Saturday January 21, 2023

Voodoo Dissolve

Some Party is a newsletter sharing the latest in independent Canadian rock'n'roll, curated more-or-less weekly by Adam White. Each edition explores punk, garage, psych, and otherwise uncategorizable indie rock, drawing lines from proto to post and taking some weird diversions along the way.

cute: a concert film

Watch on YouTube - Purchase at Bandcamp

Emergent Hamilton post-rock unit cute are garnering more and more attention with their noisy, extended jams. I'm thrilled to help premiere a full-length concert film capturing the band at this nascent stage, a 45-minute sensory overload captured at The Casbah on November 13 by the scene documentarians at 333underground. Drummer Zach Vernon described the project in maximalist terms:

"With the artistic vision of 333underground and Melted Media in tow, cute presents an experience that is at once caustic and serene. Alien in approach and territorial in demeanour, the faults of humanity are presented through squealing amplifiers, brass, and skins that resemble nuclear bombs landing in the 21st century, and voices that cry for anyone who will listen for an apocalyptic plea."

You can watch the film in full now on YouTube. Alongside Vernon on drums and trombone, the group features Ciarán Galati on vocals and guitar, Chuck Kostash on bass, and Daniel Conroy on vocals and guitar. Everyone earns an extra instrumental credit in the ever-nebulous "effects" category, which you can certainly hear. The Casbah gig was a benefit and tape release organized by Melted Media to raise money for the Canadian Spondylitis Association.

cute next performs at Hamilton's Bridgeworks on Friday, January 27 alongside locals Žuto and The Beach Bats. An album release show's likely for early February, so keep an eye on the band's socials for word on that soon.

cute gestated for nearly four years before formally getting together in the late-pandemic summer of 2022. To date, they've issued four prior live albums, capturing the band's evolution at key Hamilton venues and record stores (there are two sets from Doors Pub and a pair of in-stores from Into The Abyss Records). Look for word on the group's first proper full-length soon.

Matty Grace: Start. Stop. Repeat.

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Matty Grace retains her crown as the most restlessly prolific artist to emerge from the Halifax punk scene. Hot on the heels of October's Winter Trash EP comes two new songs, collectively labelled Stop. Start. Repeat. The new tunes were written and recorded on Christmas Eve and Day, not that they reflect the season in any way. "Voice in My Head" is a reworking of a song penned initially for Grace's early 2010s pop-punk group, the Fat Stupids. "Mouthful," for its part, lives up to its title, delivering "a lot of words for the shortest run length." You can snag both at Bandcamp.

These new songs feature Grace on guitar, bass, and vocals, with Cluttered's Dylan Mombourquette on drums. It arrives in the wake of Cluttered's recent EP Transgender Dystopia Blues and the debut of Grace's new Ottawa-based project Crisis Party. The latter, titled Welcome To The Party, finds her teaming up with Flying Hellfish member Tony Cardozo and the ever-busy "Ska" Jeff Hurter (Doxx, Dogma, et al.).

Hollow Point: Demo 2023

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

How many bands have carried the name Hollow Point or some variation thereof? This update refers to the currently active Vancouver hardcore act, and I doubt they care about the crowded namespace. If you're familiar with the Slow Death Records catalogue, you'll know what to expect here: rough and rapid, street-level bruisers. Hollow Point should easily appeal to fans of contemporary BC acts like Bootlicker and Trenchraid, and it's probably safe to assume some of the past SDR roster's at play here. There are eight songs on the band's 2023 demo, and not a single one's over a minute long - as it should be.

The Devoters: "me n u"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

St. John's power pop act The Devoters have a charming new single out titled "me n u." It's the group's second song to surface online following "Cheap Heat" (that one landed on New Year's Eve in 2021, so it's been a while).

The saccharine new track features Kris Hamlyn on vocals and guitar, Needle Crafts' Brandon Coaker on guitar, Mike Coffen on bass, and Nick Giles of Conditioner drumming. The band recorded the song independently, with Luke Mumford (Booji Boys, Gemstones) mixing and mastering.

Baited: Baited

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Why is it that, of all the major cities in Canada, Charlottetown seems to punch way above its weight class when it comes to punk rock? I clearly can't keep up anymore, as I somehow missed the vicious opening salvo from Baited. The band's 7-song, self-titled EP landed in October, delivering a propulsive set of moody, metal-flavoured hardcore. The trio (Liam, Tyler, and Andy) recorded with Death Valley Driver's Ryan P Gallant.

Tapes and CDs are available through Nova Scotia's Surkeus Records.

Jason Ogden: "Carleton Street"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Celebrated Saint John songwriter Jason Ogden has another new solo track out this week, following up on last summer's "No Way to Reach" with "Carleton Street." Monopolized Records details how the denizens of the artist's hometown impact the slow-burning folk-rock tune:

"One of the most literate voices in East Coast rock, Ogden can be relied upon for evocative, deft descriptions, and 'Carleton Street' is no exception. Ogden revisits a life at loose ends, conjuring up the lonely, lost side of the tracks of his hometown, Saint John. A myriad cast of characters that Ogden calls 'pure Saint John' bring the scene to life as Ogden recalls relying on the newly adopted micro-community of his building and neighbourhood to see him through hard times."

Ogden's best known for the folk-rock outfit Penny Blacks. They last issued the acclaimed Long Lights in 2017. His journey to this new solo era found him serving a stint with lo-fi rockers Papal Visit and making noise with the punk group Hospital Grade.

Like his previous single, "Carleton Street" finds Ogden backed by Hospital Grade alumni Sean Boyer on drums and Brett Whitaker on guitar, with Geoff Smith (Papal Visit, Little You Little Me, Tooth & The Fang) on bass.

Oliver Ghoul: "Glue"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

As I understand it, Montreal's Oliver Gil is an actual working psychiatrist, but as Oliver Ghoul he bills himself as some sort of gonzo psychedelic psychiatrist. I don't know who regulates that profession, but the label certainly fits. The artist's debut single, "Glue," falls into a jazzy psych-soul groove, but there's enough off-kilter weirdness baked in to give it an edge. In a press release, Ghoul calls the tune a "Scooby-Doo take on a love song." The bedsheet ghost haunting the Benjamin Bensoussan-directed video makes that point quite explicit.

Gil wrote and performed everything you hear here, save the Rhodes piano, courtesy of Christophe Marois. Stéphane Leclerc co-produced and mixed the track, with Nik Kozub mastering.

Lee Paradise: "Diamond Rain"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Hot on the heels of his collaborative Lee Paradise & Co. record, Dan Lee's readying an EP's worth of instrumental material for release on February 3. You can preview the track "Diamond Rain" now, a song with otherworldly synths that perfectly fits the project's "cyborg-funk" descriptor. Telephone Explosion's making a limited 12" vinyl pressing of the five-track Steady EP (available both on its own or as a discounted package with the recent full-length).

Issued in October, Lee Paradise & Co., featured collaborations with Victoria Cheong's New Chance,Scott Hardware, Carlyn Bezic (Jane Inc, Ice Cream), Isla Craig, Daniel Woodhead (Moon King), Charise Aragoza and Lukas Cheung (both of Mother Tongues), Jay Anderson (Badge Époque Ensemble, Lammping), and Jonathan Pappo (WHIMM, Context, NA, Ducks Ltd.). The album followed up on Lee's 2020 LP The Fink.

Outside of his solo endeavours, Dan's known for the Toronto art-rock group Hooded Fang and the electronic psych-pop act Phèdre.

Remy Verreault: "Little Prince"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Saguenay punk veteran Remy Verreault is pairing up with Red Deer's High End Denim Records to issue On My Own, a new 13-track album due February 24. It's the next in an impressively busy, pandemic-spurned solo career for the artist - the seventh album issued digitally by Verreault since May of 2021. The artist notes a change of approach this time out:

"[On My Own is] An album composed with the aim of doing something different. To get out of my boots and integrate choruses and verses that repeat themselves... a difficult thing for a man who usually goes from point a to point d without going through b and c. Variations of tempo from one song to the other without being always at the top."

You can preview the track "Little Prince" now at Bandcamp.

Verrault has a few decades in the Quebec punk scene under his belt, serving time in bands like We Love Danger, Wrong Advice, and most recently drumming for Mark & The Wolves.

Hey Slugger: "Ring the Bell"

Watch on YouTube

Barrie, Ontario's Hey Slugger continues their love affair with the once-dominant late-90s pop-punk sound with "Ring The Bell." The track takes a more melancholic approach than their earlier tunes, as detailed by the group in their press release:

"Memories last a lifetime. The smell of the campfire at the cottage. The roar of laughter that echoes and infiltrates surrounding houses, the dumbest decisions and the resulting tattoos, bumps, bruises, and never ending jokes that come out of them. This song is for them. This song is for the laughter, joy, heartache. Tears, and every experience you share with your best friends. But most of all, this song is for her. Written about a close friend of the band's, ring the bell is an emotionally charged reckoning with a tragic event and the fallout that comes along with it. About the shock of the situation. About the ensuing hospital visits, and about the crushing guilt and pain of "getting back to normal" when there is no normal. An apology, a promise, and a statement to remind you that with you on my shoulders, I am whole."

The quartet features Andrew Salazar, John Miorin, Craig Terzievski, and new bassist Matty Galbraith (from The Highdives and Fox Run). "Ring The Bell" clocks in as Hey Slugger's sixth one-off single to date and follows December's "Set to Explode." If you missed the band's video for that, it's also playing on YouTube.

Ace of Wands: "I Taste Blood"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto's Ace of Wands has a high-octane rocker out this week dubbed "I Taste Blood," another preview of their forthcoming LP Desiring. Look for that album on March 31 through Fortune Stellar Records (By Divine Right, HotKid). A press release details the song, stating:

"'I Taste Blood' was inspired by the magnetic, electrical energy of being in the presence of someone that you desire, especially when you realize that the feeling is mutual. Exploring a gritty and sensual sound, this is the first song written for the band by guitarist [Anna] Mernieks."

Kevin McMahon (Swans, Titus Andronicus) mixed the new track. Ace of Wants features Lee Rose on guitar, violin, and synth-bass foot pedals, backed by guitarist Anna Mernieks and drummer Jody Brumell. Both Rose and Brumell play with Ron Hawkins as members of the Do Good Assassins.

Michael C. Duguay: "Snakes & Ladders"

Watch on YouTube

If Kingston singer-songwriter Michael C. Duguay isn't actively trying to win my favour, then we must have eerily similar tastes. A few months back, I had the pleasure of seeing him accompany Steven Lambke on accordion when the pair opened for Carson McHone on her brief Canadian tour. If you head to SoundCloud you can hear their December 9 set from the Niagara Artists Centre in full, captured from the boards by Kenneth Roy Meehan. While the entire performance is exceedingly lovely, Constantines fans may want to first hop to the 16-minute mark and check the duo's rendition of the Tournament of Hearts classic, "Windy Road." That wasn't the only Cons callback of the evening - but you had to be there to experience the other. Pits were opened; or at least encouraged.

I've had a few months to process that show, but this next item is so fresh in my subconscious that I'm still reeling. I'll let Michael tell the story in his own words (I've swapped Instagram handles for real names where appropriate):

"Last summer at SappyFest I was walking towards the festival grounds when I heard the most perfect power pop coming from the main stage. The band was Tough Age the song was 'Snakes & Ladders', and I watched their entire performance side stage, my mind blown by their energy and amazing tunes. They made me feel like a 14 year old at my first punk show again. I've never bought a t-shirt so fast.

The Hotel Wolfe Island invited me to perform a song for their hotel session series, and when I got to the hotel Jason Mercer, Chris Brown, Joey Wright, Jenny Whiteley, Julian Brown, and all of The Mill•Rights were all there hanging out. I decided to skip the original material and corral all these great folk players into coming up with an arrangement for 'Snakes & Ladders' on the fly. Thanks to the hotel and Sean Turrell of Wolfe Lodge for making the vid, and to Tough Age for being the best band in Canada."

"Snakes & Ladders" originates from the Vancouver band's 2015 LP I Get the Feeling Central. My baffling devotion to Tough Age is well documented and probably embarrassing for all involved, so I'll keep my commentary in check and advise you to watch Michael's rendition for yourself.

If you've not yet experienced Duguay's recent single "Saint Maybe," it's streaming everywhere and heralds further magic down the line. Look for that lushly orchestrated track to appear as part of his next record, the follow-up to 2020's The Winter of Our Discotheque, when it arrives later this year.

React to it at your leisure

Some Party is Adam White's misguided quest to share the latest in Canadian garage rock, punk, psych, and more. Subscribe and get it in your inbox more-or-less weekly. Your information's always kept private, and unsubscribing is easy.

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