Sunday August 18, 2019

Kepler 69

Last week Jon Schouten and Chris Swimmings of the wry Toronto punk group Teenanger launched their new band with Dave Nardi. You'll recognize the later as the former bassist of Hamilton rockers The Dirty Nil. These days Nardi plays guitar with Ancient Shapes and has become an integral player among the wider-constellation of artists who cycle in and out of Daniel Romano's universe. Nardi and this half of Teenanger have a new synth-forward project wearing the geographically-deceptive name of Quasar U.K.. The group just released a two-song single featuring the tracks "Kepler 69" and "Colour Jamming" over at Bandcamp. The liner notes boast:

"Shining so brightly that we eclipse the ancient galaxies... Powered by supermassive blackholes, a billion times as massive as the sun... QUASAR UK have harnessed source-objects found at the transcendent STUDIO Z, in the form of stored and repeated audio effects, to finally present humans with the first ever audible glimmer of the almighty power of our energy."

This isn't the first intersection between Nardi and the Teenanger crowd, as the group have been collaborating on the Telephone Explosion imprint Morning Trip (Telephone Explosion's run by Schouten and Teenanger drummer Steve Sidoli). Under that banner, the group's begun to unearth and reissue rare ambient and new age records (like Celestial Realms, a 1986 set from Brian Eno-linked mouthful Laraaji & Lyghte). Given the out-there trajectory of that ongoing collaboration, the grand cosmic ambitions of Quasar U.K. make a whole lot of sense.

Listen: Quasar U.K. - "Kepler 69" @ Bandcamp

Teenanger and Ancient Shapes recently announced an October tour in support of the latter's upcoming full-length A Flower That Wouldn't Bloom. Last week a video arrived for the title track, featuring Ancient Shapes' Roddy Rosetti and friend-of-the-band (and artist in her own right) Julianna Riolino cruising the streets of Pelham. Here's your superfluous Niagara fact of the day: the large tree that Roddy and J.R. drive that classic Ford to is the Comfort Maple, a 500-year-old sugar maple tree that's something of a local attraction.

The Daniel Romano-lead power-pop group will issue the new record, their third, on October 25 through You've Changed. The band's current lineup features Danny and his brother Ian Romano (both of Attack In Black, of course), along with the above mentioned David Nardi, Vee Bell of TV Freaks, and the video-starring Roddy Rosetti.

The Ancient Shapes / Teenanger tour has shows scheduled for Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Sudbury, St. Catharines, and London this fall.

Watch: Ancient Shapes - "A Flower that Wouldn't Bloom" @ YouTube

Since we're back on the Attack In Black beat (which is, I'll admit, 65% of this newsletter sometimes), there's fun news from Spencer Burton. The Niagara-based country/folk artist has a collection of children's songs slated for an October 4 release titled The Mountain Man. Burton described the set on Facebook:

"SONGS that were written for my children but somehow managed to make their way out into the wild. SONGS that your kids will listen to while you're driving that won't make you want to jump out the window. SONGS that will hopefully help bring you all closer to the beauty that is (our sometimes forgotten) Mother Earth. SONGS for every animal, every plant and every living creature big and small. Come listen and come help me find beauty wherever it lays."

Burton last released an acoustic demo version of his 2017 record Songs Of. It, like this new collection, carry the Dine Alone label. Right around the release date of The Mountain Man, Burton will play a children's set at the St. Catharines Cicada Music & Arts Festival on October 5. He'll be joined at that event by the Joel Plaskett Emergency, Wintersleep, The Weather Station, and Born Ruffians among others.

Listen: Spencer Burton - "The Mountain Man" @ YouTube

The Toronto jangle-pop duo Triples will release their debut this fall on Art of the Uncarved Block. Titled Big Time, the album will be the first full-length from sisters Eva and Madeline Link. It follows a short series of digital singles, all of which have been, speaking objectively, utterly wonderful. The new set was recorded and produced by Seamus Patterson. Expect it in October.

The band released a video along with the announcement that features the single "Long Life." Shot in a single-take by filmmaker Gabriela Osio Vanden, the laidback track features Eva singing in the twilight on empty Toronto streets. She commented:

"'Long Life' is about gaining clarity and noticing the people around you who could have made a difference but stand by as things fall apart."

Madeline Link's low-fi solo project PAX released a full-length titled Ouch earlier this year on the same label. Eva Link's played bass as part of the Toronto pop-punk band PONY.

Watch: Triples - "Long Life" @ YouTube

I'm pretty sure the Calgary punk act Leather Jacuzzi calls Toronto home these days, but we shouldn't hold that against them. The band has an EP on the way this month titled Banned from the Cozart, a set that will feature the song "Tits First Through The Piss." You can check that track out in a new video from Thank You So Much (there's some plot to this one, so keep with it for the actual song to kick in). Is this the song title of the year? Absolutely. The Polaris Prize is in the mail.

Leather Jacuzzi last released the LP The Whole Hog on Danger Records. It collected music from the band's first two cassettes, 2017's Slander, Lies And Soda and the group's 2016 debut Monsters, Narcs & Idiots.

Watch: Leather Jacuzzi - "Tits First Through the Piss" @ YouTube

Ottawa post-punk trio Warp Lines will release their long-awaited debut, titled Human Fresh, on Portland's Dirt Cult Records next month. The record arrives on September 27, with a release party slated for Saturday the 28th at House of TARG. Warp Lines will be joined by local groups The Offers and Mushy Gushy at the show, with Dave Williams of Crusades and Surrender on hand to spin some "synth-pop end of summer hits" after the bands.

While there's no new audio to share yet, you can get a feel for Warp Lines' sound from a 2016 demo available at Bandcamp.

Warp Lines have a long lineage in the Ottawa punk scene, with the band's three members either currently or formally playing in groups like the Steve Adamyk Band, Big Dick, Million Dollar Marxists, Van Johnson, Uranium Comeback, The Yips, Tropical Dripps, and The New Calling. The label had this to say:

"For those interested in labels, it's safe to call Warp Lines a post-hardcore band. But there's also plenty of ear candy here for fans of early 90's grunge and alt-rock, garage revival, power pop, skate punk and even psychedelia."

Warp Lines feature drummer/vocalist Dave Sec, guitarist/vocalist Johnny O, and bassist Kurt Rafuse.

Listen: Warp Lines - Demo @ Bandcamp

Chris Alscher's solo project Chris-a-riffic has a new album out in digital wilds titled TREATS. The record will be ushered into the world this Friday with a party at east Vancouver art space The Toast Collective. That event will also serve as a 20th-anniversary celebration for Alscher's CiTR radio show Parts Unknown.

Among the ten tracks featured on TREATS you'll find a cover of the Jewel song "I'm Sensitive," and a reworking of some Ron Sexsmith lyrics into the tune "IDA."

Chris-a-riffic last released the full-length Post-Season in 2018. Alscher's discography includes stints with They Shoot Horses Don't They?, Collapsing Opposites, and Bible Belts. You may also recall Alscher's loving piano arrangement of Apollo Ghosts' 2008 album Hastings Sunrise, which lives forever at YouTube.

Listen: Chris-A-Riffic - TREATS @ Bandcamp

Toronto radio station Indie88 recently premiered a video for "At 45," the first single from José Contreras' upcoming record At The Slaughterhouse. The By Divine Right frontman's gearing up to release his new LP via Headless Owl Records on September 13.

Contreras spoke to Indie88 about the melancholy tune, revealing some of the personal drama behind it:

"At 45, as my marriage unravelled, I found myself going from no love to more love than I could handle... From the coldness of my marriage bed, to being an object of desire. It was a weird thing for a middle aged dad to get used to. Meanwhile, there was someone I was thinking of... someone I wanted to see again, just to see her face, and though maybe the timing wasn't perfect, I couldn't stop myself. My friend Jimmie said to me, 'Who cares if it's bad timing? Do it, man! Life is short.' The rest is history."

Ben Srokosz of GATTA Creative directed the "At 45" video.

By Divine Right most recently released the song-for-song Depeche Mode cover album Speak & Spell US. José Contreras had a self-titled solo LP and EP in 2014 and 2015 respectively. In the past year, he's been a part of Shotgun Jimmie's return to action, serving as both a player and producer on Transistor Sister 2.

Watch: José Contreras - "At 45" @ YouTube

Toronto psych/synth-pop trio Silver Pools recently premiered a video for their dreamy (and audibly fluid) new single "A Kiss for the Swimmer." Speaking to [Sonofmarketing], vocalist Todd Macdonald commented:

"Inspired by Homer's Odyssey, Cat Power and the song 'Sexus Plexus Nexus' by the inimitable Pierre Kwenders, 'A Kiss for the Swimmer' blows a kiss goodbye to friends or lovers who seem so giving and warm but become manipulative and abusive once they have gained your trust.

The song started with a backwards and slowed down sample of a synth part from our first album, Memoirs of an Oblong Sphere. For the recording of 'A Kiss for the Swimmer' we ran Miranda's vocals through a mid-1930's bubble machine, mic'd Adrienne's bass amp with a fleece mitten and I strummed my trusty electric mandolin while our drum machine played along."

Adrienne McLaren directed the clip. "A Kiss for the Swimmer" was recorded at the Castle in the Clouds and the Black Lodge. Silver Pools features Macdonald on vocals, electronics and mandolin, Miranda Crabtree on keys and vocals, and Adrienne Mclaren on bass.

Watch: Silver Pools - "A Kiss for the Swimmer" @ YouTube

Last week Ontario's Walk A Mile Records shared the first single from Ottawa hardcore band Moratorium. Titled "Prey Drive," the track's recommended for fans of heavy outfits like Cursed, Trap Them, and Panic. The band recorded with producer Topan Das (of the Gatineau grindcore outfit Fuck The Facts and the label Noise Salvation at Apartment 2 Recordings.

Listen: Moratorium - "Prey Drive" @ Bandcamp

Winnipeg punk duo Mobina Galore have another song online from their upcoming full-length Don't Worry. You can stream "Dig Myself Out" below. The band's new record arrives on September 6 from New Damage and Gunner Records.

In the premiere at Full Grain Audio, guitarist/vocalist Jenna Priestner commented on the track:

"It's about constantly digging yourself into a hole, it's about blaming everything but yourself for the poor choices you make in life when seeking change and it's about realizing the mess you create it yours to clean up. It's no doubt a bummer of a song, but I find it therapeutic each time I sing it. I loved our producer's idea to end the song with an acoustic, it really hits you with that last time. I think I made him tear up a bit singing that last line, it was quite an emotional session."

The new set from Priestner and drummer/vocalist Marcia Hanson will serve as the follow-up to 2017's Feeling Disconnected.

Mobina Galore will headline the Black Forest stage on the Saturday night of Beau's annual Oktoberfest this September. Among others, they'll be playing alongside The Penske File, Lost Love, Jon Creeden & The Flying Hellfish, and Audio Visceral on that day. Oktoberfest raises money for several charities every year, with the punk-focused Black Forest stage, in particular, supporting the skateboards-for-youth program For Pivots Sake. The main stage at Oktoberfest will feature headlining sets from The New Pornographers on September 20 and Shad on the 21st. Some Party's a sponsor of the Black Forest stage again this year.

Listen: Mobina Galore - "Dig Myself Out" @ YouTube

We've heard a ton of material from The Drew Thomson Foundation's upcoming debut LP, and Dine Alone Records has yet to take their foot off the gas. This week you can preview "Barbed Wire," a new single that circles back to Thomson's recurring theme of sobriety. You can stream it below.

The Foundation is Thomson's pop-rock side-project and a sonic counterpoint to his better-known punk band Single Mothers. This LP follows up on the Foundation's 2018 EP Stay. Single Mothers have been touring recently in support of their latest record, Through a Wall.

Listen: The Drew Thomson Foundation - "Barbed Wire" @ YouTube

Toronto punk/grunge/hard rock act The Anti-Queens have signed with Stomp Records to release their self-titled debut. The long-in-the-works record follows the band's 2015 Start Running EP. You can preview the single "Worse Than Death" now at Bandcamp. It's one of 11 songs that will appear on the album when it arrives on September 13.

The Anti-Queens features Emily Bones on lead vocals and guitar, Valerie Knox (of Oshawa's Black Cat Attack) on guitar and vocals, Dallas Conte on drums, and Taylor Cos (of Newmarket's Rue Bella) on bass and vocals.

Listen: The Anti-Queens - "Worse than Death" @ Bandcamp

Toronto three-piece post-punk group Laurie recently released a new 5-song EP titled Group Dynamics. It's a tightly-wound, consistently engaging set that pairs new wave elements with attitude-driven vocals. It features their earlier single "Anxiety" among the tracklisting. The band recorded with The Effens' Nops Whileaway at his LootBag Records studio.

Laurie features Trent Bristow on guitar and synth, bassist Fabian Kearns, and drummer Jessica Maxwell.

Listen: Laurie - Group Dynamics @ Bandcamp

I can't keep track of all the bands London, Ontario's Robbie Brake plays in these days. That list certainly includes the power-pop group Isölation Party and the three-piece garage-punk act Mononegatives. I'm sure there are others, with one-off names made up for home recording projects and solo material on top of that. These latest songs fall under the latter category, with Brake sharing the demos "Fast City" and "Ear Candy Lip Service" over at Bandcamp. They're both pleasingly rooted in late 70s punk, instantly familiar but taking advantage of that evergreen vitality that a strong Buzzcocks influence tends to impart.

Listen: Robbie Brake - "Fast City" @ Bandcamp

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