WHEN IT’S ALL OVER EP
Dine Alone Records
“Take my phone, throw it down the river. Take my smokes, flush ‘em down the drain.”
These are the opening convictions of 21-year old alt-punk up-and-comer Cam Kahin’s Dine Alone Records debut, WHEN IT’S ALL OVER. The EP’s six tracks paint a bleak, honest portrait of a young musician: one who’s been bloodied and bruised by constant upheaval and an unfeeling world, but who’s committed to chasing the light at the mouth of an endless tunnel. It’s set against a suite of fuzzy prog garage rock and ear worm guitar sludge, with explosive crescendos that all claw at the weirdness of growing into a world of relentless instability.
“WHEN IT’S ALL OVER is a depression-fueled coming-of-age story,” says Kahin. “Every month you’re a different person. It’s a lot of feeling uncomfortable, and not knowing what’s stable and what’s not.” The title hints at a revelation that Kahin was unable to see when he was writing the songs at age 17: “It means looking at things from the perspective of, ‘This isn’t forever, your time is borrowed.’”
Kahin grew up in Dunnville, Ontario, a small community with around 6,000 residents. Kahin always felt like an outsider there: he was the only person of color in town, there were no music venues, and what art existed there wasn’t for him. He escaped the small-town doldrums by listening to bands like Cage the Elephant, Biffy Clyro, and PUP. By age 13, he was sneaking out to hardcore shows in Hamilton and Toronto. Those shows pounded an energy and darkness into him that he brings to his music and live performances.
Kahin released two singles in 2021 followed by a six-song EP in early 2022—all recorded in his Dunnville bedroom—that shot him into the Greater Toronto Area’s alternative circles and led the CBC to name him one of the country’s top five “fearless new rock voices.” The momentum pulled Kahin to Toronto to focus on music.
Kahin recorded most of WHEN IT’S ALL OVER at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton with engineer/producer Will Crann, and cut lead single “compass,” released in October 2022, at Dreamhouse Studios in Toronto with legendary producer Dave Schiffman (PUP, Weezer), and Colanthony Humphrey (The OBGMs) guesting on drums. With no deadline to hit, Kahin and Crann took their time, finding the best scream sounds, rubbing cymbals for texture, and setting mics up all over the church where Catherine North is housed. “It was just having a good time and trying to make something crazy,” grins Kahin.
The six tracks navigate a narrative arc that tracks Kahin’s life over the past few years. “compass,” which is about becoming aware of self-destructive behaviors, bursts in with lo-fi pop punk bluster, then gears down into a bedroom folk strummer for its verses before exploding again with its bright, sprinting chorus: “Cause it’s gonna be a long day, and I need something to get me through/Don’t know if I’m going the wrong way, can’t you be my compass, baby?”
“what are you waiting for” ponders if where we are is the best place to be, and why we hold ourselves in limbo for so long: “Someday, I’ll color in these lines and scrub away the black,” groans Kahin on the tense pre-chorus, backed by garage-punk guitars and a perfect head-banging beat. “in around,” a taut, motorik, indie-punk thrill, represents a first attempt to change things up and remove oneself from the hamster wheel of the same old bad habits in the same old places.
“try again” lifts the spirits with a dose of major-key power chord riffing and quirky leads as Kahin gains some insight on his issues: “We’re all headed down a one way street, appears in bends but underneath,” he starts in a low register, before belting “Is a straight for taking, a straight line faking!” The record closes with the post-hardcore noir of “birds,” and Kahin sets the scene over a macabre guitar riff: “I know how it feels when the drugs stop working, sweat all on your clothes and the birds start chirping.” It’s a panic attack in four and a half minutes, collapsing into and out of a screaming, sludgy breakdown.
WHEN IT’S ALL OVER is the sound of life forcing Kahin to the brink of self-destruction, and the confusing, pendulum swing of the path back to some semblance of peace. It’s the sound of music as survival: loud, honest, and desperate to live.
21-year old Toronto alt-punk up-and-comer Cam Kahin makes fuzzy prog garage rock and earworm guitar sludge. His explosive new EP with Dine Alone Records is the sound of life forcing Kahin to the brink of self-destruction, and the confusing, pendulum swing of the path back to some semblance of peace. It’s the sound of music as survival: loud, honest, and desperate to live.