Mathias Kom and Ariel Sharratt of The Burning Hell return this spring with Never Work, an album of labour-focused folk anthems with a decidedly modern twist. The set finds the pair reconstructing a time-honoured tradition in leftist protest music for the trials of the information economy. They elaborate on this in their press release:
"Work is changing. Robots are replacing us. Capitalism is fracturing. With their second duo album Never Work, Ariel Sharratt and Mathias Kom (of Canadian garage-folk band The Burning Hell) ask what work songs might sound like in a future where the nature of labour itself is so uncertain. Accenting the acoustic elements of old-school folk revivals with electronic interference, Never Work takes cues from labour activists and Situationist pranksters to explore the gig economy, side-hustles, tech feudalism, class war, unionized digital assistants, rebellious self-service checkout machines, and fully automated luxury communism. Some are songs about workers, some are songs for workers, but most are both at once. Simultaneously earnest and wry, the songs on Never Work are a protest playlist for our collective journey towards oblivion or the beach."
The record arrives April 3 from BB*Island on vinyl and CD. It serves as Ariel and Mathias' second record formally billed as a duo, following 2015's Don't Believe The Hyperreal. The Burning Hell, proper, last released Revival Beach in 2017.
Along with eight originals, the set includes a cover of Malvina Reynolds' 1966 anthem "I Don't Mind Failing" (a song featuring the immortal verse "Don't mind wearing the ragged britches /'Cause those who succeed are the sons of bitches"). Sharratt and Kom recorded this set in Fairfield, Prince Edward Island, with Jake Nicoll performing additional production and mixing at Studio J in St. John's. Keeping with their theme, the record's dedicated to the memory of Jeff Lockhart Jr., a warehouse temp who died on the floor of a Virginia Amazon facility in 2013.
You can preview the record's gorgeous title track now through a lyric video on YouTube.
As a tech worker, someone whose adult life has been acutely defined by the oft-squandered promise of technology, the topics explored on this record have my undivided attention. That I'm such a big Burning Hell fan is almost secondary.
On March 13, Artoffact Records will release the new LP from Vancouver five-piece Spectres. Titled Nostalgia, the set follows the post-punk group's 2016 LP Utopia, as well as their recent 7" single "Provincial Wake." The press release teases out the group's influences:
"Though the band's output has matured with time to embrace a wider range of new-wave and shoegaze influences, their ethos remains rooted in DIY punk. The blending of these influences allows for the curious juxtaposition of 80's influenced pop sensibilities with lyrics that explore the alienation and cynicism of modern life. On the new album, Nostalgia, these influences are carried even further to create a wonderfully crafted suite of songs that evoke the primal sounds of Beastmilk with the melody of Soft Kill."
You can preview the set with the track "The Head and the Heart" below. Spectres recorded with ACTORS' Jason Corbett at his Jacknife Sound studio. This LP will the group's fourth, with all of their previous material recently reissued as a part of Artoffact's catalogue.
Spectres were first brought together as a studio project in Coombs, British Columbia by Brian Gustavson and Steve Hanker. Now operating from Vancouver, the group's current incarnation features Gustavson backed by drummer Mitch Allen, bassist Nathan Szilagyi, and guitarists Zach Batalden and Tyler Pilling. You'll have heard members of the band playing recently in punk group slike Sore Points and the now-defunct Night People.
Last week brought another preview of What's Tonight to Eternity, the upcoming studio album from Patrick Flegel's acclaimed no-wave act Cindy Lee. You can preview "I Want You To Suffer" below. While it clocks in north of seven minutes, the track's journey from askew noise-pop through crashing soundscapes and a haunting sea of organs should keep you engaged throughout. Flegel, who rose to prominence as part of the Calgary art-rock group Women, commented on the track in a press release:
"'I Want You To Suffer' is about my feelings regarding being abused and wanting severe punishment and revenge. It is also a rumination on alienation and repression in the wake of authority figures telling you that you are insane for your entire adolescence, when you are truly just reacting to what is happening to you. As you grow older, you realize that the identity and stances that have been adopted remain part of the same poisonous framework that you had been trying to escape. In the end, all that is left is the aching desire to be loved and trusted, despite a string of failures on your part."
April 17 will see Idée Fixe Records servicing a new full-length from the Toronto psych-pop act Roy. You can preview the work, titled Pease Love and Outer Space, through the preview track "Is It You (Sky Brother)." While it's an authentically druggy tune, befitting of its 60s influences, it's also surprisingly concise. "It Is You" clocks in at an efficient two minutes and 13 seconds. You'd expect this type of thing to noodle off in a spaced-out haze, so this is interesting for its restraint alone.
What's not restrained is the campy tale spun around the album's creation. Here's a paragraph from the lengthy press release, plucked at random, so you know what you're in for:
"Months later I was visited by Sky Brother and Sky Sister again. I entered their spaceship willingly and blissfully. I remember the sensation of hovering, and spinning at the perfect pace to calm my systems. They told me that they were going to leave and not return until the time was truly righteous and all minds truly open. They left me with the most powerful gift anyone has ever been given. It was a glowing stone. Within it I saw the past and future of not only our world but other worlds in and out of this dimension. I refer to this as the STONE OF INFINITE POWER. The Stone was an object of true authority, and it was highly sought after."
You can dive into the full narrative at the label's website. This new record follows up Roy's 2018 self-titled tape.
Sewercide Records recently released Serial Mass Destruction, the new EP from Halifax D-beat hardcore group Fragment. The group features bassist Cody Googoo and guitarist Steve Earle of the Booji Boys, Unreal Thought's Ben Radford on drums, and vocals from Mark Hughes. The band recorded the five-song/seven-minute set last summer with Luke Mumford of Negative Rage engineering.
The brisk, brutal collection follows Fragment's 2017 LP In The Dust (all 12 minutes thereof).
Hamilton, Ontario's hardcore group Dead Tired have a new video online featuring the song "White Caps." The track appears on the group's recent New Damage full-length Full Vol. The animated video, directed by Andrew Pierce, pairs the track with some classic 80s cyberpunk imagery.
George Pettit formed dead Tired following the (initial) disillusion of the St. Catharines post-hardcore heroes Alexisonfire. The group also features Franz Stefanik, Chris Whetstone, Nick Ball, and Marco "Sparky" Bressette.
Toronto punk/hard rock act The Anti-Queens have a new video online for the song "Leave Me Out." The track is one of 11 to appear on their recent self-titled Stomp Records debut. In the premiere at New Noise, the band commented:
"We filmed this over one day in a field north of Uxbridge, ON. We wanted to visually capture the vastness that comes with feeling alone or left out, to be surrounded by so much life yet feel so alone. It's a moody visual to go with a moody song, and we're really happy with how it turned out."
The Anti-Queens features Emily Bones on lead vocals and guitar, Valerie Knox (of Oshawa's Black Cat Attack) on guitar and vocals, Dallas Conte on drums, and Taylor Cos (of Newmarket's Rue Bella) on bass and vocals.
Vancouver punk trio The Highsides are gearing up for the release of Some Pretty Dark Thoughts on February 14. The group previewed the set last week on Punknews with the premiere of their new video for the track "Starved."
The Highsides features vocalist/guitarist Shane Alyward, bassist Dylan Murley, and drummer Anthony Wallace. They're following up 2018's Put It Out There EP with this set. The band recorded at Rain City Recorders with Matt Roach.
Look for the group to celebrate the release with a party on March 6 at The Biltmore Cabaret.
Montreal's indie rock quartet Mundy's Bay recently shared a video for their single "Goodbye." The track's due on their upcoming full-length for California's Pure Noise Records, titled Lonesome Valley. It's due on March 13. Vocalist Esther Mulders spoke with Flood Magazine for the premiere, commenting that the song's "about someone leaving this world but becoming present in ways not physical."
Justis Krar's IMMV Productions is behind the video for "Goodbye." The new album follows up 2016's Wandering And Blue EP and last summer's Control Room single.
Toronto skatepunk group Debt Cemetary has an EP due later this year on Thousand Islands Records, titled Dig It Yourself. The group recently premiered "Kindasortamaybe," the set's first single. It features Josh Riley of their labelmates Family Meeting joining in on vocals. You can check it out below.
Low-fi Hamilton garage-punk act Petro Rabbits are slated to play their first show this month. The group will debut live on February 15 at The Casbah supporting Barrie stoner-metal trio Indian Handcrafts.
Petro Rabbits released an EP of basement-recorded fuzz a year ago on the Istanbul label Kafadan Kontak. The band assembled for this first show includes guitarist/vocalist Tyler McIntyre, bassist Marc Brenzil, and drummer Mark Raymond. Further music and shows around Southern Ontario are expected later in the year.
Spencer Burton recently shared a short documentary-style video titled "Here in a Small Town." In it, director Ben Burns profiles the rural lifestyle that Burton's carving out for his family in the Niagara region.
Spencer first came to prominence as a member of the much-loved Welland pop-punk band Attack In Black. His most recent release was The Mountain Man, an album of children's songs, which was preceded by the country/folk work Songs Of on Dine Alone Records.
It makes me happy to think that, however crazy the world gets, somewhere a short drive from my doorstep Spencer Burton's sitting in an old barn guietly playing his guitar while surrounded by Muscovy ducks.