Published on September 29th, 2022 | by Noah Dimitrie0
GreenWing – Late Bloomer
Saskatoon punks, GreenWing, have dropped their first album. It’s a relatable snapshot of a pandemic-era quarter life crisis from a band with nothing to lose.
“When you’re in the midst of a pandemic, it’s easy to sound grumpy,” quips frontman Matt Stinn as he and bassist Travis Williams pack envelopes with one-sheets for their upcoming album release. He’s referring to the formation of Greenwing, which could not have happened without the inevitable lethargy that came from lockdown. A project that began as a kind of make-work project, a DIY band in the truest of sense—they had nothing else to do—has evolved into a band that has a tremendous amount of emotional connection to their material. According to Williams the project was motivated by “the idea of accomplishing something in a time when people didn’t really think you could accomplish anything.”
Then you factor in the infectious pandemic melancholy. The aforementioned grumpiness. A nothing to lose attitude combined with inescapable self-aggrandizing. And there you have something that looks like Late Bloomer, an album whose title can help but invoke the kind of time warp we found ourselves in for the past two years. It’s not over when you turn 30 years old, sings Stinn on the title track. The drums and bass sort of sweat while he sings it, the subtext sounding like, “It fucking better not be.”
Dead Friends, a darkly reflective tune about falling out of friendships, follows suit. The lyrics are at their most playful, dripping with wordy regret about the past and the future. Stinn said of the song that it came from a mid-pandemic Facebook scroll, in which he was surprised to see that a longtime friend had gotten married and he had no idea he was even dating anyone. This set off a kind of wrestling match with acceptance, which is cleverly reflected in the song’s chorus. “Dead friends…I was one and I didn’t even know.” He smartly takes some of those emo buzzwords and flips them back onto himself, onto his existential crisis. Meanwhile the song just fucking rocks, carrying an electric pace. Williams and drummer Zakk Strelioff put their own spin on that driving, classic-punk core that, as Williams so lovingly puts it, “drives the bus.”
That’s an apt metaphor for the pace of this album, which is almost relentless through 8 tracks, save for the necessary slow jam Take Care which is almost a meta reminder for us to take a breather through this album. That may sound hyperbolic looking at the runtime, but there is a tangible energy to the tracks that could only really come out of something so existentially devastating and relatable as the pandemic. There’s a reason their live shows have been getting rave reviews; there’s a relatable ethos of “just keep trucking” that complicates their music and gives this debut a necessary jolt of momentum throughout.
If you like tongue-in-cheek pop punk bangers, the rest of this album is populated with irony-laden hooks like that of Ten Thousand Reasons and That Tour Sucked. Stinn mentioned The Dirty Nil and Pup as major influences, with their driving guitars and signature smarm. These influences show up as inevitable reference points that lovingly point to common points of connection within the genre. Stinn said he didn’t shy away from embracing the familiar as a way for the audience to relate back to the music. Well I think that strategy is paying off, as the album has a way of avoiding dullness while still being recognizable on multiple levels. I Wish I Wrote One Pixies Song takes that influences-on-your-sleeve mentality to a delightfully self-aware place. And Frustrated wraps things up by simply speaking truth to all the bullshit of the last couple years. Stinn screams “I wasn’t okay” and it’s undeniable.
Greenwing’s reputation as a live act has been on the rise in Saskatchewan since last year’s big re-opening. But with this debut record, they’ve not only tapped into that raw energy that has made their gigs so popular, but they’ve also created something deeper. They’ve finally solidified a lasting memory of each other, a tapestry of a wonky time and place where no one was okay. These guys got together and decided to do something about that, and now that things are getting back to normal, it’s becoming clear to more and more how instantly likeable that is. Late Bloomer has arrived after a kind of second coming-of-age for Matt, Travis, and Zakk. Three guys from the Prairies who are “no longer scared of growing old.”