Sunday June 25, 2017

Glory Days

You knew it was happening from the teasers. Los Angeles punk label SideOneDummy Records tweeted out an animated GIF of Ralph Wiggum sporting the Red Serge and playing the role of Canada at a Simpsons model UN. They had something Canadian to announce. Toronto's PUP, who'd broken into the the US punk scene on the label a few years ago, dropped hints as well. Pkew Pkew Pkew, the Toronto party-punk act whose repertoire largely (and proudly) consists of songs about beer and pizza, was getting the call up to the punk rock big leagues.

It's fascinating to look at this transition from this side of the border and compare it to the PR push. You're of course elated that someone from the home team is getting a shot at making their band their day job. Of course a goofy punk act with a bizarre name like Pkew Pkew Pkew's never going to sell out arenas, but this type of arrangement could absolutely keep them with a full tour calendar for the near future. You've also got that tinge of jealous regret that you're probably never going to see the band play to 20 people on the floor of Patrick Sheehan's Irish Pub ever again. Those days are numbered.

My main reaction to these signings, be it Pkew or PUP or The Dirty Nil, is it makes me feel for how damn exhausting the journey must have been. When I first saw Pkew Pkew Pkew it was as part of the now-defunct S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival, playing that graveyard shift of a noon set at an all day event. The infectious pop-punk songs they were belting out in 2011 ("Asshole Pandemic," "Stop Calling Us Chief", et al) would later appear on a 7" here or there, eventually on the 2013 Glory Days album (which was I think retroactively downgraded to an EP), and later on their proper debut for Royal Mountain. Now those songs are again getting a reprieve on this SideOne debut. This band has had to, likely many times in the years between now and then, make a choice to not settle for whatever level of exposure these dumb little drinking songs had achieved. For a group that seems so irreverent and carefree, there's been a long slog behind the scenes to get from there to here. I'm so happy for them, but to consider the years it took and how much songwriting may have been on hold for the sake of these songs... it just leaves me exhausted.

If SideOne can be guaranteed of anything, it's that Pkew Pkew Pkew are no strangers to hard work or taking the long view (so long as they can drink on the job, I guess).

Steel City

Hamilton three-piece garage-punk act Flesh Rag (members of Hamilton's TV Freaks and Welland's Rocket Reducers) is touring this summer, heading to the Maritimes and back in the first few weeks of July, including an appearance at Moncton's three day NO Funswick Fest on the 7th. At the time of writing more than few of the venues are unconfirmed, so if you're on that coast check your local show listings.

The band will be taking a summer tour tape along with them, released on their own Loose Lips Records. It features 3 new songs recorded in the spring of 2016 at Downtown Sound Studios By Mario Pietrangeli (one of them, "I'm Sick" is set for inclusion on the upcoming rust belt-themed Killed By Meth 2 compilation on London's It's Trash). Four live tracks are also included, recorded on Chris Forrest's Incorrect Thoughts radio show on CHRW this past winter (including an apt cover of the Stooges' "T.V. Eye"). The b-side will include the band's entire out of print 2015 self-titled 12". You can stream the new stuff over at BandCamp.

Calgary's Sled Island just wrapped up, and an appearance by 70s Hamilton psych / proto-punk act Simply Saucer has drummed up a batch of interesting media. The band appeared on Dawn Loucks and Mike Bell's CJSW show Saved By the Bell, performing four songs live in the studio. The hosts also speak to Jesse Locke about his book Heavy Metalloid Music: The Story of Simply Saucer, the second edition of which was released this summer to coincide with the band's summer festival appearances. Jesse's of course a member of both Toronto's Tough Age and Century Palm and is drumming for Simply Saucer. The band were also treated to a feature by veteran Calgary's music writer Mike Bell in theYYSCENE.ca. Bell speaks at length with Saucer frontman Edgar Breau for the piece.

Thanks to the good people of srcvinyl for sponsoring the launch month of Some Party. Check out their selection online at srcvinyl.ca, which ships out from Canada. If you're looking for a deal their unfortunately soon-to-close physical store at 5904 Main St in Niagara Falls is discounting their stock until the end of the month.

Of Note

UK label Drunken Sailor Records has confirmed that July will see the debut LP from Ottawa's Cheap Whine, a three-piece featuring Steve Adamyk, Jordy of Crusades / The Creeps, and Eric from Moncton's Feral Trash. What do I get from the Tourism Moncton if I mention the city a third time in this week's letter? The label boldly states that Cheap Wine "sound like classic 70s punk always sounds in your head, but somehow never quite lives up to" and while I'm not sure what that means, I'm down. You can check out the cover art and some pressing info at the label. There's no music available to share yet.

Single Mothers' new, Wade MacNeil produced LP Our Pleasure was released last week. It's snide, self-depreciating, and is, from what I can see, being pretty well received. In support of the record there's an overseas tour lined up for the fall that will see the band playing shows in the UK and mainland Europe. You can find the tour dates over at Upset. A video for the song "People are Pets" also arrived this week. I'll share it here, although I'm strongly considering a Some Party lyric video boycott, just on principle. This one's not too bad though.

Extremely low-fi Toronto punk act Protruders released a new cassette last week to coincide with their Ottawa Explosion appearance. You can check out Steaming Pile/Dance Dancing Ape over at BandCamp. Seriously though, I played a Protruders song on a Punknews podcast a few weeks ago and I'm pretty sure it made our producer mad at me. Something about clipping? I'm not an engineer, dude.

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia's Designosaur has the worst band name ever, and we just mentioned Pkew Pkew Pkew a few paragraphs up. The three-piece plays 90s style alt rock with a bit of a Sloan vibe. Their new full length Seattle of the North was recently released and you can check it out at BandCamp. They're also playing No Funsiwck in Moncton (ding!).

New Noise premiered a video for New Swears' song "777" from their newly released and the Magic of Horses full length. It was shot by Jordan Wiens, who was behind the camera on the band's 2015 "Stay Gold" video, and revisits the raucous street scene from that outing (although a bit more relaxed this time).

Mathias Kom and Ariel Sharratt of The Burning Hell are heading back overseas this September to play a tour of Scotland alongside New York singer / songwriter Jeffrey Lewis. Before that they'll also appear at the End Of The Road festival in Dorset (with a handful of Canuck acts including Daniel Romano, Japandroids, Nap Eyes, and Alvvays). Look for dates over at Facebook. There's no word yet on the band's follow up to Public Library but it's apparently coming this year.

Mint has announced details on the new full length from moody Vancouver indie rock act Woolworm. Deserve to Die will arrive on August 25 and run 10 tracks, one of which is "Catbird" which can be streamed below. The band recorded at Rain City Recorders with Jesse Gander (Japandroids, White Lung) for this one.

Finally, Ian Blurton is a busy dude. Public Animal is in the studio recording their third LP. Ian says they've been "getting our Zep 3 on" so fans of their classic rock referencing style should expect that to continue unabated. Exclaim also announced an expansion of the Change of Heart reunion tour that's celebrating the 25th anniversary of their Smile record. The band's touring lineup feature Blurton and founding bassist/lyricist Rob Taylor along with Bernard Maiezza on keboards and and Blue Rodeo's Glenn Milchem on drums.

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