Creep Wave’s Winter Sucks: An Ottawa-Appropriate Review

April 7th, 2016 by  |  Published in Local Releases

Photo courtesy of Cait Powers

Photo courtesy of Cait Powers

The final throes of the winter season are always the worst. The weather’s temperamental indecision between February and May taunts us with stretches of sunny days, only to sucker-punch us in the gut a week later with snow and cold.

With a primary trait of pop-punk/garage bands being a celebration of sunny summer days backed by upbeat and feel-good instrumentals, long winters can often be the bane of their existence. This is a struggle that Ottawa power-pop trio Creep Wave are painfully aware of.

On February 1st, the band, consisting of Brittany Neron (guitar/vocals), Derek Muldoon (Bass), and Kieran McKinnon (Drums/Vocals), released a six-track EP on cassette, with the title saying what has been on most of our minds for the last three months: Winter Sucks.

Listening to Winter Sucks is like taking a handful of Vitamin-D pills. The pace immediately sets a tone of fun and leisure. With a running time of under 15 minutes, the tape is a great little pick-me-up of energetic and concise pop punk.

This isn’t to say that Creep Wave should be pigeonholed as “happy-go-lucky.” Though it is almost always true of the instrumentals, there are moments of contrast on Winter Sucks where the carefree guitar sound becomes a polarising backdrop to lyrics that deal with less-than-fun topics.

Since the release is so short, I figured the best way to approach it would be to do a track-by-track breakdown.

Cat Call

‘Why don’t you smile?’
Is the first thing I hear
Now that the summer weather is here.

Wasting no time at all, Winter Sucks starts off with Brittany addressing the issue of gender norms and, specifically, the pressures and expectations often put upon women regarding their physical appearance/presentation. Creep Wave tackles the potentially heavy subject matter with a snarky, humorous nature that is actually very disarming. This approach helps keep the band and the listener on the same level, the message a near-subconscious appeal. It’s definitely a strong opening track.

Start Over
For the first 40 seconds of this track, I thought maybe it was going to be an instrumental. That seems like a pretty long time to go without vocals, especially in punk music, but the section is still very pleasant and enjoyable. Once the vocals do kick in, we are introduced to the first moment on the EP to showcase vocals other than Brittany’s. The trade-offs are short and sweet, but add dimension to the song. I personally always enjoy a male/female vocal dynamic in any song.

Sick Note
At the half-way mark of Winter Sucks, we have “Sick Note,” which was definitely the standout track for me. The instrumentals are rough and fast, moving relentlessly forward with no regard for what might be in their way. If “Start Over” is just a taste of Creep Wave’s vocal-trade-dynamic, “Sick Note” is the main course. The pre-chorus vocals are harsh and dirty, and you can almost hear the coughing fits the guys must have had after their takes. Brittany doesn’t sit this one out, though, coming in with a catchy and amusing chorus with great lines like:

Adult life is such a joke
Work six days a week, still fucking broke
Spaghetti for every meal.

While there is no actual title track to the EP, “Outside” comes the closest to acting as one.

I wanna go outside
I miss the sunshine.

That could almost be considered the mission statement of Winter Sucks. The only issue I have with this track is that it feels like the band missed an opportunity to throw a fun little nod to the album title, with a song that very clearly shares the same sentiments.

Sad Weekends
While “Outside” laments being stuck inside, “Sad Weekends” relishes the idea. We’ve all had those weekends where the concept of leaving the comfort of home to go stand around at yet another party is just too daunting and anxiety-inducing to even think about. Brittany definitely gets this, making a good case for just staying at home with the dog. Sometimes you have to let go of the FOMO and just pass out on the couch watching Netflix.

*Note: A+ for the little ditty at the end of the track. Poop jokes + punk rock = winning combo.

Speaking of anxiety, the final track of Winter Sucks delves into this very relatable concept. “Anxiety” is a great closing track that has a coolness to it, much to the credit of the surfy guitar and vocal trades. I think it’s safe to say that the next time I find myself having a bit of an inner freak out, I will very likely hear Kieran’s yelling voice advising me to “pop a Xanax.”

Comments are closed.