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Post-punk quintet Blessed, who hail from Abbotsford, British Columbia, a farming town in Canada’s bible belt, have had a long, hard road to their debut album, Salt. The band, who’ve steadily risen through the DIY ranks of British Columbia’s Fraser Valley since their formation in 2015, will independently release their first full-length on April 5, reaching a new milestone in their fourth year as a band. Salt’s first single is penultimate track “Disease,” premiering right here at Paste.
Blessed make doom and gloom sound good, spiking their post-punk disaffection with new-wave touches, like rays of light let in to leaven the darkness. Drew Riekman’s vocals alternate between bitter despair and devil-may-care confrontation, while Jake Holmes’ punishing drums resonate in emptiness, bright synths and guitars interwoven over it all. “Hope for the disease to heal itself,” Riekman sings in the song’s closing moments, holding on as we all only can.
In the years leading up to today’s announcement, Blessed’s founding foursome hustled tirelessly to find a foothold in the larger music community, working their way up through the Fraser Valley’s sparse arts scene (the band’s bio describes their home as “a Lynchian setting that nurtures overt conservatism and covert creativity”) to build continent-wide connections, with only a single and two acclaimed EPs to their names. Their relentless touring efforts saw the band play 225 shows across North America, making appearances at festivals like Austin’s SXSW and Calgary’s Sled Island, sharing stages with the likes of Preoccupations, The Courtneys, The Austerity Program and Chastity, and earning the endorsement of fellow Western Canadians Purity Ring, adding a fifth member along the way.
It’s only fitting the genesis of “Disease” was as arduous as that of its creators: Blessed explain to Paste that, unsure of the single’s direction, they “created two versions of the song while recording it,” tracking dual iterations that were “structurally the same but with very different aesthetic choices regarding the sound design” with the help of Josh Rohs of The Avulsions. Blessed mixed their album—where else?—“in the middle of a lengthy tour, swapping headphones in the back of the van and during downtime between soundchecking and bands starting,” as they recall. When engineer Jace Lasek eschewed a version of the song that was “much safer, cleaner and almost completely devoid of effects in any form” and sent them the track you’ll hear below, they realized they were hearing “Disease” as it was always meant to sound. We can only imagine Blessed have more bold choices up their sleeves on Salt.
Listen to “Disease” and revisit Blessed’s 2017 Daytrotter Session below. You’ll find the band’s North American tour dates and the details of their forthcoming album further down.
01. Rolled In Glass
03. Purpose & Conviction
Salt Album Art:
Blessed Tour Dates
07 – Salt Lake City, Utah @ The Underground
08 – Denver, Colo. @ Nude City Relief Center
09 – Albuquerque, N.M. @ The Fly Honey Warehouse
10 – Denton, Texas @ TBA
13-16 – Austin, Texas @ SXSW
05 – Abbotsford, B.C. @ Rugby Club
06 – Vancouver, B.C. @ Red Gate
09 – Calgary, Alta. @ The Palomino Smokehouse & Social Club
10 – Lethbridge, Alta. @ The Slice
11 – Edmonton, Alta. @ The Buckingham
12 – Saskatoon, Sask. @ SK Indoor Skatepark
13 – Winnipeg, Man. @ The Handsome Daughter
15 – Fargo, N.D. @ The Aquarium
16 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ 7th Street Entry*
18 – Iowa City, Iowa @ Iowa City Gabe’s (Downstairs)*
19 – Madison, Wis. @ Art In*
20 – Milwaukee, Wis. @ X Ray Arcade*
21 – Chicago, Ill. @ Subterranean (Downstairs)
22 – St. Louis, Mo. @ FOAM
23 – Fayetteville, Ark. @ Backspace
25 – Nashville, Tenn. @ Drkmttr Collective
26 – Lexington, Ky. @ Best Friend Bar
27 – Cincinnati, Ohio @ The Comet
28 – Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Black Forge
(* – w/ Tunic)