Sunday May 31, 2020

Dripping Visions

The hypnotic post-punk duo Freak Heat Waves return this September with Zap The Planet, their fourth LP. Once again working with Toronto's Telephone Explosion, it seems Steven Lind and Thomas DiNinno are aiming to veer even further afield than they got on 2018's adventurous Beyond XXXL. A press release breaks down geographically-split band's current working arrangement:

"With their latest work, Zap The Planet, the Freaks find themselves splitting coasts in Montreal and Victoria, distanced by geography and time, connecting via serial transmission tethered to a lone ethernet terminal. Extenuating logistics can unexpectedly prompt innovation. Their home studios continuously relocated, advanced and diversified. New instruments started to appear and new trajectories were explored. The studio process became more dynamic, involving many overdubs, avant-garde recording techniques, experimental sound design and orchestrations that utilized legendary effects, drum machines and synths. Tireless curiosity fueled the duo as they merged their original sound with new discoveries and seemingly disparate influences."

The record's first preview recently arrived with the single "Dripping Visions," backed by a surreal new video from Cole Kush and Jason Harvey. The animated clip follows an anthropomorphized duck through a fever-dream of psychedelic visuals and odd happenings, playing off Lind's droning vocals to unsettling effect. Come to think of it, it feels as real as anything else that's happened this year.

In the premiere at Flood Magazine, the band commented:

"We wanted to work out an arrangement that would be as groovy as it was off-putting Something that would slowly shift in rhythm and feel while the initial instrumentation provides a constant point of meditation."

Freak Heat Waves' Zap The Planet clocks in with nine new tracks. It's due on September 4.

Watch: Freak Heat Waves - "Dripping Visions" @ YouTube

Sackville, New Brunswick's criminally underappreciated garage heroes Astral Gunk unexpectedly resurfaced last week with a rarity in toe. The low-fi punk group shared a song titled "Egoismo," a track originally initially for their 2017 Secret East cassette release Buzzin'.

Micah Brown recorded the band's Buzzin' set in a Toronto basement in June of 2016. "Egoismo" was among those songs, but the four-track recorder mangled the tape and the unusable audio was dropped from the release. Brown later captured the version you'll find below in a quick make-up session at Montreal's storied Torn Curtain.

Astral Gunk has been more or less defunct for the past few years. They're welcome back when this is all over.

Listen: Astral Gunk - "Egoismo" @ Bandcamp

Constantines frontman Bry Webb recently resurfaced the audio from Sax Tape, a sample-based home recording project circa 2012. The endeavour, described by Webb at the time as a "psychedelic saxophone odyssey," has been repurposed as a fundraiser for Black Lives Matter Toronto. All proceeds from the online sale of the audio's due for that organization. If you missed this the first time around, now's the perfect time to grab a copy.

Look for more benefit sales of this type to be announced in the coming days, particularly since this Friday will again see Bandcamp waive their revenue share.

Listen: Bry Webb - Sax Tape @ Bandcamp

The gravel-voiced Ottawa trio Ciggie & The Darts recently shared the entirety of their debut full-length, a high-octane nine-track set titled Liquor, Leather, Denim & Darts. The band astutely observed, "if you close your eyes while you listen you can almost smell the bar bathroom." Fans of the similarly-charged racket from punk'n'roll groups like Dboy will find a lot to love here, although Ciggie's approach is a tad more southern fried than their sleazy Welland counterparts.

Ciggie & The Darts features members of Chloroform, Slumlord, and Alcohol Fueled, performing here under the stage names Ciggie Tarbox (vocals/guitar), Rolls "Sugarlumps" Royce (drums), and Double Double (bass).

Listen: Ciggie & The Darts - Liquor, Leather, Denim & Darts @ Bandcamp

Members of Toronto's indie rock community have again convened as Family Feast, with the loose collective crafting a nostalgic cover album they've appropriately dubbed Canadian Content. The set reimagines 17 familiar Cancon hits as quirky, synth-driven bedroom pop numbers. The isolation-recorded album features contributions from members of Ducks Unlimited, Twist, PUP, Grounders, Hooded Fang, No Frills, Beds, Context, NA, Rapport, Rogue Tenant, Waco Texas Motel, and Duncan Lincs.

The Canadian Content tracklist tackles some well-worn radio staples from the likes of Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, and The Tragically Hip, along with a heavy dose of 90s alt-rock from bands like The Philosopher Kinds and Econoline Crush.

Listen: Family Feast - Canadian Content @ Bandcamp

Daniel Romano's seemingly inexhaustible song factory produced yet another solo full-length last Wednesday, with the Welland artist delivering Dandelion right on schedule. Ever a man of few words, Danny commented that this set was the result of "me alone in a room for a week with a bunch of stuff." The new set clocks in with ten tracks, marking something of a return to the lush 70s-influenced pop-rock of the Modern Pressure era (and a break from the wildly genre-hopping experiments of the past few weeks). Kenneth Roy Meehan mastered the set.

A week prior, Romano released Spider Bite, a brisk punk record with Steven Lambke on vocals. Before that, Danny's rather astonishing pandemic discography recently produced a high-concept front-to-back cover of Bob Dylan's Infidels and a 23-minute prog cut dubbed "Forever Love's Fool." Over March and April Romano released the LPs Content To Point The Way and "Visions Of The Higher Dream", along with the EP Super Pollen (a collaboration with members of Fucked Up). Obscured somewhere back in the fog of pre-quarantine normalcy, You've Changed Records recently released a live Outfit record titled "Okay Wow".

Listen: Daniel Romano - Dandelion @ Bandcamp

As promised, the acerbic London punks Wasted Potential returned last week with a new four-song EP titled Separation Anxiety. The Get Party! release features four new songs, two with roots in the sessions for 2017's Living Up To The Name. The band recorded these tracks with Kyle Ashbourne (WHOOP-Szo, Red Arms) engineering at the Sugar Shack. Stu McKillop mastered the set at Rain City Recorders.

These songs mark the band's first new studio recordings since the Living Up To The Name LP, with the group already hinting that a second new EP may arrive later this year.

Listen: Wasted Potential - Separation Anxiety @ Bandcamp

It's been a delight following the isolation output of Chance & Jackie, the husband and wife duo of PRIORS' Chance Hutchison and Jackie Blenkarn of the Pale Lips. The Montreal pairing recently collected their output-to-date as a four-song EP titled Isolation Songs. It features the recent single "Tall Grass," along with "Dark Spots," "Get Loose," and a new track titled "Private Lives." You can find it on Bandcamp now.

Home-shot videos featuring three of those tracks are available on YouTube now, with the "Get Loose" clip appearing as part of the recent Slovenly quarantine series. Chance's garage-punk group PRIORS last released New Pleasure and Call For You, an LP and EP respectively, in 2018 for Slovenly. Pale Lips last put out After Dark in 2019 on God's Candy.

A third PRIORS LP was in the works before the lockdown kicked in. I'd expect it later this year.

Listen: Chance & Jackie - Isolation Songs @ Bandcamp

Vancouver's long-running garage duo The Pack a.d. recently shared a video for "Give Up," the band's first single from the recent album It Was Fun While It Lasted. Matthew Leaf filmed the piece with drones, thus allowing Maya Miller and Becky Black to maintain a responsible physical distance during the shoot. The clip features footage shot in Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood.

The band's new 12-song full-length, their eighth overall, arrived in April. While the duo stated that the record would likely be their last for the foreseeable future, they've since corrected earlier reports that assumed they were splitting up. A handful of shows supporting the record in Canada are still on the books, optimistically rescheduled for the fall, with European and US shows to be arranged sometime later.

Watch: The Pack a.d. - "Give Up" @ YouTube

Dundas power-trio The Dirty Nil are gearing up for a limited online release of their concert film Live At The Opera House. The movie will appear online later this week in two 24-hour engagements, one starting June 5 at 7 PM EST on Facebook, then moving to YouTube on June 6 at 7 PM EST. Once the weekend's through, the footage will be pulled offline and thrown into the Nil's equivalent of the Disney vault, so set your calendars. This footage was shot on December 1, 2018, in Toronto, with support from The Drew Thomson Foundation and Dead Soft. You can check out a trailer below.

The Nil was vying for Rock Album of the Year at the Juno Awards before everything went sideways. They earned the nomination for Master Volume, their sophomore Dine Alone Records LP.

Watch: The Dirty Nil - Live At The Opera House Trailer @ YouTube

Last week I missed one of B.A. Johnston's new songs. I apologize, I'm really shirking my duty to the nation lately. So without further delay, please click below to witness "Thought I Was a Grandpa."

The Hamilton-celebrating low-brow showman's trickled out impromptu live performances over the past month, with some of this new material likely due for the follow-up 2019's The Skid Is Hot Tonight. In a recent live stream (from a closet at his mother's house with an enormous stuffed mogwai), he announced that his forthcoming record would be titled Werewolves of London, Ontario.

That brilliant title's the only thing keeping me going at this point. Stay safe.

Watch: B.A. Johnston - "Thought I Was a Grandpa" @ Twitter

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