Sunday March 31, 2019

Freeloader Feast

Last week the Toronto art-punk group Deliluh announced their next record. Oath Of Intent is due on May 3 from Telephone Explosion in North America (with Tin Angel handling the worldwide release). It's a 5-track set — an EP's worth of new music pressed as a 12" LP (classify that as you will). The group shared the news alongside a video for the new single "Freeloader Feast." From the press release:

"Deliluh's live propensity to ignore the traditional circuit of bars and clubs in favour of unconventional venues has built a reputation at home, and one they intend to maintain. Foregoing the clean polish of professional studios for living spaces of contextual importance, Deliluh's dedication to thoughtful writing and analog documentation has been a constant process that's kept loyal fans highly anticipating their culminate fruit."

Putting aside the phrase "culminate fruit," which should never be uttered again, that statement lines up well with my understanding of Deliluh as a band's band. As a group, they make relatively little self-promotional noise, but regardless their name's in constant circulation. Their biggest proponents seem to be the members of other bands, with the very-online members of Toronto's amorphous garage-rock scene leading the charge.

"Freeloader Feast" is one result from a year of sessions recorded at Toronto veterans' hall The Owls Club. It finds the band tightly wound. Here they're decidedly more acerbic than where we left them on their oft slow-burning 2017 LP Day Catcher. There's a sense of unravelling here, sold as Kyle Knapp's deadpan spoken lyrics become increasingly frantic and unbalanced. With shades of The Fall and early Wire, it sets the band apace with Minneapolis' celebrated Uranium Club in the current strata of weirdo post-punk.

Johnny de Courcy shot the video for "Feast" on 16mm film. It finds friends and neighbours of the band sitting in conversation, discussing their daily lives. The group distressed the negatives through various means (boiling, burning, bleaching, etc) to create a skewed visual effect that fits the mood of the song wonderfully. Maria Todorov-Topouzov edited the clip.

Watch: Deliluh - "Freeloader Feast" @ YouTube

Toronto's neo-proto-punk group Protruders also recently announced a new full-length, their first vinyl LP after a string of self-released cassettes. The set, titled Poison Future, is due April 20 from Virginia's Feel It Records. Eddie Flowers of Vulcher Magazine and The Gizmos wrote the press release, commenting (in part):

"The sound is a bit clearer and maybe a little beefier — some of the noise gives way to a more relaxed and expansive approach. The psych quotient is higher. But the heart of the band is still beating for the sort of raw open-minded non-generic punk that once came from the likes of Rocket From The Tombs, Swell Maps, Dead Moon, Dancing Cigarettes, etc."

Protruders recorded with Peter Greenwood at The Bottle Garden in Montréal last year. Daniel Husayn mastered the new set at the North London Bomb Factory. You can stream "Hydrophytol," a track that charges along atop some wildly unhinged sax noise, over at Bandcamp.

Listen: Protruders - "Hydrophytol" @ Bandcamp

Experimental Montreal rock outfit Atsuko Chiba have a new record on the way for April. Trace will arrive on the 12th from Mothland. The 8-song set closes with the song "New Folds," an 8-minute prog/psych epic that the group's showcasing with a new 360 degree YouTube video from director Anthony Sifoni. The five-piece tracked the new record with Matthew Cerantola. Chris Common provided the master. Vivianne Roy (of Laura Sauvage) appears on several tracks as a backing vocalist as well.

Trace follows a pair of EPs the band released in 2016 (Figure and Ground and The Memory Empire), and will be their second LP following 2013's Jinn. Atsuko Chiba features Karim Lakhdar (guitar/vocals/synths), Eric Schafhauser (guitar/synths), Kevin McDonald (guitar/synths), David Palumbo (bass/vocals), and Anthony Piazza (drums). Piazza also helms the light projections that are a regular part of the band's live shows.

Watch: Atsuko Chiba - "New Folds" @ YouTube

The biggest news in Canadian indie rock last week was the surprise reunion of 90s Halifax alt-rock band Thrush Hermit. The group, notable as Joel Plaskett's main gig before his solo career exploded, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their final album, the Sonic Unyon-released Clayton Park. The 1999-era record will arrive on vinyl for the first time to coincide with Record Store Day on April 13, and the group will support it with a handful of shows later this year.

The limited-time reunion will feature original members Joel Plaskett, Rob Benvie, Ian McGettigan, and Cliff Gibb performing fall gigs in Moncton, Halifax, Ottawa, London, and Toronto. After their big announcement (made on the March 24 edition of The Strombo Show), Plaskett put out a statement which read (in part):

"I’m very much looking forward to playing a handful of shows with the guys again... Clayton Park was a special record for us, marking the end of the ‘90s and our time as band. It’s tempting to say I can’t believe it’s been 20 years but, frankly, I can believe it. We’ve all been busy with other endeavors and our families so finding the window to do this was a little challenging. It will be fun to fire up the motor again, both to celebrate the music and to spend time together as friends as we clocked a lot of kilometres together in the 1990s. It’s also great to finally have the record on vinyl, as Ian’s artwork looks stellar in a larger format. The Hermit rides again (at least from Halifax to Toronto)!”

If you want to dig further into the story behind of this record, Vice published a pretty comprehensive oral history last week with in-depth commentary from everyone involved.

Listen: Thrush Hermit - Clayton Park @ YouTube

Ottawa's usually-denim-clad party punks New Swears are up to something. The group released a music video for a new song titled "Angel" last week, a clip that lands the normally shambolic group somewhere on the pop spectrum between cheesy 80s new wave and a plastic 90s boy band. Is this new direction all an elaborately produced joke? Are they mocking the second-act synthpop reinvention that afflicts so many of today's ex-punks? Are they charging headfirst into teen shmaltz to unlock some of that major label cash? Nobody's talking.

The comments left under the "Angel" YouTube video are wonderful though. My favourite is the person asking "Is it bad if I like this?"

New Swears' last full-length was 2017's Dine Alone-released and the Magic of Horses. It sounds nothing like this.

Watch: New Swears - "Angel" @ YouTube

Last week Toronto noise-punk quartet Greys released their second preview of Age Hasn't Spoiled You with the single "Arc Light." In a statement vocalist Shehzaad Jiwani commented on the track:

"If there were one song to communicate everything Greys is about, it would be 'Arc Light.' This is the first song we recorded for Age Hasn't Spoiled You at the top of 2018, and each song we wrote over the year we spent making the album could trace a piece of itself back to this one. Musically, it's everywhere we've been and everywhere we're going. We tried to re-imagine and re-contextualize the tools we are comfortable using to make something new. The lyrics try to evoke a number of things within each line - mental exhaustion, content fatigue, tours of duty and alienation - and the images in the video reflect these overlapping concepts. The song lands somewhere between Unwound's New Plastic Ideas and Check Your Head by the Beastie Boys. Or something. I don't know. You tell me."

"Arc Light" arrived alongside a Rachelle Walker-directed video, which you can find below.

Age Hasn't Spoiled You will be Greys' third full length, following 2016's Outer Heaven and it's companion piece Warm Shadow. The new record also arrives in the wake of recent solo recordings from Jiwani (Golden Drag's Pink Sky) and C.R. Gillespie's (Séance Works). Greys drummer Zack Bines has been moonlighting with the synthpop trio Sauna in recent months as well.

Watch: Greys - "Arc Light" @ YouTube

Welland troubadour Daniel Romano released two new videos last week, putting visuals to both "There Is Beauty In The Vibrant Form" and "Between the Blades of Grass." At this rate, there must be more songs from Finally Free with accompanying videos than otherwise. You've Changed and New West Records released the indie-folk chameleon's latest record in 2018.

Watch: Daniel Romano - "There Is Beauty In The Vibrant Form" @ YouTube

Watch: Daniel Romano - "Between the Blades of Grass" @ YouTube

Last week also saw the release of Dark Blue, the new solo full-length from Steven Lambke. The big day arrived alongside a live session video for the song "White Horses," which featured Daniel Romano and Roddy Caryle performing alongside the Constantine. The performance took place at the Toronto offices of the PR firm Pigeon Row on January 19.

Lambke's new record follows 2015's Days of Heaven, his first work under his name following several years recording as Baby Eagle. Late last year he appeared on the Revolution C split EP with Construction & Destruction.

Watch: Steven Lambke - "White Horses" @ YouTube

Fucked Up's ambitious and expansive Dose Your Dreams LP continues to resonate, with the title track was treated to a surreal new video last week. The clip commences with footage of bandmates Mike Haliechuck and Jonah Falco dancing through the city, leading into live footage of the full band with plenty of psychedelic moments throughout.

Dose Your Dreams arrived last October on Arts & Crafts in Canada and Merge elsewhere. It marked the critically-lauded Toronto hardcore group's first full-length since 2014's Glass Boys. The band will continue to support the record next month, with several shows scheduled alongside Atlanta's Black Lips.

Watch: Fucked Up - "Dose Your Dreams" @ YouTube

Last week Brandon Williams' Chastity shared a new version of their song "Innocence." The video finds Chastity's ranks overflowing with players, including Denholm Whale of Odonis Odonis, Katie Monks of Dilly Dally, Adam Sturgeon of WHOOP-Szo, Mark Grundy of Heaven For Real, Linnea Siggelkow and Colm Hinds of Ellis, Curtis Skeete of Native Other, Liam Sanagan of Techno Hall of Fame, and Jordan Keene of Tonight Tonight. Regular Chastity members Dylan Page, Julia Noel, and Jeremy Ramos Foley are there in the mix too. At least a dozen guitarists are playing on the recording, with the whole ensemble swirling around Williams' central performance.

Williams described the experience:

"the song is a wall of sound, and I wanted to create an actual wall of sound with my friends and record and film it. It was really quite loud, 13 people going at once. We bought ear plugs and I should have used them."

The original version of "Innocence" appears on Chastity's striking 2018 debut Death Lust, released last July on Captured Tracks and Royal Mountain Records.

Watch: Chastity - "Innocence" @ YouTube

Windsor slacker rock act Partner continues to share music from their fast-approaching new EP Saturday the 14th. The latest is "Angels Wings," a lush ballad the band presented in both English and French. Josée Caron and Lucy Nile had this to say in the premiere at Paste:

"'Angel’s Wings' is a song based on a poem by Cedric Sims. It is a collaboration in the style of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. It was also inspired by the grand themes and powerful performances found in Céline Dion songs, so we made a French version too. This song is about going down to 'hell' to face your greatest fears. The song explores how, by having the courage to face your fears head on, you find you possess a strength you never knew. In order to craft this song, we had to face our greatest fears as artists. So form imitates content. Facing our fears is never easy, but there is life on the other side of fear. It’s so important to remind ourselves of this. We hope our listeners can be reminded of this fundamental truth and enjoy the ride!"

Saturday the 14th arrives on April 5 from You’ve Changed and Father/Daughter Records. It'll arrive as both a four-song 45 RPM 12" LP and a five-song CD (with the French version of this new track exclusive to the CD). The set, which follows 2017's In Search of Lost Time, was mixed by Chris Shaw (Weezer, Sloan, Ted Leo) and mastered by João Carvalho (Alexisonfire, Silverstein).

Listen: Partner - "Angel's Wings" @ YouTube

Listen: Partner - "Les ailes d'un ange" @ YouTube

Odonis Odonis' shared another preview from their new EP Reaction last week. "Insect" is an intense track that surfaced as part of the Toronto industrial act's live set over the past year. Like many of the new tracks on Reaction, it came together while the band was touring in support of their recent LP No Pop. You can preview it with a new visualizer over at YouTube.

Reaction is due on April 12 from Felte.

Listen: Odonis Odonis - "Insect" @ YouTube

Calgary skate-punk group Downway reformed in 2017 after a 14-year hiatus and they'll deliver their first reformation-era LP this May on Thousand Islands Records. The band just released the second single from that record, a track dubbed "Wild Ones," it follows the new record's title track "Last Chance for More Regrets," which arrived in December just before the band's Japanese tour.

Last Chance for More Regrets will be Downway's first new release since the Hometown Advantage split with Belvedere from way back in 2003.

Listen: Downway - "Wild Ones" @ Bandcamp

Toronto's proudly "hyper-strange" grunge-n-glam four-piece The Effens have a new single online titled "Laugh Off," with an accompanying video. It's set for inclusion on the band's next EP, which will also feature the previously shared tune "Human." Check it out below. The band will launch the new EP with a release show at Toronto's Baby G on Friday, May 17 with support from Lush Buffalo and Eddyevvy.

Watch: The Effens - "Laugh Off" @ YouTube

Stadium-ready Cobourg, Ontario alt-rock duo Cleopatrick recently released a new single titled "Sanjake." The track comes in the wake of five singles guitarist/vocalist Luke Gruntz and drummer Ian Fraser released over the course of 2018. The pair toured extensively on the strength of that material, travelling across the U.S. and Europe last year while racking up the kind of big fat streaming numbers that publicists love to throw at me. I'm not sure what those numbers mean in the real world, but these guys certainly seem to have some momentum. You can check the video for "Sanjake" below.

Watch: Cleopatrick - "Sanjake" @ YouTube

Winnipeg punk duo Mobina Galore have a new song for sale online with all proceeds due for the Twinkle Star Project, an organization that helps families grieving a perinatal loss. The band's new song, titled "Zoë (It Ripped Me Apart)," was written and performed by Jenna Priestner in honour of a cousin who lost a child just a few weeks shy of her due date. You can hear the track below and find more links to related resources at the band's Bandcamp page.

Listen: Mobina Galore - "Zoë (It Ripped Me Apart)" @ Bandcamp

Finally, last week saw the lineups confirmed for a handful of notable Canadian indie music festivals. The Folk On The Rocks festival in Yellowknife runs from July 12 to 14, with appearances scheduled from Lido Pimienta, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Nap Eyes, and Wintersleep among others. River and Sky takes place on the banks of the Sturgeon River between Sudbury and North Bay from July 18 to 21. That event has Fucked Up, U.S. Girls, Orville Peck, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Tommy and the Commies, Pottery, Hollerado, and Fast Romantics among the confirmed. The Elora Riverfest in Elora, Ontario goes down from August 16 to 18, with City and Colour, A Tribe Called Red, the Joel Plaskett Emergency, Hubert Lenior, Pkew Pkew Pkew, Bonjay, Jessie Reyez, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (!?) and many others signed up. On a smaller scale the third round of bands for Ottawa's June 6 punk, metal, and hardcore event Sitting On The Outside includes PRIORS, Piper Maru, Deathsticks, Grave Infestation, and Spacers.

That's just scratching the surface, and I'm sure I'm missing a few, but my award for coolest festival promo goes out to Montreal's Distortion Psych Fest. That event runs from May 8 to 10 and features the likes of Atsuko Chiba, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Bleu Nuit, Les Breastfeeders, CRABE, Lemongrab, Petra Glynt, Suuns, WHOOP-Szo, and more. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice lineup, but what makes it truly great is this wild trailer that frames the whole shindig as an 80s video game. If you've got a shred of 80s nostalgia, you've got to see this.

Watch: Distortion Psych Fest 2019 trailer @ Vimeo

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