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Friday, July 19, 2024

Halifax pop band Casual Cries For Help releases their debut full-length album

Been A Mess/Still A Mess represents a culmination of the band's eclectic style.

For singer-songwriter Deves Matwawana, imposter syndrome has been an ongoing struggle. That is about to change for the Casual Cries For Help frontman as the Halifax pop band releases its first full-length album, Been A Mess/Still A Mess.

It tells the story of a guy figuring out the world, loving music, loving his friends and realizing what that means. – Deves Matwawana

“There are still times when I don’t feel like I belong here, but I feel much better about my place,” says Matwawana. “Hearing other people in the industry say that they’re seeing the growth and like what we’re doing also gives me a little more remedy to stop the imposter syndrome.”

Initially formed nearly seven years ago, naming the band Casual Cries For Help was almost accidental. Originally called Consensual Hugs, the name was a placeholder for a last-minute gig Matwawana filled in with his vocalist and guitar-playing wife Keats Conlon and guitarist Gene “Geno” Huh. When it came time to film a promo video for that gig, the pressure was on to come up with a new name.

“But I couldn’t get the name right; the words just wouldn’t come out of my mouth,” says Matawana. “This word vomit, ‘Casual Cries for Help’ came out and I was like, ‘Oh no. That’s not what we agreed upon.'”

Despite some initial reservations, the name Casual Cries For Help stuck. “We’ve thought about changing the name a couple of times, but if you Google Casual Cries For Help, we’re the only ones that come up because it’s a crazy name,” says Matawana. “So it just worked.”

Casual Cries For Help
Casual Cries For Help

Defying easy classification, Matawana describes Casual Cries For Help’s sound as “acoustic pop meets Michael Jackson, with a splash of Barenaked Ladies and Maroon 5.” While it may sound like an unlikely mashup at first glance, it points to the evolution of the band’s music.

“As we’ve added band members, they’ve all added something cool, such as Geno’s classic rock or our drummer Evan [Toth-Martinez] channelling his metal roots,” says Matawana. “It has become this mishmash of different things where the only way to describe our genre is pop because it’s a little taste of everything. We’re very much a rock band on some songs, a funk band on some and folk on others. But because of how we do it, it all sounds like the same band and I really dig that.”

Been A Mess/Still A Mess represents a culmination of the band’s eclectic style. Acknowledging that the album is somewhat auto-biographical, Matwawana describes it as a celebration of his experience as part of Halifax’s open mic and karaoke scene.

Been A Mess/Still A Mess is available now on many streaming platforms.
Been A Mess/Still A Mess is available now on many streaming platforms.

Supported by Music Nova Scotia’s Artistic Creation Program, the album features songs that span Matwawana’s life, from his teenage years to his early thirties. “The first song on the album is one I wrote when I was 13, and the last one is from when I was 33,” he says. “It tells the story of a guy figuring out the world, loving music, loving his friends and realizing what that means.”

A self-described “pop Aficionado,” Matawana has always appreciated the eclectic nature of the genre and how “adventurous pop can be sometimes.” But his love for pop music extends to other elements of pop culture, including being the artist behind the band’s album art and a comic strip that details the band’s origin story and the Halifax music scene that influenced them.

“I’m a huge comic book geek,” he says. “I very much love a good story, and I like to integrate that into a lot of my work. Casual Cries For Help was where I could finally combine all my loves into one thing where I could design most of the album art, posters and our merch.”

Casual Cries For Help has a busy summer ahead with several upcoming performances, including a Canada Day show and an album release party at Casino Nova Scotia on August 16. Matwawana is also looking to their next album. “Collaboration is what I feel made me better,” he says. “Having met so many great musicians and singers over the years, I want to do an album that would collaborate with at least one other [artist] on each song.”

You can find more information on Casual Cries For Help on its website, casualcriesforhelp.ca. You can also follow them on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube or listen to the band’s music on Spotify, Bandcamp, and Apple Music.

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