Hailing from Toronto, Ducks Unlimited are a jangle-pop quartet who recently teamed up with Spanish label Bobo Integral to release their debut EP, Get Bleak. Recorded in guitarist Evan Lewis’ bedroom, Get Bleak is a delightful collection of 80’s influenced indie, nodding to the output of labels like Flying Nun and Sarah’s Records; a sound that has already seen the band support The Goon Sax, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Weyes Blood, among others.
Across its four tracks, Get Bleak delivers a compelling introduction to the Ducks Unlimited sound, from the oddly upbeat sounding Real Estate-like title track, to the rapid fire surfy stylings of their Toronto tribute, Gleaming Spires. Perhaps best of all is the closing track Anhedonia, where the sweet guitar runs and prominent bass contrast with the downbeat lyricism, “if you’re ever in the mood to disassociate baby, give me a call”. The tracks on Get Bleak don’t focus on the good times, instead they offer a candid look at the everyday, an honest and compelling reflection on life, and thankfully one that sounds fantastic at the same time.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Ducks Unlimited?
We are a band from Toronto! We really like bands like The Go-betweens, Field Mice and Verlaines and so we sound a bit like them.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
Being very nervous! I hadn’t played in a band for a while and it had been a very long time since I sang words I had written in front of people. I think we played everything really fast but we felt ok about it. At least ok enough to do it again!
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
Inertia. I started writing songs as a teenager and then when I left home it became a way to keep up with the friends I grew up with (we used to have an email chain where someone would suggest a topic and a due date and then everyone from this group of friends would write and record something and send it in). Evan is quite good at visual things (he designed the EP jacket) but I’m useless with things like that so I’m stuck doing songs.
FTR: What can people expect from the Ducks Unlimited live show?
Dreadful banter! I’ve never really gotten the hang of it. I have one joke that sort of works but I’ve been doing it every show and I really need to retire it. Otherwise we are maybe a bit more like a punk band than we come across on record. No one is going to mistake us for Crass but we’re not quite as twee as we may appear.
FTR: What’s next for Ducks Unlimited?
More band stuff hopefully! People have been really nice about this EP so far which has come as a bit of a surprise to us, so we’ll be doing some touring behind it, and we’ll hopefully get over to the UK and Europe in the new year. We’ve got most of another set of songs written too so we’ll have to record those at some point. I guess we’ll keep doing what we’re doing until people make it clear that they’d prefer we didn’t!
They Listen To…
Beat Rhythm Fashion – Turn of the Century
My friend Chris played this for me a couple months ago and I’ve become obsessed with it ever since. It’s a gloomy 80’s gem from New Zealand. It reminds me of Cattle & Cane by the Go-Betweens or Pink Frost by the Chills two other favorites of mine that influenced our EP. – Evan Lewis
Felt – Vasco Da Gama
It was hard to pick which song from The Strange Idols Pattern And Other Short Stories album is my favorite. It has so many great songs! If you haven’t heard it you should check it out. Maurice Deebanks guitar playing is phenomenal. – Evan Lewis
The Go-Betweens – That Way
Evan is a very serious Go-Betweens fan, but I was only slightly aware of them when we started the band and “That Way” is the first song of theirs that really clicked for me. I love the distance of the lyric. The details are always at a remove, but it paints a very coherent picture of a mindset and a lived experience. The structure of the vocal melody in the outro is also so so cool! – Tom Mcgreevy
The Wake – Gruesome Castle
All of the Wake stuff that Captured Tracks reissued a couple years ago is good as hell, but I think this track is the stand out of that part of their catalog. I was obsessed with that synth pad that’s on every song on Here Comes Everybody, and tried to track something like it on the EP. We recorded keyboards on most of the songs but then took it out of the final mixes, which was probably for the best. One of my favorite things about this period of the Wake is how active and melodic the bass playing is. It’s often the lead instrument. – Tom Mcgreevy
Verlaines – Whatever You Run Into
Guitar music with orchestral arrangements is pretty much my favorite thing and Graeme Downes is the master of the form to me, though this song is actually pretty restrained by his standards. It’s a great example of this thing he does where he writes these really mean songs in the 2nd person, but if you listen to them enough you realize he’s pretty much always directing his ire towards himself. “You chase a dream and the same old story goes/like something throws you up in the air and you land in a public house” is a lyric I absolutely adore. – Tom Mcgreevy
Get Bleak is out now via Bobo Integral. Click HERE for more information on Ducks Unlimited.