Brooklyn-based Fire Talk Records is proud to announce the release of Dark Tea’s latest full-length studio album, Dark Tea. The twelve-track collection expands the group’s sound from their previous LP (also called Dark Tea), further exploring the cinematic visions and twangy folk narratives of Dark Tea band leader Gary Canino. It’s the product of a tangled web of confidantes, collaborators, guides, and inspirations, each of whom helped usher in the new album.
But first: Gary who?
Born and raised in Huntington, NY, Gary’s quiet Long Island youth gave him access to all of the pleasures and distractions of New York City. “As a teenager, seeing The Walkmen play at Webster Hall in 2007, or Leonard Cohen at Radio City Music Hall in 2008 had a pretty big impact on me.” After college at the University of Virginia (stomping grounds of the legendary Stevie Malkmus and David Berman), Canino made his way to Brooklyn in 2011. He played bass with post-punk revivalists Rips, recording and touring their debut album with Austin Brown (Parquet Courts), forming Dark Tea in 2016. Fire Talk Records, a label known for left-field rockers like Pure X and Dehd, issued the first Dark Tea LP in 2019, mixed by Jarvis Taveniere of Woods and featuring memorable guitar work from Meg Duffy of Hand Habits.
Certain angels and allies have personally mentored Canino along the way, in particular Andrew Cedermark from Titus Andronicus (“Andrew’s lyric sheets read well, he’s a total shredder, and was a major influence on my songwriting”) and Gary’s older sister, Mattie Canino of Olympia punks RVIVR (“She basically taught me how to play guitar”). The Walkmen link comes full circle for the new LP. Several tracks were recorded during sessions at Philadelphia’s Silent Partner Studio with Matt Barrick, drummer for The Walkmen, plus additional recording at New York’s Artifact Audio with punk veteran Sasha Stroud.
Which brings us to the new material. Dark Tea(also known as II and/or Crowd) is a record of deeply personal, interior reflections – the “stream-of-consciousness ramblings of a neurotic,” as Gary puts it –contrasted with the wide open spaces of an idyllic American soundscape. Album opener “Tears Down the Road” ambles along with a sun-kissed grace, brought to life with pedal steel and barrelhouse piano, nodding to Pavement’s meta-country classic “Range Life.” Buttressed by a lilting flugelhorn arrangement, “Highway Mile” channels the spirit of 80s indie visionaries Felt. (Side note: Gary enlisted Felt bandleader Lawrence to DJ a Dark Tea live set back in 2019. “Loop your songs and keep practicing your guitar parts!” was his sole feedback.) “Deanna” unearths childhood memories like a geological excavation, while “Down for the Law” features a blistering guitar solo from Gary, fuzz pedals set to stun.
Lately Gary’s efforts have extended beyond the score and into the visual, channeling his Cassavetes obsession into discrete works of short-form filmmaking. He’s made music videos for Dark Tea singles “Deanna,” “Highway Mile,” and “Down for the Law,” and he’s also behind the lens for upcoming tracks by Current Joys and The Berries. It’s a continuation of the Dark Tea vision: creativity, commitment, nurturing a sense of wonder through the haze of nostalgia, while looking toward the future.