Coming into an album with no preceding knowledge about its makers can lead to one of two things – forgetting it forever, or getting blown away. The latter is the case for Toronto’s Tusks’ upcoming album. I knew nothing of the man behind the project, Samir Khan, a guy who is no stranger to the Canadian music scene having been involved since the nineties. On account of lineup changes and writer’s block, the last few years haven’t seen much of Khan, but with new partnerships involving Shaw-han Liem (Sea Snakes), Steven McKay (Bruce Peninsula) and Jordan Howard (The Acorn, Cuff the Duke), he’s created an album for the masses. Entitled Total Entertainment it is exactly that, and due via Static Clang on October 23rd.
A great element of this Tusks record is surprisingly the backup vocals. Though subtle, they make a world of difference especially in opener “Little Pirouettes”, adding harmonious layers over a lazy rhythm and heavy bass, and in “Syllables”. The album seems almost chaotic in nature, beginning with swooping melodies, launching into poppy “Family Arms”, changing to energetic rock in “Wake Them Up”, adding some reggae flavour to “In the Beginning/Give It Time” and finally ending with an atmospheric piano dominated piece. Perhaps the title Total Entertainment is a reflection of this variety that makes listening to the record interesting.
The motivation behind Khan’s songwriting seems to be nostalgia without the longing. This may be an oxymoron, but whether he’s recounting the past or foretelling the future, he never fails to lyrically demonstrate honesty that’s often brutal. He doesn’t touch on, but dives headfirst into unspoken bonds, birthrights, and cremating a spouse. Perhaps most startling is this lyrics from closer “To See It Through” of words on a wedding day: “if you hesitate, well I can’t hold that against you just as long as you got the nerve to see it through”.
Fully crafted with attention to detail and the words all uttered with utmost truth, Tusks frankly deliver Total Entertainment. Tour dates and track stream/download located below.
10/24 Guelph, ON – Ebar
10/25 London, ON – APK Live
10/26 St. Catharines, ON – Rise Above
11/1 Toronto, ON – The Piston
11/2 Ottawa, ON – Raw Sugar Café
11/3 Montreal, QC – Casa del Popolo