These Things Happen
I won't dance around it, Toronto's Greys are one of the bands I wanted to write about when I started this newsletter. Up until now, with the exception of their solo work, I've not had much of an opportunity. The band has a pretty clear arc through their discography, transitioning away from early caustic noise-punk to explore more dynamics with each subsequent release. The four-piece last released Outer Heaven in 2016, a record they chased with the curious companion piece Warm Shadow. If Heaven presented their growing maturity as a measured iteration on their established sound, Shadow blew their future wide-open with unencumbered glee. Freed from whatever pressure sits atop a proper LP, the companion set was free to experiment and take weird left turns. Shadow also laid bare Greys' increasing interest in the studio as an instrument, something that surfaced prominently through C.R. Gillespie's ambient Séance Works and Shehzaad Jiwani's solo Golden Drag LP Pink Sky.
Greys have now announced their third LP. Age Hasn't Spoiled You is 11 songs, due on Carpark Records on May 10. The first song, "These Things Happen," is available to preview now. In an interview at The FADER Jiwani commented on the tune:
"This song is about perspective and understanding during chaotic times. I wanted to superimpose the socially and spiritually conscious energy of the late 60s onto our current political climate and the pervasive numbness people can feel towards opposing viewpoints when they are exhausted by their news feeds. There's so much information that you stop hearing what people might be saying. I was watching and reading lots of material about the Black Panthers, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War protests and how that dovetailed with the rise of psychedelic drugs at the time, and how these two things could lead towards some common ground between politically polarized entities by simply trying to hear both sides out. You can feel incensed to rebel against something while also yearning for a deeper understanding of your neighbours at the same time."
The song fits well into Greys' arc. While it kicks off with blown-out vocals, a wall of guitar, and other familiar noise-rock trappings, it takes a satisfying swerve at the bridge about a minute in. I'm fascinated to hear how off-script the band's willing to go this time out, especially given that their side-projects offer them an outlet they didn't have before.
Carpark's press release, at least, seems to indicate that the band's still shooting for something new this time out, with Jiwani commenting:
"We wanted to push as far away from what our perception of a 'rock band' could be while still retaining certain characteristics that sound like Greys"
This Friday will see Dirtnap Records release Paradise, the new LP from Ottawa’s long-running power-pop/punk heroes the Steve Adamyk Band. Last week I premiered track "When I Was Gone" over at Punknews. Steve commented on the tune:
"This is probably as close as we can get to traditional power-pop, or a CBC radio hit, if we were ever to have one."
Adamyk's band this time out is a trio featuring Pat Johnson of The Acorn and Telecomo drumming with Johnny O of Uranium Comeback on bass. The group brought in Dave Williams of Crusades to record vocals in the studio (Williams was an early member of the Adamyk Band, not to mention one of Steve's old bandmates from the Sedatives). The 12-track LP was recorded with producer Mike Bond at Wolf Lake Studios in Lac-des-Loups, Québec and mixed out on the west coast by Jesse Gander (Needles//Pins, Japandroids).
Paradise arrives in the wake of 2016's Graceland. Along with 11 new originals, the album also features a cover of the song "Telephone," by late-70s British power-pop act The Incredible Kidda Band.
Speaking of Crusades, last week members of the now-defunct Ottawa punk band announced their next move. Dave Williams and Skottie Lobotomy have formed a synth-pop duo dubbed Surrender. The pair tracked an LP's worth of songs in their respective home studios over the past year, with Alex Gamble (PUP, Fucked Up, Alvvays) producing and mixing the new music at The Hive in Toronto. The single "Hold On," accompanied by a video with a suitably vintage 80s feel, went live last week. A second new track is expected in the coming weeks, along with a record once those details get sorted out.
Crusades last released This is a Sickness and Sickness will End in 2017. They called it a career last summer.
Last week I also had the chance to premiere a new single from Toronto melodic punk quartet Stuck Out Here. It's titled "Embarrass You" and appears on the band's upcoming third LP Until We’re Each Someone Else, which arrives this May on Get Party! and Must Be Nice Records.
Stuck Out Here's Ivan Raczycki had this to say about the track:
"The song 'Embarrass You' is what happens when your treasured and cherished idealization of vice and hedonism starts to ring hollow and you notice the destructive wake trailing behind your all-night benders and perma-fried existence. It's an apology. I'm sorry."
The press release for the record sheds some light on Raczycki's trials over the past few years. Following the tour supporting 2014's Getting Used To Feeling Like Shit Raczycki experienced his first hypomanic episode, resulting in "multiple hospitalizations, extended periods of psychosis, and a diagnosis of bipolar 1 disorder." The band recorded with longtime producer Siegfried Meier in the summer of 2016 while Ivan was in recovery, but his illness returned that fall. These struggles inform many of his contributions to the record.
Stuck Out Here features co-frontmen and principal songwriters Cam Laurie and Ivan Raczycki on guitar and vocals, backed by bassist Emmett O’Reilly and drummer Pat Armstrong.
This weekend I also premiered a new demo from Windsor's Matty Menard. You've read about a number of his bands on this newsletter over the past few years, as he sings and plays guitar in Brain Itch, plays bass in Psychic Void, and drums for the veteran punk group Disco Assault.
No Fix is the low-fi punk act that's might be nearest and dearest to whatever madness must be thrashing around in Menard's psyche. Last year No Fix put out three songs that authenticity struck right at the heart of late 70s punk. Those tunes will be followed soon with a brand new tape of demos titled Toxic Adult. You can hear one of them, the rhythmic "Barriers" below. It thumps along over with an eerie sci-fi vibe that fans of The Spits should lose their minds over. Here's what Matty had to say about the project:
"No Fix has been an important outlet of mine for quite sometime now, It's like some sort of therapy. Life is fucking weird and it all builds up on ya sometimes... I look forward to the ritual of making demos. I've been involved in multiple projects at once for a long time now and as much as I love playing with friends and creating collectively, it's nice to have something that's all me, for me. More to come, Stick around."
Look for the Toxic Adult Demos on March 30 at Bandcamp.
Toronto industrial/electronic act Odonis Odonis have a new EP due in the spring. On April 12 the trio will release Reaction on Felte. The band premiered the song "Collector" last week with an attached video visualizer. The new track's intense and atmospheric, continuing that dystopian sense of dread that informed recent LPs like No Pop and Post Plague.
A new single arrived last week from The Drew Thomson Foundation, the Single Mothers frontman's namesake pop-rock solo vehicle. It's the first song from Thomson's upcoming LP on Dine Alone Records. In the premiere at Brooklyn Vegan, Thomson commented on the track, titled "Break":
"On the surface, 'Break' is about a relationship, but in broader sense, it’s about not being afraid of change and the possible consequences that can come from it. We had a lot of fun working with Alex Newport, and I think that comes through in the recording and the rest of the album."
Thomson's acerbic punk group Single Mothers last released Through A Wall in 2018. The Foundation is following up last year's EP Stay.
I've gone a few years without mentioning Black Mountain on the newsletter, but it's been a quiet stretch from the Vancouver-based psychedelic rock heavies. The band's set to follow up their 2016 full-length IV with a new record on May 24 titled Destroyer (I'd make a joke about the title of Dan Bejar's next album, but 300 people on Twitter beat me to it). The 8-song album arrives on May 24 from Jagjaguwar. The band made the announcement alongside the single "Future Shade," which veers away from the Zeppelin worship of their last record, landing the group somewhere in the mid-80s in a buzzing wreck of synths (and drugs).
Destroyer features longtime members Stephen McBean and Jeremy Schmidt with new members Rachel Fannan (Sleepy Sun) and Adam Bulgasem (Dommengang, Soft Kill). Returning collaborators include Kliph Scurlock (Flaming Lips), Kid Millions (Oneida) and John Congleton (producer for St. Vincent, Cloud Nothings, and many more).
Abbotsford, BC post-punk group Blessed recently shared another new song from their upcoming debut LP Salt. You can preview the track "Rolled in Glass" below. It's one of 8, along with the previously shared "Disease" and "Thought."
This new record follows the band's critically lauded 2017 EP II, as well as a split 7" last year with the Winnipeg noise-punk group Tunic. The band recorded Salt at Montreal's Break Glass Studios with Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes recording and mixing.
Aggressive Charlottetown hardcore/punk quartet Warsh has a low-fi four-song demo online. The band recorded these tracks in January, with a cassette release expected soon from High Trash Media. I don't know much about Warsh, but in case you were dozing off you're fully fucking awake now.
Yet another weekend punk music festival's surfaced to fill the void left by the now-defunct Ottawa Explosion. The Side by Side Weekend is set to take place from July 25 through 28 at the neighbouring venues Black Squirrel Books and House of TARG. The lineup looks like an OXW reunion as well, featuring appearances from bands like BBQT, Cell, Dboy, Jon Creeden and the Flying Hellfish, Future Girls, Holy Christopher, the above-mentioned Steve Adamyk and many more. You can find some details and a current band listing over at Facebook.