Where Did My Mind Go?
SNFU: A Blessing But With It A Curse
Preview and purchase at Bandcamp
It seems like it was only announced yesterday, but the new EP from the veteran Edmonton punk band SNFU is here in full. A Blessing But With It A Curse arrives in the wake of the 2020 death of Kendall Chinn, the eccentric and unforgettable vocalist better known to the world as Mr. Chi Pig. He passed last summer at the age of 57. You can preview the five-song set at the Rake Records' Bandcamp page now.
A Blessing features outtakes from the 2004 sessions that produced the band's penultimate record, In the Meantime and in Between Time. They feature Chi on vocals, Marc Belke on guitar, and Trevor Macgregor on drums, with bass duties split between Rob Johnson and Matt Warhurst. Marek David plays keys on the song "Suddenly," with founding guitarist Brent Belke returning to the fold to perform on "Hale Bop." That track also features three-quarters of Winnipeg activist-punk heroes Propagandhi, with Chris Hannah playing guitar and contributing backing vocals alongside Todd Kowalski and Jord Samolesky.
The digital set is the first major archival release from the group following Chi's death. It follows the heartwrenching acoustic track "Cement Mixer," a farewell song the frontman had saved for this eventuality. SNFU released their eighth and final studio album, Never Trouble Trouble Until Trouble Troubles You, in 2013.
Odonis Odonis: "Get Out" / "Salesmen"
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Restless Toronto industrial outfit Odonis Odonis have undergone yet another evolution. The group emerges from the pandemic paired back to a duo of founding players Dean Tzenos and Denholm Whale. The band will service their fifth album, Spectrums, in October through LA's Felte, following up on their 2019 EP Reaction and 2017's No Pop full-length.
The release marks another shift in the band's sound, augmenting the apocalyptic synth-scapes and EBM-thump of their recent material with shades of darkwave and 80s goth. Tzenos commented on this latest change in the band's recent bio:
"This project is the start of the third chapter of the band's evolution. I still feel like we have a lot more to explore musically and writing these songs lit the spark for a lot of new directions. The idea of doing something poppy is a stark contrast to our last record, but as long as the project remains fun and experimental it will keep growing. We're more like the weird goth kids in the back of the club now."
"Despite our massive changes there has always been a cohesive thread between all of the band's material, whether it be programmed drums or epic reverberated swells. I would say the band that has existed since Post Plague now feels like a separate project. We've learned a lot over the years, about what's important both as a band and as someone who wants to make music part of their life. We've finally found where we fit inside all of the noise."
The band plans to release previews of the record in batches, thematically colour-coded to match the emotional thrust of the material. March brings us "Get Out" and "Salesmen," two-song wrapped in crimson, awash in passion and anger. You can preview both now at Bandcamp.
When they're able to return to the stage, Odonis Odonis will perform live as a trio with live drummer Phil Wilson.
During the pandemic, Denholm Whale released several recordings under his solo guise Scratch.
ROY: "Where Did My Mind Go?"
The enigmatic Toronto psych-pop act ROY returns this year with Roy's Garage. The new 13-song full-length comes on the heels of Peace Love and Outer Space, a lush celestial concept album released last year. While no less heady, the new work promises a more grounded approach - appearing to set aside the benevolent aliens and higher-dimensional concerns of its predecessor.
The announcement arrived along with the single "Where Did My Mind Go?", a track that label Idée Fixe touts as a "Wilson-esque pocket symphony." It's showcased in a new video from director Sam Maloney, one that's both appropriately trippy and suitably vintage in its kaleidoscopic trappings. Shindig! Magazine premiered the clip, commenting:
"this 2 minute wonder is a beautifully melodic ode dischronometria, or could it be something more otherworldly? Mesmeric organ stabs, lush strings and some suitably wobbly fuzz guitar sit alongside a falsetto voice pleading for answers. Lovely."
In a statement, ROY mastermind Patrick Lefler commented on the new work:
"Roy's Garage exists inside everybody's mind. It is where you keep your fondest memories and your darkest secrets. I hope it is a place of exploration and healing. Also a space to hold yourself accountable and learn how to be new again; there is never a bad moment to go to the Garage.
I've been through changes in my life and wanted to create a snapshot of my feelings through 60s and 70s sounds. Every album I create is a loaf of bread, baking in a world where temperature and humidity constantly fluctuate. It can't be recreated."
Idée Fixe Records has the vinyl edition of Roy's Garage lined up for a May 14 release.
Montreal's Trafic des airs, the industrial/no wave side-project of VICTIME drummer Samuel Gougoux, returns next month with their first full length. Recently renamed TDA, the group's set to release Ascète on April 23 through Michel Records. You can stream "Présence," the commanding and percussive lead single, through Bandcamp now. A press release describes an album fueled by Gougoux's exploration of the forests of Bas-St-Laurent at night:
"Trying to shed normative fears, he decides to start exploring the forests at night, and questions this state of stupor, stemming from his childhood, fascinated by the architectural, but also percussive, aspects of trees... This peculiar energy is transposed on the album with a sense of minimalistic urgency and syncopated, abrasive melodies, inspired by the branches and the light patterns emanating through the shadows."
Ascète arrives on vinyl packaged with a photo zine documenting some of the scenery that inspired the work. The nine-song set features Gougoux on just about everything (vocals, percussion, guitar, synths, bass and violin), with Linsey Wellman appearing on sax. The new record follows TDA's self-titled 2019 EP. If you were into those Odonis Odonis tracks above, this should be next in your playlist.
As a member of VICTIME, Samuel Gougoux last released Mi-tronc, mi-jambe in 2019. Recent years have also seen him join the live incarnation of Corridor, performing with the band on their pre-pandemic tours. News of TDA's debut comes just a few weeks after the news that VICTIME guitarist Simon Provencher was readying their own experimental solo-project, with the Mesures EP due for a digital release on March 26.
Dark Time: "Radiation"
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Calgarian synth-pop group Dark Time has a new EP on the way. Radiation's due April 2, featuring four new songs plus a Child Actress remix of its title track. You can hear "Radiation," a gorgeous goth-styled earworm, on Bandcamp now. O'Neill's vocals absolutely soar on this one, providing a perfect counterpoint to the sinister electronics pushing the song forward. Lovely stuff.
Founded in 2016, Dark Time's shifting lineup now finds vocalist Cayley O'Neill (Self-Cut Bangs) and keyboardist Eric Heitmann (Speed Strips) backed by Marie Sulkowski, Jared Andres, and Dillon Whitfield. Heitmann painted the EP's cover art, channelling the German painter Sigmar Polke. The band notes that Polke "experimented with a wide range of materials like arsenic, meteor dust and uranium rays," making his influence an apt thematic fit for Radiation.
Matt Post Band: EP
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Matt Post of the Whitby-bred noise-punk duo Deathsticks recently debuted new solo material as the Matt Post Band, sharing a five-song self-titled EP. With hushed vocals layered atop propulsive, industrial-styled instrumentation, the album-opening "Black Cheetahs" marks a stark departure from Post's blown-out past work.
During the summer, Matt shared the first self-titled EP from the lo-fi punk group The Gunge. Deathsticks, Post's two-piece with drummer Laura Klinduch, last released the 2019 EP Soon the Troubles Will Be Over.
Madeline Link's lo-fi rock group PACKS (f.k.a. PAX) recently announced details on their debut full-length for Royal Mountain and Fire Talk Records. Take the Cake is due digitally on May 21, with vinyl due on July 9. In a statement Link commented on the duality of the record, which combines pre-pandemic material with songs written in isolation:
"The album is a meeting of old and new. Old songs from a year ago where I'm having really horrifyingly awful days at work, getting doored while biking in Toronto and flying into the middle of the street, or going on dates with guys who I'm either instantly in love with, or who end up creeping me out a bit. Those songs are more packed with that feeling of hurtling-through-time-and-space-at-breakneck-speed, manic energy. The newer songs are infused with a foggier, slower-paced disillusionment, and deal with the strangeness of a reality morphing before my eyes every day. I still try to be optimistic obviously, but these songs are really glorified coping mechanisms."
The announcement came alongside the new single "Silvertongue," as showcased in a video co-directed by Link and Graeme Leung. It follows "Hangman" in previewing the record.
With roots as Link's bedroom recording project, PACKS grew over the past few years into a full band. Recent recordings have featured Madeline backed by guitarist Dexter Nash, bassist Noah O'Neil, and drummer Shane Hooper. As PAX, that group last released the full-length Ouch tape in 2019, followed by the recent digital EPs Melt It Down and Sucked Up.
Danko Jones: "I Want Out"
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Toronto hard rock institution Danko Jones recently announced plans for their 10th studio album. Power Trio arrives August 27 from Sonic Unyon, with the band once again working with veteran Canadian producer Eric Ratz. With his usual bluster, Jones commented on Twitter:
"I'm gonna be real here, it FUCKING RULES. I'm very proud we made this album and HOW we made this album."
You can preview the new work now through the single "I Want Out." It's featured in an equally high-energy video from director Patric Ullaeus.
Danko Jones last released A Rock Supreme in 2019. Last summer, with his usually relentless tour schedule sidelined, Jones completed and released a long-simmering set of experimental "vocal noise" tracks under the name Throat Funeral. The 10-song OU812112 featured collaborations with Norwegian artist Jørgen Munkeby, avant-garde Nunavut vocalist Tanya Tagaq, and Seattle grunge vet Tad Doyle.
Capable!: Brûle Brûle Brûle
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Montreal punk quartet Capable! recently issued their fourth EP, the six-song Brûle Brûle Brûle. The quartet recorded live-off-the-floor in a single day (which they attribute more to budget than some quest for authenticity). The band commented at Bandcamp that the set tackles a pre-pandemic set of issues, perhaps offering a reprieve from the omnipresent problems of today:
"Que vous soyez en burn-out, que l'argent vous brûle les doigts ou que vous ayez des brûlements d'estomac, Brûle Brûle Brûle vous fera oublier la pandémie en vous rappelant tous vos problèmes de 2019! En effet, les sujets comme : chercher des papiers pour les impôts de v'là 2 ans, faire une crise d'angoisse dans le métro et ne pas avoir d'argent pour s'acheter des affaires sont abordés."
Capable! has roots further north in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, with members previously appearing in the Rouyn Noranda punk group Les Sprates. They later surfaced in the Montreal group Bonne Journée!. Brûle Brûle Brûle is distributed digitally via Hell For Breakfast.
Labour: "Movement I"
Earlier this month, Diamondtown member Kate O'Neill issued the debut of Labour, an electronic-folk duo partnered with Andrew Glencross. The pair recently shared the Movements EP, featuring three extended, improvised instrumentals performed with analog synthesizers and a drum machine. Last week O'Neill shared a video for the cosmic meditation piece "Movement I." You can check it out on YouTube now.
The alt-country/shoegaze group Diamondtown is expected to issue a new full-length sometime later this year. That band, which features O'Neill with members of Husband & Knife, Dog Day, and Eric's Trip, last released the Lost/Free single in early 2020.
The Band Whose Name Is a Symbol: Shedding Of The Albatross
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Ottawa psych outfit The Band Whose Name Is a Symbol continues to churn out new recordings at a steady clip. Shedding Of The Albatross is the latest, recorded in the summer of 2020 at the long-running and now-shuttered Capital record shop Birdman Sound. The set commemorates the store's final day of operation Ottawa's Bank Street, capping a near-30 year presence at the location. The band performed the set live, with the audio simulcast a live Zoom audience.
On this recording, TBWNIS features Nathaniel Hurlow, Bill Guerrero, John Westhaver, Jason Vaughan, Dave Reford, and Scott Thompson.
Over the past year, the instrumental space-rock group's released a wealth of archival material and new studio work. Among these were the full-length Berserkir II and a split LP with the experimental Nanaimo group Anunnaki. 4 Minds, 4 Winds, a 2012 recording also captured live at Birdman, arrived on New Years Day.
Birdman Sound, a presence in Ottawa since 1989, lives on as a roving pop-up shop.
Sook-Yin Lee & Adam Litovitz: "Re-Veil"
Mint Records recently shared a second single from jooj two, the upcoming full-length from Sook-Yin Lee's art-pop collaboration with the late Adam Litovitz. You can preview "Re-Veil" through a new video co-directed by Lee and Dylan Gamble (of Toronto psych-rockers Hot Garbage). Sook-Yin commented on the track and the new visuals in a press release:
"The song 'Re-Veil' is a romantic and sobering rumination on love and the desire to keep it alive while letting go. Drawing inspiration from the Chanson Triste style of 60s French pop songs in the tradition of Serge Gainsbourg and Françoise Hardy, the past and future meet through electronic music. The music video by Lee & Gamble immerses the viewer on a vibrant and tumultuous path of self-reconciliation. Symbolic imagery gives a wink and nod to neo-noir classics 'Blue Velvet' and 'L.A. Confidential', Czech surrealist fantasy horror film 'Valerie and Her Week of Wonders' and German Expressionism."
Following Litovitz's death in June of 2019, Lee worked with engineer Steve Chahley (Partner, Ice Cream, U.S. Girls) to complete the album. The set serves as the sequel to jooj, an atmospheric electronic record that Lee and Litovitz debuted back in 2015. The eleven-song jooj two arrives April 9 through Mint.
The Fly Downs: "Head Held High"
Ottawa melodic punk trio The Fly Downs have a new video online showcasing "Head Held High," the latest single from their upcoming Thousand Islands debut At This Point In Time. Guitarist/vocalist Jesse Brewer commented on the track:
"Head Held High is a song that that comes from personal experiences but most details are purposely left out. With that being said, it is a song that many people might find relatable in some way or another. The central theme of this song is persevering through tough times and coming out the other end stronger than if you wouldn't have had those negative experiences to begin with."
Patrick Youldon of Ottawa's Durham Nights plays a guest guitar solo on the song. At This Point In Time arrives on vinyl on April 16, following up on the band's 2017 EP Pockets Out.
Power Party: "2JZ (Divine!)"
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Montreal's Power Party returns this week with another fascinatingly strange rock song with an absolutely inscrutable title. "2JZ (Divine!)" wanders into some truly bizarre territory over its three-minute runtime, not the least of which is a brief aside recounting a visit from the devil. It's a rather cheerful number, despite that.
Power Party's the latest project from Alex Casey, who you may know from the Charlottetown rock group Stabbing Joy. This track features Casey on guitar and vocals, Luke Pound on bass, Zack Nobody on fiddle, and Georgia Campbell-Irwin on drums. Befitting the band's generally heightened levels of chaos, all members share additional vocal and percussion credits.