Sunday January 20, 2019

Snowblind

Fredericton's eclectic art-punk trio Motherhood has a new full length on the way. March 1 will see the band unleash Dear Bongo, a nine-song LP, via the Forward Music Group. The group revealed the single "Pick of the Pugs" last September and followed that with the album-opening "Bird Chirp" this past week (a bouncing, propulsive tune described in the press release as "Mekons-meets-Deerhoof"). The track came with a video directed by the band and videographer Chris Giles.

The premiere at PopMatters breaks down the video, which opens with dizzying footage shot from the perspective the band's dog (via GoPro) along the Nashwaak River. Midway through the clip switches settings, as described in the article:

"The second scene is the far north New Brunswick town of Caraquet, where we played our last 2018 show at MusicNB's annual celebration. Of the many friendly faces there, some met us on the rocks for a sing-song captured by a drone circling overhead. The chilly coastal imagery juxtaposes the warm summer daze of the river flats back home."

Motherhood features lead-vocalist/guitarist Brydon Crain, keyboardist Penelope Stevens, and drummer Adam Sipkema.

Watch: Motherhood - "Bird Chirp" @ YouTube

A few days after teasing the record in their fanzine, PUP made it official by announcing the April 5 release of Morbid Stuff along with the first single, "Kids." You can find that track linked below. The band included "Kids" on a flexi disc packaged with the zine, giving fans a few days head-start on the rest of the Internet.

The popular punk four-piece is, of course, planning to spend most of the year on the road in support of the set. They announced dates throughout North America, the U.K., and Europe in the coming months, with bands like Milk Teeth and Ratboys supporting at various shows. If you manage to pick up tickets during their pre-sale, the group's planning to donate $1 from each transaction to The Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. You can find the current routing at Punknews.

The 11-song Morbid Stuff was recorded at Toronto's Union Sound Company last spring with producers Dave Schiffman (Thrice, The Bronx) and Darren McGill. PUP last released The Dream Is Over in 2016 on Royal Mountain Records and SideOneDummy, earning them a SOCAN Songwriting Prize and a Polaris shortlist spot for their troubles. This record will arrive on Rise Records in the States, with the band's newly formed imprint Little Dipper carrying it at home.

Listen: PUP - "Kids" @ Bandcamp

Indie-rock group Kiwi Jr. has signed to Mint Records for the release of their new album Football Money. The 10-track set, the band's first LP, will arrive on March 29. Singer/guitarist Jeremy Gaudet commented on the album:

"It's very much a Toronto record. Even though we're East Coasters, there's no nostalgia or romanticizing small towns. This album is about the neighbourhoods we live in and our lives here... Instead of being introspective, these songs are looking outward. This album is about the people we meet and things that happen to make up our days and weeks. It's less about trying to express ourselves — it's more interpreting the outside world."

Before relocating to the Big Smoke, Kiwi Jr. called Charlottetown home. Along with Gaudet, the band features guitarist Brian Murphy, bassist Mike Walker, and drummer Brohan Moore. The group previewed the record with a video for the album track "Leslie," directed by Ben Rayner. Football Money was engineered by Aaron Goldstein (Daniel Romano, Bry Webb) and mixed by Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh (Preoccupations, METZ), with additional instrumentation and production help from Alec O'Hanley (Alvvays).

Watch: Kiwi Jr. - "Leslie" @ YouTube

Vancouver indie-rock heroes Apollo Ghosts have reunited. Original guitarist/vocalist Adrian Teacher and drummer Amanda Panda have picked up two new players for this incarnation, listed as Robbie N. and Luke N. in the announcement. The band's confirmed that tours, festival shows, and new music are all on the horizon, but there are no specifics to mention just yet.

Apollo Ghosts' catalogue included three full-lengths (plus a handful of short-form releases) spanning 2008 to 2013, the last of which was the You've Changed-released Landmark. Teacher's since put out material as COOL TV and as Adrian Teacher & The Subs, most recently releasing a full-length last year titled Anxious Love. Former Ghosts members not returning this round include Jarrett Samson (who went on to form Tough Age and relocate to Toronto), and Jason Oliver.

Listen: Apollo Ghosts - Landmark @ Bandcamp

Nunavut-based avant-garde vocalist Tanya Tagaq announced a new EP last week titled Toothsayer, due on March 1 from Six Shooter Records. The collected songs were recorded with percussionist and producer Jean Martin as part of a contribution to the "Polar Winds" exhibit at the National Maritime Museum in London, England. Two of the five tracks feature contributions from U.K. electronic artist Ash Koosha. Tagaq commented on the title:

"I named this Toothsayer because I always liked the term soothsayer, to look into the future and to speak wisely... Teeth represent protection and hunting in nature. We are going to have to get our fists up and our teeth out to carve our way to survival in this world."

You can hear the track "Snowblind" now. While I have no reason to assume it's a tribute to 1984's infamous Alpha Flight #6, I choose to believe that anyways. Toothsayer is the first new piece of music to follow Tagaq's 2018 book (and accompanying 10-inch EP) Split Tooth.

Listen: Tanya Tagaq - "Snowblind" @ YouTube

Last week the Abbotsford, BC post-punk group Blessed formally announced their first full length, an 8-song independent release titled Salt. They'll release it on April 5. This week the band premiered the slow-burning album track "Disease" at Paste. It's the second preview from the album, following the tightly-wound "Thought" single shared a few weeks prior. This new record follows the band's critically lauded 2017 EP II, as well as a split 7" last year that I'm super fond of with the Winnipeg noise-punk group Tunic.

Blessed recorded Salt at Montreal's Break Glass Studios with Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes recording and mixing. The band features Drew Riekman, Matt McKeen, Reuben Houweling, Mitchell Trainor, and Jake Holmes.

Listen: Blessed - "Disease" @ Bandcamp

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the 90s-era Lethbridge, Alberta indie rock trio Favour has completed a cassette version of their only full-length, 2000's Everything Remains to be Done. You can find it on Bandcamp now. The band recorded these songs in the winter of 2000, with a final mix of the music only completed this past year. In their campaign the band commented:

"The songs were captured by audio-alchemist Brian McKenna at the Trianon Gallery in downtown Lethbridge. Brian had a room full of gear plus we also used the gallery and stairwell for some natural reverb, since we were usually recording in the dead of night.

All the bed tracks were recorded on reel-to-reel tape, then transferred into a Mac computer where the vocals and some additional instrumentation were recorded. We recorded off and on for a few months. Then it was 18 years later and we still hadn't released it..."

Favour formed back in 1996 over "a shared interest in Eric's Trip, Thrush Hermit, Ride and Pavement," Favour featured the mononymous vocalist/guitarist Jeff, bassist Ryan, and drummer John.

Listen: Favour - Everything Remains to be Done @ Bandcamp

Victoria post-punk collective N0V3L have a video online for the song "To Whom It May Concern," the lead track from their forthcoming EP Novel. The band pairs angular new wave sounds with anti-capitalist sentiment and sharp social criticisms. That certainly comes through in the band's thorough commentary on the clip:

"The video for 'To Whom It May Concern' embodies an open call to contemplation during a time of intense societal transition influenced by mass digital communication and media. The 20th century has given rise to a transitory generation whose formative years have been spent participating in the rise of the unignorable internet and the initial stages of a transformation in humanity. In this context, how do we allocate our energy with lifetimes of content and avenues to explore? What kind of communities and relationships are we building? How do we want to influence and shape the future?

Habitually, we experience the benefits and consequences of an unprecedented interconnectedness. The video exhibits a dichotomy of avenues taken from these new instruments, displaying both depictions of positive community building and collaboration, and the isolation and depersonalization present in countless potential worlds. Splintered focuses and fragmented skill-sets require increased mindfulness about collective direction of energies.

With definitions what we term social interaction and fulfillment in flux, rabbit holes present themselves at every turn. Already oversaturated or overwhelmed with content, we have unwittingly become each other’s entertainment. As an overarching message, the video advocates for a focus on collaboration over spectation, such that interconnectedness can provide fuller senses of community and belonging. The audio-visual piece also serves as a foundation for N0V3L’s public identity and thematic exploration moving forward."

NOVEL will feature 8 songs and arrives on February 15 from Flemish Eye and Meat Machine Records. Later this week the band will embark on a U.K. tour in support of the release.

Watch: N0V3L - "To Whom It May Concern" @ YouTube

Heavy music blog The Obelisk premiered a new song from veteran Canadian producer and rock personality Ian Blurton, titled "Space is Forever." The Change of Heart frontman recently premiered a new band dubbed Future Now with a New Year's Eve show at Bovine Sex Club in Toronto. The group features Blurton with drummer Glenn Milchem (Holy Fuck, Blue Rodeo), bassist Anna Ruddick (Randy Bachman) and guitarist Aaron Goldstein (as mentioned in the above Kiwi Jr. story, just look at how things connect around here!). Ian commented:

"The song is about staring into the endless infinity of space and trying to find light in its darkness. It’s about days becoming nights and nights becoming days and the sun and moon leading us through them. It’s about pondering the planetary phases of the solar system and coming to the realization that the future is now."

The song is expected to appear on Blurton's upcoming solo record Signals Through The Flames when it arrives in May.

Listen: Ian Blurton - "Space is Forever" @ The Obelisk

Montreal psych-pop group Anemone has a video online for their new track "Memory Lane," directed by Laura-Lynn Petrick. Vocalist/keyboardist Chloé Soldevila spoke about the song and its nostalgia for Quebec's eastern townships:

"My goal was to honour the joyous summer days I spend in the eastern townships of Quebec; one of the dearest, dreamiest places in my heart. It’s the kind of place you go with your best friends and simply the feeling from being there is larger than life. We always have an epic time. I’m so glad to have met the director Laura-Lynn Petrick. What started with a small plan ended up being a real and blissful week – an adventure worthy of a road trip in Southern Italy, filled with loving encounters, morning swims, wine, and even a quick sea-doo and motorcycle ride. She has a special talent for bringing the best out of life; we didn’t have to pretend to depict the joyous days, we actually lived them”

The song will appear on Beat My Distance, an LP due on February 15 from Luminelle and Royal Mountain.

Watch: Anemone - "Memory Lane" @ YouTube

Andrew Neville of the Halifax post-punk act Moon has a new five-song EP online titled Pure Comfort. On Twitter he commented, "None of these songs are about the mall or bars in Dartmouth or anything, so I apologize in advance." You can find the set at Bandcamp.

Moon last released the Paradise String EP in early 2017.

Listen: Andrew Neville - Pure Comfort @ Bandcamp

Punknews premiered a new video last week from Edmonton's gruff folk-punk act Fire Next Time. The song "Party Foul" appeared on the band's 2018 Stomp Records full-length Knives. The Mike Robertson directed video for the song features the trials and tribulations of a substance-abusing puppet.

Watch: Fire Next Time - "Party Foul" @ YouTube

Barrie, Ontario trio The Highdives have a new album of high-octane punk and power-pop out titled Ocean Blood. The 11-song set was recorded and produced by J. Andrew Shropshire (Indian Handcrafts) and mastered by Steve Rizun (The Flatliners, Junior Battles). The Highdives feature vocalist/guitarist Scott Murray, bassist Matt Galbraith, and drummer Shawn Moreau. The new record follows up the band's 2017 debut EP, Maybe I'll Be Okay?.

Listen: The Highdives - "Ocean Blood" @ Bandcamp

Take a half hour and check this piece from CBC Radio's The Doc Project. It tells the story of D.O.A. member Mike Hodsall, the band's bassist since their 2014 revival. From the show notes:

"Mike Hodsall is one of those guys who never gave up on his big dream. He's wanted to be a rock star since he was a kid. But the closest he got was his AC/DC cover band, BC/DC - where Mike dressed up in a cow suit for laughs. Mike was poor and pushing 40. It looked like his dream would never become reality. But then, in a twist of fate, Mike found himself in Canada's most legendary punk band: D.O.A., playing beside his hero, 62-year-old frontman Joey "Shithead" Keithley."

I uncensored "Shithead" in the CBC's copy, for the record.

How my middle-aged buddy went from broke to joining his hero's band @ CBC.ca

You've Changed Records is 10 years old this year, and the label's founders are up to something. Label-heads Steven Lambke and Daniel Romano are working on a project together in the studio. The duo shared a single polaroid from a recent session, commenting cryptically that "Dark Blue is coming soon."

Lambke's performed and recorded for years as Baby Eagle and more recently under his own name. He's a member of the beloved Guelph-bred rock band the Constantines and the creative director of SappyFest. Romano's prolific solo career is a frequent topic of this newsletter. He's recorded and toured recently with his power-pop combo Ancient Shapes as well. Danny's roots are in the Welland, Ontario punk quartet Attack In Black.

See: Steven Lambke & Daniel Romano in session @ Instagram

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