Sunday June 16, 2019

Cool All The Time

We've known for months that a sequel to Shotgun Jimmie's Transistor Sister was in the works, but the formal announcement only came from You've Changed Records last week. While Jimmie's regularly released music since that fan-favourite 2011 album (most recently with 2016's Field of Trampolines), Transistor Sister's always held a special place in the singer/songwriter's discography. In the press release, Jimmie commented on the project:

"I decided to make a sequel because I loved making the first one. I value the experience of making records as much as the end product. I know that I'm always trying to make something good, but I'm also aware that the process is the thing that I'll think about and revisit in the future. With this album, I really wanted to recreate the immersive experience of making the original. The first one was recorded in Nova Scotia in a beautiful little town. The session had the feeling of a destination artist residency. We swam in the ocean and watched scientists cut the head off a shark; they were very eventful days. Maybe I also wanted an excuse to hang out with Jay and Ryan for a week. The three of us are spread out across the country, so being together is a rare treat. On the last day of the session we played a rock show at a tiny Toronto club. We literally went straight from the studio to the venue. It was completely packed with pals from all over; it was the best! I played the first Transistor Sister acoustic, then the full band performed Transistor Sister 2 from top to bottom. The show provided our session a very hard deadline and was probably the cause of some studio stress, but it was a perfect magical ending to the week."

The show he's referring to happened last November at Toronto's Tranzac. It was captured by Mechanical Forest Sound as part of their heroic series of Toronto field recordings.

This record features the titular Jim Kilpatrick backed by Ryan Peters of Ladyhawk, Jay Baird of Do Make Say Think, and José Miguel Contreras of indie vets By Divine Right. The album was recorded and produced by Contreras at The Chat Chateaux in Toronto (this is the second significant collaboration from José and Jimmie of late, as the two debuted their band The Heat Death in 2018). Guests on Transistor Sister 2 include the Constantines' Steven Lambke (on Wurlitzer), and Cole Woods of Human Music on synth.

The album announcement arrived alongside the upbeat single "Cool All The Time," which features a spoken monologue by Chad VanGaalen. Jimmie reflected:

"I think of Chad's monologue like it's our version of Chuck D on Sonic Youth's Kool Thing. In hindsight, I should have named the Track 'Kool All The Time' "

The 13 song Transistor Sister 2 arrives from You've Changed on August 2. The release coincides with Jimmie's long-awaited return to Sackville, New Brunswick's SappyFest.

Listen: Shotgun Jimmie - "Cool All The Time"

Hot damn! The debut EP from Hamilton's Good Grief is just gloriously fun. The four-piece churns out rollicking '77-style punk rock with such ferocity and lack of shame that it never stops to reflect on how ultimately goofy it is. I mean that as the highest compliment (it's how I feel about Vancouver's Chain Whip as well). Good Grief's secret weapon though is vocalist Dan Ashworth, who just happens to be English, replete with a heavy accent that gives these four songs an extra kick (and even if he isn't, his inflections fit the style they're playing like a glove). I can't listen to this without smiling like an idiot. The record even starts with a ridiculous theme song.

The band released Outside the Off Licence last week with a hometown show I missed like an idiot. The record came out June 7 on Trash Boy Records.

Listen: Good Grief - Outside the Off Licence @ Bandcamp

After an agonizing wait (no really, but it was a long three or four days), Toronto trio Motorists have debuted with the single "Displacement Time." The group features vocals from Feel Alright's Craig Fahner, Jesse Locke of Tough Age behind the drum kit, and Matthew Learoyd (also of Feel Alright, along with a long list of Calgary bands like Stalwart Sons, Lab Coast, and Cold Water).

Locke previously commented on the band's sound, stating:

"We've played in Feel Alright before and decided to write some new songs together since Craig moved to Toronto. It ended up kind of sounding like '80s R.E.M. if they were a punk band or the Wipers with more jangle and Grass Widow harmonies for good measure. I think you might like it."

Did I just lazily run the same pull quote in two consecutive newsletters? Indeed I did, friends.

Listen: Motorists - "Displacement Time" @ Bandcamp

East coast folk-rock storytellers The Burning Hell have a video online for their new single "No Peace." It's their half of a split 7" with German singer/songwriter Bernhard Karakoulakis, who plays under the name Boo Hoo. The clip, filmed in Sackville, Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen, features Ariel Sharratt as a superhero (who in the intro receives her marching orders from a milkshake-sipping Steven Lambke). A whole host of the band's friends make appearances in the narrative, as do some high-production-value lizard people. The Burning Hell / Boo Hoo split can be found on the Frankfurt label Lousy Moon.

The band, currently on tour in Europe, has been supporting a lathe-cut 10" titled Bird Queen of Garbage Island on the road. As only 77 of these were ever made, it's entirely sold out. While the group previously declined to share the songs on the Internet, they've since relented (a bit) and have the four tracks streaming on Bandcamp at this very moment. They'll only be there through the end of the tour, though, then they're "back in the vaults." Give them a listen now, or you're out of luck.

The Burning Hell recorded the Garage Island set in St. John's at Jake Nicoll's studio in the very early days of 2019. The record features vocalist/guitarist Mathias Kom, drummer/vocalist Ariel Sharratt, bassist Darren Browne, and Nicoll in several capacities. As with much of the band's prolific body of work, these songs present themselves somehow both adorable and provocative at the same time.

The Burning Hell last full length was 2017's Revival Beach. In the spring the band announced that they were recording an album's worth of duets with an organized labour theme. News on that one's still to come.

Watch: The Burning Hell - "No Peace" @ YouTube

Listen: The Burning Hell - Bird Queen of Garbage Island @ Bandcamp

Montreal punk trio Lemongrab have a video online for "Too Many Bitches," the lead track from their recent LP It Doesn't Sound Good But It Feels Awesome.

Lemongrab's new LP's a great time, with a youthful mix of slacker rock and frantic pop-punk. Faith Healer 's Renny Wilson produced. The record features performances from vocalist Gaëlle Cordeau, guitarists Léonie Dishaw and Zale Burley, drummer Marilou Turgeon, and bassist Jérémie Cyr.

Watch: Lemongrab - "Too Many Bitches" @ YouTube

Figure Walking's a duo featuring Winnipeg singer/songwriter Greg MacPherson and drummer Rob Gardiner (Conduct, Pip Skid). They last released The Big Other in 2017. While the follow up (titled vertical/horizontal) is due later this summer from MacPherson's Disintegration Records label, the band shared an unexpected late remix of a Big Other track last week. The song "Blue World" was reworked by the Philadelphia band Tulipomania and producer/engineer Richard Hartline. In the track premiere at Jammerzine, MacPherson comments:

"I love to imagine the world through the murky, silver-on-the-ocean-floor filter that is Tulipomania's music. This remix of Blue World is astonishing for us, as a watching an eclipse with welder's goggles and discovering the sun for the first time"

Listen: Figure Walking - "Blue World" (Tulipomania remix) @ Bandcamp

Barrie, Ontario trio The Highdives have a new a video online for their single "Sophomore," directed by Adam Bialo. The track's a slow-burning melodic punk tune that builds to a crescendo in its final third. It comes from the band's recent debut full-length Ocean Blood. You can watch it below.

Ocean Blood 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 Highdives are slated to play the Black Forest Stage on the Friday night at Beau's annual Oktoberfest when it returns on September 20. They'll join Pale Lips, L'Affaire Pélican, Oakhearts, Northgang, and The Hallions that evening. The event raises money for several causes, with Black Forest, in particular, supporting the skateboards-for-youth program For Pivots Sake. The overall Oktoberfest will feature headlining sets from The New Pornographers and Shad. Some Party's a sponsor of the Black Forest stage again this year, so stay tuned for some shenanigans in that regard.

Watch: The Highdives - "Sophomore" @ YouTube

Ross Miller of The Dirty Nil and the mighty SIDEMAN has a new two-song single online from his side-project Blue. The Welland artist is following up the five-song Positive Attitude EP he released last fall. The new set features the simmering alt-rock track "Only Anger" backed with the decidedly more aggressive punk tune "True You."

Last week Miller's main gig released "Astro Ever After," a new standalone track from the Master Volume sessions.

Listen: Blue - Only Anger @ Bandcamp

I don't have a heck of a lot of info on the Vancouver three-piece Pudding, other than the fact that they've played shows with more than a few bands I'm quite fond of, like Necking and Bedwetters Anonymous. The group released Pop Over, their first LP, just a week ago. Clocking in at 11 songs, it's a great deal of fun, mixing some 90s alt-rock vibes with a helping of that modern slacker-punk sound (peddled by fellow Van bands like Dumb). Pudding features bassist Darren Mountain, drummer/vocalist Cyndi Callow, and guitarist/vocalist Paula Moulton.

Listen: Pudding - "Pop Over" @ Bandcamp

Last week Robert Ondzik released the second full length as his suave lounge-pop alter-ego Mr. Merlot. City Sex Vol. 2 features a number of familiar faces from Vancouver's indie-pop world, with Jay Arner co-writing and producing a record that features appearances from Destroyer 's Nicolas Bragg, Jessica Delisle of Energy Slime, Adrienne Labelle from Garbage Dreams/Supermoon, Role Mach 's Rich Sexton, Thom Lougheed of Milk/Watermelon, and Tommy Tone.

The wine-soaked record arrived alongside a video for the song "Catch a Feeling," directed by Kyle Bowman. It features Ondzik and members of his backing band in full Shakespearean regalia.

Watch: Mr. Merlot - "Catch a Feeling" @ YouTube

Toronto's sibling psych-dance trio DOOMSQUAD recently played a live session for CBC Music, playing several songs from their recent full-length Let Yourself Be Seen. They appeared alongside past-Polaris winner Lido Pimienta and guitarist Ejji Smith. DOOMSQUAD's Trevor Blumas commented on the occasion, boasting "this is like The Last Waltz but for weirdos in Toronto."

DOOMSQUAD's set to play some cool Ontario festivals this summer, including Paris, Ontario's Strangewaves and the Grey county psych gathering Crystal Lake.

Watch: DOOMSQUAD - "Let Yourself Be Seen" @ CBC Music

Flatliners lead Chris Cresswell has a new solo track online titled "Gather My Thoughts." It's the second new tune from the punk frontman in the past few months, following the in the same stylistic vein as the introspective "To The Wind."

Cresswell last went solo with his 2014 contribution to Joey Cape's One Week Records project. The Flatliners most recently released an EP titled Mass Candescence and the preceding Inviting Light LP. Cresswell's been touring as a part of Hot Water Music in recent months, filling in for singer/guitarist Chris Wollard.

Listen: Chris Cresswell - "Gather My Thoughts" @ Bandcamp

Toronto's instrumental funk collective the Badge Époque Ensemble has a new video online for the song "Undressed In Solitude." Directed by Alex Kingsmill, the clip features a collage of footage sourced entirely from the public domain Internet Archive. The 11-minute tune features guest vocals from the R&B artist James Baley, and was described in an earlier press release as "an improbable collision between psych-era Stevie Wonder and the whimsically dark Fantastic Planet score."

The Ensemble's lead by multi-instrumentalist Maximilian 'Twig' Turnbull, formerly known as the psych artist Slim Twig. You've likely heard Twig as a songwriter and producer for both U.S. Girls and the related rock band Darlene Shrugg. He's a regular performer in the psych-jazz group The Cosmic Range as well. The self-titled Badge Époque Ensemble record was released recently on Telephone Explosion.

Watch: Badge Époque Ensemble - "Undressed In Solitude" ft. James Baley

Edmonton punk group Real Sickies have joined the Stomp Records family, with plans to release a new full-length on August 30. The group, which features ex-members of the late-90s/early-2000s street punk group Wednesday Night Heroes, last released Get Well Soon in 2018 through a whole host of labels.

Real Sickies are fronted by Ben Disaster of This Is Pop, a radio show on Edmonton's CJSR and related label.

I don't have any music to share from the deal yet, but here's a tune from the band's last record.

Listen: Real Sickies - "Get Well Soon" @ Bandcamp

Fredericton's joyous and noisy art-punk trio Motherhood revealed two videos featuring their sing "Hard In The Paint" over the past week. First, there's an acoustic performance filmed on a cafe patio in Brighton sometime last year. You can stream that from DiscovrTV on Facebook. They followed that on Monday with a proper music video that turns the Dear Bongo single into a beach dance party.

The band's newest LP arrived this past March from the Forward Music Group. Motherhood features lead-vocalist/guitarist Brydon Crain, keyboardist Penelope Stevens, and drummer Adam Sipkema. Look for them on stage at the above-mentioned SappyFest this August.

Watch: Motherhood - "Hard in the Paint" @ YouTube

Toronto noise-punk trio METZ have another new video online featuring a song from their upcoming singles collection Automat. This time they're featuring the track "Dry Up," which first surfaced in 2009 as the b-side to their Ripped On The Fence 7". In the premiere at Consequence of Sound, guitarist Alex Edkins commented:

"METZ have been making music together for over 10 years. It's been a blur. We've very rarely allowed ourselves to look backward. We've been hyper-focused on always moving forward at breakneck speed, perpetually fixated on what's next. The video for 'Dry Up,' as well as the Automat album, is an attempt to pause, take a breath, look backward and take stock of our past. It's intended to express how grateful we are to be able to do what we do. It's a love letter to the incredible places we've traveled, the beautiful people we've met, to community, music, and friendship."

The b-sides and rarities collection arrives on July 12 through Sub Pop Records. METZ last released the Steve Albini engineered studio album Strange Peace.

Watch: METZ - "Dry Up" @ YouTube

I mentioned Mechanical Forest Sound earlier in the newsletter. Over the past week, the blog's published some live cuts of new songs from a few of my favourite bands. Recent features there have showcased new material from WLMRT and Teenanger, likely before you could hear those songs anywhere else. Joe Strutt's performing an invaluable, seemingly inexhaustible, service to the Canadian music world over there. Please do check it out if you haven't already.

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