Sound Tracks: "You Can't Wear Suede in The Rain" by Betty Burke
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Sound Tracks: “You Can’t Wear Suede in The Rain” by Betty Burke

Believe it or not, music videos still exist. Sound Tracks trolls the internet to find the best and the worst of local artists’ new singles and the good, bad, or otherwise noteworthy visuals that accompany them.

Exactly two years ago today Betty Burke played their first gig. Since then the band—named after cunning fugitive Bonnie Prince Charlie‘s cross-dressing disguise—has been playing small rooms, benefits, and magazine launches. But there’ve been no songs or videos released, save for a rough demo on their MySpace page. That’s all changing this month with today’s premiere of “You Can’t Wear Suede in The Rain,” which will be on an EP released at the end of the month, recorded by James Bunton (Ohbijou, Light Fires).
Betty Burke is the brainchild of Maggie MacDonald, who’s been entertaining and provoking Toronto audiences for a decade as the frontwoman for in-your-face outfits Barcelona Pavilion and Republic of Safety, one of the most spirited members of the Hidden Cameras, and the playwright behind rock opera The Rat King. The lineup for Betty Burke has solidified into a trio with fellow female rock veterans and multidisciplinary creators Jo Snyder (Sixty Stories, Anthem Red) and Sheila Sampath (CN Power, The Airfields).
The video, written and directed by MacDonald and Joseph Clement, is “a queer homage to Marian Engel’s novel Bear, the controversial story about a woman working alone in Northern Ontario, which won the Governor General’s Award for fiction in 1976.” Shaun Brodie plays an ill-at-ease office worker who escapes the city to a snowy hinterland; there, he’s rescued by a cabin-dwelling stranger, who he falls for in a brief and passionate affair.
Featuring cameos by Toronto personalities, including former mayoral candidate Keith Cole as one of Shaun’s chatty office mates, the short film also contains some gorgeous sequences, including a pulled-perspective shot of Shaun crossing Dundas Square, and a rash flight through the woods. The song itself is a sparse and lovely affair, with the ladies’ vocals and a strummed guitar dominating. We’ve seen Betty Burke rock a little harder live, but this is a great introduction to the band, and a promising start of creative output from some women with track records in multiple fields.

Video launch party: Saturday February 5; email [email protected] to receive invite information.
Dirty Mouth of The St Lawrence River will be released by Blocks Recording Club on Tuesday February 22; release party (with guests Evening Hymns) Friday February 25, Holy Oak Cafe.

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