Toronto underground rock label Art of the Uncarved Block has announced the January 25 release of ouch, the new record from Madeline Link's PAX. Link, who also plays in the low-fi jangle-pop duo Triples, performs as PAX with a 12-string guitar and a Casio SK-1. ouch, which Link this past August digitally, follows her 2016 debut HYPHAE. The label compares PAX with "the otherworldly crooning and vocal samplings in the stylings of early Beck."
Art of the Uncarved Block's release will be available as a limited-run handmade cassette, adding two new tracks to the 7-song original release. A release show will go down on Friday, January 25, at the Owls Club in Toronto. A new video for the song "Wip Wip" is also online to help promote the release.
I mentioned Madeline in the newsletter earlier this month when Triples released a delightfully catchy new single titled "Hillside." Make sure you cycle back to that once you check this out.
When I last discussed Victoria's emerging post-punk collective N0V3L I took a few loving shots at the band's perhaps overdramatic shroud of mystery. While there's now a little more info to share now, the group's roster remains elusive.
N0V3L's debut release will be a vinyl EP, due on February 15 from Flemish Eye and Meat Machine Records. It'll clock in with eight songs, including the previously shared "Suspicion" and "Will to Power." Two new tracks from the set are online now as well, the album-opening pair of "To Whom It May Concern" and "Natural." They showcase a bright, danceable new-wave sound, indebted to DEVO's wound-up robotic weirdness and Kraftwerk's neo-constructivist sense of style.
As for the band? The latest press release shuns the term:
"It feels crass to call N0V3L a band—the word feels cumbersome and bloated with traditionalist connotations. N0V3L is a self-sustaining creative collective operating out of a house in Victoria, where they produce their own music, videos, and clothing. These elements converge and convulse to create music that challenges the gluttony and ruin wrought by power, while humming along with kaleidoscopic spontaneity into a tightly-wound audible world that is at once jarring and violently danceable. N0V3L’s debut EP is a call to a burnt-out dance floor, where the dance floor has become a space of dialogue and action and resistance. Please do enjoy."
That cleared things right up... Going back to my earlier theory, it seems that N0V3L features Jon Varley of Painted Fruit and members of Vancouver mixed-media collective Crack Cloud. I was also pretty sure Patrick Flegel (Women/Cindy Lee) is among the red-and-black clad faces in their press photo, but I could be wrong. Quite unhelpfully, album's production is credited to M1L1T4RY G3N1U5 & ЄЛРAB, so it's too soon to steal the truth from the liner notes.
Toronto power-pop act Pretty Matty has a new song online titled "Kicked Out." The accompanying video (written and directed by Jono Hunter) is so adorably odd and that it's well worth your time. Fronted by Matty Morand, Pretty Matty previously released a propulsive four-song self-titled EP back in March.
The above-mentioned Art of the Uncarved Block lauded the track in a Facebook post last week:
"This song has been stuck in my head for almost a week. The first few lines faithfully replay as if it is carved into my mind like a locked groove. It's premise revolves around getting 'kicked out' and so the irony is not lost on me. That being said, this melody has been a welcome guest in my psyche and has injected hope and light into my undefined need for melancholy pop punk."
There's no word yet on what future release "Kicked Out" will end up on.
Back in October Adrienne LaBelle (Movieland, Supermoon) released a few demo recordings as Garbage Dreams. The three-song set, a cool slate of synth-backed garage-pop, features LaBelle with Jay Arner, Jessica Delisle, and Kuba Wiatrak. Like the recent Energy Slime material, it's another batch instantly likable, quirky tunes from the rotating handful of players in Arner's orbit. The songs were recorded and mixed by Arner as well.
The Vancouver-based Garbage Dreams has only a handful of live performances under their belt, with the next coming up on December 21 and 22. The four-piece will support actor Finn Wolfhard's teenage rock band Calpurnia on a pair of shows at the Vogue Theatre.
Drew Thomson's punk band Single Mothers have a new animated video up showcasing the song "Tan Line." It's one of the 14 on their new full-length Through a Wall, which arrived unannounced (and quite angry) back in September. In a premiere at Kerrang Thomson commented on the song and his place in the band. Single Mothers saw their lineup (yet again) shift dramatically before this release:
"This band constantly feels like it’s hoping and skipping along with or without me and I’m just floating in and out of sync with it constantly trying to figure out where I am and where it is. This song ‘Tan Line’ is about falling in and out of sync. ‘Spread out folly somewhere in your mind, pieces of who you and I collide’ — how we all grow together, separately but hold onto what we remember we were as truth. ‘You’ve changed’ — obviously. Life is short, and it seems like we’re always trying to catch up, find short cuts into each other — like passing through the walls we all put up.”
You'll surely recall the Upsy Daisy compilation I spoke about in the summer. The project collects oddball tunes from anonymous Canadian musicians, songs so strange, off-brand, or just plum embarrassing that the creators won't even attach their real names. After a long few months of horrible normalcy the second volume has now arrived:
"Next chapter of the critically acclaimed heap of mystery music known as Upsy Daisy; a compilation of tunes submitted by people who don't know what else to do with em. If you or a friend are secretly recording songs in your shed and would like them to be shared with the world alongside a roster of new and old U D submitees, send your song to [email protected]"
As with the first outing, the made-up band names adorning the tracklist are just great. Look for hot tracks from Both My Dads, Funky Voltron, and Chronicles of Chaos this time out.
Ben Shemie, lead vocalist and guitarist of the Montreal art-rock group SUUNS, has a solo record on the way in 2019. The set, titled A Skeleton is due on February 15 from French label Hands in the Dark Records. Dave Smith recorded the album in a single take with no overdubs at Montreal's Breakglass Studio. It's described as "an experimental pop album of cold synthetic sounds with touches of psychedelia."
Speaking to Exclaim, Ben commented:
"This is my first solo album and its a mix of lo-fi experimental pop tunes mixed with ambient synthesizer feedback explorations; two pretty different worlds colliding... I try to act as a guide and let the machines speak for themselves. In this way I think it's very much in the tradition of electronic music. Each performance being a new set of circumstances and the potential for great things to happen."
A video directed by Shemie is online, showcasing the album's title track. You can find it below.
Toronto singer-songwriter David McFarlane put a new album out last week titled "Fieldwork." On it, you'll find the slow-burning atmospheric alt-rock tune "Miss Kubelik." You can check it out below. In the press release McFarlane commented:
"I’ve always been inspired by records (and the people who make them) that unfold gradually... Don’t get me wrong, I love the quick fix of a great pop song too, but I always come back to records that have mystery, depth, soul and originality – those that reveal more and more with every listen. I don’t like easy records. I don’t think I made an easy record."
So there's a three-piece family band out of Toronto dubbed Still Eighteen. They've been releasing some big bluesy rock singles over the last few months, including "You Hit Me Like a Drug" and their latest, "Carnivore." The trio features the married couple Joey and Karen Ciotti along with their daughter Samantha. The wild CanCon connection here is Joey was a former lead singer for the 80s rock bands Trixie Goes Hollywood and Platinum Blonde (he left the latter just prior to their big-haired heyday). These new tracks were penned by Samantha and Joey.
These singles follow up Still Eighteen's 2016 debut EP Bullets to Dust.
Toronto restaurant and venue Parts & Labour is set to close its doors soon, but before the end they're throwing one last basement punk show. On Wednesday, December 19 METZ and Teenanger will call it an era at P&L with a gig that's sure to be packed. Doors are at 9 PM and there are no advanced tickets, so be there on time with a $5 in hand if you want to get in.
METZ was also among the bands confirmed for next year's Taverne Tour. The Montreal music festival will feature 59 bands playing small venues along l'Avenue Mont-Royal, Boulevard Saint-Laurent, and rue Saint-Denis from January 31 to February 2. The lineup includes visiting acts Big Business and Guerilla Toss with a heavy Canadian lineup including The High Dials, Galaxie, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Laura Sauvage, FRIGS, VICTIME, Absolutely Free, and many more. You can find details at Facebook and the event's website. Montreal garage/psych label Mothland, of Distortion Rock Fest fame, assembled the lineup.
We're at that point in December where all music news tends to grind to a halt, so if you don't hear from me in the next few weeks I'll be using the lull to re-alphabetize my records and scheme for 2019. Of course, the last time I made this claim both the Booji Boys and Daniel Romano went and dropped entire new records over the holiday break (multiple in the latter's case). Artists.
If that happens, I'll try and let you know.