PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Tangiers: Hot New Spirits

Adrien Begrand


Hot New Spirits

Label: Sonic Unyon
US Release Date: 2003-03-18
UK Release Date: 2003-03-24

While Canadian band Hot Hot Heat continues to win over fans and critics in America, and strengthen their hold on the ever-fickle title of It Band of the Moment in the UK, a little band from Toronto is quickly showing there's room for more than one group of Canadian post-punk revivalists. Tangiers isn't the usual band we've come to expect from Canada these days; Canada's musical exports as of late have largely been indie supergroups (The New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene), annoying hard rock clones (Nickelback, our Lady Peace), annoying teen singers (Avril Lavigne, Lillix), or even worse, annoying thirtysomething divas (Shania Twain, Celine Dion). Well, they're here to change all that. Tangiers' music is nothing but simple, choppy, high-energy rock 'n' roll music, sweat-soaked tunes that ooze sex. That's right, Canadians are fully capable of making white hot, sexy rock.

Hailing from Toronto, it's a good time for Tangiers to make people take notice of their music. The band's sound combines the high-energy Rolling Stones guitar riffs that The Hives excel at. They might have The Strokes' sport coat/shag hairdo/skinny tie schtick down pat, but unlike The Strokes' obsession with Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, Tangiers seem to pay homage to The Buzzcocks, Marco Moniz's stuttering beats mimicking the drumming of John Maher, and singer/guitarist Josh Reichmann's voice often resembling that of Pete Shelley. Throw in a contemporary, hyperkinetic garage rock feel similar to The Mooney Suzuki for good measure, and you've got one of the coolest Canadian debut albums to come out in the past year.

With 13 songs in a little over half an hour, not a minute is wasted on Hot New Spirits, the band careening from song to song, like a not-so-soused version of The Libertines. The frenzied pace of "Red Stone Rocks" opens the album, with Reichmann spewing indecipherable lyrics, like a New Wave version of Mick Jagger. "Keep the Living Bodies Warm", a phenomenal rock tune that easily ranks among the best singles of 2003 so far, matches the energy of The Hives' "Hate to Say I Told You So", but veers off into a slick harmonica solo that nails that Stones sound better than their Swedish counterparts. Both "Here Come the Pieces" and "Return to the Ship" (which boasts some cool organ added over the guitars) are blatant Buzzcocks rip-offs, but it's done so well, you have to just smile and enjoy it all, as "Return to the Ship" concludes with a catchy "ooh-ooh" vocal harmony. The wicked "Ca Va Cool" incorporates the punk sound of The Clash, while "One Thousand Hands" (dig those handclaps . . . cute) has Reichmann spouting some oddly nautical sounding lyrics in a voice that resembles Elvis Costello circa 1977.

Like The Libertines and The Datsuns, there's nothing really original going on with Tangiers. However, unlike The Libertines, Tangiers sounds like they can handle their booze, and unlike The Datsuns, they manage to keep things sounding relatively fresh over an entire album. The album comes to a brilliant conclusion on the last four songs, as the cheeky "Eyes Shut", the ska-punk infused "Kiss My Lips", the roaring, aggressive "Broken Leaf", and the stuttering "Situation" (S-s-s-s-situation/F-f-f-fight!") brings the festivities to a boisterous close.

Hot New Spirits has already been a big college radio hit in Canada this past spring, with an extended run at the top of the national college album chart, and there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to duplicate that feat in America. Tangiers is a band with a big future; they might not have a chic Manhattan prettyboy as a frontman, they don't have the massive big label hype like corporate rock frauds The Vines, and they don't have the NME proclaiming them as the latest saviors of rock 'n' roll, but unlike many of their peers, they have the songwriting skill, as well as enough musical chops to knock you off your feet. This album deserves to be big.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.