When the Calgary Flames entered the 2010-2011 season, coach Brent Sutter had two goals (no pun intended): (1) Improve his team’s record from the previous season (which he did), and (2) get the Flames to the playoffs (which he did not). When Calgary resident Reid Blakley graduated high school in 2010, he had one goal: Start a band (which he did). The moral here is that perhaps it’s best to stay focused on one goal and one goal only, and with determination, you’ll (possibly) succeed. If Coach Sutter had focused on just winning regular season games, maybe he would have taken the Flames to the playoffs. Sure, I’m being hypercritical, but here’s the facts: Sutter lasted one more season coaching the Flames (which was his last year in the NHL) before heading into the junior league. Reid Blakley, however, is still making music with the same project he started (around the same time Brent’s brother Darryl, who had no other brothers named Darryl, was fired from the GM position of the Flames) nearly seven years ago…
While the Flames were getting extinguished during the era of the “Sutter Sputter”, Reid was busying himself recording demos Dave Grohl-style. Weaned on the smirk rock of They Might Be Giants, Barenaked Ladies, Jonathan Richman, and Oingo Boingo, Reid channeled these influences into his songwriting and his sound and christened himself as the Plodes. He would take his compositions on the live circuit as either a solo act, or with whatever drummer he could find that wasn’t engrossed in the “You Can Play Like Neil Peart” instructional DVD series. In 2011, Reid moved to Vancouver (where Alain Vigneault was leading the Canucks to a much better season than the Flames) to attend college. That next year, a full-fledged Plodes line-up was assembled with the addition of bassist Freya Cirulis and drummer Mat Turner. With the inclusion of Alexa Fraser on accordion, tracks were laid down, resulting in their 2013 release “A Foot Was As Long As…A Foot!” In 2014, Freya left, so Mat took on the bass duties while new drummer Gemma Goletski joined the fold, and they recorded/released the “High Five Every Animal” EP that same year. Shortly after, the Plodes were forced to go the Black Keys route when Mat and Alexa resigned. Undeterred, Reid and Gemma released the “Water! Tree!” EP (which included a cover of XTC’s “Science Friction”) in 2016. Then, the Plodes became “The Plode” when Gemma left, sending the plot back to square one. Taking it all in stride, Reid held steady, and decided to rebuild the band from scratch, recruiting Jackson McDonald on bass and Evan Matthiesen for the drummer’s throne.
With the assembly of the current line-up, Reid and his new cohorts have crafted an album full of punchy, garage-flavored powerpop that’s infectious, smirk-inducing (like Reid’s fave bands), and possesses a feel-good attitude that’s needed for these nerve-wracking times we’re living in. “Have One Of Our Nice Yellow Boxes” is the most polished and professional sounding Plodes record to date, thanks in large part to Evan who’s also a recording engineer (and moonlights with Fall Fair Car). Jackson is no mere amateur neither, as he’s also a member of synth pop punkers Timing X and has spent time with several other area bands. Their musicianship comes in high and tight to create one incredible party platter here that includes zero daft tracks. The good times start with the toe-tapping instrumental “Denny’s Steak Dinner” then leading into the catchy rocker “While I Was Sleeping” which finely displays the amusing songwriting that’s become the Plodes’ trademark. “Don’t Know Better” comes in as the third track, and if you haven’t been reeled in by now, you have no soul, buzzkill! Things get really interesting on the fourth track, “Tight Tight Tight”, in which the guys mesh a Danzig-era Misfits style with their garage pop sound that is just pure joy (and repeated with delight on the tenth track “Chain Of Command”). “Seth’s Drugs” is a flat-out punk jammer with head spinning instrumentation, complete with manic vocalizations, that’s begging to be performed karaoke-style. “I Wanna Be Your Zygote” has to be one of the best (and bizarre) love songs ever written (you MUST listen to the lyrics), that would have been perfect on a Valentine’s Day edition of Dr. Demento’s program. This collection of intelligent and comical tunes are definitely recommended for fans of They Might Be Giants, the Feelies, and Violent Femmes, and it will surely make you want to become a Plodes completist. “Have One Of Our Nice Yellow Boxes” will hit the streets and interweb highways on August 26.
“While I Was Sleeping”:
“I Wanna Be Your Zygote”:
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To pre-order “Have One Of Our Nice Yellow Boxes” and purchase their other releases, head over their page on Bandcamp.