Headshrinkers – Be Still
There’s a radio playing in our head, Radio Station NST: Non-Stop Thinking. Our mind is filled with noise, and that’s why we can’t hear the call of life, the call of love. Our heart is calling us, but we don’t hear. We don’t have the time to listen to our heart. Even if we try to be in the present moment, many of us are distracted and feel empty, as if we had a vacuum inside. — Thich Nhat Hanh, Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise
Humankind seemingly seeks to bury itself under an avalanche of distractions. Not content with our original day job of occupying a rung on the food chain – eating woolly mammoths and being eaten by saber-toothed tigers – we had to fill our downtime painting pictures of our adventures on the walls of caves. Fast forward a few millennia and we post our every exploit on the cave wall of Instagram, share our most uninteresting thoughts on Twitter, and generally attempt to fill every second with mental noise.
The cacophony follows us into our dreams. Where once we required an alarm clock to awaken us, we can now be retrieved from the deepest sleep by the soft ding of an incoming text message. We stare at our phones as if at any moment the Meaning of Life will be revealed on a device held in our hand; in previous incarnations we assumed a stone tablet would be required for the task. But our attempts to fill our lives create instead a spiritual vacuum in which doubt, fear, and anxiety are allowed to prosper.
With ‘Be Still,’ Headshrinkers gives voice to the disconcerting dilemma of disquietude: the attraction of noise and the need for quiet. ‘The song represents the sort of dichotomy between loud and soft, a sort of whiplash song that pulls you in and out of the thick before you can fully register it and kind of twists and warps you when you’re in it,’ they told us. ‘There’s something unsettling brewing in its core, but I don’t think we really know what it is, just that it’s there and it’s causing a bit of a ruckus.’
But the problem with our mental ruckus, the swirl that sucks the fun out of life and the life out of fun, is that there is no smoking gun, no one to blame except perhaps the undead ghost of Steve Jobs that still stalks our existence.
we all came home
and found them stung
nothing good and nothing ever fun
we all came home
and found them hung
nothing evil and still no gun
‘Be Still’ awakens the way every good rock song should: with eight bars of riffing guitar. Bass and drums kick in to create a solid foundation beneath a vocal that echos in from a distant room. The track alternates shoegazey melodic patches with blasts of guitar histrionics and actual kick-in-the-overdrive solos. The result is three minutes of highly listenable punkish metal of the bluesy variety, shades of a past era when every band was fronted by a gunslinger on guitar, with voiced overtones of more recent introspection.
Based in Toronto, Headshrinkers comprises Nick Densmore (drums), Daniel Brackenbury (guitars, bass, production, and art), and Thomas Fulton (vocals). The band self-describes as fake-slacker dream-rock. That’s an accurate description of ‘Be Still,’ with the dream and the rock competing for attention. The band has released six songs since last November, and seems to be gaining some local traction playing live dates around Toronto.