For 10+ years, Tropics functioned as Slim Twig's untethered id. While the thoughtful Toronto music veteran took apart and reassembled rockabilly, hip-hop and psych, Tropics was his place to unite with a seriously forceful drummer - Simone TB, most recently of Fiver/The Highest Order - and really lean in and make some noise. But Tropics were more of a live beast than a recording project, and they left us with just one 7".
Tropics haven't so much departed as evolved, shifted, expanded and mutated. And out of that transformation comes Darlene Shrugg, a new band made up of Simone TB and Slim Twig of Tropics, plus Slim's wife/artistic partner Meg Remy of U.S. Girls and both Amanda Crist and Carlyn Bezic of Ice Cream. It's a good chunk of Toronto's east end music scene in one band.
Where all of the members' main projects approach genre conventions - loosely art-punk, girl group pop and minimalist post-punk - from somewhat of an intellectual (and sometimes unsettling) distance, Darlene Shrugg is a place for straight ahead (but not too straight ahead) rock music. Their debut song, "Freedom Comes In A Plastic Card," which we've got streaming above, displays their new split vocal approach and their surprisingly danceable glam rock melodies.
According to Slim Twig (whose ID makes up the cover shot), the song commemorates a simple decade-delayed rite of passage: "It was written after I (finally) got my license," he says. "It's about being able to drive yourself to McDonald's if you want to."
Darlene Shrugg plays New Year's Eve in Toronto at the Silver Dollar with Horsey Craze (members of Constantines and Do Make Say Think covering Neil Young). Slim Twig/U.S. Girls are also playing a handful of shows in the new year:
01/15 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
01/06 Cleveland, OH - Happy Dog
01/17 Brooklyn, NY - Palisades
01/18 New York, NY - Cake Shop
01/19 Boston, MA - Middle East Upstairs
01/21 Montreal, QC - Bar Le Ritz
01/23 Toronto, ON - Silver Dollar