Sound Advice: Bo Jackson/Kelly Gruber by The Carps
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Sound Advice: Bo Jackson/Kelly Gruber by The Carps

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 an outrage that The Carps aren’t a household name by now. After releasing two palpitation-inducing EPs (2007’s The Young & Passionate Days of Carpedia vol 2.1 and 2008’s Waves & Shambles) and opening for big guns like MIA and The Cool Kids, they’re still relatively small fish in Canada. Their smashing new digital 45, Bo Jackson/Kelly Gruber (out now on URBNET), just makes their obscurity seem all the more outrageous.
The Scarborough duo’s self-described brand of “punk rock with a gun to R&B’s head on the dance floor” fuses disparate parts so cohesively it’d make Voltron shudder. Think Death From Above 1979 doing the robot to old Funkadelic records remixed by Felix da Housecat while Michael Jackson grabs his crotch beside them. All that from two dudes, mind you! Their two new singles, oddly named after former athletes who had their heydays in the ‘90s, take a similarly hydra-headed approach, but rein in the punk pugnacity for more focused pop and electronic vibes.
“Bo Jackson” (streaming above) may be the closest thing to a radio-friendly love ballad that The Carps have ever recorded. Neil White pumps out an 8-bit arcade-like bassline complemented by a saccharine PolySynth countermelody, while Jahmal Tonge lays down a pitter-patter drum beat and slangs a hot soul chorus about being “the best thing you’ve ever had.” Meanwhile, “Kelly Gruber” (shout out to Toronto’s former most eligible bachelor!) mines electro-goth territory with spooky buzz-saw synths, a mélange of rhythmic samples and a big, propulsive beat somewhat reminiscent of Prodigy’s “Breathe.”
Though we’re in an age when everyone listens to everything, it seems The Carps’ severe multiple-genre disorder may be what’s preventing them from taking off in the Great White North. But if Bo Jackson/Kelly Gruber is any indication, their upcoming debut full length (currently being recorded at New York’s DFA studios) should be a narrowed-in, less scattered effort. And if that doesn’t work either, then all y’all are wack.