"I kinda think this may the best Fucked Up song ever?"
That was Damian Abraham on Twitter when Fucked Up premiered the video for "Normal People." While he undoubtedly has a vested interest in keeping up the hype for Dose Your Dreams, Damian's outlook on this record, and the humble deference he's been paying to Mike Haliechuk's creative direction, is fascinating to see. A recent interview the boundary-pushing Toronto hardcore band did with Billboard brims with this sentiment. For a group with such a history of inner turmoil, housing so many stubborn personalities with often conflicting artistic visions, it feels like they've turned some corner. At the very least, it appears they've reached a sonically fruitful détente. Give that interview a read, as it cuts a little deeper than typical PR fluff.
To keep an eye on new media to share on this newsletter I follow a personally curated rabble of Canadian music folk on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere to see what people are talking about. A consensus is rare, and it's limited that the entire group will weigh in on a single piece of new music, but this is one of those times. As was the case with Jennifer Castle's "Crying Shame" single in March, "Normal People" was the only thing my circles seemed to be talking about for the better part of a week. After a listen it should be clear why.
While "Raise Your Voice Joyce" was celebrated upon release, it also marked the announcement of this record and the pending return of a beloved band. While a great deal of fun (you should see my kids try and sing along), it's ultimately a song that feels familiar in the context of Fucked Up's catalogue. "Normal People" is the first Dose Your Dreams track released that speaks to this record's purported scope. You'll recall that Owen Pallett quote that "Fucked Up have made their Screamadelica." This is the first public evidence they've shown to back that up.
The song kicks off with an intro from English-Canadian folk songwriter John Southworth, with drummer Jonah Falco picking up the vocal lead (and carrying it for a good while, with Abraham's familiar growl only arriving in the chorus). Instrumentally the song's confidently mid-tempo, never pushing entirely into hardcore territory (not that it needs to). "Normal People" is Fucked Up (justifiably) showing off what they can do with the vast powers at their disposal, and that swagger wears well on them.
A compelling, at times surreal video for the track, directed by Haliechuk, has also garnered a fair amount of praise (that and some social media pushback for the environmental impact of all those balloons). You can check it out below.
Dose Your Dreams arrives on October 5 via Arts & Crafts in Canada and Merge in other places. A 7" single for "Raise Your Voice Joyce" on will precede it on September 7. The new set follows the band's recent cover of the Trainspotters' "High Rise" from this past June.
This coming weekend Saskatoon punk act Soul Mates are set to release a new 2-song EP titled Lost. The pair will be available digitally and as a limited-release tour cassette from Deathstryke Publishing. The new material follows up the band's 2016 LP Snake Oil and a compilation track from this spring titled "Burning Bright." If you're a fan of the riffy, raw-throated punk'n'roll of The Bronx or hard rock influenced groups like Electric Frankenstein this should be up your alley.
Soul Mates is a four piece featuring vocalist Tyler Baptist, Jeshaiah David on guitar, Pat Eaton on bass, and drummer Colin McGuirk McNeil. Mike Lefebvre recorded the new songs at the Sweat Shoppe in Saskatoon this past June. The band's headed east at the end of the month to tour behind the EP, with shows scheduled in Ontario and Quebec through the first two weeks of September.
This week on Punknews.org I premiered "Drive," a new song from Toronto punk/blues duo catl. The band's often lumped into the Deep Blues scene for their combination of old Mississippi Delta sounds with punk rock bombast. If you're familiar with the Black Diamond Heavies, Left Lane Cruiser, or Cedric Burnside, they're in that ballpark.
catl. features guitarist Jamie Fleming (who rocks out on a 40s Gretsch) with drummer Sarah Kirkpatrick (on a 2-piece kit). The band spoke to Punknews.org about the sentiment behind "Drive":
"Drive is a song about hitting the road, but it is also the first track off the record and really a summation about being in bands in general. The absurdity of being in a band and the undesirability of dealing with the music industry begs the question "Why do people do it?". It also examines the self-importance that musicians seem to carry around with themselves. We see ourselves not as artists doing something important but rather as entertainers trying to get people to have a good time with us. No one cares about our political ideologies and no one should care what someone like Bono or Thom Yorke thinks as well."
The duo's upcoming record, their fifth, is titled Bide My Time Until I Die. It arrives on September 21 from French label Beast Records.
The grungy Montreal-via-Peterborough three-piece Lonely Parade have a new song online titled "Olive Green," a gritty punk number that ends with a cool low-fi instrumental. It'll appear on the trio's upcoming Buzz Records release The Pits when it arrives on September 14.
I'm not sure how exactly to categorize Nanaimo's Fine. The band tags themselves as "emo teens" and "whiney babies," neither of which are useful taxonomies. The four-piece features vocalist Max Pittet, guitarist/vocalist Charlotte Coleman, bassist Wes Mulholland and drummer/vocalist Chris Thompson. The band released an EP last week titled Thanks For Asking that puts forth a pleasing set of fuzzy indie pop numbers that are, on the surface, a bit melancholy but buoyed by a lot of fun vocal interplay.
The EP was recorded and co-produced by Chris Thompson, with Jordan Koop (Dumb, The Courtneys) mastering. Thanks to Mac Cameron at Dominionated for the recommendation here.
Dundas, Ontario's The Dirty Nil posted a live session recorded at Tape studio in Hamilton. It features the band performing "Pain of Infinity," the latest single from their upcoming record Master Volume. Tape's a notable location in the history of this record, as the band demoed every new song there before recording.
The Dirty Nil are now well into the hype cycle for their upcoming record. Master Volume will arrive on September 14 through Dine Alone Records. It follows up 2016's Higher Power.
Nap Eyes released I'm Bad Now earlier this year on You've Changed Records in Canada, with Paradise of Bachelors and Jagjaguwar handling the release elsewhere. The record is the follow-up wot their 2016 LP Through Rock Fish Scale.
You can now stream the new solo record from Toronto multi-instrumentalist Matthew “Doc” Dunn, a spacious folk-rock effort titled Lightbourn. Dunn's best known these days as a member of the psyche act the Cosmic Range, and in particular as the architect behind the disco-inspired instrumentals powering Meg Remy's latest U.S. Girls record, In A Poem Unlimited. While both Remy and Isla Craig appear on Lightbourn as backing vocalists, this is very much a solo effort from Dunn.
I have it in my notes that there's a new Toronto-based band dubbed Sauna that features guitarist/vocalist Michael le Riche of Fake Palms, drummer Braeden Craig of Greys, and Weaves bassist Zach Bines. I have no idea what they sound like and no media share, but given the personnel, I thought I'd make mention of it here.
Beau's All Natural's annual Oktoberfest music festival and fundraiser will take place on September 21 and 22 in Vanleek Hill, Ontario. The event will an entirely Canadian lineup on both on the main stage and their punk-focused Black Forest Stage, with Black Forest raising funds in support of For Pivots Sake. For Pivots Sake is a nonprofit organization founded in the Ottawa skate scene that seeks to engage and mentor youth. I've been digging through the Black Forest lineup band-by-band each week at Some Party in the lead-up to the event.
Montreal's Barrasso are fresh off the release of Colada, the francophone punk band's new 11-song full-length. The five-piece plays soaring melodic punk that, language aside, would have fit well into amongst the late-90s Epitaph roster. Barrasso features guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Beauregard, bassist/vocalist Louis-Simon Bastien, guitarists Étienne Beaupré and Thierry Bourgault-D'Amico, and drummer Francis Paquette. COLADA follows-up the band's 2015 full-length Des X, crosses, dots.
Hailing from Beau's home-base in Vanleek Hill, Audio Visceral is a snotty three-piece punk act featuring guitarist Steve Beauchesne, bassist Kevin James, and drummer Gary Doherty. It's no coincidence this speedy pop-punk trio find themselves on the Black Forest stage, as Beauchesne is better known as the co-founder and CEO of Beau's. Back in the late 90s, Beauchesne played in the band Constable Brennan, who frequently opened Ontario shows for prominent visiting ska-punk groups like the Slackers and the English Beat. His bandmates have similar roots. Kevin James played in the early-90s Toronto trio Bender as well as the storied Almighty Trigger Happy. Gary Doherty similarly served time in Trigger Happy, having earlier performed as part of the Thunder Bay punk/metal act Headcramp.
RIP Randy Rampage
This week saw the passing of Randy Rampage, founding bassist of Vancouver punk legends D.O.A. and sometimes-frontman of the thrash-metal group Annihilator. Born Randall Desmond Archibald in 1960, Rampage performed on D.O.A.'s first two LPs, the classics Something Better Change and Hardcore '81. He would later rejoin the band nearly two decades later to appear on 2002's Win The Battle and 2008's Northern Avenger. In the time between Rampage served an occasional vocalist for Annihilator, notably 1989's Alice in Hell. Rampage worked a day job as a longshoreman in Vancouver throughout his musical career. He died at home from an apparent heart attack this past Tuesday. He was 58.
You can read a full obit over at the Vancouver Sun.