Sunday November 19, 2017

Retour au noir

Saint-Lambert rock band Zen Bamboo has finally set a date for the second volume in their trickle-out album release cycle. This new set, which will feature six songs, is due on November 24 and carries the title Volume 2 : Plus mature, plus assumé. It'll include "Si c'est correct," which we got a taste of back in September, plus the newly unveiled "Retour au noir," which you can check out below. Don't let the pensive piano-accompanied opening throw you, it really kicks into gear after a bit.

I've yet to entirely figure out Zen Bamboo, stylistically. I first encountered them at the Festival de Musique Émergente in Rouyn-Noranda, where they played raucous secret show in a tiny garage in an alleyway (in the rain). That perhaps projected a little more of a ramshackle reputation than their carefully built studio work's borne out, but we'll see when it's finally all made available. There's definitely a bit of a Libertines vibe to their sound, complete with that over-the-top sense of romanticism that the popular British band traded in. This album, which I assume we'll hear in its entirety sometime in early 2018, was produced and engineered by Malajube's Thomas Augustin. The first volume, the four-song Volume 1 : Juvénile EP, arrived in July.

Listen: Zen Bamboo - "Retour au noir" @ BandCamp

Vancouver indie-pop act Energy Slime, a side-project from members of Jay Arner's band, have returned with a new single titled "It's Cold." The track's set for release on December 2 at the Mint Records Ridiculously Early Xmas Party, where it'll be gifted to attendees as a flexi disc greeting card.

Exclaim premiered a video for the track, directed by frontwoman Jessica Delisle. Her comments on the shoot, which took place in Edmundston, New Brunswick and Trois-Rivières, Quebec are pretty fun:

We discovered a bizarre tiny gym with carpet-covered walls and two boardrooms in the basement of a motel we stayed at on tour. Our video shoot lasted as long as a load of laundry takes to wash and dry. At one point the elderly francophone hotel owner came downstairs as I was pouring myself a fresh glass of wine while on the treadmill. I thought she would be mad but she just said "Hello gorgeous." Jay's guitar solo shots were filmed during an actual tornado warning in Quebec. I wanted him to look like Slash in the "November Rain" video but all we had was a hotel parking lot. I think he did a good job despite our shortcomings.

Watch: Energy Slime - "It's Cold" @ YouTube

While we're in Vancouver let's talk about Necking. The relatively new four-piece band (they played their first show earlier this year at Music Waste) have released a five-song EP online called Meditation Tape. With some serious riot grrrl vibes, the set is anything but. Tracks like "All Melissas Are Keepers" just spit fire and songs like "Ford Commercial" are gleefully sardonic. The EP was recorded by BC musician and visual artist Tom Whalen.

Listen: Necking - "All Melissas Are Keepers" @ BandCamp

Toronto's FRIGS have shared the song "Doghead," the first preview of their upcoming LP for Arts & Crafts. It follows up the 2016 Slush EP and the subsequent "Chest" / "Trashyard" single. The new song was inspired by (and repurposes some dialogue from) And the Ass Saw the Angel, the 1989 novel by Australian legend Nick Cave. Vocalist Bria Salmena shows a huge amount of range on this track, and it tee's up the band's forthcoming record to be one to watch in 2018.

Listen: FRIGS - "Doghead" @ YouTube

Hard driving Hamilton garage-punk group Flesh Rag have released a video for their song "I'm Sick." The three-piece, which features members of the Hammer's TV Freaks and Welland's Rocket Reducers, contributed the song to the Killed By Meth Vol. 2 compilation, which was recently released by London, Ontario label It's Trash. This song was recorded at Downtown Sound by Mario Pietrangeli. Connor Wilkes directed the video.

Watch: Flesh Rag - "I'm Sick" @ YouTube

Montreal multidiciplinary art-punk Petra Glynt has released a new video for the song "This You Need," the six-minute closing track from her recently released Vibe Over Method debut This Trip. The video was co-directed by Jeff Garcia (Mango Peeler) and Tanya Santos. Glynt edited the clip herself and contributed the night vision footage featured.

Glynt, or Alexandra Mackenzie in her civilian guise, has also announced an LP release show and visual art exhibition in Ottawa. The event will go down on December 1 at General Assembly. Ottawa experimental hip-hop/jazz artist Muzzy Legault will play the event as well. You can preview some of Glynt's artwork over at PDA Projects.

Watch: Petra Glynt - "This You Need" @ YouTube

Julie & The Wrong Guys have premiered a video for the song "Farther From You," directed by Jim Agapito. The track appears on the band's September-released self-titled effort on Dine Alone Records. The band features Julie Doiron of Eric's Trip fame backed by Cancer Bats' Mike Peters and Jaye Schwarzer, with Edmonton's Eamon McGrath.

Watch: Julie & The Wrong Guys - "Farther From You" @ YouTube

I've mentioned Corner Boys' authentically vintage punk single "Just Don't Care" a few times in past mailings. The track now has a video to accompany it, shot and edited by Simon Thistlewood. The band features Hosehead Records' Patrick Bertrand, Joel Butler of Nervous Talk and Wade from Stress Eating. The three-song EP this track leads off arrived in October on Drunken Sailor Records.

Watch: Corner Boys - "Just Don't Care" @ YouTube

In a quick turnaround from last week's video, Vanity Phase has debuted another infectious new song titled "Win The Bread." Vanity Phase is the solo electronic music project of Century Palm / Zebrassieres frontman Andrew Payne. The huge Devo influence in this should be immediately apparent.

Listen: Vanity Phase - "Win The Bread" @ SoundCloud

Vancouver punk legends D.O.A. have kicked off a crowdfunding campaign to support the production of their next LP. The veteran band is working towards a new studio album which will celebrate their 40th anniversary. They're seeking $15,000 in assistance, with the usual ladder of rewards for contributors. This one tops out with one of Joey Shithead's guitars as an incentive at the $750 level.

D.O.A.'s previous record, 2015's Hard Rain Falling, was similarly funded by fan contributions.

Hop a few generations into the present and there's also word from PUP that they're gearing up for their next record. The band announced that they've started pre-production on the follow-up to their 2016 sophomore full-length The Dream Is Over. One can assume we'll see the new record at some point in 2018, but it's early days.

A new free compilation is showcasing the Southern Ontario hardcore scene. This includes a number of Toronto-based groups such as Twin Rivals, Hellbent, Born Without Hope, Cold Shoulder, Die Hexe, Powerbomb, Robot, Single Wound, and Speaker. The set features a number of communities outside the GTA, with appearances by London groups Bad Blood and Cheapside, Sarnia's Bar Down, Hamilton's Damage Control, Collingwood's Discoverson, Guelph's Mourn, Brampton's Nailbox, Ottawa's Rats, St. Catharines' Sinner, and Thorold's Windoc. In true centre-of-the-universe fashion though, the whole set's called the Toronto Hardcore Comp Vol 1. Of course it is.

Listen: Toronto Hardcore Comp Vol.1 @ BandCamp

If you're looking for a compelling read, head to the CBC and check out Julie Tausch's new piece titled "Why Death From Above's alt-right controversy shouldn't come as a surprise." In it, the author addresses the recent controversy that embroiled the popular Canadian rock band Death From Above when bassist Jesse Keeler was linked with the alt-right organization the Proud Boys in a viral blog post. Tausch looks at the band's history and argues "Death From Above's brand has been hipster men's rights activists (MRA) from the start."

Toronto Star pop-music critic Ben Rayner profiled the new Buffy Sainte-Marie collection Medicine Songs, which reworks and updates a number of the artist's activist and protest songs from her decades-long career. The distinction between protest and activism is discussed by Sainte-Marie in the article, which outlines her motivation to revisit her material and her career since winning the Polaris Prize for Power In The Blood.

Finally, this week Neil Young announced that his long-simmering Neil Young Archives project was nearing launch. An interactive timeline of "every single, recorded track or album I have produced" is to be available on a website which will go live on December 1 (the same day his new album The Visitor drops). The archives will be, at least initially, free to access. As with all of Young's forays into digital music he's hitched this effort to his his preoccupation with audio quality. The announcement likewise spends more than a bit of space hyping the tech company Neil's created to power the streaming aspects of this thing.

I'm fascinated by the possibilities that a truly comprehensive online music archive could open up (hello Fugazi Live Series), so here's hoping that the historic utility of this project doesn't get too lost in the audiophile weeds.

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