Making a Living
The Deadly Snakes were incredibly important to me. In the early 2000s as an undergrad at the University of Guelph, I spent a fair portion of my free time figuring out my musical identity and trying to square my teenage punk preferences with the world of Canadian independent music that I was clumsily discovering. By the time I graduated and (begrudgingly) left town, I'd canonised a personal trilogy of bands. There were the Constantines (this was Three Gut territory, of course), the Weakerthans (a clear gateway from the SoCal punk of my youth), and on the dangerous, swaggering fringe was the Deadly Snakes.
I can draw a direct line from my interest in the raucous Toronto band to discovering garage rock. The Snakes' US label In The Red was home to all manner of low-fi, underground rock oddities and a preference for that sound's followed me to this day.
Given how seminal the band was to me I'm somewhat bewildered how I missed the news that André Ethier was releasing a new solo record. Under Grape Leaves arrived this past Friday from Telephone Explosion. The ten song set is his first in nearly a decade, following 2008's Born on Blue Fog. Like most of Ethier's solo efforts (and unlike the Snakes) this is a work of subtlety and starkness. It's open and organic, with the artist's familiar growl relaxed and hiding just below the calm surface.
The record was produced by Sandro Perri, who's worked extensively with Great Lake Swimmers and was a part of the National Parks Project a few years back (as was Ethier, although they collaborated on different parks). The album also carries the same name as an exhibition of Ethier's paintings that ran at the Derek Eller Gallery in New York City in 2015.
Ethier is set to perform as one of the musical guests at Nick Flanagan's Home for the Holidays event on December 22. That show will bring comedian (and former Brutal Knights frontman) Nick Flanagan home to Toronto for a night of music and comedy. Along with a handful of Toronto comics, the punk band WLMRT will also perform. That show's happening at the Burdock.
Booji Boys, the critically acclaimed Halifax punk band, are less than a month away from releasing their second full length of the year. The Weekend Rocker LP arrives on UK label Drunken Sailor Records on Christmas, following up the band's self-titled record from February. You can now hear a few songs from this set in a few different places online.
First, the band played Toronto's Not Dead Yet festival in the fall, and they had about twenty cassettes made for the event. One side featured the debut EP from fellow Haligonians The Mark Vodka Group, with the reverse revealing a few Weekend Rocker tracks (along with the band's Gang Green cover from the recent Mirus Records comp).
A video for the Weekend Rocker song "Sister" has also shown up online. The video's comprised of cell phone footage of the band performing throughout the year, with shots from both the Ottawa Explosion Weekend and Sappyfest in the mix. I'm actually in the video too, with my blurry mug among the crowd watching an in-store at Vertigo Records.
Calgary pop-punk band Sellout has released their second EP of the year, titled Sellout II. The group, which features vocalist Sarah Christine, guitarist Andre Urquidi, bassist Malcolm Strasdin, and drummer Francis Glasspoole, recorded the material live off the floor with Patrick Palardy at Public Lunch Studios. The songs sound huge, with the band tapping a bluesy hard rock vibe from time to time.
Along with the audio, the band recorded a video for the song "Rebirth" from the EP. Ruel James shot the clip, which you can watch below.
Steve's kept active even though his namesake band's been quiet this year. Along with becoming a father (which, I can attest, is pretty time consuming), Adamyk was a part of Cheap Whine with Jordy of Crusades and Eric from Feral Trash. That band released their self-titled debut on the aforementioned Drunken Sailor earlier in the year.
Speaking of returns, the Kitchener, Ontario rock band Wayfarer has announced that they're working on material for their third LP. The eventual release will follow up 2016's Three Winters EP and 2015's Sleep Through to the Light full-length. That record makes me cry.
I've previously mentioned that frontman Kyle Krische is working this hockey season to channel his hatred of the Leafs into both health and charity. Make sure you follow his ongoing experiment over at Run Over The Buds.
Montreal punk festival Pouzza has started to trickle out their 2018 lineup. The event always brings together a roster that showcases local talent alongside some bigger name US bands. So far the confirmed Canadian participants include Oakville's Dead Broke, Montreal ska-punk act PL Mafia, and local punk band The Horny Bitches. Pouzza's also announced a pair of reunion shows, with defunct Montreal street-punk group the Brixton Robbers returning to the fest (they played its second year in 2012) along with Calgary's This Is A Standoff. The latter group's original run lasted from 2007 through 2012.
Pouzza will also feature US punk acts Arms Aloft, City Mouse, Mike Frazier, Sincere Engineer, A Wilhelm Scream, and War On Women. They'll be announcing one new addition per day, advent calendar style, up until Christmas. The festival will take place from May 18 to 20 in downtown Montreal.
Experimental and low-fi Ottawa rock projects Empty Nesters and Soft Life have released a 10-song split EP under the title Empty Life. Empty Nesters is the nom de plume of musician Eric Liao. Similarly, Soft Life is Marley Bouley. Both artists recorded their sides with drums by Robert Thomson.
Calgary folk-punk Seth Anderson has posted a new live recording of his song "Meteors" for German music website Alternative Entertainment. The song's an old one for Seth, originally appearing on 2008's Refuge At Trail's End album, which he recorded as The Renegade Kid. Seth is over in Europe as part of the Folk Machine Tour.
While on his cross-country US tour in October, Anderson took part in the Bridge City Sessions, recording renditions of a number of his One Week Records songs. The video footage of those sessions are now online, and you can check out "Pheromone," "More Than Killers," and "Cityscapes" at Facebook.
On November 9, Toronto indie rock group Casper Skulls took part in an Audiotree live session. In it, the band performs five songs from their recent Buzz Records full-length Mercy Works. You can check it out in its entirety below.
The legendary Toronto alt-country/garage-rock combo The Sadies have unveiled a video for the song "Another Season Again" from their 2017 record Northern Passages. It was shot live at The Royal Cinema in Toronto this past March.
The veteran band is gearing up for their 17th annual New Year's Eve show at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern on December 31. They'll be joined at that show by Jon Langford as a special guest (you'll recall the Sadies backed Langford on the 2003 record Mayors Of The Moon).
Hamilton alt-country trio Elliott BROOD played Toronto's storied Massey Hall this past April and footage from their performance is now online. You can check out the video below, which features the band performings songs like "Without Again," "Owen Sound" and "If I Get Old". The band recently released the LP Ghost Gardens on Paper Bag Records.
Surf/psych-influenced Vancouver punk band Dopey's Robe is taking a break. The band announced:
We have recently become aware of some very serious allegations with regard to the behavior of one of our members.
We do not take this lightly and acknowledge it must be dealt with in a diligent fashion.
In this light, we are taking a hiatus until the situation is resolved. Upholding a standard of respect and integrity within the Vancouver music community and beyond, is something that is very important to us.
The band's been prolific in 2017, having just put out their third release of the year. The LP Who And When Is Stephen Networks? came out at the end of October, following the Rock Steady, New Mexico EP and their self-titled debut full-length. I'm unaware what specific allegations the band's facing at this time.