So soon, you ask? Yes! Time to once again grab our brother from the North Jonathan Petkau (Respectably Loud, Domestikwom, Spacekau and most recently the excellent Dudeist Priests) to cover the varied ground that is the new Shooting Guns LP…
Given their prolific output of splits and film scores of late, it’s easy to miss the fact that Flavour Country (no I won’t correct that spelling no matter how the red line in Microsoft Word tells me it’s wrong) is technically only the third full length from Saskatoon heavy psych band Shooting Guns. Whether inspired by their recent turn to film scoring or just concurrently alongside it, Shooting Guns this time expand their sonic interests while knowing when those ideas are sufficiently expressed. In other words, Flavour Country covers a lot of ground in its 34-minute run time.
The opening one-two punch of this album is probably the closest you get to that traditional Shooting Guns sound. “Ride Free” and “French Safe” almost immediately lock into a heavy, imminently headbang-able riff, and then stay there while various lead guitars and keys weave in and out to create that psychedelic vibe you crave. In some ways, they function in a similar way to how “Barn Burner,” the single from 2014’s Wolfcop soundtrack worked. It sets a tone immediately in a way that actually allows the rest of the album to branch out.
From there, “Beltwhip Snakecharmer” slows things down to a more leisurely pace, not entirely ditching the distortion, but cranking the reverb up, letting notes ring out into the night. “Vampires of Industry” goes even quieter and more atmospheric, substituting drums for the occasional percussion hit, and most of the guitars get replaced with church organs and strings. More than other songs here, “Vampires…” suggests finding a quiet spot of open country and watching the stars at night.
The title track opens with a sample of someone talking about the evils of work in a way that calls to mind older Godspeed You! Black Emperor albums, and then launches into a slow, noisy doom riff. The repetition and subtle variation does come back, but on the heels of the previous tracks’ quieter explorations, this song sounds fucking huge. Almost as a companion to that track, the closer “Black Leather Jacket” also goes full doom, with attendant soundscapes to draw your attention skyward.
The experience of listening to Shooting Guns is like going 140km/h down the Trans-Canada highway. You know that you’ve got a significant momentum going underneath you, but because the skies are open and the road is straight, you become transfixed by a still, unmoving scene. As your senses betray you, you become hypnotized, drawn to its grandeur. To extend the metaphor a bit further, Flavour Country is when that highway starts curving through the foothills.