Sunday March 24, 2019

Felt

Last week Toronto synthpop trio Sauna announced their debut EP, a self-titled six-song set due on April 26 from Idée Fixe Records. Sauna features Michael le Riche of Fake Palms on vocals and various electronics performing with Weaves bassist Zach Bines and Greys drummer Braeden Craig. It's a decidedly different sound than you'd expect from the trio, given the guitar-heavy punk and garage sounds that pack their resume. The first single from the EP, titled "Felt," was produced by Holy Fuck's Brian Borcherdt. In the press release le Riche comments on the track's inspiration:

"Las Vegas, 1950's. Diamond necklaces, sequin dresses, classic cars, and tailored suits. American opulence packaged at its most optimistic. 'Felt' is about the dark side of that opulence. What lay underneath it all."

This track follows the song "Over," which announced the band to the world last October. If you're into this and hungry for more, a new b-side titled "Waiting" is also now online to stream over at Brooklyn Vegan.

Listen: Sauna - "Felt" @ Bandcamp

Vancouver-based Haisla Nation hip-hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids announced their next album Trapline last week, premiering the searing new single "Creator Made an Animal." The new record from Darren 'Young D' Metz and Quinton 'Yung Trybez' Nyce arrives on May 10. "Creator" includes an appearance from the Chilliwack rapper Boslen and is showcased in a Jerome Hof directed video you can check out below.

In a press release the group commented:

"'Creator Made an Animal' carries an aggressive and assertive energy that imitates the way society portrays Indigenous people and People of Colour across Turtle Island. Our ancestors were stereotyped as savages, and we are often regarded as the pissed-off generation who haven’t gotten over what colonization has done to our lands and to our people. Through stylish delivery, we proclaim ourselves as the Father 7th Generation and let the world know that we aren’t changing for anyone. The future is ours.

We are powerful as human beings and it’s integral that we respect the knowledge that was passed down from our ancestors. Many of us also carry their pain, but every single one of us carry their power. Embrace that power, stay true to that power and to yourself!"

Trapline follows the band's Polaris-shortlisted album The Average Savage. The Rez Kids are playing the upcoming Kazoo! fest in Guelph this April, with a full tour supporting Trapline kicking off in May.

Watch: Snotty Nose Rez Kids - "Creator Made an Animal" @ YouTube

Toronto's storied Coffin Factory will close on April 1 to make way for a condo development. The former industrial space, built in the 1880s, has been hosting live-work artist studios in the city for nearly 30 years, providing a base for musicians, visual artists, and performers of all stripes. Local grunge/punk quartet Dilly Dally recently played a secret show to help send the space off. Footage from that event has now arrived online in a video featuring the songs "Sober Motel" and "Bad Biology." The clip features lighting and set-design from artist Vanessa B. Rieger.

Speaking to NOW Toronto, Dilly Dally singer/guitarist Katie Monks commented on the loss of the space.

"It's so important to cause a fuss when these places fall off. The Coffin Factory is a place where artists are free to be themselves. Make noise, experiment, collaborate and live with people you may not have otherwise met. A place to worship the creative process and live out your dreams... It's important to acknowledge where we actually came from and how we got here. If we had each moved to the city ten years ago without having spaces like this, the band probably wouldn’t exist today..."

The studio versions of these two songs originally appeared on Dilly Dally's 2018 Dine Alone/Partisan LP Heaven.

Watch: Dilly Dally - "Sober Motel" / "Bad Biology" @ YouTube

PUP's third LP Morbid Stuff is out April 5. Given how close that is, and how much anticipation's wrapped up in this album, it should come at no surprise that we're in the midst of a full-blown storm of new media. Last week the Toronto punk band released the new songs "Sibling Rivalry" and "Scorpion Hill." The former's a muscular, raw-throated rocker as we've come to expect from the group, while the dynamic latter track takes some cool new twists and turns over a 5-minute runtime.

The band also appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers, performing the single "Kids" before the talk show's studio audience. It's a pretty huge moment for the band, and pretty fucking surreal if you've been following them along since the Topanga days. It's probably also the first time you've seen a House of TARG shirt on U.S. network television. Shockingly, you can actually watch this online in Canada. Someone in YouTube's regional frustration department must be asleep at the wheel.

The 11-song Morbid Stuff was recorded at the Union Sound Company last spring with producers Dave Schiffman (Thrice, The Bronx) and Darren McGill. PUP last released The Dream Is Over in 2016 on Royal Mountain Records and SideOneDummy. This record will arrive on Rise Records in the States, with the band's newly formed imprint Little Dipper around these parts.

Listen: PUP - "Sibling Rivalry" @ YouTube

Listen: PUP - "Scorpion Hill" @ YouTube

Watch: PUP - "Kids" live on Late Night with Seth Meyers

Spring's here, and while it's not quite warm enough to claim the start of ska-season, nobody told K-Man & The 45s. The Montreal ska-punk group has a new 12-song full-length on the way, scheduled for an April 19 release on Stomp Records. You can check out the title track, "Stand With The Youth," streaming online now. This new record follows the quintet's self-titled 2016 effort.

I don't want to make things weird between us, dear reader, but I'll go ahead and admit that the 1996 All Skanadian Club compilation was super important to me. I was 14, high on ska like the rest of my peer group, and that silly little record probably helped introduce me to the independent Canadian music world as much as anything else. That Stomp's still kicking and releasing music of that stripe warms my heart.

Listen: K-Man & The 45s - "Stand With The Youth" @ Bandcamp

Toronto pop-punk quartet Wordplay has a three-song EP scheduled for a May 2 release titled Short. The first single from the set clocks in at a very thematically-fitting 46 seconds. You can listen to High" over at Bandcamp now (or via a lyric video at YouTube, if that's your thing). The new set, produced and mixed by Sung Jun Park in Toronto, follows the band's 2018 EP Neato.

Listen: Wordplay - Short @ Bandcamp

Burlington's anthemic punk trio The Penske File have a new video online for their song "Spin My History." The band worked with directory James Maunder on the clip. Drummer Alex Standen commented to Exclaim:

"The song revolves around accepting the certainty of death and acknowledging the beauty that can transpire before it. Specifically, it's about watching an older grandparent age and seeing the world through their deteriorating eyes. We wanted the video to somewhat represent this, displaying discomfort through erratic shots with dark/harsh strobe lighting, while also coaxing feelings of contentment and reflection through old family video footage."

The track comes from the band's 2018 Stomp full-length Salvation.

Watch: The Penske File - "Spin My History" @ YouTube

Toronto garage-rock trio The Mooks recently released "So Kind," the first single from their upcoming EP I Hope That You Feel The Same. The band features a jangly power-pop sound that would slide in nicely among the early Strokes singles. The group recorded their new EP with Calvin Hartwick at Dreamhouse Studios in Toronto. Expect it later this year.

Listen: The Mooks - "So Kind" @ SoundCloud

Last October Toronto indie-rock ensemble The Holy Gasp launched their emotionally-fraught divorce-themed LP with a mock wedding. The band's release show for The Love Songs of Oedipus Rex featured a 27-person orchestra performing the album track-for-track at 918 Bathurst Centre in Toronto, witnessed by a gathering of formally dressed attendees. The latest footage from that show, featuring frontman Benjamin Hackman belting out "Simple Pleasures," is now online at YouTube.

Watch: The Holy Gasp - "Simple Pleasures" @ YouTube

Jacek Kozlowski of Artoffact Records has been collecting lost studio sessions from the archives of the defunct CBC arts & culture program Brave New Waves. Among the recent releases in the series is a 1990 session from Crash Vegas and a `96 set from the pioneering Vancouver indie-rock act Mecca Normal (the vocals/guitar duo of Jean Smith and David Lester). Here's what the label had to say about the 11-song set:

"For a few years in the 90s, Vancouver's Mecca Normal headlined (and sometimes sold out) shows on the west coast and in the Northeastern USA, yet, until now, there hasn't been a live album. For a brief time in the mid-90s, New Zealander Peter Jefferies (Nocturnal Projections) was on drums. Known for the intensity of their live shows, this one borders on incendiary. Recorded at The Cabaret, a beautiful little theatre in Montréal, Québec on April 16, 1996 for later broadcast on CBC's Brave New Waves, Smith's unparalleled delivery of songs about injustice is viscerally enmeshed with Lester’s furious guitar. As for the drums... while there is wisdom in not allowing romantic partners in a band, that tension had been intensified after the couple in question started a new band (2 Foot Flame on Matador) while living in New Zealand. 'Maybe it's just me, but I figure the guitar and the drums are both trying to get the last word, while I felt I needed to elevate my performance to justify the drama,' Smith recently divulged about the show."

Mecca Normal had a huge influence on the early riot grrrl movement, with Smith regularly speaking between songs to encourage women in the audience to form their own bands and make their voices heard. Speaking to The Fader in 2010, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill reminisced:

"Jean Smith was really poetic and had feminist ideas at the core of a lot of her songs and she wasn’t ashamed of it. And when I saw her, I was just like, that’s it. I’m done. I’m sold."

You can find more details on the CD and LP editions of the set at Bandcamp, and preview the music below.

Listen: Mecca Normal - Brave New Waves session @ Bandcamp


Finally, my condolences go out to family and friends of Neil Demerchant, who passed away last week. Neil was the early drummer of the pioneering 70s-era Hamilton psych/proto-punk act Simply Saucer. You can hear him on the first side of the band's landmark Cyborgs Revisited LP.

Tough Age drummer Jesse Locke, who authored the definitive history of the band and sits behind the kit in their modern-day lineup had this to say on Facebook:

"I’m very sad to hear about the untimely passing of Simply Saucer’s original drummer Neil Demerchant. His incredible playing on Cyborgs Revisited is one of the big reasons why I became obsessed with the band and has been something I’ve tried my best to imitate while stepping into his massive shoes behind the kit. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to interview him for my book but his presence looms so large in the band’s history and I referenced him countless times throughout my writing."

A 2001 review by English musicologist Julian Cope perfectly captured DeMerchant's role in the band:

"The splatter-clatter drumming of Neil DeMerchant is at the amphetamine heart of Simply Saucer. He seems to have had a kit made up entirely of snare drums. His ride cymbal was a snare drum - his crash cymbal may have been a snare drum. He wore an 'I play snare drum' t-shirt. Simply Saucer rhythms sound as though 30-piece teenage marching bands are here to terrorise your neighbourhood."

Listen: Simply Saucer - "Electro Rock" @ YouTube

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