It's been one of those weeks, folks... one of those weeks where I again prove that the world doesn't pause to accomodate my lackadasical efforts. I stretched my already nebulous concept of "Sunday" out longer than I should have and came crashing right into the next week's new music slate. How dare the nation's PR engines not play to the sorry beat of my lethargic drum?
As of now, there's essential new stuff out in the wild from Jennifer Castle, the Chandra band, Partner, the OBGMs, and a host of other notables. I'll catch up with all of that in the next edition, but you're encouraged to seek it out in the meantime. "React to it at your leisure" has been the unofficial slogan of this newsletter since the get-go, and this week I'm leaning just a little too far into it for comfort.
Occasionally (which is to say, with a frequency that should be unsurprising given the above), I come across a blind spot in this newsletter's coverage that makes very little sense given my personal history. Somehow this year, I've missed every single update from Figure Walking, the Winnipeg duo featuring singer/songwriter Greg MacPherson and drummer Rob Gardiner (Conduct, Pip Skid). My oversights usually don't trouble me, I'm more aware than anyone of the precipitous sliver of free time on which Some Party operates, but I've got history with MacPherson! I interviewed Greg as a university student in the early Punknews days, just before or after Night Flares came out on the G7 Welcoming Committee. I was deeply enamoured with the song "Company Store" and how that tense little protest tune mirrored my great grandfather's history in the Sydney mines. Furthermore, it was an early attempt at leveraging whatever clout Punknews had at the time to force the spotlight on something cool and Canadian. You could say the whole misguided quest of this newsletter had its roots in G7 fandom!
So with all that said, I have no idea how I lost track of Greg MacPherson.
Figure Walking's new record Vertical/Horizontal arrived last Friday from Disintegration Records. The 10-song set is the duo's sophomore release under the name, showcasing MacPherson's impassioned personal/political storytelling backed by Gardiner's post-rock inspired percussion. The release came alongside a video for the album track "Colourful," shot and edited by MacPherson on a cell phone this past September. The artist commented on the song:
"[Colourful] is a kind of weather report; projecting a bitter cold front ahead of vicious winds, heavy ice and freezing rains. There's a violent storm overhead, some of us are hiding under our houses or huddled near a load bearing wall but there are many who seem convinced against evidence that all will be well."
MacPherson further explained the narrative presented in the "Colourful" video:
"Three true believers navigate modernity and late stage capitalism, preparing themselves for a new world; one is a believer in science, the next religion, the third commerce. They grapple with over a hundred years of Winnipeg urban design and then square off with one another in a bizarre post-cultural dance-a-thon."
Figure Walking recorded Vertical/Horizontal in Montreal (at The Pines with Steve Bates) and Winnipeg (at Argyle Studios with Cam Loeppky). The record serves as Greg's 10th studio album as a principal songwriter and his fourth collaborating with Gardiner. Videos for the tracks "Mr. X" and "Last Dollar (Green July)" were shared in the run-up to the release (not that I shared anything about it). Figure Walking last released the Polaris long-listed The Big Other in 2017.
Toronto's genre-elusive garage-punks Teenanger have the third preview of their upcoming Good Time LP online. The single "Romance for Rent" comes alongside a hilarious Jack Blair-directed video that finds drummer Steve Sidoli in a fraught and utterly unhealthy relationship with a pair of novelty pillows. There are few visual art pieces that so deftly capture the absurdities of isolation, particularly isolation with easy access to online mailorder.
Vocalist Chris Swimmings commented on the track:
"The lyrics were inspired by a friend of mine who had come out of a long-term relationship and was exploring the world of online dating. I've been a serial monogamist for the last 12 years so it was a vicarious exploration into his life at the time."
Director Jack Blair echoed that sentiment:
"The 'Romance for Rent' video takes the idea of loneliness and buying love and puts it in a blender with internet culture. It follows a lonely man who, rather than learning how to connect with others, connects with a meme pillow, and finds some short-lived solace with it; he is trying to solve his loneliness with an internet search, and kinda clings to the first thing he finds - a celebrity pillow. When that fails to get him the attention or connection that he was looking for, he goes back online. Rather than changing anything about himself or what he's looking for, he just repeats the same cycle."
I suspect the video's a better overall experience if you come into it cold, so I'm not naming the celebrities involved. Enjoy.
Teenanger's sixth full-length, Good Time arrives October 2 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 still boasts their original lineup of drummer Steve Sidoli, bassist Melissa Bell, guitarist Jon Schouten, and vocalist Chris Swimmings.
Montreal weird-pop group Night Lunch has a video online for their haunting new single "Motorhome." It's the retro-futurist band's first preview of their upcoming LP Wall of Love, due October 9 from Joe Chamandy's Celluloid Lunch Records. Bassist Marlee Kay handles vocals on the track.
Night Lunch features members of Quebec groups Baked Goods and The Marlees, with Baked Goods' 2012 track "Your Body" revisited for this release. The band worked primarily at The Bottle Garden with Peter Woodford (Tough Age, Deliluh, Bleu Nuit) on this release, with a few additional songs tracked by Peter Bowering at MOD Studio.
Night Lunch features guitarist/vocalist Lukie Lovechild, bassist/vocalist Marlee Kay, keyboardist Wesley Dunphy, and drummer Sailor.
This week sees the self-titled debut release from Calgary power-pop group Self-Cut Bangs. The high-energy duo features Carley O'Neill of the synth-pop group Dark Time paired with Shawn Petsche of the high-octane Napalmpom. The project materialized as a means to widdle away the quarantine hours, with the full record conceived, written, and recorded over the summer. From the press release:
"Initially started as a means to kill time without killing their wallets in the very early days of 2020 quarantine, Cayley O'Neill and Shawn Petsche spent a short Saturday afternoon writing a rock song that looked forward to time outside of their small Calgary apartment. As quarantine was extended, so too was the tradition of waking up Saturday morning and writing and recording a song before the sun went down, by themselves, for no one else but themselves. Before they knew it, they had an album's worth of material that they slowly admitted to themselves was 'actually pretty good. Maybe even really good?'"
A video for the song "Pillow Talk" is online now, featuring animated wrestling footage entirely assembled within the WWE 2K16 video game. You can also preview three of the record's nine songs at Bandcamp now (with the rest coming this Friday).
Brigitte Bardon't, the drone-pop guise of Toronto musician and artist Kristel Jax, recently unveiled Pink. The 8-song cassette release on the Industrial Coast label features music entirely composed on (and cleverly manipulated from) a Barbie-branded Jam With Me toy keyboard found broken and abandoned on the road in Toronto.
"Every track on Pink was recorded with the Barbie keyboard I found in the trash. The plan was to make one song, then circuit bend the shit out of the hardware, but once I started to really listen to the instrument I realized there had to be a larger collection of songs and sounds."
The full write-up at Bandcamp details how Jax extracted some unintended sounds from the toy, describing "static generated by wiggling the star-embedded volume knobs just right" and "feedback made by pointing the bendy green microphone at the speaker." The process is fascinating, with the resulting compositions often hypnotic and haunting (I completely lost track of writing this week's edition while listening to the closer "Lavender").
Jax recorded Pink front to back during Toronto's COVID-19 lockdown. Davide Eseni engineered the track in Bergamo, Italy (coincidentally an early epicentre of the pandemic). Tasman Richardson provides art for the release and takes part in the composition of the track "Orchid."
Brigitte Bardon't last released the field recording collage set Radio Songs in 2019.
Toronto's scrappy indie-rock quartet Roach has a new single online, pairing the infectious emo-pop tune (and ode to a dead pet) "R.I.P. Soft Serve" with the b-side "Manspreading."
Roach features vocalist/guitarist Violet DeRege Braga, drummer Carly Harris, guitarist Jackson Seaward, and bassist Tyler Twigger. The group released its debut EP, Taste Test, in the spring of 2019. They also recently appeared as part of the Black And Loud compilation from the Ontario Artists Against Injustice group.
Last week Spencer Burton unveiled "Further," his first single as a part of Dallas Green's Dine Alone imprint Still Records. The lushly orchestrated track certainly feels like a step up in production value from the Niagara-area folk artist. Burton commented on the song:
"'Further' was written with the world's downward spiral in mind. We've lost focus. Forgotten what matters. We are the world? But the world isn't us. I think we need to find out how to become equal parts earth and humanity without causing damage to one another. There's a balance in there somewhere."
The single premiered alongside a video from director Justis Krar.
The new material follows The Mountain Man, an album of children's songs the rural-minded Burton issued last year. The track serves as the proper follow-up to his 2017 full-length Songs Of. While he's several albums into a solo career writing rustic country and clever folk tunes, Burton's roots were in the much-loved Welland pop-punk band Attack In Black.
The Abattoir label has collected the recent work of stark Haligonian coldwave group La Bise. The cassette label's paired the band's first EP (2019's So Long) with this year's Stagnant Motion project for a limited physical run (Abattoir's releases are always rather striking, visually, and this is no different). The b-side audio is a compilation of two unreleased songs the band assembled on video as part of the pandemic edition of the Everseeker festival.
La Bise features vocalist Kelsey Crewson, bassist Kirsten Todd, guitarists Arianna Lehr and Scott Randles, and drummer Lucas Goudie.
Montreal emo-revivalists Gulfer have a second preview online from their upcoming self-titled LP. You can check out "Heat Wave" below. Vocalist/guitarist Joseph Therriault commented on the track, one of 13 slated for the new record:
"'Heat Wave' is about how conversation and interpersonal interactions can be so performative. It's about how people present an idealized version of themselves in many situations (myself included). This is something I've been noticing more and more as I get older and lose touch with old friends. In a way, the flip side of that coin is to draw attention to how important real friendships are."
Gulfer features guitarist/vocalists Vincent Ford and Joe Therriault, bassist David Mitchell, and drummer Julien Daoust.
Guitarist/vocalist Daniel Aubut spoke to Punknews about the title track, commenting:
"'Triangles and Squares' tell a story about drowning in self inquisition about life. Deciding to bring changes to your own life without knowing where you're going but in a simple quest of self-well-being. This was inspired by a time when I arrived to a crossroad in my career and personal life needing changes to be made."
An accompanying video features the band performing the track at Montreal's Breakglass Studio.
Oakhearts features Daniel Aubut (Young & Lost, Les Midnights), alongside guitarist Daniel B. Cesare (The Sober Dawn, Powernap), bassist Mathieu Caumartin, and drummer Emilien Catalano (The Nils, The Sangomas, Moving Targets). The group recorded these tracks back in February with producer Ryan Battistuzzi (Pale Lips, Malajube, Les Breastfeeders).
This past June, melodic Montreal punk quartet Les Mains Sales took to Studio La Traque to capture live versions of five songs from their recent LP, Fêlures. Last week the band unveiled the second clip from the set, showcasing the track "Décatie."
Les Mains Sales feature Fred Jacques of The Sainte Catherines and Yesterday's Ring on lead vocals and guitar, backed by several players from that scene. He's joined here by the above-mentioned Ryan Battistuzzi (Colin Moore, Fontarabie, Yesterday's Ring, Miracles, The Bottle) on guitar and Oakhearts' Dan Cesare on bass, along with drummer Rich Bouthillier (The Sainte Catherines, Yesterday's Ring, Rudy Caya).
Fêlures arrived via Stomp Records in May.
The By Divine Right-adjacent found-art project Leisure Palace has another new video online from their Special Problems release. This time out, José Miguel Contrera and Amy I. Nicoll showcase the track "Problems Of The Professional." You can find it below.
The pair recorded these songs in their bedroom back in February of 2016 as part of the RPM Challenge, pulling together a heady mix of tape loops and vocals with a slate of unconventional instrumentation. The duo unearthed the recordings and mixed the resulting record during the summer quarantine.
As part of last Saturday's online MTL vs. Racisme festival, the early third wave ska group Me Mom and Morgentaler reunited for a cover of The Specials' "Racist Friend." While the Montreal group disbanded back in 1995, the pandemic era tools gave them the means to reconvene and record remotely. Members of the band recorded their parts abroad from Brooklyn, Paris, Barcelona, and where it all started in Quebec.
A video featuring the cover, co-created by drummer Sid Santiago and longtime friend Rosella Tursi, screened as part of the online event and fundraiser. You can check it out now on YouTube.
Me Mom and Morgentaler came together in 1988, releasing their first EP, Clown Heaven and Hell, in 1991. Their lone studio album, Shiva Space Machine, arrived two years later, followed by the live record We Are Revolting in 1994. The group last reunited on stage in 2007. Players on this song include vocalist/guitarist Gus Van Go, vocalists Kim Bingham and Noah Green, Adam Bix Berger on vocals and trumpet, John Jordan on vocals and saxophone, Kasia Hering on the accordion, Matt Lipscombe on bass, John JB Britton on percussion, and drummer Sid Zanforlin. Van Go collected the disparate recordings to produce, mix, and master the result.
Dartmouth singer/songwriter Mo Kenney recently shared a gorgeous cover of the Guided By Voices classic "Game of Pricks." The track finds Kenney slowing the indie-rock staple down to its raw, emotional core, with Joel Plaskett accompanying on piano.
You can check the song out now in the Matt Williams-directed video linked below. The GBV cover's been a part of Kenney's live set for a few years now, with the studio recording due for an upcoming covers record.