Sunday March 28, 2021

Wild Goldfish

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.

André Ethier: "Wild Goldfish"

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I was a massive (if late-to-the-game) fan of the raucous Toronto garage rock group The Deadly Snakes, and by extension, the sly folk career that frontman André Ethier embarked upon in their wake. A few weeks ago, the artist unveiled a gorgeous new single - one which I quizzically neglected to say a single word on. I'm not particularly bothered that my support's a tad late - but I am concerned that I'm losing my mind to a psychosomatic fog of unnecessary NyQuil and generalized COVID anxieties. Let's see if I can recover, at least for the next few paragraphs.

This spring will see the arrival of Further Up Island, the conclusion to a three-album cycle that found Ethier in tight collaboration with producer and post-rock artist Sandro Perri. The new set closely follows the visual presentation of 2017's Under Grape Leaves and 2019's Croak In The Weeds, framing one of Ethier's nature-themed paintings in a solid colour (a bit of lavender - this time). The 10-year recording gap that preceded this cycle found the artist working primarily in the visual realm. I have to assume (as an uncultured townie) that the meditative qualities of painting must have informed the relaxed aesthetic of these records. In a press release, Ethier commented on the trilogy:

"These albums are a series using the same palette. The tools Sandro and I used on all three of them are similar so that the songs can almost be interchangeable. It's a way of giving time to a creative relationship so it can blossom, like developing a shorthand with a co-worker. Nurturing that process allows it to grow...

In the first [record], you establish the tools and build yourself a room, in the sequel you live in the room and imagine what's outside, finally in the third... you escape?"

You can hear the record's first single, "Wild Goldfish," online now. The song arrived alongside a clever video from Eva Michon that casts an Ethier-avatar as a character in a retro role-playing game (inspired by the hit farm simulator Stardew Valley). André commented on his digital doppelganger's fruitless quest:

"I think this character is looking for impossible things. I don't think there are any wild goldfish, that's silly. And I don't think there is a utopian feminist commune in northern BC, and even if there was, I don't think they would have any use for this guy. Anyhoo, he represents a certain delusional attitude that is in no way malicious but is maybe sweetly pathetic. It's how I imagine many men's voices sound to many women."

Further Up Island arrives May 28 through Telephone Explosion.

Autogramm: "Anxiety"

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Vancouver's synth-driven power-pop trio Autogramm recently shared the second single from their fast-approaching sophomore full-length No Rules. You can check out "Anxiety" now through a new video by director James Maher, shot on location in Tulum, Mexico - and starring a stuffed bear.

Guitarist/vocalist Jiffy Marx (Hard Drugs, Blood Meridian) commented on the clip:

"One of my earliest outside influences was the comic strip 'Garfield'. It's possible I learned my dislike for Mondays from a lazy orange cat, but I like to think that it was more that I felt akin to his give-no-fucks disdain for the 9-to-5. It's not that I want to focus on the bad and/or complain about my own anxieties, but I honestly believe it could help others with their own manic worries and irrational fears to know that they are not alone.

Like for me all these many years later, it still helps to know 'Garfield' and I are very alike. We both hate Mondays and we both love the Ramones."

Bassist CC Voltage of (Dysnea Boys, The Spitfires, The Black Halos) added:

"...while the song is not specifically about the global pandemic, it is about the feelings we collectively share as we navigate our way toward an uncertain future. Especially those of us, or those we know, who are connected to the live music industry."

Autogramm plays as a trio with Marx, Voltage, and the now-Chicago-based drummer Joshua "The Silo" Wells (Black Mountain, Lightning Dust, Destroyer, Spun Out). The group's new record, heavily influenced by the Police, Gary Numan, DEVO, and the like - arrives April 16 from LA's Nevado Music.

Autogramm last released What R U Waiting 4? in 2019, with Marx since issuing the solo single "She's My Witch" through Snappy Little Numbers.

Béton Armé / Ultra Razzia: Demo 2018/Demo 2017

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In a perfect world, every newsletter would feature an inexplicable deviation into Québécois Oi! - but alas, that's not usually at hand.

This week, at least, I'm thrilled to share that the inter-related Montreal groups Béton Armé and Ultra Razzia have a new split LP available. As the title indicates, Demo 2018/Demo 2017 collects prototypical tracks from each group, initially only available on cassette. You can snag the 11-song set, newly remastered for vinyl, through the French label Primator Crew and Shooms Records.

Commuted: Live at Ripken's Playhouse

Watch on YouTube

David Eatock's aggressively eclectic, weird-pop solo project Commuted never ceases to delight (and occasionally terrify) - and that's absolutely true of Live at Ripken's Playhouse, a new live performance video. The set, shot on a rooftop in Toronto, features music from the artist's upcoming LP The Notebook, as well as last year's In a Waiting Room ("Life's a Zoo" still haunts me). You can watch the full half-hour event on YouTube now.

Filmmakers Ryan Al-Hage and Emma Cosgrove put the clip together. Look for Commuted's The Notebook in the summer of 2021.

Cheval: "Makes Me Wanna Die"

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Genre-hopping songwriter AA Wallace recently resurrected his Cheval moniker after 18 years, with a new single out now and a full album in the cards. The revival kicks off with "Makes Me Wanna Die," a social media-critical single that reintroduces the alt-country/power-pop vibes Cheval first brought to the Halifax live music scene in the late 90s. The track's backed by a multilayered cover of "Cool When Yer Old," a song penned by fellow Acadian artist P'tit Belliveau. The audio's available now from Acadian Embassy.

The new tracks herald a forthcoming full-length, due later this year. There's not much known about that record yet, but it is said to feature a few marquee contributors, Joel Plaskett, Loel Campbell (Wintersleep), Nils Edenloff (Rural Alberta Advantage), and Thomas Moffett among them.

Wallace's Toronto-based rock band Sleepless Nights released the full-length Every Word Is a Trap in May of 2020. His namesake electronic music project shared an absolute wealth of material over the past year - with plenty to dig into over at Bandcamp.

Sluice: "Ma première drogue"

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On a related note: I've to date somehow neglected to mention Trevor Murphy's francophone power-pop group Sluice - and there's no time to lose as the band's debut full-length Le succès par le travail fast approaches. The record's recent single "Ma première drogue" was recently showcased in a new video from Yarmouth filmmaker James Turpin. The director commented:

"To me, 'Ma première drogue' reads as an equal parts celebration and wistful mourning of the joy that comes from being a kid. We've all felt the passionate, earnest awkwardness of being young — and I tried to give the project a mix of nostalgia and upbeat fun that would reflect that period of life."

Look for Le succès par le travail on April 30 from Acadian Embassy. The guest-filled project brings together a cast of players and backing vocalists from across the label's roster - with Halifax rock group Quiet Parade making a sizable contribution. Some Party regulars like José Contreras (By Divine Right), and Chris Murdoch (Word On The Street, Souvenir) also appear.

Miesha & The Spanks: "Mixed Blood Girls"

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Calgarian hard rock duo Miesha & The Spanks recently shared the fourth preview from their upcoming Singles EP. Guitarist/vocalist Miesha Louie commented on the deeply personal "Mixed Blood Girls":

"It's (some of) my story as a mixed Secwépemc girl from the East Kootenays. My dark skin and white features left me open to compliments on my 'beautiful tan' and when they found out it wasn't, I was 'too pretty to be an Indian.' From ballet moms to dudes in bars, I've heard it all.

But it isn't all skin deep. Being mixed isn't just about appearances and everyone's entitled opinion about them. My story follows where I came from and where I currently stand, distanced from family and culture and often pretty isolated because of it.

I was inspired to write 'Mixed Blood Girls' after attending my friend Smokii Sumac's book launch. A poet before them, Rain Prud'homme, read their poem, Mixedblood Girls, relating their experience as mixed Creole-Indigenous. I loved it. I wanted to be that brave and say my words, but it wasn't an easy thing to do. I had to dig deeper than my own story."

Miesha & The Spanks plays as a duo, pairing Louie with drummer Sean Hamilton. The band's Singles EP, the follow-up to 2018' s Girls Girls Girls record, is due April 16.

Dany Laj and the Looks: "Don't Keep Me Guessin'"

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Sudbury power-pop group Dany Laj and the Looks have a new video online showcasing their charming new single, "Don't Keep Me Guessin'." The track's due as part of the band's upcoming LP Ten Easy Pieces, their third full-length. Laj commented on the upbeat number:

"It's an interesting collection of songs for me. 'Don't Keep Me Guessin' was written in 2011 after I had met Jeanette Dowling (bass/vocals) and we started hanging out. Some of them represent some of the feelings that I wasn't able to comfortably let out till recently."

Ryan Thompson directed the video. Laj self-produced the new work at La La Pop Shoppe in Sudbury, with Jesse Gander (Wares, Woolworm, Necking) mixing and mastering the audio. The songs destined for the LP were selected from over three albums worth of material written between tours.

Ten Easy Pieces is due June 11 through We Are Busy Bodies. It follows up The Looks' 2019 EP Everything Old Is New Again (which you may recall arrived with art from Archie Comics penciler Dan Parent) and their 2017 sophomore full-length Alive & Kicking.

Bauxite: Planétaire

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Gruff Saguenay punk trio Bauxite has a new EP in the wild titled Planétaire. The group recorded the five-song set in the fall of 2020 at Collège d'Alma as part of an end-of-year student project. You can check it out on Bandcamp now or through the PCT Musique label.

Bauxite features vocalist/bassist Michel Cantin, guitarist Yohan Paradis, and drummer Nicolas Murray. The group's following up their early 2020 full-length Momie Fer.

BEDS: "Colour Blue" (ft. Marciii and Bucky)

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The Toronto garage-soul combo BEDS has a new single out, titled "Colour Blue." The slick one-off tune arrives via the Rare Drugs collective, showcasing a shuffling of that group's regulars in various roles. This track, co-written by Olivia Barrow, features vocals, synth, and guitar from Matt Buckberrough, drums and vocals from Alex Chin, guitar, synch and vocals from Chris Chin, Kuba Pie on bass, and additional vocals from Marta Ciko.

Considering that BEDS often lets few years slip by between tracks, this track marks a relatively quick turn-around from September's "Dictate" single. Over the pandemic-era Rare Drugs released a pair of collaborative compilations: a May 2020 set titled Interiors and its February 2021 sequel Interiors II.

We Are Time: Chandra Mixtape Vol. 1

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We Are Time emerged this week as a new label focused on "intergenerational collaboration." It's helmed by members of the Chandra band - a Toronto-based cabal of musicians who back the critically rediscovered New York post-punk artist Chandra Oppenheim. The label, run by Oppenheim and drummer Jesse Locke (Tough Age), launched with news of an introductory mixtape. The Chandra Mixtape Vol. 1 features eight unreleased songs from a musically diverse slate of bands in Chandra's family tree. This includes the debut of Body Breaks (a "microtonal rock duo"), Victoria Cheong's dance project New Chance, Locke's power-pop trio Motorists, GNDN - a dub collaboration between Oppenheim and producer Nyles Miszczyk, Miszczyk's own namesake trio-hop project, and the glam-pop group Blonde Elvis. The set also includes a pair of remixes from Down 2 Earth and All Energy Must Continue Upwards - the electronic alias of Saturday Looks Good To Me legend Fred Thomas.

The tape goes up for sale this Friday, but you can preview it now through a delightful K-Tel-styled animated infomercial from Jordan 'Dr. Cool' Minkoff.

Chandra Oppenheim launched her musical career at the age of 10, fronting a band in the New York No Wave scene with members of "mutant disco" outfit The Dance. In 2018 the Telephone Explosion label collected and reissued Chandra's early work as the Transportation EPs. Just last year, Chandra performed a remote-recorded version of "Shut In / Shut Out," reviving a 1983 demo for the isolation-era with her present-day band.

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