Sunday January 31, 2021

Samurai Sword

Some Party is a newsletter sharing the latest in independent Canadian rock'n'roll, curated more-or-less 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.

Chad VanGaalen: "Samurai Sword"

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Surrealist Calgary songwriter Chad VanGaalen recently announced a new full-length, titled World's Most Stressed Out Gardener. The 13-song set's due on March 19 from Flemish Eye in Canada and Sub Pop elsewhere. The news arrived alongside a video for the single "Samurai Sword," animated by the artist. It's a welcome return to the bizarre, strangely organic realms VanGaalen so frequently revisits in his visual work. The clip adds a minute and a half to the song's album runtime, framing the song's narrative with a cartoon set in an alien thrift store (and sneaking in more than a few clever references - we see you, Dog Day LP).

In a statement VanGaalen commented on the song, which features a ramshackle metallophone built from scrap copper pipe:

"I had just ripped a bunch of old leaking copper pipe out of my basement in a reno job that I jumped into willy nilly. Realizing how magical the pipes sounded, I put them on some dirty styrofoam and banged out the janky beat that introduces the song! Garbage is life... It just spilled out in a couple minutes. I didn't try to stop it because I was smiling like I was just cruising through my neighbourhood. Simple like a sandbox. An ode to the simplicity. It's hard to let things be simple. But simple is easy on the mind, and being jovial in song is something I find really difficult. Why? What?"

The "Samurai Sword" video (which premiered through Adult Swim) follows a good-natured warrior searching for their misplaced weapon. I don't know about you, but this is precisely the level of oddball nonsense I need to get through this unreal winter. VanGaalen spoke on the production as well:

"I was drawing black and white plant backgrounds for this song because of the great old samurai movies of the past. I like how nature sometimes takes the lead. I was getting all knotted in my mind about the sky. I looked at my dad's watercolour paintings of a sky, and felt like I couldn't get the feel right. So, I just borrowed his sky for a scene and then I realized that my dad's paintings were perfect and already full of real life energy. I used them to finish the video and felt like we got to go on this quest together. In my mind. Fuck time."

Chad recorded the new album, the proper follow-up to 2017's Light Information, at his Yoko Eno Studio in Calgary. Ryan Morey (Wares, Daniel Romano, Yves Jarvis) mastered the set in Montreal.

Throughout the pandemic, VanGaalen's released a series of archival releases, including the instrumental set NTH, the improvisational synth-focused Lost Harmonies, and the Odds & Sods 2 collection.

Headcheese: "Talk To The Therapist"

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Neon Taste Records has an LP lined up from Kamloops' thrillingly sardonic punk group Headcheese. The Vancouver label, home of bands like Dead Cells, Nutrition, and Bootlicker, recently shared two new tracks from the release: "Talk to the Therapist" and "Po Po." Label-head Josh Nickel shared his thoughts on the record through his Neon Waste webzine:

"To our ears, the sounds of White Pigs with Brutal Knights cuts through in a way that I don't hear too often from most bands releasing records these days and Headcheese kicks this style with precision. Callous, pissed hardcore with a good helping of humor to keep it light. Back when I was getting into punk and hardcore as a little piece of shit, it was records like this that grabbed me first because they were fun and wild. Now that I'm an old piece of shit I'm just as excited when I hear them and even more to be in a position to put these things out. Hope you'll agree!"

While a release date hasn't yet been announced, you check with the label on Bandcamp this Friday to get in on the pre-order.

Freelove Fenner: The Punishment Zone

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Meticulous Montreal art-pop duo Freelove Fenner returns this week with their first new LP since 2013's Do Not Affect A Breezy Manner. Clocking in with 14 new songs, The Punishment Zone arrives on vinyl through Arizona's Moone Records. You can preview the curiously calming album through a full-album stream at Exclaim, or snag the set at Bandcamp now.

Freelove Fenner features Caitlin Loney and Peter Woodford, recording from their entirely analogue Bottle Garden Studio in Montreal. You've undoubtedly seen that space mentioned here before, as Woodford worked on recent favourites from Tough Age, Deliluh, Night Lunch, and Bleu Nuit, to name a few. Moone's write-up highlights the Bottle Garden's role in crafting the band's pleasantly organic output:

"The group's workshop is the strictly analog Bottle Garden Studio, a small room full of tape machines and homemade equipment that is integral to the group's sound and process. Avoiding 21st century technology not out of any sort of snobbery or nostalgia but rather a desire to avoid the work habits inherent with contemporary tools, the band embraces the different results that come with a slower, more tactile process: the happy accidents; the absence of visual stimuli (no screens); the difficulty in attaining high gloss finishes."

DogsnotGods: EP1

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DogsnotGods is a five-piece Moncton punk group lead by Fear of Lipstick's Jerms O'Neill. The group released several Ramones-worshipping recordings in late 2020, continuing into this year, all of which just conveniently arrived on Bandcamp in the space of a few days. This includes a six-song self-titled set, the single "Call me a Failure," and the eight-track EP1. I'm a little unclear on these releases' exact chronological order, but the band commented that they recorded EP1 live-off-the-floor of the Virus 19 studio in early January. Whichever way you approach them, you'll find a wealth of sweetly uncomplicated `77-style rippers to dig into.

King Khan Unlimited: Opiate Them Asses

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It's nearly impossible to keep tabs on the wildly prolific King Khan, but the Berlin-based garage-kingpin has a firey new punk band that we shouldn't leave unmentioned. The Montreal-native recently launched King Khan Unlimited's latest incarnation, issuing the full-length Opiate Them Asses last week through Australia's Bargain Bin Records. The 12-song record features Khan playing in a four-piece with the full lineup of Bordeaux-duo Les Magnetix (Looch Vibrato and Aggy Sonora) on drums and guitar, and Fredovitch (from the Shrines) on bass. Underground cartoonist Mike Diana (infamously the first person to receive a criminal conviction in the US for artistic obscenity) created the record's cover art. Eamon Sandwith of buzzing Aussie punk band The Chats also makes a guest appearance on the single "Pigment of Your Imagination."

In recent months Khan's released a dizzying array of projects. These include the soundtrack to the film Rat-Tribution Now (featuring Khan's daughter Saba Lou), an animated resurrection of The Tandoori Knights with Bloodshot Bill, the Sun Ra-worshipping psych-jazz LP The Infinite Ones, and a wealth of singles during the first wave of the pandemic.

Fitness: "December '98"

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Wiry Edmonton art-punk troop Fitness recently announced their sophomore full-length. Full Well is set to arrive March 5, featuring nine new songs, including the constantly-shifting new single "December '98." You can check out a video featuring the track at YouTube now.

New York label Sad Cactus is issuing the release on CD and cassette. In their press release, they commented on how the band's evolved their sound this second time out:

"On Full Well the band shifts to a more polished sound while retaining their brand of eccentric art-punk. This is an album about coming to terms with the limits of one's understanding. Informed by a close family member's manic episode, another family member's deteriorating memory, the Hebrew bible, and a university graduation, the words grapple with the confusion induced by an increasingly complex and perplexing world. And although the words are sung with the fervent conviction of a street side sermon, it is a conviction that quickly reveals itself as hollow as the words devolve into contradiction, irony, and frustrated rambling. Fittingly, the instrumental foundation for these rambling lyrics shifts restlessly throughout Full Well as the band moves abruptly through time, tempo, and mood changes, never allowing the listener the comfort of knowing full well where they are, or where they may be going next."

Full Well follows up on Fitness' 2018 debut -ing (to be read aloud as "dashing" - you get it).

The OBGMs: The Outsah Tape

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Toronto punk trio The OBGMs recently revisited the opening track to 2020's The Ends with a pair of remixes. The Outsah Tape features two new takes on "Outsah," one pairing drummer Cola H. with the New York hip-hop/rock hybrid Oxymorrons, and the second featuring Chicago rapper femdot. joining forces with the OBGMs' frequent collaborator Clairmont The Second. Oxymorrons hyped the project in a statement, stating:

"This is the collaboration you didn't know you needed! It's NYC meets The 6! This is international Black Punk Rock Rap shit, baby! Enjoy or you can meet us Outsah!"

You can stream the remixes at the usual digital outlets now.

Aggressively staking the band's claim to Toronto's punk crown, The Ends arrived last fall from Black Box. The OBGMs play as a trio on the 10-song record, comprised of guitarist/vocalist Densil McFarlane, bassist Joseph Brosnan, and drummer Colanthony Humphrey. They recorded with producer Dave Schiffman (PUP, The Bronx, Anti-Flag).

Industrial Priest Overcoats: "Starving Pitbull on a Short Chain"

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Vancouver's angular, trauma-wrestling Industrial Priest Overcoats kicked off 2021 with several new songs, most recently issuing the high-strung post-punk tune "Starving Pitbull on a Short Chain." It follows a pair of tracks from New Years Day ("I Used To Pick Berries Here With My Mom" and "I Wanna Go Home (I Wanna Go To The Red Zone)"). The weird-punk group's helmed by Secwépemc artist TJ Felix, also of the frantic BC punks Bedwetters Anonymous.

Felix earlier alluded to an upcoming LP titled Transformer Story, so I'd assume at least some of this new material will land there. When that record arrives, it'll serve as the follow-up to 2019's The Years Barely Left a Trace.

Future Star: "I'm Gonna be Fine"/"I'm So Alone"

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Victoria indie-pop act Future Star has a new full-length slated for a February 14 release on Kingfisher Bluez. The 13-track Valentine's Day release carries the seasonally appropriate title of When Will The DJ Of Luv Grant Me My 1 Request. You can preview the album's keyboard-backed opening tracks, "I'm Gonna Be Fine" and "I'm So Alone," over at Bandcamp.

Speaking to Exclaim, the artist commented:

"This album means so much to me to release: a collection of stories and feelings from the time following a breakup, going through most of the stages of grief and generally feeling alone forever (right now) but hoping to feel a different way tomorrow.

I hope that when people listen to it they can be reminded that sometimes, even when never feels like the realest thing, you can always whine to the DJ of love and when the moment is right in the dance party of life he will play your favourite song."

The new record follows the prolific songwriter's string of quarantine singles and a pair of recent(ish) EPs (I will fight the devil and I will win and Hallelujah I'm alone forever, both from early 2019). A release show is slated to stream online on February 13 via the Red Gate Arts Society.

Kiwi Jr.: "Maid Marian's Toast"

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Toronto jangle-pop quartet Kiwi Jr. recently shared a video for the Cooler Returns album cut "Maid Marian's Toast." The clip, directed by Sean Egerton Foreman and Johan Arthurs, features behind-the-scenes footage of the band at work in the studio this past July. Given that it was shot during the pandemic, evidence of the summer's social distancing efforts abound.

Cooler Returns arrived from Sub Pop in January, with the band's own Kiwi Club imprint handling the release domestically. The group self-produced the record, with Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh engineering and mixing. The new album follows 2018's Mint-released Football Money.

Kiwi Jr. features vocalist/guitarist Jeremy Gaudet, guitarist Brian Murphy, bassist Mike Walker, and drummer Brohan Moore.

The Weather Station: "Parking Lot"

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This week The Weather Station shared "Parking Lot" the fourth and final preview of Ignorance, the band's Fat Possum Records debut. As with the record's earlier singles, it provides another moving showcase for Tamara Lindeman's delicate and haunting vocals. The singer-songwriter commented on the track, which arrived alongside a new video:

" 'Parking Lot' is my strange gentle disco song about a humble encounter with a bird and being tired and being in love, and being heartbroken in ways I didn't quite yet understand. I don't fully know how everything connects in this song other than it obviously does. I wanted to make the recording very passionate and beautiful while also being very muscular while also being very gentle, and so I did."

On this, her fifth record, Lindeman's band includes drummer Kieran Adams, guitarist Christine Bougie, bassist Ben Whiteley, Ryan Driver on the flute, Johnny Spence on piano, and Constantines' Will Kidman on additional percussion.

If you missed Allison Hussey's recent deep dive for Pitchfork into Tamara's climate activism and how it's reflected in her art, make sure you give it a read. Ignorance arrives this Friday.

Gloin: Live Monster

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Toronto darkwave four-piece Gloin has a new set of live recordings online. Live Monster features live-to-tape renditions of material from the band's 2019 EP Soft Monster, captured in January of 2020 during a weekend trip to Northern Ontario. The group also shared a series of colourfully psychedelic videos from the sessions, split into three parts at their YouTube channel.

Gloin features members of the indie rock act Brenda and the metal band Witchrot. Later this month, the band plans to again revisit their Soft Monster material - this time through an EP of remixes. There's no word yet on who's collaborating on the project with them, but look for it on February 22.

Robbie Morön: "Get Off My Lawn"

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Robbie Morön, vocalist of Calgary punk act The Moröns, has a new solo single online through Red Deer's High End Denim. "Get Off My Lawn" is both catchy as hell and proudly wearing its "hick city" stylings on its sleeve. The label helpfully noted:

"Robbie Morön really likes his lawn, and if you fuck with his lawn, he will fuck you up... here's a song about it."

What more can you say? The Moröns last released the full-length Today's Special in 2020. Robbie's appeared recently on bass as a member of the Trashed Ambulance offshoot Burning Nickels. They released the Bernie Goes to College EP late last year.

Sam & The Terrible News: "All The Lights On"

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Quebec City pop-punk group Sam & The Terrible News recently debuted the slickly produced single "All The Lights On." You can preview the track, recorded Scott Hallquist of the southern California skate-punk group Ten Foot Pole, through a new lyric video on YouTube. The polished song finds the band drawing heavily from the radio-ready hits of 90s alt-rock. It's also the first preview of the band's upcoming record for the Artifice label.

A five-piece, Sam & The Terrible News features former members of the early 2000s Quebec punk groups Each On Set and Still My Queen. In a statement singer/guitarist Samuel Paquin commented on the long shared history of his bandmates:

"We've been friends for about 15 years, we lived the emo era together, we were part of the same field hockey team for almost 10 years, we lived thousands of crazy evenings at the bar, besides some of our songs talk about different periods of our buddies' lives. In short, we have a lot of memories in common, a lot of anecdotes, but most of them can't be told!"

Neos: "Sleeve"

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Victoria label Supreme Echo has another fascinating archival release on the way - this time spotlighting the whip-fast Victoria hardcore pioneers Neos. The group recorded and infrequently toured between 1980 and 1983, sharing the stage during their brief run with legends like the Subhumans, Black Flag, and the Dead Kennedys. Neos will see their discography collected later this year as a new LP titled Three Teens Hellbent On Speed. Before that arrives, though, the label's repressing the band's posthumous demos collection Fight With Donald as an 18-song 7" (when you play this fast, that's a perfectly reasonable amount of material to fit on an EP). You can stream the song "Sleeve," the only track from the 45 to reappear on the album, at Bandcamp. The record ships out on April 15.

Fight With Donald originally surfaced in 1995 through Break Even and Schizophrenic Records, collecting rehearsal tape material tracked in 1980. During their original run, Neos' only official releases were the 1982 EPs End All Discrimination and Hassibah Gets The Martian Brain Squeeze.

Fun fact - the Hassibah track "(Almost) Typical, Obligatory Anti-Government Song" was repurposed by NOFX for their Fuck The Kids EP as "Stupid Canadians" (with Eric Melvin on vocals).

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Some Party is Adam White's misguided quest to share the latest in Canadian garage rock, punk, psych, and more. Subscribe and get it in your inbox more-or-less weekly. Your information's always kept private, and unsubscribing is easy.

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