Sunday June 9, 2019

Le Justin Trudeau Kinda Party

Montreal indie outfit Navet Confit recently announced a weed-fueled concept album, ostensibly in celebration of the new legal reality in Canada, but more likely making fun of it. Appropriately dubbed Navet Confit présente le Justin Trudeau Kinda Party, the new record claims to be "le premier album canadien entièrement créé, enregistré, mixé, matricé et mis en marché sous l'influence du cannabis LÉGAL."

If you dig into the small novel of liner notes that band-lead Jean-Philippe Fréchette wrote for Bandcamp, it's a little hard to discern the line between genuine enthusiasm for the subject matter and over-excessive parody, but that's part of what makes this so much fun. The record's lead track, "Justin Trudeau Kinda Party (thème)," is a raucous shout-along, with the dozen or so contributors laughing (and coughing) along in the studio as they provide backing vocals over blaring horns. It's pretty spectacular.

Fréchette even comments in the notes that, his passion for the project aside, he's not actually all that into pot (although he concedes that without its effect, this record's humour will likely fall flat).

"Comprenez-moi bien, je ne fais pas ici l’apologie de la consommation du cannabis. Je suis moi-même un non-consommateur convaincu et j’étais écœuré d’être gelé la moitié du temps pendant cette expérience.

Mais maudit que c’était drôle."

If you really want to stumble backwards into a lesson on Quebec drug slang, throw the Bandcamp text through the Google Translate meatgrinder. It took a few confused reads before I that realized that "gelés" (frozen) was the colloquial equivalent of "high" en Anglais. The whole diatribe makes far more sense knowing that. The English Canadian school system has utterly failed to prepare me for any of this.

The party was recorded in November of 2018 at Studio Le Nid with around 23 listed collaborators. These include Lydia Champagne, Géraldine, Martine Groulx (Camaromance), Melanie Harel-Michon (Perdrix), Carl-Eric Hudon, Sheenah Ko (The Besnard Lakes), and Myëlle among the crowd.

Navet Confit présente le Justin Trudeau Kinda Party will arrive on June 28 from Lazy At Work (home of Galaxie, FUUDGE, Zouz). It'll serve as the 9th full-length from Fréchette, following the March-released LP Engagement, lutte, clan et respect. A launch show's slated for Canada Day at Le Salon Particulier in Montreal.

Listen: Navet Confit - "Justin Trudeau Kinda Party (thème)" @ Bandcamp

Rob Brake of London, Ontario power-pop act Isölation Party has a new three-piece garage-punk group running under the name Mononegatives. Claiming influence from Tuxedomoon and The Fall, the band made their debut with a three-song digital EP titled 5 Second Future. It backs two originals (the title track and "Garbage Blood") with a cover of Gary Numan's "You Are In My Vision" (from the final Tubeway Army record).

Joining Brake in Mononegatives are bassist Jon Lamont and drummer David Cereghini. Between the three members, you can find connective tissue with London-area bands like Disleksick, The Syndrome, Dong Vegan, and Klazo. The group's first songs were engineered and mixed by Preston Lobzun at the Watershed Studio in a day. A cassette release is in the band's immediate future, with a full-length LP (and tours abroad in support) also in the cards.

Mononegatives will take the stage for the first time this coming Saturday at Call The Office. They'll be supporting Toronto's pop-rock trio Basketball Knees and Trophy Knife.

As a member of Isölation Party, Brake recently released a 10-song full-length on No Front Teeth Records titled Fiberoptic Holiday.

Listen: Mononegatives - 5 Second Future @ Bandcamp

Experimental Saint John trio Usse have a new two-song single online titled Free Speech Apologist Technologies. The title track, which is also slated to appear on the band's next full-length, is backed by the b-side "Christian Right Object" (which itself is something of a remix of the band's "Hegemony" single from last summer). The group describes the new tune as "respectively channelling a continuum of the MC5, African Head Charge and Sun Ra, refracted through the Usse dub chamber." Furthermore:

"FSAT is concerned with mechanisms of authority and suppression, extolled under facile, outmoded Eurocentric conceptions of 'rights'. Taken together, our single begs the question of those in narrow argument over speech or religion, is your alignment against people's very lives and existence a more palatable 'freedom' to you, than that of your alignment with white supremacists, trolls and terrorists?"

While everyone in Usse qualifies as a multi-instrumentalist (with half a dozen roles to their respective names), the poor over-simplification is that Usse features guitarist/vocalist Jud Crandall, drummer Emily Saab, and bassist Stephanie Tierney. "Free Speech" finds them collaborating with Nathan Medema (of the eclectic Gatineau-based electronic duo H. de Heutz) and Damon Levine (of Saint John funk & soul act The Groovemasters).

Look for "Free Speech Apologist Technologies" on the New Brunswick band's Flowers For S record when arrives later this month. It's slated to arrive June 27 on the Extra Final label.

Listen: Usse - "Free Speech Apologist Technologies" @ Bandcamp

Aaron Goldstein's muscular folk-punk project Espanola has a new full-length due on June 28. The 11-song record's self-titled and features the new single "A Lesson," along with the previously-previewed track "Outside Saskatoon."

Goldstein, who sings lead, and plays guitar on the record, recorded the album in two parts, tracking five songs at Sinewave Studios in Delisle, SK back in 2014, with the remainder completed at Toronto's Baldwin Street Sound (his place of work) in the subsequent years. Attack In Black family collaborator Kenneth Roy Meehan mixed the new material. In the premiere at Stitched Sound Aaron broke down how "A Lesson" came together:

"I produced the song and the whole LP myself. The recording experience was quick and fun. I got the song written and knew I wanted to cut it quick. Jake Boyd had played a couple shows with me and I knew he was the right guy to nail the particularly quick drum parts I had in mind. Anna Ruddick is my old friend and oft-collaborator and just a deadly bass player. I booked them both to come in maybe a week after I had the thing written. My assistant Paul Phelan, who sits in the engineering chair often at Baldwin Street, cut the bed track for us. I layered a couple guitars and sang the lead and harmony vocals and it was all wrapped inside of a day. Kenny Meehan mixed it and really nailed the simple thing I was going for"

Chances are Aaron Goldstein's hiding in the liner notes of more than a few albums on your shelf. He's been frequently featured as a pedal steel player on recordings by Daniel Romano, Bry Webb, Weaves, and the Weather Station among others. A decade ago he played in the Hamilton-based Huron.

Listen: Espanola - "A Lesson" @ Bandcamp

Dundas, Ontario maximalists The Dirty Nil released a previously unheard track from the Master Volume sessions last week, titled "Astro Ever After." The band commented that it's far from a leftover:

"'Astro Ever After' is by no means an out-take from Master Volume. It's an accompanying track that we chose to release after the bulk of the material simply because we can. Out of all the songs we recorded during the Master Volume sessions, this is certainly one of our favourites. For anyone with a space lust, and for those who appreciate the beauty and brevity of life, the majesty of the sky, and the sludge of stoner metal: this one's for you. Please friends, crank and enjoy.

2018 Master Volume was the band's second LP of new material for Dine Alone Records following 2016's Higher Power.

Listen: The Dirty Nil - "Astro Ever After" @ Bandcamp

I'm excited to announce that I'll once again be teaming up with Beau's Brewing Co. to co-sponsor the punk-focused Black Forest Stage at the craft brewery's annual Oktoberfest music festival and charitable fundraiser. Black Forest will be headlined this year by Winnipeg duo Mobina Galore and Montreal pop-punk group Pale Lips. The lineup includes bands like Burlington power-trio The Penske File, Montreal's charming pop-punk group Lost Love, speedy Quebec skate-punks Bussieres, and the farm-town garage heroes Audio Visceral. The event's main stage will feature the Vancouver indie rock supergroup The New Pornographers headlining on Friday, September 20 and Toronto hip-hop luminary Shad closing the event on Saturday, September 21.

Oktoberfest, now in its 11th year, takes places in the brewery's rural hometown of Vankleek Hill, Ontario, which sits about halfway between Ottawa and Montreal. Last year's event (despite a slight tornado-based setback on the opening night) was an absolute blast. It attracted over 17,000 attendees and raised $94,323 for local community groups. Since 2009 the event's brought in $711,212 in funding.

In particular, the Black Forest Stage will raise funds this year for For Pivots Sake, a nonprofit organization founded by the Birling Skate Shop to engage and mentor youth in the Ottawa community. Since 2012 the organization's refurbished decks with donated parts for area kids in need of a positive recreational outlet. Confirmed charities supported by Oktoberfest as a whole include Hidden Harvest, Ottawa Riverkeeper, Healthy Eating for Better Learning, Vankleek Hill Agricultural Society, Hawkesbury Rotary, Big Brothers Big Sisters Cornwall, and the United Way Ottawa and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

This year's event will bring in Bavarian-style food from local restaurants, 65 different beers (with 14 brewed by Beau's and the local Halcyon Barrel House), "School of Bock" classroom sessions led by experts from the brewing world, and an array of games, activities, and competitions. Round-trip bus transportation for attendees will once again be available from Montreal, Ottawa, and Cornwall to the festival grounds (or you can bike in from Ottawa as part of a United Way fundraiser). Camping passes are available too. You can find tickets and more info at www.beausoktoberfest.ca.

I'll have more on some of the lesser-known weirdos playing Black Forest in the coming weeks, but in the meantime here's the absolute classic that blew my narrow punk rock mind back in 2002.

Watch: The New Pornographers - "Letter From an Occupant" @ YouTube

I've been exploring the lineup for this year's SappyFest, and I'm really digging the overblown swamp fuzz from Fredericton's Janowskii. There was a time in the early 2000s when I somehow ended up on the promo-list for the legendary Bomp! Records and the rough stomp Janowskii's 2018 LP feels like a welcome reminder of when those strange little distortion bombs kept arriving in my mailbox.

Janowskii came into being in 2016, purportedly to keep guitarist Keith Hallett and drummer Drew Budovitch out of trouble. They later brought bassist Matt Legere into the fold. The band's debut was recorded live off the floor in a barn, giving an appropriate live feel to a set of songs that I've seen described as everything from "Delta doom" to "psych-boogie." However you label them, they're steeped in 60s garage and dirty, bluesy psych notes. Very cool. Very loud.

Look for Janowskii slinking around the darker corners of Sackville, New Brunswick's SappyFest, which runs from August 2 to 4. They'll appear on an eclectic bill alongside Snotty Nose Rez Kids, The Weather Station, Haviah Mighty, Apollo Ghosts, Yves Jarvis, LAL, Shotgun Jimmie, and FET.NAT, among others.

Listen: Janowskii - Janowskii @ Bandcamp

Speaking of cool summer festivals, just a week before Sappy the inaugural Side by Side Weekend goes down in Ottawa at the next-door venues Black Squirrel Books and House of TARG. One of the spiritual successors fo the now-defunct Ottawa Explosion, the event recently announced the seconds slate of their lineup.

Side By Side's added some wild sounds from the likes of WLMRT, Bonnie Doon, Big School, Nüshu, Life In Vacuum, and Botfly. They, and others, join a packed slate that already includes BBQT, Cell, Dboy, Future Girls, and the Steve Adamyk Band. That's just listing a few, and you can see the whole list at Facebook. Side By Side will run shows from July 26 through the 28th. Look for a daily schedule soon.

Here's Montreal's Nüshu with "I Lost My Baby," the first single from their upcoming album Sexe étranger. Small world: it was recorded by the above-mentioned Navet Confit. Look for it in the fall and for them at Side By Side.

Listen: Nüshu - "I Lost My Baby" @ Bandcamp

Have I been running a new song from Single Mothers' Drew Thomson every other week? Damn, these PR people are good. The punk frontman's been showcasing his melodic side with his pop-rock solo venture The Drew Thomson Foundation. The latest song from that project's titled "L.A. Lately." Drew commented on the track:

"Tripping over substance abuse and retreating from responsibility isn't a new theme, but it's relatable. I spent half my life sweeping up the night before and avoiding what caused the mess, determined it was the place I was living, not the life I was living that was the true problem. It's a fight most of us go through it sometime in our 20's. This song is just about a punch in that fight, not the knock out or the beginning - but a snippet somewhere between yelling at the bouncer and hearing the sirens getting closer down the street."

Single Mothers last released Through A Wall in 2018. The Drew Thomson Foundation last released the EP Stay in 2018. All these recent new songs are expected on a full-length from Dine Alone due in the fall.

Listen: The Drew Thomson Foundation - "L.A. Lately" @ YouTube

Guelph-based singer/songwriter Innes Wilson is readying a full-length for the summer. Look for The Heart That Holds This Up on August 16 through Out of Sound Records. The first single from the set will be titled "Of Love and Lost," and it's due to arrive alongside a video on June 21. That's still a few weeks out, but you can peak a teaser for it below.

Wilson last released the Seaview EP in 2018, which featured music tracked at Construction & Destruction's Quarantine studio with backing from members of WHOOP-Szo. This supplementary LP was recorded with Halifax-based producer Adam Warren (Glory Glory, Pretty Normal, The Drug Rugs).

Watch: Innes Wilson - "Of Love and Lost" teaser @ YouTube

There's no music to share from this last story just yet, but Jesse Locke of Tough Age, Rotten Column, and Chandra has a new band titled Motorists, featuring Feel Alright's Craig Fahner and Matthew Learoyd. Locke commented:

"We’ve played in Feel Alright before and decided to write some new songs together since Craig moved to Toronto. It ended up kind of sounding like ‘80s R.E.M. if they were a punk band or the Wipers with more jangle and Grass Widow harmonies for good measure. I think you might like it."

The band recently played their first show in Toronto, with the next scheduled for this Friday, June 14th in Mississauga at the Symbiotica space. Ask a punk.

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