(Photo Credit: Jason Quigley)
We had the opportunity to get advance access to Portland, OR based Summer Cannibals' new album Cant Tell Me No! Special thanks to Girlie Action for the access. Cant Tell Me No drops June 28, 2019 on Tiny Engines. Check out our track by track review below!
Advance Review - Summer Cannibals - Can't Tell Me No
"False Anthem" starts with ripping guitar and vocals from guitarist/vocalist Jessica Boudreaux. There's a certain element of punk or garage rock to it and I absolutely love it. For being the first song on the record, it absolutely kicks the door in! Thematically, the track is a call out for people who support people who abuse or promote toxicity. Especially in an increasing environment of accountability in the #MeToo movement, we have seen more individuals (especially musicians) held to account for their actions, while some will be steadfast in their defense of them. The title track, "Can't Tell Me No" feels much more alt or indie with it's melody, until the hook where Summer Cannibals absolutely unleash with distorted guitars in an in your face anthem. I absolutely dig it. Lyrically, Boudreaux seems to be kicking in the doors that have been shut against her. There are multiple instances where she sings of access being denied or having denied, until the hook where she sings "Can't tell me No".
"Behave" begins slowly immediately evoking thoughts of The Breeders. This song features distorted guitars again and nice breaks where there are bass heavy melodies. My god, did I mention The Breeders comp? I absolutely love this song. Boudreaux sings of not changing, trying to behave, and refusing to change for someone. Its about leaving relationships where they have become toxic or controlling. "Like I Used To" again has a strong tinge of The Breeders, which is a great thing. There is great use of guitar throughout the verse, before the song explodes to a fantastic hook. The hook has distorted guitars but they play much higher than the other tracks thus far. There's also a nice little solo about 1:20 in that I dug. This track is all about looking back on a bad relationship of some sort. The narrator doesn't cry like they used to, they don't fight like they used to, they don't pray like they used to, because without the other person they don't need to.
"Innocent Man" pairs strong bass guitar, leads, and drums so well. It calls back to more classic alt from the 90's. The chorus on this one is so unique with how it plays out, the timing comes out of nowhere compared to the rest of the track but it's masterful. There's also a great bridge that plays this track out. There are themes of power playing through this track which seems to be the case on a number of tracks on the album. This song specifically is about a relationship where the cracks begin to show.It's about physical and emotional abuse. Where innocent men don't need to throw things. "One Of Many" is another track that has a nice garage feel to it, with an extremely catchy hook and powerful leads at the end of it. On the verses we have prominent bass and powerful drumming. The track finishes out with some strong solos. The song is about wanting to be someone's only one, not one of many as Bodreaux puts it. Being the only one that someone goes home with at the end of the night.
"Staring At The Sun" features a bass heavy verse, with complimenting drums, and a tinge of leads. The chorus rocks but is melodic as well. Again we are reminded of The Breeders. There are themes of trust and judgment present in this one. "Start Breaking" again absolutely shreds with guitar and bass throughout. I loved the homemade harmonies present on the track as well. This song is about women making a stand in a male dominated relationship. To fight back against being held down. I absolutely love the message and dig the track.
"Hesitation" is perhaps the track most unlike the others on the album, at least musically. It is much more indie feeling than the previous entries, though the hook does have distorted guitars, the verse is much more abstract. This one seems more of a love song, finding that ability to care about another person and sharing it with them. Boudreaux does a superb job of conveying this message through her music. "Spin" features powerful melodic guitars with high leads. Boudreaux's vocals are the star of this track however, as she chants throughout the hook to a song that feels like a march rather than an alt song. It touches on being on the outside looking in at a toxic relationship Can't Tell Me No wraps up with "Into Gold", which features guitars that have somewhat of a slower melodic surf vibe to it. I'm absolutely on board for it. It doesn't have the punch of the previous entries on this album, but it's a beautiful tune and what makes it different is what makes it perfect to land the ship with for the album. It's about reclaiming the ability to love after toxicity in a relationship.
Closing Thoughts - Wow. Just, wow. My final reaction is that Summer Cannibals have entered a serious entry in for 2019's album of the year with Can't Tell Me No. Boudreaux carries a message that says she's tired of the bullshit and Summer Cannibals have produced some songs that are downright anthems for a movement. That's not to mention that they just flat out rock. The guitars are great, the bass is ever-present, and the drums help keep it all in line. The final product is something that is cohesive, diverse, and moving. With their newest release, Summer Cannibals have stepped up their game and certainly moved the needle for summer releases 2019. Well done.