Waiting for Something to Happen
Last week PUP vocalist/guitarist Stefan Babcock recorded a new song from his home where, like the rest of us, he's stuck in isolation. "Waiting For Something to Happen" features a few additional players despite the solitude, with the punk band's drummer Zack Mykula conferencing in with some percussion (via SamplePad), and Rachel O'Connor joining remotely on the french horn. Stefan noted glumly that the song's topic is "how everything is trash," but I suppose that should be obvious.
The Toronto-based PUP last released Morbid Stuff in 2019 on Rise Records in the States and the band's Little Dipper imprint in Canada. The album, the group's third, landed them land on the Polaris Music Prize short list.
I'd wager that however long this pandemic lasts, it'll likely the longest PUP will have been off the road since their inception. The band's had the privilege of touring relentlessly since their debut caught fire, and how artists so accustomed to life on the road adjust to this new reality is going to be a major thread for as long as this lasts.
In the early days of April Toronto art-punks Luge revealed details on their next LP. The eight-song effort will be self-titled and is set for an April 24 release date. The collection follows 2018's Tall Is Just a Feeling, a wild feat of no-wave adventurism that was one of my favourite releases that year. It also comes on the heels of the recent "Up & Up" single, which premiered here last September (a version of which, I presume, appears in this tracklisting as "Up & Up (& Up)"). The quartet previewed the new record with twitchy single "Skin So Green," a song that seems to rapidly change genres at least three or four times over a two and a half minute runtime.
Luge features Kaiva Gotham on vocals and synth, bassist Cam Fraser, guitarist Tobias Hart, and drummer Stu Mein. Jackson Willows recorded, mixed, and mastered the set.
Toronto's Young Guv was on the road when the pandemic hit, with the tour supporting the dual GUV I & II records cancelled along with everything else. One of the final shows before the pause went down at the Zebulon in Los Angeles. That March 3 show is now available as a live record, with all proceeds dedicated to the working musicians and venue employees who've since lost their livelihoods. Ben Cook commented on the release in a Bandcamp message:
"If you have the means right now, please pick up the record here on bandcamp. I am going to spread every dollar around to musicians and crew workers and keep the love going at this strange and transformative time."
Likewise, a crowdfunding campaign is currently active to support the Zebulon workers.
Mike Kriebel recorded the power-pop unit's Live in LA set, which clocks in with 10 songs. The Young Guv touring band at this juncture featured Cook up front on vocals and guitar backed by guitarist/vocalist The Major, bassist Ryan Gavel, guitarist Tony Price, and drummer Benjamin Wessels.
The LPs GUV I and GUV II came out last year on Run For Cover Records.
Edmonton's Wares recently shared the ethereal "Living Proof," the latest preview track from their upcoming sophomore full-length Survival. In a statement, vocalist/guitarist Cassia Hardy commented on the song and its incredibly personal origins:
"'Living Proof' is how I remember the first few moments after waking up from gender affirming surgery. Weightless, euphoric, incoherent from anesthesia. Relieved above all. Availability for trans healthcare varies between provinces. In addition to ignorant or transphobic front line workers, there's often huge wait times to see qualified doctors. Despite a flawed, criminally underfunded public health system, trans people endure and take what we need to thrive. This song is for us."
Survival arrives from Mint Records on April 24. A release show planned for that day is obviously on hold, but I'd keep an eye out for something streaming online in the intern.
Survival features Cassia J. Hardy backed by keyboardist Jamie Mclean, bassist Matthew Gooding, and drummer Holly Greaves. The group recorded at Bikini Bottom in the summer of 2019 with Mason Pitzel. Jesse Gander (lié, Woolworm, Necking) mixed the set, with mastering performed by Ryan Morey. The 10-song LP follows Wares' 2017 debut and the 2018's Silhouette EP.
Simultaneous with the launch of their synthpop side-project Jade Hairpins, Jonah Falco and Mike Haliechuk have yet another band to unveil - this one featuring Riley Gale of the Texan thrash titans Power Trip. The new project, dubbed Masterpiece Machine, has roots in some aggressive material Haliechuk and Falco workshopped for Fucked Up's Dose Your Dreams. In an interview with Revolver the trio discuss the songs, which take on an industrial character in the vein of Ministry or Nine Inch Nails.
You can stream the "Rotting Fruit" online now. An EP is due for Boston's Triple B Records and the UK's Quality Control HQ later this week (April 15 and 17 respectively). All three members express interest in putting together a live act, but of course that will largely depend on when the world sorts itself out.
With quarantine in full swing and idle time abound, there's a wealth of archival material finally emerging from the closets and hard-drives of the nation. This week saw the release of Left Undone, an EP's worth of music from a Halifax act dubbed LeDrew, Luke & Crowe. The trio features Adam LeDrew and Justin Crowe of breakneck Haligonian punks the Booji Boys, with their frequent studio collaborator Luke Mumford (Negative Rage, Genetic Angry, The Mark Vodka Group). On average, these tunes find the group dabbling in playful, mid-tempo rock'n'roll with little hint of the low-fi chaos the Boojis (in particular) are known for.
These songs were recorded in 2017 by Mumford at Pepperell Street (except for the decidedly faster "Keys to Success," recorded by Charles Austin at Echo Chamber Audio). The set's available on cassette through Cody Googoo's Don't Wanna Talk Records.
While we're focused on that east coast scene, here's a new Washing Machine track to brighten your quarantine. "Half a Battle" continues the Halifax band's hot streak of recontextualizing the hooks of new wave and college rock into these oddly sincere, contemporary gems. This recording features Noel Macdonald (Moon) on guitar, vocals, and synth with backing from the above-mentioned Booji Boys drummer Justin Crowe and Working Titles' Glen Leck on bass. I'm not entirely certain what it is about Washing Machine, perhaps Macdonald's distinctively nasal vocals, but I'm never less than delighted when a new song surfaces from this project.
"Half a Battle" follows Washing Machine's recent split with the Halifax shoegaze group Valerie. It's one of a handful of songs released online since their 2018 LP, Walk It Back.
Last month the Ottawa psych-punk group Slow Dawn shared a sonically dense new six-song album titled Experimental Farm. You can stream it in its entirety now at Bandcamp, or check out a glitchy video for the track "Tangerine" at YouTube. Of the handful of bands covered here that hyphenate psych and punk, this one leans deeper than most into the psych end of things. Wild stuff.
Slow Down is a trio, with all members sporting the types of pseudonyms that make these write-ups seem entirely ridiculous. For the record, the band features vocalist/guitarist D Druff, bassist Iceman, and drummer Dr DiLauro. The album features a few guest appearances from the Ottawa arts world, with strings performed by Rachel Weldon (Debaser) and Erik Johnson-Scherger. Scott M. Thompson (The Band Whose Name Is a Symbol) and Matt Munro (Ginny, Ethnotechnique) contribute horns to the recordings as well. Sean Cooke recorded and mixed Experimental Farm, with a mastering job by Teenanger's Steve Sidoli.
Toronto glam-pop warrior Nyssa has a new single and video online. You can watch the Ron Hollywood directed "Anybodies" now on YouTube. This track's chock full of those soaring, heroic vocal highs that the audience at Nyssa's live gigs simply loses their minds over. I can almost hear the applause.
The new tune follows a string of recent one-off singles, including "I Don't Wanna Live On The Moon (Without U)," "Hey Jackie," and "#1Girl." One assumes that at some point these tracks will all end up collected on the follow-up to 2018's Champion of Love EP.
Vancouver's Necking released an absolutely killer debut full-length last year on Mint titled Cut Your Teeth. The label recently shared a new video from that album, showcasing the song "Spare Me." Chance Swainson directed the piece, which you can find now on YouTube.
Necking features vocalist Hannah Kay, bassist Sonya Eui, guitarist Nada Hayek, drummer Melissa Kuipers. Cut Your Teeth was recorded with Jesse Gander.
Downtuned Halifax hardcore/noise group Botfly got quiet on their quarantine. With their tour plans on hold, the group rearranged and reimagined five of their usually punishing songs for an intimate set titled At Home With Alex. The EP arrived from Pink Lemonade Records with this note:
" [this is] a project consisting of 5 songs new and old, completely stripped down to their most raw form. This is something I've been wanting to tackle for a long time, but to be honest I've been avoiding letting myself be in the headspace. For a brief moment it felt right and made sense to me and this is the result. These songs are not loud, they are not aggressive, they are intimate and full of emotion. Remember that love is always most important. To anyone listening, to anyone paying attention, from the bottom of my heart, thank you."
Botfly's self-titled full-length was released in 2017.
Ottawa trio The Tenenbaums recently shared a full-length titled God damn it, you've got to be kind. The low-fi, shout-along punk record's the result of over three years of recordings captured by Matt Post of Deathsticks and the Not My Car label.
The set follows the group's 2015 EP We'll Always Have Milhouse.
Last week the Toronto post-punk group Komodo released their sophomore full-length, an 8-song album of jangly, new wave-inspired rock songs titled Low Rise. The four-piece is fronted by bassist/vocalist Rich Forbes and features lead guitarist Andrew Wilson, guitarist Chris Chin, and drummer Mitch Dixon. The group recorded these tracks with Tallies' Dylan Frankland at Candle Studios.
Low Rise follows the band's 2019 debut, High Wasted (and forever commits them to keep that wordplay going).
The experimental Saint John trio Usse has a new two-song single online. "The Future" is a cover of the song Prince penned for 1989's Batman soundtrack, with the Usse version sampling percussion from Joy Division's "Isolation." The b-side features an "extended home club mix" titled "R E P T I L E S." On these recordings, Usse featured Jud Crandall on bass, guitar, sax, vocals and sampling, with Emily Saab on percussion, keyboardist Stephanie Tierney, Sebastian Fleet on viola, and Papal Visit frontman Adam Mowery on additional vocals.
Usse recently shared a two-song split with the Gatineau-based electronic duo H. de Heutz, titled Rags of Declaration. It followed the band's 2019 LP Flowers For S. The band was also recently subject to an in-depth interview with The Famines Raymond Biesinger for the Pentagon Black project. You can dig into it here.
A second new song's arrived from the Ottawa pop-rock unit Oswald Park. The new project's the brainchild of Jordy Bell, drummer for the much-loved punk groups Crusades (RIP) and The Creeps. You can check the sunny power-pop jam "Come Back Around" below.
Oswald Park has an EP due May 1, titled A Prescription Year. Bell recorded these seven songs in Richmond, Ontario, with production assistance from Scott McCash (a.k.a. Crusades' Skottie Lobotomy) and Statues' Rob Seaton. Look for a physical release later in the year on Italy's I Buy Records.
The Creeps last released Beneath The Pines in 2018. Crusades' bowed out in the fall of 2018, with 2017's This is a Sickness and Sickness will End serving as their final record.
Toronto's Littlefolk, the slow-burning alt-rock project lead by Brandon Pearse, recently released the second single from the upcoming Songs of Harry Throat LP. "Dreadful Etiquette" features Pearse on guitar, bass, and vocals, with percussion by Mr. Joy's Asher Gould Murtagh and pedal steel from Matthew "Doc" Dunn of The Cosmic Range. You can stream it now at Bandcamp.
The track follows the earlier single "Wire On My Teeth" in previewing the album. Songs of Harry Throat, produced by Murtagh, arrives May 8 on Blob Records. It follows up Pearse's 2016 album Cats in the Bath.
Winnipeg punk duo Mobina Galore saw a European tour nixed due to COVID-19, but they're using the time off to release a wealth of video footage. The group recently shared a clip from the studio showcasing "Four Hours of Sleep," a track from their recent full-length Don't Worry. That record arrived on September 6 from New Damage and Gunner Records.
The clip comes from Winnipeg's Looksmart Video, the production company behind Sorry, I'm A Mess, a documentary chronicling the creation of Don't Worry. The film premiered this past weekend online, you can view it in full right now from the Looksmart website.
Last week Eric Liao's bedroom indie rock project Empty Nesters shared their first isolation track. "Homebody Pt. 1 & 2" features the poet Nicolas Tirakis reciting his "Birds of Quarantine" piece in a spoken performance layered atop Liao's swirling instrumentals.
The song follows Empty Nesters' 2019 EPs Fun Harder and Tired and Bored.
Toronto's First Base also joined the remote recording game last week, turning out a rollicking cover of Nick Lowe's 1978 classic "Heart of the City." The track, as recorded from the members' respective homes, features vocals and rhythm guitar from Fraser Wynne, lead and rhythm guitar from Nick Harris, bass from Mike Simpson, and Patrick McCormack on percussion.
First Base last released Not That Bad in 2017 on Drunken Sailor Records.
Edmonton skate-punk combo Loser Points have a new EP out on Montreal's Thousand Islands Records. Games We Play to Hide is a five-track set that marks the band's first material since 2018's LP Denial & Error. The group recorded with Belvedere's Casey Lewis at Echo Base Studios.
The Ottawa music community recently kicked off the Itty Bitty Little Ditty project, featuring sub-two-minute songs recorded over the past week of isolation. The first volume features contributions from Expanda Fuzz, Chris Cook (finderskeepers, No Fuss), Capital garage mainstay Patrick Shanks and seven others. You can find it on Bandcamp now.
Hamilton skid showman B.A. Johnston has followed up last week's quarantine jam with another new tune, this time out chronicling his neighbour's sketchy fire pits and questionable taste in summer music. You can check it out on Twitter. Given that we may be stuck to the confines of our respective yards in the coming months, this sounds like a cautionary tale to me. Johnston last released The Skid Is Hot Tonight in 2019 on Winnipeg's Transistor 66.
On Saturday, April 25 B.A. will take the stage from an abandoned bar for the only live-streaming event that matters. It'll kick off at 10:00 PM EST, streaming at Facebook. We've reserved a bag of Hawkins from our emergency stash for the occasion.
New song about neigbours fire pits and kid rock pic.twitter.com/fU4aTqnsdN— BA Johnston (@BAJohnston) April 13, 2020
Damian Abraham's venerable Turned Out A Punk podcast recently sat down with D.O.A. frontman and Burnaby city councillor Joey "Shithead" Keithley. The Fucked Up frontman takes Keithley down the road of how he found punk rock, walking through the hardcore pioneer's early years just as his long-running band releases their 18th album, Treason. You can stream the episode below.