Sunday August 16, 2020

Rock Is My Rock

Slack-rock heroes Partner unveiled plans for their sophomore full-length last week. The Sackville-bred group returns on November 20 with Never Give Up, a 10-song album and the proper follow-up to 2017's Polaris-shortlisted In Search of Lost Time. This record finds vocalist/guitarist Josée Caron and vocalist/bassist Lucy Niles backed by the well-regarded Toronto drummer Simone TB (Darlene Shrugg, Fake Palms). Among the album's runtime, you'll find the group's recent Rush-inspired single "Good Place To Hide (At The Time)" along with the newly available, album-opening pair "Hello and Welcome" and "Rock is My Rock." All evidence points to the group diving head-first into their classic rock influences this time out, both in sound and sentiment. The group commented on the new tracks:

"'Hello and Welcome' is the opening track to our upcoming full-length album, Never Give Up. In this song, we will take you on a journey and introduce you to the new universe we are exploring on this album. We are very thrilled to have collaborated with Dustin Apodaca (Midnight Peacemaker) for this exciting music video.

'Rock Is My Rock' is a song that we wrote to celebrate the joy of rock, and the joy it brings us to see other people feel the joy of rock. We wanted to thank the music for bringing us happiness and keeping us company during difficult times. This song is dedicated to anyone for whom rock is a rock. We know 2020 has been a different kind of year for everyone. There has been a lot of stress but also a lot of good with positive change happening in our society, whether it's baby steps or great leaps. We just want to thank everyone who has bought our record, or listened to a Partner tune and enjoyed it. We appreciate all of the support in every way. We can't wait to be able to see you all in person again."

Partner recorded this material in July of 2019 at Palace Sounds, with Steve Chahley (Ice Cream, US Girls) engineering. The group last released the Saturday the 14th EP in 2019. You've Changed Records has Never Give Up on deck for a November 20 release, plenty of time to get your KISS boots polished.

Watch: Partner - "Hello and Welcome" @ YouTube

Watch: Partner - "Rock Is My Rock" @ YouTube

After a seemingly impossible run of unannounced quarantine releases, it looks like Welland's Daniel Romano is returning the normal album cycle. A September 18 release date's locked in for his next proper full-length, How Ill Thy World Is Ordered. Properly attributed to Daniel Romano's Outfit, the project features Danny's full touring band, currently comprised of vocalist Julianna Riolino, guitarist/vocalist David Nardi, bassist Roddy Rossetti, and drummer Ian Romano. The 11-song set builds upon that core group with contributions from pianist Mark Lalama, vocalist Briana Salmena, sax player Victor Belcastro, and Aaron Hutchinson on trumpet. The write-up from You've Changed Records suggests a guitar-forward rock record, claiming more "honest-to-the-core lead guitar playing than Daniel has previously committed to tape." The press release continues:

"The band assembled in studio in a perfectly tuned geometry to record these new songs following simple guidelines and simple rules: play the whole thing, in sequence, 3 takes or bust, with no overdubs; play 'the sound of the feel of a snake bite;' play 'a heist on horseback for fool's gold.'"

The album-opening single "A Rat Without a Tale" is now streaming online, with an accompanying video running at the usual outlets.

How Ill Thy World Is Ordered clocks in as the 9th fully-realized release from Romano this calendar year, but only the second to earn a physical presence (following March's live record, "Okay Wow"). Since the pandemic took hold, Danny's shared the original full-lengths Dandelion, Content To Point The Way, and "Visions Of The Higher Dream", along with a high-concept front-to-back cover of Bob Dylan's Infidels. He co-created A Splendour Of Heart backing Ottawa vocalist Kelly Sloan, the punk record Spider Bite with Constantines' Steven Lambke, the spirited Super Pollen EP with members of Fucked Up, and the 23-minute prog single "Forever Love's Fool" (featuring the Tool drummer Daniel Carey, of all people).

One assumes that with an actual pre-announced record on the horizon, that could be it for a while, but without the ability to tour, I suspect we'll hear more from Romano's restless home studio sooner than later.

Watch: Daniel Romano's Outfit - "A Rat Without a Tale" @ YouTube

Toronto's ever-evolving garage-punks Teenanger recently shared their second preview of Good Time in the form of the provincially-minded "Trillium Song." The high-strung track features the always wry vocals of Chris Swimmings, with bassist Melissa Ball joining in for the chorus. Swimmings commented on the song's subject matter in a press release:

"This song is about the province of Ontario where we all reside. Mainly about the current provincial government's way of dealing with the education system and the environment. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Doug Ford (the song's primary subject) was making good headway at polishing his public image by being hands-on. He made promises of people not losing their jobs and tenants not being evicted. They were timely promises in the beginning as we are now seeing many tenants in Ontario face eviction due to not being able to make ends meet in the pandemic."

Good Time arrives October 2 as Teenanger's sixth full-length, once again via the band's longtime label Telephone Explosion. The group recorded at Studio Z in Toronto with the celebrated post-rock artist Sandro Perri producing.

Together for more than a decade, Teenanger continues to boast their original lineup of drummer Steve Sidoli, bassist Melissa Bell, guitarist Jon Schouten, and vocalist Chris Swimmings.

Listen: Teenanger - "Trillium Song" @ Bandcamp

Bombastic Toronto punk outfit The OBGMs continue to hustle hard in support of their new material. The band recently revealed that their forthcoming Black Box LP would be titled The Ends, and comes with an October 30 release date. The 10-song set includes the earlier singles "Cash" and "Not Again," as well as the newly unveiled "Fight Song." That track arrived alongside both a new video and high-profile write up in Vice. The OBGMs hyperbolic self-promotion (they regularly declare that they are Nirvana) seems to be paying off.

The OBGMs play as a trio comprised of guitarist/vocalist Densil McFarlane, bassist Joseph Brosnan, and drummer Colanthony Humphrey. They recorded this new material with Grammy and JUNO Award-winning producer Dave Schiffman (PUP, The Bronx, Anti-Flag).

Upon the release of their prior single, I had a brief but illuminating chat with McFarlane on the band's high-octane garage-punk sound, their in-your-face promotional strategy, BIPOC rock representation, and more. You can revisit that atop the July 5 edition of the newsletter.

Watch: The OBGMs - "Fight Song" @ YouTube

Dundas power-trio The Dirty Nil shared word on their third full-length this week, with the follow-up to 2018's Master Volume carrying the blunt title of Fuck Art. While they've yet to elaborate on the sentiment implied in the title, the brash new single "Doom Boy" may offer a few hints. The track finds the band fusing their familiar brand of hooky power-pop with a gleeful dose of thrash metal riffing. An accompanying video sees the group exuberantly leaning into low-brow metal tropes and a late-80s VHS aesthetic. Frequent Nil collaborators Mitch Barnes and Victor Malang returned to direct the clip. Frontman Luke Bentham commented on the experience:

"Without parallel, 'Doom Boy' is the most dangerous video we've ever made. When we were told that all we had to do was return the shell of the van to get half our money back, all hell broke loose. Between the Roman candles, vintage mini bikes and minivan mayhem, I was quite surprised that we only had a few injuries by the end of the night. Do NOT attempt any of the antics performed in the 'Doom Boy' video. You've been warned."

"Doom Boy" follows the group's recent "Done With Drugs" single, with both expected on Fuck Art when it arrives on Dine Alone Records later this year.

As reported earlier, Bentham, bassist Ross Miller, and drummer Kyle Fisher benefited from living together under the same roof throughout the COVID quarantine. That arrangement allowed the group to forge ahead on this record without having to resort to clumsy remote setups or precautionary distancing.

Watch: The Dirty Nil - "Doom Boy" @ YouTube

Speaking of Ross Millar, the musician's posi-hardcore solo project When I Move recently shared a new single. The digital release pairs the songs "Fake Rock N' Roll" with a cover of "I Am Love," originally by the D.C. hardcore group Give. Millar plays everything on these recordings, save the guitars, which come courtesy of Vince Soliveri. You can find the set at Bandcamp now.

When I Move debuted with a self-titled EP in June. The group succeeds Millar's earlier work in this sonic and thematic vein under the name Blue.

Listen: When I Move - "Fake Rock N' Roll" @ Bandcamp

Sam Bielanski's bubblegum-punk act PONY has been quiet for far too long. "WedMB" is the project's first proper single of the year, following a nigh-perfect cover of The Wedding Singer's climactic "Somebody Kill Me Please" back in May. It also marks the band's first material as part of the Take This To Heart family. Bielanski stated, "this song is dedicated to anyone who spends their Friday night googling symptoms."

The tune features Bielanski on vocals and guitar, with additional guitar and bass from Pretty Matty's Matty Morand, and guitar from Pacer's Shawn Kosmo. Pretty Matty drummer Lucas Horne plays on the track, with Tokyo Police Club keyboardist Graham Wright contributing on synth. The song follows PONY's 2019 single "Limerence," and (long) before that their 2017 EP Do You.

Watch: PONY - "WebMD" @ YouTube

Next month the BC hardcore act Bootlicker returns with their fourth EP. How To Love Life arrives September 1 as a 7" release on the Neon Taste label, featuring six new songs built on the bones of the D-Beat and the UK82 sound. You can preview two tracks, "Shot at Dawn" and "Calm Mind," at Bandcamp now.

The new set follows the group's February-released Live In The Swamp and last year's Nuclear Family EP. On this recording, Bootlicker featured Lewis Jay Podlubny on vocals, Trevor Robson on bass, drummer Lucas Treadwell, and Chain Whip's Josh Nickel on guitar. While she's not credited with playing on this record, Bootlicker guitarist Athena Joan provides the single's cover art. Will Killingsworth mixed and mastered the set.

Listen: Bootlicker - How To Love Life @ Bandcamp

Halifax hardcore group B.P.S. (or Brain Pollution Syndrome) has a new six-song demo out, titled Mentally Chained. The blown-out, unrelenting set's available online now, with a cassette release due from Pig Master Tapes. The EP follows the band's initial slate of demos, captured on tape last year by Sewercide.

Luke Mumford recorded these tracks back in March of 2020. B.P.S. features personnel from the same Haligonian family of punk bands that brought you the Booji Boys, Fragment, and Alienation.

Listen: B.P.S. - Mentally Chained @ Bandcamp

Toronto noise-punks METZ have a second new single online previewing the upcoming LP Atlas Vending. This week the trio shared a video for the propulsive "Hail Taxi," a song world's more aggressive than the shoegaze-flavoured first single, "A Boat to Drown In." Frontman Alex Edkins commented on the track in a statement:

"'Hail Taxi' is about looking back. The lyrics deal with the idea of reconciling or coming to terms with who you were and who you've become.

A.F. Cortes directed the "Hail Taxi" video, which can be found now on YouTube. The filmmaker explained:

"I wanted to tell a simple story that captures the song's overarching theme. The idea of longing for the past creates many visual motifs and I wanted to create a piece that feels timeless and conveys a sense of isolation, highlighting that while we can hide our feelings, we can't run from them."

Atlas Vending arrives on October 9 from Royal Mountain Records and Sub Pop. Ben Greenberg (Uniform) co-produced the album with the band, with Seth Manchester (Daughters, Lingua Ignota, The Body) engineering and mixing at Pawtucket's Machines with Magnets.

METZ features guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins, bassist Chris Slorach, and drummer Hayden Menzies. In between their previous LP, the Steve Albini engineered Strange Peace, and this record, METZ released a b-sides and rarities collection for Sub Pop titled Automat.

Watch: METZ - "Hail Taxi" @ YouTube

Toronto's Young Guv shared a new single this week titled "Cold In The Summer," with proceeds from the track to be donated to the International Indigenous Youth Council's Southwest COVID-19 Emergency Response. The song follows the power-pop unit's recent Live in LA set, which raised funds for the employees of that city's shuttered Zebulon venue.

Young Guv, the pop songwriting vehicle of Fucked Up and No Warning's Ben Cook, released the twin LPs GUV I and GUV II last year on Run For Cover Records.

Watch: Young Guv - "Cold In The Summer" @ YouTube

Toronto label Art of the Uncarved Block has paired up with the emo revivalists Feels Fine to release their new album, Grip. The set, arriving on August 29, features the Toronto group's authentic take on the midwest emo sound of the late 90s, with the influence of bands like The Jazz June and Rainer Maria on prominent display. You can stream the record's first single, "Washed Out Blue," online now.

Feels Fine last released the EP At Home in 2018.

Listen: Feels Fine - "Washed Out Blue" @ SoundCloud

Hard-driving Montreal punk unit Thick Glasses recently released Courir après sa queue, a tight new four-song EP on the Hell For Breakfast label. While they have roots in both punk and stoner rock, the group incorporates an array of styles for this set, alternating from satisfying skate-punk hooks to blasts of metallic hardcore without ever drifting too far afield into any one sub-genre.

The propulsive album features guitarist/vocalist Charles-Étienne de Villers, drummer Gabriel Guimond-Mercille, and bassist David Roy. The group recorded with Jordan Barillaro at Montreal's Planet Studios last fall. Courir après sa queue follows Thick Glasses' 2018 release En orbite.

Listen: Thick Glasses - Courir après sa queue @ Bandcamp

London's Wasted Potential has a tribute cover online celebrating the recently departed Canadian punk legend Mr. Chi Pig. The band tackled "Joni Mitchell Tapes," which appeared on SNFU's 1993 full-length Something Green and Leafy This Way Comes. All proceeds raised from download are due for the Chi Pig mural fund (which just surpassed its funding goal).

Wasted Potential recently shared a four-song EP of new material titled Separation Anxiety on Get Party! Records. Mr. Chi Pig, born Ken Chinn, passed away on July 16 at the age of 57.

Listen: Wasted Potential - "Joni Mitchell Tapes" @ Bandcamp

BC crust unit Mass Grave has a pair of new songs online. "What's Left" is the band's contribution to the latest Grind Bastards compilation, an ongoing series from the Kyoto hardcore label MCR.The band's offering the download backed by a cover of Capitalist Casualties' 1997 song "Second Guess." That recording first surfaced on a tribute compilation from Rotten To The Core Records.

Jesse Gander recorded both tracks at Rain City Studios this past February. Mass Grave last released a split with the similarly-named Japanese grindcore group Unholy Grave in 2019. The band put out the Our Due Descent LP in 2018.

Listen: Mass Grave - "What's Left" @ Bandcamp

The dreamy found-art project Leisure Palace recently surfaced from Amy I. Nicoll and By Divine Right's José Miguel Contreras. The pair recorded the 8-song set in their bedroom back in February of 2016 as part of the RPM Challenge, bringing together a heady mix of tape loops and vocals with a limited slate of unconventional instruments (the record prominently features the marimba and celesta). The duo mixed the resulting record, titled Special Problems, this past summer while burning away the quarantine hours. You can find it now on Bandcamp.

José Contreras last released At The Slaughterhouse on Headless Owl. All three members of By Divine Right recently appeared with Another Blue Door' Dave Schoonderbeek on the Let It Beek LP.

Watch: Leisure Palace - "The Assigned Problems" @ YouTube

Cam Steacy's low-fi post-punk outfit Organ Eyes has a new 10-song full-length online titled Like Glass. It includes the Ottawa artist's recent single "Passed By," and stands as the fourth record released by the project this year. Before the pandemic landed, Organ Eyes shared a full-length titled Matinee Marmalade. Two rapidly assembled isolation-era LPs followed it, Paintings in Concrete (assembled between March 18 to 23) and Spirits on Acid (recorded and released between March 27 and April 15). You can find all the new Organ Eyes recordings at Bandcamp now.

Listen: Organ Eyes - "Passed By" @ Bandcamp

The high-concept, design-focused Montreal label Pentagon Black recently unveiled the fifth volume in their paper compilation series. Pentagon Black Compilation No. 5 is the third iteration of the project as a "phone comp," with each participating act recording a new song directly to the mic of a smartphone. The label, run by Raymond Biesinger and Drew Demers of noise-punk duo The Famines, shared these thoughts:

Pentagon Black Compilation No. 5 is our third "phone comp" of truth in audio, this time with a local (aka Montreal-only) direction. It's a 6x6" art postcard accompanied by 16 MP3 tracks recorded by telephone from March through June of 2020, and if you listen very closely you can hear diverse artists with either high-volume pre-lockdown mania, isolated quarantine loner expressions, or the jubilance that comes with the possibility of post-emergency liberation. The full early-COVID narrative is there, waiting for you to relive through audio hallucination. File under independent DIY punk, pop, experimental, bloops, bleeps, feeling and solitude. Printed in an edition of 500 in August of 2020."

This edition features Some Party favourites like BBQT and Barnacle, along with contributions from Tamayugé, Child Actress, Love Language, Dresser, Agatha Pale, YlangYlang, Beep Test, Ladies Night, Charles Harding, Sunforger, Also Also Also, Chris Hauer, Jules Nominal, and No. Deux.

You can snag a physical copy of the postcard from the Pentagon Black store for two bucks plus shipping. With each new edition in this series, I'm more convinced that The Famines are providing an essential and unparalleled service in chronicling the modern rock underground in this country — an absolute inspiration.

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