Sunday June 24, 2018

Pep Talk

Hamilton's Uncontrollable Urge have announced their debut LP, a self-titled effort scheduled for a July 20 release on Schizophrenic Records. The band, who've gigged around Southern Ontario for a few years now, features vocalist/guitarist Angie Lanza backed by three members of the spastic punk act TV Freaks: TJ Charlton on guitar and Nathan Burger on bass, with Freaks frontman David O'Connor behind the kit. You can preview a song from the project, titled "Pep Talk," below.

Schizophrenic has a pressing of 500 records to move, 400 black and 100 done in white. Sean Pearson at Hamilton's Boxcar Studios recorded, mixed, and mastered the album. The summer will see the band take the new material back out on the road, with show on July 13 and 14 in Hamilton and London paired with Montreal's PRIORS (the Famines / Sonic Avenues collab), a July 21 appearance at the Paris, Ontario Strangewaves festival, a July 28 gig supporting Sudbury's Tommy and the Commies when they revisit Ottawa's Dominion Tavern, and an August 23 show at St. Catharines' Warehouse with Danny Romano's Ancient Shapes.

This is one of a handful of recent records from TV Freaks' social circle. Burger and O'Connor put out an EP of weirdo scuzz punk in November as Pneumatic Tube. Freaks bassist Kevin Bell has a solo set out as Glittering Prizes. Dave also notably spent a chunk of 2017 touring with his wild goth cabaret ensemble Sweet Dave and the Shallow Graves.

Listen: Uncontrollable Urge - "Pep Talk" @ Bandcamp

Montreal garage/psyche enigma Paul Jacobs has a new EP ready, a five-song set titled Story About Anything. The prolific low-fi musician teased an imminent release several weeks ago, then went quiet. With the product now revealed, it's easy to see where the time went. The music is available on a limited run of 100 cassettes, each with a hand-drawn cover done in Jacobs instantly recognizable cartoon style. Each cassette also serves as a single frame in a flip-book style animation, an effect you can preview in this promotional video.

Watch: Story About Anything cassette art promo @ YouTube

You may say "that's cool and all, Adam, but are you suggesting I purchase several sequential copies of the same tape just to achieve a small portion of an odd little animation?"

Yes, that's what I'm suggesting you do.

Story About Anything follows 2016's Pictures, Movies & Apartments LP, which saw the former one-man-band's often impenetrable noise rock blossom into this lushly orchestrated, awesomely hooky soundscape. The new EP lacks that level of studio polish but continues to use the elements of blown out fuzz as the building blocks for oddly satisfying pop songs. Jacobs often comes off a bit like the druggy, self-aware second coming of Iggy Pop, but that's ok with me.

Story About Anything also follows up a pair of rough-hewn stream-of-consciousness EPs Jacobs and bandmate Meagan Callen released online under the band name Garbage Truck. I wrote about those back in April.

Listen: Paul Jacobs - Story About Anything @ Bandcamp

Dundas, Ontario's The Dirty Nil have a video out for their new single. Mitch Barnes and Victor Malang directed the clip featuring "Bathed In Light." Speaking to Brooklyn Vegan, the band commented on the work with their usual level of humility:

I’ve been around a lot of explosions and fireworks, but the cumulative effect of all that firepower left me trembling with nervous excitement. The constant barrage of high intensity lights and lingering smell of burnt flash powder served as a proud testament to the mayhem and disorientation we had caused to the nearby community. Those lucky folks ain’t forgetting The Nil anytime soon.

"Bathed In Light" is to be featured on Master Volume, the band's sophomore LP which will arrive on September 14 through Dine Alone Records.

Watch: The Dirty Nil - "Bathed in Light" @ YouTube

This week over at Punknews we premiered a new song from the smart Toronto art-pop act Goosebump, titled "Haven't Got the Heart for the Hustle." It's not a Punknews-appropriate song by any means, by who's to stop me?

Goosebump, in a past life, played under the name Germaphobes. The band's centred around the songwriting team of Paul Erlichman and Neil Rankin. Their new record, Goosebump by Goosebump, arrives July 6 on Pleasence Records. The release thematically split in two, with Erlichman's "Side P" and Rankin's "Side N" each showcasing their individual growth as songwriters. The duo's collaborators on this release include drummer Mike Duffield, Kirsten Dahlin Nolan on keys, sax player Ruhee Dewji, flutist Kristina Koski, and Lee Rose on violin.

Paul expanded on the song to Punknews.org:

This is probably the most straightforward song I’ve ever written. It’s just about that moment when you realize you’ve lost the will to push for something that you maybe don’t believe in anymore. And how that can get misconstrued by others as any number of things. Hopefully the song expresses relief in this rather than mopey-ness? Or at least it has a nice vibe??

Listen: Goosebump - "Don't Have the Heart for the Hustle @ Punknews.org

Vancouver four-piece Tough Customer has a new four-song EP available on Sweet Rot Records. Titled Darlene, it's a quick follow-up to the band's March-released full-length cassette ROCKGASM (quick in terms of release, that album apparently took a couple of years to assemble).

The label had this to say:

Vancouver’s Tough Customer are Kat, Claire, Katie and Ben. “Darlene” is their debut 7” on Sweet Rot and we couldn’t be happier with the results. All four songs kill it in the song-writing department with post-punk influenced rhythms taking centre stage while the two guitars lay down some sometimes sparse/sometimes wailing back and forth interplay and all four members take turns singing. Taking influence from the best of the UK DIY greats the band also took the production into their own hands with superb results. Comes on the patented thick/textured die-cut sleeve this time with some sick silk-screened cover art as well as a nice poster insert. 300 copies. Upcoming month long US/Canada tour with Puzzlehead in June/July. For fans of Raincoats, Kleenex, Long Blondes, Talking Heads, Cindy Lauper, Petticoats, etc.

Listen: Tough Customer - Darlene @ Bandcamp

Fredericton synth-rock trio Brookside Mall will premiere their new self-titled full-length this coming Monday at Grid City Magazine. The record is out on June 29 courtesy of the nonprofit Front Porch Records. The single "Twenty Thirteen" is a soaring tune driven by a great vocal hook, and it's also a song that was seemingly written in a lab to target the nostalgic emotional centre of my brain specifically.

I'm shameless about Weakerthans-worship, and how can you not fall in love with a song with the lyric:

"and in my experience, benediction’s rare, except in thoughts yellowed by air and in my copy of Reconstruction Site"

Listen: Brookside Mall - "Twenty Thirteen" @ Bandcamp

If you were a fan of the Vancouver rock act Apollo Ghosts here's a treat. Chris Alscher, of They Shoot Horses Don't They?, Collapsing Opposites, Bible Belts, CiTR's Parts Unknown, and the solo project Chris-a-riffic, recently recorded a tribute to Apollo Ghosts' 2008 album Hastings Sunrise. In his own words:

I made a video with my friend Ben Lai from Live From Radio Hell, in celebration of an album by another friend that has been very influential (both have been, the friend and the album). The friend is Adrian Teacher. He was in a band called Apollo Ghosts and 10 years ago, Hastings Sunrise was released. I decided to write out the songs and play it in it's entirety (although I wanted to skip track 8 because it was a real headache!) So here it is and I hope you enjoy.

The 30-minute video features Alscher at a piano in the CiTR lounge working through his arrangement of Hasting Sunrise. It originally aired on Ben Lai's Live From Thunderbird Radio Hell program.

Watch: Chris-a-riffic performing Hastings Sunrise @ YouTube

Red Deer skate-punk trio Trashed Ambulance have a new video online for the song "Ambulance," the lead track from their recent sophomore LP Flashes of Competence. The video feature footage of the band's Spring tour of Ontario and Quebec, leading up to their May performance at Pouzza in Montreal.

Flashes of Competence was released by Thousand Island Records back in May. It follows up 2016's Blurry Thoughts and a pair of EPs the group issued last year.

Watch: Trashed Ambulance - "Ambulance" @ YouTube

So I live in Niagara Falls, and it's a strange place to reside at the best of times. When it comes to live music, at least of the type I write about here, it can be a bit of a desert. Anything of interest in the region undoubtedly takes place outside its namesake city, with Erik Dickson at the Warehouse Concert Hall a little ways down the QEW fighting (what seems like) a lonely battle to provide independent music with an outlet in Niagara. St. Catharines is easily accessible from the Falls (if you drive) and that city made the conscious decision to support a downtown core that can give a venue like Warehouse a chance. The institutions of the City of Niagara Falls haven't seemed all that interested in rock'n'roll, local or otherwise. Dusting off Honeymoon Suite to play our perennially dad-rock New Years show, or booking Randy Bachman at the casino, don't count.

I was more than a little surprised to see the announcement of The Niagara Stage, a weekly summer concert series that's the joint effort between the Polaris Music Prize and the Niagara Parks Commission. The free shows will take place at Queen Victoria Park (the parkland adjacent to the river, facing the falls) on Saturday evenings at 8 PM, followed by the regularly scheduled fireworks (that this city has weekly firework displays seems entirely normal to me, not so much my dog).

The lineup's pretty impressive too, with performances scheduled from Basia Bulat, The Darcys, Weaves, Philippe B, Nap Eyes, Antoine Corriveau, Jessy Lanza, Tanika Charles, and Fiver scheduled with one more to be announced. That's a far cry, artistically, from trotting out the area Beatles cover band. As a denizen of Niagara Falls, you often find yourself looking outward for any cultural engagement, with a trip to St. Catharines, Hamilton, or Toronto implied whenever you decide to do just about anything. You assume that whatever's going on in the city-proper is for bus groups and day-trippers, and you schedule your travels to avoid those crowds. This is different. I'm not sure if what I'm feeling right now is delightful bewilderment, or actual civic pride, but cheers to whoever made this happen regardless.

Watch: Nap Eyes - "I'm Bad" @ YouTube

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