Tusks has been the human song vehicle of Samir Khan since approximately 2005. Coming of age in late 90s/ early 2000’s Canadian indie rock scene (Kepler, Snailhouse, Weights & Measures), Tusks has been relatively quiet of late, rarely peering above ground after releasing a well-received 6-song EP in 2008. Plagued with a bit of writer’s block, Khan contemplated letting the group fold after the departure of drummer Robin Buckley and guitarist Julien Beillard.
2010 saw a change of heart, with a renewed purpose and a willingness to build on his peculiarly unique take. Along with collaborators Shaw-han Liem (I am robot and proud, Sea Snakes, Jim Guthrie Band) Khan invited Steven McKay (Bruce Peninsula, the Steven McKay Project) and Jordan Howard (The Skeletones Four, The Magic, The Acorn, Cuff the Duke, and Allie Hughes) to fill in with the guitar.
On “Total Entertainment” you hear a both a classic record collection and a forward-thinking sensibility, seething one moment, soothing the next. Here be twitchy pub-punk and breezy jangle rock, sparse ballads and left-field epic art-rock excursions. You hear ornate melodies and vocal arrangements and chord progressions that don’t always land where you expect. It’s rare to have a set of songs where the barnstorming attack of “Wake Them Up” will appear so comfortably beside the lush, feedback drenched swoon of “Little Pirouettes.” But Total Entertainment is the kind of album, where you’ll hear the echoes of everything from The Byrds to Fugazi.
“Total Entertainment” is held together with Khan’s peculiarly diverse lyrical sensibilities. The title isn’t entirely ironic. Songs navigate wrenching sentiments and bone dry humour, all from a perspective of people whose teenage years are well behind them. Whether exploring the unspoken bonds between parents and children, or the fears of the upper crust, lyrics poke around the uneasy places, “between the moments you want so bad/ and what you think you might need.”
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