It’s a rite of passage in many suburban homes throughout North America and beyond, teens and tweens banding together in garages and basements across the nation setting up amplifiers, drum kits, microphones and guitars, plugging in and rocking out. Heck, there’s an entire genre of music dedicated to this very tradition. According to the Oxford Dictionary, garage is defined as: “a style of unpolished, energetic rock music associated with suburban amateur bands.” Oh coarse, not every suburban garage band has one of the world’s biggest teenage heartthrob television stars as its lead singer which Vancouver’s Calpurnia most definitely has in 15-year-old teen actor Finn Wolfhard, better known as Mike Wheeler of the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things”.
Coincidentally, all four Calpurnia bandmates, Wolfhard (lead vocals/guitar), Ayla Tesler-Mabe (lead guitar), Jack Anderson (bass) and Malcolm Craig (drums) grew up within walking distance of one another in the same suburban sprawl however it would not be until a chance meeting on a film set that the band would begin its embryonic journey. Craig and Wolfhard first met in 2014 during the “Guilt Trip” music video shoot by Toronto punk band PUP when Wolfhard was just 12 years old. Shortly thereafter the pair met up with Tesler-Mabe while attending summer music camp. Tesler-Mabe, herself a bit of a viral YouTube sensation with close to 10 million views of her guitar shredding music channel, later added friend and bassist Jack Anderson to finalize the lineup.
Like most aspiring garage acts, the quartet initially focused on covers, honing their craft learning how to play other people’s songs, sporadically performing live gigs whenever possible. By mid-2107, at the height of Wolfhard’s newfound fame as the rising young star of the smash hit show “Stranger Things”, Calpurnia uploaded a video of their version of “Wanted You” by Twin Peaks to YouTube and shortly thereafter were invited to play a glitzy star studded celebrity charity event in L.A. Finding themselves in need of some new original material it was decided around this time that the band needed to begin focusing their energies on writing their own stuff.
A longtime fan of American indie rock band Twin Peaks, Wolfhard ingratiated himself with lead singer Cadien Lake James eventually approaching him to produce their first recordings. The resulting 6 song EP Scout, released on Royal Mountain Records with the assistance of a Government of Canada FACTOR grant, was recorded over a period of 10 days in November 2017 at Twin Peaks home studio in Chicago, Illinois with Lake James serving as executive producer. Calpurnia’s 15-year-old lead singer Finn Wolfhard (born December 23, 2002) was just 14 years old at the time.
The result is a pleasantly fresh and effervescent batch of punchy upbeat underground garage pop constructed solidly around the strengths and talents of both Tesler-Mabe and Wolfhard respectively. Throughout, Tesler-Mabe displays real versatility, instinct and maturity with her tasty well placed guitar licks while Wolfhard holds down the lead singing clearly and legibly with confidence, style and charisma belying his actual age. Lake James has done a superb job arranging the young quartet’s material to play to their strengths, whipping up a cohesive set of bass, drum, guitar numbers augmented by pleasing harmonies (Louie, Wasting Time, City Boy) and evocative keyboard flourishes (Greyhound, Blame, Waves). All in all, a scintillating debut leaving no doubt the future can be theirs, if they want it. To be continued…
Star Rating: 3.5/5
2018 Song Of The Day Club Album Review 29/52