Make a Sound
Programming note: You'll recall that last Friday the music hosting website Bandcamp waved their cut of music sales to support artists whose livelihoods have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bands, quite understandably, rushed to release new or rare material onto the service to take part in the event. While successful (raising $4.3 million for artists), it's made for one massive, not to mention late, weekly edition of Some Party. My apologies to whoever I've missed.
Last week, amidst the surreal chaos and existential dread that so quickly came to dominate our lives, Toronto's Bruce Peninsula had the unlucky task of hyping their long-awaited return to action. The oft-haunting folk-gospel collective releases No Earthly Sound, their third full-length, on April 17. The 10-song LP leads with "Don't Wake The Giant," the band's 2016 single from the score to the Andrew Cividino's film Sleeping Giant, along with the foot-stomping (and unexpectedly funky) new single "Make a Sound." Both tracks feature Misha Bower on lead, and holy shit did I ever need this band back in my life, this week more than ever.
Bruce Peninsula, historically, consisted of Bower with Matt Cully on vocals and guitar, Neil Haverty on vocals, guitar, and metallophone, Andrew Barker on bass (and lap steel guitar), and Steve McKay on drums. I'm not sure who's back this time as it's been a lifetime since 2011's Open Flames. Live, and in the studio, Bruce Peninsula plays with a rotating choir, an ensemble that's featured some familiar names like Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station), Isla Craig, and Casey Mecija (Ohbijou), among others. We'll have to wait for the LPs to arrive before we can fully unpack the personnel here (it's not like you'll have an opportunity to figure it out live, under the circumstances).
The new record comes on the heels of Misah Bower's excellent 2019 solo debut, Trying to Have It All.
Speaking of comfort food, Joel Plaskett has a new video online for the single "If There's Another Road." It's one minuscule portion of his massive quadruple album 44. The track was recorded by Doug Easley, who Plaskett worked with way back in 1996 on Thrush Hermit's Sweet Homewrecker. This tune in particular features drummer George Sluppick, bassist Doug Easley, Rick Steff on piano and Wurlitzer, and organist Dave Shouse. They're among 33 musicians who worked with Plaskett on the project at several studios across North America. Plaskett and Jeff Miller directed the video, which meanders through the snow-banked streets of Dartmouth.
44 will arrive from Pheromone Recordings on April 17. Billed as the spiritual successor to 2018's similarly massive Three, the release will be split into four 11-song chapters, titled 41: Carried Away, 42: Just Passing Through, 43: If There's Another Road, and 44: The Window Inn. 44 follows up 2015's The Park Avenue Sobriety Test, Joel and Bill Plaskett's 2017 father-song record Solidarity, and the recent reunion Thrush Hermit reunion shows.
"This is an album that I've talked about forever and I'm happy to finally share it. I wrote the songs in 2016 and 2017 while my life was in shambles. So I coped and locked myself in the basement. The result is this. Rumination Year. A 6 song mini-LP about how it felt to have to rebuild and survive. With the current state of things these feelings seem more relevant than ever and I'm happy to put this out."
Rumination Year arrives a few weeks after Beneath The Bridges, a four-song split cassette between Grace and the Dartmouth rock trio Designosaur. Grace is a veteran of several Halifax-based punk and hardcore groups, a list that includes the Fat Stupids, Weekend Dads, Outtacontroller, and Cutie among others. Future Girls last released the full-length Motivation Problems in 2018.
Vancouver's multifaceted Tom Whalen is back in his Tommy Tone guise, releasing a new full-length of playful synthpop titled How To Make Music. These tracks were written and recorded over four years from 2016 to the present. I suspect it's impossible to unpack the in-jokes in the liner notes unless you're already in Whalen's circle, but you'll find Jay Arner obvious among the studio credits. This new record follows 2016's Bad To The Tone, a Live & Rare cassette from 2017, and an endless well of adjunct recording projects released under several names in the interim.
If you're not familiar with Tommy Tone, Vancouver Weekly once called his act a "synth-pop-driven farcical take on male entitlement via self-emasculating performances." Whalen recently served as a touring member of Tough Age, augmenting the Toronto trio for their recent Japanese tour.
Toronto alt-country legends The Sadies recently announced a career spanning b-sides collection. Archives Vol. 1 Rarities, Oddities and Radio: 1995-2019 arrives this Friday from Dine Alone Records. The 16-track set includes pretty much what it says on the label, that is, demos, radio performances, outtakes, and other ephemera accrued over more than 20 years. The set includes collaborations with The Band's Garth Hudson, the late Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip, Mary Margaret O'Hara and more. In a statement the band commented:
"These sessions were recorded mostly on tape, mostly long ago, and mostly in a single live performance. With hundreds of songs in the vault after over twenty years, we wanted to revisit them and maybe find a home for some of the more interesting things. It's also a bit of a celebration (or memorial), with this year marking our 25th as a band. This collection may be an eclectic assortment of our material, but we are after all, a rather eclectic group."
The Sadies' last proper LP was 2017's Northern Passages. Earlier this year, the group took part in a humourous, drug-fuelled split 7' with King Khan.
Here's a track, or at least a version of a track, that you can expect on Archives. Dallas Good, Travis Good, Sean Dean, and Mike Belitsky of The Sadies once played in a supergroup with Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor and Rick White of Eric's Trip. As a psych-rock group dubbed The Unintended, they recorded a single full-length in 2004, followed by a rare 2006 split LP with the Constantines. "All The Way Back Home" was the closing track from the former.
Chad VanGaalen, the Calgary-based artist, animator and beloved indie-folk weirdo has a second collection of b-sides online. Odds & Sods 2 follows the musicians' earlier named set from December. A press release breaks down where these eight songs originated:
"Odds & Sods 2 is a lovingly assembled compilation of unreleased B-sides, ultra-rarities and oddball tracks from the last 10 years. Some are tracks that never made the cut for an album, and ended up unreleased or on limited edition cassettes —sometimes only available on the merch table— while others represent the more synth-soaked, experimental side of VanGaalen's output.
Fans may recognize 'Liquid Expansion', which was regularly on the set list during touring for 2014's Shrink Dust — despite not making the cut. The unlikely flute jams of 'Origins of the Shard' was also a result of the sessions from that period. 'Eating Ciggs' and the blistering VU-jammer 'Reformat (Egypto)' were on the shortlist for 2017's Light Information. 'Min Fun' was probably recorded around the same time, and ended up on a very limited tour tape. Garage stomper 'Space Dreaming' is maybe the oldest of the tracks, recorded around the time of the 2011 LP Diaper Island, and rounding out the collection are two recent instrumentals: 'Styrofoam Beach Toy,' and 'The Last Starfighter's Napkin."
Nova Scotia's Jeremy Costello shared a similar release during last week's scramble, an "outtakes and curiosities" collection from his genre-less drone and psychedelia-tinged Special Costello project. The 11-song Stoner Nights Vol.3 Self Isolation is described as a "weirdo sound bag for the dawning of the New Age" and features an array of styles, with Costello's spacey vocals backed by a variety of electronics and keyboards. With half the tracks on the record crossing the 10-minute mark, there's a wealth of material here to get lost in.
The enigmatic post-punk act Jyraph released a substantial new single on Friday titled "Jaibo (a crab's tail)." The artist recorded the slow-burning tune partially on the beaches of Nayarit, Mexico, completing it at home in Montreal. It's a 6-minute piece of music layered atop a 10-minute field-recording of waves and shorebirds. If you need something relaxed to transport you from your stuffy quarantine bunker out into the summer sun, this is absolutely it.
Jyraph is the solo project of Pablo Garcia-Rejon Gaubeca, who plays in the Montreal group Palmetto. As Jyraph, he last released the album El Fuego in 2018.
In late February, Hamilton's Schizophrenic Records released the unrelenting self-titled debut from local hardcore upstarts Sadie & The Wives. Here's how the label describes this bile-fueled ray of sunshine:
"On a killing spree while they're still protected by the Youth Justice Act, Southern Ontario's SADIE & THE WIVES take a violent approach to classic hardcore and bring out a whole new level of intensity in raw punk. Their debut 7' demo holds nothing back as they frantically squeeze out 4 ripping tracks, only settling down to deliver infectious, crawl-mosh fuelling breakdown riffs. They have a sound that's reminiscent of early 80's d-beat such as TOTALITÄR, combined with the raw new school hardcore sound in the vein of bands like S.H.I.T and GAS RAG. This record is 6 minutes of pure psychosis, ranging from unhinged d-beat blasts to fist pumping mid-paced riffs, all backed with hate filled vocals that feel like a direct attack on the listener. These kids are the future."
If you had the volume up for that lovely Jyraph track, perhaps you should notch it back down for this one.
Further west, the equally irascible Vancouver hardcore group Punitive Damage recently shared We Don't Forget. It's a new three-song EP and the first release to follow the aggressive quintet's 2019 demos. Chain Whip's Josh Nickel recently called them "the best fucking band in Vancouver," so I'll leave it at that.
Speaking of Neon Waste recommendations, Winnipeg's Whip recently returned with a new four-song EP, titled Don't Call Me. Released via Electric Heat, the sneering punk act recorded these tracks in late 2018. The write-up lauds the group's approach:
"Whip manage to encapsulate everything that I really dig about old punk records: A bratty, pissy-pants attitude, juvenile playing and killer songs. In the year 2020 the vision of the past is clear but it doesn't sound like they're trying to pay homage to one sound in particular nor are they adopting the tired method of carbon-copying some past heroes into some dull variation of what came before. No, Whip got something more going for them than cheap hype or revisionist punk history. Whip is here with another four songs to remind you that they're sick of your shit."
Vancouver's Wrecked Beach plays psych-flavoured garage rock and recently shared their new single "Fade." While they certainly harken back to the tossed-off vocal style that crested with the 2000s garage revival, the vintage surf guitar and crunchy organ licks just pull everything together in a way that feels timeless. This track appears on their upcoming full-length Eye-Tide.
The five-piece recorded the 8-song set with Felix Fung (Sore Points, Spectres) at Little Red Sounds, with Kyle Schick co-producing.
Edmonton garage act Dead Friends has another new single online, following the recent "Molly." Last week the band unveiled the hard-driving, grungy "Joy." on Bandcamp. Like "Molly," this track was recorded, mixed, mastered the new track at Royal Studios. It's due for the band's next full-length, due in May from Wallflower Records.
Dead Friends features guitarist/vocalist Jesse Ladd, guitarist/organist Callum Harvey, bassist Carter Mackie, and drummer Ellen Reade.
Also hailing from Edmonton, the three-piece Alloys joined in on the Friday rush with the "The Future (version)," a bright slice of garage pop that originated as a practice space demo. The band features guitarist/vocalist Mason Pitzel, bassist Stefan Duret, and drummer Bernice Jang. This new track is the first new music to follow the band's self-titled 2018 EP.
Experimental Montreal noisemakers NYON recently returned with Between Beaubien and Saint-Zotique, a nine-track collection of new material. Allister Scott (electronics, bass) and Jaames Nicholas Dumile Willoughby (saxophone, piano) form the act's core, with several guest vocalists appearing on various tracks. Micah Brown (Conditioner, BBQT) produced record. In a statement on Facebook, Scott commented:
"This record is what Montreal winter felt like to me, right before the break of spring. A city that always is in hibernation and feels so asleep during those few months in the dead of winter. Certainly far flung from what the 20 somethings experience when they 'move' to the city for a summer. It's dedicated and closer in relation to the old men sitting in the little Italy parc on those -15 degree mornings than the grand prix weekend.
It's an interesting time now looking back, especially without the relief of spring. As Montreal now faces another 'artificial' winter with the current crisis around the globe. Hope everyone up there is staying safe, and here's to the coming spring."
Friend of the newsletter Evan Chladny appeared on two new releases this past week.
First up is a set of demos from Toronto's Dart Mouth. The low-key, rootsy psych-rock group features lead vocals and acoustic guitar from Dirt Green's Cameron Kirk, with Chladny on guitar, Sam Maloney on percussion, and William O'Neill (also of Dirt Green) on bass. Everyone snags a vocal credit, as well. The two-song set features the songs "Spooky Lady" and "Sun Through The Trees / Tales From a Shrub."
Chladny, and members of his namesake band, also took part in the new record from Toronto's eclectic Labradoodle. Life Is Better finds the art-rock ensemble crafting some wild, unpredictable songs that seem to jerk between spacey psych to twitchy no-wave every few bars. Have a listen to the album-opening "Seahorse" and try pinning a genre on that one (although the band's offered up "children's music for adults" as one option). Labradoodle features the Chladny band's Tobias Hart in just about every role, Evan Chladny on guitar and vocals, percussionist Steve Kwok, vocalist Rachel Bellone (Merc & The Montclairs, Slurry), Ralph Archibald Clarke on mandolin, and Ryan Hage (WLMRT) on keys, bass, and bongos. The band recorded in Hart and Hage's respective home studios, with drums tracked by Stephen Pitman (Hobby, Tallies).
Tobias Hart commented on the surreal project finally seeing the light of day:
"It's been too long. This is what we made. I'm sorry I kept it all this time. Hear it now. Have it. Thank you to everyone who encouraged this band. I don't know what will happen to it but this exists now."
Wrecker, the solo songwriting project of Winnipeg's Jory Strachan, has a set of archival demos online for a limited time. The tunes were recorded "years ago in the Winnipeg suburbs" with local singer/songwriter Joshua Letkeman on lead guitar. Missy Jacobson sings backing vocals on "The Fear," as well. These tracks, collected as the can'try demo(n)s, are only expected to be online for the remainder of the month.
Strachan is a former member of the Winnipeg post-punk band 1971 and later played in the indie rock outfit R U S T O W L. He most recently released the homewrecker collaboration with Bailee Woods' of the indie-pop act Housepanther.
Jesse Crowe's electric post-punk solo vehicle Praises shared a new b-side last Friday, a sinister tune titled "Tolerance." Crowe, also of the Toronto duo Beliefs (with Josh Korody), is fresh off the January release of her new three-song EP Three. It was the follow-up to 2018's expansive LP, In This Year: Ten of Swords, which found the artist broadening the Praises repertoire away from guitar-centred songs to embrace electronic instrumentation and piano compositions.
Ottawa hardcore act Premonition recently released a five-song EP with the incredibly timely title of The New Plague. The set includes four originals along with a cover of "A.S." by the Bridge Nine hardcore band Outbreak. Premonition recorded with Topon Das as Apartment 2 Studios in the capital. You can check it out now at Bandcamp.
Winchester, Ontario punk trio Flaws features former members of The Tenenbaums and Muelkik. Last Friday, the group let their rural roots show with an acoustic cover of the "Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)," a 1991 single by the American country artist Traviss Tritt. Flaws last released the EP Rose in the summer of 2019.
Like the rest of the music community, Kitchener emo/punk outfit Wayfarer won't be playing many shows in the immediate future. They were forward-thinking enough to capture one of their latest, though. Last Friday, the band released Live at Mill's Hardware, a 9-song set captured at the Hamilton, Ontario venue on February 22 (that's a thousand years ago in the COVID news cycle). It includes eight originals plus a cover of Pedro The Lion's "Indian Summer." You can find it on Bandcamp.
Wayfarer released the full-length Reckless Spring in the fall of 2019.
The Drew Thomson Foundation took part in the Bandcamp rush by releasing a massive 37-song trove of demos and outtakes titled Bedroom Door. Thomson resurrected previously unavailable several sets of early material for the release, commenting:
"I think this is everything that's ever been on here and maybe a couple more. I did most of these all in my bedroom without a clue how to record. I used to just use a tape machine and then I got a computer. A few of these were done in a studio. Saturday Night/Oxy were with Joby Ford. The Early versions of Stay etc. were done at The Dirty Nil Jam Space/House in Hamilton w Ian Romano and Ross Miller. This spans over the 'drinking too much and then not at all' part of my life. I don't know - it's a collection of something."
The Foundation released a self-titled full-length on Dine Alone in 2019.
Thomson's punk band Single Mothers also took part, swiftly recording a new track just in the nick of time for Friday's sale. They commented on the making of "Turbulence":
"The fastest turnaround we've ever done for a song - just finished the vocals 45 mins ago in a closet but when Bandcamp waves the fees we show up"
The London-born group recently announced a deluxe edition of their 2018 full-length Through A Wall, due April 3 from Dine Alone. The set features the original's audio remixed and remastered, with a bonus track added. The original version of Through A Wall is up for 'Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year' at the Juno Awards, whenever those end up taking place.
Toronto avant-pop artist Scott Hardware recently shared the title track to his upcoming Telephone Explosion full-length Engel. It's one of eight songs set to appear on the lushly orchestrated set when it arrives on April 3. In a press release Hardware commented on the influence of Wim Wenders' 1987 film Wings Of Desire, which followed a pair of angels in its narrative:
"I sought with this album to capture the film's velvety feeling – funny, depressing, dark and mundane – in LP form. These songs imagine Wenders' angels buzzing around my friends, my family and I. Writing from their point of view allowed me unfettered access to my own thoughts about them and myself."
Hardware recorded Engel at the label's 'pay what you can' recording space, Studio Z. It's his first new release since the 2016 LP Mutate Repeat Infinity.