Sunday February 28, 2021

Yesterdaze

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.

Gemstones: Nevermind EP

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In case you're new around here, let's recap the saga of Dartmouth's Gemstones. The trio spun out of an early-isolation solo project from KC Spidle, he of the country/shoegaze group Diamondtown and a then-and-now member of the Nova Scotian gloom-rockers Dog Day. The name first surfaced in the summer of 2020 with Checking In Before I Check Out, a crunchy little home-recorded EP. A month ago, we learned the band's full lineup. Spidle's joined here by his Diamontown bandmate Chris Thompson and the prolific Cody Googoo of Canada's greatest reining punk band, the Booji Boys.

The trio recorded in February, turning out four new tracks for an upcoming cassette release titled Nevermind. You can preview "No One," "Perfect," "Yesterdaze," and "Drive" now in one unbroken block of audio at Bandcamp. The set features Spidle (billed as Casey Crysis) on vocals and guitar, Googoo (rechristened Nicki Sick) on bass and vocals, and Thompson (now Crissy Chaos) on drums and vocals. As noted earlier, Gemstones will be the first band Chris Thompson's drummed for since he played in The Forest (just a few months before Eric's Trip formed in 1990).

Nevermind's charmingly modest and instantly familiar, wrapping timeless garage rockers in a blanket of low-fi fuzz, complimenting Spidle's hushed vocals. You can close your eyes and just picture this played from the floor of some Legion hall whenever "normal" returns: the PA way too loud, walls sweating, Alpine in hand. Gemstones haven't set out to break new ground, but they're presenting such an honest distillation of whatever it is draws us to this genre that it hardly matters.

Spidle recently joined a host of Maritime punk acts on the Seaside Sickness 7", appearing as the hardcore outfit Dark Dial. Last year he played on Present, the long-awaited new record from Dog Day. Diamondtown also shared a few new tracks during the long slog that was 2020, teasing an upcoming record due later this year.

Rogue Tenant: "Gone"

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Art-rock outfit Rogue Tenant recently shared a video for "Gone," the lead single from their upcoming EP Always Another Day. The track's an evolution of a rough song that surfaced last year as part of Friend Ship From Home, the first volume of isolation tracks from Toronto's Friend Ship Committee group. The new version's featured in a surreal clip directed by Rachelle Walker (Greys, Absolutely Free). Band lead Patrick Grant commented on the alt-country number, a curious mix of digital percussion and analog instrumentation (you don't hear much jawharp these days). He stated:

"It's a sort of re-telling of the emotional overhaul that comes with the loss of a close friend. Tonally, it's indicative of the chill, weedy and cooped up DIY vibe of the whole record, so take a listen."

That friend was Brian Lahaie, Rogue Tenant's drummer who passed in 2019 following a diagnosis of cancer. Lahaie was a key collaborator on the band's 2019 EP, Compassion. This new record finds Patrick primarily recording at home, working in solitude due to the pandemic. You can read more on how Grant sought to honour his late friend in a revealing piece at Exclaim.

Patrick Grant's served in several Toronto groups over the years, including Skydome Hotel and Twist. The six-song Always Another Day is due this Friday.

I was a huge fan of the eclectic Toronto duo Fembots back in the day, and this song evokes much of that same spirit. Highly recommended.

Belvedere: "Good Grief Retreat"

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I'll own up to a longstanding blindspot when it comes to Calgary's beloved Belvedere, a band my fellow Punknews'ers always took the reins on (my role as the site's token hoser notwithstanding). The skate-punk group returns this year with their 6th record, joining Montreal's Thousand Islands for Hindsight Is The Sixth Sense.

The band's lineup this time out features guitarist/vocalist Steve Rawles, Belvedere's only constant from 1995 through the present, with drummer Casey Lewis, who's been on board since 2011. They're backed here by guitarist Dan Wollach and bassist Ryan Mumby, both of which joined in 2019. Hindsight serves as the modern incarnation's first studio record together. If you've been following the band's trajectory, you should know what's on deck: riff-heavy melodic punk in the tradition of bands like Strung Out and Millencolin. If you grew up in the EpiFat 90s, this should hit all your nostalgia points.

Belvedere recorded at Echo Base in Calgary, with Lewis and Rawles producing. The 13 track LP features guest appearances from Roger Lima of Florida ska-punks Less Than Jake, Rody Walker of Whitby prog-metal favourites Protest The Hero, and Dylan Toews of Edmonton's Wolfrik. Lockjaw Records is carrying the album in Europe.

You can preview the record's first single, "Good Grief Retreat," online now through a lyric video directed by Brand New Lungs' Alex Bergeron.

Champion Lover: "Burn Everything"

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Given the overall sonic and geographic slant of this newsletter, I assumed I had mentioned Toronto noise-punks Champion Lover at some point - yet the cavernous Some Party archives are bafflingly bare. I'm baffled, but I'll blame the fact that the band's previous EP came out just a few months shy of this sorry publication launching — bad timing.

Champion Lover hasn't had new music out since 2017's Russian Prince EP, but it seems like 2021 will be the band's year. The four-piece (Edward Masuda, Erik Tokar, James Cain, and William Masuda) recently shared "Burn Everything," the first preview of recent studio sessions with Cancer Bats guitarist Scott Middleton. This is comparatively the cleanest the band's sounded, and that uptick in fidelity comes with a strong sense of purpose. There are massive 90s licks all over this thing, and despite our mutual fog of grunge nostalgia, "Burn Everything" never feels like it's inauthentically chasing that trend. It's a powerful reintroduction of Champion Lover, I can't wait to hear where this is going...

Cult Message: "Stuck" / "Flamma"

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Micah Brown's a recurring character in this newsletter, never grabbing a headline but often appearing in the engineering credits of East Coast favourites like BBQT, Conditioner, and Astral Gunk, not to overlook the Montreal experimentalists NYON. As part of this year's RPM Challenge, Brown issued a pair of new solo tunes credited to Cult Message. The set features the atmospheric noise track "Flamma" backing a wonderfully authentic new wave a-side titled "Stuck." The early goth-vibes on this one are really rather charming. It's the perfect Bandcamp Friday impulse buy if you ask me.

Autogramm: "No Rules"

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Vancouver power-pop trio Autogramm spent their time in lockdown completing their sophomore record, recently delivering the title track as the first single. "No Rules" arrives alongside a new video, providing our first preview of the group's new work.

The synth-driven "No Rules" features lead vocals from drummer Joshua "The Silo" Wells. He commented on the song's sentiment in a press release:

"I'm an enthusiastic dancer. Skilled? No. But I love to dance, and this song is an ode to my relationship with dancing: Flex abandon, enter the void!

It's one of my favourite things to do. I don't believe there are any rules in dance, apart from not hurting anyone else or infringing upon their personal space. It might seem weird to begin a song called 'No Rules' with two rules, but it's kind of like a snake eating its tail, no? No rules for no rules, including the absence of rules..."

Along with Wells, Autogramm features Jiffy Marx (of Hard Drugs and Blood Meridian) on vocals, guitar and synth, with CC Voltage (of Berlin's Dysnea Boys, London's Loyalties, and BC acts Spitfires and The Black Halos) on bass. The Silo's served in various incarnations of Black Mountain, Lightning Dust, and Destroyer over the years. He currently splits time with Chicago's Spun Out.

Autogramm last released What R U Waiting 4? in 2019, with Marx since issuing a solo single "She's My Witch" through Snappy Little Numbers late last year. No Rules arrives April 16 from LA's Nevado Music.

Snake River: Lost Album

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Regina's rootsy psych group Snake River recently unveiled their sixth LP, the 10 song Lost Album. Perhaps befitting its title, the record's been in the works since well before the pandemic, with base tracks laid down in Loreburn, SK way back in October of 2019. This record finds Snake River principal Christopher Sleightholm backed by guitarist John De Gennaro, bassist Whistlin' Jeff M, drummer Dustin Gamracy, and Amber Pb on viola and backing vocals. Sleightholm sings, plays a little bit of everything, and engineered the record front-to-back. The hooky pop-rock number "Afraid of Love" is a real stunner and an immediate standout, but the album's quieter moments bring with them a ton of depth and dense lyricism to unpack.

As with past outings, Lost Album follows the continuing story of Reginald McKruski and the residents of the fictional Snake River Mountain. The record follows 2018's Tread On To The Unknown You.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson: "Viscosity"

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You've Changed Records recently shared a powerful second single from Leanne Betasamosake Simpson's Theory of Ice. The label followed the environmentally-minded "OK Indicts" with the rhythmic "Viscosity." The artist unpacked the song in a press release:

"Viscosity, the property, is a measure of a fluid's internal resistance, its internal friction. 'Viscosity', the song, rides a thick groove, a reckless darkness of thick bass and drums, as it ruthlessly dissects a contemporary world that celebrates connectivity over connection, taking hard measure of the inherent friction and alienation in our social-mediated society: this 'yelling the loudest in the empty room'; this 'feeding fish to insecurities.' And then, after an unexpected, disrupting piano solo, rising and falling, another voice enters, and the song rises, less alone, removing itself from that world of digital violence, peeling off from the 'blue light.' A remarkable change is enacted and described: building a fire, alert to the coldness of the world, and the warmth of each other, in relationship, 'careful moment after careful moment.' The careful, articulate delivery of the poetry, the communal act of playing music, of singing together, of listening to each other, of trusting in each other in the creation and generation of the song - this offers a model of how worlds are generated."

Theory of Ice lands as Simpson's first LP since 2016's f(l)ight and features several familiar collaborators, notably SappyFast alumni Ansley Simpson and Nick Ferrio. The record includes guest vocals (on a cover of Willie Dunn's "I Pity the Country") from The Weakerthans' John K. Samson. Evening Hymns' Jonas Bonetta and Jim Bryson serve as co-producers on the project.

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, the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar issued A Short History of the Blockade just last month from the University of Alberta Press. Look for Theory of Ice on March 12.

Chad VanGaalen: "Nightwaves"

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Surrealist Calgarian songwriter Chad VanGaalen recently shared our second preview of World's Most Stressed Out Gardener, his fast-approaching new LP. "Nightwaves" comes on the heels of "Samurai Sword," and although it arrives without a similarly lavish animated treatment, it's no less compelling. The artist commented:

"I wrote 'Nightwaves' about the endless news feed. Giving in to your digital calendar, when all that's on your to-do list is checking the online updates. Like a William Gibson waking nightmare, boring marketed as sexy."

The 13-song Gardener is due March 19 from Flemish Eye in Canada and Sub Pop elsewhere. 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. These include the instrumental set NTH, the improvisational synth-focused Lost Harmonies, and the second Odds & Sods collection of outtakes and rarities.

Simon Provencher: "Et quart"

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Gatineau's Simon Provencher recently shared an experimental new single from his upcoming solo EP Mesures. "Et quart" is built around a series of clarinet loops by Elyze Venne-Deshaies. Armed with what's described as a "massive circuit of guitar pedals," the artist manipulates an unsettling, distorted counterpoint to the warmth of the woodwind. Provencher commented on the work in a press release:

"In 'Et quart', the feedback is relentless, sour, and displeasing; a stark contrast with the fleeting and soft clarinets. There is a clear opposition between the rigorous, mathematical, precise feedback and the breathy, living woodwinds. But, as Elyze's melodies take more and more space, the initially conflicting sounds seem to harmonize and merge, culminating in a sublime unison rise at the song's climax. The unstable sounds can't maintain this delicate equilibrium for long though."

You can also preview the preview track "Choix multiples" at Bandcamp. Mesures arrives on March 26 from Michel Records, featuring six eclectic soundscapes from Provencher with percussion by Olivier Fairfield (FET.NAT, H. de Heutz).

Simon Provencher plays guitar for the dance-punk three-piece VICTIME. That group last released Mi-tronc, mi-jambe in 2019.

Faiyaz And The Wasted Chances: "Dead Animals"

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Toronto garage-punks Faiyaz And The Wasted Chances have a raucous new single out. "Dead Animals" arrives nearly two years out from the band's last track, 2019's "Another Crooked Line." The group commented:

"I wrote 'Dead Animals' after a string of failed relationships, before the world went to shit. The day after a show, I'm hungover and biking to the rehearsal space, and I see a dead squirrel along the path. I was feeling a lot of regret and pain around the past, racial injustices, and COVID, and turned that anger into the riff. It felt like I was yelling to my exes and bigots that they've never heard or felt real love. It just felt real visceral being able to get it out."

The band recorded at LootBag Records and Slim Fridge Studios with Austin Nops of The Effens. A video for the track is due later this week.

The Effens: "Things You Can't Take Back"

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Speaking of The Effens, the grungy Toronto glam rockers have a new track online titled "Things You Can't Take Back." It's the second new single from the group following last month's "Pavement Age." In a press release, the band commented:

"Our new single, 'Things You Can't Take Back,' is about the moment something is said which changes everything. Whether it's a promise of love or cutting someone down, the truth or a lie, it cannot be unsaid. Each of us hold and give this power to one another when we choose to be vulnerable.

This is the relationship at the heart of the song - two people on one bike, swerving in and out of traffic. They put themselves in danger but dilute themselves enough to feel that they are in control because they are the ones scaring the drivers. They are two individuals who believe everything is temporary, trying to hold onto something for a moment that will make them feel less helpless.

'Things You Can't Take Back' is ultimately about preserving that moment in your memory before everything changes. Not being sad that something is lost, but being grateful to have experienced it."

Along with "Pavement Age," this song serves as the band's first new material since 2019's Unsafe EP. That set was collected last year, alongside 2018's Burn Blush, as a single self-titled vinyl full-length.

Guilhem: "Béatitude"

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Montreal's Guilhem, the mononymous solo project of Lost Love's Guilhem Benard, has a new single burning up the Quebec rock charts. You can hear "Béatitude" online now through a new video from director Alex Bergeron. The pop-punker recorded his recent work with Adrian Popovich (PRIORS, Tricky Woo), often closely collaborating with his fellow Pouzza Fest organizer Hugo Mudie.

"Béatitude" is the second preview of Guilhem's upcoming French album, due later this year from Music Mansion Records. Guilhem last released the solo album Born & Bored in March of 2020.

TUNS: "United We Stand"

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Canadian indie-rock supergroup TUNS recently shared the second single from their upcoming Duly Noted LP. You can check out a video for "United We Stand" at YouTube now, a clip shot outdoors in the snow this past February (in Matt Murphy's Toronto backyard, to be precise). The band commented in a press release:

"TUNS may have gone overboard on the Canadiana in their latest video. Fully decked out in tuque, winter coats, boots and scarves, they inadvertently made a video that seems to be attempting to answer the age old question: What if Bob and Doug McKenzie had a drummer?"

TUNS features Sloan's Chris Murphy, The Inbreds' Mike O'Neill, and The Super Friendz' Matt Murphy. This track features Matt on vocals, with the members trading that role from song to song. Duly Noted arrives March 26 from Murderecords, a follow-up to the group's self-titled 2016 debut.

The Bare Minimum: "Echo In My Head"

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Toronto's hard-charging punk quartet The Bare Minimum has a new single online. "Echo in My Head" mark's the group's first release of the year, following up on November's "Party Martyr." The song arrives alongside a curious animated video - one which features an absolutely manic caricature of Nicolas Cage driving a convertible through the desert with an ice cream cone. That's the entirety of the clip, too - and it works better than you'd think. When announcing the track, the band joked "let's have a debate about who we ripped off most. I say mid-early AFI..."

The Bare Minimum features guitarist/vocalist Cam Gray, guitarist Mick Hutchinson, bassist Donnie Hopper, and drummer Chris Nikolaidis.

As We Suffer: "Invade The Host"

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Ottawa hardcore five-piece As We Suffer has a few massive singles out previewing their debut full-length, The Five Pillers. You can now stream both the title track and the newly unveiled "Invade The Host." The former's a five-minute epic of thrashy metal-flavoured hardcore, while the latter's an unrelenting blast of speed-punk in the tradition of Winnipeg's finest. Fans of Death By Stereo, Killswitch Engage, and the overall medieval aesthetic of Crusades should get a kick out of this. The group commented on "Invade The Host" in a press release:

"This track feels like Propagandhi gone metal. It's a heavy and briskly paced track with a melodic chorus. It also features one of the best breakdowns on the album that hits right in the feels. Lyrically, it's about the tendency for societies to take over others through tyranny, then the uprising of the disenfranchised takes over and they themselves become tyrannical. All the while, God is pulling the strings."

As We Suffer features bassist Ryan Caldwell, guitarists Jason Yocom and Derik Roblin, drummer Chris Nunn, and vocalist Matt Caldwell. The Fallen Pillars arrives April 30.

Meanlife: "Delete Me"

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Just last week, I shared the fuzzy rocker "WTF" from Meanlife, and the eclectic Toronto project's already back with a follow-up. "Delete Me" presents a quirky pop ballad that seems to shift genres several times over its four-minute runtime. Project mastermind Jackson Fishauf launched the track alongside a new video series, Behind The Meanness: How To Record Meanpop. The first episode, available now on YouTube, follows the recording process of "Delete Me" from start to finish.

"Delete Me" and "WTF" follow Meanlife's late 2019 single "Ready 2 Spark" and a covers collection released in the spring 2020. The band's last proper full-length, Bad Vibes in the Womb, arrived in 2019.

Feels Fine: Grip

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After the 2019 digital release of Grip (and an intervening global crisis) Toronto emo revivalists Feels Fine are finally on track to give the record a proper physical release. Underground rock tastemakers Art of the Uncarved Block worked with the group to craft a small batch of hand-assembled cassettes. The label commented on the project:

"Assembled and realized in true DIY fashion, the tapes are small batch, pad printed, and include inserts printed individually on transparent paper. The 'Grip' tape is a true collectors item that will inevitably weather all EMP attacks as well as the ultimate collapse of our environment AND civilization. A perfect bargaining chip in the post-bitcoin era!"

You can snag one from the label or the band via Bandcamp. The translucent cover art is admittingly very cool. In case you've forgotten, Grip found the indie trio heavily influenced by the midwestern emo sound of the late 90s. The set followed up on their 2018 EP At Home.

Fly Pan Am: "Scanner"

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Montreal post-rock luminaries Fly Pan Am return May 21 with a new full-length, dubbed Frontera. The record arose from a collaboration between the four-piece and the Quebec dance troupe Animals of Distinction. Working with choreographer Dana Gingras, the band composed a soundtrack for a multimedia performance that featured 10 dancers and striking lighting from UK outfit United Visual Artists. The label describes the piece as:

"...a discerning and deeply affecting meditation on borders and surveillance, resistance and separation, solidarity and cooperation; bodies blocked and restrained, monitored and pursued, hiding and escaping, yearning and overcoming."

Frontera performed in several cities before the pandemic, with notable events in Sydney, Berlin, and Vancouver. With the live shows on hold, the band entered the Hotel2Tango studio with Radwan Ghazi Moumneh to put their contribution to tape. You can hear the first single, "Scanner," online now.

After an extended absence Fly Pan Am reunited and released C'est ça in 2019, their first record since 2005's N'écoutez pas. In 2020 the group took part in Constellation's Corona Borealis Longplay Singles Series with the 10-minute "Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority".

(...and yes, I'll get to Constellation Records' major GY!BE news in next week's edition)

SNFU: EP Teaser

Check it out at Instagram

Finally, there's some unexpected but welcome news from the SNFU camp, with founding guitarist Marc Belke announcing a surprise new EP through Instagram. A Blessing but with It a Curse collects five previously unreleased tracks from the same sessions that resulted in 2004's In the Meantime and in Between Time. The songs feature contributions from the members of Propagandhi, with Chris Hannah playing guitar and the full band joining on backing vocals. No release date's confirmed at this time, but you can check out the cover art now.

This marks SNFU's first major archival release following the death of their iconic frontman, Mr. Chi Pig. The wildly influential and beloved Edmonton musician passed on July 16, 2020 at the age of 57. Since then, the group's only shared "Cement Mixer," a touching farewell song that had been saved for release upon the artist's death.

React to it at your leisure

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

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