Canadian band, Martha and the Muffins shot to international fame in 1980 with their instant classic, ‘Echo Beach’, but the group from Toronto have always been so much more than one song. First formed in 1977, they’ve gone through a range of incarnations and line-ups, but their most recent, comprising original MatM members Martha Johnson and Mark Gane, still retains their characteristic powerful sound.
With their latest release, a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s 1966 classic, ‘For What It’s Worth’, Martha and the Muffins imbue Stephen Stills’ poignant lyrics with a treatment that’s slower, darker, and more relevant than ever. Back in the 60s, gun violence was something that was shocking, rare, and unacceptable; somehow along the way it’s become so much a part of every day life, that people barely look up when they hear of or see it. Martha and the Muffins are aware of this shift, and see it for what it is: a blight on society, “a perverse virus perpetuated by hypocrites mouthing their meaningless recitations of ‘thoughts and prayers'”.
They retain the feel of the original instrumentation, 60s style synths and guitars, a sombre rhythm held together with steady drumming, feeling every bit like a heartbeat. Gane takes the lead on the verses, joined by Martha on the chorus, and the result is sobering, almost sinister. ‘For What It’s Worth’ is accompanied by a music video, directed by Jason Ciapparrone. Speaking about the clip, Mark Gane said,
When I had the concept for this and was looking around for a collaborator I had already seen some of Jason Cipparrone’s work both as a still photographer and filmmaker. I thought his approach to black and white photography in particular would really work with the concept of the video. The video was shot on location at The Only Café and Kops Records in Toronto, with the help of some friends and family members who volunteered to act.
Shot in black and white, in and around Toronto, the clip follows two “gun heads” as they go about their day. They are people with literal guns for heads – and yet nobody batt an eyelid at them, even as they walk the streets, browse the albums in a record store, cheering at a softball game, or buy groceries. It’s a stark visual reminder of how desensitised we’ve become to it all around us. It’s made all the more moving when you read the caption to the video, and see that it’s dedicated to the memory of Russell and Lorraine Manock, who lost their lives in a mass shooting in Vaughan, Ontario, back in 2022.
‘For What It’s Worth’ is out now, and can be streamed and downloaded here. Watch the music video below. You can find out more about Martha and the Muffins and their music online on Instagram, Spotify, Apple Music, and their official website.