Sunday January 24, 2021

Half Rich Loner

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.

Paul Jacobs: "Half Rich Loner"

Listen at Bandcamp - Watch at YouTube

Montreal's Paul Jacobs returns with a new full-length this spring, lining up Pink Dogs on the Green Grass for an April 30 release via Blow The Fuse. Lead single "Half Rich Loner" somehow finds a balance between the home-recorded psych-noise of Jacobs' early catalogue and the folkier avenues he's explored of late. It's all wrapped in this effortlessly cool sense of indifference, a quality that's benefitted Jacobs' entire discography (his vocal similarities to Iggy Pop and Lou Reed go a long way in selling it). You can check the song at Bandcamp or through a video, hand-animated by Jacobs, over at YouTube.

Oliver Ackermann of Brooklyn noisemakers A Place to Bury Strangers mastered the new set. It arrives on vinyl from Bonsound's garage imprint Blow The Fuse (one of the pre-order bundles notably includes a hand-crafted poster by the artist, unique per order).

Jacobs recently took part in the inaugural Sounds From Mothland mixtape, contributing the new track "Thanks" to the set. In early 2020 he shared the odds and sods collection titled Portrait Of George, Demos And Songs I Forgot. Jacob's last proper solo LP was 2018's Stolen Body-issued Easy. In recent years Jacob's drummed for the buzzy Montreal garage rockers Pottery, playing on their Welcome To Bobby's Motel full-length (released just in time for the pandemic to completely derail it).

Gemstones: "Drive"

Watch at YouTube

Last summer Dartmouth's KC Spidle shared Checking In Before I Check Out, a rollicking EP of low-fi garage rockers under the name Gemstones. As with much of 2020's understandable home-recording glut, it was uncertain what the project's next step would be (if there even was one). Was Checking In just another time-killing isolation-era trifle or the debut of an ongoing band? It turns out it's the latter - and you'll recognize the lineup.

Gemstones will operate as a trio, with Spidle on guitar and vocals, backed by his Diamondtown bandmate Chris Thompson on drums and Booji Boys' Cody Googoo on bass. The group's already recorded a four-song 7", due this coming spring. You can check out a live video of the band playing a new song, titled "Drive," from their practice space (recorded just a week ago).

Of course, Chris Thompson played in the legendary 90s Moncton indie rock group Eric's Trip. He's noted that Gemstones is the first time he's served as a full-time drummer since playing in The Forest with Ken LeBlanc and Rick White. That group was active for a few months in late 1989 / early 1990 - the spring before Eric's Trip formed.

Spidle recently shared music as the hardcore outfit Dark Dial, appearing on the Seaside Sickness 7" of contemporary Maritime punk (coincidently alongside several of Googoo's projects). Last year he appeared on the long-awaited new record from Halifax gloom-pop favourites Dog Day. The shoegaze-styled Diamondtown also recently teased a new record for 2021, sharing a preview just a few weeks ago.

It's nice to hear it's so damn productive in the Atlantic bubble these days.

PONY: "Couch"

Watch at YouTube - Listen at Bandcamp

I wrote about PONY's 2017 EP Do You in one of the very first issues of this newsletter, an absolute eternity from now (even without the pandemic time vortex). Thankfully the pop-punk group's first full-length appears to have been worth the wait. TV Baby arrives April 9 from Massachusetts' Take This To Heart Records. The 10-song set includes last year's "WebMD" single along with the wonderfully propulsive new single "Couch." You can check that track out at Bandcamp now or through a charming new video from director Conor Sweeney.

This iteration of PONY finds vocalist/guitarist Sam Bielanski backed by guitarist/bassist Matty Morand and drummer Lucas Horne, both of the Toronto power-pop group Pretty Matty. Tokyo Police Club keyboardist Graham Wright and Pacer guitarist Shawn Kosmo also appear on the record. TV Baby found the band working with Ian Gomes (Teenanger, FRIGS, Odonis Odonis) at Toronto's Union Sound, with additional tracking and mixing from Josh Korody (Dirty Nil, Weaves, Dilly Dally).

I shared my affection for "WebMD" in my 2020 recap, and I like "Couch" even more so. There's something wonderfully youthful and unencumbered about PONY's whole aesthetic, from the bright, crunchy guitars to Bielanski's distinctive vocals. Suddenly, I'm a teenager in 1995 again - and it's awesome.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson: "OK Indicts"

Listen at Bandcamp

On March 12, You've Changed Records will release a new full-length from acclaimed Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar and musician Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. Theory of Ice lands as Simpson's first LP since 2016's f(l)ight and features several familiar collaborators, with Ansley Simpson and Nick Ferrio rounding out her core band. The record includes guest vocals (on a cover of Willie Dunn's "I Pity the Country") from The Weakerthans' poet laureate John K. Samson. Evening Hymns' Jonas Bonetta and Jim Bryson serve as co-producers on the project.

The announcement came alongside the lead single, "OK Indicts." Simpson shared a statement on the environmentally-minded track:

"'OK Indicts' is a collaboration with Jim Bryson and was inspired by the murder of the OK glacier in Iceland. It was written from the perspective of glaciers, permafrost, frozen lakes, and snow, in the midst of climate chaos."

Leanne Simpson last released the Noopiming Sessions EP in the summer of 2020, featuring four tracks inspired by her novel Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies. A prolific writer, Simpson's next book, A Short History of the Blockade, is due in February from the University of Alberta Press.

Rest Easy: "Get Busy Dyin'"

Watch at YouTube

Vancouver's high-energy four-piece Rest Easy recently emerged from members of Daggermouth and Seattle's Shook Ones. The group's first release is the four-song EP Sick Day, due February 12 through Mutant League Records. You can preview the speedy lead single, "Get Busy Dyin'," through a new lyric video on YouTube. The band joked about the song's subject, claiming "[it's] about your lame ass parents who won't let you have a Mountain Dew even though you've not had one in like 3 days."

Rest Easy recorded the EP with Tim Creviston (Misery Signals, Seer). Paul Miner mixed and mastered the set at California's Buzzbomb Studios (Death By Stereo, Thrice).

Boyhood: "Don't You Dare"

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Caylie Runciman's indie-pop group Boyhood re-emerged last week with a new single. "Don't You Dare" arrives as the project's first material since 2018's accomplished Bad Mantras LP. The track finds the Runciman working solo, performing all instrumentation from her home base in rural Eastern Ontario. "Don't You Dare" carries that same timeless feel as her last record, evoking this smokey cinematic vibe that feels like something out of the early 70s.

There's no word yet on whether this is a one-off track or our first preview of something new.

Tunic: "Fade Out"

Watch at YouTube - Listen at Bandcamp

Visceral Winnipeg noise-punk trio Tunic has the second preview online from their upcoming Artoffact debut Exhaling. You can check out a video for the single "Fade Out" now on YouTube. The cathartic track finds vocalist/guitarist David Schellenberg grappling with a good friend's failing health - an onset of blindness due to MS. In a press release, the band elaborated:

"'Fade Out' was written about the co-owner of a venue in Winnipeg which I co-own and operate. His MS diagnosis caused him to lose sight in one eye, leading him to eventually leave his position. It was heartbreaking to watch and I can't even begin to imagine what he felt going through this experience...

'Fade Out' shows the natural evolution of our sound, with a little more melody and traditional songwriting than our previous work. The lyrics, I bury my face and cry, sum up the period of my life this song captures. It was so hard to watch this person I care about go through such a difficult time in his life. I did as much as I could to help him out, but at the end of the day after work I would go home and cry."

"Fade Out" is one of a whopping 23 songs to appear on the LP when it arrives on April 9. The set features the group's latest material packaged along with the entirety of 2019's Complexion LP. Tunic features Schellenberg backed by bassist Rory Ellis and drummer Dan Unger.

Property: Think Electric

Listen at Bandcamp

Quirky St. John's indie rock group Property has a new five-song EP available. Think Electric arrived last week, landing as the trio's follow-up to 2019's How to be Human. The group recorded the bright, angular set at Sarah Harris' home studio and partially at Studio J with Burning Hell collaborator Jake Nicoll.

Last year Property showcased two of the EP's tracks with videos. You can check out "The Isolator" (animated by Isha Watson) and "In Gloom" (directed by BBQT's Allison Graves) at YouTube now.

Property features Sarah Harris, Jack Etchegary, and Liam Wight.

Obsoletism: The Covid Collaborations

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London's Robbie Brake starts bands more frequently than most people wash their bedsheets. The latest is a project dubbed Obsoletism, inspired by the Hamilton proto-punk legends Simply Saucer. The group debuted as part of The Covid Collaborations, a series of split releases organized by the Buffalo garage-punk group Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips. Obsoletism appears on the third volume in the series, with both bands contributing an original, covering each other, and teaming up on a pair of collaborative tracks. You can stream the full 6-song set at Bandcamp now or snag it on cassette soon from Tetryon Tapes.

Brake plays in several garage-punk, synth-punk, and punk-adjacent groups, including Mononegatives, Isölation Party, Klazo, and HEXOFFENDER, just to name a few. I, on the other hand, can barely manage to write a weekly email.

Tommy Tone: "Back & Forth"

Watch at YouTube

Vancouver's Tommy Tone has a video online showcasing his new single "Back & Forth." Karissa Sakumoto directed and filmed the clip, which features the boisterous character performing an energetic, I dare say aerobic, synth-pop track before a kaleidoscopic background.

Last year saw two full-lengths from Tommy Tone, the March-released How To Make Music and September's Finally Punk. The persona's part of an ongoing art project from musician Tom Whalen, often staged as an oblivious send-up of male entitlement. I'm not sure if the social commentary is helped or hurt by the fact that Tone's material is so wonderfully fun, regardless of the act, but at least I'm having a good time.

The Offsailors: "Calm Your Tits"

Listen at Bandcamp

The pandemic hasn't been much of a party, so you can forgive Red Deer drunk punks The Offsailors for delaying their upcoming full-length. The set's still due eventually from High End Denim Records, just at a time when things seem a tad less virulent. The group shared a video explaining their move, pairing the announcement with the release of the crassly titled song "Calm Your Tits."

Frontman Gabe Brinton broke the new track down in a press release, stating:

"This song's about the male mind's inability to process our own stupidity and the effects it has on the more complex female mind. An endless, ongoing battle we'll probably never see the end of!"

The Offsailors features members of Trashed Ambulance, County 23, and Avem. Look for their full-length One More Then We Go when the world seems a little less dire.

Jacob Barber: Loving Friends

Listen at Bandcamp

Sarnia singer/songwriter Jacob Barber has a new full-length online titled Loving Friends. The artist commented on the feel-good bedroom-pop set:

"I wrote and recorded this album as an outlet and escape from the craziness of the world we live in today. As for many people, 2020 gave me time to reflect on what matters most to me in this life. While in isolation I was remembering the good times of the past. I decided to write a collection of songs for some of the people I love. I hope you enjoy."

In normal times, Barber fronts the dream pop group Dream Seer and the psych-rockers Bad Habit. Last spring, he released the home-recorded Living Little Room full-length.

No Big Deal: "A Million Things"

Watch at YouTube - Listen at Bandcamp

The anthemic Mississauga punks of No Big Deal have a new single out dubbed "A Million Things." The band recorded the track back in 2018 with Ryan Guay at Catharine North Studios. In a press release, the band commented on the song:

"'A Million Things' is a passionate retort to life's woes and challenges. It's a reflection of the push/pull inner strife that defines our existence with everyday life issues, relationships, and the various avenues we use to cope with them. It's a sonic onslaught of push/pull aesthetic that illustrates when everyone is getting you down, telling you 'No, you can't!', you can get back up and yell 'Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!'"

The band launched the single alongside an animated video credited to Sh!tty Dizzny. On this track, No Big Deal featured vocalist Jay McCurdy, guitarist/vocalist Kevin McGilp, bassist/vocalist Christian Marasovic, guitarist Michael Amaral, and drummer Matthew Bellissimo. The song follows their 2018 EP Smiling Politely.

Venus Furs: "New Inspiration"

Watch at YouTube - Listen at Bandcamp

Montreal's psych and shoegaze influenced Venus Furs recently debuted a video for "New Inspiration," a track from last summer's self-titled full length. The clip comes courtesy of friend-of-the-newsletter Justis Krar and his IMMV Productions gig. Krar detailed the visuals in a statement:

"I wanted to present the visuals as a relation to both the lyrical tone and musical tone of the song. Heavily affected visual effects layered onto night time footage created a lushness that I feel when listening to the song. Ending the video with a visual effect that I've never seen or made before was a wonderful surprise for me, and I think matches the madness at the end of the song."

Venus Furs' multi-instrumentalist principle Paul Kasner commented on the song in a press release, stating:

"'New Inspiration' is a late night, moody song about needing to accept that you can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped – watching someone go down dark or dangerous paths time and time again, trying to help them, but not being able to if they don't want things to change themselves."

The 8-song self-titled Venus Furs debut arrived last July from Silk Screaming Records.

TUNS: "My Memories"

Watch at YouTube - Listen at Bandcamp

Canadian indie-rock supergroup TUNS returns this spring with a new full-length. Duly Noted arrives March 26 as the band's second album, following their self-titled 2016 debut. Look for it on Sloan's Murderecords label. The group released the harmony-drenched single "My Memories" alongside the announcement. You can preview it through a new video which, through some thematically-apt use of archival footage, features the band's members from back in 1996 (which is, of course, many years before TUNS was a thing).

TUNS features Sloan's Chris Murphy, The Inbreds' Mike O'Neill, and The Super Friendz' Matt Murphy.

Spencer Burton: "Hard Times"

Watch at YouTube

Spencer Burton recently shared another new track from Coyote, the Niagara country/folk artist's fifth full-length and first for Dallas Green's Still Records imprint. You can preview "Hard Times" now through a new video by director Justis Krar. The folk/country artist commented on the track in a press release, stating:

"It's a song about how we can get through the hard times. For me, that 'how' is love. It always has been. Love is a strong feeling and its ability to heal can help all of us get through the difficulties that life presents."

Burton recorded Coyote in Nashville with Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Cheap Time). The set follows The Mountain Man, an album of children's songs that Burton issued in 2019, and 2017's Songs Of LP. Burton's musical roots were in the much-loved Welland pop-punk band Attack In Black, with his early solo material released under the name Grey Kingdom.

Something Better Change documentary

Details at Kickstarter

Director Scott Crawford recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Something Better Change, a documentary chronicling the unlikely political career of D.O.A.'s Joey' Shithead' Keithley. The film follows the musician's path from activist punk frontman to municipal politician, cumulating in his election as a city councillor in Burnaby, BC. Guests slated to appear in the film include Henry Rollins, Keith Morris, Jello Biafra, Krist Novoselic, Duff McKagan, and U.S. presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke. The director hopes to raise $30,000 (USD) in funding by late February to keep the project on the rails.

You can sneak a preview of the film through a campaign video below.

Scott Crawford previously directed the acclaimed 2015 documentary Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC and 2019's CREEM: America's Only Rock'n'Roll Magazine.

D.O.A. recently re-issued the band's 1980 debut through their Sudden Death Records. The 40th-anniversary edition of Something Better Change features 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 arrived on the heels of the group's most recent LP, 2020's Treason.

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