Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
It’s been a fast five years for 905 punks The Flatliners; between the skate-punk ska grit of 2005’s full-length debut Destroy to Create and the melodic maturation of 2007’s The Great Awake, the Richmond Hill four-piece toured far and long, got on board with the modern-punk institution Fat Wreck Chords label, and toured like crazy again. Without stopping, they stormed into Drive Studios in Woodbridge between their treks in 2009 and with all the fury and adrenaline that’d propelled them this far, and with producer Steve Rizun, recorded their recently released full length Cavalcade. Positive and playful, it unfolds at the relentless pace the band is accustomed to, but with even more melody, harder riffs, and with firmer direction—both in sound and mind.
As is standard in the Flatliners’ still-young career, Cavalcade isn’t just a mere aural shift, it’s a marked augmentation and a defining document at a crucial moment for the young dudes—a log of miles traveled, hours played, community found, and personal shit that certainly doesn’t escape the rock life bubble. It strays even further from the ska sound that defined the band’s early work (save the hurting, detached “He Was A Jazzman,” a tale of dying body and spirit), but the gravitation toward the gruff Midwest American pop-punk of bands like the Lawrence Arms or genre kings Dillinger Four showcases stronger chops in the Flatliners’ songwriting and execution. In his trademark growl, backed by a rousing chorus of support, vocalist Chris Cresswell’s refrain of “Live through, live strong/carry on and on and on/no more false-start life at traffic lights,” from the anthemic “Carry the Banner” (streaming above), summarizes Cavalcade‘s hopeful, restless intention in a hook so clear and infectious, you can’t help but throw your fist up in solidarity.
A cast of friends can be heard and felt all through the record, with the aforementioned Dillinger Four on “Bleed,” Cancer Bats’ Liam Cormier on the feel-good attention-grabbing opener “The Calming Collection,” some studio tinkering courtesy of NOFX’s Fat Mike, and classic gang vocals galore from an appointed Impenetrable League of Throats—featuring members of similarly hard-working nu-locals The Snips, Junior Battles, and defunct scene vets Hostage Life. A watershed for the band, Cavalcade is the celebratory seizing of a moment the Flatliners have definitely earned, and a must-hear snapshot of a band truly coming into its own.