Montreal garage-punks PRIORS were teasing a nearly completed new record back before the pandemic even seemed possible. They almost escaped the year with it still under wrap, but the word's out that we will indeed see a new LP, the band's third, before 2020 (finally) ends. The cheerily titled My Punishment On Earth is due on December 12 through the new Brussels-based label Drink & Drive Records. You can take a peek at the (wonderfully gnarly) cover art and the 10-song tracklist at Bandcamp now. While you're there, give the sinister synth-driven lead single "Kick It" a spin.
PRIORS last released the New Pleasure LP and Call For You EP on Slovenly in 2018. During the summer lockdown, vocalist Chance Hutchison and his partner Jackie Blenkarn (of the Pale Lips) released a handful of songs as Chance & Jackie. Drummer Drew Demers has kept busy as one of the principles behind the Pentagon Black art-label (they just issued their second pamphlet of music essays - you can snag a fresh copy of Steacy Easton's 25 Queer Country Hot Hits now).
PRIORS features Hutchison and Demers playing alongside bassist Alan Hildebrandt and guitarists Maxime Desharnais, Sebastien Godin, and Stuart Buckley.
I've kept tabs on Moncton's basement-punk project TJ Cabot for the last few months, but given the scattershot isolation-time-killing nature of the artist's aggressively low-fi output, I assumed a proper full length wasn't in the cards. How wrong I was. The mighty Berlin garage label Alien Snatch! has a genuine LP on the way this December, credited to TJ Cabot & Thee Artificial Rejects. The 11-song set arrives on December 15 with a limited vinyl run.
You can preview the songs "Cut It Down" and "Cold In May" at Bandcamp now. The label references the Spaceshits, the MC5, and the Real Kids in talking up the record. They effuse:
"Dead in the Maritimes! TJ CABOT and his heinous henchmen hail around the east shores of Canada if not hiding under their wet beer can helmets in the Cape Breton woods. This is truly 100% debunked limbo liberation army lockdown rock'n'roll! Recorded with ONE $5 microphone, the 11 all but originals just blowin away and spit the bootleg agent orange right on your skin."
Cabot reflected on the relationship in a Facebook post, amused that a work oft full of maritime regionalisms has gone global:
"I can't explain in words how appeased I am to know that the words 'Cape' and 'Breton' are somewhere peppered within the site of my favourite record label of the 2000s."
TJ's otherwise known as Tyler Boutilier, a veteran of the Nova Scotian punk groups Teenage Hurricanes and Dunce Club. More recently, he's played in Moncton's Phone Jerks, The Beaten Hearts, and Nerve Button.
Throughout the pandemic, TJ Cabot's released a string of Ramones-worshipping home-recorded punk EPs, the most recent being October's Get Ready, Get Set! and August's Dick Charles. 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 Wanda Records earlier in the fall.
This will be a quick mention, but I have the distinct sense that the newsletter will spend ample time on this next group soon. There's a new punk outfit operating out of Halifax featuring some undisclosed reshuffling of the personnel from the Booji Boys family of bands dubbed Heavenly Blue. The group's first song, "Snake Bite Dealer," arrived last week with a collage-style video, showcasing a raucous, danceable tune built atop a bit of a Bo Diddley beat. There's a scrappy garage-blues shuffle happening here that's not unlike the Oblivians or the Deadly Snakes, and I am here for it.
There's a demo on the way at some point. You'll know more when I do.
Winnipeg noise-punk trio Tunic has joined the ranks of Artoffact Records, with a new full-length due early next year titled Exhaling. In a statement guitarist/vocalist David Schellenberg reflected on the band's aggressive songwriting:
"I'm not one to write about situations/emotions that I haven't lived through. I need that catharsis of screaming about these things over and over again. These are all things that have unfolded in my life and I use Tunic as a coping mechanism."
You can hear the album-opening title track at Bandcamp now. Notably, it's one of a whopping 23 songs listed for the release - it appears that the entirety of 2019's Complexion LP is tacked on to this one. I'm sure there's a story there. You can also find a video for "Exhaling," directed by Eric Roberts, below. Not to share too much about my personal hang-ups, but I find this clip incredibly unsettling.
Tunic features Schellenberg backed by bassist Rory Ellis and drummer Dan Unger.
Two-thirds of Mississauga's JONCRO recently played a Wavelength-hosted live-stream, performing a mostly instrumental, satisfyingly crunchy guitar-and-drums set from their basement practice space. I watched the whole thing from my phone, sitting on the floor of my bedroom among a mountain of the family's unfolded laundry - which is how one experiences live music in 2020.
That set (which I enjoyed immensely, for the record) lives on as a new live EP titled The Lions Den Session. The 6-songs can be found on Bandcamp now. Guitarist/vocalist Daniel G. Wilson commented on the release in an Instagram post:
"The entire session is a snapshot of the first full band performance we have done since the start of the pandemic. It also offers a glimpse to some new songs that have yet to receive studio versions (2021 album perhaps). The name "Lions Den" is made in reference to Daniel's biblical namesake and how he came out of the lions den unharmed. It is a reminder that we can persevere through the adversity that life throws at us and come out stronger and louder than before."
The set marks the band's third EP of the year, following February's Twa and September's The Joncro Mountains. JONCRO features Daniel Wilson on guitar and vocals, bassist Kieran Christie, and drummer Matthew Mikuljan.
This weekend Ryan McKinley, guitarist for Toronto punk quartet Pkew Pkew Pkew, emerged with the alt-pop side-project Moral Pleasures. You can pick up the four-song EP Persepolis on Bandcamp now. With lushly orchestrated strings, delicate electronics, and a sentimental folk outlook, it's certainly a detour from the drunken pizza party that's come to characterize his main gig.
Pkew Pkew Pkew last released Optimal Lifestyles on Dine Alone Records.
We've seen a wealth of pandemic material flow from the Hamilton home-studio of Drew Thomson (Single Mothers, The Drew Thomson Foundation). Back in the innocent first-wave lockdown of May, he unveiled an EP as No Idea Head, a spoken-word solo project featuring stream-of-consciousness diatribes with instrumental backing. The format worked incredibly well, given Thomson's longstanding penchant for biting satire and off-kilter observational wordplay. No Idea Head returned this week with EP 2, featuring six new tracks.
I'm just in love with this project. Go listen to the album-opening "TJ & Tequila" and try not to smile. The line about an unrealized YouTube channel just kills me.
Drew commented on the new set:
"Is it spoken word? Is it pop? What are you trying to do here? Are some reactions I've gotten - and to all of that I say: Whatever. It's anything I want.
Often when I'm stalled for a thought, have no ideas in my head or feel like I've hit a block I'll do an exercise in which I just turn off my brain and write as fast as I can without stopping for a number of minutes. I started going back, editing and putting some of these practices to new music I've been experimenting with and since was born 'No Idea Head'."
Toronto skate-punk group Fairmounts have been off the grid for some time, last releasing the LP Kiddo way back in 2014 (given the compression of time these past few years, that might as well be 1994). While they've played sporadic shows in the years since, that's a notable studio absence. The drought's now over with the rather sudden release of Fairmounts' new full-length this past Friday. Elk Nano is out now, featuring 14 new songs. You can snag a whole variety of coloured vinyl variants now through Clearview Records (Teenage Bottlerocket, The Lillingtons).
There's some big Lookout Records energy here.
Toronto synth-punk group The Fuckin Astronauts haven't released much music in their short existence, but each track's been an absolute blast. The duo recently took part in the fifth entry in It's Trash Records' Killed By Meth series, contributing the track "My Uncle Actually had a Dirtbike." That song's also featured in a gleefully low-budget video. You can find it below.
Experimental Nanaimo group Anunnaki has a new instrumental out in the wild as part of the monstrous 160 track compilation Psych Against Cancer Vol 2. You can hear the hard-driving "The Golden Gate of the Sun" at Bandcamp now. The song's the first output from the band's recent sessions with producer Rob The Viking and a hint at what's to come on their 2021 full-length for NoiseAgonyMahem and Cardinal Fuzz.
Anunnaki recently released a split LP with Ottawa psych outfit The Band Whose Name Is a Symbol. The duo features Arlen Thompson and Dave Read.
Toronto singer-songwriter Maryam Said shared a new isolation-themed demo this week through her Poolblood project, titled "My Little Room." The track, mastered by Shamir Bailey, follows Said's July-released remix of "I'm Sorry." The new song's sales on Bandcamp support Toronto's Encampment Support Network.
Poolblood last released the Yummy EP in 2018 through Accidental Popstar.
Dartmouth's KC Spidle recently shared an outtake from this summer's Gemstones EP. You can snag "Don't Lose It" now at Bandcamp. Gemstones emerged with a low-fi garage rock set in July titled Checking In Before I Check Out.
Spidle's had three bands on my radar this year. He was, of course, back with Halifax gloom-pop favourites Dog Day for their new record this summer. His folk/shoegaze group Diamondtown shared new music just last week, and Spidle's noisy Dark Dial was part of the recent Seaside Sickness 7".
Toronto's old soul psych rocker Matthew "Doc" Dunn recently shared a video featuring "On Our Way," a single from his recent country-rock outing Rain, Rain, Rain. Directed by Laura-Lynn Petrick, the languid clip finds Toronto musician Scarlett Rose quietly spending time at a cabin in Ontario's Prince Edward County. The director commented on the clip in a statement run in Exclaim, stating:
"[the video was] inspired by cinema's great Agnes Varda. The film explores the peace that comes with independence and solace. Scarlett finds harmony in the simple pleasures of nature — and gains comfort in solitude."
The video is the second to pair Petrick and Rose with Dunn's recent output, as all involved previously collaborated on a clip showcasing the song "Chance."
Rain, Rain, Rain arrived earlier in the fall from Cosmic Range Records. It followed the recent debut from Stonegrass, Dunn's acid-fried psych duo with Jay Anderson, and two volumes in Dunn's ambient Dance Works series.
Limehouse, Ontario indie-rock group The Soviet Influence recently announced a new full length. Socialism: An introduction is due January 29, a 9-song collection featuring "songs that reflect on revolution, social upheaval, and capitalist nightmares." You can preview the set now through the lead single "Oh Not Tonight." Frontman Peter Snow commented on the upcoming record and its clearly unvarnished political bent:
"As the band's songwriter, I've been working to incorporate our political values more and more at the forefront of our music. It's always been part of the band (our first track ever was called Song for the Anarchists) but I wanted to make it clear that this is what we are about. I tried to weave in more than just straight politics, but also look sat the social aspects of revolution and socialism in terms of empathy and mutual aid."
The group recorded Socialism with David Partridge at Milton's HELM Recording. The Soviet Influence released a single this past June titled "The Riot" shortly followed by the This Band is So God EP. The group's following up January's 7-song The Price of Vigilence with the new LP.
The track follows "Disturbing Body," which premiered in August, and features production by celebrated post-rock artist Sandro Perri (Andre Ethier, Teenanger). Yates recorded the sparsely arranged song in 2019 at Scott Merritt's Guelph recording studio, with Ryan Brouwer appearing on trumpet.
Before recording as Cots, Yates performed in Esther Grey, Cupcake Ductape, and French Perfume.
Toronto's Daniel Peachy recently debuted a new full-length as Streets to Ourselves, titled Suspension of Disbelief. The solo project strikes a curious balance between pop-punk, alternative rock, and lushly arranged instrumental cuts (the stylistic shift between the record's first two songs is rather surprising in this regard). You can find the full 10-song set at Bandcamp now.
Peachy recorded the album, performing all instruments himself, at Burlington's B Town Sound. Collin Young (Fond, Shahman, Animal Faces) engineered and co-produced the record.
Daniel Peachy previously played guitar in the Burlington metal/hardcore unit Them Thieves.
This year, we've seen a fascinating and varied trickle of archival material from Calgary's mutant folk hero Chad VanGaalen. The latest arrived this week as NTH, described by the artist as:
"...a new collection of off-gassing instrumentals, exclusive to Bandcamp. When preparing this collection, I was thinking of people needing less talking and more peaceful vibrations, so I hope this helps mellow the mood. I recommend pairing it with an outdoor apricot kush and a bike ride, or just hanging with a dog."
All proceeds from the record are due for the Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter.
NTH follows Lost Harmonies, an improvisational synth-focused piece released last month. Before it came the Odds & Sods 2 set from March. VanGaalen last released the Light Information LP in September of 2017 on Flemish Eye and Sub Pop.
Montreal rockabilly institution Bloodshot Bill recently shared the second volume in his Outta My Head series, featuring five new songs recorded over the past month. The set follows a similarly staged low-fi collection that arrived in November.
These releases follow a wealth of material churned out this year, 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 (among others I'm surely missing - Bill's a machine).
Like an assembly line, Toronto noise-punks METZ continue to roll out videos supporting their recent Atlas Vending LP. "Framed By The Comet's Tail" is the latest track to gain a visual accompaniment. Drummer Hayden Menzies directed the video, crafting it entirely at home from phone-shot clips with no third party footage. He commented in a press release:
"It's not a literal interpretation of the song by any means, but a document of random firing synapses of the mind during isolation."
The piece follows a truly impressive slate of videos, to date featuring "Pulse," "No Ceiling," "A Boat to Drown In," "Hail Taxi," and "Blind Youth Industrial Park." At this rate, the band's going to run out of songs before the year's done.
Atlas Vending, the band's fourth proper full-length, arrived on Royal Mountain Records and Sub Pop in October. 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 Menzies with guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins and bassist Chris Slorach.
Last week the early third wave ska troop Me Mom and Morgentaler unearthed a rarity. "Chicken Dinner" was recorded in London, Ontario in 1994 by Claus Frostell, the band's sound engineer. The group's sharing the song now as a fundraiser benefitting the Montreal food bank Le Dépôt.
On this recording Me Mom and Morgentaler featured vocalist/guitarist Gus Van Go, Adam Bix Berger on vocals and trumpet, John Jordan on vocals and saxophone, Matt Lipscombe on bass, Noah Green on accordion, John JB Britton on percussion, and Sid Zanforlin drumming. Lipscombe penned this particular track.
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. Earlier this year, the band reunited remotely to perform a charity cover of The Specials' "Racist Friend."
Mathias Kom of The Burning Hell surprised last week with a thirteen-track holiday record titled Mathias Kom's Holy Hullabaloo. You can snag the full set on Bandcamp now. The PEI-based artist commented on the album, fully acknowledging that it's a "deeply silly" outing:
"Every songwriter reaches that point where they can't possibly put off making a holiday album any longer. 2020 was that point for me; there hasn't been a lot to be happy about this year, and writing a bunch of goofy holiday songs was a nice distraction from the shitstorm.
But I've always wondered why the holiday song industry has been so focused on Christmas, and to a lesser and more token extent, Hanukkah. What about all the other great holidays people celebrate around the world? There are thousands of them, and surely they all deserve a song or two."
The album-opening spoof "Are They Even Aware It's a Bank Holiday" features several collaborators from the UK performing as the imaginary supergroup "Bank Aid." That's a pretty good indication of how seriously this album takes itself.
The Burning Hell's recently pushed a split 7" single with B.A. Johnston to raise money for shuttered grassroots music venues. Earlier this year Kom, with Ariel Sharratt, released the modern labour-themed protest record Never Work on BB*Island. While the pandemic, unfortunately, sideswiped that album's promotion, the current economic situation's only made its observations more relevant. The growing stack of Amazon-branded cardboard in your garage says as much.