I love musicians with a sense of humor, especially when they also make terrific music. Toronto, Canada-based foursome KNIFEY fills the bill quite nicely. Describing themselves on their Twitter page as ‘drinking and drunk at all the wrong places,’ they play high energy lo-fi surf rock with a healthy dose of punk. Bringing all this joyful noise to our eardrums are Max Trinz (vocals, guitar), Ammar Karam (drums), Kyle Marcovecchio (bass) and Phil Linton (guitar).
Photos by Mike Mangov
At the end of September, the guys dropped their debut album beached, a collection of eight exuberant tracks that will have you leaping about with abandon while wistfully remembering that summer romance and days spent on the beach. In their press info, KNIFEY explains that beached “is a window into the seemingly endless juggling of relationships and responsibility that is big city living. The songs were meant to be straightforward and honest, and the work’s essence is fun and upbeat. Lyrically, the songs cope with the trials of growing up, the coming and going of relationships, and express a weariness with the city’s hedonistic bar culture. Pervading both the sound and lyrics is a nostalgia for summertime and for the beach, and a reckless optimism that that simpler life might be just around the corner.”
It’s a short album, clocking in at a mere 21 minutes, but it packs a hell of a punch. Opening track “Beached Lightning” arrives with a burst of explosive percussion and a frenzy of gritty guitars. It’s a rousing head banger tailor made for a psycho beach party, and I loved it at first listen. The high energy level is sustained throughout the entire album, with no let up in the frantic riffs and galloping percussion. “Rio” serves up jangly surf guitars hovering over a bouncy bass line.
Next up is the hard-driving punk gem “Sophie,” the first single released in advance of the album. Max fervently sings to the imaginary Sophie, telling her he misses her and pleading for her to get back together with him:
I want to run to California, I need some energy in my life
I want to feel the beach beat, hear the drums pounding in the night
I’m never gonna make it there when you’re screaming in my ear
I’m falling to pieces baby, help me out here
The delightful video produced for the song features lots of pet reptiles at play, including lizards, iguanas, geckos, snakes and turtles, along with a few bewildered cats, dogs and burros.
“Serf” is a play on words, describing both the roiling surf guitar riffs and the singer’s desire to serve his girl. Punk rock grooves are abundant on “Weekend” and “Tanlines,” both of which feature some amazing rapid-fire riffage. “Summer Girl” is a great track about a summer love affair. The song starts off boisterous, but ends at a languid pace as Max sings about how good he feels when he’s with his girl.
“Long Lost Dreams” is the most poignant track on the album, with more of a rock vibe, thanks to an abundance of shredded and plucky guitars and heavier bass. The bittersweet lyrics speak to the sad realization that your dream relationship has ended:
You were fuckin’ living, I was out with the boys
Now I’m stumbling home to you with glazed-over eyes
Call me young and stupid, we all know it’s a lie
Are you done with your toy, are you done with your toy?
These are long lost dreams on a Saturday night
They’re all gone, they’re all gone…
The song symbolizes a return to the cold realities of life, and is a fitting close to the album’s theme.