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Minks kick out the fun 

With a new album High Kicks and a 10-week continental tour ahead, The Stolen Minks make noise outside the garage.

Gathered around food while shooting jokes and giggles back and forth, it's obvious The Stolen Minks are a band that appreciates fun times. There are very few pauses in conversation as they talk about all that's led to the release of their second full-length album, High Kicks. They wouldn't seem out of place as kooky-yet-cool characters in a John Waters film like Hairspray. But where the girls in that movie were left dancing to the music, these ladies would be the ones inspiring all that tail-feather shaking.

It was in part the wild dance party vibe of Hairspray that helped inspire the group to make punchy rock 'n' roll that has an ear for the past while also sounding fully in the now. High Kicks is a big leap on the raw power scale, with wildly fuzzy vocals matched by screaming guitar and bubbling rhythms that allow the band to take off and never look back over the course of 22stellar minutes.

It's an energetic listen, and it benefits greatly from the production of their old friend Dave Ewenson, who recorded the album for them at Echo Chamber in Halifax. He was one of their earliest supporters, hosting a Tuesday evening open mic at Stage Nine where the band performed some of their first sets. "Dave's been our music friend for as long as we've been a band," says bassist Tina Johns, who plays in the Minks along with former Coasters Stephanie Johns (no relation), Rachelle Goguen and Erica Butler.

Being a band specializing in garage rock, the group had strong ideas about how they wanted the production to sound for the new album. "We put a lot of effects on the vocals to make them sound 'crappy,'" says Tina, attributing this idea to the musical taste of guitarist Steph. It was Stephanie in fact who made producer Ewenson a mixed CD to provide some pointers on what they were looking for. The buzzy vocals of Jay Reatard, Coachwhips and the Carbonas are definite points of reference when listening to sassy tracks on High Kicks like "North End Strangler" and "Reflexes."

"We put a lot of effects on the vocals to make them sound 'crappy.'"

Vocals weren't such a pressing issue when the band first got together almost five years ago. Following the demise of the Chitchats, a band that featured Stephanie and drummer Butler, The Stolen Minks were initially an instrumental band. Their skills were still developing at this point, so focusing on their chops was a good start. "You're just playing and not having to worry about singing," says Stephanie.

She says once they realized what a good singer keyboardist Goguen was, trying to be an instrumental band seemed unreasonable. After spending their early years recording both their own songs and covers by the likes of Link Wray and Roger Miller, the Minks have now come out with their first album of all-original material. Like on previous albums, the vocals are split pretty evenly, with all four members getting turns at the microphone, often in the same song, as on album opener "Bring It."

Having already done a short Canadian tour earlier this summer with B.A. Johnston, the band will soon head out on a massive, 10-week trek taking them across Canada and into the US (because of school commitments, Goguen will not be making the cross-continent trip). Aside from looking forward to playing down south for the first time, the Minks will also open for The Black Lips in that band's hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. It's a gig that's left Stephanie "on cloud nine," as she writes in an email.

The rip-roaring fun won't be strictly of a musical variety when The Stolen Minks host their CD release show at Gus' Pub Friday. Inspired by a pie-eating contest once held at a show by the band Oh God, the Minks plan on doing some serious baking in preparation for their own cupcake-eating contest. They're unsure how it'll work out, but Goguen has a solid tip: "The winner is going to be the one that eats the cupcake wrapper." Once again, it's a group giggle.

Click here to listen to the 'Minks new song, "Bring it!"

The Stolen Minks High Kicks CD Release show w/Bloodsport, The Memories Attack and The Maynards, Friday, August 22 at Gus' Pub, 2605 Agricola, 10pm, $5, 423-7786.

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