Sunday November 18, 2018

Junk

This past Friday, with about a week's notice, Quebec City indie-pop quartet The Seasons released Midnight, Let's Get a Hot Dog. The new LP is the band's sophomore effort, following their 2014 debut Pulp. This album, however, arrives in a vastly different landscape, as one of The Seasons' vocalists is none other than Hubert Lenoir, the firebrand glam-rock upstart who's recent album Darlène landed on this year's Polaris shortlist (to say nothing of his meteoric rise in the Quebec pop scene).

Lenoir fronts the Seasons alongside his brother Julien Chiasson, the pair sharing vocals, guitar, and piano duties. The band's rhythm section features bassist Samuel Renaud and percussionist Rémy Bélanger. The late Richard Swift, a member of The Shins, the Arcs, and a touring member of the Black Keys, produced the record in the summer of 2017. He passed away this past July. The band recorded and mixed the album with Swift in 11 days, with the acclaimed producer contributing synths to the final product.

Given the sound that's Lenoir's become famous for, it's certainly tempting to assume that influence fed back into the Seasons. This record indeed leans much heavier on glam and psych where their first took a folk-rock approach. I don't think that narrative holds up given when they recorded, so consider the opposite: that this Seasons' record served as a testbed for many of the glam-rock flourishes that ended up connecting so spectacularly on Darlène.

Midnight, Let's Get a Hot Dog is available now from Simone Records.

Listen: The Seasons - "Junk" @ Bandcamp

Four years after their acclaimed self-titled debut, experimental Toronto-based prog-pop act Absolutely Free have returned with "Still Life," a new single that heralds the band's second LP. That record, currently unnamed, will arrive sometime in 2019. Both it and "Still Life" feature production by Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Japanese Breakfast, Wild Nothing).

The single comes alongside a video directed by Edmonton artist Christina Battle. The group had this to say about it in the premiere at Stereogum:

"'Still Life' starts in a familiar universe and bubbles up into another. The shift illustrates an appetite for personal, political & stylistic change, boiling over. The song examines feelings of being worn down and halted by progress, stagnating both in society and individually. It is about breaking free from patterns of still life defined by cyclical, repeated forms of inaction, and predictable modes of conformity."

"We collaborated with Christina Battle on the video. Her series of animated gifs, the world is a distorted landscape, brings a wider perspective to our song. Today’s news can debilitate you. Christina’s unrelenting juxtaposition of rusted objects, fossils, and natural disasters makes individual problems seem insignificant in the face of millions of years and forces greater than humanity. That perspective can help assess what we can do as individuals to steer the ship to a better place."

Absolutely Free features Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg, Michael Claxton, and Matt King, all prior members of the Toronto art-punk collective DD/MM/YYYY.

Watch: Absolutely Free - "Still Life" @ YouTube

Vancouver trio The Courtneys are gearing up to for a fall tour supporting Cleveland's Cloud Nothings, and they made the announcement alongside a new video for the song "Minnesota." The band told Exclaim that they wanted to shoot a ski-themed video, taking particular inspiration from Dinosaur Jr's classic "Out There" clip (which was filmed in BC, coincidently) and 90s videos by the Breeders.

"Minnesota" appears on The Courtneys wonderful sophomore LP, appropriately titled II, which was released in 2017 on the legendary New Zealand label Flying Nun.

Watch: The Courtneys - "Minnesota" @ YouTube

Last week Toronto's Dilly Dally announced a headlining tour in support of Heaven, the grunge/punk band's recently released follow-up to 2015's Sore. They paired the announcement with the release of a new video for the song "Marijuana." Band lead Katie Monks commented on the song in the press release:

We’ve been inhaling so much fear and hate from our televisions, leaders, and social media... I guess the anxiety became pretty over bearing for me.

The only I could personally get through writing this record, was with some assistance from weed. Basically, if I didn’t write anything "worthy" by sun down - I would smoke some sativa for good measure. It would clear my creative pathways, help me forget about the expectations of others, and like hide away in my own protective energy field.

Legalization in Canada is one tiny step toward an uphill battle of reconciliation with all of our citizens – primarily people of color - who for decades have been arrested unfairly for dealing, possession, etc. There are still many laws prohibiting how we’re able to access, consume, and sell cannabis.

So while we still have a long way to go - I’m happy to contribute a song that may perhaps help shed off the stigma that weed is anything other than a sacred tool that many people cherish in their daily lives. It needs to be respected.

The video features art and animation by Andrew Knives.

Dilly Dally recorded Heaven in Los Angeles with producer Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck). It's out now on Dine Alone Records in Canada and Partisan Records down south.

Watch: Dilly Dally - "Marijuana" @ YouTube

Toronto's heavy hitting post-hardcore four-piece Humanities have a new four-song EP out via Winnipeg's No List Records. Unnatural Histories. The band described the weighty subject matter behind of the new songs:

"...And Nothing" imagines the collective paranoia that results from empty promises of change in the face of violence and death. "Kiss Me with Fists" works with imagery of domestic abuse and state violence in order to rethink the relationship between them. Between the penthouse and the prison, "Disobedience in Paradise" is about the struggle to be heard by those in power. And "History in the Skin" is about the never-ending spiral of racism, out in the open and behind closed doors.

Unnatural Histories is the band's second short-form release after their self-titled 2016 debut. Last year the group collaborated with Toronto's Low Sun for a split titled Human Sun, to which each band contributed a pair of songs.

Listen: Humanities - Unnatural Histories @ Bandcamp

Ottawa three-piece garage-rock act Coastal Pigs recently shared the song "Tennis Bump," an early track from the band that they claim will "probably be buried in the second album" at some point in 2019. The band's first LP, Becomes a Scene, Becomes the Nothing, came out last fall.

Coastal Pigs features Ottawa scene vets Scott Terry, Leigh Newton, and Jeff Kainz. Terry, in particular, has a long resume: serving as a member of Camp Radio (with Chris Page from The Stand GT) and playing over the years with bands like The Fucking Machines, Flecton & the Dreamcatchers, the Banditas, and Andrew Vincent & the Pirates. This track was recorded in the spring of 2016 at Little Bullhorn Studio by Terry's Camp Radio bandmate Dave Draves.

Listen: Coastal Pigs - "Tennis Bump" @ Bandcamp

Toronto rock band Carew released a new four-song EP yesterday titled Could Be in the Coffee. The band's lead by songwriter Claire Whitehead (a former member of the Forest City Lovers and Blimp Rock) and features drummer Emma Tollefsen, bassist Robyn Letson, and guitarist Mark Andrade. Whitehead described the project to Some Party this way:

We're a bunch of queer women/non-binary folks in our 30s who play jangly rock about crushes, coffee and loneliness for anyone who many may need to hear it.

Heather Kirby (Gentleman Reg, Vivek Shraya) recorded and produced the EP. You can find it at Bandcamp.

Listen: Carew - Could Be in the Coffee @ Bandcamp

Ottawa-based Scott Hutchinson recently released Call It A Night, a new low-fi alt-rock solo recording and his third under the name Hands Like Dogs. He told Some Party:

"The entire thing was made in a single room with a budget of $0. Despite that, I wanted it to sound like a professional record, or at least something not terrible. I didn't want to wait until I was in a better situation to record it because I wanted to still be in the mindset I was in while writing them so I figured I'd find a way to make it work. Not being able to afford anything or a space forced me to be pretty resourceful with what I already had and what I could get for free or borrow. I'm honestly surprised with what I was able to do without any money/connections/band/decent gear."

Hutchinson was a member of the now-defunct London, Ontario indie-rock trio Satellite Skin.

Listen: Hands Like Dogs - Call It A Night @ Bandcamp

An extended edition of At Rush Hour The Cars, the debut album from the seminal Guelph-bred indie-rock group Royal City is now available online at Bandcamp. Three Gut Records released the original version of the record in 2000.

Kreative Kontrol's Vish Khanna served as Royal City's road manager for their first U.S. tour. He commented on the release at Facebook:

"Where did my adult life come from? A high percentage of it stems from the creation of this record. It took me on the road. It made me friends for life. I helped vandalize America with string and postcards. "You're ruining America!" a man at the Detroit Farmers Market yelled at me and my 'Vote Ralph Nader' button in October 2000. I got to see a Letterman taping because of it. It glows again, digitally, for the first time ever. Thank you Royal City."

On this record, Royal City was guitarist/vocalist Aaron Riches, guitarist Jim Guthrie, bassist Simon Osborne, and drummer Nathan Lawr.

Listen: Royal City - At Rush Hour The Cars @ Bandcamp

I missed this when it came out last month, but the high-energy Winnipeg garage-rock band Satanic Rights have a new record out on Transistor 66 titled Blues Druid. Lead by the distinctive screamer Karl Warkentin, Satanic Rights features bassist Daniel Pangman, guitarist Ian Ediger, and drummer Tim Curry. ​

The band recorded, mixed, and mastered the new album with Grant Trippel at Exchange District Studios.

Listen: Satanic Rights - Blues Druid @ Bandcamp

Speaking of Transistor 66, it looks like the Winnipeg garage label will be the new home of Hamilton's beloved lowbrow showman B.A. Johnston. His new LP, the follow-up to 2017's Gremlins 3, will be titled The Skid Is Hot Tonight and is due in February. You can preview the cover art for the record below.

Johnston earlier commented that the same team from Gremlins 3 would be working the new record. So if that holds up, look for Mathias Kom of The Burning Hell to again get the production credit. The album was recorded last month at The Quarantine in Port Greville, Nova Scotia with Colleen Collins and Dave Trenaman (of Construction & Destruction).

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Look: B.A. Johnston - The Skid Is Hot Tonight cover art @ Instagram

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