Sunday September 20, 2020

Big Gay Hands

Sackville-bred slack-rock heroes Partner recently shared the fourth preview of their upcoming sophomore full-length. "Big Gay Hands" is a song that's become a live staple over the past few years (so much so that it was part of the group's high profile Polaris Gala performance when In Search of Lost Time was in contention). The long-awaited studio version of the track doesn't disappoint, lyrically flipping a hard-rock trope on its head while at the same time paying unabashed homage to the guitar heroism of its classic rock forebearers. The band commented:

"'Big Gay Hands' has been a live favourite for 3 years now, and we're so excited to release it on our upcoming album, Never Give Up. We wrote 'Big Gay Hands' after listening to a lot of AC/DC and other hard rock acts singing about women's bodies and sexualizing them. We didn't think there was enough songs out there (or even A song?) about women's big gay hands. So we fixed that.

This song is about a wild night on the town filled with queer desire. It is an important song to us because it expresses a feeling we know is shared by many. There are a lot of songs out there about women's bodies but this is the only song we know about big gay hands. This song is dedicated to the hotties and to those who love them."

Partner worked with Bonnie Doon's Lesley Marshall on the accompanying video (which is absolutely adorable, by the way).

The 10-song Never Give Up arrives from You've Changed Records on November 20, following up 2017's In Search of Lost Time and 2019's Saturday the 14th EP. This record finds vocalist/guitarist Josée Caron and vocalist/bassist Lucy Niles backed by drummer Simone TB (Darlene Shrugg, Fake Palms). Partner recorded this material in July of 2019 at Palace Sounds, with Steve Chahley (Ice Cream, US Girls) engineering.

Watch: Partner - "Big Gay Hands" @ YouTube

Toronto punk trio The OBGMs have a frantic new video online featuring "Outsah," the album-opening cut from their upcoming full-length The Ends. The group co-directed the aggressive clip with Toronto rapper Clairmont The Second and their frequent visual collaborator Beee.

Vocalist/guitarist Densil McFarlane commented on the video and the song's role as a forceful declaration of intent:

"We make movies over here. 'Outsah' is a joint collaboration with Clairmont The Second and Beee and we really wanted to do something gritty. I wanted to tell a story in a cinematic continuous shot and really make a statement. This song, and this video, speak to what we are willing to do. We are going to run up in your house, give us what we want.

This is one of those songs where we're doing stuff other people aren't doing. We threw bongos on the motherfucker. That song is a statement and that statement is, 'We're not afraid of you, and we'de willing to confront you. Come see me if you have a problem with it. We're already outside."

The Ends arrives on October 30 from Black Box. These days the OBGMs play as a trio comprised of McFarlane, bassist Joseph Brosnan, and drummer Colanthony Humphrey. They recorded this new material with Grammy and JUNO Award-winning producer Dave Schiffman (PUP, The Bronx, Anti-Flag).

Watch: The OBGMs - "Outsah" @ YouTube

New York City post-punk artist Chandra, and her Toronto-based backing band, recently unveiled a remote-recorded version of "Shut In / Shut Out." The song (accompanied by a Zoom-style performance video) gives new life to a demo Chandra Oppenheim wrote in 1983 at the age of 14. Oppenheim, who had been active in the New York No Wave scene (rather astonishingly) at the age of 10, tracked her initial demo of this song with Eugenie Diserio and Steven Alexander of The Dance. This period followed the break-up of The Chandra Dimension, but just before Oppenheim left the recorded music world to pursue her education. The vocalist commented on the track's history in a press release:

"I don't have a clear memory of what inspired it. My guess is that it was meant to be a message to people who felt they were on the periphery. I was giving advice based on my experiences at middle school of feeling excluded and rejected."

Chandra's band features several Toronto-based musicians with whom readers of this newsletter should be well acquainted. Among the group, you'll find Victoria Cheong (New Chance) and Bile Sister's Julie Reich on vocals, Kristina Koski on keyboards, Teenanger's Jon Schouten on guitar, Nyles Miszczyk on bass, and Jesse Locke of Tough Age on drums.

The track's digital release includes a dub remix of the single by Saturday Looks Good To Me legend Fred Thomas. All proceeds raised are due for the Encampment Support Network and the shelter organization Through These Doors.

In 2018 the Telephone Explosion label collected and reissued Chandra's early work as the Transportation EPs.

Watch: Chandra - "Shut In / Shut Out" @ YouTube

Acclaimed Ontario singer/songwriter Jennifer Castle returns this fall with a new full length. Monarch Season follows up on 2018's Angels Of Death, with the artist working entirely solo from her Port Stanley home. Without the accompaniment of other musicians, Castle's crafted a far more vulnerable and intimate sound this time out. That sense of space allowed Castle the room to incorporate field recordings of insects, waterfowl, and the waves on Lake Erie into the mix (physical versions of the release include expanded segments of these as ambient interludes).

Castle worked with longtime co-producer Jeff McMurrich on the album. Early editions of the LP, due from Idée Fixe Records and Paradise of Bachelors, include a songbook with photographs from the recording sessions and sheet music for each song. The record arrives on October 16.

Castle premiered Monarch Season with the delicate and airy new single, "Justice." It arrived alongside a hand-drawn animated video from Toronto visual artist Jesi Jordan.

In the premiere at The Fader, Castle commented on the track:

"The duality of being heartbroken and hopeful at once unfolds from my heart into a continuum. Even in the broken place where I have only questions and fists, there is another, more powerful place, where I have hope and courage. Thrust upon many mothers is the assumption we can find hope at all costs, in any condition, even when great injustices have occurred. The world looks to mothers as a symbol of hope and strength. This song is by them, for them. And for all the people, young or old, who might need it."

Watch: Jennifer Castle - "Justice" @ YouTube

Toronto punk favourites PUP have collected some of their isolation-era work as a new EP, a piece that carries the rather brash (but not at all inaccurate) title of This Place Sucks Ass. Arriving October 23, the six-song set includes the recent "Anaphylaxis" single along with their previously shared cover of Grandaddy's "A.M. 180." The announcement came alongside the release of the acerbic new single "Rot." Three additional songs, "Nothing Changes," "Floodgates," and "Edmonton," all originated from the Morbid Stuff sessions (cut for being "too frenetic or too unhinged," which sound like positive qualities to me).

Frontman Stefan Babcock commented on the EP's title in a statement to Exclaim:

"It was a thing we used to say as a joke a million times on tour. Literally any city, whether it was Lethbridge, AB, or New York City, we'd be like, 'This place sucks ass.' We have so much negativity, and sometimes it becomes so extreme and ridiculous that we start to find it funny. But at this moment in time, it feels so fucking real. Wherever you are, it sucks ass right now. So, wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, this is an EP about the place you're from, and the place you're at now."

The EP arrives in Canada on the band's Little Dipper imprint, with Rise Records issuing the US version. The band intends to celebrate the release with a live stream performance from the Toronto institution Sneaky Dee's on October 23. You can find tickets for that event and other merchandise (all sporting some appropriately hellish comic art from Toronto illustrator Brandon Lepine) at the band's store.

PUP last released Morbid Stuff in 2019. That album, the group's third, landed them land on the Polaris Music Prize shortlist.

Listen: PUP - "Rot" @ Bandcamp

Moncton's high energy rock unit Nerve Button has a new record out. Volume 2 arrived recently from Germany's Wanza Records, following up on the band's 2016 debut and their 2018 split with Hamilton street punks Barbed Wire Braces. The record features 12 new songs, recorded with engineer Nick Mcnally behind the boards.

Nerve Button features Mike Melanson (aka Batman), Ray Auffrey, and Claude Doiron, all veterans of the late-80s Moncton punk group Bad Luck #13. The group's rounded out by prolific drummer Marc Doucet (Thee Suddens, Burnt Offerings, The Robins, and many others), and Tyler Boutilier of Phone Jerks (and the solo moniker TJ Cabot).

Listen: Nerve Button - Volume 2 @ Bandcamp

This October brings the debut release from the whip-fast Halifax hardcore group Misanthropic Minds. Titled Welcome To The Homeland, Greetings From The Wasteland, the five-song EP arrives October 20 via Sewercide Records.

Misanthropic Minds features Cody Googoo of the Booji Boys and his Alienation bandmate Dave Brown. If you recall Alienation's absolutely killer Bitter Reality EP from 2018, this is very much in a similar vein of buzzsaw guitars and raw-throated vocals. Not to be played near any painted, as that paint will most assuredly peel.

Listen: Misanthropic Minds - Welcome To The Homeland, Greetings From The Wasteland EP @ Bandcamp

Ottawa peace-punk four-piece Dogma recently detailed their debut full-length, a self-titled ten-song set due on October 31. The Crass-inspired group signed with Grow Your Own Records for the project, which looks to feature the definitive versions of several songs released online by the group over the past year.s

With the announcement, the band shared the album-opening track "Austerity." You can stream it from Bandcamp now.

Dogma recorded with House of TARG co-founder Paul "Yogi" Granger at Meatlocker Studios in March of this year. Will Killingsworth of Orchid and Bucket Full of Teeth mastered the set at Dead Air Studios. Eschewing last names, the band features vocalist Steph, guitarist/vocalist Rusty, bassist Jeff, and drummer James.

Listen: Dogma - "Austerity" @ Bandcamp

Telephone Explosion's set a December 4 release date for The Fink, the latest record from Dan Lee's "cyborg-funk" post-punk outfit Lee Paradise. You can preview the record now through the single "Message to the Past."

The label elaborated on Lee's songwriting process, highlighting how the live incarnation of the project helped shape these new tunes:

"Beginning with a bedrock of programmed drums — the same kick, snare, and cymbal samples he first used 10 years ago — Lee attempted to channel the hard-hitting sound quality of old hip-hop. From here, he stacked up layers of eerie vocals, chaotic extraterrestrial synths, and the massive bass lines that provide Lee Paradise's signature sonic element. This sound continued to develop through live performances with a trio version of the band, as drummer Jonathan Pappo's nimble rhythms and Michael Butler's Yamaha CS-5 fleshed out the songs even further. It was this process that forced Lee to write lyrics, shaping his musical sketches into contained forms."

Dan Lee plays in the Toronto art-rock group Hooded Fang as well as the electronic psych-pop group Phèdre. It's been six years since the release of Lee Paradise's debut, Water Palace Kingdom.

Listen: Lee Paradise - "Message To The Past" @ Bandcamp

Toronto noise-punks METZ have a third video online previewing the upcoming LP Atlas Vending. This week the trio shared the single "Blind Youth Industrial Park," as showcased in a dystopian video by director Dylan Pharazyn. Pharazyn commented on the New Zealand-shot short and its dark sci-fi undertones:

"I started thinking of the feeling of war or samurai films, beautiful but dark and violent... but then I had this idea to work up a more unique world... I started to think of a more futuristic setting — more unusual and dream-like with the story set on a distant planet where there is future technology and some kind of alien magic... like a futuristic fable. I loved the idea of the hero Ayeth on this nomadic walk through an epic landscape... I loved the strength in her and the pairing of her with a wounded companion, something really human and vulnerable… I wanted that emotive warmth countering the cold military images."

Similar to PUP's plans, METZ also announced that a live stream performance to coincide with the release. The ticketed event will see the group playing the record in its entirety on October 15, with the trio taking the stage at Toronto's Opera House. An October 17 performance will also air, targeting audiences overseas. Tickets and details on the streams are online at the band's store.

Frontman Alex Edkins commented on the importance of the live show and reflected on its glaring absence this album cycle:

"Something that is intrinsic to who we are as people has been taken away. We want, so badly, to find that feeling again, to forget the world for a moment, and share a brand new album that we love very much (plus some oldies) with you. To all the people of the world who have come to our shows to dance, sweat, and scream, we hope you can join us once again with this show."

Atlas Vending arrives on October 9 from Royal Mountain Records and Sub Pop. Ben Greenberg (Uniform) co-produced the album with the band, with Seth Manchester (Daughters, Lingua Ignota, The Body) engineering and mixing at Pawtucket's Machines with Magnets.

Watch: METZ - "Blind Youth Industrial Park" @ YouTube

Hamilton-based shoegaze project Zoon has a new video online for "Brokenhead," a song from the recent Paper Bag Records release Bleached Wavves. In the premiere at Paste Magazine, Zoon principal Daniel Monkman commented on the track's emotional connection to his family's experience with Canada's residential school system:

"The song 'Brokenhead' was written/composed from a feeling I had when I left the reservation as a young teen. It was the first time I had built a strong relationship with my dad since becoming a young adult. He wanted a better life for me - to get me off the reserve and explore Canada. To do this he helped me buy a truck. My dad had been recently compensated by the Canadian government for being forced to attend residential schools from childhood to early teens. Although his ability to help me came at a great cost and I wouldn't fully understand until years later, the realization heavily influenced the conception of 'Brokenhead.' I remember that very first solo drive away from his place after months of teaching me to drive. He and my uncle followed me a short distance down the highway and then stopped. I could see he and my uncle in the review mirror waving goodbye as distance between us grew further and further away. I felt a kind of triumph and yet a rush of sadness/happiness. When I was recording the guitars, I kept focusing on that feeling."

Monkman worked with director (and all-around Some Party pal) Justis Krar of IMMV Productions on the video. You can find it below.

Watch: Zoon - "Brokenhead" @ YouTube

Saint John rock group Papal Visit have their final new single of the summer online, featuring "Inaudible" backed by "Pledge Allegiance To The Stain." The A-side track features backing vocals by New Brunswick musician Sadie. You can stream both at Bandcamp now.

Papal Visit's released a series of singles throughout the year, part of an effort to pair down the 30-odd candidate songs for the band's upcoming LP. (Look for the A-sides to be included in that set when it arrives in the fall on Monopolized Records).

Vocalist Adam Mowery formed Papal Visit after moving to Halifax as a way to stay connected with the Saint John music scene he came up in. Working remotely with Pierre Cormier and a revolving group of New Brunswick musicians, he's put out a wealth of material over the past few years, most recently the 2019 live album Prepare For Your Reversal. Their new record will be the band's first proper LP since 2017's Garden Grove. Papal Visit's current lineup features Mowery on vocals and Cormier on bass, Jason Ogden and Chris Braydon on guitars, and drummer Geoffrey Smith.

In case you missed it, Adam Mowery also released a solo LP earlier in the summer titled Horseshoe Canyon.

Listen: Papal Visit - "Inaudible" @ Bandcamp

Montreal art-rock group Suuns have a new EP due for an October 30 release on Secret City and Joyful Noise. The set, titled Fiction, follows 2018's full-length Felt.

With the announcement, the band shared the audio for the song "Pray." Drummer Liam O'Neill commented on the track:

"We recorded PRAY in the heat of the Dallas summer in 2015 with our mate John Congleton. We loved it. It was the best song we recorded for our 2016 album Hold/Still, but it didn't make the cut, probably because we loved it so much and thought we had an even better version of it in us. We subsequently tried to record multiple versions of this song, none of which captured the unhinged energy of this live-off-the-floor performance. Discovering this lost jam and its power felt like a reminder to keep in the moment and to trust ourselves - you just have to keep moving forward."

The record includes guest appearances from Black Mountain's Amber Webber and Montreal artist Jerusalem In My Heart.

Watch: Suuns - "Pray" @ YouTube

Hamilton skid-troubadour B.A. Johnston recently shared a home recording of a new song dubbed "Don't Wanna Work for a Living (Wish I was born an Irving)." The tune arrived in the wake of the recent New Brunswick election, which saw former Irving Oil executive Blaine Higgs re-elected with a majority government. You can find it streaming on Twitter.

Johnston last issued The Skid Is Hot Tonight in 2019 through Transistor 66, with the follow-up, supposedly titled Werewolves of London, Ontario, currently in the works. In recent months of the pandemic, the artist's performed a series of private, social-distanced driveway shows in various pockets of the country. Johnston also recently took part in a split 7" with The Burning Hell, contributing his new isolation ode "Supreme Self-Quarantine" and the classic "I Want to Drink in a Bar Filled with Aliens." The set raised funds for support shuttered grassroots music venues.

Watch: B.A. Johnston - "Don't Wanna Work for a Living (Wish I was born an Irving)" @ Twitter

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Under The Circumstances

Some Party's new Under The Circumstances compilation features new and rare songs from Tough Age, Partner, Wares, Psychic Void, and New Vogue!