With roots in Montreal, the band Cola was formed by ex-Ought members Tim Darcy and Ben Stidworthy. Evan Cartwright, an in-demand session musician and collaborator in Toronto’s vibrant jazz/experimental scene with acts such as U.S. Girls and Brodie West, joined after their first practice in 2019.
From their inception, they’ve expanded on the d.i.y. ethic of the Dischord and SST eras, creating potent sounds from a minimal palette of drums/bass/guitar and lacing their songs with winsome one-liners and societal commentary. What’s another word for commentary? Gloss, apparently.

The album’s title, The Gloss, comes from a line in “Bitter Melon”: “I’m up again/never was a night owl/studying, the gloss/it’s written in, to come across.” Gloss can of course refer to sheen and superficiality, but also thoughtful comment or criticism–the writing at the margins. Also, an archaic meaning: “unfavorable comments about something” feels correct for an album with a not insignificant dose of attitude. “Tense room, tuned in satellite/makeshift town crier evidence of life/There’s something they don’t know/Contact, brings on the show,” Darcy sprechgesangs on “Bell Wheel.”

The Gloss is almost like a play. Not a rock opera–no–but a performance where the music, lyrics, and changes in light come together to, at the risk of mixing too many metaphors, make some fool’s gold. There’s cranky dissonance for sure to be found in the more volatile chapters like “Pallor Tricks” and “Albatross,” with nervous rhythms desperately chasing different shades of distortion in search of equilibrium alongside some of Darcy’s finest lyrics: “I fetishize an ancient mind/To forget my albatross.”

One gets the sense that the members of Cola started this project because they enjoy making songs together. Like another beloved rock trio Acetone, the band sounds like 3 people in a room, seeing what kind of alchemy they can concoct . They are drawn together as much by their love of playing as by their appreciation for literature and films. They are thoughtful and referential guys and so they make thoughtful and referential punk songs.

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Based in: Canada

Represented by: Leoni Weber

Territories: Germany

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