When a punk rock band that hails from Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada releases an EP on Jade Tree and is considered “indie buzz” at this year’s North By Northeast Festival, you know it has credibility.
For those who haven’t been to Regina, it’s incredibly boring and incredibly frozen during the winters, both brutal conditions to make music under. But you’d never guess it listening to Despistado’s debut EP; so much heated energy is spread over the EP’s five tracks that you might reckon the four members of Despistado would blend in with the sunny So-Cal crowd.
The Emergency Response brings a jubilant silver lining to all things emo — rainy days, bad moods, break-ups and ripped sweaters. The band combines and captures punk’s intrinsic upbeat-ness and the Tangiers’ quirky dance themes. The EP could cure depressed emo kids, and, when given the right opportunities, Despistado could rid the world of “emo-kid” syndrome.
Several things are at work here. If you listen carefully, Despistado isn’t being gimmicky by being so outrageous in their music. Instead, they embrace a style of angular, socially conscious punk rock, adding an extra measure of danceability and then running to new places. Despistado’s erratic, distant Robert Smith vocals paired with choppy, jittery guitars contribute to the punk feel, but the EP gains its groove from drummer Brenan Schwartz’s unique drumming and bassist Joel Passmore’s extremely adept and powerful command of the bass, which seems opposite to the usual strengths in bands.
Passmore’s thumping, pulsating lines bring charisma to Despistado’s sound; his absence would render Despistado hopeless. Songs like “Can I Have an Order of Girl with a Side of Confused” and “A Stirstick’s Prediction” would be dull without their formidable, funky bass work. Schwartz’s drumming is essential to the sound, as the hopelessly endearing gallactica on “Bubbles” comes straight out of his nearly tribal drumbeat.
Add all that to the willingness to play an intense show and you get what seems to be the Despistado motto: good music and healthy communities over status, ego and hype. Even in the coldest of communities, Despistado is something definitely keeping an eye, and ear, out for.