Ottawa psych/surf flavoured punk trio The Thrill has a self-titled EP on the way next month. The set features five new songs from guitarist/vocalist Mikey Power, bassist Derek Muldoon, and drummer Kieran McKinnon. That rhythm section boasts the usual laundry list of Ottawa band connections, including credits with Creep Wave, Liquid Assets, and DOXX among others. Speaking of capital connections, House of TARG co-founder Paul "Yogi" Granger recorded, mixed, and mastered the EP.
The Thrill will celebrate the cassette release with a show at Ottawa's hopping new arts space Cinqhole on January 10. They'll be playing alongside Montreal aquapunks Barnacle and local post-punk act Sleep Late.
At one point in history, The Thrill played as The Shame, and emerged from Vancouver with a weird and wonderful little EP titled Pops & Pits (available under both band names at one point or another). The band's most recent physical release was a hand-dubbed early 2019 promo tape. It looks like much of that past material's offline these days, so you might want to snag a copy of this now, just in case it vanishes too.
Last week Patrick Flegel announced their next studio album as the haunting Toronto No Wave/trans-pop act Cindy Lee. Titled What's Tonight to Eternity, the set's due on February 14 via the Superior Viaduct imprint W.25TH. The record follows 2018's Model Express full-length.
In a statement, Flegel reflected on the influence of Karen Carpenter, the late American singer whose death at the age of 32 brought increased public visibility to anorexia and other eating disorders. Flegel commented that Carpenter's story reverberates through this new work:
"I found a deep interest and comfort in her story, which is a cautionary tale about the monstrosity of show business, stardom at a young age, and being a misfit looking for connection. The darkness and victimizing tabloid sensationalism she suffered, which is easily tempered and overwhelmed by her earnest output, her artistry, her tireless work ethic. Something utterly unique and magical takes shape in the negative space, out of exclusion. What I relate to in her mainly has a lot to do with her output and what is unknown about her, how much she kept hidden to herself while having this public profile."
Cindy Lee previewed the new LP with the single "Heavy Metal," a tribute to the late Calgary musician Chris Reimer, who played alongside Flegel in the groundbreaking Calgary art-rock group Women. Reimer passed away unexpectedly in 2012 at the age of 26.
Downers is an acoustic duo featuring Jo Snyder of the early 2000s Winnipeg indie trio Sixty Stories and Jono Hunter of the Toronto punk acts Found Objects and !ATTENTION!. The group has a new self-titled EP online, a five-song set recorded in Bobcaygeon, Ontario this past March. The pair commented on the release:
"We both come from loud bands and wanted to do something with a lighter touch. We practiced sporadically for about two years until we said fuck it and locked in a weekend at a 'cottage' (read: a giant complex on a lake with tennis courts and really nice beds) and recorded in their pool room (not the swimming kind)."
Andrew Neufeld and Chuck Coles recorded and produced the EP, also laying down some additional instrumentation in the studio. Greg Hounsell mixed and mastered the set. He drummed on one track as well.
You can check out a video for the song "Anything Good" below. It features some candid footage of the band working during that cottage country recording session.
If that Sixty Stories mention is giving you flashbacks, here's another blast from the early 2000s.
I haven't heard the name Somehow Hollow in years, but I recall they were one of the first bands I saw as a freshman at the Trasheteria in Guelph (they were touring with Grade, as they often did in those days). The punk group, originally from Stratford, Ontario, is back in action this winter with Chasing Daylight, a new EP that lands 16 long years after their last full-length. The brothers Mike and Brad Casarin still spearhead the group, which is now based out of Hamilton.
A press release chronicles the band's return and a few new additions:
"Late 2018 the brothers sat down with Engineer and guitar player Dave Featherstone to hash out what was to become the songs that lay before you. Months were spent rekindling the love of songwriting and performing while producing the bands best and fully realized material to date. Dave,in short time,became a full fledged member of the group and Mike Harshaw (ex drummer of Metal legends Annihilator) was brought in to realize the full vision of the songs with no compromise.
The boys, after a year of writing, finally entered the legendary Beach Road Studios with Juno Award-winning Engineer Siegfried Meier to lay down the tracks and complete the latest chapter of the SH story."
Chasing Daylight arrives via London's Get Party! Records. It follows 2003's Victory released Busted Wings & Rusted Halos. It also marks the band's first new music following the 2003 death of founding guitarist Kent Abbott. You can check a lyric video for the track "Aging Sentation" at YouTube now, and snag the whole artifact over at Bandcamp.
Mike Mackey, otherwise known as the Ottawa Valley alt-blues act KINGS, recently shared the new single "Black Highway Hymn." The artist describes it as "a resounding Canadian highway song from Horseshoe Valley into East Vancouver."
KINGS recorded the new track from their home base of Renfrew County, Ontario. It follows this summer's boozy "Mississippi Flood Song" in the band's slowly growing catalogue. All KINGS material to date has arrived through Old Highway 17 Productions.
"In a Waiting Room" is the new single from Commuted, David Eatock's eclectic Toronto-based post-punk project. The song serves as the title track to an upcoming 10-song full-length, now due January 30 after a delay this past fall. Eatock commented that the song's about "losing someone and the process of moving on," further elaborating in a comment on Facebook:
"I wrote this through late-night sessions watching PS I Love You with a box of tissues and a tub of ice cream. I hope it gives you the heebie jeebies."
In a Waiting Room will also include the single "Life's a Zoo." You may remember that one from a positively bizarre video I shared this past September. It was the one featuring a memorably creepy eagle costume, but given some of the visuals that pass through here that might not narrow it down much.
St. John's punk group Conditioner has a video online featuring their recent single "Room For Two." The track's slated to appear on the band's sophomore EP, which appropriately seems to be titled Second EP. You can look for it this coming January in conjunction with Must Be Nice Records.
The Newfoundland group self-recorded this new material, with Micah Brown mixing and mastering. Second EP will follow up on the band's self-titled effort from 2017.
The low-fi Toronto alt-country act Hobby has a video online featuring a live version of the song "Cost," shot in 2018 at the Houndstooth. The band jested that the clip exists specifically because "festival submission season is approaching." You can judge if it'll help in that regard over at YouTube. WLMRT's Ryan Hage filmed the "Cost" video through his Thank You So Much production company.
Hobby and the Toronto folk-punk act Westelaken recently announced the arrival of a long-in-the-works split record. The bands will convene for a show at that same Houndstooth on January 11 to celebrate the release. I'll be sure to share a few tunes from that one once they arrive.
Hobby last released The Fastest Car Yet in 2018.
Toronto punk combo The Mightabins have a new single out titled "Couch Song." Following a handful of self-produced EPs, the tune showcases the band's first professional studio output. The Mightabins worked this time out with Mike Indovina at Howl Studio in Oakville. If all goes as planned, look for "Couch Song" to end up on an EP sometime in the spring of 2020.
Let's check in with the annual Montreal punk gathering Pouzza Fest, as they've been confirming bands for their 2020 edition for the past few weeks.
This being an anniversary year, Pouzza's mining the event's past lineups for repeat performers. The 2020 lineup now features appearances from a rising number of well-regarded U.S. punk acts, including Tim Barry, Mustard Plug, A Wilhelm Scream, War On Women, and Dead Fucking Last. They'll be queuing up at the border to make their triumphant returns alongside previously announced groups like Good Riddance, Jon Snodgrass, and Horace Pinker. Some of the new Canadian additions include the melodic Toronto punk quartet Stuck Out Here, wistful Montreal storytellers Oh My Snare!, Quebec City's high-energy pop-punks Hitch & Go, the reunited Calgarian vets Belvedere, and Stomp Records' grungy Anti-Queens.
Pouzza's marking its 10th year in 2020, running from May 15 through the 17th in and around downtown Montreal. You can snag pass now at pouzzafest.com and (if last year's any indication) you can expect around 175 bands to be involved when all's said and done.
The CBC's Indigenous music program Reclaimed recently ran an episode featuring punk, hardcore, and metal songs from Indigenous artists around the world. That playlist featured groups like Oshawa's bluesy Crown Lands, London's harrowing WHOOP-Szo, the Montreal collective Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Toronto-based Kristi Lane Sinclair, Calgary punks No More Moments, the TO hardcore group Bleeding Out, and BC punkabilly act Jason Camp and the Posers. Here's the official word:
"Reclaimed is the home to the next wave of Indigenous music on CBC. Combining past, present and future this series explores the many worlds of Indigenous music and introduces listeners to a new generation of Indigenous artists reclaiming their culture through music and song -- For a lot of people, music is an unfiltered way to express your rawest emotions - angry, ecstatic, frustrated - and anything you're feeling can come out in a song. This episode of Reclaimed is all about Indigenous bands that tap into that raw and unrefined energy, and channel generations of resistance and struggle into the fury of punk, rock, metal and hardcore. The aggressive and vibrant soundtrack to heavy headbangin'... Indigenous style -- Join host Jarrett Martineau as he explores the furious energy, fury-filled politics, rage and intensity of Indigenous rock, punk, metal and hardcore."
You can stream the episode from the CBC.
Cancon Holiday Nonsense
Dundas power-trio The Dirty Nil have been performing "Christmas At My House" for years now, with a few high profile renditions available in the video archives of the Strombo Show and Toronto rock station 102.1 the Edge. This season the song's resurfaced right on schedule, this time as a charged up studio rendition.
Guitarist/vocalist Luke Bentham commented:
"Let's be honest folks; unless DMX is singing it, we don't need to hear 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' again. Let's do away with some of these old and tired tunes and instead, celebrate Yuletide with a proper stomper. We proudly present: 'Christmas At My House.' Crank it up and let the eggnog flow, hail baby Jesus as well as the manufacturers of mid-to-low quality libations. Happy holidays, friends."
The Nil have spent the majority of the year on the road supporting their sophomore Dine Alone Records LP Master Volume.
Chris Page of Expanda Fuzz recently shared a remix and remaster of his holiday tune "I Saw Santa Sliding On A Cafeteria Tray." The track initially appeared on the Centretown Recording Alliance's Christmas Challenge 2013 compilation. The Ottawa-area artist explains:
"If you like your Xmas music a little on the garage-punk spectrum, dig into this rocking blast of a stocking stuffer. I recorded this at home with a bunch of friends and even the video has become a bit of a tradition in these parts. So let 'er rip, Santa."
Expanda Fuzz last released Cotton Candy Jet Engine in 2018. Page is perhaps best known for his time recording as part of Camp Radio and before that as a member of the 90s pop-punk group The Stand GT. He has a new solo effort in the works for the near future, an album that'll follow up his 2015 LP Volume Vs. Voice.
Toronto punk luminaries PUP have had a lot of success over the years, but they reached an impressive milestone last week that puts all of that to shame: puppets. The four-piece appeared on the CBC children's program The Studio K Show last week, performing a Christmas-themed (and child-friendly) version of their Morbid Stuff single "Kids" alongside a host of dancing puppets.
The 11-song Morbid Stuff, PUP's third full-length, was released earlier this year on the band's Little Dipper imprint. That record landed the group on this year's Polaris Music Prize shortlist, but the glaring lack of puppets in their gala performance likely cost them the prize itself.
The 60th episode of Puff Digital's cannabis-themed talk show Into The Weeds features part one of a two-part interview with Al Nolan of the 90s-era Toronto punk legends The Almighty Trigger Happy. Into The Weeds is hosted by Ben Rispin (Saint Alvia/Rules), medical cannabis educator Bubba Nicholson, and Efrem Shulz of the US punk band Death By Stereo.
CISM-FM, the volunteer-run French-language campus radio station from Université de Montréal, recently featured Montreal garage-punk group Nüshu playing live in the studio. The band recently released a killer full-length titled Sexe étranger that's fast become one of my favourite records of 2019. You can check their performance on the Session live à CISM podcast.
Come For a Ride, hosted by Jesse Locke (Tough Age/Motorists) and Kritty Uranowski (Lavender Bruisers) has a new episode up featuring Toronto singer-songwriter Laura Barrett. Barrett's new solo full-length Who Is The Baker? recently arrived from Paper Bag Records.
Three episodes of Vish Khanna's Kreative Kontrol surfaced in the past few weeks. Episode #511 features a panel discussion about the book Tomorrow is Too Late: Toronto Hardcore Punk in the 1980s with authors Derek Emerson and Shawn Chirrey (along with several contributors). Kids In The Hall star Kevin McDonald appears on #512 to speak about his recent rock opera, while #513 is another live recording from Khanna's Long Night talk show. Among the guests, that episode features a live performance from the above-mentioned Laura Barrett as well.
Every December, I try and take a week or two off, assuming my corner of the Canadian indie music world will be somewhat quieter over the holidays. Last year that assumption proved utterly false, what with both the Booji Boys and Daniel Romano stubbornly releasing material in the days between Christmas and New Years.
I'm stubbornly going to try that again this year (the lateness of this very edition is evidence thereof), but I've got an additional reason for needing that extra time. You can sneak a preview of my regrettable financial decision below. I'll have details when you next hear from me, but I'm just over the moon that these things exist. Who wants one?