Signing Sweetheart was something I hadn’t set out to do. In fact the first time I met Marty he gave me two copies of the “XOXOX” E.P. and I told him I’d keep one for myself and give the other to the “right” A&R person back in Los Angeles that I thought would “get” his band.
The thing was when I got back, I started listening to the record and then I just couldn’t stop listening to it. It was different and that was cool with me.
The songs were angular enough to keep my ear glued, lyrically it ran the gamut from self-hating introspection to dumb pop and melodically it soared in places I didn’t expect. Perfect. (“Hello there, Malcolm!”)
I stayed in touch with Marty and over Christmas of 2011 we got together again and talked for a bit about what he was doing with the band, I remember giving him some input about moving forward and told him “if anyone can do it it’s you, you’re just enough of a prick to pull it off!” However it wasn’t until I made a trip to Vancouver again at Easter that I was ready to talk about doing something with the E.P. because I felt the timing was right and that we were the right place for them.
After a short discussion it was agreed that Porterhouse 101 would put out the “XOXOX” E.P. and the band would start working on a new release for the future. I remember getting the contracts ready to send off and realizing that… wow! I’m signing a band and I’ve never seen them play live. That is completely unbelievable!
Come to think of it when I showed up at the band’s rehearsal space on Victoria Dr. in Vancouver for the first time to meet Marty, the guys had finished practicing so I really never saw the band play, not even once in rehearsal. When Marty sent me a link for a live video after the fact, my trust was rewarded… I thought about what I had told him at Christmas, I smiled about that.
Sweetheart sounds unique in way that only Canadian bands who have been exposed to a lot of English acts sound. This combination only works in that region of the world, and it never works the same way with American bands. There is a weird distillation process that goes on up there, but it makes for unique sounds and songs. Ask me about geographical regions and band’s sounds and I can go on for a while… it’s one of those pet subjects with me.
There are times when listening to “XOXOX” I hear the Undertones Fergal Sharkey fronting “Entertainment” era Gang of Four, at an Against Me! show. That makes what Sweetheart does work, at least for me… but hopefully for you as well.
Growing up in Canada probably gives me my own take on the band, but to me it makes sense, in the same way that the Pointed Sticks “Perfect Youth” record makes sense thirty years later.
Sweetheart has a debut L.P. on their label called “Map of the Human Heart” which sets up the bands core sound. The “XOXOX” E.P. is to the darker side of that release… and it leaves me wondering what the all-important third record will sound like. We’ll all be watching that develop closely. But for now let’s take a moment to enjoy this power pop indie rock nugget we dug up.
“Ladies and Gentlemen… Sweetheart!”