Album Review: Give Up/ Smile & Nod

Give Up/ Smile & Nod is a split release that includes an EP from Calgary punk rockers Less Miserable and garage rock legends Detractions, respectively. Each of the bands has included 3 songs of absolute gold that compliments the others well. Both the bands have similar sounds yet, are different enough to keep things interesting. Less Miserable is a punk band founded by James Martens (Lead Vocals/ Rhythm Guitar) and Alistair McLeod (Drums/ Backing Vocals) who underwent some line up changes before finding Dan Wollach (Bass/ Backing Vocals) and Mackenzie Meding (Lead Guitar/ Backing Vocals) to form the unstoppable melodic juggernaut that they are today. Detractions were formed in 2012 by Nathan Iles (Lead Vocals/ Rhythm Guitar) and Jesse Gillet (Lead Guitar), with Shawn Savard (Bass) and Gus Rendell (Drums) joining after various line-up changes. Together they are a gigantic rocking robot sent from the future to save humanity from its humdrum existence with razor sharp rhythms and alternative crunch. Give Up/ Smile & Nod will be available digitally and on vinyl March 30th 2019 and is being released through Rhodehouse Record.

Give Up


Give Up is a world-weary commentary on today’s society that deals with the issues of mental illness, poverty, and recovery. From the first note, to the last, Give Up is like a sonic slap to the face that progressively gets heavier and heavier, each song a heartfelt punk-rock banger in it’s own right. The first riff of Don’t Dream Anymore hits you like the drunk guy in the mosh pit that you didn’t see coming. You are smacked into a wall of sound that engulfs you fully and leaves you wanting more. Debts Doubts Discouragement is the punk rock ballad of the broke, the disheartened, and the disillusioned that is extremely relatable and all to real. The final song, Not Drunk, Just Dizzy, will make you feel a whole mess load of feelings, as the screeching guitars and the punchy drums help to tell the tale of addiction and recovery- if it dosen’t you might be a robot (but hey, that sounds pretty cool). The technicality of the instruments combined with the authenticity of the lyrical content give you three songs that will make you want to scream “Fuck Yea!” as you pump your fist in the air and sing along.

It’s music first- Always. I don’t think I’ve ever written lyrics first. If the music is banging, I can paste some lyrics into a song. But I do try to make the lyrics good. The first thing is always the music and I’ll write lyrics to fit the music.
— James Martens when asked about the importance of lyrics

Smile & Nod

Smile & Nod is made up of songs that are ferociously fast but are still able to hold on to their musicality. It deals with themes such as relationship insecurities, reveling in personal struggles, and questioning your personal faith. Detractions have mastered the art of rise and fall as dreamy piano interludes give way to fantastically frantic guitar solos and thundering drum breaks. The opening bass line to Dead Churches is funky and fun, it is able to maintain that groovy foundation while still being heavy with crunchy distortion and face melting guitar riffs. The driving drum beat on Creepshow sets the tone for the rest of the song as it comes in hard and fast, it does not take its foot off the gas until the final note reverberates into the ether. My Own Sacred Path finishes off strong as it explodes forth into a psychedelic surf rock jam session that is an absolute treat for the ears. Smile & Nod will keep you guessing throughout, just when you think you have it figured out the guys will flip the script on you, taking you for a ride through unique time signatures and tactful silences to a place of auditory excellence.

I think we really wanted to make a statement with this set of recordings. Our sound has evolved considerably. So when we found out we were going to be doing a 3 song split we wanted to pick 3 songs that made that statement. We’re different now and this is sort of whats to come in the future.
— Nathan Iles

If you would like to know more about Less Miserable and Detractions, and all of the effort that went into producing Give Up/Smile & Nod, check out Groove Talk episodes 65 & 66 (Posted Below).