It sure sounds like Dine Alone has a hit on their hands with the spirited Montreal punk quartet NOBRO. The label issued their Sick Hustle EP earlier in April, chasing it last week with an attention-grabbing video for the infectious anthem "Don't Die." The memorable clip, with cartoons by Montreal animator and illustrator Greg Doble, riffs on the innocent tropes of early Disney animation by sending the band to a hellish underworld filled with adorable demons and devils. You should absolutely see this one, as it's quite perfectly executed.
The band commented on the piece in a statement:
"'Don't Die' was written about a past relationship, but with the current state of the world I think the song has found a new meaning. We've been working on this video for the past 6 months with Greg Doble and he just blew it out of the water."
The Montreal-based NOBRO features vocalist/bassist Kathryn McCaughey, guitarist Karolane Carbonneau, Lisandre Bourdages on keys and percussion, and drummer Sarah Dion. The devil is more of a touring member.
Ryan Naray of the now-defunct Toronto post-punk group Animal Faces has a new solo LP in the wild under the alias Boiling Hell. The set arrives on Art of the Uncarved Block, the label behind several of Naray's recent endeavours. This last year has seen a spate of activity from the artist, who took in the latest efforts from the low-fi post-punk trio Fond and the twangy slowcore group Chris. Boiling Hell's first album of fuzzy post-hardcore features ten songs under the self-effacing title Fluff. A premiere of the entire work premiered at Post-Trash last week, with the stream available now at SoundCloud.
Naray self-recorded the set and performs just about everything you can hear on the record. His vocals are more often than not slotted in amongst the fuzz, letting the sea of low-fi guitar work take prominence. Despite playing in a genre with a penchant for extended, droney atmospherics, there's a surprising economy to these tracks that keep the record moving.
Along with his Animal Faces bandmate Zach Van Horne, Naray last appeared on the March-released Chris full-length What did I do to deserve this?. In 2019 both Naray and Van Horne also played on Fond's Vern EP, with Rob Johnson of Low Sun.
Don't Bother was a five-piece punk unit fronted by the Ketamines' Paul Lawton that surfaced following the dissolution of Toronto's Century Palm. The band played only a few times in their short run, and other than an appearance on one of Pentagon Black's high-concept paper compilations, they never issued a proper release. Lawton, in what I can only imagine was a fit of isolation-inspired housecleaning, recently shared an aborted 9-song full-length from the group titled Terminal Phase. It features eight studio tracks recorded entirely by Lawton, along with the full-band live tune from that Pentagon Black set (recorded live-off-the-floor to a cell phone). The stage version of Don't Bother featured Lawton backed by keyboardist Rhonda Tidgwell, drummer Mark Streeter, bassist Marc Holmes, and guitarists Priya Thomas and Matt Nish-Lapidus. Paul commented on the release in the Bandcamp notes:
"Our last show was at the last Ottawa Explosion Weekend. Priya was about to move to Texas and I think I was temporarily just so disillusioned about playing and making music that I swore to myself that I would never play another show and so this album got shelved. I remember performing that show and just feeling completely stupid and exposed like I hadn't in some time. I think I was really still feeling fucked up about Century Palm and being half-in-half-out.
Driving back to Toronto, I told myself a very strong story that I was too old to be doing music, and I convinced myself that no one would ever give a shit. Waa waaa waa.
I am starting to make music for the first time since 2018, and I think the 2 year hiatus has me realizing that the only one I ever made music for was myself, and that if even one other person heard the song it was worth it. Being in bands that had attention (Ketamines / Myelin Sheaths / Moby Dicks / Century Palm) was nice but corrupting."
The record was originally intended for a 2018 release on Pleasence Records, the label Lawton co-runs with James Lindsay (while somewhat dormant these days, it was particularly active at that time).
Along with the Don't Bother album, Lawton also shared an album of personal favourites from the last 20 years. Titled Nothing Remains to be Done, the set features songs from all of the above-mentioned bands, along with a selection of Lawton's contributions to several lower-profile Alberta groups like Radians, Mean Tikes, James Leroy and The Giant, Ran, Endangered Ape, and Light Years. You can dig into that set on Bandcamp.
While refreshing myself on Paul's oeuvre I noticed a tweet from him endorsing the latest record from the Lethbridge power-pop unit Peace For Bombs. That band's a solo project spearheaded by Jeff King of Open Channels and the 90s-era alt-rock group Favour. He released the six-song Another Downer EP in early December (and while I'm not familiar with the Peace For Bombs discography, if Bandcamp's up to date it arrives a good decade after the project's previous release). These records feature King on vocals and all instruments, playing over drum loops provided by Clayton Smith of The New Weather Machine.
A recent NOW Toronto piece by Jesse Locke (another Century Palm vet) profiled the burgeoning Toronto psych scene, with mentions of Mother Tongues, Possum, Roy, Mr. Joy, and Hot Garbage. With regards to the latter, NOW premiered a new track from the quartet titled "Easy Believer." It's our first taste of the group's recently completed debut full-length, recorded with Graham Walsh of Holy Fuck producing. There's no word yet on when it's due to arrive.
Hot Garbage features Alessandro and Juliana Carlevaris on guitar and bass, respectively, with Dylan Gamble on keys and drummer Mark Henein. Alessandro, Juliana, and Dylan all share vocal credits. They're following up 2019's Coco's Paradise EP.
Vankleek Hill's snotty punk three-piece Audio Visceral has an eight-song collection out titled Gnu Two Ewe. The set feature recordings laid down in late 2016 and early 2017 with Ian Blurton at Toronto's Pro Gold Studios. A pair of these tracks appeared on a 2018 Go!Go!Go! Records split with London's Snacks?, but the majority have sat unreleased until now. The band commented:
"We couldn't really decide what we wanted to do with the rest of the songs, so we present them here now to be part of the soundtrack to your Covid-19 related isolation! These songs are kind of old to us now, but they'll mostly be new (gnu) to you!"
Audio Visceral features guitarist/vocalist Steve Beauchesne, bassist Kevin James, and drummer Gary Doherty. Beauchesne is known these days as the co-founder and CEO of the Beau's brewery. He played in the group Constable Brennan back in the 90s. James played in both the early-90s Toronto trio Bender and The Almighty Trigger Happy. Gary Doherty similarly served some time in Trigger Happy. He has roots in the Thunder Bay punk/metal act Headcramp.
The Toronto alt-pop group Slurry recently shared "ASPIC," their first new material in a year. While the track's light and quirky, buoyed by Rachel Bellone's sweetly airy vocals, it's hardly insubstantial with a nearly five-minute run time. The new song follow's the quartet's "Given" single from March of 2019.
Slurry features Rachel Bellone, Steven Lourenço, Pat McKenna, and Steven Conway. They recorded drums and bass at Dining Room Sound with [Tallies]'(http://tallies.bandcamp.com) Stephen Pitman recording, tracking the vocals, guitar, and keyboard at Sun Bear Studio with Westelaken's Rob McLay.
Matt Post of the Whitby-bred noise-punk duo Deathsticks recently unveiled a new band dubbed The Gunge. The group debuted last week with a four-song self-titled EP, available now on Bandcamp. Based in Toronto, the group's first salvo delivers a mean and murky set of low-fi punk songs, with Post's vocals reverberating deep in the muck.
Deathsticks, Post's two-piece with drummer Laura Klinduch, last released an EP in 2019 titled Soon the Troubles Will Be Over.
Post-Trash recently shared a video from Toronto's Eliza Niemi, showcasing the songs "R1" and "Flip" from the singer-songwriter's contemplative new EP Glass. The clips feature the two songs set against home movie footage from Niemi's childhood, as compiled and edited by Bren Eastcott. The four-song Glass arrived just last week from the newly founded Vain Mina label.
Niemi was the bassist and co-vocalist of the now-defunct Halifax indie rock group Mauno before striking out on her own. That band released the full-length Really Well in August of 2019 on Tin Angel Records, with their final missive arriving just recently as a split Flemish Eye EP with Saskatoon's Avulsions.
With their May 1 release party on hold for obvious reasons, Cambridge punks groups Frank Dux and Block Parent are regardless marching forward with the release of the Grand River Transplit. The record pairs separately titled EPs from each group, with a vinyl release due shortly from Thousand Islands Records, Pink Lemonade Records, and the Ends Meat Label.
The Frank Dux side of things is titled Concessions. The speedy 90s-style skate-punk of "1838" is streaming now at Bandcamp for you to preview. It's one of four new songs in their set.
Block Parent's side of the Grand River Transplit carries the Blink-182 aping title of Take Off Your Pants And Jack Off. The bratty trio recently shared the song "Gender 2 B U" to preview their side of the record. You can find it at Bandcamp as well.
Pottery may have pushed back Welcome To Bobby's Motel when the pandemic hit, but they're not going to leave us hanging in the meantime. The Montreal garage-rock act recently shared the record's third single, the album-closing "Hot Like Jungle." Compared to the riotous sing-along of "Texas Drums" and the Devo-energy of "Take Your Time," the track's languorous surf vibes make quite a contrast. A video for the song features hand-drawn animation from drummer Paul Jacobs.
The band commented on the song's genesis:
"This was written as a love song for Paul's girlfriend. He had a job working construction one summer came up the lyrics almost as a sort of Springsteen parody, they're very blue-collar, very working class. When Austin sings it we always picture him on a mountain shouting off into the distance with a girl out there singing back to him."
Welcome To Bobby's Motel now arrives on June 26 from Royal Mountain and Partisan Records. Brooklyn's Jonathan Schenke (Parquet Courts, Snail Mail) produced the album, which the band recorded at Montreal's Breakglass Studio. Pottery features vocalist Austin Boylan, guitarist Jacob Shepansky, keyboardist Peter Baylis, bassist Tom Gould, and drummer Paul Jacobs.
Ottawa-area singer/songwriter Chris Page continues to roll out new demo recordings while in isolation. Last week he shared "Undercoat," which follows last week's "Interstellar Basement Dweller." Page commented:
"It's no Kris Kristofferson Sunday morning song, but hopefully it's somewhere in the ballpark."
You can stream the new track on Bandcamp now. Page's new solo LP Decide To Stay and Swim Again was due to release early April but has been put on hold due to the pandemic.
Chris plays these days as part of the duo Expanda Fuzz. That band last released the Cotton Candy Jet Engine LP in 2018, and just recently took part in the Itty Bitty Little Ditty compilation of isolation tunes. Chris Page formerly played in Camp Radio and before that as a member of the 90s pop-punk group The Stand GT.
A second song is now online from Masterpiece Machine, the industrial-flavoured side-project pairing Fucked Up's Jonah Falco and Mike Haliechuk with Riley Gale of the Dallas thrash act Power Trip. You can stream "Letting You in on a Secret" below. It follows "Rotting Fruit" in previewing the band's new EP, available now from Boston's Triple B Records and the UK's Quality Control HQ.
Masterpiece Machine arrived on the scene simultaneous with the launch of Jade Hairpins, Falco and Haliechuk's UK-based synthpop quartet. That band has a full-length on the way in May from Merge Records, titled Harmony Avenue. Both groups seem to have their roots in the abundance of genre-twisting experiments conducted in the lead-up to Fucked Up's latest record, Dose Your Dreams.
The second volume of Alone, Together is now available from Ottawa's Cory Levesque. Like the first set, the project features the singer/songwriter composing new music to back lyrics contributed by isolating friends and community members. You can snag this edition at Bandcamp along with the first. With the lyrics to each song Cory's attached a few notes that shed a little bit of light on his collaborators.
When he's not stuck in quarantine, Levesque plays as a member of Jon Creeden's Flying Hellfish.
There's a Québécois Ramones cover band called Les Fucking Raymonds, and they have a new EP out titled Road To Rouyn (as in the northern Quebec town of Rouyn-Noranda, to over-explain the pun). While I'm just over the moon with the silly title, the band's performances are actually pretty fun. On the two-song set, the group delivers high-octane French renditions of the End of the Century staples "Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio?" and "Danny Says" (which, yes, are not Road To Ruin tracks at all, but come on, that pun is to die for).
Les Fucking Raymonds features vocalist Petrick Martin, Raphael Colet on guitar and bass, and drummer Francis Labelle. Thierry Gauthier produced the set. There's no word if he pulled a gun on anyone to keep things authentic in the studio, but I hope he did.
A few new episodes of City Slang have arrived. You can tune in to the Ottawa-area show at your convenience for an interview with Patrick Flegel of the Toronto no-wave act Cindy Lee and the Calgary art-rock group Women. The show also recently spoke to Phil Elverum (Mount Eerie) on the occasion of his second Lost Wisdom collaboration with Julie Doiron. City Slang's hosted by Emmanuel Sayer and Travis Boisvenue.
The new episode of Come For a Ride features a chat with Toronto musician Chris A. Cummings, who's performed as Mantler and most recently Market Starling. Jesse Locke of Tough Age and Kritty Uranowski from Lavender Bruisers co-host the Toronto-based interview show.
Vish Khanna's Edmonton-based Kreative Kontrol has been speaking with some of my favourite artists over the past few weeks. You can tune in there now for discussions with Columbian-Canadian firebrand Lido Pimienta, Welland's prolific Daniel Romano, and the above mentioned Jonah and Mike from Jade Hairpins.