Sunday August 5, 2018

Art School

Apologies for falling off my schedule (more than usual), but New Brunswick was calling, and I finally answered. My wonderful weekend at Sappyfest was great for the soul, not so much for my schedule.

Last week on the road to Sappy, Tough Age and their alter-egos Rotten Column dropped into Halifax for a gig alongside locals Crossed Wires and Matty Grace at Radstorm. If you were at that show you could have stood witness to a once-in-a-lifetime set from Esme and the Dishrags, a Maritime pop-punk supergroup of sorts that existed for around three weeks this summer. The trio featured Amery Sandford of BBQT on guitar and drums, Jonny May of Blood Beach alternating on the same instruments, and Heather Grant of Crossed Wires and Future Girls on bass. All three members trade off vocals.

If you missed the gig you're still in luck as the band released what will presumably be their only recordings, a demo appropriately titled One Big Demo. The set features six songs, five originals and a raucous cover of Sheryl Crow's biggest hit. Given the members, you shouldn't be surprised to find a mix of chilled out summery pop-punk that's a little bit twee at times. Dewayne Shanks of Future Girls and Botfly recorded and mixed the EP over three days earlier in the summer.

Listen: Esme and the Dishrags - One Big Demo @ Bandcamp

I'm bewildered how some bands can exist for a time and leave a scant trace of themselves in Google. Hugh Man is one of them, a total Google sinkhole except for a few playlist mentions from Calgary's CJSW. As I understand it, this quirky project features one Michael Couvillon, the now-Toronto based musician better known as a part of Calgarian punks Leather Jacuzzi. Hugh Man put out a 6-song tape last September titled How You Find That Goo?, a release that's now paired with a new 8-song demo titled Are We Dan, Sir?. You can check it out at Bandcamp.

Given how aggressively weird Hugh Man strives to be, it's appropriate that they'll be opening for Toronto's big Devo tribute on August 22 at the Baby G. As I've shared previously, the cover band celebrating the 40th anniversary of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! will feature members of Century Palm, First Base, Teen Archer, and Tough Age among others.

Listen: Hugh Man - Are We Dan, Sir? @ Bandcamp

The new release from Montreal-based post-punk weirdos Fountain is out. It's titled Acid Bath From The Jaded Jungle, and it's pretty wild. You might recall the awesome flute-driven single "Pulverizer" from a few months back, and that's perhaps the band at their most conventional

Fountain's new record was recorded and engineered by Ian Kurtis Crist at Office Space in Seattle, WA. The band, who has roots in Vancouver Island, features Laura Jeffery, Robert Coslett, Calum MacConnell, and Evan Jeffery. This 12-song set follows up the band's recent VF/FN collection Two Tapes 2013-2015, which compiled material from their 2014-released self-titled cassette and the follow-up 2015 tape Fountain 2.

Listen: Fountain - Acid Bath from the Jaded Jungle @ Bandcamp

Here's a little secret: you should be following the Twitter account run by Toronto promoter Not Dead Yet, as they're continually uncovering and sharing cool underground stuff (Canadian and otherwise) before I ever see it mentioned elsewhere. Case-in-point is Subverter, a four-piece from Surrey, BC. The band released a four-song demo in early July that carries a serious Poison Idea vibe.

Listen: Subverter - Demo 2018 @ Bandcamp

I love how matter-of-fact Not Dead Yet is about some of the bands they champion. Take the wild hardcore act Piper Maru. They're the hot new Toronto band, but everyone knows that. Apparently. I certainly didn't, but I live in a bubble on the iffy end of the QEW. What's your excuse?

Anyways, Piper Maru played their first hometown show back in May, and within the TO hardcore scene are amassing quite the following. A four-song EP from the group is now online at Bandcamp, and it indeed goes a long way in explaining why. The four-piece are next set to play a gig at FAITH / VOID on August 15 with Oakland's Khiis and locals Tashme.

Listen: Piper Maru - Most of My Friends Died in Space @ Bandcamp

Neon Taste, the Vancouver label run by Josh Nickel of Fashionism, keeps uncovering and exposing cool BC punk for the rest of us. The latest is the Vancouver hardcore act Cheap Appeal. The four-piece, which features members of the defunct group Vacant State, has a new 7" on the way for the fall. The label describes them as:

"...ripping fast chord changes, tight as fuck drumming and growling vocals up front that would have suited the toughest Boston hardcore bands if those same bands listened exclusively to the debut Motorhead LP and wanted to make it tougher.

You can preview two songs from the four-song set, "You Lose" and "If Only You Knew," at Bandcamp.

Listen: Cheap Appeal - "You Lose" / "If Only You Knew" @ Bandcamp

While we're on this kick, let's check in with Toronto's Damagers. The gravelly hardcore group has a new five-song EP out soon on Deranged titled Victory. It follows up the band's self-titled debut from September. They recorded at Hamilton's Boxcar Studios with Sean Pearson (Sweet Dave & The Shallow Graves, Uncontrollable Urge, Born Wrong).

In an earlier press release, Fucked Up's Jonah Falco described Damagers thusly:

New Toronto band of familiar faces playing rough and ready HC punk indebted to early to mid eighties international hardcode not far from what would have been on Welcome to 1984 and/or All’s Quiet on the Western Front. Empty, ugly, loud and fast. Live for no one, love for everyone.

Listen: Damagers - Victory @ Bandcamp

On the other end of the spectrum, melodic punk act Family Meeting has a new single online from their debut for Thousand Island Records. The track, titled "Four Months of Rain," will appear on Walk Left / Stand Right when it's released. The five-piece Toronto group is following up their 2017 EP No One Cares 'Til You're Dead.

Listen: Family Meeting - "Four Months of Rain" @ Bandcamp

Speaking of Thousand Island, a new side-project from label mainstays Trashed Ambulance recently cropped up. Josh Hauta has released an album as Burning Nickels, featuring what he says will be "familiar songs for those who hung out at Cheers North in Red Deer in the late 2000s." Burning Nickels is resurrecting songs that were written when he was a part of the now defunct band Fridge Or Freezer. They were never recorded while that band was active.

Josh tracked the guitar, bass, and lead vocals himself, working at Overserved Studios in Red Deer, Alberta. Trashed Ambulance guitarist Jason "Ozone" Ezeard drums on the recordings, with he and TA drummer Ryan Bell contributing gang vocals. High End Denim Records is carrying the release.

Listen: Burning Nickels - Freezer Burnt @ Bandcamp

Saskatoon three-piece post-punk act The Avulsions have a new video online for their song "The End." The video was filmed live at PAVED Arts, a non-profit arts centre in the band's hometown by Different Alphabet.

The song appears on the band's recent debut full-length Expanding Program, which was released on Flemish Eye back in March. The Avulsions are touring Western Canada this fall supporting Wolf Parade.

Watch: The Avulsions - "The End" @ YouTube

Toronto noise-punk duo Not Of have a new video up for the song "Barb Dwyer, Esq." You can check it out on YouTube, but be advised it carries a disclaimer that it may cause seizures if you happen to suffer from photosensitive epilepsy. Mitch Barnes and drummer Victor Malang directed the clip.

The song appears on the band's recent full-length No List Records Hypocritic Oath, the follow-up to the band's 2015 full-length Pique.

Watch: Not Of: "Barb Dwyer, Esq." @ YouTube

Fuckpop Fest is a two-day event that will bring a number of eclectic musical acts to the Guelph, Ontario next month. On September 7 the Royal City will host experimental Toronto bands Greydini and Retired, along with Orangeville electronic/emo act Sages. Wartime drag cabaret act Pearle Harbour will headline the first evening. The September 8 show will feature Toronto's Processor, Alpha Strategy, Guelph locals Bonnie Trash, and Montreal art-garage duo The Famines.

Speaking of Alpha Strategy, that band has a new record due for August 31 titled The Gurgler. The eclectic group recorded this past March at Chicago's Electrical Audio with the legendary engineer Steve Albini. Look for it via the Polish label Antena Krzyku.

Listen: Alpha Strategy - "The Gurgler" @ Bandcamp

Black Forest

Beau's annual Oktoberfest music festival and charitable fundraiser is coming up fast. The event, which will place on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22 in Vankleek Hill, will once again feature a 100% Canadian lineup, both on the main stage and the punk-focused Black Forest Stage. The main stage will feature headlining sets from the Joel Plaskett Emergency, Sloan, The Flatliners, and Weaves, among others, while Black Forest will feature Cancer Bats leading a host of smaller punk bands. I'll be digging through a few of those each week at Some Party in the lead-up to the event.

Saturday's lineup will feature an afternoon set from the irreverent Ottawa trio NECK. The band pairs classic Ramones riffs with some tongue-in-cheek Dead Milkmen-style snark. The band's 2015 record, the 21-song Hate To Read, brings this in spades.

Listen: NECK - "Hipster Beard" @ Bandcamp

A few hours after NECK's cavalcade of nonsense the francophone punk group Brutal Chérie will take the Black Forest stage. This trio's tough take on the genre alternately calls to mind beloved US melodic punk bands like Off With Their Heads and underground sensations like The Spits. The group was formed in 2010 by Thierry Hivon and Simon Deshaies, who had played together in the 90s Montreal band Sexhead. They're joined by Antoine Legault (of The Mata Haris) on drums. The group is supporting their 2017 full-length Antisocial et Brutal, their second full-length, which was released by Parisian punk label Guerilla Asso.

Listen: Brutal Chérie - Antisocial et brutal @ Bandcamp

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