You probably already know Napalmpom – the band is nearly as synonymous with Calgary as Nenshi, oil money and chinooks. They call their latest release The Unconditional Love Of Napalmpom, and they might just have a point.
The local representatives of the Smile Rock movement, the album is already sold out on cassette, and their shows are usually packed to the gills (or at least to the fire code equivalent). It’s a great time to be Napalmpom, and they’re giving back the joy with the latest batch of music.
The tracks are paradoxically modern with a clear 70’s rock vibe, sharp and bright but nostalgically progressive. The first track, Guided By Volume, is a great example – a catchy, riff-heavy song with a peppy little rhythm that has the comfortably familiarity that comes with good rock music.
Beyond the influences of the golden ages of rock, many of the tracks seem to have their own narrative. Greg Ginn’s Sweater, for example, which I picture as bright, electric blue sweater with a Ziggy Stardust logo, but with the arms torn off for a bit of punk sensibility. This is the second best song about sweaters I’ve ever heard – yes, better than Weezer but just a hair behind Meryn Cadell.
The tracks also offer a hint of what a live show might be like. Feint of Heart is, on top of having a wonderfully clever title, a shining example of the sort of charismatic cheer that has made the band one of those must-see-live acts. Even if you can’t dance, tracks like this will have you shuffling awkwardly out of the corner of the room to join a joyous mash of merry movement, There are no wallflowers in Napalmpom’s world – their music is like a magnet for fun.
And, lest you think Napalmpom is a one-rock pony (and no one really thinks that), tracks like Ashes Ashes give you that big power ballad feel that pulls back and forth across a Ramonesque peak with a synthy strength to the chorus, before the lyrics snatch you back to the land of rock.
In the end, the whole of the album is perfectly representative of the nature of the group. Napalmpom National Anthem is a ode to a country whose greatest import is lighters for holding up at concerts, and who exports cigars and whiskey. A land of big arena rock shows, four day weekends and dive bars. Their Secretary of Defense is drummer Matthew Bayliff; Ian Baker, Craig Evans and Shawn Petsche are the judge, jury and rocksecutioner; and their president is P.J. Lavergne.
Want to take a vacation to this wonderful country? Watch for upcoming shows at on their facebook page. The album makes for an excellent tour pamphlet that shows you just how much fun a trip with Napalmpom can be.