my favourite albums of 2020 and though I am still finalizing things up – crossing my Ts and dotting my Is – I know that there are a couple of albums that are definitely going to finish up just outside of my top ten that still bear special mention. And you guessed it, this might be one of them. In my opinion, it’s a travesty that Gateway Drugs’ sophomore album, “PSA”, aren’t likely to be on too many radars. I first met up with these indie rockers when I saw them open up for Swervedriver back in 2015 and was completely taken in by their sleek and sexy and pure rock and roll performance. The quartet is three siblings, Noa (guitar), Liv (bass), and Gabe (drums) Niles*, all of whom share and trade vocal duties between them, and a second guitarist in Blues Williams. This sophomore record picks up where the debut, “Magick spells”, left off, playing dirty poker for their very souls at the same table as Jesus and Mary Chain and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Here, they’ve upped the ante, though, handing over the production to The Ravonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner. This pressing is bare bones black with a pretty sweet mini-booklet included but the sound is built for your best noise cancelling earphones.

Standout track: “Wait (medication)”

*They may be tired of us mentioning it by now but the father of these three siblings is Prescott Niles, bassist of The Knack. Rock and roll might just be second nature here.

Categories
Playlists

Playlist: New tunes from 2020, part two

Back at the end of April, I posted the first part of this series, sharing with you all a playlist containing twenty-five tracks that I enjoyed during the first quarter of 2020. At that time, we were just five weeks or so into COVID-19 lockdown and had no idea what was going to happen or how long things were going to go on the way they were going. And well, we’re now nearing the end of July and we still don’t really have the answer to any of these questions. Restrictions have been relaxed in different parts of the world and we’ve had second outbreaks happen in others. We’ve been very tentative here in Canada. Slowly, slowly, slowly, we’ve seen some return to normalcy, albeit with some changes. Drive-in movie theatres appear to be making a comeback and leapfrogging from that, drive-in concerts. Masks are now prevalent and being made mandatory in all indoor public places. And of course, many of us are still working from home and really, seeing very little of other people outside of our own little bubbles.

Luckily for us, new music is still being released. Something to keep us occupied while we all stuck at home. I’ve (more than once) found myself wondering, though, if it, at some point, the music would stop coming. But no, at least not yet. Indeed, I would imagine that many of the tracks on this playlist were finished up during this crazy time and maybe even some of it recorded while in isolation. And when I get to posting the third playlist in this series, sometime in October, I feel like most of those songs will be influenced in some way by this new reality, whatever that will look like by then.

But before I get to much ahead of myself, let’s have a look at some of the highlights of this season’s playlist:

      • It all opens up with “Breathe”, the frenetic second track off Canadian indie popsters Born Ruffian‘s latest album, “Juice”
      • “The adults are talking” is a tune that I just can’t resist, the first in many years by The Strokes that has grabbed me right from the beginning and has yet to let go
      • One of my favourite Netflix series of late has been this British comedy, “Sex education”, and the soundtrack by Ezra Furman is just phenomenal and it finally saw a release this year, on which “Every feeling” is a standout track
      • I purchased I Break Horses‘s new album, “Warnings“, for my vinyl collection in May and it is quickly becoming one of my favourites of the year – just have a taste of “I’ll be the death of you” to see why
      • I saw and fell for Gateway Drugs when they opened for Swervedriver in 2015 and have been waiting for new material ever since, soooo… yes, “Wait (medication)” off this year’s “PSA” is very welcome and its production by Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner definitely doesn’t hurt
      • It’s been 30 years since Pete “Sonic Boom” Kember’s last solo album but the founding member of Spaceman 3 creates quite the groove on “Just imagine” and the rest of “All things being equal” is quite lovely as well
      • A lot is being made of Phoebe Bridgers‘ sophomore record “Punisher” by the critics and I cannot fault them at all – “Kyoto” is a fine example of her mature and intelligent songwriting

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist as I’ve created it:

1. “Breathe” Born Ruffians (from the album Juice)

2. “Pringle creek” Ellis (from the album Born again)

3. “Petty drone” Mystery Jets (from the album A billion heartbeats)

4. “Alexandra” Laura Marling (from the album Song for our daughter)

5. “The adults are talking” The Strokes (from the album The new abnormal)

6. “Every feeling” Ezra Furman (from the album Sex Education soundtrack)

7. “Decade” Harkin (from the album Harkin)

8. “Nites out” Other Lives (from the album For their love)

9. “Wake UP!” Hazel English (from the album Wake UP!)

10. “Anywayz” Austra (from the album HiRUDiN)

11. “Vegetable” Happyness (from the album Floatr)

12. “I’ll be the death of you” I Break Horses (from the album Warnings)

13. “Wait (medication)” Gateway Drugs (from the album PSA)

14. “Temple” Thao & The Get Down Stay Down (from the album Temple)

15. “Instant nightmare!” The Dears (from the album Lovers rock)

16. “Hollywood Park” The Airborne Toxic Event (from the album Hollywood Park)

17. “Is this a dream” Badly Drawn Boy (from the album Banana Skin Shoes)

18. “(Don’t break my) devotion” Jade Hairpins (from the album Harmony Avenue)

19. “Just imagine” Sonic Boom (from the album All things being equal)

20. “Cameo” Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (from the album Sideways to New Italy)

21. “Red western sky” Muzz (from the album Muzz)

22. “Riding solo” Hinds (from the album The prettiest curse)

23. “Kyoto” Phoebe Bridgers (from the album Punisher)

24. “Real long gong” Rose City Band (from the album Summerlong)

25. “Hot heater” Pottery (from the album Welcome to Bobby’s Motel)

And just as I said back in April: Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and continue to be well. Until next time, enjoy the tunes.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the other playlists I’ve created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.