Sunday November 29, 2020

This Monologue

Does the universe have it out for Talk Show Host? Of course, we've seen COVID indiscriminately snatch the football from every artist this year, but I have the distinct sense that this amiable Toronto trio just can't catch a break. I present the following evidence.

After numerous missed gigs, I finally had my chance to see the pop-punk group play at Beau's Oktoberfest, only to have a tornado (the risk of one, anyway) quite literally pull the plug on their set 30 seconds into the first song. "I Hate Men," Talk Show Host's 2018 single, upset the MRA beehive at the height of the regressive movement's moment in the cultural spotlight, garnering what I'm certain was no shortage of unwelcome attention from the Internet's worst quarters.

The members of Talk Show Host have been incredibly supportive of this newsletter over the years, regularly sharing these missives through their various channels while asking for nothing in return. Unsurprisingly, given their luck, when big news from the band does arrive, it finds me lost in the pandemic malaise that's upended the weekly publishing rhythm I once strove for. It feels (unfortunately) fitting then that Talk Show Host must contend with the hell-year that is 2020 while unveiling their next record. Could 2021 be the year that turns things around?

Last week, the group announced that they've signed with the L.A. punk label Wiretap Records for their forthcoming full-length, joining a roster that includes Audio Karate and Spanish Love Songs. You can hear the first stand-alone single from the new era, titled "This Monologue," below. Guitarist/vocalist Chris Veinot had this to say about the tune, which arrived alongside a very lockdown-aware video (that'll seem quite strange when this is all over):

"'This Monologue' is about the annoying commentary track in your head that spends a good portion of every day telling you, in excruciating detail, about all the things you've done wrong, are currently doing wrong, and are about to do wrong."

The new recording finds Talk Show Host once again working with NQ Arbuckle's John Dinsmore (PUP, Great Lake Swimmers) at his Lincoln County Social Club studio. Dinsmore previously engineered the band's Not Here To Make Friends EP. The band's long-time collaborator Olive t'Servrancx-Bierman mixed the new track from France.

Talk Show Host features guitarist/vocalist Chris Veinot, drummer Sean Woolven, and bassist Fabien Rivenet. Expect the band's Wiretap debut in the spring of 2021, if we survive that long.

Watch: Talk Show Host - "This Monologue" @ YouTube

Hamilton's Matt Ellis, vocalist and guitarist for proto-punk revivalists Flesh Rag and the Toronto punk outfit PlasticHeads, recently shared the single "My Neighbourhood is a Dump." The track arrives in support of Hammer City Records, the hidden basement record store that serves as hub for Hamilton's punk scene. The shop is currently seeking a new home, with dual blows from the pandemic and a quickly gentrifying neighbourhood forcing it out of its old space. The video for "Neighbourhood" finds Ellis performing in the old store, capturing that endearing clutter for the ages. He commented:

"Here is a video I made for the last weekend of Hammer City Records James Street location... I am sad we are getting the boot and I am bummed I won't get to hang there or play one last basement show. Fuck the new James Street and Eat the Rich. Long live H.C.R and here's looking forward to finding a new home."

The track also serves as the first single from Full Moon Fever, a solo LP Ellis has lined up for a 2021 release from Italy's Surfin' Ki Records.

Throughout the spring and summer lockdown, Ellis released four home-recorded Ramones-worshiping EPs (High Risk Assurance, Stays Home, Halfway to Insanity, and Never Was, Is And Never Shall Be). With Flesh Rag, he issued the Shit City - Demos and Unreleased collection last month.

Watch: Matt Ellis - "My Neighbourhood is a Dump" @ YouTube

The chaotic Toronto snark-punks WLMRT may have burnt up (or burnt out) at the end of last year, but its members remain close-knit and active, with several home-recorded projects emerging throughout the COVID lockdown. The latest is Jogging, courtesy of guitarist Adam Bernhardt. That band debuted with a five-song self-titled EP, recorded over the course of the year. These songs find Bernhardt exploring a laid-back new wave sound, a perfect fit for his deadpan vocals (which take on a wonderfully goth quality here). You can pick the set up at Bandcamp now, with proceeds due for the Black Legal Action Centre.

Earlier this year, WLMRT vocalist Shelby Wilson re-emerged in Only God Forgives, a twitchy electronic duo with Tallies' Stephen Pitman. Synth player/early drummer Ryan Al-Hage has regularly shared new music videos capturing Toronto's weird-indie scene as Thank You So Much. Bernhardt promises a second, heaver project on the way soon featuring WLMRT bassist Kat McGouran.

Listen: Jogging - Jogging @ Bandcamp

Dartmouth folk-rock/shoegaze group Diamondtown is finishing up a new full-length, expected sometime in the new year. The band previewed the album with the single "Truth," accompanied by a trippy new video. The new material follows the band's 2019 EP The Voice, and the two-song early-2020 single Lost/Free.

Diamondtown grew as an extension of Husband & Knife, a duo featuring KC Spidle (of the beloved Halifax gloom-pop group Dog Day) and Evan Cardwell. The group also features Chris Thompson (of Moonsocket and the legendary Eric's Trip) and Kate O'Neill.

Watch: Diamondtown - "Truth" @ YouTube

Sewercide Records' long-awaited Seaside Sickness compilation is out now. The set collects a handful of new tracks from the east coast's noisy and chaotic DIY punk community, featuring the interconnected Booji Boys, Fragment, Misanthropic Minds, B.P.S., Warsh, Antibodies, and Dark Dial. Last week new videos surfaced showcasing two of the EP's track. You can find "Sex Genius" by the Haligonian Booji Boys and "Meathead" from Charlottetown's Warsh below.

Sewercide had this to say about the long-awaited release, detailing some of the vinyl variants floating around:

"Holy shit, is this thing finally out? It is!! The east coast of canada has always had a small, but active DIY punk community. In our eyes, the bands just seem to keep getting better with every passing year, so last year we decided a compilation record with a few of said bands was long overdue. In true Sewercide fashion, we decided to put together this short, sharp, shock of miserable maritime mutant music in 7" form, with new and exclusive tracks from a few of our favourite bands from the area... this 7 track ep is a small offering of some of what is going on out here in the middle of nowhere. Limited to 300 copies, the record has been released with a few variants. Those who pre-ordered will receive the pre-order variant on brown paper with stamped dust sleeve, promo poster and obi-strip (limited to 66 copies), while the white sleeve variant will be the regular version. Black paper sleeve variant (limited to 20 copies) will not be sold, but is for all the punks who played on this record. This has taken a very, very long time to get released, so we are very pleased to finally have this out!"

Watch: Warsh - "Meathead" @ YouTube

Watch: Booji Boys - "Sex Genuis" @ YouTube

Abbotsford post-punk group Blessed has paired up with Flemish Eye for a new EP, titled iii. The Calgary label had this to say about the record, due February 19:

"the EP's four tracks expand on Blessed's already-idiosyncratic vision: cavernous post-punk electronics and measured drum work pave under guitar-work that trips and sways from chiming and sunny, to serrated and snarling, to frigid and stiff."

You can hear the set's first single, "Structure," below. It arrived alongside an evocative and cinematic video from director Kaayla Whachell. The group commented on the track, stating:

"'Structure' deals with complacency and failing to explore the depths of your actions compared to the words you espouse and values you proclaim to have. If you can't acknowledge your imperfection and flaws, you don't leave room to listen and grow. If you're always trying to teach, you can't be taught."

The new material follows Blessed's 2019 debut full length, Salt, and numerically follows their 2017 EP II (not to mention a split with the Winnipeg noise-punk group Tunic). The band self-produced iii at Vancouver's Rain City Recorders.

Blessed features Drew Riekman, Jake Holmes, Reuben Houweling, and Mitchell Trainor.

Watch: Blessed - "Structure" @ YouTube

London synth-punk trio Mononegatives have a pair of new songs circulating online, their contributions to two recent compilations. You can hear "I Don't Care If I Kill" as a part of the Sweet Time RNR Comp, and "Lifestyle" on the recent fifth entry in the Killed By Meth series. While I've isolated both as singles below, there's plenty of gnarly garage tunes on both sets. You're encouraged to take in both in full.

Mononegatives is one of the numerous projects attributed to Robbie Brake, who you may know from Isölation Party, Klazo, or Dong Vegan. The trio features Brake with bassist Jon Lamont and drummer David Cereghini.

Listen: Mononegatives - "I Don't Care If I Kill" @ Bandcamp

Listen: Mononegatives - "Lifestyle" @ Bandcamp

Montreal's New Vogue continues their blown-out DEVO-core attack with "Safe on the Autobahn," a new single previewing an upcoming cassette release for Sound Salvation Music. As the title suggests, there's some sinister krautrock influence on this one. The track follows "No Eyes" from the summer, and I absolutely fucking adore it. I can't wait to shout along with this chorus in a dingy bar one day when we can see other humans again.

New Vogue's a project of Max Desharnais from Montreal garage-punks PRIORS and Sonic Avenues. The project last released a self-titled EP in 2018, along with a 7" single featuring the songs "Birdcage" and "Space Junk." You likely know them from the smash-hit debut Some Party cassette Under The Circumstances.

I'll have much more to say about PRIORS, Desharnais' main gig, in next week's newsletter. Keep an eye out.

Listen: New Vogue - "Safe on the Autobahn" @ SoundCloud

Montreal psych label Mothland is readying a limited edition cassette compilation to celebrate their 3rd anniversary. Sounds From Mothland Volume One features 15 tracks from the label's roster, with contributions from Atsuko Chiba, The High Dials, Red Mass, CRABE, and VICTIME, among others. Amid the songs online for preview, you can check out a new tune from garage rocker Paul Jacobs, titled "Thanks," and a collaboration between Montreal's You Doo Right and Ottawa vocalist Jasmine Trails, dubbed "Marche Pt. 3.

Speaking to Exclaim, Jacobs, who also illustrated the tape's cover art, commented:

"[The song's] about appreciating the moments of creative inspiration, and acknowledging the fact that it comes and goes... I wanted to record some beats in 5/8 and track some bass on top. Figured I'd add some guitar since I have one. Then I thought, a shaker would really get this going. Next thing you know I'm singing on the dang thing. After that point, why not add some synth?"

You can preview those two tracks, along with a song from French artist Jessica93, at Bandcamp. The cassette, limited to 100, ships out on December 17.

Listen: Paul Jacobs - "Thanks" @ Bandcamp

Toronto's hard-rocking punk quartet The Bare Minimum recently shared a new single titled "Party Martyr." The track arrived as part of the band's recent documentary JOPOHÄÜS: The Movie, which chronicles the brief history of the now-defunct DIY punk venue. The band shared:

"Jopohäüs was a DIY music venue in Toronto that lasted from October 2017 to March 2018. Jopohäüs briefly united the Toronto punk scene and was one of the last DIY spaces left in Toronto before imploding and self-destructing. This is a video documentary explaining its story, with commentary from the people who were there and built it."

You can find the film on YouTube now. The Bare Minimum features guitarist/vocalist Cam Gray, guitarist Mick Hutchinson, bassist Donnie Hopper, and drummer Chris Nikolaidis. The band recorded "Party Martyr" at SuperBonBon Sound with Devon Lougheed.

Listen: The Bare Minimum - "Party Martyr" @ Bandcamp

Toronto skate-punks The Mendozaz are gearing up to release their sophomore full-length, Up and at Them in 2021. The trio recently released a video for "Murder," the first single from the 12-song set. Guitarist/vocalist Jonny Mendoza commented on the clip, stating:

"Atmosphere was the number one thing for me driving this song. I wanted to combine the punk aesthetic with elements of horror and film noir and see what came of it."

Like Talk Show Host up above, The Mendozaz recorded with John Dinsmore at the Lincoln County Social Club. The Mendozaz last released Two Days To Retirement in 2017.

Watch: The Mendozaz - "Murder" @ YouTube

Dundas power-trio The Dirty Nil shared one final preview of Fuck Art before the LP lands on January 1. You can stream the album-closer "One More and the Bill" everywhere now. A clip of the band performing the track live from their home-base of Hamilton, Ontario, is also running on YouTube.

Frontman Luke Betham commented song, which seems tailor-made as a triumphant, set-closing sing-along:

"Let's be clear: social media hates you. 'One More And The Bill' is an ode to the primitive, casting off the shackles and enjoying life while you've got it. This is one of my favourite songs we've ever made and we hope you enjoy!"

Fuck Art lands as the band's third record and arrives at the start of 2021 through Dine Alone Records. It follows up on 2018's Master Volume. The Dirty Nil features Luke Bentham on guitar and vocals, Ross Miller on bass, and Kyle Fisher on drums.

Listen: The Dirty Nil - "One More and the Bill" @ Bandcamp

The riffy Saskatoon garage unit Soul Mates has a new video online showcasing "Calm During The Storm," the expansive and slow-burning b-side of their spring EP Not Found. This thing's awash in vintage psychedelia.

The band recorded the set with Mike Lefebvre at the Sweat Shoppe in the summer of 2018, with Winnipeg's Craig Boychuk mixing and mastering the tunes last February. A few copies of the cassette release of Not Found are available now from Deathstryke Publishing.

Soul Mates is a four-piece featuring vocalist Tyler Baptist, Jeshaiah David on guitar, Patrick Eaton on bass, and drummer Colin McGuirk McNeil. Not Found followed up on 2018's EP Lost.

Watch: Soul Mates - "Calm During The Storm" @ YouTube

We've had a ton of news recently from members of Red Deer's Trashed Ambulance, with a pair of side projects emerging on the group's High End Denim label earlier this month. Last week the Alberta skate-punks shared a new single from their main gig, titled "On The Mend." The track's the first to emerge under the Trashed Ambulance name since 2019's Shorthanded EP. Frontman Josh Hauta commented:

"Most people would agree that 2020 has been a disaster of a year but in actuality 2019 was almost worse for me! I went through a dark time after college concluded and took a long break from music.

This song was the first thing I wrote as I came out of the darkness and as you will see, it's a bowl of gummy bears in terms of joyfulness. Unfortunately for your ears, I've decided to keep Trashed Ambulance going so stay tuned for a few new tracks coming in this god-forsaken year because things will get worse but hey, at least we still have punk rock!"

The latest Trashed Ambulance materials arrived through Montreal's Thousand Island Records. Hauta and Jason (Ozone) Ezeard recently released the new Bernie Goes To College EP as Burning Nickels, and the Eloquent Trash acoustic collection as Jawsh & The Drowned Livers.

Listen: Trashed Ambulance - "On The Mend" @ YouTube

High End Denim also has a new single online from party-punk group The Offsailers, a five-piece featuring members of Trashed Ambulance, Red Deer's County 23, and former members of southern Ontario's Avem. The quintet has a record due January 14, titled One More Then We Go.

Frontman Gabe Brinton commented on the band's snotty first single, "Home Drunk":

"I wrote the lyrics to this tune one night while enjoying some beer and came to the realization that I prefer the convenience of getting pinned in my house, instead of the hubbub of going anywhere. Little did I know, shortly after writing it, Covid would hit the world and home drunk would be the new cool thing to do. Prophecy perhaps?"

Listen: The Offsailors - "Home Drunk" @ Bandcamp

Toronto melodic punk outfit Tragic Hearts recently shared a video for "Freedom's Not Dead," a single from the group's 2020 EP Daylight. The five-song set, recorded in both Toronto and Collingwood, is the second installment in a concept record that started with 2018's Ex Vita Morte. The band commented:

"While the first EP traces a variety of experiences on the journey, in the end the principal character finds himself numb and nihilistic. The second EP flips things around, and eventually the lead finds himself redeemed from the past. Each song offers a little stop along that passage, for better or worse."

Tragic Hearts features vocalist/guitarist Dean Richards, guitarist Jesse Colburn, bassist Matt Woo, and drummer Mark Kasaboski. The band's roster has roots in several old Underground Operations bands, including The Artist Life and Closet Monster, as well as Toronto's Victim Party.

Watch: Tragic Hearts - "Freedom's Not Dead" @ YouTube

This summer, the sludgy Toronto alt-rock unit Saucer Eyes released an introspective four-song EP titled 2020. I missed this earlier, but these dense, gloomy tracks feel far better suited for the colder weather anyway (and the titular year's not through yet). The band pulls influence from 90s mainstays like My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr, and The Smashing Pumpkins on these songs. You can find the full set streaming at now Bandcamp.

Saucer Eyes recorded with Beliefs' Josh Korody (Dirty Nil, Weaves, Dilly Dally) at Candle Recording Studio in Toronto, with Daggermouth's Stu Mckillop mastering at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver.

Listen: Saucer Eyes - 2020 @ Bandcamp

Likewise, Toronto garage-rock group The Killer Wails released a 10-song full-length in the early summer that I also missed. This set's built around a collection of riffy mid-tempo punk tunes that take frequent (and delightfully unexpected) diversions down the annals of rock history. Check out the 60s surf influence on "The Hunter" or even earlier callbacks in the guitar work of "Human Error." The group recorded with Calvin Hartwick (METZ, Sam Coffey) at Dream House Studios this time out.

The Killer Wails features vocalist Tyler Brown, guitarists Jack Ovans and Ben McGillis, bassist Malcolm Jamison, and drummer Julien Lefevre.

Listen: The Killer Wails - The Killer Wails @ Bandcamp

Calgary pop-punk group The Fizzgigs recently shared a video featuring their cover of the Wipers' "Is This Real?" (the title track to the early Portland punk group's 1980 debut). The song appears on Hit & Miss, a recent two-song EP benefitting the Kids Help Phone.

The Fizzgigs released the full-length Weeeeeeeeeeeee are the Fizzgigs this past March on Meter Records. The band features vocalist/guitarist Jason Sinclair, bassist Dean Rud (Belvedere, The Evidence), lead-guitarist Scott Marshall (Belvedere), and drummer Cody Coates (Lions, Tigers and Bears).

Watch: The Fizzgigs - "Is This Real" @ YouTube

Following their recent debut single for Mississippi's Fat Possum Records, Tamara Lindeman's The Weather Station formally announced their new full-length. Ignorance, the singer/songwriter's fifth album, is due February 5. The news came alongside the record's second single, "Tried To Tell You." It's featured in a forest-set video that carries over the visual motif of the "Robber" single (tying into the album's cover art as well). In her newsletter, Lindeman commented on both the song and the visuals:

"I've always thought pop songs were really interesting, the way they move through spaces and people, the way that they can carry an idea or an emotion into places you might not expect it to be. Pop songs have always been a place where we allow subversive and passionate emotions to move through us, to show up in shopping malls and cars and political rallies. If a melody is clear enough, we'll forgive everything; we'll turn off our minds and let it in. So this is my (clumsy) attempt at writing a pop song. And of course, the feeling I wanted my pop song to carry into the world and through all these barriers was my desire for someone to be able to trust themselves, to be able to trust the most human, most soft, most mysterious part of themselves, which I know all too well is hard to do in this world. And it being a pop song, when I say 'someone', I really mean everyone.

The video portrays a person who is beset by miracles and visions of beauty, which emanate both from inside of him and from all around him, but rather than reacting with awe or joy, he reacts with annoyance, indifference, and mistrust. This is how many of us live under a vibrantly shifting and changing sky all day long and literally don't see it; this is also how we are taught not to see the natural world that we still live in, preferring instead to dwell on the artificial, which is so often a poor substitute for the vibrant real. I mean, flowers really do rise up from mud, and many of us are full of treasures and beauty, but we often discount these things or throw them away. All I really wanted to do was to show that. It's surprisingly uncomfortable to watch this video, to watch someone be so indifferent. But you can see the same thing any day of the week, if you just sit outside on the street and watch the people go by."

The Weather Station plans to usher the record into the world with a high-production-value ticketed live online performance on February 11. Tickets are available now. Ignorance follows the group's self-titled effort, which landed in 2017.

Watch: The Weather Station - "Tried to Tell You" @ YouTube

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Under The Circumstances

Some Party's new Under The Circumstances compilation features new and rare songs from Tough Age, Partner, Wares, Psychic Void, and New Vogue!