Sunday March 25, 2018

A Daily Affirmation

It should be apparent from past letters that I'm quite taken with the songs The Holy Gasp has been releasing in the lead up to their new record. This week brings us another, but also news on the grand spectacle planned to celebrate the May release of The Love Songs of Oedipus Rex.

"A Daily Affirmation" shares a title with a Holy Gasp song from their 2015 full length The Last Generation of Love. Frontman Benjamin Hackman describes it as a "continuation of the sentiments" expressed in that single, with a sound inspired by spy movie themes. You can find it linked below, and as par the course for this record it sounds pretty much nothing like the previous two previews we've had.

The band has also announced a release show, and it's shaping up unlike any other. The "wedding of Oedipus Rex to his mother" will take place on June 30 at 918 Bathurst in Toronto. The event will feature a reception and ceremony, the latter of which will feature the band performing the new record in its entirety accompanied by a 26-person orchestra. Guests are being asked to get into the spirit and dress as they would for a wedding. The evening will almost certainly be filmed. You can snag a ticket at Bandcamp or through June Records.

Hackman's wrote The Love Songs of Oedipus Rex following the end of his marriage, as well as the deaths of both his father and his psychotherapist. In the wake of these losses, he and his collaborative partner Sebastian Shinwell moved to Artscape Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island to write and record this LP. A group of 16 musicians ended up joining the duo for the recording sessions. You can catch a glimse of this process in Luke Sargent’s short documentary which recently ran on CBC Docs. The record will be released on May 18.

Before I move on, I like to ask artists who share news with me to throw in something special for my subscribers that they're not going to read elsewhere. Ben's note sets a high bar in this regard:

Sometimes at night I wake in a panic, thinking I hear my cat meowing at her water bowl. But I do not live with a cat, for I gave her to a friend after I divorced. I live on Toronto Island now, where I am imprisoned by water. And though I do sometimes see cats on the island--joyful, curious little darlings with penchants for dry fallen leaves and feathers--they are, alas, not MY cat. They belong to others. Perhaps it is myself I hear at night, meowing at the empty water bowl of my soul, pondering, as Job did once among God, whether that which is tasteless can be consumed without salt...

Listen: The Holy Gasp - "A Daily Affirmation" @ Bandcamp

Calgary pop-rock act Pre Nup recently shared the first song from their upcoming full length Oh Well. You can preview "Internet Arguments" below. At the Stereogum premiere frontman Josiah Hughes sets up the song:

This song is loosely based on a number of real-life experiences where my shittalking online has had terrible repercussions IRL. For example, I wrote a blog post about how I thought my local rap scene was terrible and embarrassing. I thought I was being funny, but the story blew up and I was getting hundreds of hate tweets and death threats. This all happened on our wedding anniversary. What a disaster.

If that name sounds familiar, you may recognize Josiah as both a fairly prolific contributor to Exclaim and one half of the Blink-155 podcast with Sam Sutherland. Pre Nup is a duo featuring Josiah with his wife Sara Hughes on drums. This record also features additional instrumentation, backing vocals, and studio work from Chris Dadge and Darrell Hartsook, members of Calgary guitar-pop group Lab Coast. Oh Well was mastered by Vancouver's Jay Arner.

The record arrives on May 4 from Debt Offensive and Jigsaw Records.

Listen: Pre Nup - "Internet Arguments" @ Bandcamp

Hamilton three-piece rock band Lava Dolls recently released their new EP Little Secrets, which was recorded with the legendary Steve Albini. The band recorded entirely to tape, mixed, and mastered in less than 4 days at Electrical Audio in Chicago.

The EP's, ballad "Behind You With Knives" took first place in the International Songwriting Competition’s Unsigned Category back in 2016. You can check out the whole thing at Bandcamp.

Listen: Lava Dolls - Little Secrets @ Bandcamp

Dying Scene recently premiered a new video for the song "Nailbiter" from Ottawa's Jon Creeden and The Flying Hellfish. The big anthemic punk song appears on Stall, Creeden's recent full-length and his first with a full band. The Flying Hellfish includes drummer Jason Adair, guitarist Steve McCrimmon, and bassist Ryan Cox. The video was filmed by Jonah Aspler.

Stall was a co-release between Map and Continents Records, Dead Broke Records, and My Fingers! My Brain! Records. Creeden is also running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to fund the vinyl release. It's almost at the finish line, if you were waiting on contributing...

Watch: Jon Creeden & the Flying Hellfish - "Nailbiter" @ YouTube

New Noise Magazine has premiered a new song from the Edmonton/Calgary power-trio The Allovers. "Rinky Dink" is the first recording the band's shared from their upcoming debut for the Anxious & Angry label, titled Yer Guises. It arrives on May 18. The song finds the band pairing crunchy garage rock with earnest early-60s pop elements. You don't often hear the wholesome playfulness of that era crop up in modern bands like this.

The Allovers have been together since 2011, and features guitarist Matt Pahl, bassist Paul Arnusch (The Wet Secrets, Faunts, The Whitsundays), and drummer Garrett Kruger (Fire Next Time). Kruger was also behind the kit in the early incarnation of The Famines with Raymond Biesinger.

Listen: The Allovers - "Rinky Dink" @ New Noise Magazine

We're fast approaching the release of The Penske File's Salvation LP, and the Burlington, Ontario trio shared another new song last week. "Last Chance" is a fun little track that pairs propulsive punk'n'roll verses (it's almost a boogie) with a soaring 90s pop-punk chorus.

The band recorded with Steve Rizun at Drive Studios. Salvation will arrive via Stomp Records April 6. A record release show will go down this Friday at the Rivoli in Toronto with Knifey and Dead Broke supporting.

Listen: The Penske File - "Last Chance" @ Bandcamp

Joe "Shithead" Keithley of D.O.A. has announced that he'll be running for mayor in Burnaby, BC. The frontman has long been involved in BC politics, having run as a member of the Green Party in several recent provincial elections. The punk legend wrote:

"I am going to fight for grassroots democracy where everybody's voice is heard! I will put a stop to the heartless Demovictions that are a disgrace to Burnaby, BC and Canada. The Burnaby Greens will work towards making Burnaby a greener and more sustainable city. We will also do whatever it takes to stop the Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion."

The municipal election will take place on October 20, with Keithley to face off against incumbent Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan.

On the music front, D.O.A.'s been hard at work on their upcoming 40th anniversary record and follow up to 2015's Hard Rain Falling. It's slated to arrive in May on Sudden Death Records. Just a few hours ago Keithley apparently performed a rendition of "The Prisoner" at a Juno Awards after party backed by Weaves. I desperately hope there's video of this.

A post shared by Joe Keithley (@joe.keithley) on

See: Joe Keithley's announcement @ Instagram

The new record from celebrated Calgary post-punk act Preoccupations arrived this week alongside a new video. You can check out "Disarray," which was directed by Ruff Mercy, at YouTube.

The aptly titled New Material was released this past Friday by Flemish Eye in Canada and Jagjaguwar everywhere else.

Watch: Preoccupations - "Disarray" @ YouTube

Toronto's FRIGS have a new video as well, showcasing the song "Solid State" from their grungy and haunting Arts & Crafts release Basic Behaviour.

Bria Salmena commented on the clip in the press release:

"While the video was intended to be a darker, more surreal exploration of these themes, the filming process ended up being a typical comforting visit with my grandmother... Exploring her aged house, and enjoying a meal with her. We were able to capture a candid and sombre time. The real effect the video has is one of overwhelming nostalgia and self reflection."

Watch: FRIGS - "Solid State" @ YouTube

Hamilton venue Club Absinthe and Hello Cannabis, the newly opened Hamilton-based Medical Cannabis Education Centre, have partnered to launch an awareness and fundraising campaign dubbed #GoodbyeOpioids. They'll kick things off with an show headlined by Toronto punk mainstays The Flatliners on April 20. The event will also feature music from the Diamond DJ Collective, Melissa Marchese, Royal Tea, and Cedar Spring Motel with comedy from Patrick Coppolino, Jason Allan, and Mike Mitchell.

The campaign is setting out to raise funds for opioid research and harm reduction programs in Hamilton, with an eye towards bringing that message to a national audience one day. Central to the campaign is the theory of cannabis as an exit strategy for opioid addiction. Ben Rispin is leading the campaign. He's been playing in Hamilton punk groups for years, including Saint Alvia and (most recently) Rules. Ben had this to say about the event:

"I cut my teeth in the cannabis industry by throwing events and fundraisers for various cannabis related companies. Through those events, I’ve been fortunate enough to see the various ways Cannabis has helped sick people, first hand. I've witnessed many people using Cannabis as an “exit drug”, relieving the symptoms of withdrawal as they work to get off Opiates and Opioids. It was what initially awoke the current form of Cannabis advocate in me. When I made the move to Hello Cannabis, CEO/Founder Stephen Verbeek mentioned an idea he had called #GoodbyeOpioids​, as sort of a call an answer to the Hello Cannabis name. I fell in love with the idea. Like so many of us, My inner circle has been directly affected by the opioid crisis. I look forward to taking my passion for music, event production and Cannabis advocacy to the next level while trying to force change in our community."

Tickets for the event are $25 at the door or $20 in advance. Advance tickets are on sale now at Bruha. If you want to win tickets to the show, I'm giving away a few pairs via Punknews.org, you can enter that contest here.

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See: #GoodbyeOpioids campaign poster @ Instagram

Finally, as is the season, the summer festival confirmations have started to roll in. Of note, Riverfest Elora announced their 2018 lineup, which will see the Flaming Lips and Carly Rae Jepsen headline, with Blue Rodeo, July Talk, Wolf Parade, Bedouin Soundclash, Cuff The Duke, Weaves, Sam Coffee and more appearing at the festival. The event takes place from August 17 to the 19th in Elora, Ontario.

Sarnia, Ontario's Empty Fest also announced the lineup for their 10th year, with a diverse lineup headed Lido Pimienta, Moon King, and Yuka. Empty will run from May 3 to 5, and you can find the full show-by-show breakdown at Facebook.

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