Feel free to cancel Christmas, my present came early with Gregory Pepper’s new single “I’ve Got a Bottle.” Pepper is Canada’s should-be favourite curio pop songwriter. Master of styles, piquant tunesmith, a clever with words guy, Pepper never fails to deliver the goods. But I have to say, it’s been a while – too long. Pepper took a year to write a song a week during 2017-18 while weathering the loss of his father, arrival of a baby daughter, and driving the occasional snow plow. But now the word has come down that a new album of Pepper tunes – I Know Why You Cry – will drop in the new year. I can’t wait! Seriously, waiting is not my strong point. But in the interim you have this delightful dollop of Pepper pop craftmanship. Enjoy, and get ready for a fab Pepper-stravaganza coming to this station sometime this February.
Gregory Pepper is no stranger to Poprock Record. We’ve lauded his early work (“Gregory Pepper is not a problem”), tested the audience reaction to his many changing moods (“The Pepper challenge: Classic Greg versus New Greg”), and included his tunes on themed blog posts (“Celebrity poprock: What’s in a name?“). We’ve even shamelessly name-dropped him and his talents when we’re featuring other artists. But now we can offer you more, much more – a veritable ticket to Pepperland! Now you can see inside the creative process of this superlatively talented artist by joining his Song of the Week Club on Patreon or Bandcamp. Every Friday Pepper posts a new song and the website features Pepper sharing insights into his creative process, answering fan queries, and trading quips with the creative people who’ve signed up to support him.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’ve seen these sort of crazy K-tel-esque offers before and they just seem too good to be true. Oh, it all starts off nice but after a few weeks of genuinely new material the whole operation degenerates into live album outtakes and crude demo tapes. But hey, would I steer you wrong? As your poprock curator I’ve already sampled the goods and I can assure you everything has an address on quality street. The Song of the Week Club got its start July 4 with the anthemically timely “Going Back to the U.S.A.” Since then he’s produced 14 wholly new poprock gems. By special permission from the head Pepper himself, I can showcase some of this new material here to whet your appetite.
Only 14 songs into his 52 song odyssey and already the wide range of material presents too much choice. But the four songs below I think give you a sense of what Gregory Pepper is doing. The songs capture his musical dexterity, sublime lyrical creativity, and sense of fun. “Sublime Sun Tattoo” has a late 1950s, early 1960s melodrama pop sound, with a lyric devoted to exploring Enya’s possibly castle-fed loneliness. “Worrier Spirit” has very Elvis Costello melodic subtones circa Punch the Clock to my ears. I love the way the guitars charge out of the gate, only to drop out with the vocals, the great pulsing organ, and the theramin/Quinn Martin Productions sound that appears at the three-quarter mark, capped by a cool James Bond chord ending. It’s the little details that make these such melodic masterpieces! “Give Yourself a Hand” has a great swinging feel with sweetened vocals that add just a touch of light to the desperate drabness so typical of a bachelor party trip to the strip joint. “Two Speeds” showcases Pepper’s mastery of different stylistic eras, with some nice Merseybeat touches, particularly the guitar riff and the overall song structure. I gotta stop here or I’ll give away the store. Sublime Sun TattooWorrier SpiritGive Yourself a HandTwo Speeds
And the price? Just $4 a month for a new tune every Friday. That is some crazy bargain. Of course, you can always offer to pay more. Hustle over to the Patreon or Bandcamp sites and sign up today – you won’t regret it.
Gregory Pepper is a poprock songwriter and performer extraordinaire. He specializes in writing short, punchy, hook-filled masterpieces on bizarre and/or hilarious topics.
The Pepper challenge is a taste test to determine whether you prefer Greg Classic or New Greg. Compare Pepper’s two different versions of his recent tune “This Town” to see what we mean. The song’s lyrics continue to develop some of his longstanding themes: a comic fascination with the macabre, the dead, and a dated horror movie sense of panic. But the two treatments of the song couldn’t be more different. The Greg Classic version from his recent EP Ghost is clearly sweeter with a predictable edge, naughty but still nice to curl up with on a hot summer day or crisp winter night. But the New Greg version from the just released Black Metal Demo Tape album has its charms too. Uber cool in a mascara-wearing, post teenage goth sort of way. Greg Classic will have you humming in the shower. New Greg might make you want to write depressing poetry and hang out in ill-lit, dilapidated buildings. Both are acceptable motifs for today’s hook-obsessed hipsters.
Is there really a need to choose? No. But it’s fun making you go through the motions. Anything that draws potential fan interest to the multi-talented Gregory Pepper means our job here at Poprock Record is done.
Gregory Pepper is based in Guelph, Ontario (which might explain a lot). Check out his video of the Greg Classic version of “This Town” which recuts scenes from the Breakfast Club into a synched up, dance-a-thon. And don’t forget to visit Camp Pepper, where you can peruse his artistic and musical endeavours in a pleasant, web-based environment.