Vancouver deathrock four-piece Dead Cells are gearing up to release a full-length this February titled I (the Roman numeral for one). The set arrives on the 15th from Neon Taste in Canada and Erste Theke Tontraeger in Germany. The dark punk act is debuting six new songs on the A-side of the record, with the entirety of their 2018 demo pressed on the flip. Neon Taste had this to say:
"[Mitch] Schuman's dark poetry shifts from anxious foreboding of the modern world in "Cognation," to the gothic storytelling that makes up "Listen." A heavy Agnew influence anchors the music with modernization notes from Sweden's 2000's punk boom. This version of deathrock is not a rehashed Anarcho or Peace-Punk band but a wholly American style-punk version that was first carved out by groups like D.I. or TSOL- but only after learning to play along with 'Only Theatre of Pain.'"
I'm not entirely certain on the lineup (first names only), but Schuman was in the Vancouver punk act Jerk Store circa 2013, or so. In any case, Dead Cells are very much up my alley, and I suspect you'll feel the same.
Paul Jacobs, the Montreal-based psych rocker, visual artist, and animator, has a new collection of odds and sods online titled Portrait Of George, Demos And Songs I Forgot. It's available now to hear via your streaming platform of choice. Many of these tracks find Jacobs in a stripped-down mode, trading the layered wall-of-sound perfected on his recent solo material for wry folk-rock.
Jacobs most recently released the LP Easy in 2018. That record, which arrived via the UK label Stolen Body, capped a remarkably prolific period for the Windsor-bred artist that saw at least a dozen EPs and LPs cascade out in a few short years. In the year since, Jacobs has been playing drums for the buzzy Montreal garage rock act Pottery.
Paul Jacobs was also among the contributors to a recent covers compilation dedicated to the late Memphis garage icon Jay Reatard. Aptly titled Jay Reatard - A Canadian Tribute, the set arrived this week from Belgium's Retard Records. It also features Some Party regular No Fix (Matty Menard of Windsor's Psychic Void) and several proudly scuzzy Montreal groups like Hood Rats, Mickey Dagger, Jyraph, and Curling Irons. You can snag the digitals at Bandcamp now.
Jay Reatard died on January 13, 2010, at the age of 29. In his time, he released numerous recordings both as a solo artist and a member of bands like the Reatards and Lost Sounds.
On the topic of posthumous covers, Fucked Up recently shared their rendition of The Tragically Hip's "In View." The recording comes from a 7" released in conjunction with the experimental punk band's fall tour of Australia. It was limited to 200 copies, so you probably don't have one, and neither do I.
The track is one of several perhaps unlikely touchstones linking the Toronto hardcore act and the beloved Kingston rock icons. Late Hip frontman Gord Downie contributed vocals to the "The Art of Patrons" from FU's 2014 LP Glass Boys. While touring with The Sadies (in support of And the Conquering Sun), Downie also performed a live rendition of Fucked Up's early standard "Generations." Following Downie's public disclosure of his cancer diagnosis, and in the lead-up to the Hip's final show in 2016, Damian Abraham penned a piece for Vice titled "How I Learned to Love the Tragically Hip and Still Be Punk."
"In View" was a single from the Hip's 2006 album World Container. Gord Downie passed in 2017.
The split pairing folk-punk act Westelaken and the low-fi alt-country group Hobby is now online. Each band contributes a pair of songs to the collection, which is available as a lathe-cut 7" by Dan Mclay of Local Dish. Proceeds from sales of the 7" bound for to the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources.
Hobby features guitarist/vocalist Cam Fraser, drummer Foster Marshall-Medeiros, guitarist Stephen Pitman, and bassist Duncan Wardlaw. They last released The Fastest Car Yet in 2018. Westelaken features bassist Alex Baigent, drummer Rob Mclay, guitarist/vocalist Jordan Seccareccia, and Lucas Temor on piano and banjo. Rachel Bellone of the Toronto band Slurry appears as guest vocalist with Westelaken on "Rachel's Song." They commented on the track in their liner notes, making sure to blunt its seeming anti-Winnipeg bias:
"Rachel's Song was written very quickly a long time ago as a silly excuse to get to sing a song with Rachel. The Winnipeg diss comes from a few real stories experienced by close friends and family that found their way into the third verse during a desperate scramble to have the words finished in time for a performance on the afternoon of the day the song was conceived.
We actually really like The Weakerthans and the city of Winnipeg."
To close the record, Hobby covers "Sad Sack" by the 90s Canadian indie rock duo The Inbreds.
Last week Headless Owl Records shared a new video from José Contreras, showcasing the song "Grand Central Station" from the By Divine Right frontman's recent solo effort At The Slaughterhouse. Ben Srokosz of GATTA Creative directed the new clip. He previously helmed Contreras's video for "At 45," the record's first single.
At The Slaughterhouse arrived this past September, capping a busy year that saw Contreras playing as a part of Shotgun Jimmie's Transistor Sister 2 band, both on the road and in the studio. By Divine Right, a veteran Toronto indie rock group, most recently released the song-for-song Depeche Mode cover album Speak & Spell US.
Prolific Chicoutimi singer-songwriter Dany Placard has another new single online, this one titled "Maman." The track arrived in two forms, as both an epic, nine-minute monster and a comparatively svelte three-and-a-half-minute radio edit. The latter appears in a new video that recently premiered at Urbania. The full version, which swerves from catchy pop-rock into an extended psych jam, is streaming at Bandcamp.
The single will appear on Placard's upcoming full-length J'connais rien à l'astronomie, which is due on January 31 from Simone Records. The record release show takes place on January 29 at Montreal's La Livart. Dany Placard last released Full Face in 2017.
Simone will also release the upcoming full-length from the ambitious Saint-Lambert grunge act Zen Bamboo. Malajube's Julien Mineau produced the 10-song set, which carries the title GLU. It arrives on March 27.
Zen Bamboo is following up a narratively interconnected series of EPs released throughout 2017 and 2018. The band features vocalist Simon Larose, guitarist Léo Leblanc, bassist Xavier Touikan and drummer Cao.
Last week Ottawa synth-pop duo Surrender finally announced their debut full-length, an 8-song self-titled effort due before the end of the month from London synthwave label Aztec Records. You can sneak a peek at the cover art at Bandcamp. The set collects each of the 80s-influenced singles the band released last year ("Hold On," "Hurt No More," and "A Lifetime Away"), as well as a cover of "Nothing to Talk About," originally by Norway's Hanne Kolstø.
Surrender arrived last year from the ashes of the heretic-punk group Crusades and the fantasy metal trio Black Tower. It features Dave Williams on lead vocals and Scott McCash (Skottie Lobotomy when wearing his punk hat) on keys, guitars, drums, and vocals. The duo tracked an LP's worth of songs in their respective home studios with Alex Gamble (PUP, Fucked Up, Alvvays) producing and mixing at The Hive in Toronto.
Toronto's grunge'n'glam four-piece The Effens has a new video online featuring the song "Ditch Ditch." It was released in late December to coincide with the release of the band's self-titled debut LP. The band commented on the clip:
"This is a video representation of the instrumental goings-on in "Ditch Ditch." In the chorus, everyone's hitting a different rhythm and then coming back together in each peak. We wanted it to be a visual overload that could complement the song and have you seeing something new each time you watched it.
In this video, we're all chopped up, trading hearts, minds and legs. That's also what it's like being in a band while trying to do everything DIY. You've got to form like Voltron and have complete trust in one another!"
The new record collects the material The Effens had earlier released online as 2018's Burn Blush EP and 2019's Unsafe EP.
Vancouver hardcore group Juice has a new track online titled "Demons." It's the quintet's first material to arrive since last summer's demo EP. That's honestly all I know about this one - reverb and breakdowns abound, so buckle up.
Toronto alt-country legends The Sadies are pairing up with the Berlin-based garage impresario King Khan for a split single. The 7" is due January 24. The A-side will feature the Montreal-bred Khan with Natalia Avelon and Mary Simich performing "Old Gunga Din." The Sadies contribute "The Most Despicable Man Alive" to the B-side.
Both The Sadies and King Khan are currently on the road, although on separate routes that don't appear to intersect anytime soon. You can find those dates at Exclaim. The Sadies last released Northern Passages in 2017. I couldn't tell you precisely what Khan's most recently released, as his band names and projects seem to come and go at a rate I can't peg. Let's say it was 2013's Merge-released Idle No More, maybe?
Some Party tapes!
Hours before 2019 came to a close Some Party released Under The Circumstances, the first in a series of cassette compilations showcasing new and rare sounds from the bands covered here every week. The first edition features some never before heard recordings from Montreal's New Vogue, Toronto's Tough Age, Edmonton's Wares, Windsor's Psychic Void, and the Sackville-via-Windsor group Partner.
You can snag one of these anachronisms (and a sticker!) from me here for just six bucks, or grip one from any of the bands at their upcoming shows. A full breakdown of this boondoggle is online at someparty.ca.
The latest episode of Come For a Ride features an interview with Niko Stratis of the above-mentioned Headless Owl Records. Jesse Locke (Tough Age/Motorists) and Kritty Uranowski (Lavender Bruisers) co-host the Toronto-based interview show.
Vish Khanna recently relocated from Guelph to Edmonton, and the first Kreative Kontrol of the Western era very appropriately features a pair of local musicians. Khanna's joined in episode 516 of his program by Jessica Jalbert of Faith Healer and singer-songwriter Jom Comyn.