Sunday November 1, 2020

Ego Death

Toronto's Peeling recently shared a video for "Ego Death," the new single from the revived art-punk project's comeback record Worshipper. You can check it out below. Frontwoman Anna Timoshenko shared that a few thoughts on the self-directed clip:

"There are way more crucial things to care about in the world than what people think of you. It's a reminder not to let your pride or the fear of ridicule get in the way."

"Ego Death" follows "Suck" in previewing the 9-song set. Peeling last released the EPs Rats In Paradise and 7 Years of Blood in 2016 and 2017, with the band's lineup at the time featuring members of Dilly Dally, Odonis Odonis, and The Golden Dogs. These new songs find Timoshenko reimaging the group as a solo recording venture, with Preoccupations' drummer Michael Wallace appearing as one of the sole studio contributors.

Worshipper arrives digitally and as a limited edition 12" on November 27 through Timoshenko's newly formed Labyrinth Records.

Watch: Peeling - "Ego Death" @ YouTube

Toronto melodic-hardcore trio School Damage has a new single out, blazing through the tracks "No Love" and "Some People Actually Like Their Jobs" in well under two minutes (a minute and a half, really). What more could you ask for in these fraught times but a little bit of brevity?

"No Love" originally appeared on the EH OH LET'S GO! Canadian punk compilation from Missouri's Gutter Pop Records. School Damage last released the Fuckin' Rights EP in 2019, following up their 2018 LP, Hello, Cruel World.

Listen: School Damage - No Love @ Bandcamp

By contrast, the slick Vancouver post-punk unit ACTORS posits that we should indeed take some time to decompress. The dark synth lines and hypnotic rhythms of "Love U More" leave you with just enough sonic space to get lost in. In a press release, synth player Shannon Hemmett evoked "standing alone on a shadowy street" in describing the track.

The new single arrived alongside a Halloween-appropriate video from director Peter Ricq (of the electropop duo Humans). ACTORS used the COVID lockdown to finish their new record, the follow-up to 2018's Artoffact full length It Will Come To You. Band-leader Jason Corbett produced, mixed, and mastered the new track at his Jacknife Sound Studio.

Watch: ACTORS - "Love U More" @ YouTube

The aggressively self-hyped sophomore full-length from Toronto punk trio The OBGMs is out now, and to my ear, the end product certainly justifies the bluster. I've had The Ends in near-constant rotation since I got my hands on it, so mark me down as a believer. In a final promotional push before the release, the band unveiled a video for the song "All My Friends," a track that dials back the record's frantic aggression (momentarily) to land an absolutely killer hook in the chorus.

Vocalist/guitarist Densil McFarlane directed the video, setting out to explore "who we see when we look in the mirror" on the piece. Speaking to Brooklyn Vegan, Denz elaborated:

" 'All My Friends' is a song about riding until the wheels fall off. If we all spiral to the edge of a cliff, at least I'm doing it with my people. I want my music videos to be movies and this video tells a story of a person afraid of what he sees in the mirror. Are strangers in our lives to be trusted? Are you the stranger and can you trust yourself? I will leave this for viewers to explore. I learned how to direct and edit videos during the pandemic and this is my favourite attempt yet."

The Ends arrived just before Halloween from Black Box. The OBGMs play as a trio on the 10-song record, comprised of 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).

Watch: The OBGMs - "All My Friends" @ YouTube

David Eatock's eclectic weird-pop project Commuted has a new video online featuring the title track for The Notebook, the band's new record due in the summer of 2021. Ryan Al-Hage of Thank You So Much directed the clip, one of several projects pairing the former WLMRT member with Eatock in recent years (he produced last year's memorably weird "Life's a Zoo" clip).

"The Notebook" follows Commuted's unsettling recent cover of the Barenaked Ladies' hit "Brian Wilson." The Toronto-based artist most recently released the full-length In a Waiting Room. It arrived in March of this year.

Watch: Commuted - "The Notebook" @ YouTube

Dan Lee's "cyborg-funk" project Lee Paradise recently shared "Boogie," a propulsive post-punk dance number that certainly lives up to its name. Just try and stand still while listening to this thing. If we're destined for a sci-fi dystopia, at least it'll be a fun one. "Boogie" marks the third preview we've heard from The Fink, Lee's upcoming 12-song full-length. Look for it on December 4 from Telephone Explosion.

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 Water Palace Kingdom, the debut Lee Paradise record.

Listen: Lee Paradise - "Boogie" @ Bandcamp

While we're on a Telephone Explosion kick (and when are we not), we should check back in on label-anchor Teenanger. The wry Toronto punk group has another video online from their playful new LP Good Time, this time out featuring the song "Straight to Computer." The video's entirely comprised of footage cribbed from the gloriously-dated '95 tech-thriller Hackers (a film I'm not ashamed to admit I was absolutely obsessed with as a 13-year-old).

The clip's the latest in a series of increasingly nihilistic videos for the record. The preceding entry, featuring the record's title track, inexplicably featured Man Made Hill's Randy Gagne cavorting around Hamilton in full costume. Meanwhile, the "Romance for Rent" clip served up an isolation-era melodrama starring a novelty Nicolas Cage pillow. The band's clearly coping well with 2020, all things considered.

Good Time is Teenanger's sixth full-length. The group recorded at Studio Z in Toronto with the celebrated post-rock artist Sandro Perri producing. Together for more than a decade, the band still boasts their original lineup of drummer Steve Sidoli, bassist Melissa Bell, guitarist Jon Schouten, and vocalist Chris Swimmings.

Watch: Teenanger - "Straight to Computer" @ YouTube

Red Deer's High End Denim Records recently unveiled two new releases, both offshoots of the skate-punk outfit Trashed Ambulance. First up, Burning Nickels returns as a three-piece with a five-song EP titled Bernie Goes To College. The set features five songs, anchored by the bubblegum pop-punk tune "Amelia." This time out, the band features label-principles Josh (Jawsh) Hauta on guitar and Jason (Ozone) Ezeard drumming, with Robbie from Calgary punk act Moröns on bass.

The Burning Nickels set comes alongside a new full-length from Jawsh & The Drowned Livers, a project that finds Hauta and Ezeard revising their past work in an acoustic context. The collection, titled Eloquent Trash, finds the group revisiting songs from both the Trashed Ambulance and Chimp Change catalogues. You can hear their new renditions of "Metronome" and "Chopping Block" on Bandcamp now.

Burning Nickels last released the Shout at the Nickel EP in March.

Listen: Burning Nickels - "Amelia" @ Bandcamp

Listen: Jawsh & The Drowned Livers - "Chopping Block" @ Bandcamp

My copy of Seaside Sickness, the new east coast punk compilation from Sewercide Records, is still waiting to escape the Atlantic bubble. Regardless, I have it on good authority that it features the debut of Dark Dial, a hardcore side-project of KC Spidle (of Diamondtown and Dog Day. Over Halloween weekend, the Dartmouth musician revealed the full Dark Dial session, showcasing five tracks of "spooky HC" recorded back in 2018. You can check out the complete set on YouTube now.

Over the summer, Spidle released an EP of fuzzy garage rock tunes under the guise of Gemstones. Checking In Before I Check Out arrived in July, featuring lockdown-recorded material tracked in the spring. Dog Day, the beloved Halifax gloom-pop unit, recently released the superb LP Pictures, their first record in seven years.

Listen: Dark Dial - Dark Dial 66 demo @ YouTube

Whitby's suburban alt-rockers Chastity are back with a soaring new stand-alone single titled "Drain the Bloodbath." It marks Brandon Williams' first new material since 2019's Home Made Satan LP. The track, written by Williams and guitarist Keegan Powell, features backing vocals from session singer Makeda Francisco (Girls, Mavis Staples).

In a press release, Williams commented:

"Been trying to think of all the good people in the U.S. right now instead of the trippy ones. My pal has been telling me that this is the end of a bad era, not the beginning of one. I love that. Hoping for some positive change, hoping that the world is able to drain this bloodbath."

Home Made Satan arrived last fall from Dine Alone Records and Captured Tracks. It followed the band's 2018 debut Death Lust.

Listen: Chastity - "Drain the Bloodbath" @ Bandcamp

Montreal's retro-futurist synth-pop quartet Night Lunch has a new video online featuring "Damien," a dreamy pop tune from their latest LP Wall of Love. You can check the 80s-styled clip, directed by Phil Osborne, below.

Wall Of Love recently arrived on Joe Chamandy's Celluloid Lunch Records. The group recorded primarily at The Bottle Garden with Peter Woodford (Tough Age, Deliluh, Bleu Nuit) engineering.

Night Lunch features guitarist/vocalist Lukie Lovechild, bassist/vocalist Marlee Kay, keyboardist Wesley Dunphy, and drummer Sailor (past members of bands like Baked Goods and The Marlees).

Watch: Night Lunch - "Damien" @ YouTube

Halifax singer/songwriter Gianna Lauren recently shared a video featuring "Closed Chapter," the second preview of her new EP Vanity Metrics. The track features additional vocals from Jennah Barry, with Andy Magoffin on horns. Nicole Cecile Holland and Rebecca Falvey directed the clip, primarily shot at a retro motel in Windsor, Nova Scotia (and heavily influenced by the 1972 Robert Altman film Images). In a lighthearted missive sent through Bandcamp, Lauren revealed:

"FUN FACT - the light blue robe I wear in the video is a two piece set that was custom made for my mom's honeymoon lingerie, from a store called John Gormon Limited in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario in 1977. I didn't tell her I was wearing it for the video and her reaction to seeing it again on screen was like witnessing someone receiving an incredible gift. And then she immediately asked, 'is that marijuana?'"

Vanity Metrics arrives this Friday 6 from the Forward Music Group. The record features several members of Ottawa's Pony Girl serving in Lauren's backing band, with the group recording over four days at the Old Confidence Lodge in Riverport, Nova Scotia. The aforementioned Andy Magoffin (Constantines, Two Minute Miracles) mixed and mastered the material at The House of Miracles in Cambridge, Ontario.

Vanity Metrics lands as Gianna Lauren's fourth release, following 2017's Moving Parts.

Watch: Gianna Lauren - "Closed Chapter" @ YouTube

Hamilton-based shoegaze project Zoon recently premiered a video for the song "Landscapes" through Seattle's legendary KEXP. The track appears on the Paper Bag-released Bleached Wavves, which surfaced in June.

Zoon principal Daniel Monkman commented to KEXP on the economic anxiety fuelling the instrumental track:

"Musically, 'Landscapes' was a political art experiment that I made about the concerning amount of soul-sucking 'jobs' that are only available to people living under the poverty line. When I first moved to Hamilton, Ontario, I could only find factory jobs that were extremely repetitive so I tried to express that in a musical sense. My goal was to create something like a loop of sound to give the listener a sense of madness. Because that's the reality of those types of factory / assembly line jobs. I saw so much pain in the workers and that stuck with me... I didn't realize that when politicians say during their campaign 'we created 10,000 new jobs' that they actually mean they've created 10,000 new ways to slowly kill vulnerable citizens."

The sound of Bleached Wavves has been described by Monkman as "moccasin-gaze," melding elements from his Ojibway heritage into the familiar shoegaze sound-wall. If you've not yet given it a spin, it's one of the year's most engaging debuts.

Watch: ZOON - "Landscapes" @ YouTube

Halifax four-piece rock band Like a Motorcycle recently unveiled a video highlighting "Punk Two," a track from the group's recent full-length Dead Broke. The band commented:

"'Punk Two' is a tune about bated breath transactions, seeing the words insufficient funds more than the word approved, and feeling like the debt you've incurred is worth more than your actual life.

It's written from the perspective of someone who has unwittingly burned all their bridges, sucked people dry, no longer has anyone to turn to for help and has no one to blame but themselves."

The group recorded the 13-song full-length at The Armoury in Vancouver with Howard Redekopp (The New Pornographers, Tegan and Sara). Like a Motorcycle features drummer Michelle Skelding, bassist Kim Carson, guitarist KT Lamond, and guitarist David Casey, with vocal credits shared among the group. The new record follows 2016's High Hopes.

Watch: Like a Motorcycle - "Punk Two" @ YouTube

With touring off the table, Toronto noise-punks METZ have seemingly gone all-in with videos to support their recent Atlas Vending LP. The newest is a sci-fi flavoured clip featuring "Pulse." It clocks in as the band's fifth video from the October-released record, following "No Ceiling," "A Boat to Drown In," "Hail Taxi," and "Blind Youth Industrial Park." You can find it below.

Atlas Vending, the band's fourth proper full-length, arrived on Royal Mountain Records and Sub Pop on the 15th of last month. 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.

METZ features guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins, bassist Chris Slorach, and drummer Hayden Menzies.

Watch: METZ - "Pulse" @ YouTube


On the subject of ego

As a Z-list member of the Canadian music ecosystem, it was a great honour to be interviewed recently by the ever-unconventional Montreal art unit Pentagon Black. We spoke about why this newsletter came together, how I find many of the smaller acts I write about, ageing out of the youth culture, and more.

I'm told that our chat was "surprisingly candid," but I'd wager "of questionable relevancy to all but a tiny handful of Cancon nerds" may be a better descriptor. That said, you're getting these emails, so you may just be in the target audience.

Pentagon Black's been an absolute inspiration over the lifespan of this project. The label, run by Raymond Biesinger and Drew Demers of noise-punk duo The Famines, is behind an ongoing series of design-focused paper compilations (download codes are included, of course). Each captures an otherwise undocumented time and place in the underground independent music scene in this country. They're simply unparalleled.

Read: Adam White of Some Party in Discussion @ Pentagon Black

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