Why Did It Matter?
Some Party is a newsletter sharing the latest in independent Canadian rock'n'roll, curated weekly by Adam White. Each edition explores punk, garage, psych, and otherwise uncategorizable indie rock, drawing lines from proto to post and taking some weird diversions along the way.
Last week Paul Lawton put Kill Credo on full display, posting the moody EP Hack Life alongside a new video. This is the first music shared by the former Ketamines frontman since the implosion of his post-Century Palm punk group Don't Bother. Lawton reflected on the difficult circumstances fueling the new sounds:
"This is a collection of music recorded during our pandemic year when I stopped leaving the house, got super paranoid and anxious all the time and other such things. This might be the least cool music I've ever made, but also maybe the most honest.
I'm referencing everything from Brian Eno to Texas is the Reason on this lil ep of manic songs, and I convinced myself at some point that this would be the last music I ever recorded, and even though I've been sitting on this for months, I decided that it would be cursed if I carried it over into 2021 lol"
You can hear the six-song EP on Bandcamp, with a video for "Why Did It Matter?" now running on YouTube. Lawton wrote that particular song about his years living in Lethbridge, Alberta. The clip's comprised of scattered street scenes from across the city shot from a car window during a recent homecoming. "Every frame of this video is a memory," Lawton writes.
Creative frustrations notwithstanding, the pandemic's actually seen several archival releases from Lawton to date. Don't Bother's aborted 2018 full-length Terminal Phase finally surfaced in April. The career-to-date favourites collection Nothing Remains to be Done arrived that same month, collecting material from Myelin Sheaths, The Moby Dicks, Radians, Mean Tikes, James Leroy and The Giant, Ran, Endangered Ape, and Light Years along with Lawton's recent groups.
Leave it to Steven Lambke to create something compelling from the dreaded soprano recorder. Last week the Constantines guitarist shared dub.tape, an 8-song instrumental EP recorded earlier this month. The set features Lambke as the sole player, with the brunt of the song structures built around the recorder. dub.tape is available digitally on Bandcamp, with a limited cassette shipping out in January. There's something curious about the recorder - while I'd wager that most of us merely used it as a means to torture our peers and parents in grade school, it was indeed ubiquitous. How many musical experiences touch that number of people?
Lambke's taken part in a few new projects this year. In the spring, he again joined forces with the eclectic Nova Scotian duo Construction & Destruction to issue Former Firsts, the second in a series of collaborative EPs linking Lambke with Colleen Collins and Dave Trenaman. Later in the year, as part of Daniel Romano's now-legendary run of isolation LPs, Lambke sneers through the lead vocals on the hardcore-styled Spider Bite set.
Last year the Toronto and Sackville-based artist released the Dark Blue LP through You've Changed Records.
Charlottetown's Warsh surprised with a new scorching EP four-track EP last week. The barely six-minute E.P. II comes on the heels of the band's appearance on Sewercide's recent Seaside Sickness compilation, a landmark showcase for similarly loud and lo-fi Maritime punk groups. Keep an eye on High Trash Media for a cassette release of E.P. II soon.
As the name indicates, this is the second short-form Warsh release, following the band's 2019 debut Burning Urge. The PEI group features vocalist Sophia Tweel, guitarist Teajay Doyle, bassist Rosanna Kressin, and drummer Brett Sanderson.
Only God Forgives emerged from a Toronto bedroom early in the pandemic, pairing the dry vocal wit of WLMRT's Shelby Wilson with Tallies instrumentalist Stephen Pitman as an electronic duo. The band recently shared Movin' My Body, a single that offers two playful takes on the same twitchy concept, with Wilson chanting the song title over an increasingly frantic backing track. It's stir-crazy dance music for the lockdown-confined. The release also features drums from Nick Kervin of Mimico Mimico and Mother Tongues.
Only God Forgives released the 12-song Power and Prowess back in May (then described by Wilson as a rip-off of Beat Happening - "but some punky songs").
The whirlwind, lawsuit-courting career of WLMRT burned out after 2019's Forever full-length. While COVID's obviously thrown a wrench into everyone's plans, members of the group have begun to share new home-recorded material. A few weeks ago, we saw guitarist Adam Bernhardt debut the first EP from a new solo act dubbed Jogging, with more on the way.
Sometimes I think the internet conspires to create busywork for me. Every Bandcamp Friday event's felt that way, with seemingly every band I cover dropping new material in tandem. The recent Demo Fest takes it to another extreme, with many of the bands created whole cloth for the occasion. The online collaborative project brought together over 350 artists worldwide to record new demo material, all of which dropped simultaneously on December 21 as a fundraiser benefitting the migrant justice network Solidarity Without Borders.
It appears that a great many of the artists I've covered on Some Party, particularly those linked by festivals like the Ottawa Explosion, have a disproportionate amount of new material to the mix. It's going to take a while to tease it all out.
On first glance, I can see Mikey Power from The Thrill playing as Mr. Power. The gothic Mickey Dagger has an EP in the set titled Tower of Fools. Luckie Lovechild of Night Lunch has a Couple Demos in the mix, as does Ottawa punker Chris Cook, putting his Best Foot Forward. Anthony Cardozo of the Flying Hellfish appears on the offerings from Precious Failures and Grosso (and perhaps more). That's not even scratching the surface, I suspect - these are just names I immediately recognize. So suffice to say, I'll have more on the impact of Demo Fest in the weeks to come.
One of the new groups to debut as part of the event was cluttered, featuring Matty Grace of Future Girls, Rebecca Dalley of Designosaur, Danny Bailey of Jabber, and Dylan Mombourquette of Alright Already. The Nova Scotian punk group shared a four-song, self-titled demo as part of the omnibus and even threw together a video for the track "Ativan Love Letter." You can check it out below.
Halifax-based Paul Atwood has a new EP online under his Dustbowl guise, a five-song lo-fi rock'n'roll record titled Good Things Change. The set follows a pair of short-form releases from earlier this year: a self-titled debut in June, and the Welcome To Dustbowl Enjoy Your Stay collection in August. The reverb-washed vocals and noisy instrumental backing of Good Things Change call to mind some of Paul Jacob's wilder work, and that's an excellent thing in my book.
Vancouver hardcore group Phane recently announced their debut LP, a self-titled effort due January 4 from Czech label Phobia Records. The label describes the record as "raw and fast metal-punk for fans of Broken Bones or English Dogs." You can stream the full 14-song set at Bandcamp now.
The release follows Phane's 2019 EP All In Self Destruction and a split with the LA band End Result. Phane members played earlier this year on the debut album from Vancouver D-beat group Scheme.
Toronto's Young Guv shared a twangy new single this week titled "Maybe I Should Luv Somebody Else," an unexpected but satisfyingly executed country turn for the artist. It's the second one-off single from the Guv's camp this year, following August's "Cold In The Summer."
Earlier in the pandemic, Young Guv released Live in LA to raise funds for the employees of that city's shuttered Zebulon venue. The pop songwriting vehicle of Fucked Up and No Warning's Ben Cook, Young Guv released the twin LPs GUV I and GUV II last year on Run For Cover Records.
Corridor's big Sub Pop debut Junior came out in October of 2019, a time I'm no longer certain actually happened. It's certainly curious to see a new video from that release this far out from the album cycle, but I suppose time has no meaning anymore. The jangly rocker "Domino" appeared in the innocent fall of 2019 as one of the record's lead singles. It's now subject to an animated video from vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Robert. He commented to Brooklyn Vegan:
"'Domino' illustrates a link between one's work & mental health as well as its negative impact, in turn, on the people surrounding us. It therefore made sense to film ourselves breaking stuff for this video. I then spent some time with the footage to experiment with the treatment and the editing."
Based in Montreal, Corridor features Robert on vocals, guitar, and synths, with Dominic Berthiaume on vocals and bass, Julian Perreault on guitar, and Julien Bakvis drumming. Junior arrived last year on Bonsound in Canada and Sub Pop elsewhere, with Corridor holding the distinction of being the first francophone act signed to the legendary Seattle label.
Last week I shared a new single from Sudbury pop-punk unit VCR, and their next is already available. The anthemic "Bless Your Heart" arrived last week alongside a clever new video. It's the second taste of Sunny Days Inside, the group's forthcoming debut EP.
VCR recorded their new material at Sudbury's Deadpan Studios. The band features vocalist/guitarist James Quenville, guitarist Joel Genier, bassist Tony Carr, and drummer Dylan Baron. Once again, I should reiterate that they're entirely unrelated to the identically-named Toronto punk group from a few years ago.
High End Denim Records recently shared a new track from party-punk quintet The Offsailors. I suppose that jovial description doesn't quite apply to the directly confrontational "5 In The Eye," but maybe that's how they party in Red Deer. Frontman Gabe Brinton dropped all pretense when explaining this one:
"This tune was inspired by all the dickbags I've never met before who come up to me and start bragging about how much money they make and spinning some other exaggerated stories that I know are lies. This happens way too often so I wrote some words to voice my frustration!"
The Niagara five-piece Sky Caught Fire recently emerged with "Ghost In Me," an aggressive and riffy post-hardcore number. You can check out a lyric video for the track on YouTube now. Cancer Bats guitarist Scott Middleton mastered the metal-tinged tune.
Sky Caught Fire features Craig Laro of American Hell, along with guitarist/vocalist Steve Driscoll (Harder They Fall), guitarist Matt Dolynsky (American Hell), drummer Josh Learn (Street Pharmacy), and bassist Pat Scodellaro (Black Magik).
The Anti-Queens features Emily Bones on lead vocals and guitar, Valerie Knox (of Oshawa's Black Cat Attack) on guitar and vocals, Dallas Conte on drums, and Taylor Cos (of Newmarket's Rue Bella) on bass and vocals.
Ottawa's beloved House of TARG is the subject of a new documentary short dubbed Pinball & Perogies, showcasing how the eclectic venue's weathering the pandemic. Directed by Sammy J. Lewis, the video features brief interviews with TARG principles Paul "Yogi" Granger and Mark McHale. They're joined in the piece by promoters Sofia Shutenko and "Ska Jeff" Hurter, along with a cast of musicians and visual artists (Sam Coffey, Mikey Power, and Dirty Donny among them).
With the loss of both live music and indoor dining, TARG's pivoted to operate as an online store and survives offering takeout.
Let's kick off this year's barrage of new holiday music with Waterloo pop-punk act Among Legends. The band's assembled The Worst Noel, a three-song benefit EP raising funds for The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. Here's what the group had to say about the project:
"Every December, Among Legends and our friends in Rawls Royce organize a benefit show for the Food Bank Of Waterloo Region. Not only would it be irresponsible to try and convince a crowd to get together in a small venue this year, our venue of choice, Chainsaw, shut down permanently in the early months of the pandemic.
So instead of a holiday show to benefit the food bank, here's a 3-song EP that contains the only festive songs we know! Think of this as a nice big FU to 2020, and also a way for us to continue the tradition we hold very close to our hearts."
Every dollar The Food Bank raises translates to three meals for someone in need. You can find the band's raucous set, which amps up a few well-known standards, over at Bandcamp. Among Legends last released the Some Days EP in 2017.
Red Deer punks Burning Nickels got in on the holiday action with Cool Tide Carrolls, a two-song set pairing their new original "Rum Nogs" with a cover of Roger Miller's "Old Toy Trains."
The single arrives right on the heels of Bernie Goes To College, the band's new five-song EP on High End Denim. Burning Nickels features Josh (Jawsh) Hauta on guitar and Jason (Ozone) Ezeard drumming (both from Trashed Ambulance), with Robbie of Calgary punk act Moröns on bass. Brad Manners, of Toronto's School Damage, appears here as a guest vocalist.
By contrast, the Toronto glam-pop artist Nyssa is taking a decidedly quieter approach to the holidays with her sombre "Blue Cheer." The track features Nyssa on guitar and vocals, with frequent collaborator Zack Burgess (Kremlin, Gardenworld) on guitar, bass, and percussion. Sales at Bandcamp are raising funds for Toronto's Encampment Support Network.
Nyssa released Girls Like Me in August, compiling the artist's past few years of digital singles into a 10-song LP.
The roster of Vancouver's Mint Records always show up in force for the label's Ridiculously Early Xmas party, but that event required a few modifications this year for obvious reasons. The Mint Records Ridiculously Online Xmas Party took its place this season, streaming on December 12. The event, hosted by Energy Slime's Jessica Delisle, featured new video debuts from Wares, Tough Age, Lié, Kellarissa, and Delisle's own Auto Syndicate. While the latter's "Bongo Dance" has fast become a global smash, I want to focus on the Tough Age clip in particular. With Jarrett and Penny moving back out west, this captures what's likely the band's final performance in the basement of Toronto comic shop The Beguiling (also the last place I saw live music before COVID). My sentimentality aside, the video also notably features Montreal's James Goddard, aka Skin Tone, materializing as a semi-transparent spectre mid-set to lend a little ghost sax to the festivities.
See you in 2021, newsletter people. Stay safe.