Sunday February 21, 2021

Burning Bridges

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.

Rules: "Burning Bridges"

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Hamilton psych-punk supergroup Rules returns this spring with their long-awaited debut full-length. The Bummer Circus Comes To Truth City arrives March 5 from Stomp Records after considerable delay. The quartet put this record to tape back in 2018, recording the album live-off-the-floor at Hamilton's Halo Studios (in three front-to-back takes - and this is crucial - while on LSD). Between the members' other commitments and a pesky world-shattering pandemic, the universe conspired to keep the record on the shelf for nearly four years, but the wait's almost over.

Rules worked with producer Roman Marcone, using a vintage SSL mixing console once used by Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder (the hardware's 2017 arrival in the Hammer actually made the paper). Bummer Circus also stands as one of the final projects touched by prolific Canadian engineer Nick Blagona (Alexisonfire, Attack In Black) before his death in 2020.

You can preview the 14-song album now through the aggressive "Burning Bridges." Fans of Gallows or raw-throated LA punks The Bronx should definitely take note of this one. You'll also find Luke Bentham of The Dirty Nil shouting along in the background on the track.

Rules brings together Chuck Coles (The Creepshow, Organ Thieves), Ben Rispin (Saint Alvia, The Video Dead), Adam Michael (Say Yes, Walk Off The Earth) and Alex Standen (The Penske File). The group last released the extended single "You Decide" in 2016.

Matt Ellis: "Rat Fucker"

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We can't leave Hamilton without dropping in on our pal Matt Ellis. You can now check out a video for "Rat Fucker," the latest single from his upcoming LP Full Moon Fever. The clip fittingly finds the performer jamming out in isolation, celebrating his forthcoming collection of home-recorded punk rippers with a stir-crazy home shot video. I like to think that his family's sitting just out of frame doing a puzzle. Full Moon Fever collects and expands on four EPs worth of material Ellis recorded during the 2020 lockdown, tracked in a makeshift studio set up in his bathroom.

The 18-track Full Moon Fever's due from Italy's Surfin' Ki Records this March. When he's allowed out of the house, Ellis sings and plays guitar in the proto-punk revivalists Flesh Rag and the Toronto punk outfit PlasticHeads. He also serves in the modern incarnation of The Vapids.

Souvenir: Collapse

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Nova Scotian indie rock trio Souvenir recently shared Collapse, their debut full-length. The 9-song set brings together bassist Lachie MacDonald (The Tom Fun Orchestra, Great Plains, Dyscontrol), guitarist Dave Banoub (Jon Hynes), and drummer Chris Murdoch (Word On The Street, Weekend Dads), with all three contributing vocals to the project. Souvenir recorded with engineer Charles Austin (Outtacontroller, Future Girls) at Ocean Floor Studio in Halifax. Pentagon Black's Raymond Biesinger contributed the album's cover art.

There's a cool throwback indie rock vibe to this thing - plenty of Jawbox, a bit of Fugazi, and some Dinosaur Jr. all apparent. I can't quite peg if Collapse is more reminiscent of the original sound or when it came back around during the emo revival of the early 2000s, but it's wonderfully authentic and a welcome nostalgia trip either way.

Souvenir last released the Beating Into Dust EP in February of 2020.

Feeling Figures: "Person of Tomorrow"

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It feels like just last week I was raving about the growing Celluloid Lunch lineup (in fact, it was). Wasting no time, the Montreal garage label's since announced their fourth release: the debut 7" from Feeling Figures. The four-piece formerly operated as the Dead Beat Poet Society, helmed by Zakary Slax of the underappreciated Sackville space mutants Astral Gunk, with Kayley Moon, Thomas M., and Protruders' Joe Chamandy in the lineup. Sonically, Feeling Figures lands you unapologetically in the low-fi indie playground of Eric's Trip. At least that's the influence evoked on "Person of Tomorrow," our first preview of the EP. The label describes the track as "chromatically repugnant and spacially tight-wound." While I have no idea what that means, it sounds just about right.

Feeling Figures' debut arrives March 12 as a limited run three-song 7". The band recorded with Freelove Fenner's Peter Woodford at the proudly analogue Bottle Garden Studio.

This record's very much a family affair for the nascent Celluloid Lunch, as both Zak Slax and Kay Moon also perform in Chamandy's proto-punk redux act Itchy Self. That band's first record, the swaggering Here's The Rub, launched the label last December.

Sloves: It's Pronounced Sloves

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I know next to nothing about Toronto's Sloves other than the fact that they're delivering a brand of frenzied weird-punk that I can't get enough of. The group recently made their debut with It's Pronounced Sloves, a five-song EP that surfaced online just a few weeks ago. Don't take my word for it, go blow your head off at Bandcamp.

I'm not entirely sure who's even playing on this one. Vocals are credited to Victoria, Dart Mouth's Cameron Kirk's on guitar, drums are credited to Sean, and bass just "happened," whatever that means. You have no idea how much time I spend every week decoding nonsense credits on Bandcamp.

Sloves recorded with Stephen Pitman (Hobby, Tallies) at Dining Room Sound. Given the personnel, it's no surprise you can feel the influence of WLMRT's breakneck chaos woven in this one.

Book Buddies: "Neon"

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Book Buddies are a brand new Dartmouth-based indie rock unit from members of Designosaur and Outtacontroller. The group recently shared "Neon," their debut single. The hooky track features Rebecca Dalley on vocals and guitar, Anna Cannings on bass, Andrew O'Toole on guitar, and drums from AJ Boutilier. Sean MacGillivray of Alright Already makes a guest appearance here on backing vocals.

I'd expect more from Book Buddies soon. Rebecca Dalley, meanwhile, recently appeared as a member of Cluttered, the propulsive new punk outfit from Matty Grace of Future Girls.

PONY: "Chokecherry"

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Sam Bielanski's bubblegum-punk trio PONY has a video online showcasing the opening track to TV Baby, the band's long-awaited debut LP. "Chokecherry" seeks to evoke a vintage home movie, with friends gathering for a backyard birthday picnic on a sunny day. It's all very nostalgic and heartwarming until the murder starts.

TV Baby arrives April 9 from Massachusetts' Take This To Heart Records. The 10-song set includes last year's "WebMD" along with the wonderfully propulsive recent single "Couch." This iteration of PONY finds Bielanski on vocals and guitar 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 appear on the record as well.

PONY recorded the album 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). The record will be the band's first proper release since 2017's Do You EP.

Power Party: "Been Along Time xx"

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Certain bands are entirely oblique from an online standpoint. I'm sure it's quite intentional, and perhaps it's even laudable given our overexposure to social media, but it makes my job a mess. Montreal's Power Party seems like one of these bands, with the group often leaning into whimsy and artful weirdness at the expense of providing any clear throughline. Case in point: Power Party's two-song single from late January. The curiously titled "Been Along Time xx" and "And We're Live FM!" arrived as full-fidelity WAV files on the group's aggressively unfinished powerparty.ca website (they mercifully ended up on YouTube as well, but the website, or lack thereof, is a treat). The songs haven't yet surfaced at Bandcamp, but the group did recently share a love song there, releasing "Truly, Your's" in time for Valentine's Day.

Shambling and unpredictable, the low-fi pop quality of these tracks is infectious. "Been Along Time xx," in particular, is rather endearing.

Power Party's nominally a solo venture credited to Alex Casey of the Charlottetown group Stabbing Joy. Alex performs most of this new material solo, except for "Been Along Time xx," which ropes in Luke Pound on bass, Zack Nobody on fiddle, Georgia Campbell-Irwin on drums, and Finn Dresser on guitar.

Vallens: "While You Are Still Waiting"

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Every new track we've heard from Vallens this year has been an absolute stunner. The atmospheric Toronto trio recently shared "While You Are Still Waiting," paired with a visualizer on YouTube. The track's emblematic of the band's new direction, with In Era presenting a sprawling, cinematic take on the group's formerly guitar-heavy sound. Vocalist Robyn Phillips commented on that shift in a statement:

"Because I've taught myself to play piano in the past two years, there's actually not a lot of guitar on the album. A lot of people see me as a guitar player or Vallens as a guitar-driven band, so I think that's why this feels to me like even more of a departure. That's not the only thing I can do. I don't use as many effects anymore. I'm focused way more on singing and getting back to my primary instrument, which is actually my voice."

The new track follows "If I Don't" in previewing the 10-song full-length, due March 19 from Hand Drawn Dracula.

Vallens features vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Robyn Phillips backed by Devon Henderson on bass and synth, with Colin J Morgan drumming. The group recorded their latest material with Henderson in the producer's chair and Alex Gamble (Surrender, Fucked Up) engineering.

Burning Nickels: "Cobwebs"

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Red Deer skate-punks Burning Nickels have another EP on the way, this one packed with new collaborators. The four-track Cobwebs features guest vocals from Dan Garrison of Vancouver comic-punks The Corps, Alex Goldfarb of Florida's Debt Neglector, and UK folk-punk Sam Russo. The title track, available below, also features a guitar solo from Kurt Anderson of the defunct Vancouver punk group Ellesmere.

Burning Nickels features Josh (Jawsh) Hauta on guitar and Jason (Ozone) Ezeard drumming (both from Trashed Ambulance), with Robbie Morön of Calgary punk act The Moröns on bass. The group's following up on their holiday EP Cool Tide Carrolls, and last year's Bernie Goes To College. Look for Cobwebs via High End Denim Records on March 2.

Meanlife: "WTF"

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No two songs from Toronto's eclectic Meanlife ever sound the same, and the fuzzy rocker "WTF" certainly carries on that tradition. The track arrived alongside a video built around one of singer-songwriter Jackson Fishauf's family movies. The artist commented on Instagram:

"The 'WTF' music video features an adorable dance routine performed by promising young talent - me, 20 years ago. On a road trip with my family to visit the Rock Hall, I was compelled to carry out this dance, which my dad was standing by to capture on Hi8 tape. The immortal moment lived in a dark closet for the next 2 decades before being rediscovered and repurposed for 'WTF.'"

Fishauf plays everything on this track, save the drums (performed on the recording by Adam Slinn). The track follows Meanlife's late 2019 single "Ready 2 Spark" and the covers collection Meanpop, released in the spring lockdown of 2020. The group's last full length was Bad Vibes in the Womb, which arrived in 2019.

Killer Virgins: "Banana"

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Toronto punk trio Killer Virgins recently shared their irreverent new single, "Banana," accompanied by an energetic and colourful new video. Vocalist/guitarist Samantha Weinstein addressed the song's rather blatant innuendo in a press release, commenting:

"I'm monkey and I want your banana. Really, that can be translated to just wanting what you just can't have. So, it really depends on the listener. The song is very fun and light and melodic with lots of energy, but there is also this unbridled, and primal feel to it too - we're all just monkeys running around, basically. It's about how we're all driven by our base, animalistic desires. The whole notion of the song is that yes, it is about sex, if that's your interpretation, but you could also not hear it that way. Ultimately, as a band we always want to do stuff where we're not taking it too seriously. We're having as much fun as we want our audience to have."

The trio features Weinstein on vocals and guitar, backed by bassist Drew Brazier and drummer Gabe Corindia. "Banana" follows the EP Reboot, which arrived in the fall of 2019.

Zoon: "Was & Always Will Be"

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Hamilton shoegaze project Zoon recently premiered a new video for "Was & Always Will Be," a song from last year's Bleached Wavves LP that features Rishi Dhir of Montreal's psych-rockers Elephant Stone on sitar.

Daniel Monkman commented on the track's spiritual underpinnings in a feature at Indie 88:

"In our Ojibway tradition and something my mom also taught me is that when the Creator has been good to you or has blessed your life you should always honour that. Ways to do that are helping others in need or being mindful in your everyday life or in living the 'good life.' One way is to sing to the Creator and express your gratitude. For 'Was & Always Will Be' I wanted to show that gratitude so I chant 'Yahweh' throughout the song, which is an indigenous word for 'creator.'"

John Smith directed the psychedelic video showcasing the song noting, "If you ever wondered what it might feel like to have a helicopter-esque outer body experience in 1978, this is probably the music video for you."

Bleached Wavves arrived to considerable acclaim last year from Paper Bag Records.

Ian Daniel Kehoe: "Colour Application"

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Toronto's Ian Daniel Kehoe has a new video online featuring the synth-driven "Colour Application," a song from the singer-songwriter's Disco Body Buzz record. Mike Giganti directed the clip, released in the lead-up to the album's arrival on streaming services. The Weather Station's Tamara Lindeman notably appears on the track as a backing vocalist.

The 6-song Disco Body Buzz arrived in the summer of 2020 as a limited-run cassette, one of three similar collections, each exploring a different genre (Charging the Stone and Rock & Roll Illusion being the others). The three were each given about half a year to breathe in the physical realm before arriving on download and streaming services. Look for this one on March 5 through Tin Angel.

Before this cycle, the former Attack In Black member released Secret Republic, a 2019 LP on You've Changed Records.

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