Sunday March 18, 2018

Are We Not Bags

This past weekend Toronto punk group Rotten Column both played their first live show and shared their first studio recordings. Are we not bags is a fuzzed-out five-song EP recorded by Michael Couvillon of Calgary's Leather Jacuzzi. You can check it out at the link below.

If Rotten Column sounds a little familiar, you should recognize the scrappy vocals from Penny Clark of Tough Age. She's joined here by her Tough Age bandmates Jarrett Samson and Jesse Locke, along with Emma Healey and Stephan NoHaus. Emma's known for her output as a Toronto-based poet, while NoHaus formerly played in the Victoria, BC power-pop band Pinner.

Tough Age proper last released the Shame LP in 2017 on Mint Records. Both Clark and Locke were also part of Century Palm, who released the Meet You full-length on Deranged last year before splitting up. As a huge fan of both those bands, and by extension everything their extended social circle has been putting out, I'm more than a little excited about this...

Listen: Rotten Column - "Are We Not Bags" @ Bandcamp

Montreal's Freak Heat Waves are preparing to release Beyond XXXL, the electronics-heavy psyched-out reinvention of their sound. The eleven song LP, which follows up 2015's Bonnie's State of Mind. arrives on April 6 from Telephone Explosion. I've been playing and re-playing the trippy space drone of "Self Vortex" since that single was first previewed back in February. I trust you have as well, so here's another, and it's a whole different level of wild.

"Toxic Talk Show" lands with a video featuring hand-drawn animation from Dr Cool, featuring an intergalactic zoo breakout. Go give it a spin.

Freak Heat Waves first formed in Medicine Hat and were based for a time in Victoria. The band centres around the duo of Steven Lind and Thomas DiNinno. They self-produced Beyond XXXL, recording over a period of nine months. They tracked guitar, bass, and drum machine tracks at a Portland Community College studio with the electronic percussion expert Shawn Trail.

Watch: Freak Heat Waves - "Toxic Talk Show" @ YouTube

Jacek Kozlowski of Artoffact Records has been dutifully collecting and releasing lost sessions from the archives of the long running CBC arts & culture program Brave New Waves. This week the label announced a few forthcoming sets from their 2018 collection.

May 18 will see a session from the legendary Vancouver indie-pop group cub. They recorded their sesssion on May 19, 1993, at the CBC's Montreal studios. It was first broadcast the subsequent January. The band recorded in the midst of their first cross-country tour in support of their classic Mint Records debut album Betti-Cola. Their lineup at the time featured guitarist/vocalist Robynn Iwata, bassist/vocalist Lisa Marr, and drummer Neko Case (before her rise to fame).

The Brave New Waves recordings were taken from the original digital audiotape masters and remastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering in Montreal. Artoffact is issuing a limited edition vinyl set (red & black with 10" grooves cut into a 12" platter), with CD and digital versions available as well. Look for all that on May 18. Nardwaur wrote the liner notes, of course.

Listen: cub - "Go Fish" @ Bandcamp

On May 4 Artoffact will also issue a Brave New Waves session from the late-80s / early-90s Toronto post-punk trio Phleg Camp. This is one of those bands who've retroactively gained some notoriety for where the band members went after. The group featured Gavin Brown, who went on to produce significant records for Metric, the Tragically Hip, and a list of well-known artists that reads like a Cancon Who's Who. There's something like 30 Juno nominations and wins on his resume. Sean Dean who would later form The Sadies with the Good brothers, while Eric Chenaux has since made his name as a solo artist on Constellation Records.

Phleg Camp's session will feature 8 songs from the band. This release will be digital and available as a CD digipak. If you've never heard these guys, you'll find they'd fit right in on the Dischord roster.

Listen: Phleg Camp - "Besides Why It Tastes Fine" @ Bandcamp

Edmonton two-piece Rhythm of Cruelty has a new EP coming out on cassette. Look for it from Pseudo Laboratories on March 25. The band features sinister synth rock from the duo of Ian Rowley and Brandi Strauss, formerly of the Edmonton punk group Geister. Daniel Husayn mastered the new EP at the North London Bomb Factory.

Listen: Rhythm of Cruelty - "Dispossession" @ Bandcamp

Is an album truly released when only half the digital gatekeepers add it to their catalogue? Toronto's Ben Cook had to ponder that last week when his new Young Guv LP was almost, but not entirely, released online.

That's all cleared up now, so let's talk about the gloriously titled 2 Sad 2 Funk, the proper follow-up to 2015's Ripe 4 Luv. This is Cook taking his pop persona to an extreme of 80s synths and vocoder effects. If part of what made Ripe 4 Luv so cool was how brazenly it constrasted Cook's aggressive work in Fucked Up and No Warning, this will undoubtedly have the same effect.

Glasgow label Night School Records is handling the release. A limited, hand-numbered first press LP sold out pretty much instantly, but details but a proper physical version are forthcoming.

Listen: Young Guv - "Stand In The Way" @ Bandcamp

Last week Montreal's Ought released a video for the song "Desire" from their recent full-length Room Inside the World. The indie rock quartet recently released their new record on Merge internationally and Royal Mountain in Canada.

The video for "Desire," which features a 70-piece vocal choir on the recording, was produced by Christina Carvalho and directed by Heather Rappard. The director commented:

“Desire” as a song has a real triumphant quality and masculine energy; I wanted to take this and subvert it and create a video that focused more on internal desire. Something that was important to me was that the video feel cathartic and positive; I’ve seen a lot of videos that take on ideas around gender that have characters being assaulted, or just exoticized. I wanted this character to have a full life but be most empowered, happiest, and at peace with himself when he’s on stage at the end.

Watch: Ought - "Desire" @ YouTube

The super chill Quebec City alt-pop duo A Fawn at Dawn is preparing to release their debut EP on March 27, a four-song set titled Belongings. The band features David Lamothe and Dimitri Fortin. Check out their track "Mind Sounds" below.

Listen: A Fawn at Dawn - "Mind Sounds" @ Bandcamp

Toronto punk trio Talk Show Host recently released a video for their song "I Hate Men (I Hate All Men)," which comes from last year's Not Here To Make Friends EP. The band worked with French director Judith Florent-Lapara on the clip.

Watch: Talk Show Host - "I Hate Men (I Hate All Men)" @ YouTube

Punknews recently premiered a video for "Kamikaze Kids," the first single from The Penske File' upcoming full-length Salvation. The anthemic Burlington, Ontario punk trio worked with Steve Rizun at Drive Studios on the new record. Expect it on Montreal's Stomp Records on April 6.

Watch: The Penske File - Kamikaze Kids @ YouTube

It's been a busy week of announcements for the recently reunited Vancouver punk group Daggermouth. The band announced European tour dates and a vinyl reissue of their 2007 release Turf Wars. They paired that announcement with a new video for an old song, and you can check out "You Do This as a Fad, We Do This as a Lifestyle" at Punknews.

The band also shared a new song, their first recording since splitting in 2008, titled "Ramen Noodle Doodle." You can find it below.

Watch: Daggermouth - "Ramen Noodle Doodle" @ Facebook

Vancouver's CiTR 101.9 FM recently announced the fifth volume in the Pop Alliance series, curated by University of British Columbia radio station and members of the CiTR student executive. The 11-track set will arrive on April 13 from Mint and will feature artists like Chris-a-riffic, Swim Team, and Devours. You can find more details and stream the new Devours track "Garnet Graves" at Exclaim.

Finally, as is tradition, literally every band ever is playing the Montebello Rock Fest in Quebec. It runs from June 14 to 16 this year. Of interest to me is a handful of Quebecois punk bands that are reuniting for the massive event. This includes Les Marmottes Aplaties, U.SeeD, and Les Bons À Rien. You can find details and peruse the band list at the festival's website.

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