Sunday October 13, 2019

Lying Signal

If you've never noticed (and let's be honest, you have better things to do, but humour me here), I always date these newsletters to the Sunday of the week they're covering. That's mostly because it reflects the content, but it also denotes which slice of my dwindling free time was given to compiling it. What it doesn't reflect, at least not much these days, is the day I press send. That's crept out to Mondays and Tuesdays, but as I've been trading off timeliness for proof-reading, I don't mind the lie. You suffered quite enough of my frantic Sunday night typos in the first year anyway.

All that said, as I wrap this edition, it's nearly Friday. Friday! Sure, it was a long weekend, and yes, I irresponsibly gave up an extra evening to go see Ancient Shapes and Teenanger be amazing, but that's just tragically, inexcusably late. My apologies for that, dear reader. I'll try better to keep up. This edition, as a result, reserves a few newsworthy items from the current week for Sunday the 20th.

Anyways...


We're fast approaching the November 1 release of Warrior Down, the new full-length from London's sludgy grunge/folk five-piece WHOOP-Szo. Last week the band released "Gerry," a fervent, heartbreaking ode to a fallen member of guitarist/vocalist Adam Sturgeon's family. The song's shockingly direct, shedding all pretense and symbolism with its very first verse. You don't get more straightforward than "My cousin Gerry was shot by a cop."

Travis Welowszky and Sebastian Di Trolio's accompanying video sets the lyrics against a collage of vintage home movies, the footage becoming more disjointed as the song reaches its crescendo. You can feel the tension rising as the cuts lock in step with Eric Lourenco's increasingly frantic percussion. You can view the clip below.

Sturgeon released a statement that sheds some light on his family history:

"My cousin Gerry was shot by a cop. Murdered. In his own home. While the circumstances surrounding his death are unclear, there has only ever been one side to the story, that of the RCMP. No external investigations took place and our family is left without answers.

I remember getting a call from Gerry shortly before he died. He was angry about a broken system, slurring his words through the distant telephone line from his home in Saskatchewan. He had taken to calling our house, connecting with my Mom for some much needed love and comfort, my Dad to address his issues with alcohol, and to converse with me about music and art... and to question my passions for my 'Dad's culture'. I'd change the subject, letting him know that the guitar he had given me, my first guitar in fact, was the passion and release that he had offered me and that I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'd be late for work or some other engagement and have to let him know several times that I needed to hang up the phone. He'd get angry again and start ranting on and I'd have to remind him there were places to be. He called me a sell out and I'd tell him I loved him. I promised I'd visit on tour sometime. I'd tell him he could teach me some more chords.

I've driven through the town he died in, but Gerry isn't there. Where are our protectors when we need them? Why did an officer force his way into Gerry's home? Why was Gerry shot 4 times and why have these circumstances been justified by a system that leaves the vulnerable under fire?"

Warrior Down arrives on November 1 from You've Changed Records. Kyle Ashbourne recorded and mixed the 10-song set at the Sugar Shack in London, ON, with additional drum tracking by Sturgeon and Nathan Lamb at the Out of Sound House. WHOOP-Szo features guitarist/vocalist Adam Sturgeon, Kirsten Kurvink Palm on guitar, synth, and vocals, bassist/keyboardist Joe Thorner, Andrew Lennox on 12-string guitar and synth, and drummer Eric Lourenco.

The new record follows 2016's EP Citizen's Ban(ne)d Radio, a 2017 split with Halifax psych group Walrus, and last year's 7" single The Dive. The band will tour behind the record in November, playing shows along the way with Chastity, METZ, Motherhood, and FET.NAT, among others.

Watch: WHOOP-Szo - "Gerry" @ YouTube

One of the first bands I covered on Some Party, was a Saint John-based four-piece punk group with the rather unfortunate name of Right Shitty. That band put out a satisfyingly gritty full-length in 2016 titled Bachelor Of Arts, followed in 2017 by a split with the Ontario noise-duo Deathsticks. In a lot of ways, finding Right Shitty was incredibly validating when I started this project. Here was a great little punk band of the sort I spent more than a decade championing at Punknews.org, but one I only stumbled upon because of this publication's stubborn focus on imaginary lines.

Since 2017 there hasn't been much to say about Right Shitty, though. The band's activity dindled, and they never seemed to venture far outside of New Brunswick. That all changes this week with the surprise release of the band's second album, Worry Circle. At some point in the past year the group relocated to Montreal, shuffling a few members out along the way. The new nine-song record features guitarist/vocalist Stephen Ricketts, guitarist Peter Ellefsen, bassist Stuart Buckley, and drummer Pat Bonner. You can preview the blown-out "Lying Signal" and the darker "Tall Dark Shape" below, although given how late I am this week, the whole album should be up on Bandcamp any minute now.

Listen: Right Shitty - "Lying Signal" / "Tall Dark Shape" @ Bandcamp

The highly anticipated new record from Montreal post-punk group Corridor also arrives this week. The Line of Best Fit recently shared the album's final preview, the vibrant, driving "Pow." While suitably percussive (given its title), the track memorably features heavily vocoded yodelling at few points. The song joins the previously previewed "Topographe," and "Domino" among the ten tracks comprising Junior.

The record's arriving on Bonsound in Canada and the legendary Sub Pop elsewhere, with Corridor holding the distinction of being the first francophone act to join the latter. Produced by Emmanuel Éthier, Junoir is the band's third album and follows up to 2017's Supermercado. Corridor features Jonathan Robert on vocals, guitar, and synths, with Dominic Berthiaume on vocals and bass, Julian Perreault on guitar, and Julien Bakvis drumming.

Listen: Corridor - "Pow" @ Bandcamp

Friday, October 17 also marks the release of Big Time, the debut full-length from Toronto jangle-pop duo Triples. Art of the Uncarved Block has the 10-song set streaming online now, with a cassette release to follow soon. The collection follows a few years of one-off digital singles, folding several of those tracks (like the infectious "Hillside") into its run-time.

Triples feature the sisters Eva and Madeline Link. Eva's previously played bass in the Toronto pop-punk band PONY, while Madeline's low-fi project PAX recently released a full-length titled Ouch. Seamus Patterson recorded and produced the tracks comprising Big Time in Toronto.

Listen: Triples - Big Time @ Bandcamp

Raucous Ottawa punk group Liquid Assets will make their vinyl debut before the end of the year. The 7" release, which carries the lengthy title SNC Lava Lamp EP: The Return of The Liquid Assets of Ottawa, will arrive in December from Hamilton's Schizophrenic Records. The band will support it with a pair of release parties: a hometown gig at House of TARG on December 13 and a trip to the Hammer's Doors Pub on December 14.

The gig on the 13th will feature with Faze, Coke Jaw, and Spirit Cry, a new local supergroup featuring members of Omerta, The CHUDs, Dogma, and others. Coke Jaw comes along for the second show as well, a packed bill that includes Get Off The Cop, Sick of Shit, Violent Image, and Kilgore the Clown.

There's no music to share from SNC Lava Lamp just yet, but here's a pair of tunes from Liquid Assets' 2018 demo to hold you over.

Listen: Liquid Assets - 2018 Demo @ Bandcamp

Telephone Explosion recently shared a live video of Toronto art-punks Deliluh. The clip, shot by Colin Medley and Margarita Brighton, features the band performing their new track "Hymn" at the Owls Club in Toronto. That venue's become fully entwined in the band's story, serving as their de facto studio and frequent performance space, as documented in the recent short Somewhere Else by Medley and Maria Todorov-Topouzov.

"Hymn" will appear on the band's upcoming LP Beneath The Floors. That 10-song set, due November 15, is the band's second release of the year following May's Oath of Intent EP. Look for it on Telephone Explosion in North America and Tin Angel elsewhere.

Watch: Deliluh - "Hymn" (Live Performance) @ YouTube

Speaking of Telephone Explosion (and not for the last time this week), the label also recently shared a new video for the song "Froggy," a track from André Ethier's gorgeous new slow-burner Croak in the Weeds. The above-mentioned Colin Medley also directed this one, with the titular amphibian animated by Seth Scriver.

Croak in the Weeds is the second record in a planned trilogy from the wry Deadly Snakes frontman. It follows 2017's Under Grape Leaves, and like that album was produced in collaboration with producer Sandro Perri.

Ethier gave some background on the song's imagery:

"I was imagining a pond at the swamp. A pond gets murkier the deeper you dive. Frogs are amphibians. They're in and out of the pond like it's no big deal, but we stay mostly on the shore and only peer in. Then, when the weather is right, the pond rises in a mist and we can breathe it too. We can be in the pond but also on the shore."

Watch: André Ethier - "Froggy" @ YouTube

One final Telephone Explosion story and I'll move on!

The label recently announced the next record from Maximilian' Twig' Turnbull's Badge Époque Ensemble, the instrumental sextet's second of the year following their self-titled album. This set, titled Nature, Man & Woman, features just three tracks but divides up a near half-hour run-time between them. You can preview the record's 14-minute b-side, a flute-driven funk number titled "Badge Theme," at Bandcamp. The a-side opener "Zealous Child" features guest vocals from Toronto singer Dorothea Paas.

A celebrated multi-instrumentalist, Turnbull's served as a songwriter and producer for both U.S. Girls and the offshoot rock band Darlene Shrugg. He's also a regular performer in the psych-jazz group The Cosmic Range.

Listen: Badge Époque Ensemble - "Badge Theme" @ Bandcamp

Jim Di Gioia at Domionated recently turned me on to a scrappy Welland pop-punk group that I somehow overlooked. The four-piece Charm released a two-song EP in early September, featuring the driving single "No Gasoline" and the b-side torch song "Second Chance." Charm strikes a perfect balance between guitar-driven, classicly-minded punk rock and innocent, 60s-flavoured bubblegum pop. While that's a classic play (hell, it was in some respects the Ramones' whole shtick), Martine's vocal performance really sells the vintage pop angle. Charm features some heavy hitters from Niagara's underground rock scene, including members of the frenetic power-pop group Big School and the Falls' reigning hardcore kings Wild Side.

Mitch Courtois recorded and mixed these songs in Welland, ON, with Daniel Husayn mastering at the North London Bomb Factory. Courtois also crafted an animated video for the a-side, which you can find below. The new single follows the "U Don't Talk"/"Lie to Me" pair from January of this year.

Watch: Charm - "No Gasoline" @ YouTube

Speaking of cool things I missed on the first round, SappyFest regulars Aquakultre have a new song out. The Halifax-based neo-soul act recently shared the powerful "I Doubt It." Vocalist Lance Sampson commented on the track, revealing that Lido Pimienta's performance at the 2017 Halifax Pop Explosion (and the ensuing online controversy) were key inspirations:

"I wrote 'I Doubt It' three days after Lido Pimienta came to Halifax and performed at the Halifax Pop Explosion. Aquakultre performed the next night the same stage at the festival as well. There was a lot of politics behind the Lido Pimienta show. She asks if POC women, brown women, people of different abilities, could come to the front of the stage. One individual didn't want to move from a position directly at the front to accommodate those that had come forth and a national media storm occurred where a lot of racism and racial discussion was provoked, and... it was wild, it really sucked. It took a while to digest and when it finally did, a few lines in my head started to manifest. 'Cause i'm proud/ just control the crowd and we got it.' This line was a testament to myself, because at the time performing terrified me, and to watch someone bless a stage so confidently, and control a crowd so seamlessly, it was inspiring for sure. Sometimes all it takes is a moment in time, or someone else's' experience that sparks my writing, and once those two lines had come to mind, everything else just fit together like glue.

As an artist and a songwriter who has been given an opportunity and platform, I always intend to share my truth. I like to give people a little piece of me with every song. 'I Doubt It' is giving people an insight, an understanding of the other side of the game. My experiences come from living a life that I chose to live. Selling drugs, skipping school, hanging out with my homies until 3am, robbing, and stealing. You name it, I've done it. This song was sparked by Lido, but written through my experience. When I do present my art and music, it's mostly to people who have never experienced what I have been through. This song is a representation of the oppressed perspective, so if you just don't 'know', then I doubt you'll ever understand where I'm coming from."

Pimienta's visual art serves as the single's cover, as well. "I Doubt It" was recorded in a residency at the National Music Centre in Calgary (which the band had access to via their 2018 CBC Searchlight win). The track features Nick Dourado on piano, keyboards, and saxophone, Jeremy Costello playing bass and mellotron, and percussion from drummer Nathan Doucet.

Listen: Aquakultre - "I Doubt It" @ Bandcamp

Early Ottawa punk pioneers Porcelain Forehead recently uploaded the brunt of their previously hard-to-find recordings to Bandcamp.

Porcelain Forehead came together in 1982 and ran for three years. The group featured vocalist Mike Hillis, guitarist Chris McLellan, bassist Bruce Stevenson, and drummer Ian Seabrook. Geordie Allen took over for Seabrook in '83 and played with the group until they split in '85. The group got back together in 2010 for a series of reunion performances, swapping in Unwarranted Trust's Janine Frenken on bass.

Porcelain Forehead released their debut EP, Right Now! The World Needs a Clear Head, in 1982, followed by the Frogboy Lives LP a year later. In their time, the band played with many notable early punk and hardcore groups, sharing the stage with Dead Kennedys, Butthole Surfers, and M.D.C., among others.

Listen: Porcelain Forehead - Right Now, The World Needs a Clear Head @ Bandcamp

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