Sunday March 7, 2021

Anything Can't Happen

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.

Dorothea Paas: "Anything Can't Happen"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

To pull back the curtain a bit, this newsletter's as much a hobby programming project for me as it is a journalistic endeavour. I write exclusively in a code editor, with every edition from 2017 onwards available as a text file in a quickly searchable repository. That means it's effortless to rifle through the entirety of Some Party's archives for past mentions of an artist. While this suggests, and I hope it's not too obvious, that I can lazily cannibalize my past work with ease - it also grants me a perspective on how an artist's factored into my skewed Cancon narrative over time.

Toronto singer Dorothea Paas is a perfect case example of an individual that's appeared here a dozen times - but always as a supporting player. I see her frequently referenced as a collaborator with Twig Turnbull's Badge Époque Ensemble, often spoken of in the same reverence as U.S. Girls' commanding Meg Remy and the ethereal Jennifer Castle. I see her referenced in stories about punk bands (opening for the Tough Age offshoot Rotten Column, or lending a drummer to Paul Lawton's Don't Bother). To date, though, she's never been at the center of the story. It's immensely satisfying when an artist on the periphery of my understanding suddenly steps into focus, even when I'm late picking up on what everyone else already knew. In 2021, that spotlight's on Dorothea Paas.

Paas is set to release her debut solo album on May 7 via Telephone Explosion. Anything Can't Happen arrives as a collection of nine songs, intimate standards of Paas' live show that have taken years to come together. While active for the better part of a decade, her recorded output's been confined to self-released cassettes. You can preview the record now through the title track, a song that circles back to the open-ended refrain "anything can happen at any time." In a press release Paas muses on the ambiguity in the track:

"These uncertainties remain in tension so that you can decide what you want the song to mean based on how you're feeling. I hope that this song facilitates some cathartic surrender to the fact that there is so much we can't control or resolve. There is not only fear but also possibly hope in the idea that we don't know what is coming."

"Anything Can't Happen" arrived alongside a video directed by Ryan Al-Hage (Commuted, Westelaken). Given that it was shot on location in my hometown, I've rather predictably zoned in on Paas' thoughts on using the city as a backdrop:

"Ryan brought up the films of Wong Kar-wai as an inspiration and suggested a similar approach: pick a location and let the other details emerge from the setting. I love the model of improvisation within a structure in my music practice, and also like how this approach mirrors and multiplies the many possible interpretations of the song's lyrics.

A trip to Niagara Falls offers opportunities for self-exploration and self-obscurity. It feels very human to build something like Clifton Hill so as to exert some kind of control over the sublime. If the Falls render us insignificant or terrify us, we can remake them into a postcard or a keychain, and take them home. I can connect the video to my interpretation of the lyrics; maybe you will see it the same way as me, or maybe totally differently. I think that's what is exciting about this open-ended mode of filming."

Paas recorded Anything Can't Happen in Hamilton and Toronto, with both Badge Èpoque's Max Turnbull and Steve Chahley (Partner, Ice Cream) mixing. Members of Little Kid and Bernice appear on the record - with the core band featuring Liam Cole, Paul Saulnier, Robin Dann, and Thom Gill.

JONCRO: "Passa Passa"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Mississauga trio JONCRO came out swinging on "Passa Passa," the first preview of their upcoming full-length Richmond Station. Daniel G. Wilson's dabbled in various styles over the past year, seeking the band's voice while chipping away at their time in isolation. This track channels all that restlessness into a tense and propulsive garage-punk number. In short order, the track sheds its vocals to shift into a cathartic instrumental jam. The band commented on Instagram:

"Passa Passa is a Jamaican patois term that usually refers to gossip or confusion and domestic/public disharmony (often caused by said gossip). The song itself is a Garage-Math Punk track framed against the backdrop of a boxing match against a white shadow. Daniel wrote it during a difficult and tumultuous period in their personal life. It is meant to convey the disorientating feelings that come with betrayal, the end of friendships, imposter syndrome, dissociation, negative self image, and the anxiety that comes with being a marginalized person in a society that fights against you."

JONCRO features Wilson on guitar and vocals, with drummer Matthew Mikuljan and bassist Kieran Christie. Wilson recorded the song at the band's home base, The Lions Den, with Austin Nops of The Effens mixing and mastering at Lootbag Studios. JONCRO released the Lions Den Session live set in December of 2020, having issued the multifaceted EP The Joncro Mountains just a few months prior.

Fiver with the Atlantic School Of Spontaneous Composition: "Learning Hard (On My Peripheral Vision)"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Simone Schmidt's solo venture Fiver returns this spring with the proper follow-up to 2017's lauded Audible Songs From Rockwood. The new record carries the title Fiver with the Atlantic School Of Spontaneous Composition, referencing the team of improvisational maritime musicians Schmidt wrote and recorded with throughout 2017 and 2018. Those players include Nick Dourado (Aquakultre, Century Egg), Special Costello's Jeremy Costello, and Vulva Culture's Bianca Palmer. The Nova Scotian trio's notably collaborated with Beverly Glenn-Copeland in recent years. In a press-release, label You've Changed Records touts the project as delivering no less than "an unexpected reimagining of Country music and its possibilities."

You can stream the record's lead single, "Learning Hard (On My Peripheral Vision)" at Bandcamp now (and while you're there - the liner notes provide an extraordinarily detailed dive into each of the records' 8 songs - of which "Peripheral Vision" may be the most conventional). This set marks Schmidt's second outing with the Atlantic School, following the You Wanted Country? EP from April of last year.

With this record, Simone Schmidt has seven full-lengths under her belt. She's released a pair as Fiver, two with the psych-rock group The Highest Order, and an earlier pair with the alt-country group One Hundred Dollars.

Yoo Doo Right: "Don't Think You Can Escape Your Purpose"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp - Watch on YouTube

Montreal post-rock trio Yoo Doo Right has a new single in the wild. "Don't Think You Can Escape Your Purpose" is the heavy yet solemn title track to the band's upcoming debut full-length, arriving May 21 from local psych upstarts Mothland. The group commented on the heady tune in a press release, stating:

"It's about a person who is losing touch with reality. Who thinks he has a higher purpose and is supposed to be an ambassador to a higher extraterrestrial race. It's a looming atmospheric rhythm and crawl."

The song arrives alongside a video from director Justin Cober, who detailed the visuals:

"In an attempt to achieve a higher purpose in life, the subject instead witnesses their own deteriorating mental posture. As a means of overcoming assumed existential risk (the hurdles of our great filter), the subject looks above and within believing that they alone have been chosen to solve the problems that our species faces. Images of Eva Szasz' 1968 short film 'Cosmic Zoom', produced by the National Film Board of Canada were cast over foliage to make for fitting imagery, complementing the narrative."

Yoo Doo Right recorded in Quebec City and Montreal, working with Sebastien Fournier (Panopticon Eyelids, No Negative) at Hotel2Tango and Guillaume Chiasson (Ponctuation, Jesuslesfilles) at Le Pantoum. The band features the talents of Justin Cober (guitar, synthesizers, vocals), Charles Masson (bass), and John Talbot (drums, percussions). With a pair of earlier EPs under their belt, the trio most recently released a split 7" with Japanese psych titans Acid Mothers Temple. A track collaborating with Ottawa vocalist Jasmine Trails also recently appeared on Mothland's Sounds From Mothland mixtape.

Slurry: "Panic"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto alt-pop group Slurry has a wild new track online titled "Panic." Fans of the contemporary No Wave group Luge should find a lot to love here, as "Panic" plays with form and tempo in a fashion not dissimilar to that group's recent work.

Slurry features Rachel Bellone, Steven Lourenço, Pat McKenna, and Steven Conway. They recorded at Dining Room Sound with Stephen Pitman (Only God Forgives, Tallies, Hobby), with additional tracking at Sun Bear Studio with Westelaken's Rob McLay. The new track arrives almost a year after the band's sole 2020 single, "ASPIC" (Slurry's maintaining a pretty consistent song-a-year rhythm, come to think of it).

Fucked Up: "Year of the Horse - Act Two"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

It's been a month since Toronto's Fucked Up announced Year of the Horse, the much anticipated new volume in their long-running series of zodiac singles. Last week the band unveiled the second track on the EP, with "Act Two" clocking in at a whopping twenty-six minutes. The song finds the band in an astonishingly playful mood, hoping genres a dozen times over the extended runtime (including a swing at around 11 minutes that would fit right in on the soundtrack of an old spaghetti western). Nothing else sounds like this.

I'll save you some precious inbox space and avoid reiterating the whole zodiac story here, but hop back a few weeks into the archives if you need a refresher.

"Act Two" primarily feature studio instrumentation from Mike Haliechuk and Jonah Falco (vibraphone, trumpets, and whistling included). Fucked Up regulars Damian Abraham and Sandy Miranda appear on vocals and bass, respectively. The track features vocals in several interludes from Maegan Brooks Mills, Eidolon, and Tuka Mohammed. There's still no word on a vinyl release of Year Of The Horse, but those details are in the works.

Fucked Up last released Dose Your Dreams in 2018. They followed it with a pair of live releases during the pandemic (Rivoli and Live at CBGB's). Last year Falco and Haliechuk released their debut as the synthpop group Jade Hairpins and an industrial EP as Masterpiece Machine (the latter featuring Riley Gale of the Dallas thrash act Power Trip on vocals). Year of the Horse carries a dedication to both Gale and Iron Age guitarist Wade Allison - both of whom were lost in 2020.

Cory Levesque: Feelings Recorded at Home

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Ottawa singer-songwriter Cory Levesque recently shared a new three-song EP. Feelings Recorded at Home features new material written in late 2019 and early 2020, tracks only performed live a single time before the pandemic ground things to a halt. Levesque put them to tape in January of this year.

Throughout the lockdown, Cory's released several volumes of Alone Together, a project that puts lyrics from isolating friends to newly composed music. The third volume in the series launched in late February as an open-ended digital record. Expect songs to be added to the tracklisting on Bandcamp as they're completed.

When he's not stuck in quarantine, Cory Levesque plays as a member of Jon Creeden's Flying Hellfish.

Jon Creeden: Canadian Pools Demo

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Speaking of Mr. Creeden, the gruff Ottawa punker recently shared a pair of acoustic demos, the nostalgic "GT Pool Racer" and "Canadian Pool Season." Jon alludes that the tracks were intended for a collaboration with friends from Calgary, a project I can only imagine is now in limbo due to the pandemic.

Jon Creeden and The Flying Hellfish last released the Parti EP in October of 2020. That acoustic set followed the band's last proper studio album, 2018's Stall.

Sister Suzie: What's Your Deal

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Pirates Press imprint LSM Vinyl recently issued a new EP from Edmonton glam rockers Sister Suzie. The group recorded the two-song set at The Physics Lab with Real Sickies drummer Rob Lawless producing. While they've been together since 2016, What's Your Deal is notably the band's first music pressed to vinyl.

A five-piece, Sister Suzie features veterans from several Western Canadian punk groups, with at least three members serving in the Edmonton street punk outfit Hard Pressed. You can trace the group's family tree back to Winnipeg punks The Horribles and The Detentions, Edmonton power-pop band The Pez Heads, Vancouver straight edge act Out Of Sight, and the Edmonton hardcore band Maus.

Sister Suzie last released the full-length Don't Want To in April of 2020, available digitally through Bandcamp.

The Dirty Nil: "Elvis '77"

Watch on YouTube

Dundas power-trio The Dirty Nil has a new video online featuring the Fuck Art album cut "Elvis '77." The clip's comprised of video footage submitted by fans (121 contributors, by my count). You can find the video on YouTube now.

The gleefully kinetic Fuck Art arrived January 1 from Dine Alone Records, followed up on 2018's Master Volume. The Dirty Nil features Luke Bentham on guitar and vocals, Ross Miller on bass, and Kyle Fisher on drums.

Tunic: "Invalid"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

The Winnipeg noise-punk trio Tunic has another preview of their upcoming record online, the pummelling "Invalid." You can stream the studio recording of the track at Bandcamp or see it performed live through a new video feature at CVLTnation.

The scathing "Invalid" arrives on April 9 as a part of Exhaling, the band's upcoming debut for Artoffact Records. That set features a whopping 23 songs, pairing the group's new material with the entirety of 2019's Complexion LP. Tunic features vocalist/guitarist David Schellenberg backed by bassist Rory Ellis and drummer Dan Unger.

Down Memory Lane: "Pandemic Rockabye"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp - Watch on YouTube

Melodic Montreal skate-punk group Down Memory Lane recently released their anthemic new single "Pandemic Rockabye," it's the fully-amped studio version of their "Pandemic Lullaby" track, released back in November as a wistful acoustic number. You can find the song on YouTube as well, accompanied by a home-shot video with each of the members playing in isolation (as is, unfortunately, the style these days).

In 2019 Down Memory Lane took part in two releases for Thousand Islands Records - the four-band international split Bridging Oceans and the full-length Catch & Release. The latter collected the band's separate Catch and Release digital EPs together as a single package.

Bloodshot Bill: Out Of My Head Vol. 4

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Another Bandcamp Friday's come and gone, and with it, we have another EP of fresh music from Montreal rockabilly mainstay Bloodshot Bill. The fourth entry in the Outta My Head series is now up, featuring five low-fi throwbacks tracked over the past month by the prolific musician.

This series followed a wealth of material Bill rolled out through 2020. Last year Bill brought the rarities set Tattle Tale - Vol.1, the Spit on My Rubber EP with Rochester's Televisionaries, a second Out Of This World Sounds volume for Ghost Highway Records, and the Goner Records LP Get Loose Or Get Lost. That's quite likely not an inclusive list.

Chris Page: "Jenny"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp - Watch on YouTube

Ottawa garage vet Chris Page continues to issue delicate acoustic tunes from isolation. "Jenny" is the latest one-off single to arrive, landing as a studio cut at Bandcamp paired with a live video as part of his Isolation Sessions series. Page commented:

"Here's another new song that I've been dabbling with forever. It's a bit strange to put this one out into the world after all this time. Sometimes it's hard to let them go. My friend Susan O collaborated with me on this recording, adding her beautiful voice and sweet piano/organ parts."

When not stuck at home, Chris Page plays as part of the duo Expanda Fuzz. His past work includes stints with Camp Radio and the 90s-era Glengarry, Ontario pop-punk group The Stand GT. Last year he released Decide To Stay and Swim Again, an LP revisiting his 2004 solo record Decide To Stay and Swim.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor: G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!

Preorder at your local record store - Watch a preview at Vimeo

Constellation Records recently announced a new album from Montreal post-rock legends Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the iconoclastic group's follow-up to 2017's Luciferian Towers. The new set carries an anarcho-punk aesthetic in both the artwork and the album's title, the flippant and near-parodistic G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!. The record features ten credited players recorded at the storied Hotel2Tango studio. Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes recorded and mixed the record in October of last year- his first collaboration with the long-running group.

Godspeed issued a statement that reads, in part:

"we wrote it on the road mostly. when that was still a place. and then recorded it in masks later, distanced at the beginning of the second wave. it was autumn, and the falling sun was impossibly fat and orange. we tried to summon a brighter reckoning there, bent beneath varied states of discomfort, worry and wonderment.

we fired up the shortwave radios again, for the first time in a long time. and found that many things had changed. the apocalypse pastors were still there, but yelling END TIMES NOW where they once yelled "end times soon". and the transmission-detritus of automated militaries takes up more bandwidth now, so that a lot of frequencies are just pulses of rising white static, digital codexes announcing the status of various watching and killing machines. and the ham-radio dads talk to each other all night long. about their dying wives and what they ate for lunch and what they'll do with their guns when antifa comes."

You can find their full manifesto, along with a detailed peek at the album art, at Constellation's website. The label completely exhausted their vinyl run in the hours since the announcement and have since pointed fans to a local store locator service.

Constellation has a two-minute audio preview online now at Vimeo, heralding a listening event on March 27 to be broadcast from Montreal's empty Cinema Imperial. The clip serves as our only audio preview of the new record to date, with more surely to come. Keep scanning the airwaves.

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.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license

Enjoying the weekly newsletter? You can now also support Some Party by buying me a coffee!