Sunday May 24, 2020

Qwerty Pie

I'm thrilled to premiere a new song today from Mississauga's eclectic noise-pop group Mildew Mildew. The group recently shared a video for the electronic "Querty Pie," a fascinatingly awkward indie-dance number that feels positively fueled by the idle frustrations of isolation. Vocalist/guitarist Nolan Jakupovski flops around his basement throughout the clip, making weary play of whatever clutter he happens to get his hands on. It's certainly not the dance floor, but it's what we're all relatably stuck with.

"Query Pie" is set to arrive as part of Chopped Lumps, a collection due later this week from Toronto underground rock label Art of the Uncarved Block. The Mildew Mildew lineup this time out features Jakupovski, backed by Brendan Cooke, Cameron Leslie, and Ali Garvin.

Mildew Mildew last released Double Doors and Different Floors, a pair of EPs that the label collected on a single cassette release last year.

Watch: Mildew Mildew - "Qwerty Pie" @ YouTube

When's the last time we had the pleasure of hearing Constantines guitarist and weathered-poet solo artist Steven Lambke shout his way through a bunch of punk songs? One of the later Baby Eagle and the Proud Mothers records, perhaps, if you squit? Last week saw the release of Spider Bite, the latest in Daniel Romano's bafflingly prolific series of quarantine releases. The speedy, low-fi effort features Danny and his brother/drummer Ian Romano with Lambke searing on lead vocals. The trio sneers through ten tracks that at times throw off some big 80s hardcore vibes, going a few miles further into the punk realm than even Ancient Shapes dares.

Lambke commented on the set with what I'm choosing to read as a sly Rancid reference:

"This is the way it happened. In this exact order, in this exact way, with these sounds. Offered from this exact moment to a future where we will meet again. In the pit."

The set follows Former Firsts, a recent collaborative EP pairing Lambke with the Nova Scotian duo Construction & Destruction. Last year the Toronto and Sackville-based artist released the Dark Blue LP through You've Changed Records.

Before Spider Bite, Danny's quarantine discography most recently included the fantasy Dylan cover album Daniel Romano's Outfit do (what could have been) Infidels by Bob Dylan & The Plugz. Before that came the 23-minute prog epic "Forever Love's Fool." In the weeks prior, Romano released the LPs Content To Point The Way, "Visions Of The Higher Dream", and the EP Super Pollen (with members of Fucked Up). I'm sure there's another on deck by the time you read this, but I'm pretending that this newsletter was sent on time, so I'll address that next week.

Listen: Spider Bite - Spider Bite @ Bandcamp

The Toronto rock trio Pacer is back with a driving new single. You can stream the freshly unveiled rocker "Everlaster" below, along with a trippy video visualizer featuring effects work by Ryan Maggs. Pacer was on track to release their first EP at a May 1 gig in their hometown, but those plans were (obviously) upended by the pandemic. Whenever they're allowed back on stage, you'll find the group playing as a three-piece consisting of vocalist/guitarist Shawn Kosmo, bassist Dan Pearce, and drummer Evan Matthews.

Pacer released a handful of digital singles over the last year and a bit, including "Rapture," "Bangers" and the "Piledriver" / "Lose" pair ("Piledriver," in particular has one of the best shout-along vocal hooks in recent memory). You can find all of those at Bandcamp. You've likely encountered Shawn Kosmo's past work as a video director for Ontario bands like PONY, Twist, and Tommy and the Commies.

Watch: Pacer - "Everlaster" @ YouTube

Speaking of, it's been ages since we've heard new music from Sudbury's tight-as-hell, 77-styled punk trio. Tommy and the Commies recently announced a new EP for the Reno garage rock titans Slovenly, with the label recently premiering a track as part of an hour-long Isolation Sampler mix. You can preview "Hurtin' 4 Certain" at around the 46 minute mark of the Mixcloud set below, but by all means, play it the whole way through (there's some cool stuff in there from Mark Sultan, Duchess Says, Sore Points, and PRIORS among others).

There's no word yet on when exactly we'll see the new EP, but it's a four-song set that you can expect on wax at some point later this year.

Tommy and the Commies feature the titular Tommy backed by Jeff Houle (Strange Attractor) and his brother Mitch. Jeff and Mitch were 2/3s of the P.Trash power-pop legends Statues.

Listen: Tommy and the Commies in the Slovenly 2020 Isolation Sampler @ Mixcloud

London folk/sludge rockers WHOOP-Szo will revisit their 2019 album Warrior Down with an upcoming set of remixes. The Warrior Down Remixes EP is due on June 5 from You've Changed Records. The seven-song set features reworkings of the band's latest by the Toronto synth-pop duo Ice Cream, the sibling psych-dance trio DOOMSQUAD, Edmonton's AG47 (nêhiyawak), and WHOOP-Szo's London contemporaries Zachary Gray and Jesney. Zoon, the Hamilton-based psych and shoegaze project from Ojibwe musician Daniel Monkman, contributes the project's first single, an atmospheric "moccasin-gaze" reworking of "Cut Your Hair."

WHOOP-Szo lead Adam Sturgeon spoke on the song in a press release:

"Anytime I'm feeling pain, I'll pick up an instrument and for whatever reason, I'll find an ease in playing the same thing over and over. Sometimes for just a moment and others the whole day. 'Cut Your Hair' is one such song that reaches deep into the core of my being. When we recorded the song for Warrior Down, I had to go into the studio by myself and it was incredibly difficult to even get the words out. This was a huge contrast to the sonically expansive and aggressive tracks we were laying down at that time and so I've been really shy about the stripped back and revealing nature of the song.

'Cut Your Hair' is a song about my grandpa and me. It's a dedication to survivors and how our stories are tied to each other through Canada's Residential School system. This is not something I've been able to share in a way that is comfortable. Until working with my brother Daniel from Zoon. Our experiences as Anishinaabe means that a lot can go unsaid between us. Daniel knew how important this song was to me and how lonely and painful it felt. How we wear the weight of our ancestors in every step we take and how those schools tore the culture from our families. Together we've been able to pick each other up and navigate these challenging experiences. In his style, Daniel added the missing elements that I had been searching for all along. I'm really proud of how this turned out and so excited for Zoon and all that's to come for them."

Monkman also commented on his relationship with the track:

"I was so honoured when Adam asked if I'd collaborate with him. I remember the first time hearing 'Cut Your Hair,' it was on the CBC show Q and Adam played solo, and there was so much emotion during his performance and I immediately connected with the story. 'Cut Your Hair' is the first contemporary song I've heard that deals with residential schools.

Like Adam's grandfather, my grandfather, father, aunt and uncle, all attended these schools for many years. I found this song to be very emotional, and I really wanted to capture that on my remix. I ended up isolating Adam's vocals and built a wall of sound around it. I swapped bits of the guitar for sound loops to follow the verses and added in piccolos and strings at the end to symbolize a sort of resolution."

All proceeds the remix EP are bound for London's LIFE*SPIN coronavirus relief charity. Warrior Down arrived last November on You've Changed. Zoon's upcoming LP, Bleached Wavves, is due June 19 from Paper Bag Records.

Listen: WHOOP-Szo - "Cut Your Hair" (Zoon Remix) @ Bandcamp

David Eatock's eclectic post-punk project Commuted took on a Cancon radio staple this week, with a cover of the Barenaked Ladies' 1992 single "Brian Wilson." Eatock's warped take on the Gordon tune, with a few choice lyrics shifted from the Steven Page original, is expected as part of a future album titled The Notebook.

The Toronto-based Commuted last released In a Waiting Room in March.

Listen: Commuted - "Brian Wilson" @ Bandcamp

The second set of Modern Cynics tunes recently arrived from Haligonian singer/songwriter Matty Grace. The band's an isolation project from Grace, with the constraint that each of Modern Cynics speedy little punk tunes features no more than 12 different words. This set's titled Volume 2 and consists of five tracks, none of which clock in longer than a minute twenty-five (with the opening all of 16 seconds). The first Modern Cynics volume, titled Demo 2020, arrived earlier in the month. Will Killingsworth mixed and mastered these songs at Dead Air Studios.

In March, Grace released Rumination Year, a six-song solo-billed folk-punk album produced by Surrender's Dave Williams. It arrived just a few weeks after Beneath The Bridges, a four-song split cassette with the Dartmouth rock trio Designosaur.

Matty 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. She fronts the group Future Girls in normal times, whatever that means.

Listen: Modern Cynics - Volume 2 @ Bandcamp

Speaking of Halifax, the punk four-piece Shelley recently unveiled a new EP. Weeper arrived on Bandcamp this past week without much fanfare, but it's a quick set of modern, anxiety-driven punk rock that's well worth a spin. The six-song set follows up to 2019's It's Okay To Be a Ghost EP.

Listen: Shelley - Weeper @ Bandcamp

Guilhem Benard's certainly keeping busy during isolation, running an ongoing series of live-stream solo concerts (at least eight, by the time I'm writing this). The Lost Love frontman's seen the pandemic derail both the promotion of his recent solo record and also delay (by a full year) the 10th anniversary of Montreal's Pouzza Fest (of which he's one of the principles). Last week the musician also released a new track, his first entirely in French. Guilhem tracked "Une Chanson Positive" in December of 2019 with Hugo Mudie producing. Adrian Popovich recorded the tune at Mountain City Studio. It's the first single from an upcoming French solo LP due from Music Mansion Records.

Guilhem released Born & Bored independently on March 2. That 10-song set followed up a pair of earlier solo EPs, 2017's Sings Songs of Lost Love and 2018's Bad Art. Lost Love last released the EP Glenn Spaghetti Legs on Germany's Uncle M Records. It followed the band's 2019 Stomp Records LP, Good Luck Rassco.

Listen: Guilhem - "Une Chanson Positive" @ Bandcamp

The unrelenting Toronto/Hamilton hardcore group Hellbent recently released their Promo 2020 set, described as the band as "a full 3 mins of unapologetic silly stoner hardcore music." That's a lie, though, as it's truthfully only a minute and twenty seconds of unapologetic silly stoner hardcore music. The band recorded with Cancer Bats guitarist Scott Middleton producing. You can look for cassette copies through Pink Lemonade Records.

Last summer Hellbent released the Dead Off The Floor EP, and before that, a split 7" with the Spanish punk act G.A.S. Drummers.

Listen: Hellbent - Promo 2020 @ Bandcamp

Assiniboia, Saskatchewan label Fixed Frequency recently shared a 24 track punk compilation featuring an international list of bands. Nestled among the Sample This or Die Vol. 1 runtime was a new track from London, Ontario punks Wasted Potential. You can stream "Dude You Got Adelle" from the comp now, or wait until Friday to hear the band's new EP Separation Anxiety when it arrives from Get Party! Records. The band recorded with Kyle Ashbourne (WHOOP-Szo, Red Arms) engineering at the Sugar Shack.

Wasted Potential last released the Living Up To The Name LP in 2017. They've hinted that two new EPs are due for 2020, so wait and see what's to come.

Listen: Wasted Potential - "Dude You Got Adelle" @ Bandcamp

Cam Steacy's low-fi post-punk outfit Organ Eyes recently shared "Passed By," a new single that's the latest in a busy slate of quarantine releases from the Ottawa artist. The frack follows a pair of rapidly assembled isolation LPs: Spirits on Acid (recorded and released between March 27 and April 15), and the preceding Paintings in Concrete (assembled between March 18 to 23). You can dig through all this new material at Bandcamp.

Just before the world went sideways Organ Eyes released the full-length Matinee Marmalade.

Listen: Organ Eyes - "Passed By" @ Bandcamp

Montreal stoner metal quintet UUBBUURRUU recently shared a video for "Ice Head," a track from their recent self-titled debut for Mothland. Directory Philippe Beauséjour commented on the clip:

"I felt like animating random patterns on a video and I recalled the music video for the song 'Little Fury Thing' by Dinosaur Jr where there is barely any continuity between the black and white shots, all of which are filmed with dynamic camera works. The concept worked really well for a fast song, especially for a director who enjoys a bit of chaos. When came time to shoot the video, everything was made easy by the location we chose. We improvised most of the shots in collaboration with the band with talented friend, Cedric Marinelli a.k.a. Marinel Abhâ helping out with props and ideas for camera angles."

UUBBUURRUU was formed in 2014 by singer/guitarist Joey Napoleon (El Napoleon) and drummer Maxime Hébert (Les Breastfeeders, Ponctuation, The High Dials). The duo built out the band the addition of producer/guitarist Samuel Gemme (Elephant Stone, Anemone), guitarist Sean Cary-Barnard (Melted Faces, Light Bulb Alley, Palmetto), and bassist Vick Trigger (Les Marinellis, Blue Cheese, Jimmy Target & The Triggers). The group's recent LP followed up on their 2017 EP Swamp Ritual.

Listen: UUBBUURRUU - "Ice Head" @ YouTube

Windsor-based dream-pop act Moon King recently announced a second cross-border collaboration with the Detroit synth-pop vocalist Vespre. You can stream the new single "Seconds From You" now at Bandcamp. Moon King's Daniel Benjamin contributed the instrumentals and production on the track, with Vespre's Kaylan Waterman handling the vocals. The duo recorded over two days in an unused office tower near downtown Detroit where the studio Assemble Sound had rented an entire floor.

Moon King and Vespre last collaborated on 2019's Voice of Lovers LP, appearing together on the single "Neon Lights."

Listen: Moon King & Vespre - "Seconds From You" @ Bandcamp

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