Tuesday July 16, 2024

Saved By Rock and Roll

Some Party is a newsletter sharing the latest in independent Canadian rock'n'roll, curated more-or-less weekly by Adam White. Each edition explores punk, garage, psych, and otherwise uncategorizable indie rock, drawing lines from proto to post and taking some weird diversions along the way.

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Richard Laviolette: "Saved By Rock and Roll"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Richard Laviolette's final album, All Wild Things Are Shy, arrives September 5 through You've Changed Records. The twelve-song collection spans a double LP set, showcasing material the Guelph singer-songwriter crafted in the last five years of his life. You can preview the record now through the prophetically named single "Saved By Rock and Roll." Described by the label as an "eerie and ambiguous dirge," the track finds the artist accompanied by a haunting arrangement of organ, accordion, and a backing choir. An ailing Laviolette's declaration that "a little destruction will make you whole" resonates as a powerful statement of purpose.

The label reveals that Laviolette wrote and recorded All Wild Things Are Shy in the period between his mother's death from Huntington's Disease and his own. Before recording, a new backing band coalesced in 2021, with Laviolette backed by Ally Corbett on viola, Dave Snider on bass, Jordan Howard and Matt Reeves on guitar, Rich Burnett on drums, and longtime collaborator Jessy Bell Smith on vocals. That outfit debuted live in the summer of 2022, wrapping their run in September of that year when Laviolette's symptoms had advanced to the point where he could no longer perform live. Under that shadow, recording took place at Scott Merritt's Guelph studio ("the CottaGe") starting in January of last year. The label shed some light on those sessions:

"Richard thought there would be more records after this one, but what was planned as a few weeks of recording soon became a slower and longer process. As with much of his earlier work, the songs on this album confront death and mortality, while also affirming love, life, and a fundamental belief in the ability of music to bring people together. Richard tinkered with each of the arrangements, working to eliminate anything that was not essential, creating an immediate and direct presentation of the songs, in his unique vision of rock music."

"Saved By Rock and Roll" features Rich Burnett drumming, Dave Snider on bass, Tyson Brinacombe on guitar, and Meredith Grant on accordion, with more than a dozen friends appearing in the choir. Constantines' Bry Webb and Cots' Steph Yates share lead vocals on the album's title track. Burnett also helped mix the record.

With symptoms rapidly accelerating, Richard Laviolette chose to receive medical assistance in dying on September 5, 2023.

To celebrate the release, Laviolette's backing band will perform All Wild Things Are Shy at a series of upcoming shows, joined by a rotating cast of guest vocalists drawn from the artist's circle of peers. These kick off with an August 1 date at Montreal's Bar Le Ritz PDB with Lisa Conway, Andrew Collins, Sarah Mangle, Emma Moss Brender, Cedric Noel, and Michael Feuerstack. On August 3, the group plays Sappyfest in Sackville, joined by Simone Schmidt, Julie Doiron, Klarka Weinwurm, Steve Haley, C.L. McLaughlin, Steven Lambke, Mathias Kom, Ariel Sharratt, and Colleen Collins. A September 6 performance at Toronto's Tranzac features Abigail Lapell, Jiaqing Wilson-Yang, Peter Demakos, Geordie Gordon, Tamara Lindeman, Terra Lightfoot, and José Contreras. On September 15, the band will convene with Scott Merritt, Jenny Mitchell, Nate Coles, and Claire Whitehead at the Guelph Jazz Festival. The tour wraps with an October 10 performance at Owen Sound's Heartwood Hall, the same venue as the group's first performance with Richard in 2021.

Richard Laviolette last issued Taking The Long Way Home in 2017 on You've Changed.

Real Rejects: Not Allowed

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Moncton provocateur TJ Cabot is back with a new band, the Real Rejects. The group's debut full-length, Not Allowed, arrives this week through Alien Snatch! Records. The German label's issuing band's nine-song debut as a 10" record pressed at 45 RPM in various colours.

The label's exuberant writeup touts Not Allowed as the "flash bang party of 2024," channelling such pillars of garage and proto-punk as the Pagans, Stooges, and the Flamin' Groovies. The blown-out album-opening title track certainly makes that case, an ever-accelerating mission statement underscored by a raucous organ (the label can't resist drawing lines from those keys to Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs).

Cabot, otherwise known as Tyler Boutilier, has roots in several Maritime punk acts, including the Phone Jerks and Nerve Button. The artist shared a busy string of scrappy EPs and digital singles in the years since 2020's TJ Cabot & Thee Artificial Rejects LP (also on Alien Snatch).

Cell Deth: Catholic Guilt

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Charlottetown's politically charged hardcore quartet Cell Deth recently unleashed Catholic Guilt, a ripping six-song/six-minute EP available through everyone's favourite miserable maritime mutants at Sewercide Records.

The band came together in early 2022, born from the ashes of several defunct acts from the Island's vibrant punk scene. Cell Deth features Brett Sanderson and Ryan Kirkpatrick, formerly of Antibodies. Ryan also played with the emo-leaning Tin-Ear and Brett with the lo-fi punks Warsh. They're joined here by the married duo of Matt and Story Sheidow, who previously played together as the powerviolence duo Uncle. Matt's also known for the defunct PEI hardcore act Acousma, while Story's more recently fronted the indie trio Coy.

Cell Deth recorded Catholic Guilt in 2023 at Ralphs Ranch, with Sanderson engineering. Dan Randall mastered at Mammoth Sound. The new EP follows the band's demo from the fall of 2022. The PEI punk scene, at least from my stuck-in-Ontario perspective, continues to punch far above its weight, and I'm thrilled to hear more from these players in whatever configuration they find themselves.

Roots Round Up: Up Rooted

Watch "Relief" on YouTube

Long-running Vancouver ska combo Roots Round Up recently issued Up Rooted, their sixth full-length. The 12-song set arrived July 8 through Sudden Death Records. The collection features six new originals, covers of D.O.A.'s "War in the East" and the Sarcastic Mannequins' "Red Fury," and four live recordings captured last summer on Denman Island. Stephen Hamm (Slow, Tankhog) recorded the new material at Burnaby's Simian Studios, with Chris Wardman mixing and mastering. The band's David Hathaway commented on finally capturing their live energy on tape:

"Roots Round Up has always been more about the live shows than the recorded output, but capturing that in a recording has proved elusive. The live songs were captured at our first full show after the pandemic had settled down, and we were more than a little excited to be playing again. Especially on Denman Island where we have played many times over the years. We had gotten an audio feed from Chris Wardman's mix of the show and as we listened back the next day, we thought 'wait a minute… this came out well!'"

You can find the single "Relief" captured in a new video. While the song grapples with war and addition, it wraps those serious topics in a wonderfully soulful, horn-adored package of second-wave-style ska.

The band's current lineup features vocalist/guitarist Greg Hathaway, vocalist/trombonist David "Dymitri" Hanna, guitarists David Hathaway and Mark Campbell, bassist Keith Rose, keyboardist Eric Napier, and drummer Bradford Lambert. Roots Round Up came together in 1985 from Vancouver's early punk scene. The group was a staple of Canada's touring circuit throughout the late 80s and early 90s but hasn't released anything new in decades. The band collected select recordings from 1986 through 1993 on the Rootrospective compilation during the 3rd wave boom. A 2015 remaster of that set is available at Bandcamp.

King Thief: "Gymposter Syndrome"

Listen on YouTube

Edmonton supergroup King Thief recently shared "Gymposter Syndrome," their debut single and our first preview of their upcoming full-length. The propulsive melodic hardcore track harkens back to first-pumping anthems from Hot Water Music and Samiam. I'll usually twist in every direction to avoid the term Orgcore, but buckle up if that early 2000s meme genre means anything to you.

King Thief came together in 2019, developing their technical post-hardcore/skatepunk hybrid through the pandemic. The band features an impressive lineup of scene veterans, including vocalist Eric Neilson (Change Methodical, Midnight Peg), guitarists Ryan Podlubny (The Fullblast) and Shawn Moncrieff (Choke), bassist Nick Kouremenos (Fire Next Time, This Is A Standoff, The Johnsons), and drummer Darren Chewka (Teenage Bottlerocket, Old Wives).

King Thief's debut is due through through Thousand Islands Records in the fall.

Dangereens: Chic

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal glam rock revivalists Dangereens are gearing up to release their sophomore album, Chic, on July 19 through Alien Snatch! Records. The new set delivers thirteen original tracks.

The label forefronts the band's clear devotion to the classic swagger of the Stones, Slade, and Paul Collins' Beat, promising a decadent take on 70s glam played at punk velocity (Dangereens actually opened for the Beat just this past February as part of the Taverne Tour). Their writeup boasts of "wonderful 60s harmonies, 70s schmaltz rock with pounding 50s Berry kicks and relentless piano hammering."

The new record follows the group's 2020-issued debut Tough Luck and subsequent two-song single "Lucky in Love"/"Holy Water."

Befitting their throwback trappings, the band had Chic analog mastered. It arrives on Alien Snatch packaged in a fuzzy inside-out gatefold sleeve, which also feels thematically apt but sounds bound to get gross over time. You can't argue with their devotion to the bit.

Gadfly: SURA

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Vancouver's Gadfly recently released SURA, their sophomore full-length. The seven-song set arrived last week through Ripsesh Records. The album finds the trio melding surfy garage rock with metal, punk, psych, and stoner rock fragments — an acerbic sound further filtered through Homa Khoshnavaz's background in traditional Persian scales.

Gadfly grew from bedroom recording experiments in Khoshnavaz's home of Tehran. After relocating to Vancouver in winter 2018, she assembled Gadfly with drummer Nigel Young and bassist Raine Menard. Together, they've produced a grungy, hard-driven sound fueled by the artist's frustration over the treatment of women back home.

Shaun Thingvold produced SURA at Vancouver's Armoury Studios, with Jess Schmidt engineering. The album follows the band's 2022 debut Apranik and a pair of subsequent digital singles ("Stone Stabber" and "Influencer").

Cult Message: Return

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

After a three-year hiatus, Micah Brown's Cult Message has resurfaced with Return, a new two-song EP. The set finds the artist pivoting back to darkwave and gothic rock, crafting what he describes as "meditations... confronting the commodification of our lives and the relentless demand for more." In a statement, Brown muses on the outcome of a society where we've outlived our economic usefulness, commenting:

"...what will become of us when we can no longer sell ourselves? How will our overlords deal with us if we outlive our use, and refuse to let go? Dispatches from the discarded, slick with oil used to expedite our exile."

The new material follows a 2021 single that paired the atmospheric noise piece "Flamma" with the new wave tune "Stuck." Cult Message first surfaced publically in 2020 as part of the pandemic-era online event DemoFest.

Micah Brown is best known for fronting the emo-influenced power-pop act Pillea, who issued the eight-song Swell in May of 2021 through Sun Eater Records. He also recently played bass with the melodic hardcore combo Instep. As an engineer, he's worked behind the scenes with underground bands like GAZM and Conditioner.

Indian Giver: "Purity" (ft Wiidaaseh)

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Indigenous hardcore act Indian Giver recently shared "Purity," a pummelling new single featuring guest vocals from Anishinabek hip-hop artist Wiidaaseh. The band describes the song as an exploration of "the imposition of the concept of 'purity' and the colonial gaze on Indigenous peoples throughout history, and how we have endured."

Milan Sarkadi recorded and mixed the track at Toronto's Dreamhouse Studios, with Dan Weston mastering. "Purity" follows March's "Soul Wound," which grappled with the intergenerational impacts of the residential school system.

The Holdouts: Dead Calm

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Niagara melodic hardcore quartet The Holdouts recently issued Dead Calm, a seven-song EP and their fourth overall. The band recorded with Dead Tired guitarist Marco Bressette at his Hamilton-based Deadquarters studio. In a social media post, the group celebrated their little corner of the DIY community that helped the record together, singling out Welland designers Quite Alright, who went wild with the cover art, stating: "There's been a ton of work and a ton of heart put into this record, and it was done solely by us and people we care about."

The band's promising physical copies for the fall. Dead Calm follows The Holdouts' 2022 EP 325, a record that notably arrived with the group still reeling from bassist Derrick Gordon's death. That year, we also saw a split EP on Tarantula Tapes, pairing The Holdouts with Barrie punk act Heavy Petter.

NOMEDS: Taking Life to the Face

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Upstart Hamilton punk act NOMEDS unveiled their debut EP this week. Taking Life to the Face collects seven new songs tracked with Matt Ellis of Golden Shitters and The Vapids at his Noise Pollution Recording Studio. The band commented:

"TLTTF is a diverse album musically, and an honest album lyrically while maintaining the hard and fast punk rock feel that inspired us to start this band. It contains violence, harsh language, emotional nudity, and drug use. Viewer discretion is advised."

The album features performances from Jesse Valvasori, Isaiah Cooke, and Jack Ryckman. They'll celebrate the new EP with a hometown release show on Friday (July 19) at the Casbah, supported by Rat Parade, Noviae, and Cheap Sets.

The Low Sixes: "Ryan's Favorite Song"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp - Watch on YouTube

This week, Montreal power-pop quartet The Low Sixes unveiled "Ryan's Favorite Song," the affable first single from their debut full-length. You can hear the track now at Bandcamp or see it performed in a gleeful new video from Studio del Scorpio. The band's first LP, The Oshawa Tree, arrives on October 4 through Forge Again Records.

The Low Sixes came together following a European tour by Jonathan Cummins and Brendan Drouillard's psych-rock act USA Out of Vietnam. The pair soon recruited drummer John Milchem (Starvin Hungry) and bassist Jon Asencio (of Cummins' 90s-era punk group Doughboys). Ascenico has since left the band, and they've enlisted PRIORS' Alan Hildebrandt to fill out their low-end. The group recorded with Ryan Battistuzzi (Taxi Girls, Hood Rats, Conditions Apply) engineering and Mikey Young mastering.

Cummins commented on the band's origins and decidedly unhip aspirations:

"The band was mainly put together to escape the job doldrums, it wasn't until we decided to record four songs at Le Stuzzio with Ryan Battistuzzi that provoked a surprisingly positive reaction from our friends that we decided we would turn into an actual band and do an entire record... Montreal has a very large experimental scene (Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Colin Stetson, Tim Hecker etc.) and although we love that music, we are sort of reacting against it as we believe everybody can appreciate a good pop song.... We want to be as inclusive as possible and be the band that can bring entertainment back to small stages and DIY spaces again."

The Drew Thomson Foundation: "Black Jeep"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Drew Thomson's namesake pop-rock outlet The Drew Thomson Foundation recently issued "Black Jeep," a wistful love song that makes for an easy summer listen. You can find the digital single over at Bandcamp. This incarnation of the group features Thomson on guitar and vocals, backed by Danny Kidd on bass and guitar, with Peter Landi drumming and singing backup. The trio recorded at Hamilton's Catherine North with Dan Hosh engineering.

The new track follows the Foundation's spring EP, Fan Letter. While Thomson's issued numerous short-form releases under various monikers in recent years, this group's last proper full-length was their self-titled 2019 LP. Drew remains best known as the frontman of the London, Ontario punk favourites Single Mothers.


Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Acclaimed Anishinaabe duo OMBIIGIZI recently shared "Ziibi," their second single of 2024. The track follows May's "Connecting" and finds Adam Sturgeon (Status/Non-Status) and Daniel Monkman (Zoon) further exploring their contemplative "moccasin gaze" sound.

"Ziibi" translates to "river" in Anishinaabe. It's a subtly layered track that gains in power and volume as it builds, not unlike its namesake. Monkman revealed that he wrote the song about Manitoba's Red River, reflecting:

"It's a very long river all the way from the Mississippi. I grew up along the shore of that river looking into it. Watching as it would swallow up all our bikes and skateboards. My first realization of how powerful the elements are... The river teaches us."

The band builds "Ziibi" from layered acoustic guitars that crescendo to "electric, emotional heights." Lyrically, the band wrestles with the constraints external forces place on Indigenous identity. They sing, "Scared to leave / what is a reservation / Name and numb us instead / without a home."

These new songs follow OMBIIGIZI's Polaris-shortlisted 2022 debut Sewn Together and last year's standalone single "Back at Me" (a collaboration with Peter Dreimanis of July Talk). Sturgeon and Monkman have kept busy with their primary projects in the interim. Zoon issued Bekka Ma'iingan last year through Paper Bag Records, while Status/Non-Status shared Surely Travel in 2022 on You've Changed.

Michael Cloud Duguay: "Succeeder"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Peterborough artist Michael Cloud Duguay recently unveiled "Succeeder," the title track and enigmatic first single from his new album. The record, due August 23 through Watch That Ends The Night (a new label co-founded by Duguay and New Hermitage saxophonist Andrew MacKelvie), promises an ambitious fusion of Americana, experimental rock, and rootsy atmospherics. The artist describes the album's sound as "experimental heartland totalism," explained in a press release as "an amalgam of sounds that recontextualizes aspects of Americana amidst more atmospheric and abstract elements."

Succeeder grew from a pandemic-era songwriting exercise, in which Duguay composed pieces about every place he'd ever lived. The project ultimately coalesced around songs tied to his formative years in Peterborough, with recording fittingly taking place in that city's All Saints Anglican Church. The sessions found Duguay backed by a nine-piece ensemble of local collaborators, as coordinated by Joyful Joyful's Cormac Culkeen. Despite the rustic roots, the album notably eschews acoustic guitar in favour of winds, brass, and assorted folk instruments, including Duguay's trademark accordion. This is all in service of evoking "the nocturnal sounds of coming of age in Peterborough: bar bands, rural fields, late-night kitchen parties, many voices joined in song."

The new record follows 2020's The Winter Of Our Discotheque, an LP on which the artist candidly addressed struggles with mental health, addiction, and homelessness. It also arrives after the curious disappearance of Saint Maybe, Duguay's initially publicized third album. Now free from the frustrations that ultimately benched that work, Duguay's holding Succeeder up as an "affirmation of working on one's own terms and with one's own resources."

The label's celebrating the release with a listening party on August 22, the day before the album drops. Fans can listen online via Bandcamp or attend in person at Take Cover Books in Peterborough.

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Some Party is Adam White's misguided quest to share the latest in Canadian garage rock, punk, psych, and more. Subscribe and get it in your inbox more-or-less weekly. Your information's always kept private, and unsubscribing is easy.

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