The evolution of High Heels Lo Fi has been a strange and wonderful one to behold. Years ago, I found myself in the back of Toronto’s beloved Cameron House, watching a duo with guitars deliver songs about drinking and clever commentary on the male-dominated rock arena. Over time, the half of the pair known as the sassy Cynthia Gould took the act, shook in a strong flavour of old school arena rock and built Toronto’s official drunk rock band.
What is drunk rock, you ask? For those familiar with the antics of Richard Cheese and his band Lounge Against The Machine, you’re halfway there already. For the unfamiliar, imagine if “Weird Al” Yankovic wrote all original material while utterly drunk for three weeks and listening to The Runaways and Kiss for inspiration. It’s a simple equation, really: rock music for and about drinking. Sex, booze and one night stands: High Heels Lo Fi cleverly capture the scene with tongues planted firmly in cheek and asses possibly hanging out of their stage outfits.
On their first full-length release, Apéritif For Dysfunction, High Heels Lo Fi offers up a mix of straight-up rock, coy come ons, affection for cocktails and, oh, yes, a cover of the theme song for The Littlest Hobo, just because they can. Shaken and stirred up, the trio of Cynthia Gould, Mandy Wells and Doug Lea are here for a good time (and a long time, if you keep the spirits flowing… and talk the bartender into not throwing everyone out for rowdiness).
Opener “You Win Again, Tequila” is an album highlight, with Cynthia belting her way through a love song for the ever-aloof yet alluring tequila. It’s a song I’ve sung before, although I’m a bit of a bar floozy and serenade vodka, peach schnapps, wine and yes, tequila. I like variety, alright? And yet, no matter how often it breaks our hearts or makes our heads pound, we keep coming back for cock-cock-cock-cock-cocktails! So sayeth the rousing “You Can’t Lose With Booze”, another stand-out for its wordplay and joie de vivre.
For the women seeking empowering sing-alongs, High Heels Lo Fi’s got ya covered. “Girls Get Loud” is a rousing throwdown against those who believe it impossible for women to rock hard, with its apt yet raunchy “You don’t need a cock to rock!” message. AC/DC’s typical fare is turned on its head, complete with a call for girls on stage. “What Girls Want” is a sonic bitchslap for the so-called “perfect guys” pledging promises of candlelight dinner and walks on the beach — the dating overachievers who don’t understand how to keep it simple. I can’t help but snicker at lines like “we don’t care about your cars/your bank account, your hockey scars/don’t care if you come from Mars /we just wanna hear guitar” because seriously, it’s truthful. Maybe Plenty Of Fish should licence this one for a commercial? Then again, maybe OK Cupid should ring the band as well, since “How Small Is It?” seems a fun way to shoot down the so-called “nice guys” who decry the “friendzone” and other nonsense. Can you embed a song in a profile there?
In a moment of Richard Cheese-esque win, a cover of The Littlest Hobo‘s theme song “Maybe Tomorrow” sprawls out for nearly 4 1/2 minutes, including a melding of genre breakdowns like porno funk, adult contemporary and dubstep, amomg many others. And yes, it’s just as much fun live to watch Doug in particular keep up with the percussion shifts.
In bringing up the live show, it has to be said that with a band like this, where the stage antics are as crucial as the tunes, it’s difficult to capture the full experience on a studio recording. High Heels Lo Fi does an admirable job on this end, keeping things a little raw and playful. The production also feels true to classic old rock albums in that it’s not overly smooth, autotuned to death or artificial in any way. How refreshing (like a martini)!
High Heels Lo Fi isn’t out to win a Juno for artsy lyrics and they’re certainly not going to sell out and write twee pop for the mainstream masses. They’re here to remind you that music can be clever, fun and decidedly vulgar, yet still come off endearing and sweet. It’s a message worth hearing — loudly.
Highlights: “You Win Again, Tequila”; “You Can’t Lose With Booze”; “How Small Is It?”; “Maybe Tomorrow”
Final Grade: A-
To celebrate the release, the band is concocting “Cabaret at The End of the World” on the last night on earth, December 20th at Rancho Relaxo, 300 College Street. Although they are pretty sure the Mayans were lyin’, they’ll roll with any excuse for a cocktail party—especially if it involves a sinister lurking host, go-go dancers, a hula hoop act, and features the world’s only lounge-punk band, Conflicting Plaid. High Heels Lo Fi are playing two sets, one at the beginning of the night, and a second at the end, once the cocktails have taken effect. Oreo cookies will be served.
Visit the High Heels Lo Fi website here.