Canadian indie rock/bummer pop outfit No Frills share their long-awaited debut album, ‘Downward Dog’. They have also shared a music video for the record’s last single, Darkhorse. Check out the video clip below via YouTube.
Speaking on their brand new record, songwriter Daniel Busheikin wrote:
“Downward Dog is, I hope, a fun and sad pop record with a deliberate irreverence. For me, it’s also a distillation of my unceding fear, cynicism, joylessness, self-loathing, existential dread and my other day-to-day hang-ups, and basically captures my entire life experience with comprehensive totality. Yes, I know that’s melodramatic, but I’m not trying to be heavy here! This project has actually brought me a lot of peace. Maybe it’ll even bring you some too.”
On No Frills’ debut record, Buskeikin calls himself names. He’s a bummer, a drip, a dog. It’s the latter that was embraced for the album’s title, ‘Downward Dog’ – a description of Busheikin’s general malaise, and a nod to the yoga position he attempts every morning as part of a positive mental health routine.
When Toronto shut down in the spring of 2020, Busheikin descended into his basement and encircled himself with guitars, vintage synths and a nest of guitar pedals. Six months later, he emerged with fifteen demos and a vague plan.
Given that recording with a full band was no longer on the table, ‘Downward Dog’ began by tracking only drums and bass to tape in Gavin Gardiner’s (The Wooden Sky) garage-turned-studio. With the digitized stems from those sessions, Busheikin started assembling the album in piecemeal. Bandmates Maddy Wilde (keys, vocals), Jonathan Pappo (drums), Matt Buckerrough (guitar, bass) and Mike Searle (bass) would sporadically drop in to record various riffs and rhythms and provide feedback. In lieu of a sensible engineer or proper recording equipment, Busheikin found himself leaning into bizarre production techniques. To get the ideal right vocal tones, for example, he sang wearing a KN95 mask into a microphone with a toilet paper tube taped to it.
The result is a memorable collage of lo-fi pop that filters themes of depression, despair and death through a sardonic sense of humor. Jangly indie rock and intimate ballads are woven together by warm analog production and a uniquely whimsical defeatism. Ice Cream Cone channels 50s crooners, while I Don’t Wanna Be Your Dog Anymore bobs along under a 90s college rock raincloud. Keyboardist Maddy Wilde takes lead vocals for the Stereolab-esque Copy Cat, a sugary number with gurgling synths. When the record draws to a close with the lo-fi lullabye Pancake, Busheikin tenderly offers a overtly simple reflection to conclude the journey: “that’s just normal life / it is nice / and it’s sad / and it’s the only one you have.”
‘Downward Dog’ track listing
02. Save the Bees
03. Ice Cream Cone
06. Copy Cat
07 I Don’t Wanna Be Your Dog Anymore
09. Common Folk
10. New Medication
11. Down For The Count
12. Terrycloth and Dirt
13. Everything Will Become Better
You can stream ’Downward Dog’ via Soundcloud below.
No Frills is set to play a number of shows this spring, including their album release show with Louie Short, DJ Ducks Ltd, and other special guests on April 16 in Toronto. They will also be playing a one-off show with Dorothea Paas and Poolblood on May 18.
NO FRILLS LIVE
^ with Louie Short, DJ Ducks Ltd, and Special Guests
* with Dorothea Paas and Poolblood
Apr 16 – Toronto, ON – The Monarch ^
May 18 – Toronto, ON – The Garrison *
More about No Frills
Therapists are very expensive. But writing songs is free. That’s why Daniel Busheikin started No Frills, a bedroom-pop project brought to life by a band of familiar faces in the Toronto independent music scene, including members of Hooded Fang, Twist, Rapport, and his own previous band Grounders. With songs about life, love, death and depression, the premise is bleak. But when imbued with Busheikin’s sardonic humor and wry self-awareness, the music is playful and inviting, tracing the whimsical desperation of someone trying to eke out a drip of optimism. No Frills’ forthcoming debut LP ‘Downward Dog’ (out April 2022) is a “pandemic record.” When Toronto shut down, Busheikin channelled his newly-acquired free time into writing songs and recording them piecemeal. Drums and bass were tracked to tape at Gavin Gardiner’s (The Wooden Sky) garage-turned-studio, and the rest in Busheikin’s basement where, in lieu of a proper engineer or high-end gear, Busheikin was creatively DIY. To get his ideal vocal tones, for example, he sang through a KN95 mask with a toilet paper tube around the microphone. The result is a memorable collection of lo-fi pop, ranging from angular indie rock to intimate ballads, woven together by warm analog production reminiscent of 50s crooners and early 60’s pop. No Frills has supported acclaimed US indie acts Chris Cohen and Jerry Paper, as well as local favourites like Kiwi Jr., Nyssa, and Ice Cream. They showcased at Pop Montreal 2019 and were slated to perform at (the cancelled) Sled Island 2020.