Sunday November 5, 2017

Beat Wave

Toronto's eccentric, theatric The Holy Gasp have premiered "Beat Wave," the first single off their forthcoming second record and follow up to 2015's The Last Generation of Love. The new track is a massive ensemble piece, described in the press release as "big band punk," "orchestral hardcore" or (amusingly) "the disgruntled millennial response to Green Day’s Longview." As in the band's past work the presence of frontman Benjamin Hackman is animated and commanding, calling to mind Jello Biafra, Fred Schneider of the B-52s, and in this context a whole lot of the World/Inferno Friendship Society's Jack Terricloth.

Hackman describes the song's genesis:

I wrote it on Toronto Island, where I moved after my ex-wife and I split up. I was real depressed at the time. And real lonely, too. Most days I couldn’t get out of bed. I’d lay there on stinked-up sheets, weeping... wishing for my old life back... I needed to write it out, laugh at myself, take the edge off. Divorce shocks the system, y’know. It makes you ask a whole lotta questions about how you’re gonna live your life and who you’re gonna be in your post-married world. You set out to build a future with someone, and when you call it quits on a marriage, you call it quits on that future too. So you gotta rewrite yourself entirely. [Guitarist Sebastian Shinwell] was real supportive. He just kept saying, “Write it out... make it as big as you need to... I’ll figure out how to arrange it.” And he did. He found a way to get a big ol’ chambre ensemble to play punk, which is pretty funny if you think about it--in a Bugs-Bunny-in-tails kinda way.

That ensemble features at least 17 people, including saxophonist Karen Ng, Jesse Crowe of Beliefs, and among them. There's no release date yet for the new LP, but the band will be touring Canada (Ontario and eastward) in November and December. Those dates can be found at Exclaim.

Listen: The Holy Gasp - "Beat Wave" @ SoundCloud

Of Note

A month ago I spoke about the impending break up of Toronto post-punk/new wave act Century Palm. The group's final show has now been announced. The band will convene on stage one final time on Friday, December 1 at the Smiling Buddha for a show with Ottawa's The New Calling and the frantic Toronto punk act WLMRT. The New Calling will be making their Toronto debut at the show. They feature members of half a dozen cool Ottawa punk and garage acts: the Sedatives, White Wires, Bonnie Doon, and Warp Lines among them. There's nothing but an empty BandCamp page for The New Calling right now, so we're leaning pretty heavily on new right now, but I can't wait to hear them.

I just watched the recent WLMRT video for "My Ass" with my 5-year-old daughter and her professional review was "AHH! This is crazy!" That's a pretty good assessment of the band, which plays hardcore with irreverent, stream-of-consciousness lyrics. Their Plan B EP from earlier in the year if one of those great punk releases that always feels like it's on the verge of falling apart. The video for "My Ass," which was directed by Birdboy, is below.

Watch: WLMRT - "My Ass" @ YouTube

One post-Century Palm project emerging is Paul Lawton's Don't Bother. I wrote about the group when they shared their first song back in August. The band continues to let material trickle out in the build-up to their live debut, which is (was?) set for this Thursday at Smiling Buddha opening for Atlanta's Omni. I say "was" because that band's cancelled their trip over the border due to a family emergency. As of press-time, I'm not yet sure if a replacement gig's been announced, but check the original Facebook event if you're looking for details. Don't Bother shared the new song "Terminal Phase" this week:

Listen: Don't Bother - "Terminal Phase" @ BandCamp

I'm not planning to dwell much more on the vitriol that's unfortunately dogged Lido Pimienta since the incident at the Halifax Pop Explosion came to light last week. There's a wide gulf of understanding and empathy between those of us who are sincerely involved in the music scene and the reactionary online trolls who've been brigaded Lido for days. That group, while certainly disruptive, are a known quantity. They're emblematic of the wider trend in far-right online bullying, and they've made their presence known in every regressive hashtagged online slog from #Gamergate to #MAGA. While my heart goes out to Lido for having to endure this tide of shit, nobody should mistake the noise created by these toxic busybodies as anything worth entertaining.

For her part, the 2017 Polaris Music Prize winner wrote up a thoughtful reflection on the incident and her goals when inviting "brown girls to the front" of a show. It's an effort to add back in the context that the outrage hobbyists stripped from the incident. It ran on both Facebook and in The Coast. In it Lido states:

When I ask men to go to the back, I am not kicking them out, I am not telling them I hate them, I am simply inviting them to be part of a generous gesture to ensure that women are safe. When I ask women to go to the front, it’s to allow them to be safer so no one will grope them, which is a fairly common occurrence at music shows. Men at the front will often be aggressive, and demand that I command their attention... this makes things worse for the women in the audience. Men to the back and women to the front means “let’s make it safer here for women, and show some solidarity, and allow everyone to be a bit more relaxed in the space.”

When I ask white women to let women of colour through, I am not saying I hate white women. I am trying to show that white women have an easier time navigating the world than do coloured women, because their skin colour allows them to enjoy more advantages and a relatively higher level of safety. When we make space for women of colour, we are saying “we see you, we love you, we appreciate you” and allowing them to have a safe space from which to enjoy the show. This affects about 10-12 people at my shows in Canada, when it has been done in the past. This is meant as an opportunity to show them love, solidarity and compassion. What we see in the news is Black women getting shot by police at red lights, Indigenous women’s bodies in rivers, and we see no interest in finding out the reasons why they ended up there...

On a positive, Lido continues to support her award-winning art-pop album La Papessa. A video for the song "Quiero Que Te Vaya Bien," directed by Caroline Macfarlane, is now online for you to check out:

Watch: Lido Pimienta - "Quiero Que Te Vaya Bien" @ YouTube

On November 20 Montreal synth-punks Duchess Says will hit the road in Ontario for a week of shows alongside the art-rock collective Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. Duchess continues to support Sciences Nouvelles, their 2016 Slovenly/Bonsound released full-length. This will be Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's first tour since the departure of co-founder/lead vocalist Ruby Kato Attwood (and guitarist John Ancheta) in 2015.

The tour, which is co-presented by Heavy Trip and Exclaim as part of the latter's 25th anniversary celebrations, will visit Windsor, Hamilton, Guelph, Toronto, Kingston, and Ottawa. You can find the dates and other details at Exclaim.

Duchess Says have also been confirmed as part of the Regina Folk Festival's Winterruption event, joining over 40 bands playing the Saskatchewan capital in January. They'll play a show on the 18th at the Revival Music Room with Windsor slacker-rock luminaries Partner and local garage act The Florals.

Watch: Duchess Says - "I Repeat Myself" @ YouTube

Petra Glynt ran into trouble last week. The Toronto art-punk musician was heading to the UK to kick off a tour supporting her debut Vibe Over Method LP This Trip, only to find herself denied entry to the country and detained for over two days. The reasons for her detention aren't entirely clear, and involve both paperwork issues and potential confusion over her stage name and means of payment (Glynt, who's real name is Alexandra Mackenzie, was also drumming for Montreal's Doldrums on the trip, and her payment would involve FACTOR funding post-tour). There's an account in NOW Toronto with tons of details. Upon her return to Toronto Glynt's fans and the music community rallied ato quickly raise enough money to send her to Zurich. There she met back up with Doldrums and is currently touring.

Watch: Petra Glynt - "Fell in a Hole" @ YouTube

Toronto drone influenced rock act Bad River has returned with a new single titled "Clean Air." The grungy garage rock track is set to be the title track of an EP of the same name, which is due for a November 29 release. It was recorded, engineered and mastered by Simon Larochette at The Sugar Shack in London, Ontario.

The EP showcases the band's first new material since 2015's Mouth. Following that release Bad River was put on hiatus due to personal and creative differences among the members. Band principle Thom Huhtala rebuilt the band last year, bringing in new collaborators Nathan Heuvingh and Scott Hempstead. The press release describes the new material as:

[taking] Huhtala’s drone soaked songwriting in a new direction focusing on bringing clarity, melody and nuance to the songs while refining the layers of noisy fuzz and distortion that define their sound.

Clean Air will be formally launched at the Smiling Buddha on a November 29 show with Neon Wave and Parks at Night supporting.

Listen: Bad River - "Clean Air" @ BandCamp

Calgary punk act Leather Jacuzzi (members of Gawker and the late Sudden Infant Dance Syndrome) is set to collect their first two tapes on a single LP from French label Danger Records. It'll be titled The Whole Hog. Those cassettes include this year's tour release Slander, Lies And Soda and the band's 2016 debut Monsters, Narcs & Idiots.

Listen: Leather Jacuzzi - "Don't Touch Me (I'm A Punk)" @ BandCamp

Label Obscura has announced a limited edition 7" release from Toronto's controller.controller. The vinyl will include a new recording of their Joy Division cover "She’s Lost Control," along with a Sebastien Grainger (Death From Above) remix of the band's single "History." All profits from the sale of this 7" will be donated to help bass player Ronnie Morris, who suffered a series of strokes at in 2015 at the age of 37. Morris' road to recovery will include physiotherapy to master the use of the right side of his body as well as speech rehabilitation. The new recording of "She's Lost Control" was built around an existing bass line Morris had recorded in 2006, with the members of controller.controller reuniting in the studio this year to add new vocals and instrumentation.

A release show for the 7" has been scheduled for November 30 at The Baby G in Toronto. It will feature DJ sets from Permboy and LinderLegs along with performances from Hit The North (members of controller.controller, Public Animal, The Two Koreas, and Uncut) and Lolaa (members of Magneta Lane).

Listen: controller.controller - "History" (Sebastien Grainger remix) @ SoundCloud

Toronto indie-rock group Casper Skulls released their Buzz Records full-length Mercy Works last week alongside a new video for the song "Lingua Franca," directed by Benjamin Dabu. It features footage shot this past summer in Caledon, Ontario. The band's Melanie St. Pierre spoke to Billboard, who premiered the video, so head there read her thoughts on the narrative.

Watch: Casper Skulls - "Lingua Franca" @ YouTube

Montreal rock band The GTs have released a video for "So Long," the latest single from their debut LP Good Times, which arrived late last year. The romantic video features band's Paul Trudel and Samantha Diamond strolling through Montreal’s Mile-End neighbourhood on Halloween night. It also serves as something of an engagement announcement for the dup, which we can all agree is super adorable. The clip was directed by Darren Curtis, while the song itself features bass and production from Plants and Animals lead Warren Spicer.

Watch - The GTs - "So Long" @ YouTube

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