Sunday July 21, 2019

The New Sincerity

I've got a bad habit of taking song titles and lyrical excerpts, most likely out of context, and using them to buttress whatever half-baked life philosophy I've internalized. I drove around Cape Breton, searching for the right moment to propose to my girlfriend to the chorus of Attack In Black's "Northern Towns." Is that song actually appropriate to the occasion of professing one's love on a cliff overlooking the Northumberland Strait? Beats me, but it sounded good. I started this newsletter frustrated with the treadmill of covering daily music news to Daniel Romano's "Modern Pressure." Like so many of my peers, I parsed mantras from the Constantines' "Young Lions" to fit every imaginable purpose. Those are just my on-brand Cancon examples. My teenage years were no better. I'm loath to admit sitting around in a K-car in a St. Catharines mall parking lot, listening to Less Than Jake's "Al's War" and deciding it spoke precisely to how much we needed to escape the fact that we were sitting around in a K-car in a St. Catharines mall parking lot. Heck, I stocked a produce freezer as a know-it-all 14-year-old while "I'm So Bored With the U.S.A." confirmed my obviously flawless takes on mid-90s geopolitics.

Shotgun Jimmie's "The New Sincerity" feels like one of those songs. I'm not entirely sure what it means, but I am absolutely on board. I am ready for the new sincerity. Sign me up. Nothing else makes much sense. The tattoo goes here.

As for Jimmie's interpretation, he commented on his website:

"Are you ready for The New Sincerity? We've released a new single from my forth coming record. Available for streaming here. Essentially, it's the record's manifesto. It's actually a manifesto I wrote for an art history class. I got an A+!!! Hopefully you like it as much as my prof did. The song was inspired by a T-shirt Paul Henderson made for me at a Sackville art party. Thanks Paul. Thanks Post-Post-Modernism. Thanks You've Changed Records. Thank you fine listener.

All clear?

The song's the second single release from the fast-approaching sequel to 2011's Transistor Sister, aptly titled Transistor Sister 2. The album arrives on You've Changed Records on Friday, August 2, coinciding with Jimmie's triumphant return to Sackville, New Brunswick's SappyFest as the Saturday night headliner the following evening.

While Jimmie's regularly released music since that fan-favourite album (most recently Field of Trampolines in 2016 and the first The Heat Death record last year ), the new full length serves as a direct response to that the original Transistor Sister. Jimmie commented earlier that he intended to "recreate the immersive experience of making the original" by working with a full band in a self-contained studio session.

This record features Jim Kilpatrick backed by Ryan Peters of Ladyhawk, Jay Baird of Do Make Say Think, and José Miguel Contreras of By Divine Right. It was recorded and produced by Contreras at The Chat Chateaux in Toronto. The album's first single "Cool All The Time," featured a guest monologue from Chad VanGaalen, with the work also featuring instrumentation from the Cons' Steven Lambke and Human Music 's Cole Woods.

Listen: Shotgun Jimmie - "The New Sincerity" @ Spotify (sorry!)

Washing Machine, the Halifax quartet spearheaded by Noel Macdonald (Moon, Long Weekends, Don Lovely) has a new single online titled "Act of War." It's the band's first follow-up to their 2018 full-length Walk It Back, which saw Macdonald establish an indie rock sound heavily influenced by 80s new wave and college rock, taking queues from classics like The Smiths.

Washing Machine features Macdonald on guitar and vocals backed by members of the astonishingly interconnected Halifax heavy music scene: guitarist Dylan Chew (Unreal Thought, Frail Hands), bassist Cody Googoo (Booji Boys, Alienation), and drummer Tom Burke (King's Girls, Frail Hands).

Listen: Washing Machine - "Act of War" @ Bandcamp

Toronto avant-pop artist Scott Hardware has signed with Telephone Explosion for a new album due in 2020. While still untitled, the record has a debut single out now in the form of "Bound Together." The new track combines acoustic instrumentation with the electronic effects Hardware's spent the past few years iterating on. The song was recorded live off the floor with Carlyn Bezic (of the synthpop duo Ice Cream) and Simone Tisshaw-Baril (Darlene Shrugg, Fake Palms, Partner) as his rhythm section. Deidre Nox provides backing vocals on the track.

"Bound Together" is Hardware's first new release since 2016's full-length Mutate Repeat Infinity. Scott commented on the sweeping, cinematic new direction explored in the song:

"Originally the new music was supposed to be house-inspired but I wanted to take out the drums and move towards the emotional core of dance music without a beat distracting. It still references Detroit electro and house in smaller ways, while scratching my itch to be able to write songs that were timeless enough be played with one instrument and one voice (and also incorporate my love for meta experimental music, production-wise.)"

Scott Hardware's been a long-running member of the Toronto music community, with roots in the experimental Kensington Market-based psych group Ostrich Tuning. He started recording solo in 2013 while living in Berlin, experimenting with drum machines as Ken Park. Relocating back to Toronto in 2015, Hardware pushed into dance music with Mutate Repeat Infinity. "Bound Together" seems to show a new synthesis of these often divergent ventures.

Listen: Scott Hardware - "Bound Together" @ Soundcloud

Last week at Punknews, I premiered a new song from Toronto's up and coming three-piece Pacer. Their stand-alone single "Rapture" sounds absolutely exuberant, which is surprising given it was conceived in the wake of a psychotic episode suffered by lead vocalist Shawn Kosmo. The trio, which features Kosmo on vocals and guitar backed by bassist Dan Pearce and drummer Evan Matthews, draws from 80s college rock and 70s proto-punk, with a particular love for the Replacements and Pixes shining through.

The press release digs into the band's spin on the potentially touchy subject matter driving the song:

"Rapture" is a song about psychosis and mental health, but instead of channeling the weight of the topic, the group seeks to tap into their exuberant side to purge the demons. The song sheds the stigma of discussing mental health by channeling that energy in the studio and on stage. Shaw n's lived experiences with mental health disorders has challenged him to find a way to explore new avenues for coping with difficult subjects. If he can't talk about them, then he'll sing about them at the top of his lungs.

...As a band with a queer-identifying frontman, Pacer also believes that the future of rock and roll is bright for those who aren't straight or gender conforming."

Pacer last released the digital singles "Bangers" and "Piledriver"/"Lose," both of which can be found at Bandcamp. Before stepping into the spotlight with Pacer, you may have encountered Shawn Kosmo's work as a video director, having put together clips for bands like PONY, Twist, and Tommy and the Commies.

Listen: Pacer - "Rapture" @ Punknews.org

Sydney J. Koke, bassist for Vancouver indie-pop trio The Courtneys and prolific experimental punk group Shearing Pinx, has a new solo recording available. Released under the so-ridiculous-it's-amazing stage-name Slaylor Moon, the song "Mothgirl" finds Koke unleashing an eerie electronic soundscape.

The song's part of a new 7-song EP to be released by Maple Death Records as a limited-run cassette with hand-made art. The release, titled Zone Of Pure Resistance, will be Koke's first solo release. It arrives this Friday, July 26.

The label strung together a truly epic string of wild adjectives when describing this one:

"Scientist of the brain turned scientist of psychic soundscapes, Sydney Koke (Shearing Pinx/The Courtneys), Strasbourg via Vancouver artist, specialises in a form of queer, spooky, and dislocated electronic abstraction assembled from the disparate substrates of early 2000s experimental electronic music, old school rave, 70s industrial, no wave, and noise rock: a dorky cyborg symbiosis of polyhedral no-tempo MPC rhythms, flickering future tones of marine microorganism holographic glimmer, and intimately vague spacer-woman vocals delivered with cold intention, generating an ultraviolet personal microcosm of queer sexuality, formalist aesthetics, and multi-directional emotive imaginals – a volatile exploratory spectrum with a consistent sense of (developing) identity and curiosity."

Listen: Slaylor Moon - "Mothgirl" @ Bandcamp

I lead with Vancouver hardcore group Chain Whip in last week's newsletter, and since then they've shared a new pair of 14 Lashes tracks. You can preview the songs "On a Rope" and "Don't Talk" over at Bandcamp.

I've of course been bullish on this record, but don't take my word for it. Here's what Fucked Up's Jonah Falco had this to say about 14 Lashes:

"Like a door opening to an alternate universe where Suburban Mutilation released the most influential hardcore LP of the 80s, and DOA were conveniently disappeared so the melody cum velocity and Richard Nixon-esque gargle of Joey Shithead could be reimagined in the various voids of the Twenty-teens as tidy new hc punk lp by CHAIN WHIP. Not fast enough to only be brutal, but not modest enough to be anything but pummelling. Full of burly, crunchy, tight corners, this is the musical equivalent of thrifting an Eames chair -- you recognize it a mile away, it's still a classic, and it's just landed in our laps for next to nothing."

Chain Whip is Josh Nickel of Fashionism (and the Neon Taste label) on vocals, Joel Butler of Nervous Talk/Corner Boys on guitar, Brett Thompson of Stress Eating on bass, and Patrick Bertrand of Corner Boys (and Hosehead Records) on drums. A European release of the LP has been slated for Sabotage Records sometime later this year. The digital version arrives everywhere on August 31.

Listen: Chain Whip - "On a Rope" @ Bandcamp

Toronto jangle-pop quartet Ducks Unlimited are preparing an EP for release later this year. Last week the band dropped a preview in the form of "Get Bleak," a track featuring guest vocals from Laura Hermiston of Twist.

Lead vocalist Tom Mcgreevy spoke to Paste about the new track:

"Get Bleak is a song about this idea that moving somewhere else is going to solve all your problems. It's something that I've heard expressed by a lot of friends in one way or another, especially as more and more people are getting priced out of cities like Toronto, New York and London. There can be plenty of good reasons to leave the place that you're from or somewhere you've made your home for a long time, but I think there's this 'grass is always greener' thing that in my experience, and anecdotally from people I know, just isn't true. It's hard to move to a new place, and you're still going to be you when you get there with the same issues and hang-ups, plus you're going to miss the people who care about you, and they're going to miss you."

Listen: Ducks Unlimited - "Get Bleak" @ Bandcamp

Montreal's Thousand Islands Records have signed Edmonton skate-punk act Loser Points. The label will be home to the band's upcoming third LP. "Tribes" is the first single from that currently untitled set, and you can preview it online now. If you were into that classic-era Fat Wreck roster from the mid-90s, this should bring back plenty of warm SoCal memories.

Loser Points last released the full-length Denial & Error in 2018.

Listen: Loser Points - "Tribes" @ Bandcamp

Newfoundland's Spring Var has a new album out titled Come Home Year. While the five-piece plays with traditional folk elements, they're anchored by Amelia Harris' oft-haunting vocals, with many songs straddling a really fascinating middle ground between folk, indie, and psychedelia. The band commented on the meaning behind the album's title, and the fact that roots music was something they've had to reconnect with:

"Spring Var was formed shortly after every member moved back to Newfoundland following stints living in Montreal and Toronto. Come Home Year refers to the celebrations that take place across Newfoundland, designed to draw past residents back to their rural hometowns. This band was our own Come Home Year project that pushed us outside our comfort zones (most of us had never played folk/traditional music before) and helped us reconnect with our friends and musical roots. "

Spring Var features Harris on vocals, banjo and synth, Chris Scott on bass, Christina Young on drums and fiddle, Michelle LaCour on accordion and synth, and Robert Forward on guitar, mandolin and bodhran.

Listen: Spring Var - Come Home Year @ Bandcamp

Kitchener's dynamic indie-pop/shoegaze quartet Hyness has a wealth of new material online. First, they've collected their recent "Shame" single with three other tracks, releasing them online together as the RIVER EP. One of those recordings is a rendition of "Molly's Lips," the Vaselines song that Nirvana famously covered. Hyness latest material was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Joe Shugan at the Starlight Social Club.

"Shame" first surfaced back in January, but the catchy power-pop tune's getting another push with a new video by director Erik O'Neill. You can check it out over at YouTube.

Hyness features guitarist/vocalist Amy Addams, drummer Colin White, guitarist/vocalist Marcus Addams, and bassist Dan Honsberger. Back in January Hyness took part in a split 7" with St. Catharines fuzz-pop act Strange Shakes.

Listen: Hyness - RIVER @ Bandcamp

Watch: Hyness - "Shame" @ YouTube

Toronto indie-pop group Nylon Spirit has a new song online titled "Dumb For U." It's the young group's second song after their laid-back alt-rock debut, "I'm Bored."

Nylon Spirit features Norman Regucera, Matt Tomasi, Noah Aviles-Betel, and Chris Creglia. Regucera and Tomasi previously played together in the stoner rock group Acid Priest.

Listen: Nylon Spirit - "Dumb For U" @ Bandcamp

Following several months of previews, Dine Alone Records has finally detailed the debut solo full length from Single Mothers lead Drew Thomson. The Drew Thomson Foundation 's debut will be self-titled and is set for a September 6 release. With the confirmation came another new single, "Phone Ring."

A complete contrast from the high-stress, often acidic punk of Single Mothers, the Foundation lets Drew show off some considerable pop songwriting chops. These two worlds aren't being kept entirely separate though, as the former's "People are Pets" has been reworked on this album as a Rufus Wainwright-styled piano ballad. Thomson worked on the record with producer Alex Newport at his Los Angeles studio (Pissed Jeans, City and Colour, Frank Turner).

Thomson's recent sobriety factors heavily into the record. He commented:

"By drinking a decade away, I also pushed away a lot of people close to me. People had been telling me to quit for years and I never listened to them. You really have to want to get sober and believe it's for the best. I don't ask anyone else in the band to avoid drinking, but if I have one or two I slip back into that other world, so I just avoid it completely. It's been a huge benefit. I write more, I work better, I'm less reactive, and easier to be around. I just have to handle self-doubt on my own. I don't want to base everything I do around sobriety, but it's been the biggest thing in my life lately, and made everything with the Foundation possible."

This record follows up The Drew Thomson Foundation's 2018 EP Stay, as well as the recent Single Mothers record Through a Wall.

Listen: The Drew Thomson Foundation - "Phone Ring" @ YouTube

Winnipeg garage rock/psych quartet Holy Void will release their debut full-length at the end of the month through Transistor 66. Titled Naught, the 8-song record was recorded over the last two years at Winnipeg's Exchange District Studios. The group, featuring Grant Trippel, Michael Henderson-Castle, Danny Hacking, and Kyle Loewen, made efforts to avoid digital tech for these sessions, recording to the album to 2" tape.

The band recently donned their most satanic togas for the "Covered in Blood" video. Shot and edited by Delf Gravert, the clip premiered at the Cups N Cakes Network alongside the band's latest tour dates. Their trek supporting Naught will bring them throughout Ontario and as far east as Montreal, with the group returning home for a set at Manitoba's Rainbow Trout Music Festival later in August.

Watch: Holy Void - "Covered in Blood" @ YouTube

Last March the Windsor indie-rock/alt-rock group Trout recorded an in-studio session at their local campus radio station CJAM. The set features two new songs, "Freelance Therapist" and "Laika," along with a take on "Contrition & Disclosure" from the band's recent EP Figures. You can check out the video, which was just recently published, below.

Released in December Figures featured music from Roye Trout (Lychi, No Hands), Jesse Fellows (Blurt, Shared Arms), and Shane Gelinas. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Fellows at The Wonderful Alley in Toronto. The set arrived on vinyl from Psychic Readings Records and cassette by Must Be Nice Records.

Watch: Trout - CJAM Sessions @ YouTube

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