Sunday June 23, 2019

Every Flower I See

While Ben Cook makes more immediate noise as leader of the aggressive hardcore unit No Warning (and as a player in the roiling cauldron of maximalism that is Fucked Up), his low-key indie-pop solo persona persists as an intriguing source of contrast. The next Young Guv record's on its way, due August 2 from Run For Cover Records. Titled GUV I, the 8-song set follows up 2018's enigmatic 2 Sad 2 Funk.

If the first single's any indication, the sound of the new record may fall closer to 2015's Ripe 4 Luv than his last album. 2 Sad found Cook toying with dense vocal modulation, taking the production effects of modern pop music to schmaltzy extremes. That record found syrupy love songs shuffled among clips of 90s-style radio ads, collectively crafting this surreal culture-jamming vibe that I'd wager wasn't everyone's cup of tea. Ripe, on the other hand, was a sweeter set of 70s-styled AM radio pop, still heavily stylized but built with more delicate parts.

Speaking about the new single, titled "Every Flower I See," Cook commented:

"Flowers have been a powerful and prominent symbol in my life for as long as I can remember. When I was young, my mom moved me and my little brother back to Toronto from the U.K. where she found a job working with plants and flowers in the back of a newspaper. She worked long hours there, but also somehow managed to keep an immaculate and beautiful garden of her own while raising us by herself. She's actually still working that job today, and is probably in her garden right now. As I was finishing this record, I started to notice how flowers had unintentionally become an overarching theme for the album, both sonically and visually."

A video for "Every Flower I See" is now available. You can check it out below.

Young Guv will tour the US with the Epitaph punk band Culture Abuse this summer. He's also scheduled to play an aftershow for Los Angeles' Sound and Fury Festival next month.

Watch: Young Guv - "Every Flower I See" @ YouTube

Following up on their recent stage reunion, the experimental Montreal post-rock group Fly Pan Am have formally announced their new record. C'est ça, the band's first album in 15 years, is slated to arrive on Constellation Records on September 20. The label describes the new record as "blending tightly-wound Kosmische grooves, maximalist shoegaze noise, and bursts of sonic sabotage and deconstruction." You can find the first single "Distance Dealer," below.

Fly Pan Am (or Le Fly Pan Am to be formal) formed in 1996 and were contemporaries of like-minded high-art bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The four-piece put out four records from 1998 through 2005 before calling quits in 2006. The group's founding lineup featured guitarists Roger Tellier-Craig and Jonathan Parant, bassist J.S. Truchy, and drummer Felix Morel, with all members credited for working on the electronics and tape effects the group became known for. Multi-instrumentalist Eric Gingras (guitars, organs, percussion) expanded the band's lineup in 2002. They last released the album N'écoutez pas.

Listen: Fly Pan Am - "Distance Dealer" @ SoundCloud

Toronto glam-pop artist Nyssa has another cool new single online. "I Don't Wanna Live On The Moon (Without U)" follows the May-released "Hey Jackie." It's the second slate of new material Nyssa's rolled ou to follow up 2018's Champion of Love EP. Like "Hey Jackie" before it, this track shows off the strong vein of 70s rock influence that's surfaced in Nyssa's confident electro-pop. The artist described the track:

"'I Don't Wanna Live On The Moon (Without U)' is a hypnotic blitzed-out lunar-soul glam shuffle, a sci-fi pulp satire call to arms—or call to the dance floor—in the age of climate catastrophe. Director/editor Matt Marotti projects a similar vision in the accompanying video with a cut-up, psychedelic freak-out montage."

That video can be found below.

Nyssa's among the performers slated to play Sackville, New Brunswick's SappyFest on the first weekend of August. The festival just announced its latest slate of performers, with Julie Doiron, Tim Baker, By Divine Right's José Contreras, Liz Brain x Doug, Lillia, and Flour all named to the event's musical roster. The literary side of the Sappy will feature readings by Marilyn Lerch, Kate Mildew, Annick MacAskill, and Ian Roy, along with a dramatic performance by Patrick Allaby. The event touted these latest additions:

"It seems like we're never quite finished! As some of our oldest, most inspirational and foundational friends return, as some new friends pay a surprise visit, we're thrilled to welcome their legendary songs, their poetic wisdom, their story telling inventions, their sonic instigations, their bar-rock deconstructions to the Sappyfest 14 program. We hope for Sappyfest to be a conversation between everyone willing to share this space in the spirit of goodwill and with open hearts, across disciplines, genres, and forms of expression. We hope you will join us!"

Watch: Nyssa - "I Don't Wanna Live On The Moon (Without U)" @ YouTube

Sappy boasts a sizable slate of Polaris long-listers among its lineup this year. Last week the 40 records vying for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize were announced at a ceremony at The Forks in Winnipeg. Sappy's share of the list includes the Haisla Nation hip-hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Brampton rapper Haviah Mighty, former Hey Rosetta! lead Tim Baker, Toronto house music collective LAL, Montreal's soulful home-recording savant Yves Jarvis, and the Hull-based punk-jazz group FET.NAT.

A few punky Some Party favourites made the cut this year as well, with the latest from Dilly Dally, The Dirty Nil, PUP, and Fucked Up all represented. You can find the full list at the event's website.

In total, the Long List was chosen from 233 albums nominated by a 199 member jury of if journalists, broadcasters, bloggers, and programmers from across Canada (of which I am one, at least until someone comes to realize I don't belong there).

If I had to pick one record to single out as the most delightfully surprising inclusion on this year's list, it would have to be the veteran Quebec metal group Voivod. The band's 2018 full-length, The Wake, their fourteenth studio album, earned the long-running group a spot among this year's new rock hopefuls. Voting is underway now for the 10 album Short List, which will be announced on July 16. A grand jury will decide the eventual $50,000 prize winner, to be announced at a gala in Toronto on September 16.

Watch: Voivod - "Obsolete Beings" @ YouTube

One last Polaris note, and a local one for me. This year, for the second year running, the Niagara Parks Commission will host a free, weekly summer concert series featuring Polaris acts playing at the brink of Niagara Falls in Queen Victoria Park. After a pair of kick-off performances this long weekend from Tanya Tagaq (on Friday night) and Hanna Georgas (on Canada Day), the Niagara Stage will settle into a weekly schedule with shows every Saturday evening at 8 PM (wrapping right before the fireworks). Last year I took my daughter there to see Weaves play and she hasn't stopped talking about it (although she calls them The Weaves, which is just wrong).

This year will feature shows from Doug Paisley, Jennifer Castle, Elliott Brood, Tanika Charles, Iskwē, Milk & Bone, Kobo Town, the Fred Eaglesmith Roadshow, and Great Lake Swimmers. No Wild Side though, but there's always next year. You can find the full schedule here. We as a city don't participate much in the indie-oriented musical conversation in Canada, so as a local this series is a rare reprieve.

Watch: Iskwē - "Little Star" @ YouTube

Last week the sardonic Toronto art-punks WLMRT unveiled the cover and track listing for their upcoming 10-song full-length. Titled Forever, the collection will arrive on cassette this July. WLMRT will debut the tape at a joint release show on July 6 at Toronto's Monarch Tavern. The band's sharing the event with the weirdo punk outfit Hugh Man (celebrating their latest EP, Hughs Man is it Anyway?), and the return of Sigil (the side-project of FRIGS' Bria Salmena with ex-members of HSY](https://hsy666.bandcamp.com/)).

WLMRT are following up their 2018 Pleasence Records EP Lube 2. Tallies' Stephen Pitman produced the new record.

WLMRT are among the performers slated to play Ottawa's inaugural Side by Side Weekend on the last weekend of July. The event, following the trail blazed by the now-defunct Ottawa Explosion, will stage four days of shows at the neighbouring venues Black Squirrel Books and House of TARG. This past week the festival's organizers shared the schedule for the full event, which features performances by the likes of the Steve Adamyk Band, Dboy, CELL, Life In Vacuum, BBQT, Bonnie Doon, and Jon Creeden & the Flying Hellfish.

Among the Saturday night performances, you'll find a rare appearance by Ottawa's dissonant noise group Bondar. The group hasn't performed together in 5 years. Bondar previously played under the name Roberta Bondar, last releasing the EP Caustic in 2014. They took on an abbreviated version of the name after the Canadian astronaut kindly requested they stop muddying her brand. When they last convened, Bondar was comprised of Lidija Rozitis, Alex Maltby, Gary Franks, and Tyler Goodman.

Listen: Bondar - Caustic @ Bandcamp

Speaking of Bonnie Doon, the Ottawa punk band recently released a video for the song "Panty Twister," from their excellent 2017 full-length Dooner Nooner. The group commented:

"We wanted to make a music video that showcased the opulence of being on a boat like in 90s rap videos and well... anything to do with sailing culture. Although as a punk band we are more like the underwater monstars, it was a really fun video to film, except when I got sea sick and was still eating shrimp in a shark suit with no railing to hold onto. The song is about getting your bathing suit all twisted from riding waterslides and this is our interpretation - see in it what you like! Some people say it is all a metaphor for cunnilingus."

Bassist Lesley Marshall directed the clip.

Dooner Nooner is one of the first records I wrote about when this newsletter kicked off in 2017. It endures as a fun mix of low-fi surf rock and sludgy post-punk, interspersed by frenzied X-Ray Spex-channelling craziness like you hear on this tune.

Watch: Bonnie Doon - "Panty Twister" @ YouTube

Toronto's experimental prog-pop trio Absolutely Free has a new video online showcasing the title track of their newly released Geneva Freeport EP. Directed by Bile Sister 's Julie Reich, the clip wanders through a surreal 3D art gallery, evoking and parodying the record's namesake (a warehouse complex in Switzerland that hides away an estimated $100 billion art collection).

The three-song EP came out last Friday on Idée Fixe. It features contributions from Meg Remy of U.S. Girls and Carl Didur of the Toronto psych duo Zacht Automaat.

Watch: Absolutely Free - "Geneva Freeport" @ YouTube

Last week Guelph-based folk singer/songwriter Innes Wilson unveiled the video for "Of Love and Lost," the first single from his upcoming full-length The Heart That Holds This Up. It's due on August 16 from Out of Sound Records. The musician commented on the project in the premiere at Live In Limbo:

"This song is really about the vastness of love and also the emptiness of loss, which was important to communicate in the music video. I've always loved old movies and TV shows that would use miniatures instead of CGI, and my good friend Ross Millar has been making brilliantly detailed Sci-fi dioramas which I've marvelled at for years. With his intricate, static scenes, he would beautifully capture the loneliness and cold emptiness of space. It came to me that this could be exactly how I could tell the story of this song in a creative way. I pitched it to Ross and he was immediately on board. We exchanged our ideas, Ross built and designed the sets and then we brought in our pal John Forbes to film it. So three old buddies, each with our respective abilities, who saw the potential to do something very cool, got together and made this project a reality."

Wilson last released the Seaview EP in 2018, which featured music tracked at Construction & Destruction 's Quarantine studio with backing from members of WHOOP-Szo. The Heart That Holds This Up was recorded with Halifax-based producer Adam Warren (Glory Glory, Pretty Normal, The Drug Rugs).

Watch: Innes Wilson - "Of Love and Lost" @ YouTube

Elsewhere in Guelph, the Royal City's enigmatic and clearly named Bullshit Hardcore Band have announced a hiatus, claiming:

"The BSHC are going underground. This is not a retreat, but a redirection of our subversive efforts to other outlets."

Despite their intention to disappear off-grid, the duo still has a few previously unreleased recordings to get into the world. The first of these posthumous releases is an album's worth of material titled Marksism, which the band recorded in the fall of 2018. They commented that:

"...as far as 'hardcore' or guitar-based music we've made, our new album 'Marksism' is our peak by a long shot."

The unit also has a second EP on the way from their dub alter-egos the Bullshit Dub Soundsystem. They issued their first diversion in that form back in April of 2018. A "really incredible collab" with an unnamed artist is also in the works.

Listen: Bullshit Hardcore Band - Marksism @ Bandcamp

Montreal melodic pop-punk group Brand New Lungs have a new full-length out on Thousand Islands Records, titled Like Wildfire. You can now stream the 12-song record in its entirety at Bandcamp. Brand New Lungs features Louis-Charles Berthiaume, Alex Bergeron, Fred Normand, and Philippe Thibodeau.

This is a full-throated, 90s-styled rocker tailor-made for crowd sing-alongs. I'd love to wistfully claim "they don't make them like this anymore," but the impressively prolific Thousand Islands discography says otherwise.

Listen: Brand New Lungs - Like Wildfire @ Bandcamp

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