Sunday May 6, 2018

Run to the Hills

In support of Tanya Tagaq's recently announced novel Split Tooth, Six Shooter Records has unveiled a new recording that pairs the avant-garde Nunavut vocalist with Damian Abraham, frontman of the likewise ambitious Toronto hardcore collective Fucked Up. The duo, accompanied by violinist Jesse Zubot and percussionist Jean Martin, covered the 1982 Iron Maiden colonial epic "Run To The Hills." Zubot also produced the track. Given the subject matter and the players involved, it's pretty heavy.

There's some history behind this collaboration. It follows a string of covers from Tagaq that deconstruct songs from culturally important rock bands, often forcing a new perspective on the lyrical content. She did this through a cover of Pixies' "Caribou" on her Polaris winning 2014 record Animism, and again with Nirvana's "Rape Me" on her 2016 follow-up Retribution. Abraham, a Polaris winner himself with Fucked Up for The Chemistry of Common Life, previously worked with Tagaq on the 30-minute soundscape "Our Own Blood" back in 2015. "Run To The Hills" also follows Tagaq's earlier track with a fellow Polaris winner, the Buffy Sainte-Marie collaboration "You Got To Run (Spirit Of The Wind)."

The new music accompanies the initial press push for Split Tooth, Tagaq's first book. It arrives on September 25 from Viking Canada. Here's what the label had to say about it:

The work, which folds memoir with fiction, traditional stories with reality and poetry with prose, is the story of a girl growing up in Nunavut in the 1970s. Dark and rapturous, Split Tooth does with words what Tagaq’s music often does without, sweeping the reader into a space where life’s artificial constructs hold no claim.

Listen: Tanya Tagaq and Damian Abraham - "Run to the Hills" @ YouTube

Toronto post-punk trio WHIMM are headed to Europe for a tour later this month, and they prepared a surprise new EP to mark the occasion. The band is following up their 2017 full-length A Stare Ajar with a new set titled Not My Kind. It arrives on May 11 on Pleasence digitally and on cassette. In a write-up premiering the title track at Cvlt Nation, the band describes the new material as "overarching" and inspired by Nico’s "Sixty/Forty"

"Sonically it feels more expansive. The songs are structurally simple – but dynamically more complex than what we’ve done before."

I'm a fan of this direction. WHIMM's debut was often emotionally raw and tightly wound. There's a cool, detached groove to this track that adds a nice counterpoint to that sound.

Listen: WHIMM - "Not My Kind" @ SoundCloud

This Friday saw the arrival of Knives, the new full-length from Edmonton's gruff folk-punk act Fire Next Time. Stomp Records handled the release, which follows up the band's 2015 record Cold Hands. The five-piece, who've been around for a decade, has shared the stage with bands like Good Riddance, Murder by Death, and Off With Their Heads in recent years. Vancouver singer Jody Glenham makes an appearance on the new record as well, performing on the track "Old Scratch."

Watch: Fire Next Time - "Collars" @ Bandcamp

Speaking of folk-punk, maybe a little more on the alt-country end of the spectrum, Ottawa's Jonathan Becker & The North Fields premiered a new song last week at Substream Magazine titled "Sober Dawn." It's the somber title track to the band's upcoming record, due on May 25.

The band features Becker on guitar and vocals backed by lead guitarist Luke Pearson, bassist Cory Levesque, drummer Vance McBride, and Laura Sinclair on the piano. Both Sinclair and Levesque (who's solo stuff I've mentioned on this newsletter from time to time) contribute vocals as well. The band previously shared a video for the album track "New Blood" back in March.

Becker told Substream:

"The song is about the concept of dawn and how it approaches us with an urgent paradigm shift. Coming out of the night into a new day often seems to wash us over with regrets as the daylight has a way of showing us some truths or details that may have been difficult to see or reflect on.I see this track as a strong example of the cathartic process of the album itself which is expressing past turmoils, addiction, and bad tastes with a need for change."

Listen: Jonathan Becker & The North Fields - "Sober Dawn" @ Substream Magazine

Social media chatter in the past few weeks revealed that Toronto punk groups Greys and PUP are both in the studio working on new material.

PUP is at work on their third album, the follow up to The Dream Is Over. On top of being remarkably charismatic, both as people and on record, PUP garnered all sorts of attention and goodwill on their last go-around for innovative videos for songs like "Old Wounds" and "DVP." Expectations are understandably going to be high for this next one.

Greys last released Outer Heaven in 2016, which saw the noise-punk group continuing to expand their sound and embrace a more sonically dynamic pallet. They cemented that ambition with Warm Shadow, an accompanying cassette of weird outtakes and playful studio experiments that I'm quite fond of.

In the year since that record members of the band have been active with solo work. Bassist C.R. Gillespie released Séance Works, a new full-length of ambient soundscapes. Vocalist Shehzaad Jiwani recently unveiled a solo recording under the name Golden Drag that saw him playing with electronic and new wave influences. It remains to be seen now these projects are going to effect Greys' sound, if at all.

Toronto bubblegum-punk act PONY appeared in an Audiotree North session at the Longboat recently. They performed their 2017 single "Alone Tonight." The band last released the Do You EP on Buzz Records, produced by the aforementioned Shehzaad Jiwani.

Listen: PONY - "Alone Tonight" @ YouTube

Four-piece Montreal skate-punk act Bussieres have released a video for their song "Prestige Worldwide," which appears on their upcoming EP Sunny Side Up. The video was filmed and edited by Vincent Côté, who also produced the new record. The EP follows up the group's previous EP, 2016's Orange Glow. It arrives May 15 on Thousand Island Records.

Watch: Bussieres - "Prestige Worldwide" @ YouTube

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