I took this photo of Peter Sagar during the last day of this year’s Pickathon Music Festival, while the multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/composer was performing as part of friend and fellow Canadian, Mac DeMarco‘s backing band. That set marked his last show as a member of the touring lineup, so the group provided him with a fitting sendoff in the form a bizarre medley that included Rammstein, “Taking Care of ‘Bidness’,” The Beatles’ “Blackbird” (with Staind lyrics), and Tool, before Sagar leapt onto the audience, while rapping “Break Stuff” — the Limp Bizkit song credited with inciting the Woodstock ’99 riot — eventually, ending it all off with a cover of Shaggy‘s cover of Juice Newton‘s “Angel Of The Morning.” Mac and company cracked wise about Peter‘s departure, making claims that he had to move on due to having a serious condition known as being a “stoner.” When I caught the band with his replacement during the Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival, held the following month, they made additional jokes about how their previous guitarist had died tragically. The truth of the matter is that Sagar actually left to pursue a solo career under the moniker of Homeshake, with the project’s new LP, In The Shower being released last month on Sinderlyn Records — a sister label of Captured Tracks that also recently rereleased the debut album by Walter TV (consisting of Joseph McMurray and Pierce McGarry aka Mac DeMarco’s rhythm section).
In The Shower definitely presents some of the warbling guitar work, tone, and shimmering strums that connect Peter to his work with his buddy Mac, but with Homeshake, Sagar has undoubtedly cultivated a sound that is uniquely his own. Those new to his solo material will likely be eager to point out this effort’s noticeable stripped-down, even foggy production element, and while that sensibility remains on In The Shower, those that have been exposed to the type of content already available on his bandcamp page, may notice that the sound clarity of the new album has actually advanced quite a bit since last year’s The Homeshake Tape, without losing the intimacy and character of a bedroom recording that made it what it was. Although they exist outside of any rigid, cookie-cutter “indie pop” formula, these tracks do become catchier and catchier the more that you listen to them, as buoyant melodies slowly pronounce themselves, glimmering through the smoky haze that surrounds them like a shipwreck. Homeshake lays out some jams reminiscent of the smooth deliberate Caucasian soul grooves of the 70s, along with production that intermittently enters into territories that feel a bit like older Ariel Pink and, surprisingly enough, early Pure Guava and The Pod-era WEEN. Steamy reverb and syrupy, purple drank-sippin’ bass strolls lubricate the panties off these tracks like a chilled glass of fine chardonnay, providing a distinct sensuality to this album, not unlike a more sedated version of the Nagel-adorned-penthouse apartment, cocaine and barbiturate party vibe that Toro Y Moi dipped his toes into at moments on Underneath The Pine. But while it’s true that there’s some dreamy molasses lounge oozing out of this thing, there’s also some real life to it, as well as dimension and unexpected surprises — the last minute of the song “Chowder” mutates from a bouncy R&B bassline into a bleep-bloop sequence that sounds like a full-on outtake from the Raymond Scott compilation Manhattan Research Inc., chronicling the electronic pioneer’s work from the 1950s and 60s. Then there’s the cut titled “Michael,” a 1-minute 43-second instrumental jazz tune, and the track “Doo Dah,” which calmly drifts into the Bossa Nova waters of João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim.
The first time that I ever met one of my closest friends, Justin, it was when he asked me to buy one of his albums for one dollar at our high school. Shortly afterward, my mom picked me up to drive me to a dentist appointment and I popped the homemade cassette with the xeroxed cover of one man hugging another from behind, into the tape-deck. I’ll never forget when the keyboards rushed in on the opening track, “Cum On Me Baby“… then the lyrics; I ejected that thing 3-times as fast as I put it in. It was his first release that he created under the pseudonym of Mac Dawg — he would go on to release at least 18 more — and having recently taken a class on human sexuality at the local community college, he titled it Kinsey 6 (6 marking the highest rating on sexologist, Alfred Kinsey’s scale of homosexuality). Kinsey 6 may be one of the most exciting albums that I’ve ever heard, not only because this janky little 4-track gem introduced me to the concept of DIY and demonstrated that it was possible for someone my age to make something like that, but also because it displayed a strong balance between sincerity and a complete lack of pretentiousness. There was an undeniable level of absurdity to tracks like “I Like To Eat” or “Deathtrap 2021,” yet they were still genuinely infectious and tremendously crafted tunes. In The Shower locates and maintains a very similar balance, never taking itself too seriously, yet delivering the goods in an honest and refreshing manner. Plus, it continues to reveal something more on each additional listen. In fact, t’s running through my headphones right now as I write this and I’m enjoying it more than when I began typing out all of this rambling jive in the first place.
With the world at our electronic fingertips in conjunction with all of the goddamn press releases that we receive on a daily basis, it’s become increasingly unlikely that I will hear something that recreates that feeling of discovering something completely new, like a tape that someone put their heart into and made in their bedroom — somewhat ironic, considering that people are technically more capable of doing so now more than at any other time in history. The experimentation on this release doesn’t feel like it’s simply there to sound “wacky” or strictly for the value of the gimmick, but as an attempt to really discover what’s possible, both for Sagar and for sound in general. I for one am interested in finding that out, myself, as he does. Not that In The Shower isn’t a fully realized effort, but there’s something exciting about an artist who, themselves, are a work in progress; it just means that you’re welcomed in to witness the process and, with anyone that’s truly worthy of their hype, that evolution will hopefully continue indefinitely.
Two days ago, Homeshake released the video for the song, “Making A Fool Of You,” which this post was initially supposed to be about, until I began listening to the entire album and realized that I needed to give it a spin for a couple of days and, consequently, that I had a few more things that I wanted to say about it. As for the subject matter of this warp-funk slow jam single, Peter apparently describes it as, “…a song about how this one friend of mine had a girlfriend and I’m not so sure she had his best interests in mind. But that’s over now, so we can all breathe easy.” It’s the sort of tune that someone could really get a Lee Press On Nails handy to with Three’s Company playing in the background.
Check the video out below and then pick up In The Shower via one of the links underneath it.