Thursday January 13, 2022

Spilling Yr Guts

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.

During the early 2000s Punknews heyday we'd dread the weeks following Christmas. We were in the habit of churning more than a dozen stories a day, and the post-holiday news doldrums felt simply excruciating for their lack of momentum. I'm older now, arguably wiser, and (like everyone) ground quite thoroughly down by the sorry state of the world. At Some Party speeds, in a pandemic funk, I relished the break - but inertia's pernicious. Monday seemed a little thin still, but what a difference a few days can make. This is a big one.

Apollo Ghosts: "Spilling Yr Guts"

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Adrian Teacher's issued several records since Apollo Ghosts called it a career in 2013 - both as the funky COOL TV and later Adrian Teacher & the Subs. While the latter struck close to the Vancouver band's scrappy jangle pop, Teacher didn't resume using the name until Living Memory, a sombre exploration of death and loss built from piano-driven instrumentals. While deeply personal for Teacher, it must have thrown fans for a bit of a loop. The pandemic, of course, took any further steam out of the band's return to action, with Teacher spinning the idle time into Local Delivery Only, a collection of covers celebrating Vancouver artists. Perhaps true to its title, it's no longer available if you didn't grab it at the time. As reunions go, this has been a slow, curious burn.

So while it's not unheralded, the news of a proper new full-length and the true successor to 2012's Landmark feels nonetheless momentous. Pink Tiger arrives on March 11 through You've Changed - and it makes up for the lost time by landing as a gatefold double LP. The album sports a thematic split between its platters, with the A and B sides of Pink described as "an intimate home-recorded acoustic-based cycle that grapples with loss, illness, death, and memory." Its Tiger counterpart amps things up with "an exuberant indie-garage rock celebration of the persistence of friendship, music, and hope." That sounds pretty damn appealing to me.

The announcement arrived alongside "Spilling Yr Guts," the lead track from the Tiger platter. You can stream it now or see it featured in a video by director Derek Janzen.

Apollo Ghosts recorded with Jordan Koop (Dumb, The Courtneys) at the Noise Floor, with additional production and mixing from David Carswell (Destroyer, New Pornographers) at JC/DC. The band recorded as a three-piece in the studio, with longtime drummer Amanda P. and bassist Robbie N. backing Teacher (on guitar, vocals, piano, and more). The group's future live lineup expands to a quartet, with Amanda picking up a guitar and Dustin B. cycling in on drums.

Teacher shared a statement on the record's creation, revealing some of the emotional forces and musical forebears influencing the work:

"About seven years ago, I stood around a makeshift fire pit in a clearing on a small gulf island with a group of my best friends. We burned a beer can and made jokes. When I started recording the first half of this record, I thought everything was falling apart. For six months, I could only hear from one ear and the doctor said it could be something quite serious. The cedars were still dying. My dad was still dying.

A year later, we recorded the second half of the record on Gabriola Island. My ear finally cleared up after the sessions were over. We listened to the final masters in the middle of the heat dome summer during the Perseid meteor shower. The heat dome eventually ended. In the fall, Amanda and I planted dozens of trees (Garry oaks, willows, alders and maples) around that fire pit. Our bass player Robbie's having a baby this spring. Amanda's started restoring hand-crank sewing machines. She says everything can be mended. It might be too late, but I'm going to keep planting trees every year going forward anyways.

Apollo Ghosts joked that this was a feeble attempt at making our own 'Tusk'. Some influences this round: The Bats, Dear Nora, Little Wings, Tom T. Hall, The La's, Beverly Glenn Copeland, disco beats, ocean swims, trees, Lucia Berlin & Lydia Davis, and as always... the local music scene."

Solitüde: Pils Sessions

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It should be evident to longtime subscribers that I'm fascinated with the connective tissue spanning the country's artistic islands, and in that spirit, the Pils Sessions provides an essential service. The Gatineau studio and label's chronicling a fascinating crop of young bands from both the capital region and Quebec's punk scenes. Their latest project highlights Montreal's Solitüde, a new goth duo featuring Janick and Pask of the UK82 bruisers Fractured. The band recorded their Pils set, the sixth in the series, back in October. Both "Nations Under Dust" and "Cold Mist" trade in bleak, danceable deathrock that fans of west coast new wavers ACTORS and Spectres will surely dig.

Chany Pilote engineered the performance at Pils' NOMANSLAND studio, with Dizz Hupé producing visuals. You can find their video for "Nations Under Dust" at YouTube. Solitüde commented on their origins, rooted, like so much of today's art, in the ongoing health crisis:

"It all started at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, I was (Pask) bored and just writing a bunch of music alone and tried to do a solo project, and Janick came in one night for a drink and heard my songs and asked me to sing on it. There it is. Solitüde for both a side project but also a solid project based on friendship."

Fractured-proper recorded their Pils session last summer. Other entries are currently available from Dysruptive, Ciggie & The Darts, Ad Vitam, and Collapsed - with at least a half dozen others lined up for the coming months.

Greville Tapes Music Club: Season 2

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On the topic of connective tissue, you could heap similar praise on the Greville Tapes Music Club. Last week Monopolized Records issued Season 2 of the project, featuring a series of collaborations between East Coast artists. These 12 songs arise from three separate recording sessions in the Fall of 2021, marking the project's return to action after nearly five years of dormancy. The new release pairs Fredericton rock group Marion with Saint John's folky Tooth & the Fang, recorded at the Shiftwork studio. Fredericton electronic artist Indigo Poirier joins Construction & Destruction's Colleen 'Coco' Collins for four striking tracks recorded at The Quarantine, the latter's prophetically-named living room studio in Port Greville, NS. Finally, Dartmouth indie rockers Designosaur teamed up with Saint John singer-songwriter Sadie to round out the set. They also recorded at The Quarantine.

The full record's available now through Bandcamp. As a bonus, you can find live footage of Designosaur and Sadie covering the Eric's Trip classic "Behind The Garage" at YouTube. It's a fitting selection given that Peter Rowan, former manager of the Moncton indie legends (not to mention Sloan and Julie Doiron), curates the project. He commented:

"I always look forward to seeing the unintended results of these pairings; you know you'll end up with great collaborations and live performances, but you can't anticipate how the connections we've made will evolve over time"

Grid City Magazine recently published a detailed write-up on Season 2 of the Greville Tapes Music Club. Do check it out.

No Frills: "I Don't Wanna Be Your Dog Anymore"

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This week the Toronto bummer pop group No Frills rebutted The Stooges with "I Don't Wanna Be Your Dog Anymore," the latest preview of their forthcoming LP Downward Dog. The track fits well (with a dispassionate shrug, of course) alongside earlier earworms "Ice Cream Cone" and "Drip." The complete set's due April 1, but I need no further convincing. This may turn out to be one of the highlights of the year.

Downward Dog arrives as the follow-up to No Frills' 2018 debut EP Nice To Meet You. That record saw Daniel Busheikin (of Grounders) establish the band's relaxingly downtrodden outlook, backed by his feller Grounder Kelvin Grove, Jon Pappo (of Hooded Fang and WHIMM), and Matt 'Bucky' Buckberrough (who's played with Twist and Beds).

Matt Ellis: Everything Sucks

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I caught a small but meaningful handful of shows during those few months of hope before Omicron hit. The Matt Ellis Band took the honour of serving as the first live performance I had the pleasure of seeing since March of 2020. So if I wasn't already an uncritical booster of Matt's gleefully shameless Ramones revivalism, I'm now hopelessly biased in his favour. On that note, Everything Sucks is everything you want it to be, bringing two new cuts of sneering, home-recorded punk rock, each a minute in length. If you're looking for an insight into Matt's current mood, the EP features songs titled "Brutal Planet" and "Everything Sucks / I Hate It All" - no ambiguity there (no argument either).

Last fall, Matt released a killer full-length of quarantine rockers titled Full Moon Fever, issued on vinyl through Italy's Surfin' Ki Records. When the world finally starts turning again, Matt presumably still sings and plays guitar for the Hamilton proto-punk revivalists Flesh Rag and Toronto's PlasticHeads. His pre-pandemic work with the vicious Anxious Pleasers (a trio with TJ Charlton and Nathan Burger of TV Freaks) arrives on vinyl at some point this year from Neon Taste Records.

Salmonblaster: Salmonblaster

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I won't pretend that I was hip to London, Ontario alt-rockers Salmonblaster during their original run, but a new reissue from Yeah Right makes a strong argument that I wasted my youth. The label's new double LP collects both the band's 14-song 1996 debut and includes the entirety of its unreleased follow-up (unofficially titled Headfuls of Chills). All-in, 2022's self-titled Salmonblaster clocks in with 25 songs, including the group's attention-grabbing single "Freeway," a barnburner of a song that earned some Much Music attention back in the day (not that I noticed).

Active during the 90s punk revival from 1994 through 1998, Salmonblaster featured vocalist/guitarist Matt Werm, drummer Brady Parr, and bassist Mat Davis. Roy Silvera recorded and mixed these songs, with Trevor Sadler mastering the original LP. The unreleased Headfuls of Chills material sat unfinished until just last year, with Andy Magoffin (Constantines, Gianna Lauren) ultimately mastering them at the House of Miracles in Cambridge, ON.

Yeah Right's pressing a few hundred LPs in two colours, set to ship out on January 31. The digital tracks are available now from Bandcamp.

Jyraph: "El Pinche Gobierno"

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Jyraph's 2018 post-punk full-length El Fuego has, for whatever reason, become something of a daily mindfulness exercise around here, so I'm well primed for absolutely anything the enigmatic Montreal artist throws out there. The latest arrived as "El Pinche Gobierno" - a propulsive instrumental single built atop a looped three-second sample of Paul Jacobs drumming. That title translates to "The Fucking Government," for the record.

The crashing new track follows several recent singles from Pablo Garcia-Rejon Gaubeca, including "El Agua," "La Brume," and a campfire cover of Scott Walker's "30th Century Man." Gaubeca's served in the Montreal rock band Palmetto and played with the indie rock group Hypocrites before that. While the latter hasn't been active since 2013, they recently reconvened with a 2022 reunion (in some form) looking likely.

Print Head: In Motion

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Looking over his recent discography, it's evident that I've utterly failed to keep up with Brandon Saucier's prolific lo-fi solo project Print Head. Last week, the In Motion tape surfaced, packing seven thrillingly unpredictable new tracks. It's the latest from the Lethbridge musician's seemingly unending well of manic DEVOcore rackets, following at least four releases last year. These tracks came together in September and October.

Saucier's alternated between several stage names over the years, including WINT, Compassion Fatigues, and Tim Spacey. In Motion follows December's IDKWTFimdoing and October's boringboring (co-released through Australia's Under Heat Records) - all, of course, available as limited cassettes.

TJ Felix: "Clutterbug's Wasted Breath"

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Vancouver-based Secwépemc artist TJ Felix may have postponed his planned full-length Transformer Story, but the delay hasn't stopped them from sharing new material. "Clutterbug's Wasted Breath" arrives in an understated rush and ends before you know it, but there's so much going on in that jangling one-minute twenty that it's well worth a repeat (or three). "Breath" is the first we've heard from TJ since last summer's "I Listen (For Giants)" single.

For nearly a decade, TJ Felix recorded some distinctively anxious off-kilter punk tunes as Industrial Priest Overcoats, a name retired in recent years.

Young Guv: "It's Only Dancin'"

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Over the break, Ben Cook's Young Guv issued a third single from GUV III, one of two records due this year from the productive power-pop songwriter. With the bright and clean "It's Only Dancin'" on hand, you can now listen to a significant chunk of A-side of the upcoming record. The press release pegs it as "Tom Petty on a Paul Collins kick," and that's not too far off. You can stream the track now or see it paired with a visualizer on YouTube.

Cook and his band wrote these forthcoming albums while isolating in Taos, New Mexico. Ben shares a writing credit on this one with frequent collaborator Ryan Gavel and The Major (who we of course know and love from Sudbury's Tommy and the Commies). GUV III arrives March 11 through Run For Cover and Hand Drawn Dracula, to be followed by GUV IV later in the year. Cook issued the similarly labelled GUV I and II LPs in 2019.

Dead Soft: "Brain's Fried"

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Grungy BC power-pop act Dead Soft recently shared "Brain's Fried," another in a string of homespun tunes recorded in the group's shed on Gabriola Island. Bassist Keeley Rochon takes lead vocals on this one. The new track comes on the heels of October's "As It Grows" and September's "Peace."

The new songs follow 2020's Baby Blue EP, which saw the group rework material from their 2019 Arts & Crafts debut, Big Blue. Dead Soft features Rochon with vocalist/guitarist Nathaniel Epp and drummer Alex Smith.

Still Insane: Black Sheep

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Quebec City's Still Insane returns next month with Black Sheep, a new five-song EP of riffy metallic skatepunk for Thousand Islands Records. You can preview the title track and the pandemic-rooted "Stay Home" on Bandcamp (although the latter may test your tolerance for clips of COVID news coverage as a bridge). The new set follows the group's 2017's EP Friends & Family.

Nearly 15 years into their career, Still Insane features vocalist Eric Dorval, guitarists Jean-Sébastien Arsenault and Steeve Rock, bassist Jean-Philippe "Bub" Bérubé, and drummer Sylvain "LabWreck" LaBrecque.

Jesse Lebourdais: Rough Time Demos

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Vancouver folk-punker Jesse Lebourdais has a new set of demo recordings available, exclusively on Bandcamp. The singer-songwriter recorded the Rough Time Demos in preparation for a tour and proper EP release, but with Omicron scrapping those plans, he's not letting the audio go to waste. The set features five new tracks and a cover of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." Jesse has a write-up accompanying each song to offer some context (and unload some pandemic anxieties), so click through to each title for more insight.

Last fall, Lebourdais released Firelight, his debut fantasy novel, accompanying it with a Bandcamp-hosted audiobook in December. In 2019 he released See You In The Storm, a collection of b-sides from the Grief Intensity Friendship LP. That record arrived through My Fingers! My Brain! Records back in 2017.

Halcyon Phase: Time"

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Ottawa's Halcyon Phase has a surreal animated video out to accompany "Time," A moody folk-rocker from the baroque indie duo's 2021 debut LP Tendrils. The piece again pairs the group with Okanagan filmmaker Jesse Stasiuk, who previously treated their "Emergency" single to an acclaimed visual treatment. The director commented:

"My inspiration was a clockwork world, full of wonders and kept separate from threat, but always on the verge of disaster at its borders. The two lovers find solace in quiet moments and in each other amidst a chaotic storm of perceived and real threats."

Halcyon Phase pairs Ottawa singer-songwriter Frank Smith (Sills & Smith) with veteran recording engineer and multi-instrumentalist Phillip Victor Bova (plus a host of session musicians). Their 13 track Tendrils debuted in March of 2021.

Friesen/Munro/Waters: Bug Incision sessions at The GRAND, July 23, 2021

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Calgary's improvisational performance series Bug Incision recently published a collaboration between noise rocker Devin Friesen (aka Bitter Fictions), saxophonist Nate Waters, and Preoccupations' Scott Munro. The trio appeared together at The GRAND in July of last year. Organizer Chris Dadge (of the band Lab Coast) spoke about the performance:

"The fifth night of the series add previous player Scott Munro to the already existing duo Friesen-Waters. Munro bring his bass & electronics rig once again to Devin Friesen's guitar/etc setup and Nate Waters' sax+ world.

Friesen-Waters have a number of excellent duo albums on Friesen's Shaking Box Music imprint, and they both play in other ensembles. Waters is an active and vital member of Calgary's jazz scene, and also plays in Samantha Savage Smith's band. Friesen has issued a staggering volume of work under his solo guise Bitter Fictions, and has issued many other choice albums (nearly all cassettes) from the western Canadian underground.

The music here is thick and probing, with many ominous clouds of sound, and a more oblique aspect to the playing."

You can now find the group's full performance (in three parts) playing on YouTube along with other clips from the Bug Inclusion series. Edmonton singer-songwriter Marlaena Moore filmed the set.

Destroyer: "Tintoretto, It's for You"

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This is a long mailing already, and I considered punting this particular update to next week, but seeing Dan Bejar on stage with The New Pornographers in December was such an absolute joy that I couldn't wait. The Vancouver singer-songwriter returns to his oft-challenging and densely poetic solo vehicle Destroyer in March, with a new LP Labyrinthitis due through Merge Records. Clocking as the artist's 13th full-length under the name, the album arrives with ten new songs, including the synth-driven lead single "Tintoretto, It's for You." Bejar commented on the piece, stating:

"I had an idea of writing a couple lines on the idea of 'mystery' and 'goin nowhere,' as they are two of my favourite themes. That and the Grim Reaper and being pursued by some silent, unnamable thing that constantly lurks one foot to the left of you. Especially as the world's decay becomes increasingly less abstract. Also wanted to write on the romance of terror. The song 'Tintoretto, It's for You' speaks to all these things, oddly enough so does the video..."

On that topic, director David Galloway revealed:

"It hopefully presents some loose giallo vibes despite the fact that it clearly isn't a giallo at all. Nobody dies, nothing is explored at length, and it's ultimately a collection of neighbourhood red herrings. All leads that go nowhere. But that's the mystery. That's the mystery about music videos."

The new record follows 2020's Have We Met and Bejar's aforementioned anniversary shows with the Porns. Presuming we turn a corner on the problem by then, check your local listings for April tour dates in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and throughout the States. Labyrinthitis arrives March 25.

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