The first time I saw Toronto glam-pop artist Nyssa play she was opening for Fucked Up at the Horseshoe. It mattered little that her set fell between two hardcore bands, or that she was, in stark contrast to their packed lineups, performing with little else than a small synth and her vocals. Nyssa seems to commands attention by sheer force of will.
The artist launched a new single last week titled "Hey Jackie," a track showing off a newfound folk-rock sensibility. That sound marks something of an evolution from the dayglo electronic elements that fueled 2018's Champion of Love EP. It's a few added layers of organic depth that wonderfully complement Nyssa's always-rich vocal delivery. This track feels awfully complete, for lack of a better term. It has the heft and drive that's often missing from DIY-producer-driven bedroom pop.
In a statement posted to Facebook Nyssa comments that "Hey Jackie" is a song about "being free and being seen... about breaking the small rules to break the big rules...about anger and hope and resilience." In part:
"I believe in the transformative power of fiction. I believe that culture shifts society and society can create change. When women can see themselves as free, as agents of their own destiny, forging ahead on their own paths, they can step into that role. I wrote 'Hey Jackie' as an anthem of female freedom - as a means of shifting the narrative. I always intended it to be timely, because I felt it was telling a tale hitherto undertold - especially in song. There are so many free men and so few free women stalking the lonely highways of our collective consciousness. The narrator of 'Jackie' is a free woman. She has suffered and she’s running away, but she is free."
The new single arrives alongside a video credited to director Ron Hollywood. You can check it out below.
Toronto noise-punk trio METZ will release a b-sides and rarities collection on July 12 through Sub Pop Records. Titled Automat, the set will compile non-album tracks from 2009 to the present, including material that's been out of print for several years.
Guitarist Alex Edkins said in a statement:
"The idea to release Automat came after realizing our early 7-inch singles were being sold online for upwards of $60 bucks a pop. We wanted to make those songs available and affordable to anyone who might want them in the physical format. What started as reissuing a couple of 45s, quickly morphed into an entire LP, compiling rarities, demos and alternate takes from over the years."
The songs comprising Automat have been remastered by Matthew Barnhart of the Chicago Mastering Service. Vinyl copies of the album, at least for now, will come with a bonus 45 featuring METZ covering songs by Sparklehorse, the Urinals and Gary Numan.
A video for the b-side "Pure Auto," animated by Montreal's James Kerr (aka Scorpion Dagger) went live with the announcement. You can find it below. It claims to be "an exact, animated representation of METZ in their rehearsal space."
METZ last released the Steve Albini engineered studio album Strange Peace.
"After leaving a shitty relationship, I felt really weird being alone. So, I adopted this as a neurotic catchphrase to repeat to myself whenever I felt like I was disappearing. The song is a reminder that even when all you have the strength to do is really regular stuff, like calling your mom or getting to work on time, you’re still a real person and you still exist."
The song will appear on Cut Your Teeth, due on July 5 from Mint Records.
Necking features vocalist Hannah Kay, bassist Sonya Rez, guitarist Nada Hayek, and the drummer Melissa Kuipers. Cut Your Teeth will be Necking's first follow up to their well-received 2017 cassette EP Meditation Tape. The band recorded these new tracks with producer Jesse Gander (Needles//Pins, Japandroids, White Lung).
From the same social circle (and sharing a bassist), Vancouver shoegaze/punk combo Kamikaze Nurse revealed more details on their upcoming LP last week. The band's 10-song debut will be titled Bucky Fleur and is due on May 31. A limited cassette release is due from Agony Klub. The four-piece recorded with Jordan Koop (Dumb, The Courtneys) at The Noise Floor.
A second preview single from the record, the urgent and haunting "Dead Meat," can be streamed now at Bandcamp.
The Beneath The Broadcast project aims to document sights and sounds created by musicians based in the Yukon territory. The effort brought together artists from an array of genres, from folk to soul, from hip-hop to alt-rock, to play unique, intimate sets in the cavernous basement of the CBC North headquarters. Local acts taking part included Jona Barr, The Sputnik Experiment, Paris Pick, Cryptozoologists, Calla Kinglit, LOCAL BOY, Soda Pony, Groan Boy, and a curiously unorthodox duo dubbed The Sweeties.
Hailing from Whitehorse, The Sweeties are one of those bands that, by the singleminded audacity of their musical output, are fully permitted to invent their own genre. In this case, it's sacred harp doom rock. The group plucks songs from The Sacred Harp songbook, a tome from 1844 that collects country parlour tunes and traditional spirituals. These are old songs, compiled in New England by Protestant Christians and popularized in the American south as part of the revival movement over a century ago.
The Sweeties take this unlikely source material use it to craft one hell of a racket. They flesh out the a cappella bones of these songs with blisteringly heavy guitar riffs, thundering caveman drums, and some impassioned wailing of a sort you'd never quite hear in those old church halls. They compound this warped anachronism with some vintage country stage dress straight from the (19)70s.
The Sweeties is the newest musical project from the Patrick Hamilton and Fiona McTaggart. The couple's been playing together for over a decade, with this latest venture stemming from their shared love of old-time bluegrass (and a mischievous sense of rock'n'roll abandon). Here they are, deep the basement of CBC North, with "Antioch":
Angsty Whitehorse three-piece rock band Cryptozoologists also took part in the Beneath The Broadcast project. The band premiered their contribution to the film over at Dominionated last week. Their tightly-would, thoroughly compelling track, titled "Fascism," was profiled on by the Canadian music blog's Rob Dickson. He broke down the literary references packed into the song:
"In the lyrics, McCann-Armitage references the essay A Time for Refusal by Teju Cole, warning that bewilderment can lead to complacency in a time marked by rising populism, and politics of fear. McCann-Armitage and Cole each make use of the allegory found in Albrecht Dürer’s 'The Rhinoceros' where a group of people in a town continue to dismiss encounters with rhinos charging through the streets until they eventually begin to turn into rhinos themselves. When asked about the origins of the song, McCann-Armitage explained that it is sung by a naive narrator who is just realizing the urgency for and difficulty of real resistance: being clear and uncompromising against the politics of hate."
Cryptozoologists feature vocalist/guitarist Zach McCann-Armitage, bassist Patrick Hamilton, and drummer Christine Shaw.
Ottawa party punk outfit New Swears shared a few new songs last week, streaming both "Wheels" and "Concrete Cowboy" from their upcoming full-length Night Mirror. The band premiered the video for the latter over at Atwood Magazine. The laid-back Americana-influenced track came with a backstory, recalling how the band lost their drummer after a show in Hamburg. As Stoney tells it:
"At one point after the show we found some permanent markers and we were all drawing on each other’s bodies, doing each other’s makeup and making questionable choices. The boys then headed back to the house we were crashing at but I decided to stick around with the locals. The Germans are quite good at the drinking. This is when everything goes black and the next 3 hours of my memory are completely lost. Once I snapped back into it I am completely alone on the streets of Hamburg, phone dead, nothing on me but two packs of cigarettes and 2 lighters..."
You can read the full account at Atwood. Night Mirror arrives on June 13 from Dine Alone Records, following up 2017's and the Magic of Horses.
I should note that the band recently addressed a controversy in the Ottawa music community stemming from the DIY music venue they once ran (the Fun Boy Club House, which shut down in 2013). The band spoke to the unspecified concerns in a statement at Facebook.
Vancouver punk act Jock Tears have a new video online for the song "Not Yr Sweetheart." The video features live footage shot at a March show in Olympia, WA for a VHS public access program titled Your Daily Hour with Me. Drummer Dustin Bromley commented to Exclaim:
"We were so excited to play Le Voyeur in Olympia with Calvin Johnson(!!) and our tourmates Apollo Ghosts, but we didn't realize that it was starting so early! We had spent the day wearing cowboy hats in the promoter, Lois' sunny backyard listening to stories of Olympia in the early '90s. We casually loaded into the venue, and Lois nudged me saying, "Ok, let's rip it!" Olympia doesn't mess around! This video takes place 2 minutes later."
The track appears on Bad Boys, the band's recent debut full-length on Inky Records. The group recorded in Montreal at Value Sound with Faith Healer's Renny Wilson. Jock Tears features vocalist Lauren Ray, former Tough Age bassist Lauren Smith, guitarist Spencer Hargreaves (Redrick Sultan), and Brutal Poodle drummer Dustin Bromley.
My fellow-Niagara native Graham Isador has a fantastic feature up at Vice with Drew Thomson of the acerbic punk act Single Mothers and the decidedly more friendly solo venture The Drew Thomson Foundation. Their chat addresses sobriety, life as an artist living outside Toronto, and the popular rise of bands from the southern Ontario punk scene (your Nils, PUPs, Pkews, and what have you).
The feature also debuted a new song due for Thomson's upcoming debut LP as the Foundation. It's an instantly likeable pop-rock tune titled "A Little More Time."
Single Mothers last released Through A Wall in 2018. The Foundation will soon follow up last year's EP Stay with a release on Dine Alone Records.
Andrew Neville of the Halifax post-punk act Moon has a new track online titled "Something Happened." It follows a slate of new music quietly released in the past few months, including the five-song EP Pure Comfort and the two song Ideal Starter Home single.
Moon last released the Paradise String EP in early 2017.
Low-fi Ottawa indie rock act Empty Nesters, the solo studio project of Eric Liao, has a new song online. You can check the chill, laid-back "Hippie Drip" over at Bandcamp. The song follows the decidedly louder Tired and Bored, the project's fifth EP, from this past February.
That's enough for this week, and it'll have to hold you over for at least one more. Some Party's taking a rare week off while my partner and I escape to an unspecified island to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. If I see Lee "Scratch" Perry out and about, I'll be sure to give him your regards.