It's perfect that The Deadly Hearts are having their album release on a Sunday at 4pm. The band makes the type of music that's evocative of the Sunday afternoon country matinees that used to happen at Gus' Pub. It's music that should appeal to the older VLT crowd as well as the youngsters who come to sip baby draughts at night. It's music you can move to while the sun is up.
When drummer Myles Deck and guitarist Craig Buckley initially conceived of the band about a year ago, they discussed an array of common influences: classic rock 'n' roll, rhythm and blues, psych, as well as newer bands like Timbre Timbre and The Sadies.
"The idea was not to play rock music that was loud and agro but the kind that would make you wanna shake a leg," Deck says.
They enlisted Scoop Outs bassist Ben Manuel and wondered about a frontman. Deck noticed that Gus' bartender Jake Thurgood was always playing good music in between bands' sets---The Cramps, The Sonics, classic soul. Bartenders at Gus' have an opportunity to see the Halifax music scene at its best and its worst---and the parts that are missing become quickly apparent. When Deck presented the opportunity to join a fun dancey rock 'n' roll band, Thurgood couldn't refuse.
"With this group of guys, everyone understood the music really well, and not so much effort was needed to shape the sound of the band," Deck says.
Perhaps their connection explains why their self-titled album captures that sound so perfectly. The songs were largely recorded by Buckley in the room at the top of the Khyber that used to be Ultramagnetic Studios, where Buck 65, Matt Mays and Joel Plaskett recorded the albums that made them famous. The band took the tracks to Graeme Campbell to be mixed. Drums were recorded at the Echo Chamber and The Shed on Prospect Road. "We did as much as we could ourselves, and passed it off to Graeme when we reached a point where we weren't competent," Deck says. "I gave a lot of 'advice' and Jake and Ben smoked some cigarettes."
The result is six bits of jangly, fuzzy sweetness. The album opens with "Moonwalk," with Thurgood singing in a wry Chuck Berry croon about travelling through space. Ghostly vocals from Ruth Minnikin give the song a warm creepiness, while Thurgood and Buckley's guitars spiral endlessly up into the rafters. There's also the cover of Jimmy McCracklin's "Wobble," which zips along with a Flat Duo Jets-style swagger, and closer "(Come Down Off Your) Space Horse," which feels like a surf version of a Sergio Leone composition. It's a short album from a fun band, and it feels beautifully well-realized. Deck gives a lot of the credit to Campbell. "He transformed it into something extraterrestrial," he says.
The Deadly Hearts are looking forward to their Halifax Pop Explosion debut. And Deck is determined to get one of their songs on Little Steven's Underground Garage: "It's been a goal of mine for quite some time."
The Deadly Hearts, Sunday, August 28, 4pm, Gus’ Pub, 2605 Agricola Street, $2/$6 album.