Fresh Pepper - 'Fresh Pepper' VinylLABEL: Telephone Explosion
Beyond whatever mood is likely struggling to be sculpted by the house playlist, restaurants are full of their own natural music. Porcelain and cutlery clatter in bus bins like little medieval battlefields; the chatter of patrons smears into a single stormy texture; the kitchen staff hollers and chides as their own chosen music competes for the ear of anyone walking to the restroom; the churning and hissing of the dish steamer leads the assemblage of sounds that leak out from the back of house to and cling to a diner’s subconscious. The fact that restaurants employ so many hustling musicians, whose entire lives are centered around sonic sensitivity and awareness, is either grand irony or total synergy. Toronto outfit Fresh Pepper, led by longtime friends Andre Ethier and Joseph Shabason, playfully navigates the mental and emotional mark left on many musicians by such places. Their self-titled debut is less concerned with their service-industry traumas, doldrums, and setbacks than it is with creating a relatable space for album’s contributors to fully be themselves within the ease and freedom of having similar histories. Shabason, Ethier, and company recount their culinary past lives across eight jazzy and benevolent tracks that exude their authors’ sheer enjoyment of the creation process. Though the mental image of restaurant inner workings might trigger a mix of urgency, weariness, and yearning for a better livelihood, Fresh Pepper recolors these frazzled scenes with fondness and levity, exorcizing past workplace woes through skillful musicianship and an earnest, slightly bizarre sense of humor.