Sunday September 30, 2018

Empty Husk

You've Changed states that Finally Free is the eighth LP that Daniel Romano's released in the last eight years, but I'm not too sure about their math. If you add up his label-backed solo efforts and throw in the 2009 collaboration Daniel, Fred & Julie (Danny, fresh from his Attack In Black heyday, with Frederick Squire of Shotgun & Jaybird and Julie Doiron) you can get the same total. Of course, that ignores two entire full-lengths of material released digitally early this year, not to mention a pair of LPs with his punk act Ancient Shapes. Eight isn't giving Daniel Romano enough credit.

Regardless of the numbering, Finally Free arrives on November 30 on You've Changed Records in Canada and New West elsewhere. It's a nine-song set that Romano wrote, recorded, performed, engineered, produced, and mixed in its entirety. With the sole exception of piano on a few songs by his longtime collaborator Kay Berkel, this is a purely DIY effort. Given how Danny's endeavoured to brand himself as a classicly oblique pre-Internet artist, wrapped in mystique and iconoclastic mythmaking, it's fitting to see him take sole control of his studio output.

Furthermore, the label reports that Finally Free was recorded with just a single microphone kept stationary in a "sitting vocal position." Rather than paraphrase, here's that passage from the press release that describes the studio setup:

The songs were written as they were recorded and the single microphone was surrounded by various instrument work stations for Romano to play. The microphone never moved which means the room itself was mixed instead of the individual tracks. Finally Free was recorded on a 4 track Tascam cassette recorder.

Romano had this to say about the record, parse it as you will:

"Finally Free is a lucid plea. It is a final apology and an attempt at the unwarranted reconciliation between us and everything in our path (including ourselves). It is an exploration of how to cope with the certain end created by our own hand. And/Or, it is the enlightenment of change and the promise of all possibilities in all circumstance. The celebration of all things mystical and unknown. Accepting the unknown with grace and humility, one can illuminate in spirit and trudge forward through the remaining landscape. Maybe even see it’s beauty for the first time."

A video for the song "Empty Husk" is online at YouTube. It's the opening track from the album and takes a pretty striking turn in its final third after an intimate lead-in.

Watch: Daniel Romano - "Empty Husk" @ YouTube

That wasn't the only bit of news from the Romano camp this week. London, Ontario's Yeah Right Records announced an upcoming split 7" between Ancient Shapes and the three-piece Turbonegro-inspired punk act Dboy. It should arrive this fall, with specifics to be announced.

This split isn't the first connection between the two bands. Romano's credited with recording Dboy's debut mock-live record Prove Your Love - Live in Belem, and members of both camps call Welland, Ontario home. Dboy features members of the now-defunct local punk act The Snips and Northern Primitive.

In lieu of media from the split, here's a live video of Ancient Shapes playing in Toronto last month. As an interesting connective-tissue note (interesting to me, at least), you'll notice that the current live incarnation of the band features Dave Nardi, formerly of The Dirty Nil, on guitar.

Watch: Ancient Shapes - "Giant Comma" live at Lee's Palace @ YouTube

Toronto's Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs have a new single out, the first new material released since last year's self-titled full-length. "First Time" feels like a huge rock radio hit, if those things still existed, and finds the six-piece further flexing the massively hooky formula they perfected on their last record. It's also the first song I've ever heard to explicitly reference the "millennial whoop" (Google it) in a brilliantly self-aware moment.

A video for the song finds the band once again working with Shawn Kosmerly, who produced much of the visual accompaniment for their last LP. The new song will appear on whatever the group has coming next for Dine Alone. Producer Eric Ratz (Metric, Tegan & Sara, Arkells, Billy Talent) brings a new level of polish to the band on this one.

Watch: Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs - "First Time" @ YouTube

Vancouver's dark punk trio Lié shared a video this week for their song "Weaponized." The clip was (disturbingly) animated by visual artist Justin Gradin, who produced a similarly weird clip for Jo Passed earlier in the year.

The song comes from Hounds, the band's recent LP on Mint Records and Monofonus Press. Lié features guitarist Ashlee Lúk, bassist Brittany West, and drummer Kati J.

Watch: Lié - "Weaponized" @ YouTube

With the October 5 release of Dose Your Dreams imminent, Fucked Up is aggressively releasing new material to preview the ambitious new record. Last week they released a pair of tracks that couldn't be more different from each other.

First, the band released the record's title track, which is unlike anything else in their catalogue. The bulk of the song features vocals from Mike Haliechuk, with regular lead Damian Abraham's familiar snarl arriving as a rhythmic chorus later on. The tune bops along with a danceable groove punctuated by Owen Pallett's strings. It's the sharpest validation of the Screamadelica comparison he made in the initial press release for the album.

That track arrived alongside a video for the song "Accelerate," directed by Haliechuk. It features lead vocals from both Abraham and Ben Cook in (what feels like) equal measure. The video also features a spoken word interlude that doesn't appear on the record from Scarborough-based psychedelic rapper Tyriqueordie.

Dose Your Dreams arrives on October 5 via Arts & Crafts in Canada and Merge elsewhere. It's the critically-lauded Toronto band's first full-length since 2014's Glass Boys. If you've followed Fucked Up at all, particularly the stories of inter-band tension and near-collapse that's followed them their entire career, the recent cover story in Exclaim by Joe Smith-Engelhardt is essential reading.

Watch: Fucked Up - "Accelerate" @ YouTube

Listen: Fucked Up - "Dose Your Dreams" @ Bandcamp

Toronto-based Hugh Man has a video online for "Dynasty Destiny," a low-fi garage punk number from their recent 8-song demo Are We Dan, Sir?. It's as fittingly funny and weird as the song that inspired it. Ryan Ha filmed and edited the clip.

Hugh Man is the brainchild of Michael Couvillon of from Calgary's Leather Jacuzzi. Their new material follows a 6-song tape released last September titled How You Find That Goo?

Watch: Hugh Man - "Dynasty Destiny" @ YouTube

Scott Savarie, of the long-defunct Sudbury hardcore group Vicious Cycle, has a new EP out as Scott Safari titled Clean Yourself. The band features Savarie, who's now based in Berlin, Germany, on guitar and vocals backed by a rhythm section made up of Mike Arnott and Kyle Krische (of Kitchener, Ontario's Mockingbird Wish Me Luck and Wayfarer). The trio is, at the moment, just an online recording project, with Savarie recording at Bear Cave Studio in Köln, while Krische and Arnott tracked their portions in Hamilton. The set, which you can pick up for free on Bandcamp, was mastered by Marvelous Mark.

Listen: Scott Safari - Clean Yourself @ Bandcamp

Toronto's three-piece punk melodic-hardcore act School Damage has another new song online. You can stream the insanely catchy punk tune "I Don't Like What I've Become" below. It'll appear on Hello, Cruel World, the band's follow-up to 2016's Battered Lives.

The new 12-song collection is due on October 10 from Rad Girlfriend Records in the States, Italy's I Buy Records in Europe, and Brain Candy Records in Canada.

Listen: School Damage - "I Don't Like What I've Become" @ Bandcamp

Keegan Powell, guitarist for Whitby, Ontario's Chastity, has a new solo track online titled "The Door." In a premiere at Stereogum the artist, who now calls Los Angeles home, commented on the breezy psych-rock tune:

I was getting ready to leave for the night and head up to the studio for a session I had booked when “The Door” came to me suddenly. I knew I had to get it down before I started my drive into the night, so I hit record on my voice memo and got the whole thing down. I wrote the lyrics in my head on the drive up and finished the song the next day in the studio. It’s about your demons knocking at your proverbial door and saying “Well, you know ... maybe that’s not such a bad idea ... ” one day and going “Nah, Nah, I don’t think so … ” the next. It’s an ode to the human cycle of temptation.

The track follows a crunchy guitar-pop song that Powell shared earlier in the summer titled "Practicing Zen." Chastity's debut LP Death Lust was recently released by Captured Tracks and Royal Mountain Records.

Listen: Keegan Powell - "The Door" @ Bandcamp

Quebec City-based five-piece skatepunk group Fullcount has a video online for "The Host," a song from their upcoming record Part of the Game. That album's due on October 12 from the band. They're releasing it independently but have signed up with a whole host of labels to get the physical product distributed (Thousand Island and Exoshop in Canada and the US, Lockjaw Records in the UK, Mud Cake Records in Europe, and Milestone Sounds in Japan).

The new record, which follows up the group's 2014 full-length Concessions & Compromises, was recorded and engineered by drummer Jessy Boilard.

Watch: Fullcount - "The Host" @ YouTube

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