Back With The Gang
Three years out from their Thin Lizzy-worshipping self-titled LP, Toronto's Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs are back with a new single and a fresh album on the horizon. Due February 19, 2021, the 11-song Real One finds the denim-clad rockers working with producer Kevin Ratterman (White Reaper, Strand of Oaks, Murder By Death). In a press release, Coffey spoke about "Back With The Gang," the triumphant first preview of the project:
"'Back With The Gang' is our way of saying 'WE'RE BACK! AND WE'VE STILL GOT GUITARS.' We got really into junkshop glam while recording this, particularly bands like Laurice, The Equals, Slade, and Sweet. Before taking this to the studio, we tested out at shows at about half speed. We loved the song but the slow pace and high register was burning us and the people at the show out. Enter our great producer Kevin Ratterman to fix the problem! He told us to turn up the BPM and detuned the song to make it feel heavier."
Real One features Coffey backed by Dave Tyson on keys, lead guitarist Liam Doyle, Joel "French" Desbois on rhythm guitar, bassist Richard Stanley, and drummer Connor Glen. Guests on the record include vocalist Siânteuse, Destroyer's Joseph Shabason on sax, and a string quartet arranged by Paul Erlichman of Ducks Unlimited. This will be the Iron Lungs' second outing with Dine Alone Records.
Saint John's experimental agit-noise trio Usse released a scathing EP last week titled Military Standard. The band commented that the fast-moving, 5-song track set features "more guitars... than in our body of work to date," listing crust punk pillars like Rudimentary Peni, Amebix, Discharge, and Crass as their "standard bearers" for the release. The 11-minute outing ends with a cover of "Peace/Agency," originally by the Nova Scotian duo Construction & Destruction (it lead their 2017 record Noli Timere).
Downloads of Military Standard include an exclusive dub number not available with the stream. The set's also available on mailorder as a paper EP with download codes (taking some inspiration from the artistic minds at Pentagon Black, to be sure). Through early December, All proceeds raised from the politically charged set are due for the Sipekne'katik Nation supporting Mi'kmaq Treaty Rights and Moderate Livelihood Fisheries.
Military Standard features Jud Crandall on bass, guitar, drums, and saxophone, Emily Saab on drums, and Sebastian Fleet on guitar. All three members contribute vocals (with Saab notably tackling Coco's part on the C&D cover). You'll also hear audio samples from Pierre Trudeau's 1984 farewell speech threaded through "Indoctrinaires '84" and "Dynastic Bastards."
Ketamines' principal Paul Lawton's quietly re-emerged with a new musical project dubbed Kill Credo. He debuted the new venture with the low-fi indie rocker "To Be Seen," available as a YouTube video starring the artist's canine companion Noosh.
Lawton's left his musical future up in the air since his nascent punk unit Don't Bother fell apart. Earlier in the pandemic, he unveiled several archival releases, including Don't Bother's aborted 9-song full-length Terminal Phase, and a career-to-date favourites collection dubbed Nothing Remains to be Done. He reflected at the time:
"I am starting to make music for the first time since 2018, and I think the 2 year hiatus has me realizing that the only one I ever made music for was myself, and that if even one other person heard the song it was worth it."
Including those mentioned above, Lawton's played in a swath of punk and punk-adjacent bands between his time in Alberta and Ontario, including Century Palm, Myelin Sheaths, The Moby Dicks, Radians, Mean Tikes, James Leroy and The Giant, Ran, Endangered Ape, and Light Years. He was behind the now-defunct Mammoth Cave label and co-runs the presently dormant Pleasence Records. His infamous, industry-tweaking blog Slagging Off once earned him the reputation as "the most hated man in Canadian music," which is probably why I love him so much.
With the physical release of Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered, one could reasonably assume that some semblance of a typical album cycle would now take hold, putting an end to the Welland singer/songwriter's astonishingly prolific deluge of digital material these past six months. The pandemic still rages, though, and that assumption has proven utterly false. After the briefest of pauses, Romano returned last week with White Flag, a British Invasion-flavoured solo record and the artist's 10th release of the year. The 11-song set notably (for me, at least) includes a cover of "Fisherman or Fish," a song from Steven Lambke's 2010 Baby Eagle record Dog Weather (on which Danny played).
Between How Ill Thy World Is Ordered and the pre-COVID live LP "Okay Wow", Romano's released an unparalleled wealth of digital material throughout 2020, both solo and with collaborators. This includes the original full-lengths Dandelion, Content To Point The Way, and "Visions Of The Higher Dream", plus a high-concept front-to-back cover of Bob Dylan's Infidels. A Splendour Of Heart found the artist backing Ottawa vocalist Kelly Sloan. The punk scorcher Spider Bite showcased the aforementioned Constantine Steven Lambke. The Super Pollen EP included members of Fucked Up, while the extended prog single "Forever Love's Fool" reached well outside to the You've Changed social circle to loop in Tool drummer Daniel Carey.
On top of all that, Romano (with his brother/drummer Ian Romano and Patrick Bennett of Mountain Dust) recently completed yet another full-length, this one fronted by Alexisonfire's Wade MacNeil. Wade described the forthcoming work as "a cozy record for punks that are now hippies who still love Discharge but also now understand that the Grateful Dead are the world's best band." We await audio from this one, but you can sneak a few samples from MacNeil's Instagram account.
The Montreal post-rock luminaries Fly Pan Am have a sprawling new single online. "Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority" is a 10-minute one-off that arrives as part of Constellation Records' Corona Borealis Longplay Singles Series. The band commented on the song, stating in a statement:
"The social and the mirror is so obvious, being and rediscovering the omnipresent objection of the recovered tendency to the exteriority by a hard, fast object in exteriority. (Re)gaining in self is being personal on temperature differences. Although some aspects of the recovering in exteriority are delineated to a loss of personal autonomy and valorization into pieces."
Fly Pan Am reunited and released C'est ça last year, their first record since 2005's N'écoutez pas. The new single features Félix Morel on percussion, guitarist Jonathan Parant, and synth work from both Roger Tellier-Craig and Jean-Sébastien Truchy. Electronic tweaks abound, credited to all parties, save Morel. Director Charline Dally created the below video featuring the song.
Montreal psych/punk quartet No Negative shared a new track last week. "Upside Down World" lands as our first preview of The Darkening Hour, a four-song EP due November 26 from Éditions 8888. The set features three outtakes, the 2015 bedroom demo "Raw Deal" standing as the oldest. "Proverbial Grave" originates from the sessions resulting in 2017's Cellophane, while "Upside Down World" comes from the studio work resulting in last year's Drunken Sailor LP, The Last Offences. The b-side of The Darkening Hour features a five-minute reimagining of Richard Berry's standard "Louie Louie," with new lyrics and vocals from Montreal provocateur Bernardino Femminielli. This version carries the title "Mon Obsession Personelle."
Neon Taste recently unveiled No, the new EP from Kamloops' off-kilter Nutrition. The label bills the Dead Milkmen-influenced set as "6 tracks of Adult Contemporary Punk Rock from members of Bootlicker doing something entirely different." You can preview three of those tracks at Bandcamp now.
Neon Taste's record write-ups always completely pop, and this one's no different. The Vancouver label described No thusly:
"Nutrition the band. Cooking food with radiation. It's quick. It's easy. It tastes surprisingly good but it'll probably kill you in the long run. You'll die waddling in your consumption.
While 1/4 of the world are starving, the rest are LIVING, BABY. Overfed on insensitivity. All varnished to excess. 'No' is 6 tracks about medication, bleak vulnerability and jabs at existence expressed in short, frantic exclamations. Is it good for you? Who cares. Does that even remotely matter right now?
We know how fast life/death happens. Blink an eye. Blink again. You won't find this in your recommended diet so don't bother to even ask how it relates to your caloric intake. At least shoving these songs in your head is a lot easier and more enjoyable than oatmeal and Yoga or whatever real people do for the privilege of 'self care.' It says so on the fucking box. Nutrition. It's gotta be true. I wouldn't lie to you would I?"
The decidedly-less-whimsical Bootlicker released the UK82-styled How To Love Life this past September.
Toronto indie-rock act Kiwi Jr. recently shared the specifics of their Sub Pop debut. The band will release Cooler Returns on January 22, 2021 (worldwide on the Seattle institution, except for Canada, where it will carry the "Kiwi Club" label). The band self-produced the record, with Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh engineering and mixing. Phillip Shaw Bova mastered the set in Ottawa. A florid statement accompanying the news elaborated:
"Put together like a thousand-piece puzzle, assembled in flow state through the first dull stretch of quarantine, sanitized singer shuffling to sanitized studio by streetcar, masked like it's the kind of work where getting recognized means getting killed, Cooler Returns materializes as a sprawling survey from the first few bites of the terrible twenties, an investigative exposé of recent history buried under the headlines & ancient kings buried under parking lots."
The reveal came alongside a video for the title track, directed by Sean Egerton Foreman (Foreman worked with the band on clips from their prior record as well). Vocalist Jeremy Gaudet commented:
"No one is able to play live shows, so using the latest technology we have replicated the most accurate version possible of what Kiwi Jr. shows once looked like"
You can judge that for yourself below.
Kiwi Jr. last released Football Money in 2018 on Vancouver's Mint Records. The band features vocalist/guitarist Jeremy Gaudet, guitarist Brian Murphy (also of Alvvays), bassist Mike Walker, and drummer Brohan Moore.
Chance & Jackie is a pandemic-era husband and wife duo featuring PRIORS' Chance Hutchison and Jackie Blenkarn of the Pale Lips. The pair released their Isolation Songs EP earlier in the year, effectively carving out a cool middle ground between PRIORS' garage-buzz assault and the Lips' bubblegum hop. That release now includes a fifth track, "All the Queen's Men." You can hear it below.
The new material arrives as part of a push to cover the costs of an MRI for the couple's ailing cat, Bunny. A detailed write-up at Bandcamp gets into the particulars of their pet's mystery ailment, with the couple concluding:
"In the last few weeks, we have spent over $3500 for her vet bills without adding in the price of the MRI. We love our cats dearly and we will do whatever we can to make sure Bunny has a comfortable life, whatever the outcome of the MRI is. But without knowing what we are dealing with, the treatment is a bit impossible and simply guesswork. Bunny is an incredibly loving, very special creature who has had a rough start to life, being either feral or abandoned before we adopted her. She was estimated to be around two years old when we welcomed her four years ago, so we really feel that she has a lot of life left to live. We are hoping to put this mystery to rest, with your generous help."
Maximilian 'Twig' Turnbull's Badge Époque Ensemble recently shared "Just Space For Light," a Self Help track featuring vocals from the inimitable Jennifer Castle. You can check it out now at Bandcamp.
Self Help is a seven-song effort due this coming Friday on Telephone Explosion. Along with Castle's contribution, the set features vocals from Toronto R&B artist James Baley, Meg Remy of U.S. Girls, and Dorothea Paas.
The collection marks the group's third release over the past year, with their self-titled debut arriving last June and the Nature, Man & Woman EP surfacing in December of 2019.
A celebrated multi-instrumentalist, 'Twig' Turnbull's long list of credits include stints as a songwriter and producer for both U.S. Girls and Darlene Shrugg. He also appears regularly as a member of the psych-jazz group The Cosmic Range. His Ensemble features Jay Anderson on drums, Chris Bezant on guitar, Alia O'Brien on the Flute, percussionist Ed Squires, and Giosuè Rosati on bass. This record finds the lineup expanded to include saxophonist Karen Ng, as well. The liner notes credit Turnbull with all manner of keys and synthesizers this time out.
A few months ago, I shared Psychic Debris, an ambitious song-a-day project from Saint John, New Brunswick's Beach Chair, the home recording guise of former Glory Glory drummer Ryan Brown. That name's now shelved (oh, those pesky trademarks), with the project re-christened as Sunnyside Uppers (which is a far cooler name, if you ask me).
To kick off the new era, Brown shared a video for the anthemic low-fi rocker "If All Is Lost," a Psychic Debris-bred song re-recorded with engineer Micah Brown (Conditioner, NYON, BBQT - and also Ryan's brother). Gavin Maclean directed the clip.
Hamilton's experimental noise-punk outfit Sea Of Troubles has a new four-song EP online titled 鹿威し (or Shishi-odoshi if you'd like it romanized). As is typical of the band's impenetrable online presence, they didn't have a whole lot to say about the abrasive set. I can, however, confirm that my kids are standing in the door of my office, giving me this "what the hell are you listening to" look.
Sea of Troubles features vocalist/guitarist Denzel Gordon, drummer Jeremy Hopkins, and bassist Matt Rockingham.
Montreal's low-fi rockabilly kingpin Bloodshot Bill is one of those artists that churns out so much material in any given cycle that you'd need a newsletter solely devoted to him even to attempt to keep track of it (I call that the "King Khan problem"). Those challenges noted, I did manage to catch Outta My Head Vol. 1, a five-song collection of entirely new material. It arrived as part of the recent Bandcamp Friday event.
The songs follow a wealth of material churned out over the pandemic, including the rarities, set Tattle Tale - Vol.1, the Spit on My Rubber EP with Rochester's Televisionaries, a second Out Of This World Sounds volume for Ghost Highway Records, and the Goner Records LP Get Loose Or Get Lost. That's an incomprehensive list, but Bill is a force of nature, and you can't hope to count the rain.
Calgary pop-punk group The Fizzgigs have a new two-song EP titled Hit & Miss out to raise funds for the Kids Help Phone. The band had this to say about the organization, noting the role it plays this year in helping youth handle the pressures of the pandemic:
"Kids Help Phone is projecting up to 3 million interactions with young people in 2020, a significant increase from the 1.9 million interactions in 2019. The funds raised through this EP campaign will support Kids Help Phone's professional counselling and text-based support, so that when a young person reaches out for help, someone will always be there to answer."
The set features a new original along with a cover of Wipers' "Is This Real?" (the title track to the Portland legends' 1980 debut). Figgzigs bassist Dean Rud commented on "Hit & Miss":
"'Hit & Miss' is one of those songs that reminds you to keep your chin up when you strike-out and that getting up-to-bat again is what matters. It's felt like a year in which we can all benefit from a reminder that if we want a chance to rise above the dumpster fire of 2020, the first choice we have to make is to get back up."
The Fizzgigs released the full-length Weeeeeeeeeeeee are the Fizzgigs this past March on Meter Records. The band features vocalist/guitarist Jason Sinclair, bassist Dean Rud (Belvedere, The Evidence), lead-guitarist Scott Marshall (Belvedere), and drummer Cody Coates (Lions, Tigers and Bears).
Red Deer punks Burning Nickels have a new video online for "Jerome," a song dedicated to a dog (the second in this newsletter?). Guitarist/vocalist Josh (Jawsh) Hauta commented on the tune:
"Jerome has become legendary in his pursuit of glory so it's only natural he had a song devoted to him. The video cost millions of rupees to make and was created with home video footage of Jerome and live action shots of the band performing in front of an unfathomably large audience. Luckily, we were able to land Rawb from The Morøns to play the bass because our last bassist recently quit to join Roxette. It all turned out great, against all odds! You'd basically be a damned fool not to check it out at this point so what are you waiting for?"
The song appears on Bernie Goes To College, a five-song EP due from the band's High End Denim Records. Burning Nickels play as a three-piece on this record, with Jawsh and drummer Jason (Ozone) Ezeard (both from Trashed Ambulance camp) joined by bassist Robbie from Calgary punk act Moröns.
The group's new EP arrives alongside a full-length from Jawsh & The Drowned Livers, an acoustic project featuring Hauta and Ezeard revisiting Trashed Ambulance and Chimp Change songs in a less frenzied context. That group's new collection is out now as Eloquent Trash.
Toronto's low-fi rock project Tang recently shared a new collection of home-recorded material dubbed The Quiet Earth. The set arrived in late September from Art of the Uncarved Block and the Parisian label Influenza Records. A video featuring the track "Piet Alley" recently premiered at Punknews. You can check it out below.
The seven-song set follows last year's Finding Peace, Isn't The Point. Connelly has roots in the post-hardcore groups Low Sun and Shahman.
Hamilton's TV Freaks have a new video online showcasing "Capital Eye," the second single from their killer new LP People. You can check it out below. Frontman David O'Connor directed the clip.
The 10-song People is out now on Schizophrenic Records. It closes a long gap since 2015's Bad Luck Charms, and arrives on the heels of both a rarity set (Scraps Vol. 1) and Sweet Dave's March-released solo record Pink Dreams.
TV Freaks features O'Connor backed by guitarist TJ Charlton, bassist Vee Bell, and drummer Nathan Burger.
Dundas power-trio The Dirty Nil have a new video online featuring their single "Blunt Force Concussion," a track from the forthcoming Fuck Art LP. Frontman Luke Betham commented on the clip, which finds the band forgoing their usual maximalist tendencies to reconnect with nature:
"for once, we tried to make a video without the risk of death or maiming. No explosions, no fire, just flowers and good vibes. However, the heavens declared against us and I was almost killed by an allergic reaction to a horse. My head ballooned up like a goddamn melon and my skin felt like fire. Moral of the story is: wherever we go, chaos rides shotgun."
The new tune follows "Done With Drugs" and "Doom Boy" in previewing the upcoming record, the band's third. The album is due from Dine Alone Records on January 1, 2021. The trio, featuring Bentham on guitar and vocals backed by bassist Ross Miller and drummer Kyle Fisher, follows up on 2018's Master Volume.
Glengarry, Ontario garage-punk legends The Stand GT recently unearthed one of their earliest recordings for a digital release. The band shared audio from 1990's Another Round on Bandcamp as a fundraiser for Beyond 21, an organization that helps adults with developmental disabilities. The group reflected on the songs:
"Another Round was cassette-only and was our first release for a label, the fledgling En Guard records out of Montreal. It was the third release (ENG 003C) on that label and came out before the better known 7" EP, Sad Bunch Of People.
It was recorded at CSDX studios, which was a basement studio in the Bryan building at Concordia University in Montreal. The building was home to Journalism and Communications studies, where Chris spent most of his time while at Con U. Chris met Pierre Perrault who was a Comms student (Chris was J-school) and he was learning to be an engineer and in the process, keen to record our band. Pierre got access to the studio after hours for what became The Stand's first ever recording session.
We honestly don't remember it, but we know we were pretty excited with the results."
The band's Chris Page has been quite active during the lockdown, recently releasing the solo LP Decide To Stay and Swim Again (a full re-recording of his 2004 solo outing Decide To Stay and Swim).
Trois-Rivières increasingly-goth Post-Rough have a new lyric video online featuring "Strange," a somber song from August's Vous êtes un personnage de roman.
This quintet recorded their recent EP at Studio Pantouf in Saint-Élie-de-Caxton with engineering from Louis-Philippe Cantin (Perséide) and Pierre Brouillette Hamelin (Rorqual). Simon Provencher (Victime, Palissade) mixed the set, with mastering from JP Villemure (Fuudge, Bleu Nuit). Post-Rough features guitarist/vocalist Bastien Mortimer, guitarist Alexis Vaillant-Gamache, bassist Tommy Dupuis, Olivier Durand on synth, and drummer Pierre-Olivier Lessard.
Trippy cross-Canada post-punk duo Freak Heat Waves has a new video online featuring "I'm Zapped," a slow-motion freakout from their recent Zap The Planet LP. Bea Scharf-Pierzchala assembled the video.
Zap The Planet arrived in September from Toronto's Telephone Explosion. The band's fourth LP found Steven Lind and Thomas DiNinno continuing to explore the hypnotically burnt-out drones that came to the fore on 2018's adventurous Beyond XXXL.
Etherial Montreal singer/songwriter Yves Jarvis has a new video online from Sundry Rock Song Stock, this time showcasing the delicate "Emblem" through a green kaleidoscope, leaning into the colour theory that's come to characterize his work.
Yves Jarvis is the latest stage name for the acclaimed home-recording savant Jean-Sebastian Audet. He previously played as Un Blonde.
Toronto pop-punk quartet Wasting Time has a new video online showcasing "Runaways," the band's new single. It's the latest in a string of one-off tracks released this year. The group recorded "Runaways" with producer Steve Rizun (The Flatliners, Junior Battles).
I'd wager that much of the band's 2020 material will come together sometime next year on Wasting Time's sophomore LP. When it arrives, that record succeeds their 2018 debut Tales from the Morgue and the following year's Separation From Your Senses EP.
Loose Lips Records, the archival label run by Flesh Rag's Matt Ellis, recently shared a collection of recordings from a 2014 Hamilton rehearsal space used by bands like TV Freaks and The Vapids. In a statement, the label set the stage:
"The Year was 2014 and our good pal Jimmy Vapid loaned us his zoom 8 track recorder. 'Bachelors Paradise' was home to FLESH RAG, TV FREAKS and even some VAPIDS rehearsals and recordings plus a whole lot more bands and sessions.
Featured on these recordings are an assortment of friends who were working on songs, stumbled into us working on songs, or just goofing around as we were learning to record ourselves. Bachelors Paradise was our rehearsal space/recording studio, late night after hours party palace, and most importantly it was our home. Hell, I still record here and work on music. Just not as often or as loud. I live there with my girlfriend and daughter. I guess now it's 'Dad's Paradise.'"
These songs, recorded by Ellis and Flesh Rag/TV Freaks drummer Nathan Burger, were initially released as a cassette through Hammer City Records. Proceeds from the set's online sales will assist in the community hub's relocation efforts, as the old alley basement location of Hammer City won't last the pandemic. The Bachelors Paradise sessions feature members from the above-mentioned bands, along with personnel from Get Off The Cop, Noble Savages, Lizzy Bordom, Born Wrong, and the Total Dicks, among others.
Hamilton skid-troubadour B.A. Johnston continues to share acoustic gems from his isolation bunker. "Hair in my Donair" is, of course, hardly the artist's first ode to the spit-roasted Haligonian delicacy. You can check it out below.
Johnston last issued The Skid Is Hot Tonight in 2019 through Transistor 66, with the follow-up, supposedly titled Werewolves of London, Ontario, currently in the works. In the early fall, Johnston performed a series of private, socially-distanced driveway shows in various pockets of the country (at least those with open borders). He also recently took part in a split 7" with The Burning Hell, contributing his new isolation ode "Supreme Self-Quarantine" (and the classic "I Want to Drink in a Bar Filled with Aliens") to raise funds in support of shuttered grassroots music venues.
It's a tragedy. HAIR IN MY DONAIR pic.twitter.com/Wjfqi1SEDp— BA Johnston (@BAJohnston) November 10, 2020
Apropos of nothing, here's Hamilton alt-country trio Elliott BROOD covering "Where Everybody Knows Your Name," the instantly recognizable theme from Cheers. Why? Why the hell not? The slow-stomp they've given the track's pretty awesome, and the group showed remarkable restraint in omitting the piano that's so intrinsic to the original.
Elliott BROOD recently released Keeper, a new 10-song LP for Six Shooter Records. The 10-song full-length features studio engineering by Daryl Neudorf (Neko Case) with Ryan Hadlock (The Gossip, The Lumineers) mixing.