White Lung: Unapologetic Canadian Hardcore

(Crossposted from MTV Iggy, 6/11/2014)

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Name: White Lung

Where They’re From:  Vancouver, British Columbia

When They Started: 2007

Genre: Punk/post-hardcore

For fans of: Hole, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Nü Sensae

Sounds like: A giant cauldron full of boiling, green resentment

Is there really that much reason behind Canada’s reputation for breeding the most timid, non-confrontational people in the world? Especially while movements like Idle No More clash with the contentiously austere government of Stephen Harper? Every now and then the supposedly temperate country purges itself of its angst not only through political movements, but in bad ass, angry-as-all-hell musicians. Following the radical punk legacy of Vancouver bands like D.O.A. and Submission Hold, at the forefront of the current Canadian wave of rage is Vancouver’s White Lung.

Given how long it’s been since aggressive, unforgiving women in music have met favorable recognition by both music critics and radio stations, listening to White Lung is much like that first gasp of air when surfacing from a warm, muddy decade of sexist repression. Since their 2010 debut, It’s the Evil, the band has been circulated widely on CBC radio, honored at Canadian Music Week Indie Awards, and racked up tour dates from Europe to Australia. And yet throughout their ascension into international stardom, they remain true to their feminist fury, most especially in their third upcoming LP, Deep Fantasy.

The dissonant squalor of Hole’s 1991 debut Pretty on the Inside comes to mind as White Lung’s stepping stone, from which they elevate themselves to the post-hardcore punk heights of AFI’s The Art of Drowning. Reflecting on a vast array of complicated issues like drug addiction, dysmorphia and sexual power struggles, vocalist Mish Way delivers every word with a scalding conviction, tapering off each verse with a bitter twang. Even when she’s at her most despondent, as in “Face Down” or “Just For You,” there’s still a hint of deep vitriol in Way’s voice that guarantees her vengeance, someday.  Anne-Marie Vassiliou bolsters Way’s temper with a ceaseless, calculated battering of thrashy beats. Meanwhile Kenneth William threads each song together with shrill, metallic tendrils of post-hardcore guitar stylings, in a similarly angular vein as the iconic J. Clark of Pretty Girls Make Graves, but beefed up by dense layers of distortion and bass. If White Lung’s new noise is any indication of how the rest of the decade will go, I welcome it with open arms and steel-toe boots.

Deep Fantasy will be available in its entirety on June 16 via Domino Recording Co.

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