Sunday October 11, 2020

Comeuppance

With the acclaimed Ottawa punks Crusades on ice and the slick synth outfit Surrender now active, one might assume that Dave Williams' interests had drifted from the world of guitar-forward rock. His new solo endeavour, which goes by the name of Careful, appears to state otherwise. The project's first single, released through Portland's Drunk Dial Records, features the original "Comeuppance" backed with a cover of "Ingrown," originally by the Australian alternative legends Smudge. In a lengthy statement which accompanied the premiere, Williams eulogized his past while charting this next course:

"I truly mourned the loss of CRUSADES. But it wasn't just the band. My sorrow was deeper than any one band or scene. I came to realize that it was the kind of deep-seated sadness that could only be managed by regular unpacking and exploration. And the one thing I couldn't do was hide it away. Covering it up wasn't an option.

And therein lies the impetus for CAREFUL: an outlet, still within my chosen musical community and family, for the core ideas and events and beliefs that shaped and continue to shape me, for the sake of my own mental health and conveyed by what I hope is a universal-enough approach that it can possibly help and/or inspire others as well.

Musically, I'm reaching back to the early-to-mid 90s, before I became completely entrenched in the self-imposed confines of hardcore and punk rock, to the bands that eventually led me there: The Lemonheads, Juliana Hatfield, Dinosaur Jr, Doughboys, The Killjoys, Punchbuggy, etc: the first bands that felt like they were ours and not just our parents' music."

You can read Williams' full statement, which grapples further with his place in the music scene post-Crusades, at The Bad Copy.

Dave Williams recently released an 8-song full-length as part of the synth-pop duo Surrender, paired with fellow Crusades' alum Scott McCash. Their self-titled record arrived in January, with a remix set titled Disappear dropping over the summer from London synthwave label Aztec Records. Like the new Careful songs, Surrender's debut featured Toronto's Alex Gamble producing.

A full-length from Careful is now in the planning stages.

Listen: Careful - "Comeuppance" @ Bandcamp

The Halifax trio Washing Machine has a new single online, with the group continuing to expand their deeply satisfying reinterpretation of new wave and college rock with "Isle of Isosceles". The moody tune breaks its tension with some well-placed horns from Rich Aucoin saxophonist Nathan Pilon. In commenting on the angular track, frontman Noel Macdonald made particular note of the percussion, stating, "[Justin Crowe]'s drumming is off the chain... high octane fills and take-no-prisoners syncopation."

Washing Machine features Moon's Noel Macdonald on guitar, vocals, and synth with backing from Booji Boys drummer Justin Crowe and Working Titles' Glen Leck on bass. Leck mixed the new track, with Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control) mastering.

"Isle of Isosceles" follows the "Half a Battle" single from April, and before that, a split release with Halifax shoegaze group Valerie. It's one of a handful of songs released online since Washing Machine's 2018 LP, Walk It Back.

Listen: Washing Machine - "Isle of Isosceles" @ Bandcamp

Efrim Manuel Menuck of Montreal's iconoclastic Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Siler Mt. Zion recently unveiled a solo recording titled "Baby It Has To Fall." The track appears as part of Constellation Records' recently unveiled Corona Borealis Longplay Singles Series, with the press-release hailing it as a "16-minute drone-punk opus."

Instrumentally the track features Menuck's defiant vocals awash in an electronic soundscape crafted (in part) by three oscillators and a "broken parlor organ." A video by Menuck and Michele Fiedler Fuentes accompanied the release.

The song serves as the second entry in Constellation's new singles series, following a track by multidisciplinary Montreal artist Markus Floats that set a public domain reading of Karl Marx' "Capital" to an electronic backing. Godspeed last released Luciferian Towers in 2017.

Watch: Efrim Manuel Menuck - "Baby It Has To Fall" @ Vimeo

Moncton's TJ Cabot has another home-recorded EP online. Get Ready, Get Set! follows August's Dick Charles collection and once again churns through a set of affectionately Ramones-indebted low-fi punk nuggets. Like the previous EP, these four songs find Cabot recording directly to a laptop's internal mic, with the limitations of his basement setup embuing the tracks with a tossed-off sense of spontaneity that never feels like a detriment.

While this set of tunes focuses a little bit less on the farcical cause of Boularderie Island independence, I think it's safe to assume the revolution's never far from Cabot's heart. In another life, TJ goes by the name Tyler Boutilier, a veteran of the Nova Scotian punk groups Teenage Hurricanes and Dunce Club, along with more recent stints in Moncton's Phone Jerks, The Beaten Hearts, and Nerve Button.

Last month saw Nerve Button, a high energy rock quintet with members of the late-80s punks Bad Luck #13, release their Volume 2 LP on Germany's Wanza Records.

Listen: TJ Cabot - Get Ready!, Get Set! @ Bandcamp

Absurdist Guelph folk act Ivan Rivers has a new EP due at the end of the month. There's No Such Luck will be the artist's third release in a year. A press-release detailed the four-song set:

"There's No Such Luck was honed in Rivers' home, the Dissonant Folk Factory in Guelph, with producer Zach "JEB the QB" Kadey. Featuring primarily drum machine, plunky synth, and acoustic guitar, plus harmonies from Katie Lammert and pedal steel from Aaron Goldstein, There's No Such Luck is Rivers' ode to the twee-pop and twee-folk records they came to love from Pink Couch Sessions and late-night Soulseek binges in their late teens and early twenties. The EP pirouettes between sunshine and storm clouds, flickers like moonbeams through a night fog, bops like a worn out skip rope soundtrack cassette tape. There's no such luck, such wrecks as us."

You can preview the single "All The Rage" below. The new collection, due October 30, follows Rivers' 2019 record The Fallen Ivan Rivers and the New Years-released Drag My Corpse Through the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Ivan Rivers is the alter ego of Ivan Raczycki from the melodic Toronto punk quartet Stuck Out Here. The band issued the Until We're Each Someone Else full-length last summer.

Listen: Ivan Rivers - "All the Rage" @ Bandcamp

The enigmatic Montreal post-punk act Jyraph has a new single online titled "La Brume." Like much of the artist's work, the francophone track steers well clear of the usual labels, with Jyraph offering "dollarstore Gainsbourg," "apocalypse suave," and "polyester sea shanty" as potential genres. The track follows his expansive March single "Jaibo (a crab's tail)" and a significant dump of early archival material over the summer lockdown.

Jyraph is the solo project of Pablo Garcia-Rejon Gaubeca, who plays in the Montreal group Palmetto. As Jyraph, he last released the album El Fuego in 2018.

Listen: Jyraph - "La Brume" @ Bandcamp

Edmonton-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter Eamon McGrath recently released the single "Sparkle & Bleed." The track, written at the beginning of Ontario's initial COVID-19 lockdown, endeavours to capture the early spring's surreal mood. The artist commented:

"There was a really distinct, yet indescribable, texture that seemed to be thick in the air, and that's exactly what I wanted to try and translate through 'Sparkle & Bleed.' No one knew what to make of it at all, we were just floating and lost. It's those feelings, that words have no ability to communicate, where music has the job of stepping in and taking over.

The shutdown in the spring brought with it a constant, ominous grey that covered the southern Ontario sky. The windows of bars, shops, restaurants and convenience stores were all replaced by sheets of plywood. It was bitterly cold and there was a confusion and uncertainty that was thick in the air.

Despite it only being less than a year ago, it seems like a lifetime in the past now, as all the other otherworldly events of 2020 followed shortly after. 'Sparkle & Bleed' is an attempt to journalistically capture this drastic and dramatic change, which came with a feeling of everlasting permanence in what was really only a few short weeks of our lives.

The track features McGrath on keys, guitar, bass, and vocals, with Connor Ellinger on drums and Darrek Anderson on pedal steel. New Brunswick's Julie Doiron appears as a vocalist on the track (McGrath was notably a member of Doiron's punk-flavoured 2017 group Julie & The Wrong Guys). Eamon McGrath released the Guts LP in 2019 on Saved By Vinyl, following it up with the digital-only The Long Hard Road earlier this year.

Listen: Eamon McGrath - "Sparkle & Bleed" @ SoundCloud

Telephone Explosion recently shared a second preview of The Fink, the latest record from Dan Lee's "cyborg-funk" post-punk outfit Lee Paradise. You can stream the upbeat, psych-influenced "Maintaining Platitudes" now. It's one of 12 songs due for the record when it arrives on December 4.

Dan Lee plays in the Toronto art-rock group Hooded Fang as well as the electronic psych-pop group Phèdre. It's been six years since the release of Lee Paradise's debut, Water Palace Kingdom.

Listen: Lee Paradise - "Maintaining Platitudes" @ Bandcamp

Dundas power-trio The Dirty Nil recently shared the third preview of their Fuck Art LP with the album cut "Blunt Force Concussion." The sugary track leads off like a 90s pop-punk hit but takes a louder turn before it wraps. Frontman Luke Bentham commented on the song, with his usual levels of braggadocio:

"Y'all ever felt yourself sliding down the greasy hill of love? Down, down, down you pathetically slide until you reach the bottom. Finally, you find yourself hanging from the cliffs of sanity, above the fiery hell of romance. We present to you 'Blunt Force Concussion...' We pulled out all the stops on this one: bangin' ass drum fills, booty shakin' bass lines, big boi geetars and a thousand dollar chorus. If you don't like this song, fuck you and the horse you rode in on."

The new tune follows "Done With Drugs" and "Doom Boy" in previewing the record, the band's third. The album is due from Dine Alone Records on January 1, 2021. The trip, featuring Bentham on guitar and vocals backed by bassist Ross Miller, and drummer Kyle Fisher, is following-up on their 2018 Master Volume.

The band is currently in the midst of a 14-day live streaming event, featuring the Nil and a revolving cast of musicians appearing virtually in concert with venues across North America. You can find details and tickets for the Dancing 2 Thrash tour at Noonchorus.

Listen: The Dirty Nil - "Blunt Force Concussion" @ Bandcamp

Atlas Vending, the new record from long-running Toronto noise-punks METZ, is now out in the wild. The release came alongside a quirky video for the song "No Ceiling." The clip, which is chock full of animatronic dinosaurs, follows a series of well-produced (and decidedly more sombre) clips featuring the "A Boat to Drown In," "Hail Taxi," and "Blind Youth Industrial Park."

This week METZ will perform a pair of live stream performances to coincide with the release. An October 15 ticketed event will see the group playing Toronto's Opera House, with a set targeting overseas audiences to air a few days later. Tickets and details on the streams are online at the band's store.

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

Watch: METZ - "No Ceiling" @ YouTube

Last year the Montreal psych/punk act No Negative released The Last Offices on the UK punk label Drunken Sailor Records. The band recently shared the album on Bandcamp as a pay-what-you-want download to raise funds for the family of Joyce Echaquan. Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman, recently died in a Quebec hospital after exposing racist abuse from the staff.

Furthermore, No Negative recently announced a follow-up EP due in the fall titled The Darkening Hour. The release, expected as a 12" on Éditions 8888, will feature several outtakes along with a five minute cover of "Louie Louie" with Montreal provocateur Bernardino Femminielli on vocals.

The Last Offices followed both the No Negative's 2017 "Cellophane" single and their 2015 debut The Good Never Comes.

Listen: No Negative - The Last Offices @ Bandcamp

Niagara alt-country artist Spencer Burton recently shared "Memories We Won't Soon Forget," the second single released since hooking up with Dallas Green's Still Records imprint. The song arrived alongside a video comprised of Super 8 camera footage filmed by Vanessa Heins. Burton commented:

"Vanessa accompanied me on a drive down to Nashville in the fall of 2019 where I was to be recording at Andrija Tokic's studio named The Bomb Shelter, She took shots of me at various stops during moments of interest or beauty. It's crazy the things one can get up to on a 13 hour drive... we're losing the things that matter. Our small towns, and with them the memories we've created here. No Sunday drive reminders if there's nowhere to drive but the mall. On a weekly basis, I see old homes torn down for mansions, corn fields removed for subdivisions, and small businesses washed away for big box stores. It's a sad thing to see. A most unwelcome change."

The new song, along with the preceding single "Further," follows The Mountain Man, an album of children's songs the rural-minded Burton issued last year. The tracks also follow-up 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.

Watch: Spencer Burton - "Memories We Won't Soon Forget" @ YouTube

Beloved Calgarian indie-folk mutant Chad VanGaalen has a new b-sides collection online. Lost Harmonies features largely improvisational synth-focused music intended for a shelved record titled Lost Harmony. The artist commented on the project:

"I was always critical of the way my voice still sounded like my normal voice, and the album got shelved. Eventually I returned to it and tried manipulating the sounds using pitch-shifting and changing tape speeds. I finally felt like it was cool to drool, and it evolved into Lost Harmonies... These are the kind of songs I make to entertain myself late at night."

The set marks VanGaalen's second collection of b-sides for the pandemic era, following the Odds & Sods 2 set from March. VanGaalen last released the Light Information LP in September of 2017 on Flemish Eye and Sub Pop.

Listen: Chad VanGaalen - Lost Harmonies @ Bandcamp

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