Call Me Out
The Constantines made a surprise, and intentionally lower-key, return this week with their first new studio track since 2008's Kensington Heights. The beloved Guelph-bred indie rock group shared the song "Call Me Out" on Bandcamp Tuesday morning to raise funds for both Black Lives Matter Toronto and the Unist'ot'en Camp Legal Fund for Land Defenders. The band commented:
"Call Me Out was written in 2017. It's an acknowledgement of the need for open listening, active learning, inward study and accountability towards personal and social change. It's an owning of our privilege and responsibilities.
We're not looking to take up a lot of space with this release, but thought it might do some good to put it out now, rather than hiding it away any longer. It won't be available on spotify, applemusic, etc, or as a physical release. Please don't post it on youtube. The purpose of this release is to raise money for the folks mentioned above."
The download includes additional artwork and a lyrics sheet. The Cons recorded "Call Me Out" at Palace Sound with Alex Gamble (PUP, Fucked Up). Longtime Daniel Romano collaborator Kenneth Roy Meehan mixed and mastered the track. It's unknown at this time if other material from that recording session even exists, let alone when it may be released. While the group's performed several new songs at their sporadic live shows over the past few years, "Call Me Out" is the first to see anything resembling an official release.
Constantines features guitarist/keyboardist Will Kidman, guitarist/vocalist Steven Lambke, drummer Doug MacGregor, vocalist/guitarist Bry Webb, and bassist Dallas Wehrle.
On the topic of unheralded returns, Welland's otherwise dormant rock group Northern Primitive re-emerged last week with a new 5-song EP titled More Songs From Saturn West, with 100% of the proceeds from their digital sales similarly bound for Black Lives Matter Toronto. The set marks the band's first release since a 7" split with The Dirty Nil in 2013.
The set, recorded in 2019, features the distinctively tortured slow-burn vocals of Matt Sajn (Dboy's unmasked frontman) backed by Ross Miller (now of The Dirty Nil), Billy Topolinsky, and Attack In Black's Ian Romano. Romano recorded and mixed the set, which the above-mentioned Kenneth Meehan mastering.
Toronto's high energy garage-punk outfit The OBGMs recently returned with "Cash," the group's first new single in three years. The band's now playing as a trio with guitarist/vocalist Densil McFarlane backed by bassist Joseph Brosnan and drummer Colanthony Humphrey. McFarlane boasted about the group's current direction, which dials up the aggression from their prior LP:
"It's a slap in the face... The OBGMs self-titled was on some 'happy to be here' shit. The singles and eventual album are on some 'I deserve to be here' stuff... we wanted to slap people in the face to let them know we are the ones to mess with."
The OBGMs, short for The oOoh Baby Gimme Mores, recorded their new material with producer Dave Schiffman (PUP, The Bronx). Their next record, the follow-up to 2017's self-titled album, is expected on Black Box later this year.
Mississauga noise-pop three-piece JONCRO shared two new singles last Friday, with the commitment to donate their next month's worth of Bandcamp earnings to the NAACP and the ACLU. "Violet Hair" was initially released as part of Lootbag Records' Isolation Mixtape, while "Wise River" is a wholly new, quarantine-recorded track. The material's part of a spate of recent recordings from the group, who released the Twa EP in February.
JONCRO features guitarist/vocalist Daniel G. Wilson backed by bassist Kieran Christie and drummer Matthew Mikuljan.
The celebrated Halifax neo-soul group Aquakultre released a pair of benefit singles last Friday. "Back In Time" is a collaboration with singer Yohvn Blvck, featuring synth from Special Costello's Jeremy Costello and Chudi Harris on guitar (he contributes some vocals to the song's third verse as well). "Garden" meanwhile features Nick Dourado (Budi) on saxophone. Proceeds from the "Back In Time" are for The Black Power Hour: a CKDU radio show described as "a communication lifeline for incarcerated folks." "Garden" meanwhile benefits the community-led Canadian charity The Black Health Alliance. You can find both at Bandcamp.
Aquakultre, lead by vocalist Lance Sampson, released their fantastic debut full-length Legacy last month.
Montreal's oblique punk/psych group Faze recently shared an extremely low-fidelity live set titled The inaudible sounds of... Faze Live @ the Fettuccini Incident. The release includes a single track capturing the entirety of the group's performance at last year's I Can't Believe It's Not Paris festival. The band played on December 12 at Brasserie Beaubien. All proceeds from the sale of the set are due for DESTA, an organization supporting Black youth in Montreal.
Faze last released the EP Struggling to enjoy ourselves while the world slowly implodes in 2018, which has proven to be an oddly evergreen title.
London post-hardcore quartet MVLL CRIMES has a new live track online titled "Don't Be a Cop." The group recorded the song on March 15 at Odyssey Records during the release show for their recent EP Roadside Attractions, the band's last performance before going into COVID lockdown. With the group's intended live album now on hold, they've repurposed the song as a fundraiser supporting Ontario's Black Legal Action Centre.
You can check out the video for "Don't Be a Cop" below or head over to Bandcamp to support the cause. As an unfortunate footnote to this story, it appears that Odyssey Records is now without a home. The business incubator which housed it, along with several other young businesses, has closed in the wake of the pandemic.
MVLL CRIMES features vocalist Jill Clair, guitarist Patrick Briggs, drummer Nathan Patrick, and bassist Laurie.
Toronto folk-rockers Little Kid shared several new recordings this past week, including another preview of their upcoming Solitaire debut Transfiguration Highway. From that LP, the band unveiled "All Night (Golden Ring)," a duet between the band's Kenny Boothby and Megan Lunn inspired by Golden Ring, a 1976 album from country legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette. That record has something of a dark history which informs Little Kid song. Golden Ring was released (and became a hit) after the couple's bitter, public divorce (with serious allegations of abuse levelled at Jones). Commercial demands forced the couple to appear together in support of the record, despite the acrimony. Boothby reflected on the tale in a press release:
"I was really saddened to read about that, and to picture how that must have felt for Tammy. I can't relate directly, but as a survivor of abuse, I can only imagine what it would feel like to have to sing with my abuser, much less to have to sing love songs with him and act like everything is OK."
That song arrived alongside a set of four-track demos recorded for Transformation Highway. The band released the material as part of an effort to raise funds for the Black Legal Action Centre, to which Little Kid's pledged the entirety of their revenue this month. You can pick those recordings up at Bandcamp for a limited time.
In addition, Little Kid recently took part in a covers compilation celebrating the Canadian singer/songwriter Fog Lake. The album, from Slovakia's Z Tapes, features the band's take on "Breaking Over Branches."
Drew Thomson of Single Mothers and The Drew Thomson Foundation has had a productive stint in isolation, this week releasing a new EP as SM Worldwide. Pig features the musician spitting fire over a thumping backstop of electronic percussion, a direction that feels unique amongst Thomson's various musical personas. Drew described the set, and its unintentionally opportune themes, at Bandcamp:
"This EP was written over the last few weeks while in self isolation. The name PIG and the artwork was done just before everything happened. I thought about changing it as to not want to seem exploitative of the situation in anyway, but decided to keep it as ACAB was before this and it will be after... All proceeds for Bandcamp day will go towards BLM Bailout Funds for protesters. Defund the police."
During the isolation period, Thomson's released a wealth of material, including a trove of Foundation demos (available as Bedroom Door), the "I'm Wrong" and "Turbulence" singles from Single Mothers, and a quasi-spoken word set as No Idea Head.
Devin Friesen's feedback-drenched recording project Bitter Fictions recently shared a selection of atmospheric music from an upcoming record titled Hour Reducer. The album features several meditative numbers built around field recordings of the streets of Montreal. The artist explained the concept in his liner notes (which I've edited down here for length, head to Bandcamp for the full write-up):
"A little after releasing [2016's] Jettison I moved into a third floor apartment with large windows. I'd set up a couple mics to try and record the trees and weather - essentially a listening exercise in getting to know my newly acquired four track and surroundings, and a sort of inversion process of the tape recordings through gtr pickups stuff I was doing at live performances. I was deep into things where the recording/performance space, domestic or otherwise, was being 'played' or construed as instrumental in some way.
Since then I've done some variation of this every place I've lived. It becomes a sort of memory log while also having something to 'play to' that's none of the usual suspects. Outside is not listening to you, but you can listen and try playing to it... These pieces were recorded one evening in Montreal towards the end of October 2019, a couple months into living at the apartment I'll be leaving next week. I stopped recording in this manner here because I didn't want to stumble into recording a budget godspeed piece or some kind of tacky power electronics/surveillance thing."
Back in April, Bitter Fictions released a 40-minute, six-song album titled Eloquent & Despairing on the now Montreal-based Shaking Box label. As part of this past weekend's spate of Bandcamp fundraisers, both Shaking Box and Bitter Fictions collected money for the Calgary Black Empowerment Fund.
Hamilton's Matt Ellis recently shared his third volume of bathroom-recorded isolation songs, described by the musician as "four more Ramones-esq D-U-M-B rock'n'roll rippers." Funds raised by the sales of Halfway to Insanity are bound for Willow's Place, a low-barrier Hamilton-area hub "filling a housing gap for multiply-marginalized women experiencing homelessness, precarious housing and social isolation."
Ellis is the frontman of both Hamilton's proto-punk revivalists Flesh Rag and the Toronto punk outfit PlasticHeads. Flesh Rag last released Inside Your Mind in 2018 on Schizophrenic and Loose Lips Records. PlasticHeads released their first full-length Nowhere To Run last year on Ugly Pop.
Toronto's Friend Ship Committee recently shared the third volume in their Friend Ship From Home compilation series. The 15-track set features an assortment of low-fi Toronto-area rock bands, including contributions from Kurt Marble, Nigel Nigel, and The Gunge. All proceeds raised by the record are headed to the family of Regis Korchinski Paquet and Black Lives Matter.
The Friend Ship Committee organized 2019's Friend Ship cruise, a show hosted on a boat in Lake Ontario that featured the likes of Hot Garbage, Burner, and WLMRT.
I was instantly taken by a buzzing synth-punk track on the previous Friend Ship compilation by The Fuckin Astronauts, and that song now has a second lease on life. The duo's "The Man From an Unknown Time" was recently remastered by Roy and shared on Bandcamp last Friday.
If you're a fan of Michigan punk weirdos The Spits, this should be right up your alley.
Ottawa's The Band Whose Name Is a Symbol has a new album available titled Unsemble. It features five songs the prolific instrumental psych outfit recorded in isolation, with each of the six members tracking their contributions in separate locations. You can find the work at Bandcamp now.
Unsemble arrives on the heels of two recent releases. Back in May, the band shared their Basement Blowouts 3 collection, bringing together ten archival tracks recorded live off the floor in the basement of Ottawa's Birdman Sound. That followed a recent split LP with the Nanaimo group Anunnaki, a release that found each experimental unit contributing separate 30-minute soundscapes of cosmic guitar noise.
TBWNIS features Bill Guerrero, Dave Reford, Jason Vaughan, John Westhaver, Nathaniel Hurlow, and Scott Thompson.
Montreal's Guilhem, the solo project of Lost Love's Guilhem Benard, recently shared the first in a series of splits with his fellow Pouzza Fest organizer Mudie. The set features Guilhelm taking on "Toujours Froid" while Mudie tackles "Sober Realism." You can find both tracks now at Bandcamp.
Guilhem released the solo album Born & Bored on March 2, following it up last week with "Une Chanson Positive," the first single from an upcoming French-language record. His pop-punk group Lost Love last released the EP Glenn Spaghetti Legs on Uncle M Records and the LP Good Luck Rassco on Stomp. Hugo Mudie, frontman of the beloved Montreal punk group The Sainte Catharines, released an 11-song full-length on May 1 titled Concerta Fantasio.
Vancouver punks Chain Whip are bringing their 2019 LP of 80s hardcore worship to Europe through a June release on Drunken Sailor Records. In the lead-up to the 14 Lashes re-release, the group put together a new video for the song "Don't Talk To Me." You can check it out now on YouTube.
Chain Whip features Josh Nickel of Fashionism on vocals, Joel Butler of Nervous Talk, The Moby Dicks, and Corner Boys on guitar, Brett Thompson of Stress Eating on bass, and Patrick Bertrand of Corner Boys on drums. Nickel and Bertrand respectively run the Neon Taste and Hosehead labels.
With the rallying cry "We were the FIRST to CLOSE / We will be the LAST to REOPEN," a campaign from the Canadian Independent Venue Coalition has launched at supportcanadianvenues.ca. The effort seeks relief for the live music industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. It comes on the heels of some ominous reports out of the States, where a survey found that 90% of independent music venues could be lost without assistance.
The #SupportCanadianVenues movement has a petition online targeting the Minister of Canadian Heritage. It asks that the government extend the Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage & Sports to include for-profit businesses. It reads:
"The Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sports does not include independent, for-profit businesses in the Arts and Culture sector. Overlooking these Canadian independent, for-profit businesses will cause permanent business closures, job loss, and the loss of art and culture within our communities.The closure of our independent businesses will create a ripple effect through out our neighbouring economy sectors, including but not limited to; Accommodation & Food Service, Agriculture, Real Estate, Rentals & Leasing.
We, the Citizens of Canada, call upon the Minister of Canadian Heritage to request that the Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sports to increase and include; independent for-profit venues, independent for-profit promoters, independent for-profit agencies and independent for-profit festivals in the allocation of the Emergency Support Fund."
The petition is seeking 10,000 signatures before it's sent off. If you haven't yet, you can sign it today and find other action steps to support the Canadian live music scene at the coalition's website.