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INTERVIEW: DIAMOND RINGS

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If I wasn’t getting called a faggot I honestly don’t think I’d be pushing the envelope far enough.

Acid washed denim. Rainbow coloured war paint. Anthematic new wave. These are the things that Special Affections are made of. Hailing from Oshawa, Ontario, John O’Regan has made a name for himself as the shimmering, gender-bending artist and epicentre of Diamond Rings. With a strong penchant for retro basketball attire and a love of David Bowie, Regan seamlessly weaves together all the best artifacts of the 1980s. Although he’s probably best known as the bespectacled guitarist in techno rock outfit The D’Ubervilles, Regan’s solo work shines as vividly as his bejwelled name implies. The 25-year-old gave us some time to talk about his debut, which was released October 26th.

You’ve been described before as a gender-bending glam rocker in the same style as David Bowie. How have you been received in the hipster-heavy music scene in Toronto?

I don’t really think about Toronto being a hipster hotbed as much as a great place where my friends and I live and work on our art and music. The whole concept of something being hipster is fraught with so many contradictions that I try to avoid thinking about it altogether. The ultimate in cool is being yourself and not giving a second thought to whether or not you’re going to end up as a “Do” or a “Don’t” in the Sunday style section. Toronto, of course, is one of my favourite places to be myself.

A lot of musicians who wield an original, unusual genre often get stereotyped. Have you had to break though any particular stereotypes, or felt misunderstood?

My entire life, really. I think everyone feels as though they can’t relate at some point in their lives, and expressing those feelings openly is what Diamond Rings is all about. I cut a fairly striking figure when I’m all dressed up so obviously I have to deal with homophobes and jerks all the time. That’s part of the process though, challenging others by first challenging myself. If I wasn’t getting called a faggot I honestly don’t think I’d be pushing the envelope far enough.

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cool disco, but lyrical no-go


mood swings
small sins
boompa records

The Small Sins recently released their second album, Mood Swings as a follow-up from their debut eponymous work from 2006. Based out of Toronto, the quintet rocks out with groovy, contemplative electro-typical songs not unlike a marriage between Death Cab and Grandaddy. In fact, several tracks such as “I Need a Friend” and “On the Run” sound something fresh off a Postally-Serviced musical venture into popular synth mash-ups. This whole album seems to capture that trend, blending together the unlikely wishy-washy complaints of unrequited love and catchy, upbeat synth-pop. In fact, Mood Swings seems to unravel the cool veneer of the aloof, dance-mystique, with lyrics such as “I’m thirsty like a diabetic,” showing that altogether draining feeling of ineptitude and personal emotional incompetence. At the same time though, the lyrical component is certainly lacking in Mood Swings – peaking at “On a Mission,” the tunes deliver that plurality of emotions in being feeling utterly rejected, but the lyrics don’t back it up at with the same integrity. On the whole, this album moves in one direction only – a euphonic but mindless expression of the broken hearted. But maybe that’s the point; love reduces the rejected into a droning, monotonous verbal plane. Indeed, just like how frontman Thomas D’arcy lethargically relates, “we’re all tired all the time.”