It's seldom these days that you witness an online wave of pure positivity, particularly regarding music. Of course we're quite used to snap communal reactions to whatever political aberration is next down the pipe, but it feels rare to see everyone in your bubble simultaneously reacting to a piece of art. I think I may have just cultivated the right group of people to follow, but the arrival of Jennifer Castle's new single last week felt seismic. For a solid day wherever I looked, excitement over her forthcoming Angels of Death record was the common denominator.
It's not surprising that so many of the mentions I saw were coming from other artists. Castle's list of collaborative credits could double as a list of my favourite records. She's had a role on landmark releases from the Constantines and Fucked Up. She backed Cons frontman Bry Webb on both of his solo efforts. Most recently we heard her on the universally acclaimed new U.S. Girls album In a Poem Unlimited. Daniel Romano wrote an ode to her on Modern Pressure and called her one of the "freest performers in existence" in a recent Kreative Kontrol interview.
Angels of Death will arrive four years after Castle's last LP Pink City. The ten song set is due on May 18 from Idée Fixe in Canada and Paradise of Bachelors elsewhere. The press release calls the record a "sublime meditation on mortality and memory, ghosts and grief," boldly claiming that it "casts a series of spells against forgetting and finality, in the form of mystic-minimalist country-soul torch songs about writing, time travel, and spectral visitations."
Jeff Murrich produced the new record. It features lead guitarist Paul Mortimer, acoustic guitarist David Clarke, pianist/organist Jonathan Adjemian, bassist Mike Smith, drummer Robbie Gordon, and backing vocals from Victoria Cheong and Isla Craig. Castle wrote and recorded the record in a 19th-century church somewhere near the shores of Lake Erie.
Castle commented on the new album's thematic bent in the press release:
"The fictional concept of death rears its head in so many of my songs, always on the periphery, or as a side note, or a reminder, a punchline or the bottom line, always sniffing around like a death dog. For once I wanted to try to put it in my center vision. In order to talk about death, I armed myself with the only antidote I know: writing. Is this a record about death or a record about writing? Hard to tell in the end. I began to think of poetry as time travel. I tried to write messages to the future."
This week saw the death of Paul Colilli, one of the founding members of Hamilton, Ontario psych / proto-punk group Simply Saucer. Colilli left the band before their legendary Cyborgs Revisited record was recorded, and went on to play in the Neuroangels and Orpheus in the Underground. Since that era, Colilli become a well-regarded author and modern languages professor at Laurentian University. Colilli recorded as a solo artist in recent years, last releasing Hieroglyphs of The Soul in 2013. You can read his obituary at the Sudbury Star.
Toronto alt-country group Long Branch has a new 10-song record on the way titled Found the Setting Sun. It'll be the band's debut. Long Branch brings together a number of veteran musicians, including Lisa Myers and Laura Pitkanen of Adapter 45, D'Arcy Good of the Good Family, Sally Lee of Venus Cures All, and the legendary Don Pyle of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. Meyers and Lee also played together in the punk band Chicken Milk.
Exclaim premiered the first single from the record, titled "Lilacs," last week. You can find it below.
Chance Hutchison and Max Desharnais of Montreal's Sonic Avenues have a new band... and while I don't know what they're going to be called yet I do have some music to preview in the form of the song "Stripped Down Animals." If you're a fan of Sonic Avenues, who last released Disconnector in 2016, or PRIORS (their collaboration with the Famines), you'll certainly dig this.
Expect a cassette release from this band, whatever they're to be called, within the month.
I missed this last month, but Brian Borcherdt of the electronic group Holy Fuck has announced a new album from his comparatively lower-key rock band Dusted. The record, titled Blackout Summer, will the band's first since 2012's debut Total Dust. It represents their second attempt to record this particular set of songs. The press release details their failed first run at this material:
Though the band was still buzzing with the energy of playing live every night, they opted for a different approach when it came time to record the new songs. Rather than the loose, live energy that gelled on Total Dust, this time Dusted entered a studio and built their songs on quantized rhythms, overzealous overdubs, digital plug-ins and an entirely more polished production style.
“Looking back, it was probably the stupidest idea possible!,” Borcherdt said of the sessions, laughing at how lifeless they came out for a band that had been killing the same songs in front of audiences weeks before. While technically precise, something in the flawless tracks felt sterile.
“We just couldn’t find that haze.” Borcherdt said. Ultimately the sessions were scrapped and the band started again from scratch...
Dusted's lineup in recent times has featured Borcherdt with guitarist Anna Edwards, drummer Loel Campbell, and occasionally Anna Ruddick on bass. Blackout Summer arrives on April 6 on Polyvinyl.
Sudbury's Tommy and the Commies have announced that their debut 12" will be released on Slovenly Recordings. There's no detail to share yet on a title or release date, but it's a very cool development given the Reno, Nevada label's track record of backing some excellent garage, punk, and psych artists over the past 16 years.
The band has a few tour dates coming up in southern Ontario, including a show at Toronto's Baby G on April 7 supporting the visiting French group Les Lullies (Slovenly artists themselves), and one on the 14th at Hamilton's Doors bar with Flesh Rag and Dboy.
Dominionated reminded me this week that there's new material from the St. Catharines quintet Kaptur. "Pixel" finds the indie rock group somehow awash in swirling psychedelia and yet driving forward with some urgent percussion. It's a cool dynamic, and it plays out in this layered alt-rock tune that feels downright futuristic at times.
This week Some Party had the honour of premiering a new song from Winnipeg's R U S T O W L (which features former members of 1971). I won't reiterate the whole piece here, but you should totally pop over to someparty.ca and read up on "Awkward Age." It's the second of four new tracks which will appear on the band's debut EP for Transistor 66/Birthday Tapes when it arrives later this month. If you're a fan of such Americana-minded punk-offshoots as Attack In Black or the Weakerthans, this is for you.
R U S T O W L will launch their EP at a joint release show on March 23 at Winnipeg's X-Cues Cafe with Housepanther. That band, the solo project of indie pop singer/songwriter Bailee Woods, is set to release an album titled Club Soda Lows at the event.
Woods recently released a single from the record titled "Filthy Lazy," which features a deep 90s alternative-inspired hook that I've had stuck in my head all weekend. This recording features some galloping drum work from R U S T O W L's Jory Strachan and backing vocals from that band's Jensen Fridfinnson.
Raucus Toronto punk group Hormoans have a new video up for their song "Vincent Gallo." It features visual effects and editing by Zmuda Films. The song appears on the three-piece band's latest EP Crash Embryo, which arrived last October
Roots singer-songwriter Cory Levesque recently appeared in a new live session at Ottawa's Apartment 2 studios. His set, recorded live on January 28, was engineered by Scott Burniston and Topon Das, and features the songs "Heavy Days" and "Gravel Roads." You can find footage of the recording below.
Vancouver's post-punk/new wave inspired four-piece ACTORS have released a dark new video for the song "Face Meets Glass" from director Kira Clavell. The band premiered it at post-punk.com. The track appears on the band's newly released Artoffact Records full length It Will Come To You.
ACTORS features guitarist/vocalist Jason Corbett backed by Shannon Hemmett on synth, bassist Jahmeel Russell (formerly of Winnipeg noise-rock act KEN mode), and drummer Adam Fink. Corbett recorded and produced the band's material front-to-back at his Jacknife Sound studio.
Calgary's Chad VanGaalen has unveiled his video for "Host Body," a track from last year's Flemish Eye / Sub Pop released Light Information. Like the TARBOZ short film he premiered last fall, the video features VanGaalen's own trippy self-produced animation, which takes a pretty significant time investment to create (4 months in this case). VanGaalen commented on the project:
"The theme of the video is paranoia and the illusion of reality. All of the beings in the animation are affected by how they perceive themselves through the internet, or through technological devices they have come in contact with. In this animated take on the song, the ‘parasitic demon’ is the worshiping and addiction of the augmented reality"
The members of Tough Age recently announced the formation of a new band called Rotten Column. The group will feature the band's core trio of guitarist Jarrett Samson, bassist Penny Clark, and drummer Jesse Locke joined by poet Emma Healey and Stephan NoHaus, who used to play in Victora's Pinner. The band, which features Clark on vocals, recently recorded six songs with Michael Couvillon from Leather Jacuzzi and Jock Strap.
While we don't know what Rotten Column sounds like yet, we should have a sense pretty soon. The songs will likely see the light of day before the band plays their first show next Friday with Dorthea Paas and Other Families. Stay tuned.