Sunday December 1, 2019

Zone of Avoidance

This past weekend Mint Records' annual Ridiculously Early Xmas Party went down in Vancouver, bringing a good portion of the label's current roster together for a night of revelry. Among the performers was Jay Arner, who made the event count with the surprise release of a new solo record. You'd be correct to assume that Jay III is Arner's third full-length, but unlike the retro indie-pop of his previous set (2016's Jay II) this outing rejects traditional song structures. In their place, Arner's fully embraced studio electronics and lets the tools take him where they will (the opening track of the three-song full-length clocks in at over 20 minutes). Could this the Trans of the Arner oeuvre? From the press release:

"Jay III follows Jay Arner on a solitary journey as he leaves behind the real world for another planet littered with synthesizers and vocoders. Recorded entirely on his own while his wife Jessica was out of town Jay says he "devolved and went feral: staying inside, subsisting on rice and beans, muttering into a vocoder." The album leaves behind the retro tinged synth pop of his 2016 album, Jay II, for an expansive and meditative ambient electronic soundscape. It's the perfect album for your next trip to the spa or outer space."

Jessica Delisle, Arner's partner and bandmate in the duo Energy Slime, directed a surreal video for the Jay III closer "Thanks." That clip premiered this past week over at Exclaim. The video also co-stars Adrienne Labelle of Garbage Dreams and Supermoon as a sinister force peddling denim. I best not try to explain that one.

Watch: Jay Arner - "Thanks" @ YouTube

Vancouver slack-punks Dumb were among the performers at the Mint Xmas event. The group released their sophomore record Club Nites this past summer for the label.

While on tour in Europe supporting the album, Dumb took part in the Tapetown Sessions. You can now check the band's Tapetown rendition of the Club Nites track "Content Jungle" over at YouTube. Rasmus Bredvig recorded and mixed the set, which took place at Tapetown's Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio.

Watch: Dumb - "Content Jungle" @ YouTube

Last week Punknews premiered a new track from Windsor's Matty Menard, performing in his low-fi solo punk guise of No Fix. You can check out the buzzing, hooky "See It Through" below. Menard's a staple of the Windsor rock underground, playing bass in the psych-hardcore group Psychic Void, singing and playing lead guitar in the aggressive Brain Itch, and drumming for punk group Disco Assault. This new track follows No Fix's Toxic Adult Demo from March of this year.

Menard had this to say about the track:

"Please accept this contribution from me to you and to our increasing necessity for excess. 'See It Through' is part of a set of songs that will be released as an EP someday... Recorded one night by rock n roll wizard Josh Kaiser. It's kind of an old song and feeling, but lyrically, I think a lot of people could relate in one way or another."

The new track marks a busy fall for Menard's various projects, with Psychic Void releasing their sophomore record Skeleton Paradise just last week on New York's Vanilla Box Records. That set, which follows their 2018 debut Terminal Vacation, features eight new cuts that marry the influence of 80s hardcore and Detroit protopunk with some spacey psych-rock flair.

Listen: No Fix - "See It Through" @ Bandcamp

Welland's satin-clad, gimp-masked, Soviet punk trio Dboy has a pair of new songs online. You can stream "Attn Spam" and "Satellites of Luv" at your digital platform of choice now.

While these tracks carry studio credits for Pierre Hasapogiannis, we're still awaiting word on the band's recent sessions with Steve Albini. This past summer the group recorded at Chicago's Electrical Audio with the storied engineer, presumably crafting their sophomore full-length for Dine Alone Records. In the interim, Dboy's put out several recent short-form releases, including the 3-song Dboy for President 7" and a split with Daniel Romano's Ancient Shapes.

Dboy features guitarist/vocalist Matt Sajn (of Northern Primitive), bassist Tony Ventresca, and drummer Ricky Pridmore, both of whom once played in Welland ska-punk act The Snips.

Listen: Dboy - "Attn Spam" @ YouTube

The irreverent Toronto hardcore legends Brutal Knights haven't been active since 2010, but their catalogue remains just as fantastic and hilarious as when it was new. This past weekend the Bovine Sex Club saw several members of the group reunite on stage to charge through some classics, and you better believe someone in that crowd had their cellphone hoised annoyingly in the air.

Brutal Knights' Randy "Jon" Sharron currently plays with PlasticHeads, who were on the bill that evening. During their set Brutal Knights vocalist, Nick Flanigan and guitarist Katie G Warrior joined the group to perform a few tracks. You can check it out below.

PlasticHeads released a full-length earlier this year on Ugly Pop titled Nowhere to Run. The quartet features vocals and guitar from Flesh Rag's Matthew Ellis and the above mentioned Jon Sharron, with bass from Erik of FLQ, and drums from Curtis Tone of School Damage. Brutal Knights last released Blown 2 Completion way back in 2010 on Deranged Records.

Watch: Brutal Knights & PlasticHeads - Live at the Bovine @ YouTube

Toronto's eclectic alt-country/garage/stoner-rock hybrid Meanlife recently premiered a new single and music video titled "Ready 2 Spark." While the song's long been a live staple for the group, this studio incarnation's sat on the shelf since 2011. The band only recently revived the recording (with a fresh set of vocals) this past year. They describe the clip as:

"a self-made collage juxtaposing handwritten lyrics set on fire with cowboys on the range and child detectives on the case."

Fronted by Jackson Fishauf, Meanlife recently released a full-length titled Bad Vibes in the Womb. It arrived in August, and you can find it over at Bandcamp.

Watch: Meanlife - "Ready 2 Spark" @ YouTube

Peter Johnson's haunting Tang launch their new full-length this week. Titled Finding Peace, Isn't The Point, the new album follows the low-fi Toronto band's 2018 record Super Happy. Label Art of the Uncarved Block recently shared one last preview of the album. "Bye" builds from a whisper to one hell of an explosive release in its final third. The label claims, "[Bye] will give you every feeling," and that's certainly no hyperbole.

Tang will launch the new material with a release show this Thursday, December 5 at Toronto's Handlebar. That gig features support from the Constantines' Steven Lambke and Whitby's Holiday Pictures.

Listen: Tang - "Bye" @ Bandcamp

In the last week of November, the sludgy Montreal punk trio Dish Pit shared a video for their new single "Sold Out." The clip follows a video for the song "Seven" from back in September. Connor Cook directed both videos for the band.

Dish Pit's slated to make two appearances early in the new year as part of Exclaim's Class of 2020 concert series. They'll play Toronto's Monarch Tavern on Saturday, January 4 with Burner, WLMRT, Luge, and Piper Maru (that's a hell of a line up!) followed by a Friday, January 10, gig in Montreal with Hanorah, Sorry Girls, Sasha Cay, and Petra Glynt. Dish Pit can boast that they're the only band making two appearances in the series this year.

Watch: Dish Pit - "Sold Out" @ YouTube

Grim Tillsonburg rock band The Smile Case has a surprise new album out, one that frontman Ben Andress claims is a "midlife crisis caught on record." His discordant, at times otherworldly growl fits the subject matter well on the 11 song Amused / Not A Muse. The band commented:

"This release features 11 tracks that tackle the subjects of irreconcilable relationships, devastating breakdowns in communication, substance abuse, sobriety & healing. This anxiety fuelled rollercoaster definitely sounds better with a pair of headphones and 5mg of Diazepam. Ready to be amused?"

Andress wrote, performed, recorded, mixed, and mastered the entire set solo. It arrives via his Blacktop Records less than a year after the group's Murder Weather full-length.

Listen: The Smile Case - Amused / Not A Muse @ Bandcamp

David Bujold's Montreal stoner-rock/psych group Fuudge has a new full-length on the way for early 2020, titled Fruit-Dieu. Due January 31, the album follows the group's 2018 LP Les Matricides. Once again, the band's working with the Lazy At Work label on the LP.

The first single from the album is titled "Mourir j'aime trop ça." It arrives alongside a Philippe Blain directed video which you can check out below. The first thing you'll notice in the clip is the lava lamp bubbling in the lower corner, and if there were ever a band who could challenge Black Mountain for the lucrative Canadian lava lamp sponsorship, Fuudge would be it.

Watch: FUUDGE - "Mourir j’aime trop ça" @ YouTube

Vancouver punk act Storc is on the cusp of releasing a new record, the follow-up to the group's 2017 debut. They've revealed few details so far, aside from a single streaming at Facebook dubbed "Now," and what I'm assuming is the title (Storc II). The song plays as classically Vancouver punk as you can get, with prominent echoes of D.O.A. right at the forefront.

The band will release the new album this Saturday at Russian Tim's Annual Christmas Mega Rager, which goes down at The Wise Hall & Lounge. That event, hosted by Russian Tim (of Rocket From Russia Fest), will feature a ten band bill to ring in the season (loudly).

Storc features guitarist Allen Forrister and bassist Matthew Lyons (both of Nasty On, Christa Min, and Sun Arise), drummer Ben Frith (Thor, Thee Manipulators, Vicious Cycles), and vocalist Luke Meat (well known as a fixture on CiTR).

Listen: Storc - "Now" @ Facebook

Abbotsford post-punk group Blessed recently shared a video of the band performing "Caribou" live at Vancouver's Rain City Recorders. Andrei Lyskov and Luke Strahm shot and directed the clip. Clocking in at nearly 7 minutes, "Caribou" is the closing track to the band's recent debut full-length Salt.

Blessed will tour western Canada in January, playing shows in Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Rossland. Most of those stops are part of one winter festial or another, with the band making appearances as part of Winterruption Saskatoon, Winterruption YEG, the Big Winter Classic, and the Blizzard Music Festival. You can find full details at Exclaim.

Salt followed Blessed's 2017 EP II, as well as a split 7" with the Winnipeg noise-punk group Tunic. Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes recorded and mixed the album at Montreal's Break Glass Studios.

Watch: Blessed - "Caribou" @ YouTube

Toronto's Nutrients have a new video online featuring the song "Always In Bloom," a cut from their freshly released self-titled debut. The clip includes footage of the quintet recording the album around a lake in (I'm assuming) northern Ontario. The laid-back jangle-pop group commented on the track in a statement to Exclaim:

"Lyrically, 'Always In Bloom' is about coming to terms with people's flaws, or maybe even embracing them. Not every relationship in one's life has to have this profound sense of importance. Some can just be fleeting. But maybe that makes them profound and important."

Nutrients debuted as a Montreal-based bedroom-pop project from vocalist Taylor Teeple. Since relocating to Toronto, Teepe's built the unit into a full band featuring guitarist Will Hunter, drummer Turner Wigginton, bassist Sean McKee, and keyboardist Iulia Ciobanu. Nutrients is available now from the Earth Libraries label.

Watch: Nutrients - "Always In Bloom" @ YouTube

Another week's gone by, and with it we're left with another reminder that Robbie Brake may just be the most prolific maniac in the Canadian garage-punk universe. We're cycling back to the trio Mononegatives this time out. That band recently returned from a US tour where they peddled a cassette titled the Cheap Heat Tour Tape. It features two previously unreleased songs and a re-recording of the title track to the band's summer EP 5 Second Future. If you missed out on the plastic, you can stream it now over at Bandcamp.

Based in London, Ontario, Mononegatives just recently released a new five-song EP titled Sure Shock. The band features Brake on vocals and guitar with bassist Jon Lamont and drummer David Cereghini. Between the three of them, the members have played in Isölation Party, Klazo, Dong Vegan, Disleksick, and The Syndrome among a half-dozen other London groups.

Listen: Mononegatives - Cheap Heat Tour Tape @ Bandcamp

Absurdist folk act and self-described icon Ivan Rivers kicked off the month with a new track, appropriately titled "December." The artist commented on the song:

"It's like, lovingly overwrought. The kind of thing you would have thrown on your myspace profile come adventtide. Like The Scene Aesthetic. Remember them? Mixed with like, Kind of Like Spitting. The kind of song that would have fit well on that Taste of Christmas CD I bought at the CD Plus in the Suncoast Mall in Goderich."

Ivan Rivers is the alter ego of Ivan Raczycki from the melodic Toronto punk quartet Stuck Out Here. He recently released a full-length titled The Fallen Ivan Rivers, the second major release from Raczycki this year if you count the third Stuck Out Here LP (and you should). That album, Until We're Each Someone Else, arrived in the early summer.

Listen: Ivan Rivers - "December" @ Bandcamp

Montreal punk festival Pouzza Fest has confirmed the first bands for next year's edition. The event, which marks its 10th year in 2020, runs May 15, 16, and 17 in and around downtown Montreal.

The organizers of Pouzza plan to celebrate the milestone by bringing back many performers from past editions. That includes the veteran Californian punk act Good Riddance, Missouri's Jon Snodgrass, and Chicago's Horace Pinker all making the trip north of the border. From the event's always sizable Canadian contingent, you'll find Burlington, Ontario's anthemic The Penske File, the Toronto-via-St. John's hardcore act Brutal Youth, Montreal punks Dig It Up returning to action, Kitchener, Ontario's Mockingbird Wish Me Luck doing the same, and an appearance from the Halifax pop-punk supergroup Weekend Dads. Look for several inactive Montreal area bands to reunite for Pouzza this year, with confirmed performances so far from then2009-era hardcore outfit Tightrope and ska-punks The Couch Addiction.

Pouzza's lineup last year clocked in at around 175 bands. Organizers are planning to unveil much of the 2020 cohort throughout December. You can snag early tickets right now at pouzzafest.com.

Listen: Weekend Dads - September Downs @ Bandcamp

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