Before we get started this week, if you've been enjoying these newsletters please consider helping me out as I raise a few dollars to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara Falls. I'll be bowling (poorly) this Saturday as part of the annual Bowl For Kids sake fundraiser. If you'd like to make a donation of any amount, you can do on my page at CanadaHelps. Thanks!
Valentines Day delivered not flowers and chocolate but the release of homewrecker, a collaborative EP pairing Bailee Woods' Winnipeg-based indie-pop act Housepanther and Wrecker, the solo songwriting project of Jory Strachan. Strachan has roots in the Winnipeg post-punk band 1971 and most recently made noise as part of the rootsy indie rock outfit R U S T O W L. While he now calls Montreal home, his ties to The Peg and it's music community remain strong.
Billed as "a collection of songs and stories dedicated to the theme of infidelity," homewrecker finds Woods and Strachan working together on five new tracks. They're not as entwined as traditional bandmates, but also not untouched by the other's sensibilities. Each songwriter brings a pair of new songs to the table, while a fifth jointly written work caps the set. I asked Jory about his experience putting the project together, specifically his process working together Woods:
"Collaborating with Bailee was such an easy going process. We would send each other parts of songs and ideas periodically throughout the summer while I was out west in the middle of nowhere, whenever I'd have service or internet. Did that for a while before anything else... We recorded it in Winnipeg while I was visiting in October with our friend Liam Duncan and it was by far the smoothest recording process I've ever experienced. Everyone on the same page and we just had fun with it."
"Passenger Party," is one of Wrecker's contributions, a cool and collected road song with an acoustic groove you can lose yourself in. Jory commented:
"Passenger Party is life in the backseat. The way life passes you by like trees on the side of the highway, powerless to the whims of time, events passively fading into the distance. Outstanding or banal all fade into memory."
Here's the video, shot by Jory on the "darkest and the brightest" streets of Montreal and edited by Bailee, itself as much a collective effort as the music on homewrecker. homewrecker is available from Winnipeg's Transistor 66 and Victoria's Toksa Tapes.
Pleasence Records has announced the debut EP from Toronto's Vanity Phase, the new electronic solo act from Andrew Payne. Payne most recently fronted the late/great new wave-inspired indie rock outfit Century Palm, and in the past played with bands like Zebrassieres, the Ketamines, and the Fun Funs. This new chapter finds Payne trading his guitar for synths and drawing on the askew pop weirdness of bands like DEVO, the Units, Gary Numan, and OMD. The EP, titled Unnatural Habits, arrives on March 1 digitally and as a cassette.
You can preview the track "Give and Take" at Punknews.org. This new material was recorded entirely in Payne's Toronto apartment, with mixing and production by Nyles Miszczyk.
Speaking of Tough Age, and I usually am, the Toronto-via-Vancouver "reluctant-punk" trio is headed to Japan in March for a tour supporting their 2017 full-length Shame. That record, first released in Canada on Mint, will see a CD issue for the Japanese market on Moorworks (with this version featuring the b-sides from the band's Unclean single as bonus tracks).
The trip will also feature the multifaceted Vancouver artist Tom Whalen in his Tommy Tone guise. If you're not familiar, in the words of Vancouver Weekly his act's a "synth-pop-driven farcical take on male entitlement via self-emasculating performances." Whalen formerly played with Tough Age principle Jarrett Samson in the band Korean Gut. On this tour (a the very least) he's playing as a part of Tough Age as well.
The band announced the tour alongside a new video for the Shame track "Me In Glue." The clip, directed by Heather Rappard, follows bassist/co-vocalist Penny Clark on an increasingly surreal day of work with increasingly fraught human interactions. You may recognize Heather Grant from Halifax's Crossed Wires making a guest appearance as Tough Age's guitarist in the clip as well.
You've Changed Records announced a March 22 release date for Ian Daniel Kehoe's upcoming full-length Secret Republic. The 10-song set will feature the title track (which we first previewed back in December) and the newly unveiled single "One Picture." A video for that track, directed by longtime You've Changed collaborator Colin Medley, was posted last week and showcases the smooth analog synth-pop sound that's become the core this phase in Kehoe's output.
Kehoe's the former bassist and co-vocalist of Welland's Attack In Black and released several guitar-pop records as Marine Dreams (most recently 2015's Producer's Wonderland ). In between solo projects, he served as a touring musician with The Weather Station, Andy Shauf, and Julia Jacklin.
Dine Alone Records has picked up Welland punk trio Dboy, releasing a new 3-song 7" from the band titled Dboy for President. It follows the group's recent Yeah Right Records split with Daniel Romano's power-pop group Ancient Shapes, as well as their Romano-recorded mock-live debut record Prove Your Love - Live in Belem.
The video for "Dboy For President" features Spencer Burton, another member of the Attack In Black family, playing the role of a reporter kidnapped by the gimp-masked, satin-clad punk collective. As with Dboy's other material, these new tracks find them playing high-octane rock'n'roll that's almost entirely self-referential.
Unofficially, Dboy features members from Rose City punk acts The Snips and Northern Primitive. It should come as no surprise that they're also prominent members of the local chapter of the Turbojugend.
The lineup for Guelph, Ontario's Kazoo! Fest went live last week. The event will see the Royal City play host to the Queer Songbook Orchestra, Yves Jarvis, Jennifer Castle, Motherhood, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Bleu Nuit, Bonnie Doon, Protruders, the above-mentioned Ian Daniel Kehoe, Rotten Column, VICTIME, Steven Lambke, and a host of others that you can find at the event's website. Kazoo, now in its 12th year, runs from April 10 to 14. Along with live music, the festival features a print expo and an assortment of visual and performance art events throughout the city's downtown.
This is one of those festivals that, like Sappy or the now-defunct Ottawa Explosion, unwittingly provides Some Party with a wealth of research material. I'm compelled to delve into every Kazoo! band listed that I'm unfamiliar with. Case in point: Guelph's I Feel Sorry. Here's a gnarly minute or so of noisy instrumental punk from the Kazoo! performers.
While we're on the topic of Guelph, local alt-rock outfit Hopeless Ghosts recently released a moody nine-song full-length appropriately titled Haunted. Kieran Ponsonby started the project in 2016 as a one-man-band. This, their debut record, was written, recorded, produced, and performed entirely by Kieran, with the percussion co-written and performed by Chuck Keeping (Big Wreck, Suzie McNeil). The project will expand out into a full band for the summer, with a supporting tour and further recording planned for later in the year.
Lethbridge, Alberta garage rock / "tropical glam" act J Blissette has a new song online titled "Relax." It follows the October-released digital single "Only Used to Do a Little," making it the second new track to follow 2018's Pleasence-released full-length Until I Go Blind. The new tune, which clocks in at over 6 minutes, features Blissette (Jackson Tiefenbach) on guitar and bass, with drums, organ, synth, and a whole host of other instrumentation from Eric Den Haan, additional guitar from Dillon St. Jean, and Brodie Mohninger on the sax.
The song arrives as J Blissette gears up for their March "Burn it to the Ground/Try and Teach Me How" Tour, with dates heading as far east as Montreal.
Halifax punk / power-pop act Outtacontroller has a video up for their 2018 single "Glassy Eyes." The clip features Hamilton's B.A. Johnston hosting a Halifax-based talk show, and appearances from several regular faces from the Halifax punk scene. Outtacontroller's lineup on this recording featured vocalist/guitarists Terry A'hearn and James O'Toole, with bassist AJ Boutilier and drummer Sean Parsons. A new full-length from the group is expected sometime this year.
Likewise, Halifax stoner rock group Worst Part also have a new EP on the way titled Palm. The six-song set is due March 8. The band recorded this new set as a duo, with Andrew Gagne tracking vocals, guitar, and bass with Lor Sangster drumming. Jessie Brown and Future Girls' Matty Grace both contribute backing vocals to the record, with Grace having since joined the band's live lineup on bass. You can check the first single, titled "Big Land Blues," at Bandcamp.
Dundas, Ontario power-trio The Dirty Nil have a new video up for their track "Pain of Infinity." Directed by Mitch Barnes and Victor Malang, the clip casts Luke Bentham, Kyle Fisher, and Ross Miller as underperforming grim reapers. The song comes from the group's recent sophomore full-length Master Volume, which came out last September on Dine Alone.
Toronto punk/post-hardcore trio Life In Vacuum has a new single online titled "Apartment," a collage of vintage footage compiled by Justis Krar's IMMV Productions. The song is the first follow-up to the band's recent New Damage Records LP All You Can Quit.
Live In Vacuum are headed out on tour this April, with Canadian dates in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, London and Toronto.
Vancouver new wave quartet ACTORS used Valentines Day to debut a cover of the song "Mining for Heart," originally from the English post-punk band The Sound (appearing on their 1985 album Heads and Hearts). The BC quartet's been on the road supporting their 2018 Artoffact Records full-length It Will Come To You.
Garage-punk trio Faiyaz And The Wasted Chances have a catchy new single online titled "Another Crooked Line," recorded for Toronto tape label LootBag Records. The band tells me the song's about a young punk coming to grips with adulthood and trying to "love the trip rather than the rewards or destination." You can check it out below.
Five-piece Peterborough, Ontario skate-punk act Bonnavilles recently premiered a video for the song "Better Part." It'll appear later this month on their upcoming debut EP Back Alleys and Bar Stools. If you're nostalgic for that 90s Fat Wreck sound you'll want to check this out. The band has release shows scheduled for February 24 in Ajax and on March 2 in their hometown. Check your local Facebooks for details.
It feels redundant mentioning it here, given how much impact the announcement had, but if you've just returned from the wilderness let me be the one to tell you that Alexisonfire is indeed back. The Toronto post-hardcore group, with roots in St. Catharines, Ontario, released their first new single in nearly a decade last week, a sludgy number titled "Familiar Drugs."
The new track follows the 2010 EP Dog's Blood and the group's last proper full-length, 2009's Old Crows / Young Cardinals. It'll arrive in a physical format on March 31 as a single-sided black 7", with a laser-etching on the b-side (a random subset of orders will ship with a glow-in-the-dark cover too).
As reported by The Edge, in a call-in with CFOX Vancouver, guitarist Wade MacNeil commented:
"A lot of people imagine that when a band isn’t together, they don’t see each other, they don’t talk. That is not the case with us. I’ve been hanging with Dal [Dallas Green], we’ve just been at hockey games, not holding guitars. Lately we’ve been going to less hockey games and holding more guitars."
Vocalist George Pettit commented on the track, stating:
"'Familiar Drugs' is about recognizing you need to make a change in your life, being presented with the opportunity to make that change, and then choosing to do the same thing you always do. It’s about something very specific to me but it can be taken literally or interpreted in any number of ways. Most people have something in their lives they can’t quit, substances, unhealthy relationships, lethargy, self righteousness, a job they hate. 'Familiar Drugs' is about choosing comfort over self betterment."
The group has four summer shows scheduled, with appearances planned in London, England, New York, Los Angeles, and a sole Canadian date in Toronto (June 15 at the Budweiser Stage).
I'm honestly a little torn on where Alexisonfire falls with regards to this newsletter. I consciously omit regular mentions of several of the larger Canadian bands here (the Arkells and Broken Social Scenes and Arcade Fires of the world), not for any overt critical reason but because I'd not be contributing much. Their media juggernauts will roll on just fine without me, and that's time I can spend on bands of lesser means. Given how the universe seemingly convulsed upon their return, Alexis probably doesn't need my help either. I fully concede though that some hometown Niagara-bias might be clouding my judgement.