Sunday June 2, 2019

Veneer

Apologies for the delay, but it seems that the Canadian music world didn't heed my request to hit the pause button while I absconded to sunnier shores last week. Here's a shambling partial recap of some of the sights and sounds that surfaced in my absence. Some Party returns to its regular weekly schedule this Sunday. Thanks for sticking around.


Lost in the fog of May I entirely missed the lead-up to the brilliant debut full-length from Montreal art-punks Lungbutter, but Honey is out now and well worth your attention. The gloriously discordant record marks the trio's first release since 2014's Extractor EP. It arrives through Constellation Records (Godspeed You! Black Emperor).

Lungbutter features vocalist Ky Brooks, drummer Joni Sadler, and guitarist Kaity Zozula. The three have collectively served in numerous bands over the years, including some intense Montreal punk acts like Femmaggots, Harsh Reality, Caymans, Nennen, Wreckage With Stick, and Nag. Anchored in Brooks' provocative half-spoken lyrics, the band assembled 11 noisy, dynamic tracks for the new collection, which vary wildly from dissonant no wave to sludgy post-punk. The album's press release takes a good swing at capturing their sound:

"Lungbutter's minimal guitar-drums-voice configuration is rooted in a visceral, ascetic punk idiom, refracted variously by free-noise, sludge rock and slowcore. Zozula marshals chaotic motifs of full-spectrum distorto-guitar, occupying a huge tonal space from low-end bass to paint-peeling treble, redolent of blown-out Melvins/Flipper fuzz and equally indebted to the frenetic dissonance of Keiji Haino or Merzbow (as in the thrilling passages of warped noise on 'Solar' or 'Veneer'). Song structures coalesce around guitar riffs of shifting tempos and the backbone of Sadler's muscular, deliberate drums, while Brooks' voice – at once mantric and declarative – deconstructs one brilliant lyrical theme after another, dancing along the knife-edge of dispassionate acerbic examination and wide-eyed cathartic revelation."

Toronto music writer Michael Rancic's recent interview with the band for Bandcamp Daily sheds some light into the gap between releases and Lungbutter's approach to the studio.

Honey was recorded and mixed by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh at Hotel2Tango in Montreal, with Harris Newman at Greymarket mastering.

Listen: Lungbutter - Honey @ Bandcamp

Also in my absence, Toronto's playfully weird punk outfit Hugh Man shared a new EP under the title Hughs Man is it Anyway?. The group (which features members of Leather Jacuzzi and Scorpio Rising) recorded this past April with Feel Alright's Craig Fahner. The 6-song set boasts such future classics of low-fi snark as "Sad Boy," "Huge Man," and "Kratom Pride (In the Name of Love)." The new songs follow up the band's summer 2018 demos, Are We Dan, Sir?.

Hugh Man will publically launch the new tunes with a joint release show on July 6 at Toronto's Monarch Tavern. That gig will also debut new releases from both the frantic Toronto punks WLMRT (following up their 2018 Pleasance EP Lube 2) and Bria Salmena's Sigil. The latter's a side-project of FRIGS vocalist, featuring Salmena supported by members of Deliluh and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. Sigil was last active a few years ago when that same backing personnel were all playing together as members of the dark sludge-punk act HSY.

There's a special guest to be announced the day of the show as well ("very special," in fact). Your guess is as good as mine. All I know is it isn't me, or at least nobody's told me yet.

Listen: Hugh Man - Hughs Man is it Anyway? @ Bandcamp

The low-fi Toronto-based PAX has a pair of new songs online, collected under the title Eat Me. The laid-back tracks, titled "Holy Water" and "Clingfilm," showcase a slow-burning slacker rock vibe (particularly the latter). They follow PAX's recent single release from March, titled "Sink."

PAX was initially the bedroom recording project of Madeline Link (one-half of the jangle-pop duo Triples). Upon the recent cassette release of her full-length Ouch (on Art of the Uncarved Block), PAX grew to become a full live band. These new tracks feature drummer Shane Hooper, bassist Noah O'Neil, and guitarist Dexter Nash, with Link responsible for vocals and everything else you can hear.

Listen: PAX - eat me @ Bandcamp

Halifax-bred indie rock act Mauno is back in action, with a new full-length scheduled for an August 2 release titled Really Well. The pensive first single from the album, "Really Really," arrived alongside a video by Max Taeuschel (Pottery) that takes the band's core songwriting duo to the gym. Tin Angel Records, the group's UK home, had this to say about the song:

"Written by Eliza Niemi before she moved to Germany two summers ago, 'Really Really' is about the fear of losing touch with friends and family who define your identity, and the realisation that geographical distance doesn't have to result in that.

The song explores exhaustion and perseverance when faced with a seemingly endless and inconsequential task. Mauno's very real and intensive exercise serves as a fitting way to represent this – placing the band in an arduous video shoot that pushed them to their physical limit. The accompanying visuals ultimately posits that sometimes, when engaging in an absurd and terrible cycle, it's best to simply stop."

The new record finds Niemi and co-vocalist Nick Everett splitting the songwriting duties across 11 tracks. Niemi plays bass and keyboard on the album, with Everett on guitar and keys as well. Mauno also features guitarist Scott Bourdreau and drummer Adam White (not me). Chad VanGaalen tracked the record at his Yoko Eno studio.

Mauno last released Tuning on Idée Fixe and Tin Angel in 2017.

Watch: Mauno - "Really Really" @ YouTube

The release date for Really Well coincides with the band's scheduled appearance at this year's SappyFest in Sackville, New Brunswick. That festival just recently announced its second round of bands, with returning local hero Shotgun Jimmie atop a list that features bands from an array of genres. This includes Yves Jarvis, LAL, Aquakulture, Gianna Lauren, Nyssa, Diamondtown, Lo Siento, Janowskii, Juice Girls, Cursing + Swearing, Papal Visit, Barnacle, Positive Body Language, and Allumette among the new class. WHOOP-Szo, who had to bow out of last year's event, is set to make it up with a Sappy appearance this August.

This second slate joins bands like Snotty Nose Rez Kids, The Weather Station, Haviah Mighty, and Apollo Ghosts at the event, which runs from August 2 to 4.

I'll profile more than a few of these acts in detail in the coming weeks, but until then you can get strange with some inexplicably Spongebob-themed undersea punk from Montreal's Barnacle.

Listen: Barnacle - Live @ The Salty Spitoon @ Bandcamp

Toronto's experimental prog-pop trio Absolutely Free recently shared the psychedelic title track to their upcoming Idée Fixe EP Geneva Freeport. The group waxed philosophical on the song's meaning in a recent statement:

"Through fantasy and the starkest of realities, this song brings to question the process in which economic value is prescribed to cultural artifacts, how that value is exploited through storing them in high security storage facilities (like the Geneva Freeport) to avoid paying taxes, and how it all seems so antithetical to why most artists create their work in the first place."

The song follows the earlier release of "Currency," which featured Meg Remy of U.S. Girls on lead vocals. The record will also feature "The Endless Scroll." Clocking in at 9 minutes, that track features instrumentation from Carl Didur of the prolific TO psych duo Zacht Automaat.

Geneva Freeport arrives as a 12" on June 20.

Listen: Absolutely Free - "Geneva Freeport" @ YouTube

My week away saw two fresh cuts from the upcoming Dumb full-length Club Nites. The Vancouver slacker-punk quartet released the audio for the track "Concrete Jungle" along with a video for the curiously-named album-closing "CBC Radio 3."

The former premiered through Seattle's KEXP, with the band floridly commenting (with tongue firmly in cheek):

"Content Jungle is a yell through the cracks in TV's hallowed total flow, about being immersed in being talked to but not spoken to... The pain... O the pain... But O the rigidity in environs the faith in seasons and acquaintances not found irl.

The static universe... There for anyone to bob and flow upon and forge an individuality otherwise precluded by one's social anxiety WHICH is only further entrenched by endless tv watching and saturation with bit form paradigms of humanity. Also it's a jungle"

Meanwhile, the laid-back "Radio 3," named after the one-time online music magazine and indie-CanCon podcast, premiered at Post-Trash.

Dumb recorded Club Nites in their Vancouver studio this past winter, less than a year since their last LP, Seeing Green. Mikey Young of the Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control mastered the album. The new record arrives this Friday, June 7, from Mint Records.

The group's slated to join their Mint-brethren Kiwi Jr. at a big Canada Day gig in Toronto next month. They'll play the Baby G with additional support from Mark Grundy's Quaker Parents. Tough Age guitarist/vocalist Jarrett Samson is slated to DJ the show.

Watch: Dumb - "CBC Radio 3" @ YouTube

Listen: Dumb - "Concrete Jungle" @ SoundCloud

Arctic metal group Northern Haze recently shared a video for "Qainna," a song from their recent full-length Siqinnaarut (Return of the Sun). The clip was filmed Igloolik by the band's Aakuluk Music label-mate Josh Qaumariaq (of The Trade-Offs). The band's performing in head-to-toe caribou in the live footage, which might be a first (although when you break it down, most Northern Haze facts qualify as "firsts").

Siqinnaarut, the band's second record, was released last November, an astonishing 33 years after their debut. Northern Haze currently features original members Naisana Qamaniq, James Ungalaq, and John Inooya, with Derek Aqqiaruq and Allan Kangok. They recorded in January of 2018 in Iqaluit with producer Michael Wojewoda (Buffy Sainte-Marie, Rheostatics).

Watch: Northern Haze - "Qainna" @ YouTube

A third single from the Ottawa synth-pop duo Surrender arrived last week. The cinematic "A Lifetime Away," like "Hurt No More" and "Hold On" before it, is awash in 80s influence, with producer Alex Gamble (PUP, Fucked Up) playing a significant role in crafting the band's vibrant throwback sound.

Surrender arrived unexpectedly earlier this year from the ashes of the heretic-punk group Crusades, featuring Dave Williams and Skottie Lobotomy. The pair were also members of the high-fantasy metal trio Black Tower). The duo tracked an LP's worth of songs in their respective home studios over the past year, Gamble producing and mixing the new music at The Hive in Toronto.

Listen: Surrender - "A Lifetime Away" @ Bandcamp

Kerrang recently premiered the video for "A Little More Time," the latest single from pop-rock act The Drew Thomson Foundation. Ryan Brough directed the piece, which follows Thomson around Hamilton. Drew commented on the approach:

"We took a few steps in my shoes, watched my life like a bag in the wind trying to stay off the ground, keep the demons at bay for a little more time."

Thomson, better known as the principle behind punk group Single Mothers, has been trickling out new material for the past few months in the lead-up to a fall full-length on Dine Alone.

Single Mothers last released Through A Wall in 2018. The Drew Thomson Foundation last released the EP Stay in 2018.

Watch: The Drew Thomson Foundation - "A Little More Time" @ YouTube

Ontario post-hardcore heroes Alexisonfire continue their audio comeback with a second new song. "Complicit" follows in the wake of their comeback single "Familiar Drugs," and you can find it wherever you consume your music (and judging from the play counts at YouTube and elsewhere, absolutely nobody needs me to remind them of this — humour me, I'm playing the Niagara card).

In a statement frontman George Pettit commented:

"'Complicit' is about recognizing the unfair advantages that we are afforded as white, heterosexual males. It's about rejecting regressionist ideas of racism, misogyny and hetero supremacy. It's about accepting that there is no freedom and no future in a world that is not inclusive."

Dine Alone has the new single available as a 7" with an etched b-side. The band's new music is their first since 2010's * Dog's Blood* EP and 2009's Old Crows / Young Cardinals full-length.

Listen: Alexisonfire - "Complicit" @ Bandcamp

Dunville, Ontario indie rock quartet Don Vail have a new full-length available titled Stand Of Tide, a 13 song set that's their first since 2016's Fades.

Don Vail's been around for almost a decade as the solo recording vehicle of Mitch Bowden, with much of his work produced through his Mechanical Noise studio. This record sees the project expanded to a four-piece band featuring drummer Victor Malang, guitarist Matthew Fleming, and keyboardist/vocalist Kori Pop. The new record was partly tracked in Ireland at Grouse Lounge Studios.

In a Stage Right Secrets premiere for the video showcasing the title track, Bowden commented on how the song came together and the band's experience recording abroad:

"It's hard to say what the initial inspiration for it was, but I remember the general structure coming together quickly (like, in one sitting), which is rare for us. I had a cheap old guitar in an oddball tuning and just kind hammered out 3 parts that happened to work well together. The lyrics came later, after a lengthy swim through the sewer of popular culture. The song, like the rest of the record, was self-produced. We took the demo session to Ireland where we re-tracked the drums and bass at Grouse Lodge with Cameron Craig. The two weeks we spent there felt like a dream. Grouse Lodge is this magical place with a studio and multiple living areas in these beautiful 300-year-old stone buildings surrounded by rolling green hills. We met so many amazing people there and I still have dreams about that place all the time."

Listen: Don Vail - "On The Wire" @ YouTube

Toronto pop-punk quartet Bad Buzz has spent the past few months trickling songs out through my old haunt at Punknews.org. At long last they've completed the set, arriving at their new EP Try Harder. The 5-song collection was recorded live off the floor at Hamilton's Boxcar Sound with Matt Gauthier producing. You can hear the full artifact below and look for the band supporting the material on the road in Ontario this summer.

Listen: Bad Buzz - Try Harder @ Bandcamp

While Destroyer, the new record from Vancouver psych-rockers Black Mountain, is in everyone's hands at this point, I couldn't let their recent video for "Licensed to Drive" go unmentioned. The clip's nostalgic trip, throwing back to the Atari era and perfectly capturing the absurdly epic, electrically-charged 80s vibe this era of the band's been exploring. Director Zev Deans commented:

"'Licensed to Drive' is a deep dive into the soul of a late 1970s living room, an exploration of the deep psychedelic fantasy at the core of the birth of the videogame."

Bandleader Stephen McBean previously spoke to the song itself, calling it "a riff in A flat and some Neu / Nugent / Newman Motorik hustle."

Destroyer arrived on May 24 from Dine Alone and Jagjaguwar. It followed the band's 2016 full-length IV. The record features McBean and longtime collaborator Jeremy Schmidt with Rachel Fannan (Sleepy Sun), Adam Bulgasem (Dommengang, Soft Kill), and a handful of guests like Kliph Scurlock (Flaming Lips), Kid Millions (Oneida), and John Congleton (producer for St. Vincent, Cloud Nothings).

Watch: Black Mountain - "Licensed to Drive" @ YouTube

The new EP from Red Deer skate-punks Trashed Ambulance arrives this week on Thousand Islands Records. The band recently shared "Open Road," the hard-driving (and somewhat surprisingly self-aware) second single from the record below.

Trashed Ambulance last released the LP Flashes of Competence in 2018.

Listen: Trashed Ambulance - "Open Road" @ Bandcamp

On the festival front the Hamilton, Ontario Supercrawl announced their initial lineup, with the September event set to feature Some Party regulars like Jennifer Castle, Dilly Dally, Motherhood, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, and even a few bands mentioned in this very edition, like Don Vail and Yamantaka//Sonic Titan. The event will be headlined by Bahamas, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Bettye LaVette, Stars, Fateh, and the Hamilton Blues All-Stars. You can find all the details on their website.

The 2019 edition of Supercrawl will run from September 13 to 15 along James Street North in downtown Hamilton. The second lineup announcement is set for July 27 during the city's Fringe Festival.

The third edition of Hollowfest is slated for the weekend of September 20 through the 22nd at the small eastern-Ontario village of Watsons Corners (in Lanark County, about 25 miles north of Perth). The event's roster will feature the above-mentioned Absolutely Free along with DOOMSQUAD, Sauna, Nyssa, Bart, Mother Tongues, Ferrari Garden, Carinae, Dead Dog, Hot Garbage, Nikki Fierce, Lee Paradise, Mimico, Possum, and ZA.

The event takes place almost entirely off-grid on a slice of rural private property, so attendees are encouraged to bring along camping gear. There's a full breakdown at the festival's website.

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