Something New: Learning’s Sophomore Album Drops This Friday
All praises to the circuitous nature of small-town music scenes. I grew up going to all ages shows in Saint John, NB. My crew and I were fixtures at Coastline Records shows in the King Street Showroom / Basement / Rum Jungle / whatever other incarnation of this arid venue I can’t even remember.
Most of the time it was to see hardcore bands, or super poppy punk bands. Rare was the show where I identified with every band playing. But even if I didn’t care about all the bands I never missed a show. You had to go. It was your community, and you wanted to be heard and seen and felt and appreciated. We always moshed, but I think we were celebrating the spirit of shared identity as much as the music we were hearing.
My crew was interested in a more emotionally vulnerable type of music. We had Isaac Brock lyrics in our MSN screen names, and we all owned the same Thursday t-shirts from West 49. It’s cool, I know I’m lame. But oddly I began identifying more with Saint John music in the years since I grew up and left the city. In particular, Learning’s debut album Culkin really hit me when it came out. The song “Burth” became the Built To Spill-leaning screed that bridged the gap between the local music scene and the music of my youth.
Sharktooth Records, Saint John’s greatest asset, is run by Stuart Buckley (who we interviewed last month), and keeps putting out really great records. Sharktooth is releasing Learning’s new record Dirger this Friday, July 24. We’ve embedded the first two tracks courtesy of their Bandcamp right here.
A few lyrics from “I Wanna Be A Behemoth,” track four off Dirger, really struck me as capturing the contradiction in both loving and wanting to leave the small city you grew up in. “My skull is patriotic, my skin crawls for success / and I’ll extend my crooked borders / and I will sail to you in a sieve.” Wishing you could both keep your squad together, while you move beyond your small town’s restrictions.
It’s odd as an adult to finally identify with the music being made in my hometown. My own demographic’s nostalgia cycle is coming around, and I’m already swept up in it.