Sunday April 15, 2018

I'm So Tired

This has been a rough winter. At my day job, we're working day and night to have a vitally important project ready for a May deadline, and that's meant a lot of long hours, few mental breaks, and more time than I'm comfortable with away from my wife and kids. While I'm sure I could've handled the lows with more grace, it's been manageable. I've been through this type of thing before, and you can gird yourself somewhat against the dark things that dwell in the crunch.

Today, though, was a bad day. I blame it entirely on this mid-April ice storm. While it hasn't hit Niagara as severely as Hamilton or the GTA, it's nonetheless an unwelcome and unhelpful extension of the grey morass of winter, and it's dragged my patience down with it. A little bit of sunshine would have made all the difference.

It fits then that the new track from Lonely Parade addresses this seasonal malaise directly. The Montreal-via-Peterborough art-punk three-piece have signed with Toronto's Buzz Records and have released their first song in this new chapter. "I'm So Tired" will appear on the band's debut for Buzz later this year. Here's what bassist Charlotte Dempsey had to say about it:

"’I’m So Tired’ is based on the feeling of seasonal depression. It’s about feeling numb when you’re overwhelmed with a situation you can’t cope with, and not processing the emotions at hand. The song was written about an unrequited love, and feeling anxious and insecure about your position, and trapped in the situation. Musically we tried to capture that feeling of drowning in your own head, the sense of sinking as soon as you wake up with the sludgier sections, while the rest of the track expresses a more manic sensation of going through the motions of living and trying to keep up with reality when your mind is somewhere else."

Lonely Parade features Dempsey along with guitarist Augusta Veno and drummer Anwyn Climenhage. They recorded "I'm So Tired" with Josh Korody of Beliefs and Greys' Shehzaad Jiwani.

Listen: Lonely Parade - "I'm So Tired" @ YouTube

The initial lineup for The Fest was announced last week, and almost hidden in the details was a note that Crusades' appearance at the annual Florida punk gathering would be their final show.

The Ottawa-based band is indeed calling it quits, with plans to play their final Canadian show at June's Ottawa Explosion before wrapping things up for good in Gainesville. Guitarist/vocalist Dave Williams followed up on the news with a Facebook post that read, in part:

For clarity's sake, we would like to state that in no way is Crusades' decision to call it a day rooted in animosity or in-fighting of any kind. Nor was it a decision that was arrived at flippantly.

At the core of it was the simple realization that the band had run its course. That it seemed impossible to envision the four of us creating another record from the ground up, to navigate, as a foursome, both our personal and creative lives, through the hills and valleys of writing and recording and performing and everything that comes along with that.

It was of the utmost importance that we grind to a halt while we're still as close as we've ever been. That we finish as four of each other's best friends, that the last shows we play together be truly meaningful and not some kind of necessary evil after things had fizzled out. That we depart on a high note, having reached what we feel is our creative apex and releasing a record that we're so genuinely proud of.

For the last ten years, Crusades has been using the vehicle of melodic pop-punk to explore themes you'd typically expect in black metal: namely the dark side of religiosity. Unlike a lot of metal (and for that matter most Misfits-inspired punk bands) the dark imagery never crosses the line into cliche. Unpacking a Crusades record often required a history lesson, as their lyrics are often rooted in the plights of real-world heretics rather than the machinations of some cartoon devil. In an interview with Punknews.org six or so years ago Dave expressed how serious they took their concept:

My take on religion is quite succinctly summed up in [2011's] The Sun is Down and The Night is Riding In. Much of the record details my own evolution from a child coming-of-age in a Christian community - whose education, rites of passage, holidays, experiences with loss, etc, all were peppered with the rhetoric and fantasies of damnation and torment - to a young man who witnessed first-hand the devastation that €˜faith can wreak on young minds. Mental illness, addiction, attempted and successful suicides, all rooted firmly in the initial poisoning that is a religious upbringing. It is, without hyperbole, a pure form of psychological and emotional abuse, carried out by individuals far too unintelligent to realize it.

Crusades last released This is a Sickness and Sickness will End in 2017. The band was made up of drummer Jordan Bell, bassist Skottie Lobotomy, and guitarists Emmanuel Sayer and Dave Williams, with everyone sharing vocal credits.

Listen: Crusades - This is a Sickness and Sickness will End @ Bandcamp

When Crusades do call it a day at The Fest, they'll be joined by an impressive fielding of Canadian artists. The initial announcement also confirmed Montreal punks Boids and Lost Love, the Toronto groups Pkew Pkew Pkew, Brutal Youth, and METZ, Vancouver's Daggermouth continuing their reunion, and Windsor slackers Partner. That last one threw me a bit, and now there's nothing I want more than walk up and down University Avenue with a sandwich board and a bell to drive the punks out to that performance. Outside of our Canadian indie bubble I've got to imagine that Partner's still a wonderful secret waiting to be discovered. To see them play Fest is just cool. My worlds are colliding.

Listen: Partner - "Creature in the Sun" @ Bandcamp

Also, and perhaps not coincidently, last week saw a new track from Ottawa's The Creeps, a trio that features Crusades' Jordan Bell and Skottie Lobotomy along with Ian Evans. The trio premiered a new song titled "Shimmer" at The Bad Copy, the first single from the band's upcoming full-length Beneath the Pines. That record, the band's 6th, arrives on May 4 on It's Alive Records.

Listen: The Creeps - "Shimmer" @ The Bad Copy

Vancouver three-piece The Shame has a new EP of delightfully askew punk rock coming up titled Pops & Pits. It should be out on April 20 and available on cassette at upcoming shows. Guitarist Mikey Power fronts the band, but I'm not sure who's backing him on these new recordings. The Shame is following up a 2016 record called Ahem that the band released under the name Mikey & His Shame.

Listen: The Shame - Pops & Pits @ Bandcamp

Vancouver four-piece Dead Cells have unveiled a set of demo recordings for you to check out at Bandcamp. They recorded them with JJ Heath at Rain City Recorders. The four-piece will be releasing the demo as a cassette soon on Neon Taste, the label run by Josh Nickel of Fashionism, Night People, and Chain Whip, with a 7" of new material to follow. Nickel commented on Instagram:

"It's a fantastic outing of modern punk that sits close to Pacific Northwest sounds. Think Marked Men meets The Estranged with some of the same moves you can hear on the Rata Negra LP."

Listen: Dead Cells - Demo 2018 @ Bandcamp

I can't seem to stop premiering things on Some Party, despite the obvious fact that I'm just some dork writing a newsletter nobody reads and don't demand an audience.

The latest band to make the bad decision to work with me was Toronto's Somersaulter. The four-piece, which features lead guitarist Taylor Barrow, rhythm guitarist Mac Cameron, drummer Geoff Parent, and bassist Conor Byrne, has a new EP on the way titled Music To Talk Over. I premiered the title track at SomeParty.ca, an entirely instrumental number (but an engaging one) that kicks off a 4 song set of gritty post-hardcore. The band recorded with Matt Rideout at A&B Studios and will release the full EP on May 4. You can read my full write-up at the site.

Listen: Somersaulter - "Music to Talk Over" @ Some Party

Whitby, Ontario's Brandon Williams, otherwise known as the grungy punk act Chastity, has announced his debut full-length. The ten song record will be titled Death Lust and will arrive on July 13 via Brooklyn's Captured Tracks label. The album will follow up October's Chains EP and the "Peroxide" single from earlier last year.

Given the cover art, it's safe to say that the themes of suburban alienation that Chastity explored earlier remain a topic here. Williams grimly commented in the press release:

"Death Lust is about growing up death obsessed. It's about the pain that it takes but the capacity that we have to overcome."

A couple of days ago Chastity livestreamed a set from a barn in Whitby supporting METZ. The raised money for the Frontenac Youth Services, a Durham Region youth mental health organization.

Listen: Chastity - "Children" @ Bandcamp

Toronto-based surf-punk act Knifey has released a new video for the song "Serf," which appeared on the band's 2017 full-length Beached. The clip was directed by Shawn Kosmerly, who was behind the camera for some of Sam Coffey's recent clips. Here's what the band had to say about the experience:

"When coming up with a video concept for ‘Serf’ we wanted to create something that was fun and reminded us of those almost cheesy pop punk music videos of the late 90’s and early 2000’s that we all love. We met up with Shawn Kosmo, and started to flush out some ideas about escaping the 9 to 5 to some beach, but it all seemed a little mundane. So we added a few twists. It was cold... very cold. Well, really it was only negative 2 or 3, but a cold wind blew off the frigid waters that lapped at our feet. The wind lashed at our faces, and our feet and hands grew cold and numb. But in our shared misery we found a new friendship, discovered a brotherly bond amongst ourselves, and were brought together in our efforts by our common adversary, winter. We hope our suffering brings you joy."

Watch: Knifey - "Serf" @ YouTube

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