Sunday January 17, 2021

Gates of Heaven

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.

Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs: "Gates of Heaven"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

"Gates of Heaven" doesn't feel like it would have fit on either of the past Iron Lungs records, but it's a song that couldn't exist without that groundwork. The second single from Sam Coffey's upcoming album swings for the fences, demonstrating an enormous leap in both the band's ambitions and the conviction that they can pull it off. The ballad clocks in at over seven minutes, a slow burn that surfaces the soul buried in Coffey's gravelly wail. When a downright sultry sax appears before the first chorus, it's clear this is a different flavour of maximalism. I suspect the Iron Lungs of ol' would have nervously kicked this song into high gear before long, safe in the gleeful exuberance of muscular rock'n'roll. Here they're focused enough to let a good thing breathe, and while the band's usual bombast can't be far off, it's not required. "Gates of Heaven" just cruises down the open road, sunroof down, never in a hurry to get anywhere. It's fantastic, and I can't wait to get my hands on Real One in a few weeks.

Coffey spoke about the track, juxtaposing the confidence exhibited in its sprawling scope with his past doubts:

"This song is about letting go... I'm trying to pose less and be more genuine as I get older. I used to obsess over this band and constantly loop around how I felt I never received enough recognition for the little amount that I contributed. I even used to spin out and assume out of thin-air that my peers or other artists in my circle thought I was a joke. It's more likely that my friends and peers support me or I just don't cross their mind at all. But it's a toxic view to have and I feel super fortunate to not dwell on it anymore. All it took was getting off my ass and going for it to give myself some peace of mind."

There's a recurring rhyme scheme on this track that really reminds me of Television's "Venus" - and of course, that means my mind wanders to "Marquee Moon," another famously long song that's so blissfully cool it never feels like a slog. "Gates of Heaven" has that effect, and were it also eleven minutes rather than seven, I'd be just fine with that.

Real One arrives February 19 from Dine Alone Records. The band's third record rolls in just about three years after the group's Thin Lizzy-worshipping self-titled LP. 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 (and this song in particular) include backing vocalist Siânteuse, Destroyer's Joseph Shabason on the above-mentioned saxophone, and a full string quartet arranged by Paul Erlichman of Ducks Unlimited. The Toronto-based group worked with producer Kevin Ratterman (White Reaper, Strand of Oaks, Murder By Death) on the record.

Tough Age: "Anti-Anxiety Exercises"

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Tough Age recently shared an animated video featuring "Anti-Anxiety Exercises," their latest highlight from last summer's Which Way Am I?. The clip features animation by Victor Martins, an acclaimed Toronto-based cartoonist from the Hello Boyfriend collective. They're the latest in a string of indie comics talent to work on the band's visuals (a group that includes Wowee Zonk member Ginette Lapalme and Montreal's Connor Willumsen).

The video arrives as Tough Age finds itself in a state of flux, with bassist Penny Clark and guitarist Jarrett Samson leaving Toronto in the midst of the pandemic. While their ultimate destination is Vancouver, the group's first home, the pair are waiting out the winter in a family cabin. Samson referenced their change of scenery, and a resulting lack of anxiety, in a statement:

"The silver lining of this weird world is that I had a legitimate excuse to make no appearances and become as much of a bubblegum band as we were able to be. Victor is someone whose talent flat out awes me so I was thrilled to just hand it to them and offer no comment until the final product arrived and I found out that was the right call.

Penny and I needed these exercises a lot in the city but now that we live in the woods I'm chopping a lot of wood and cut my hair into a cute bob so things are looking up."

Martins broke down some of the imagery in the video:

"I wanted to show people dealing with high-anxiety, stressful situations in different ways: a flight response -- disengaging and running away; a fight response -- blowing everything up; and self-soothing, taking the time to catch your breath and do something nice for yourself. Acknowledging you need a little break, but that after you feel okay, you have to go back and deal with your life. Once I knew that's what I was going for, the ornithologists and astronaut dogs just sort of showed up."

Tough Age features Clark and Samson with drummer Jesse Locke. Which Way Am I?, the band's fourth LP, arrived in August of 2020 on Mint Records. I wrote some entirely sappy things about it in my 2020 recap.

Souvenir: "I'm Leaving"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Nova Scotian indie rock trio Souvenir recently completed their first full-length. While details are to come on that release, the group's already shared moody album cut "I'm Leaving" as our first preview. Souvenir features bassist Lachie MacDonald, guitarist Dave Banoub, and drummer Chris Murdoch, veterans of several east coast projects. MacDonald played in an early version of Cape Breton ensemble The Tom Fun Orchestra, later appearing with Halifax post-punk groups Great Plains and Dyscontrol. Murdoch fronted the hardcore group Word On The Street and most recently drummed on the new EP from Weekend Dads. Banoub's resume mostly eludes me, but I'm relatively certain he's played on a Jon Hynes record, and before that spent time with numerous Ottawa punk groups. I could be wrong.

Souvenir last released the Beating Into Dust EP in February of 2020. The group recorded their new material with Charles Austin (Outtacontroller, Future Girls) at Ocean Floor Studio in Halifax.

Dogo Suicide: "Négationnistes"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Quebec City punk group Dogo Suicide recently shared "Négationnistes." The dynamic song finds the group colouring their sound with a bit of stoner metal (the press release throwing out Queens Of The Stone Age as a touchpoint, and you can certainly hear it). You can stream the track now at Bandcamp.

Dogo Suicide recorded "Négationnistes" at l'ampli de Québec studios in December with Sylvain Dominic, the group's first time in a proper studio after a few years of home recording. The song follows last year's self-titled LP, a compilation of their EPs Direction Nord-Sud and Dover. The band, originally from Centre-du-Québec, features guitarist/vocalist Nicolas Côté, bassist/vocalist Emmanuel Canadian, and drummer Richard William-Turcotte.

Mo Kenney: "Hard on You"

Stream at SoundCloud

Dartmouth singer-songwriter Mo Kenney recently shared another preview of her upcoming covers record: a rendition of Daniel Romano's "Hard On You" (originally from 2011's Sleep Beneath The Willow). Kenny shared some insights on her version in a press release:

"I've been a big Daniel Romano fan since I first heard this song. It was so nice to hear a modern country song that was reminiscent of the old stuff. The songwriting is so good, I was excited to strip it down so the lyrics really shine. Recorded in front of one mic at the New Scotland Yard."

"Hard On You" is the third preview of Covers we've heard, following a take on Patsy Cline's classic "You Belong To Me" and a memorably haunting version of Guided By Voices' "Game of Pricks." The 10-song record arrives on February 26.

The Effens: "Pavement Age"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto grunge and glam flavoured four-piece The Effens recently shared a slick new song titled "Pavement Age," their first material since 2019's Unsafe EP. The group commented on the track in a press release:

"I don't think we as humans can stop ourselves from turning institutions into kinds of religion or from using divine language. Our new song, "Pavement Age," is sung from the perspective of someone trying to define their moral compass and hoping they can be good, realizing that this can only be accomplished by looking outside of themselves."

Vocalist Austin Nops produced the new track. Last year The Effens collected 2019's Unsafe and 2018's Burn Blush EP together on vinyl as a single self-titled full-length.

Harkness: "GM GM"

Stream at SoundCloud

Electic Toronto psych-pop act Harkness has another lushly orchestrated new single online, the fourth preview of their upcoming LP. You can preview the multi-layered "GM GM" now at SoundCloud. The curiously robed, sci-fi-visored songwriter offered the following thoughts on the track:

"Whether it is the breakup of a relationship or the realization that some Incredible moment you have experienced is now gone forever we are all constantly dealing with loss at every turn. "GM GM" is about making peace with and embracing that fact every single morning."

Harkness takes sole credit for vocals, guitar, bass, piano, and drums on the tune (making sure to note that real analog humans contributed the other instrumentation woven throughout the song - no sampling here). "GM GM" is expected as part of the upcoming LP The Occasion, due March 5 release on Windchild Records.

Laurie: "Another Animal"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

The Toronto post-punk trio Laurie recently hit their goal of releasing a single a month for the past year. The last in the set is the danceable, new wave-inspired "Another Animal." It follows the bright synths of December's "Monochrome." With a dozen solid tracks fully realized, it certainly seems like Laurie has a completed LP on their hands in all but name. Nothing's yet been announced on that front, mind you.

Laurie features Trent Bristow on guitar and synth, bassist Fabian Kearns, and drummer Jessica Maxwell. Before embarking on this year-long cycle, the group released a 5-song EP titled Group Dynamics in 2019.

Roach: "Everything or Nothing"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto indie-rock quartet Roach has a new pair of songs online, a sparkling and confessional demo titled "Everything or Nothing," and a cover of Snail Mail's "Heat Wave." You can check them out now at Bandcamp.

Roach last released the emo-pop tune "R.I.P. Soft Serve" in September of last year. The group features vocalist/guitarist Violet DeRege Braga, drummer Carly Harris, guitarist Jackson Seaward, and bassist Tyler Twigger.

D.O.A.: "The Prisoner"

Watch on YouTube

BC punk legends D.O.A. recently unearthed a video for "The Prisoner," coinciding with the 40th-anniversary reissue of the band's 1980 debut Something Better Change. The band commented, through their label Sudden Death Records:

"We hope you are coping OK with the pandemic. We have unearthed some classic D.O.A. footage from 1978 of Chuck, Randy and Joey playing The Prisoner, the footage was shot in a dingy practice room by Soundproof host John Tanner. Just to make the footage even more fun, Shithead dug around his basement and found never before seen photos and added those to the video. This is dedicated to memory of Randy Rampage and Dave Gregg, you are both missed greatly."

The Something Better Change reissue includes a reproduction of the original lyric insert paired with a photo booklet of the band's classic lineup (guitarist/vocalist Joey Shithead, bassist Randy Rampage, guitarist Dave Gregg, and drummer Chuck Biscuits). It arrives on the heels of the group's most recent LP, Treason. That album, laser-focused on soon-to-be-ex President Trump, arrived in March of 2020.

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