Hold the Bow
Vancouver indie rock act Woolworm recently announced Awe, a new 12-song full-length due November 8 from Mint Records. Recorded and mixed by their labelmate Jay Arner, the set follow's the band's 2017 sophomore record Deserve to Die. It also strikes a decidedly different tone, as guitarist Giles Roy noted in the press release:
"Even though some of these songs date back to before Deserve To Die, we allowed ourselves to be spontaneous and open-minded here and took a collage approach to the overall record. We let it be scrappier and more diverse and less symmetrical... Deserve To Die was a sort of exorcism, and this one's more of a meditation. That one took so long to write and record that finally releasing it had a cathartic effect. But now we're done with death.
For the foreseeable future, at least. This is more of a life record."
You can preview for yourself with the gothy vibes of "Hold the Bow." In the premiere at Indie 88 the band reveals how they took inspiration from Rest Energy, a harrowing 1980 performance art piece by Serbian artist Marina Abramović. Roy continued to muse on the album's themes in the press release:
"Ultimately, I think the album is about other people — trying to relate to someone, sometimes succeeding brilliantly, sometimes failing horrifically. Just the process of connecting with anyone is such a trip... It's so fucked up to have a real person in front of you and know that you're each just hiding in your own mind. You can wind up knowing them pretty well but you will never know what it's like to actually be them. So we're all alone in our own realities, but then we're all constantly trusting each other in so many ways. That can go horribly wrong, but when it goes right, that's the most beautiful thing I can think of."
Woolworm features Giles Roy on guitars and vocals, guitarist Alex Pomeroy, bassist Heather Black, and drummer Nick Tolliday. The band's playing Pop Montreal this Thursday, then a pair of Ontario dates with labelmates Necking to round out the week. Look for them on September 27 at Ottawa's newly opened art space Cinqhole, then on Saturday the 28th in the basement of Toronto comic shop The Beguiling.
I attended the Polaris gala last week. It was a fine-tuned event with a well-deserved outcome for the ultimate winner Haviah Mighty. As always, I did my best to stay out of the way. As a random shlub with an unremarkable newsletter, I try not to draw too much attention from Toronto's cultural elite, particularly while I'm trying to sneak their hors d'oeuvres. While every nominees' performance was enjoyable, I'm not sure I found any as singularly thrilling as last year's gleefully anarchic blowout from Hubert Lenoir.
The Quebec glam rock upstart returned last week with a new single, a collaboration with Australia's androgynous alt-pop icon Kirin J. Callinan. Titled (in lower case) "hunny bunny," the track came paired with a 16mm video chronicling the love lives of vampire skateboarders. Gabriel Lapointe and Noémie D. Leclerc directed the clip.
Speaking to The Fader, Lenoir commented on the song:
"Kirin and I met up in a studio in Amsterdam, and I was excited and terrified to show my ideas to him. I have so much respect and love for his work so it was surreal to have him with me. We recorded for two days, and tried every idea we came up with, crazy ideas and stupid ideas. Kirin is such a lovely person to be around and work with. He's full of positivity, energy and joy, plus he's lot older than me so he's kind of a big brother/football coach. He told me, 'trust yourself, Hubert!'
I was surrounded by English speaking persons (Kirin and the engineer Thomas) so it felt natural for me to write in English which I haven't done in a long time. That was a big thing for me, but I couldn't help putting two lines of French in, and Kirin tried to sing in French too. When we were recording the track I was always repeating the same words: it needs to be low key, low key pop. I didn't see the hook as something that should come at you like a tiger but more like a snake, it attacks from the back and bites you without you knowing it. After those two days, we went back to finish our respective European tours and when I got back home I managed to mix the track with a few friends and worked with Kirin via FaceTime. Kirin had planned to add more guitars to the song but he broke both his arms few days after he finished his tour, lol."
I enjoy how casually Lenoir laughs off Callinan breaking both of his arms. Lenoir last released the Polaris shortlisted Darlène in 2018. His early quartet The Seasons released their 2017-era Midnight, Let's Get a Hot Dog later that same year in the wake of Darlène's success. Both albums arrived via Simone Records.
The low-fi art-punk group Deliluh recently announced Beneath The Floors, a new LP due November 15. The 10-song set marks the band's second major release of the year, following May's Oath of Intent EP. As with that record, this one arrives on Telephone Explosion in North America and Tin Angel everywhere else.
Like Oath of Intent before it, Beneath The Floors was recorded live off the floor of Toronto veteran hall the Owls Club (although five months prior to the sessions for that record). The group shared the single "Lickspittle (A Nut in the Paste)" along with the announcement, a track that features an appearance from Patrick Flegel of Women and Cindy Lee. Band leader Kyle Knapp commented on the song, stating:
"[Lickspittle] characterizes a naive outcast struggling to swing with an elitist crowd. The subject is a metaphor for the rampant trend of nouveau-bougie horse chocolate popping up all over Toronto: a 'craft' class of try-hards, pining for status."
Deliluh's relationship with the Owls Club was captured earlier this summer in the documentary short Somewhere Else. That piece, from directors Colin Medley and Maria Todorov-Topouzov, follows a community of Toronto bands utilizing non-traditional venues in the wake of the city's ongoing spate of club closures. You can find it over at Vimeo.
Montreal post-punk group Corridor has another new single online, previewing their upcoming full-length Junior. You can check out the rollicking No Wave guitar pop of "Domino" through a premiere at Clash Music.
Speaking to the publication, the band's Jonathan Robert commented:
"People are often glorifying what being an Artist or a musician can mean. Art doesn't necessarily make you a better person. There can be angst, stress and so on. It can have a negative, direct impact on the people closest to you. 'Domino' is about navigating just that. It is the first song out of 'Junior' that we've composed and we've played it live quite a few times already."
The 10-song Junior arrives on October 18 from Bonsound in Canada and Sub Pop elsewhere. Produced by Emmanuel Éthier, it's the band's third album and follow up to 2017's Supermercado. Corridor features Jonathan Robert on vocals, guitar, and synths, with Dominic Berthiaume on vocals and bass, Julian Perreault on guitar, and Julien Bakvis drumming.
Former Deadly Snakes frontman André Ethier recently shared another new track from his upcoming solo record. You can preview the enigmatic singer/songwriter's "Jenny The Blues" below. Ethier commented in a brief statement (and with characteristic wryness):
"Here's a funky little song about feeling sorry for yourself. And remember, you can't wash the blues off a cop."
The nine-track Croak in the Weeds is due October 11 from Telephone Explosion, the second in a planned trilogy that started with 2017's Under Grape Leaves. Ethier recorded the new album in his Toronto studio with the celebrated ambient and post-rock producer Sandro Perri. The pair previously worked together on Grape Leaves.
I wrote about Croak in the Weeds' lead single, "Dream On Pigs" earlier in the month.
The Toronto psych-rock act Mimico premiered a new video last week for the track "Common Tar." The band's Ben Oginz commented that the song was "a play on montage-style scoring," adding:
"The song imagines a post-human character living outside a walled city in a plastic tent village. This character is trying to download the knowledge of humanity before the last of the biological humans die out and has to steal the data from inside the walled city."
"Common Tar" will appear on the 'space-motorik' trio's upcoming full-length, Hi-Action, which is due for a fall release on Hand Drawn Dracula. The band recorded with producer Justin Small (of Do Make Say Think) in sessions at both the storied Bathhouse Studio (The Tragically Hip, The Sadies) and Toronto's Palace Sound (Absolutely Free). The album features contributions from violinist Laura C. Bates (Volür) and guest-vocals from Ida Maidstone (Hush Pup). Mimico features Ben Oginz, Jeremiah Knight, and Nick Kervin.
After a few years performing as a live band, Ottawa trio Warp Lines are finally set to deliver a proper studio album. The bands' first full-length finds them mashing up influences from their lengthy garage-punk resumes (Million Dollar Marxists, the Steve Adamk Band, etc.) with pop hooks and vocal harmonies from 90s Canadian alt-rock (Sloan, Thrush Hermit). The band's first full-length will be titled Human Fresh and is due this Friday from Portland's Dirt Cult Records. The band premiered a few new songs this month through various outlets, with Punknews debuting "Hell is Great" a few weeks ago and The Bad Copy recently showcasing "Measured."
Warp Lines features the entirety of the now-defunct bass-and-drum duo Big Dick, pairing long-time collaborators Johnny O (guitar) and Dave Secretary (drums) with bassist Kurt Rafuse (formerly of The Yips). The trio has extensive connections in the capital's busy punk scene, with members having played at one time or another in groups like Van Johnson, Uranium Comeback, and The New Calling, among others.
Warp Lines will launch the new record with a release show at Ottawa's House of TARG on September 28, supported by locals Mushy Gushy and Organ Eyes. Dave Williams of Crusades and Surrender will be on site to DJ some synth-pop gems as well. A slate of shows in Ontario and Eastern Canada is scheduled for early 2020, with dates to be announced soon.
Ivan Rivers is the absurdist folk guise of Ivan Raczycki from the melodic Toronto punk quartet Stuck Out Here. November 22 will see the self-described "celebrated folk icon" release their debut full-length, The Fallen Ivan Rivers. In a press release Rivers remarks on the album:
"The record centers around their 2016-2017 psychospiritual manic spell that centers around a fantastical relationship with a woman they believed to be the reincarnated Mary Magdalene, detailing their dances with divinity, surreality, and eventual tragedy, as less than a year after their dalliance, she was murdered in The Village in Toronto."
There's a pair of songs from the record online for you to preview now. First is "On Pharmacy," available as a video shot by Joe Elliott. The clip features Rivers portraying a "confused prophet sacrificing and executing several manifestations of self along the coast of Lake Ontario." The track features Espanola's Aaron Goldstein on pedal steel. You can also now stream a song titled "9 Black Crosses," at your streaming service of choice.
Stuck Out Here recently released their third LP Until We're Each Someone Else, on Get Party! and Must Be Nice Records. Raczycki's mental health challenges in the lead-up to that record factored heavily into the resulting songs. Ivan Rivers last released a pair of EPs in 2017, Mystic Keg and Confidante.
"'Land of Dead' began with stoner-rock riff on the sitar; it was pretty quick to write... Lyrically, I knew it would be the dark centrepiece of a song suite. Working with my friend, and MIEN bandmate, John Mark Lapham, we came up with the lyrics telling of a world devoid of empathy and burning skies. It's tragic how life imitates art."
Elephant Stone last released Ship of Fools in 2016, with the follow-up due sometime in 2020. The band's set to play the Levitation festival in Austin, Texas this November, with a U.S. tour built around their appearance. You can find all those details at Brooklyn Vegan.
Dundas, Ontario power-trio The Dirty Nil recently announced their fall tour, pairing the reveal with a new single titled "Idiot Victory." Like their summer-released "Astro Ever After," the track comes from the sessions for 2018's Master Volume, with both tracks appearing as part of an expanded edition of that record (at least on streaming services, the yellow cover variant available through Dine Alone instead comes with a second platter of demos).
Frontman Luke Bentham commented on the new track in a press release:
"To be honest, the song is about smashing your partner's cell phone in a desperate bid for attention. I certainly participate in the modern landscape of social media but like many, I'm concerned about it's obstruction of true, real-life connection. The title, to me is something separate. I like the ambiguity of it. It can be contextualized depending on its association. To me, Idiot Victory is the triumph of the underdog and a celebration of all things strange. Please play loud. Let your freak flag fly brothers and sisters."
Master Volume was the band's second LP of new material for Dine Alone Records following 2016's Higher Power. Throughout the summer the band released pairs of cover songs as part of a four-volume set titled You're Welcome.
Last week the prolific Toronto songwriter Ben Cook shared a video for his new single "Try Not To Hang On So Hard." Shot by Tristan C-M and Kevin Fitz-Henry, the clip shows Cook and his bandmates in a home recording session and out roaming the streets of Brooklyn. Cook wrote the material for both the upcoming GUV II and the summer-released GUV I while living in New York City last May.
GUV II is the second chapter in a series of power-pop records slated for this year under Cook's Young Guv persona. GUV I arrived in August from Run For Cover Records, with this second chapter due from the label on October 25.
Ben Cook's, of course, no stranger to this newsletter, as he's both the frontman of the Toronto hardcore group No Warning and a member of the acclaimed Fucked Up. This pair of new Young Guv albums follow 2018's 2 Sad 2 Funk.
You've Changed Records has shared a new video for "Fountain," a track from Shotgun Jimmie's recently released Transistor Sister 2. The clip, shot by Colin Medley, features Jimmy and the band cavorting around the Sackville, New Brunswick waterfowl park before their set at this summer's SappyFest. Among his party, you'll find Ryan Peters of Ladyhawk, Jay Baird of Do Make Say Think, and José Miguel Contreras of By Divine Right.
Transistor Sister 2 is Shotgun Jimmie's first new full-length since 2016's Field of Trampolines. He'll support it on the road this fall with two separate tours, one in October as a solo act supporting the Thrush Hermit reunion, then again in November for a week of full-band shows in Ontario. You can find the details here.
"Flinch" appears on the band's recent EP Nice View. That 5-song set followed the band's 2018 release All For Show. Brain Gum Records recently collected both on a new tape, with an LP in the works. BBQT features guitarist/vocalist Amery Sandford, guitarist Jack Bielli, bassist Mikey Melikey, and drummer Allison Graves.
Toronto's Raise Ghosts is the new band that emerged from the now-defunct Mississauga emo/punk group Peace Be Still. The group recently premiered their debut release Only in Darkness Can We Find True Light, over at Exclaim. Jesse Gander (Needles//Pins, Japandroids, White Lung) recorded, mixed and mastered the set with some additional recording from Somersaulter's Taylor Barrow.
In a statement the band commented:
"Only in Darkness Can We Find True Light has been a two-year journey, which began with the unceremonious end of Peace Be Still. The album closes the chapter on playing in that band for ten years and deals with loss, impermanence, and feeling alone. Raise Ghosts attempts to dovetail these issues and subject matter with music that is as heavy and challenging."
Must Be Nice Records is helping get this one out there. You can preview the track "Bonus" at their Bandcamp page or stream the entire 12-song set at Exclaim.
Roberval, Quebec's hockey-themed alt-rock titans Les Dales Hawerchuk have an incredibly on-brand new track available. The band's composed a theme song for the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, a team that plays as part of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. You can check their anthem, titled "Direct dans l 'mille" over at Bandcamp.
The band will appear at the opening game of the Sags' upcoming season on October 4. Les Dales Hawerchuk features the brothers Sylvain and Sébastien Séguin on vocals and guitars, with bassist Charles Perron and drummer Pierre Fortin. The group's last full-length was 2016's similarly hockey-referencing Désavantage numérique.
If you've never heard Les Dales' namesake 2005 single, it serves as a great example of how certain cultural artifacts never manage to escape Quebec's linguistic orbit regardless of how much of an impact they have within the province. It also remains absolutely bonkers, regardless of language.