Folk music can be dark. Singers have told tales of murder and disaster since, well, forever.
In that context, Kevin Maimann and the Pretty Things isn’t that weird. But the local band’s music can still make you rethink your idea of folk: songs that mock love or conjure nightmare visions of monsters, war or hell.
Maimann is a different beast in person, though, punctuating a lot of his sentences with a big smile or a laugh.
“I’ve never been very good at expressing myself to other people,” he says, sitting in a Garneau-area restaurant with his drummer Matt Handfield. “For me, music is the only way I’ve ever been able to get that stuff out. My music tends to come off pretty dark—although I don’t think I come off that way in person at all.”
That blackness saturates the band’s self-titled debut EP. Maimann’s claustrophobic, often acoustic, guitar playing paired with the drums and bass bedrock from Handfield and Jake Cooke comes off like a super dark Violent Femmes. The four songs were recorded at Edmonton’s Sound Extractor studios, with the band going hi-fi with more electric guitar overdubs than Maimann’s solo 2014 debut, Death Perception.
For the EP, Maimann brought Cooke and Handfield, his Pretty Things, into the fold in a permanent way. The three have played together in local bands since they were in high school, most notably in the thrash-metal group Ways To Kill. More recently, Maimann played in local experimental darkwave band Look Away before its members parted ways last spring.
You might also know Maimann from his other gig as a music and news writer for the Edmonton Sun, where he’s interviewed hundreds of bands. He says that experience has taught him one important thing: don’t be boring.
“When you get 50 press releases a day from bands, you’re not going to pay attention to another group of dudes in plaid shirts standing in a field, describing themselves as indie folk,” Maimann says. “It’s made me more aware of the need to stand out.”
His music certainly does—nothing in Edmonton sounds like it. That, says Handfield, translates to the live experience.
“It can be weird—and that’s Kevin,” Handfield adds. “Kevin can be a wild character on stage: he’ll stare you dead in the eye while he’s playing and shredding.”
Fri, May 1 (9 pm)
With Cygnets, Catgut, Blood Bitch