Monday October 3, 2022

Death Party

Some Party is a newsletter sharing the latest in independent Canadian rock'n'roll, curated 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.

I'd love to claim that this newsletter's late for reasons other than stubborn inertia. Alas, I'm just not that interesting - even when faced with the greatest existential threat of our time.

A week into the school year our kids finally brought home COVID. While we battened down the household to take our turn, the strain turned out so mild that it caused at most an evening of discomfort. It perplexingly spared the adults in our home entirely (although the quarantine did force me to miss the Polaris gala - I ironed a shirt and everything). While I never tested positive, I have found myself absolutely exhausted - much to this publication's detriment. I suspect that has more to do with the energy burnt up parenting, rather than anything medical, but who knows? Regardless, I'm back - and I'm now even more hopelessly behind on the cultural beat I purport to cover. Business as usual, then...

Nearly Dead: "Death Party"

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Nearly Dead reached out to me last week, rightly assuming that as a fan of the defunct Toronto noise-punks Soupcans, I'd be interested in their own trashy racket. The Victoria group has a new full-length slated for October 31, tantalizingly described as "11 tracks of trumpet heavy garage punk straight out of the emergency room and into the gutter." You don't often hear horns in this subgenre, and their skronking presence adds a sense of atonal menace to the band's already chaotic approach. A distinctive Quebecois accent gives their bruising vocals a similar slant.

Together since 2012, Nearly Dead are following up on their 2018 full-length Something Stronger. The new album arrives as their fifth overall. You can hear two songs from the record at Bandcamp now, "Colonoscopy" and the album-opening "Death Party." The latter arrived paired with an appropriately unhinged music video.

Todd Killings and the Contracts: "(I've) Got Your Contract"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Slow Death Records has the first 7" from Todd Killings and the Contracts slated for an October 7 release. The band's a side-project of Chain Whip vocalist Josh Nickel and drummer Patrick McEachnie, described as "straight up KDB worship." There's a revealing feature in last December's issue of CITR's Discorder zine that unpacks the album's tongue-in-cheek fictional conceit. Set in Cranbrook, the character of Todd Killings is perplexingly both a contract killer and a private eye (the sold-out preorder edition of the record includes fun business cards for both). In the feature, Pat repeatedly refers to this as their "fuck band," so I wouldn't overthink the narrative. You can find the opening track, "(I've) Got Your Contract," streaming at Bandcamp now.

Chain Whip last issued the Two Step To Hell EP in 2021 through Neon Taste and Drunken Sailor Records, following up 2019's 14 Lashes. McEachnie released the first LP from his pandemic-bred solo project Pack Rat in December of last year, also on Drunken Sailor.

Gloin: "Work Patrol"

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Mothland recently shared the thrilling second preview of the upcoming album from Toronto dark-wave quartet Gloin. "Work Patrol" hits hard and fast, elevated by Vic Byers' fierce and sardonic vocal take. The track takes on toxic workplace masculinity and arrives with a terrifyingly effective video by animator Phil Osborne.

Gloin recorded with Tallies' Dylan Frankland at Soleil Sound and Palace Recording in Toronto, with Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh mixing. The band features guitarist/vocalist John Watson, bassist/vocalist Vic Byers, synth player Richard Garnham, and drummer Simon Kou. This latest material follows their 2019 EP Soft Monster.

White Lung: "Date Night" / "Tomorrow"

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Vancouver's White Lung hasn't appeared much in this letter, despite their outsized stature as one of Canada's better-known punk exports. The group's been quiet since issuing Paradise, their fourth LP, in early 2016. Nearly seven years later, they've unveiled the follow-up, with the 10-song Premonition heralded as their final album. The LP arrives December 2 through Domino.

A press release reveals that the band initially convened with longtime producer Jesse Gander in 2017, only for vocalist/guitar Mish Barber-Way to discover in the studio that she was pregnant with her first child. The resulting break (of course exacerbated by the pandemic) finds her now a mother of two and writing from a wholly different perspective (as explored in an in-depth interview by the author Melissa Broder).

You can preview the new album through two new singles, "Date Night" and "Tomorrow." The former posits a date with God and finds the almighty drunk driving through the streets of LA. Barber-Way comments:

"I felt like that part of my life was expiring, so I was projecting those angry and scared feelings out onto the city of L.A. because it's safe and comfortable to live in your anger instead of being self-reflective."

The latter track directly addresses the changes in her life:

"'Tomorrow' is the song I wrote when I found out I was pregnant. There was a very serious understanding that life would be different forever and I was relieved to welcome that change."

Director Justin Gradin (Necking, Lié, Autogramm) celebrates both songs in new videos you can catch on YouTube. White Lung appears as a trio on this album, with Mish Barber-Way backed by guitarist Kenneth William and drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou.

Punitive Damage: "Drawn Lines"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Vancouver hardcore act Punitive Damage are readying their debut full-length for an October 14 release via Rhode Island's Atomic Action Records. Clocking in with 13 songs in a brisk 18 minutes, This Is The Blackout features the furious "Drawn Lines" and "Bottom Feeder," both of which you can now preview at Bandcamp. The band recorded with producer Taylor Young at Van Nuys, CA studio, The Pit.

Punitive Damage has a Western Canadian trek scheduled for later this month to support the record. The release show goes down at Bullys in New Westminister on October 21 with support from World of Pleasure. On October 22 and 23, Punitive Damage hits Calgary and Edmonton with Mortality Rate (playing Meadowlark Hall and The Aviary, respectively).

While I don't have their full lineup in front of me, Punitive Damage notably features vocals from Steph Jerkova, otherwise known as the bassist for Seattle power violence heroes Regional Justice Centre. The new record follows 2021's Strike Back EP.

Hieronymus Harry: "Nymphs & Satyr"

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Harrison Forman of the Toronto psych-pop quartet Mr. Joy recently debuted the first single from his new first outing as Hieronymus Harry. "Nymphs & Satyr" delivers an enigmatic first glimpse of The River of Doom - taking the listener on a curiously delicate and surreally playful journey. In a press release, the artist comments on the tune:

"I wanted to imbue the music with a sense of discovery... to create from a place where people's raw reactions to the music are made foundational. When you open the door to unpredictability, little moments can land just right and create so much magic in the process. The result feels like a unique happening, which is a very exciting place to grow a recording from."

Forman co-produced the album with Patrick Lefler (ROY/Possum). Jeff McMurrich (U.S. Girls, Jennifer Castle) mastered. The record features backing vocals from Sophia Ruby Katz (Shirley Hurt) and strings from cellist Eliza Niemi.

Mr. Joy issued their Yes! Yes! Yes! EP early in 2021, an exercise in pandemic-forced remote collaboration (Harry took that to an extreme, working nomadically from a trailer in the desert). That fall teamed up with Matthew "Doc" Dunn of The Cosmic Range on a set of songs jointly billed as Dr. Joy.

Headcheese: Best Before 2022 Demo

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Kamloops' thrillingly sardonic Headcheese has a new four-song demo online titled Best Before 2022. The set's led by "I Can't Listen," a song that perfectly channels the aggressively twisted outlook of bands like Brutal Knights (one of my absolute favourites). Tapes should be available soon through the aforementioned Slow Death Records.

These songs are among the first new material shared by Headcheese since their self-titled Neon Taste debut, issued in March of 2021.

Quit It!: "Mugs"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Melodic punk act Quit It! came together during the pandemic from former members of Calgary's River Jacks. The band's now churning out passionate political rockers in the grand tradition of The Clash, The Bouncing Souls, and Against Me!. Look for Spilling Out, their debut full-length, on October 21 through Calgary's Meter Records and the Canora, SK label Wasted Wax.

The record features 12 tracks, including this summer's "Taikon Mi" single and last week's preview, "Mugs." You can stream both at Bandcamp, noting that the former features guest vocals from Alien Boys' Sarah Heshington. The band recorded with Jesse Gander (Wares, Woolworm, Necking) at Rain City Recorders with Daggermouth's Stu Mckillop mastering Railtown. The new set follows up on their self-titled 2020 EP.

Mark your calendars for a few record release parties later this month in Alberta. The band's playing Edmonton's The Buckingham on October 20, Calgary's The Palomino a day later, and wrapping up at Medicine Hat's Casa Amigos on the 22nd.

Tooth & the Fang: "Another Day"

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Saint John folk-rock act Tooth & the Fang recently issued "Another Day," the first single from their upcoming album Cold Dirges of the Baffled/Sullen Hymns of Defeat. With a sound steeped in anthemic 90s alt-rock, the track arrives alongside a video directed by the band's Gavin Downes.

Tooth & the Fang's led by vocalist/guitarist Geoff Smith (Papal Visit, Little You Little Me). He's backed here by lead guitarist Adam Kierstead, bassist Gavin Downes, and drummer/keyboardist Corey Bonnevie (Doctor Mother Father). Bonneville recorded the new tune at Monopolized Records.

Tooth & the Fang last issued Songs from the Broadview Wind Tunnel in early 2020. Earlier this year, they appeared on Season 2 of the Greville Tapes Music Club, collaborating with a host of east coast musicians.

Dumb: "Excuse Me?"

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Vancouver slack-punks Dumb recently shared the fourth preview of their upcoming LP Pray 4 Tomorrow, issuing "Excuse Me?" alongside a live video by J Quincy Arthur. The band commented in a press release:

"This is a drop-tuned chugga chugga choo choo where the unforgiving distorted guitars are interlaced by syncopated rhythms and group vocals... The title and relentlessness of 'Excuse Me' is a nod to our friends in [the similarly shambolic San Franciscan punk act] Pardoner."

The new record's a massive 18-song collection that traverses several genres (2-tone ska among them). It lands on November 4 through Mint Records.

Dumb features guitarist/vocalist Franco Rossino backed by drummer Pipe Morelli, guitarist Nick Short, and bassist Shelby Vredik. The group self-recorded at Choms, a studio co-owned by Short and Rossino. The new record follows up on 2019's Club Nites, their sophomore LP for Mint. Between that record and this, they also partnered with labelmates Tough Age on last year's Pizza Punks - a split 7" issued in a celebration of Cole Pauls' comic of the same name.

Crones: "Secular Saints"

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Prince George garage rockers Crones have a new EP due this month, a four-song set dubbed Laugh Freely, Laugh Often. These new tunes are our first look at a backlog of pandemic-penned material the band's sitting on, with the earworm single "Secular Saints" leading the charge. The accompanying video, assembled by frontperson Nathan Kelly, creates a strobing animated effect from over 3000 images generated by the Midjourney AI. "Obviously, we're much better looking than what these images represent," the band jokes, "but we got as close as we could."

These new songs are the first from the BC group since their early 2019 LP, Aghast. Crones features guitarist/vocalist Nathan Kelly, vocalist Britt Meierhofer, bassist/vocalist Chris Dibbens, guitarist/keyboardist Cal Hilde, and drummer Landon Hilde. They recorded live-off-the-floor with producer Connor Pritchard at Pulp City Music. Look for Laugh Freely, Laugh Often through Mystic Turnip Records on October 28.

Surf Dads: "Last Night"

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Regina's Surf Dads are back this month with a new LP. The power-pop group has Baby Blue slated for an October 14 release, a ten-song set led by the single "Last Night." While the band has roots in Saskatchewan's hardcore and screamo scenes (see Bermuda Love and Blue Youth) you'd never know it from the slick hooks and quirky pop vocals on display here. The new set, due through Grind Central Records, follows up on the band's 2018 EP Long Weekend and lands as their 6th release in the past seven years. Surf Dads self-produced the new record, recording in a cabin in northern Saskatchewan.

Currently playing as a four-piece, Surf Dads started in 2015 as the side-project of vocalist/guitarist Gage McGuire (Big Day) and drummer Chris Dimas (Bleeker).

Zoon: A Sterling Murmuration EP

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In case you missed it, Anishinaabe shoegazer Daniel Monkman recently shared a dazzling new EP as Zoon. A Sterling Murmuration arrived late last month through Paper Bag Records, featuring four tracks with deep roots. Monkman revealed that these songs were penned over a decade ago, crafted with friends while attending high school in Winnipeg. Fittingly that city's J. Riley Hill recorded and produced the finished product.

The set follows up on Big Pharma, Zoon's guest-packed summer EP featuring appearances from highly regarded artists like Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Cadence Weapon. It followed up on Zoon's 2020's full-length debut Bleached Wavves. This EP also arrives in the wake of Sewn Together, the Polaris shortlisted debut from OMBIIGIZI - Monkman's joint project with Adam Sturgeon of Status/Non-Status.

Carson McHone: Camera Varda Variations

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

If you're following the ever-prolific output of Daniel Romano's Outfit, don't miss out on the recent digital single from Carson McHone. Camera Varda Variations reimagines two songs from the Texan country artist's February LP Still Life, recorded and mixed on an 8-track tape machine in The Outfit's Welland, Ontario studio. "Tired" features McHone performing with partner Daniel Romano, while "End of the World" brings in Outfit regulars Ian Romano on drums, Roddy Rossetti on bass, and Julianna Riolino on percussion and vocals. You can hear both tracks at Bandcamp.

The Outfit recently issued their psychedelic rock opera La Luna through You've Changed Records. McHone's Still Life landed back in February through Merge.

Kue Varo: "Feelin' Lucky"

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Montreal's Kue Varo recently shared the dynamic psych-pop single "Feelin' Lucky" with their band The Only Hopes. It's the first of three new songs to be unveiled from sessions with producer Russell Broom (Jann Arden, Art Bergmann). In a press release, Varo commented:

"This energized and liberating song paints a picture of the ebbs and flows of a really good day, all leading to a climactic release and repeat. The dynamics in mood and rhythm are intentional, reinforcing the lyrics by elevating them sonically. Recently I've shifted focus from the idyllic standards of others that have been imposed on my life course and started to recognize the strange version of a white picket fence that's suited to me and those I love."

On this track, Varo's band features guitarist Bobby Quaschnick, drummer Matthew Doherty, and bassist Connor Harvey-Derbyshire. The new materials follow up on 2021's Daffodil-11 collection and the one-off single "Alright." Kue Varo is the stage name of Kat Spreen, based previously out of Calgary.

Ingredient: "Photo"

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While less outwardly bombastic than his old Attack In Black bandmates, the artistic ground covered by Ian Daniel Kehoe in the years since his rock'n'roll youth is no less fascinating. The Toronto-based poet and synth-pop composer recently launched a new project, writing and recording as a duo with the spiritually-akin solo artist Luka Kuplowsky. They've dubbed themselves Ingredient. The pair's eight-song debut LP's due November 25 through Telephone Explosion. A release from the label describes the self-titled release as:

"...an enigmatic electronic avant-pop record attuned to the micro and macro perspectives of the natural world. Ingredient is an album whose lyrics are more poem than lyric, and whose songs exist in a merger of house music, philosophically-minded lyricism and contemporary R&B. One might recall electronic and art-pop luminaries such as Yukihiro Takahashi, The Blue Nile, and Arthur Russell, or connect it to contemporaries like Nite Jewel, Westerman and Blood Orange. A distinct world of dance, of questions, of secrecy and ultimate softness."

The set features guest vocals from Thom Gill (Bernice) and Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station), with Badge Époque Ensemble member Karen Ng appearing on saxophone. The collaboration follows up on Kehoe's recent Tin Angel LP Yes Very So and Kuplowsky's Cohen-esque 2020 release Stardust (on Next Door Records).

Lee Paradise: "Not Practical" (ft New Chance)

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Dan Lee's ever-evolving "cyborg-funk" act recently shared the second preview of Lee Paradise & Co., his guest-packed collaborative LP due this fall. "Not Practical" pairs Lee Paradise with New Chance, the electronic music producer otherwise known as Victoria Cheong. Cheong provided both the lyrics and vocals here, with Lee's busy instrumentation augmented by percussion from Jay Anderson (Badge Époque Ensemble, Lammping) and synth played by Jonathan Pappo (WHIMM, Context, NA, Ducks Ltd.). They're part of a massive cast of players credited on the record, which includes appearances from Scott Hardware, Carlyn Bezic (Jane Inc, Ice Cream), Isla Craig, Daniel Woodhead (Moon King), and Charise Aragoza and Lukas Cheung (both of Mother Tongues).

The new album arrives on October 28 through Telephone Explosion. Lee Paradise & Co. arrives as the follow-up to 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.

Sloan: "Magical Thinking"

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Canadian indie mainstays Sloan continue the slow march to their upcoming full-length Steady. Last week the band issued "Magical Thinking" as the latest preview of their 13th studio album. On the track, Chris Murphy revealed:

"This song lampoons the idea of anyone who thinks that their feelings trump science. Yes, I think being alive is a miracle and that we should all be grateful but people's beliefs ultimately mean nothing and whatever those beliefs are they shouldn't become legislation or be tax exempt and I shouldn't have to respect them. And I don't."

The track's one of twelve slated for Steady, due October 21 through Yep Roc Records. It arrives precisely 30 years to the month from the release of the band's debut album, Smeared. Sloan impressively still boasts their classic lineup of guitarist/vocalist Patrick Pentland, bassist/vocalist Chris Murphy, drummer/vocalist Andrew Scott, and guitarist/vocalist Jay Ferguson. The new record follows up their 2018 LP 12 and the two recent B Sides Win collections issued through the group's Murderecords.

Cluttered: Transgender Dystopia Blues

Preview at Punknews.org - Purchase at Bandcamp

Halifax punk quartet Cluttered has a new four-song EP out this Friday and currently streaming exclusively through my old haunt at Punknews.org. The four-song set features a new original, two reworkings from Matty Grace's extensive solo catalogue, and a charming cover of the Weakerthans/Propagandhi classic "Anchorless." Punknews' article by Em Moore features a track-by-track breakdown of the release, issued as a holdover while the group readies their next LP.

Cluttered features Grace (of Future Girls, Crisis Party, G.R.O.S.S. and a half-dozen others) backed by Becca Dalley (Designosaur, Book Buddies), Danny Bailey (Jabber), and Dylan Mombourquete (Alright Already). They're following up their recent Enemy Us split with Toronto's Talk Show Host and their 2021's The First Pandemic - a vinyl collection of the group's initial EPs.

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