Tusks – Total Entertainment
Tusks has been the human song vehicle of Samir Khan since approximately 2005. Coming of age in late 90s/ early 2000’s Canadian indie rock scene (Kepler, Snailhouse, Weights & Measures), Tusks has been relatively quiet of late, rarely peering above ground after releasing a well-received 6-song EP in 2008. Plagued with a bit of writer’s block, Khan contemplated letting the group fold after the departure of drummer Robin Buckley and guitarist Julien Beillard.
2010 saw a change of heart, with a renewed purpose and a willingness to build on a peculiarly unique take on pop rock. Along with collaborator Shaw-han Liem (I am robot and proud, Sea Snakes, Jim Guthrie Band), Khan invited drummer Steven McKay (Bruce Peninsula, the Steven McKay Project) and guitarist Jordan Howard (The Skeletones Four, The Magic, The Acorn, Cuff the Duke, and Jim Guthrie Band) to weigh in.
On Total Entertainment you hear a both a classic record collection and a forward-thinking sensibility, seething one moment, soothing the next. Here twitchy pub-punk and breezy jangle rock numbers sit with sparse ballads and left-field epic art-rock excursions. You hear ornate melodies and vocal arrangements and chord progressions that don’t always land where you expect. It’s rare to have a set of songs where the barnstorming attack of “Wake Them Up” will appear so comfortably beside the lush, feedback drenched swoon of “Little Pirouettes.” But Total Entertainment is the kind of album, where you’ll hear the echoes of everything from the Police to the Byrds.
Total Entertainment is all held together with Khan’s peculiarly diverse lyrical sensibilities. The title isn’t entirely ironic. Whether exploring the unspoken bonds between parents and children, or the fears of the upper crust, Khan pokes around the uneasy places “between the moments you want so bad/ and what you think you might need.” Taken in sum, the songs vacillate between wrenching sentiment, oblique observation, and bone dry humour, all from a perspective of people whose teenage years are well behind them.
Tusks will be playing in and around Eastern Canada over the course of the next year.