Sunday April 18, 2021

Critical Excess

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.

School Damage: "Critical Excess"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Earlier this week at my old haunt, I had the pleasure of debuting "Critical Excess," the first single from the upcoming full-length from Toronto punks School Damage. The new record, the band's third, is due this summer, slated for a July arrival through the Pennsylvania label Moms Basement and Italy's I Buy Records. The new track arrives in the wake of last November's whip-fast No Love EP and the late-2019 short set Fuckin' Rights. It'll be the melodic hardcore trio's first long-player since 2018's Hello, Cruel World.

Vocalist/guitarist Brad Manners commented on the new work, which again strives for a middle ground between pop-punk hooks and hardcore aggression:

"Lyrically, the songs are more personal and darker, which seem fitting in today's economic and social climate. This album serves as a byproduct of the times as well as personal growth during a social and mental collapse. This is probably the most raw and mature material this band has ever produced in its ten years of existence."

Greg Hounsell of fellow Toronto punks Brutal Youth mixed the upcoming record.

The members of School Damage waited out the pandemic with a few cool side projects. Brad Manners issued the isolation-era Bored to be Alive EP in June, remotely bringing together several guests (including members of The Vapids and Brutal Youth) as Brad Manners and his Issues (raising funds for the NAACP along the way). He followed it at Halloween with the soundtrack-bound synth-driven number "The Next Day's Curse." A scathing three-song EP under the name Atomic Wrong arrived this past February.

School Damage has been kicking around since 2010. The group currently features Manners and bassist/vocalist Jon Cabatan with drummer Dennis Lee (formerly of Montreal's Boids and The Planet Smashers).

Slow Down Molasses: "Street Haunting"

Watch at YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Saskatoon post-punk outfit Slow Down Molasses recently returned to action with their first new material in nearly five years. "Street Haunting" delivers a tightly wound evolution of the band's sound, paying tribute to the rhythmic influence of Gang of Four and Sonic Youth's tense fuzz along the way. The track arrived just a few weeks ago as the quartet's first follow-up to their 2016 record, 100% Sunshine.

In a statement guitarist/vocalist Tyson McShane commented on the track, which takes inspiration from the Virginia Woolf essay of the same name:

"...the song ruminates on the casual, but oft-underappreciated beauty of the urban environment and the predictability of a person's daily tasks... A place sometimes overflowing with creative energy, but where it often necessary to remind oneself of the casual brilliance of one's peers and the places we typically tend to haunt."

The band worked with Halifax-based Noyes Records and Oxford's Divine Schism on the release. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's Alaska B mixed the track, with Ryan Morey (Wares, Chad VanGaalen) mastering. The group recorded with engineer Mike LeFebvre at Saskatoon's Sweat Shoppe (over a year ago - with the pandemic throwing a damper on their intended release plans).

Slow Down Molasses features Tyson McShane on guitar and vocals, Aaron Scholz on guitar and synth, bass from Chris Morix, and Jordan Kurtz on drums. Scholz also directed a video featuring "Street Haunting," available now on YouTube.

Ducks Ltd.: "As Big As All Outside"

Watch at YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Jangle-pop outfit Ducks Unlimited really seemed to be ramping up in late 2019, garnering a fair bit of attention with their Get Bleak EP and lining up some cool gigs on the scrappy end of Toronto's indie rock scene. You know how where the story goes from here - catastrophic world-ending something-or-other... lost year... etc.

It appears the group's recovered just fine, although not without losing a few syllables. The band's now known as Ducks Ltd., swerving to avoid any confusion with the hunter-driven wetlands-concerned nonprofit my grandfather seemed quite fond of. They've also opted to give Get Bleak a proper re-launch, signing with Royal Mountain in Canada and Carpark Records elsewhere to issue an expanded version this spring. The set now features seven songs (three more than the first go-around), which you can preview through the new single "As Big As All Outside." The band commented on the sentiment behind the track in a press release:

"Over the last several years I don't think I was alone in the sense of decline that seemed to be hanging over a lot of day-to-day existence, and on my bad days, I can really let that feeling permeate everything. I'm consistently awed by all of the little things that can pull me out of it though. Things as simple as the extended 'Canadian Club' mix of the 1991 Sisters of Mercy single 'Vision Thing' which gets a mention in the third verse. The original version of 'Vision Thing' is good, but for the extended mix they just add on 2 and a half minutes at the end of Andrew Eldritch doing spooky laughs and vamping and it totally fucking rules. Never fails to remind me that in spite of everything the world is capable of being very good and fun sometimes."

Ducks Ltd. features Evan Lewis on lead guitar and Tom Mcgreevy on vocals and rhythm guitar, with a host of collaborators helping out from track to track. Those guests include Laura Hermiston of Twist, Mike Searle of Grounders, Kurtis Marcoux, and Mike Duffield. String arrangements from Goosebump's Paul Erlichman factor prominently into several songs, as well.

The original Ducks Unlimited version of Get Bleak came out in 2019 on the Spanish label Bobo Integral. The redux arrives May 21.

Century Egg: "Ring a Bell"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Ebullient Halifax mandopop rockers Century Egg recently shared "Ring A Bell," our second preview of their upcoming Little Piece of Hair EP. This track's a cover, tackling the aggressively cheerful 2014 single from the internationally successful J-Pop singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

Century Egg recently debuted their new lineup, with vocalist Shane Keyu Song and guitarist Robert Drisdelle backed by bassist Matty Grace (Future Girls, Cluttered) and drummer Meg Yoshida (Not You, Dog Day). Little Piece of Hair, recorded at Ocean Floor in Halifax with Franc Lopes, marks the group's first release with the Forward Music Group,

Century Egg last released the We Can Play EP in April of 2020.

Fiver with the Atlantic School Of Spontaneous Composition: "Paid in Pride"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Simone Schmidt's acclaimed alt-country songwriting outlet Fiver has another new track online. "Paid in Pride" provides our second window into Fiver with the Atlantic School Of Spontaneous Composition, which arrives May 7 from You've Changed Records. The band detailed the song in the album's writeup at Bandcamp:

"'Paid In Pride' describes a trophy wife's labour, as [Bianca] Palmer holds a steady four-count on the bass drum and an almost disco groove on the hi-hats. It builds into banger territory — cavernous and paranoid, overwhelming, almost violent — dissolving into the elegant acoustic sounds of its origin."

The record finds Schmidt working with a team of improvisational maritime musicians, writing and recording in a Maritime residency in 2017 and 2018. Those players include Nick Dourado (Aquakultre, and a past member of the above-mentioned 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.

Fiver with the Atlantic School Of Spontaneous Composition arrives as the full-length follow-up to Schmidt's lauded 2017 record Audible Songs From Rockwood. This set marks Schmidt's second outing with the Atlantic School, following the You Wanted Country? EP from April of last year.

André Ethier: "Nature Compels Me"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

A second single from André Ethier's Further Up Island is out in the wild. You can now preview "Nature Compels Me," an unhurried acoustic track that finds the Toronto folk artist backed by Destroyer's Joseph Shabason on saxophone. Ethier commented on the song in a statement:

"I think this one is a meditation on work and dreams. Repetition of daily patterns until you finally float off into the air like a buzzing fly or a saxophone solo."

Further Up Island concludes a three-album cycle that found Ethier collaborating with producer Sandro Perri. 2017's Under Grape Leaves and 2019's Croak In The Weeds preceded it. Of course, I can't let an update on Ethier's gorgeous modern work slip by without the unnecessary reminder that he once fronted Toronto garage-punk heroes The Deadly Snakes.

Further Up Island arrives May 28 through Telephone Explosion.

Yoo Doo Right: "Presto Presto, Bella's Dream"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal post-rock trio Yoo Doo Right recently shared "Presto Presto, Bella's Dream," a Motorik-driven preview of the group's upcoming debut full-length on Mothland. Guitarist Justin Cober commented on the propulsive krautrock-inspired instrumental in a press release:

"Driving, simple, straight forward repetition, built into a psychedelic haze with no apparent meaning. Like the day the clocks struck midnight on January 1, 1970. The title is an ode to both the tempo and a good friend who indirectly influenced us, helped us write this song."

Yoo Doo Right features Justin Cober (guitar, synthesizers, vocals), Charles Masson (bass), and John Talbot (drums, percussions). The band recorded Don't Think You Can Escape Your Purpose in Quebec City and Montreal, working with Sebastien Fournier (Panopticon Eyelids, No Negative) at Hotel2Tango and Guillaume Chiasson (Ponctuation, Jesuslesfilles) at Le Pantoum.

Don't Think You Can Escape Your Purpose arrives on May 21. It comes in the wake of a split 7" with Japanese psych titans Acid Mothers Temple and the trio's earlier EPs.

Autogramm: "Mantra"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp - Watch on YouTube

Synth-heavy Vancouver power-trio Autogramm launched their new record alongside a video for the single "Mantra." The animated clip comes from Shayne Ehman of Thunder Bay's Cricket Cave (METZ, Life in Vacuum). He commented on the piece:

"The members of Autogramm and I all have a relationship to skateboarding. The lyrics of 'Mantra' describe a certain relationship to satori, meditation, focus/flow, repetition, mind/no mind, of being in the zone. Things which are felt when skateboarding is good yet are difficult if not impossible to describe using words. The song is a 'mantra'. A way of training to be prepared for flow when you need to flow."

Guitarist/vocalist Jiffy Marx (Hard Drugs, Blood Meridian) added:

"On our first tour to Mexico we flew in on a red eye flight then partied all night every night for a week. It was super fun but my internal clock never really adjusted - I'd be up until 3 or 4am every night and then waking at 7am, which is when I usually get up at home. The lyrics for 'Mantra' are literally a mantra I made up to help clear my mind on those mornings when every part of me except my stupid brain knew that I needed more than 3 or 4 hours sleep!"

"Mantra" appears on the freshly released No Rules, the band's new wave-steeped sophomore full-length for Nevado Music. The record, which follows up 2019's What R U Waiting 4?, features Marx with bassist CC Voltage (Dysnea Boys, Spitfires, Black Halos) and drummer Joshua "The Silo" Wells (Black Mountain, Lightning Dust, Destroyer, Spun Out).

TDA: "Sa voix est claire"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

With the release of Ascète imminent, Montreal industrial/no wave act TDA shared a last-minute preview with the ominous "Sa voix est claire." The track's one of nine slated on the new record, a side-project of VICTIME drummer Samuel Gougoux. You can hear the track now at Bandcamp or through a visualizer at YouTube (a singularly focused black and white piece that gazes into a forest set aflame).

Ascète arrives on vinyl April 23 through Michel Records, packaged with a photo zine documenting the forests of Bas-St-Laurent 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 record follows TDA's self-titled 2019 EP.

As a member of the dance-punk trio 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. VICTIME guitarist Simon Provencher coincidently just released an experimental solo project of his own, with the Mesures EP arriving in late March.

N0V3L: "Notice of Foreclosure"

Watch at YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

The BC post-punk militants of N0V3L have a second single online from their forthcoming debut LP. The hypnotic darkwave tune "Notice of Foreclosure" provides our second look at Non-Fiction, an album due May 28 through Calgary's Flemish Eye and the UK's Meat Machine Records.

The song arrives alongside a trippy animated collage by Toronto visual artist Gart Darley (he's done past work for Deliluh). You can check it out now on YouTube.

N0V3L crafted the 11-song LP between 2017 and 2020, recording to an 8-track at their now-defunct Vancouver art space with Bryce Cloghesy (Military Genius, Crack Cloud) producing and mixing. The collectively-minded five-piece, fronted by vocalist Jon Varley, are following up on their 2019 EP NOVEL and a 2020 split release with Australia's Exek.

Eamon McGrath: "April"

Listen at SoundCloud

Edmonton-born, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Eamon McGrath has a new single out, a pensive (and seasonally appropriate) number dubbed "April." In a press release, the artist commented how the song addresses "the melancholic transformation of winter to spring":

"...It is a time of great longing, of great relief, and of great optimism, yet for me, there's always a paradoxical tendency to look back on what is usually a difficult time and wish that you could've made more of it. I was coming off of an incredibly productive and positive time: I had played over 200 shows in support of my new album, and the psychedelic rush of 2019 was coming to a dramatic close.

With a guest [vocal] performance from Cormac Culkeen from Joyful Joyful, this is the soundtrack to the slow emergence of spring, with an undeniable feeling of hope hanging in the air. When the air isn't cold but won't freeze you to your bones either; that in-between, purgatorial setting when you've finally made it through March and the three most difficult months of the year into something really worth celebrating, but not quite there yet. For those in Toronto, 'April' will definitely pair well when wandering the now-dilapidated streets as the snow around you is melting and the days are getting longer."

"April" features McGrath on vocals, guitar, bass, and keys, with Connor Ellinger on drums and Darrek Anderson on pedal steel. The song's the second single from McGrath's upcoming LP Bells of Hope. It follows last year's "Sparkle & Bleed" (the companion piece to his recent novel Here Goes Nothing). Lorrie Matheson mixed the track, with Andy Magoffin (Constantines, Two Minute Miracles) mastering.

Eamon McGrath last released the Guts LP in 2019 on Saved By Vinyl, following it with the digital-only The Long Hard Road earlier this year.

JayWood: "Some Days"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp - Watch at YouTube

Royal Mountain Records recently signed Jeremy Haywood-Smith's Winnipeg-based psych-funk project JayWood. An EP titled Some Days is slated for release this Friday, April 23, featuring newly recorded versions of songs first written and recorded on the cheap back in 2015. Haywood-Smith commented on the original material:

"I had to write the EP and learn how to record at the same time, which you can definitely hear in the original recordings. The songs were kinda messy, but I just went with the first ideas that came to mind. I made a rule for myself not to go back on anything, because I didn't have the time to tweak around... It's been really nice reconnecting with a younger version of myself through this EP, I hope he's stoked"

Brooklyn's Captured Tracks is handling the release outside Canada. You can preview it now through a video for the title track from director Eric Peterson. The track features Haywood-Smith on vocals, guitar, bass, and synth, with drums from Ben Stokes and Adam Fuhr on synths.

The new material follows JayWood's dynamic 2019 LP Time. In June of 2020, JayWood shared an 18-song collection of demos from that record as a free download via Bandcamp.

Boltergeist: "Glory Daze"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Boltergeist is a brand new collaboration between members of Red Deer, Alberta's Trashed Ambulance and Cambridge, Ontario pop-punk group Frank Dux. The melodic punk group features the latter's Joel Dux on lead vocals and bass, with Josh (Jawsh) Hauta on guitar and Jason (Ozone) Ezeard drumming. The new group's making their debut with the four-song EP Maybe Another Year, due June 4 from the ever-busy High End Denim Records. You can preview the set with the track "Glory Daze" now at Bandcamp, which finds the group in a slightly more dour mood than you hear in their oft-jovial main gigs. I can't imagine why.

The Offsailors: "Tickets to Ride"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Speaking of the High End Denim family, Red Deer drunk punks The Offsailors may still have their album locked up in quarantine limbo, but the lack of a release date isn't stopping the group from sharing another preview. You can stream "Tickets to Ride" at Bandcamp now. Singer Gabe Brinton commented on the track, stating:

"Have you ever been 2.5 times drunker than everyone you're with? They look concerned but you're content and pay no regard to their warnings of discretion and couth. They give up on trying to babysit you... the song is about that."

A five-piece, The Offsailors features members of Trashed Ambulance, County 23, and Avem among their ranks. Look for their full-length One More Then We Go at some point when we're further out of the shit.

Danko Jones: "Flaunt It"

Watch at YouTube

"Flaunt It" is the second single from Power Trio, the aptly-named new record from Toronto hard rock institution Danko Jones. The album, the group's 10th, arrives August 27 from Sonic Unyon. The group launched the track with an accompanying lyric video from Christian Müller which features a museum's worth of old show flyers, magazine interviews, and live photos from the band's long career.

Power Trio finds Danko Jones once again working with veteran Canadian producer Eric Ratz. The group 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 album featured collaborations with Norwegian artist Jørgen Munkeby, avant-garde Nunavut vocalist Tanya Tagaq, and Seattle grunge vet Tad Doyle.

Jim & The Holograms: Cosmic Duds

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Vancouver's Jim & The Holograms just released the jazzy instrumental rock record Cosmic Duds. The set's the second recent collection from the outfit, following October's debut full-length, Victory Lap. The album finds principal Jim Floorburn performing nearly all instrumentation, with percussion provided and recorded by Jesse Gander (Wares, Woolworm, Necking). Gander also mixed and mastered the set at his Rain City Recorders studio.

Jim Floorburn apperas to be an alias of Barry Higginson, a veteran of bands like Doers, Dany Laj and the Looks, and Uptights among others.

K-Man & The 45s: "Get Outta My Head"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp - View at YouTube

Montreal ska-punk group K-Man & The 45s have a new video online featuring "Get Outta My Head," a track from the group's 2019 full-length Stand With The Youth. You can find the clip at YouTube now.

Stand With The Youth came out in the spring of 2019 on Stomp Records.

Down Memory Lane: "Picture Perfect"

Listen at YouTube

Melodic Montreal skate-punk quintet Down Memory Lane recently shared "Picture Perfect," their new single for Thousand Islands Records and the first taste of an EP due later this year. Vincent Côté (L'Affaire Pélican, Bussieres) mixed and mastered the track, which features some rather dramatic sci-fi cover art by Moncton's StereoDesign.

In 2019 Down Memory Lane issued two releases for Thousand Islands - the international four-band 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.

Tripper and the Wild Things: Boomerang Kids

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Last month Hamilton garage-punk group Tripper and the Wild Things issued their debut EP, a five-song set titled Boomerang Kings. The band commented:

"Growing up sucks. Our new Boomerang Kids EP speaks to the boomerang generation, exploring the part of growing up in your early 20s that isn't so linear. This collection of songs is all about coming into your own and figuring things out for yourself. Discovering who you are and where you're going is a continuous process."

The four-piece features vocalist/guitarist Josh Keillor, bassist Eric Tarquinio, guitarist James Puntillo. and drummer Brian MacMahon. The group recorded with Dead Tired guitarist Marco Bressette producing from his Deadquarters studio.

Stoby: "The Weather is Unfounded"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp - View at YouTube

Ottawa four-piece power-pop group Stoby has a new single in the wild. The band's showcasing "The Weather is Unfounded" in a playful new video that finds the band at loggerheads over a parking spot. They set the scene:

"Rick [bass, vocals] has paid for a parking space that [guitarist, keyboardist] Kevin's family had been using for generations. In order to resolve the dispute they agree to have a snowball fight. [Vocalist] Maryse backs Rick's claim to the parking while [drummer] Jesse is loyal to a fault and pledges to fight along side Kevin. A violent snowball fight ensues."

You witness the snowy carnage at YouTube now.

Stoby released a record in January of 2020 titled Shark Girl Shark Shark, on which "The Weather is Unfounded" originally appeared. That track now anchors a four-song EP on Bandcamp, paired with a new song, a Frankie Cosmos cover, and a live acoustic recording. You can snag a download of the set at Bandcamp.

Chris Page: "Soul Correcting"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Ottawa garage vet Chris Page continues to share previously unheard archival material like clockwork, this past month unveiling a recording of "Soul Correcting." Page commented on the track at Bandcmap, stating:

"...'Soul Correcting' is a song I've played live for years, but never released. (And almost every time I've played this song, John Higney strummed a tenor guitar beside me. And it was always so good.)

This version is one I recorded alone recently (and by recently, I mean WELL before pandemic times) and it's just the right amount of raw. There are no plugins on this. No EQ. I barely set levels. This is how the recording came up. Waving at me."

When not stuck in lockdown, 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 the songs from his 2004 solo record Decide To Stay and Swim.

Grand Malheur: "Incantation"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Ottawa singer-songwriter Cory Levesque recently launched the doom group Grand Malheur, debuting the project with the dark and gloomy "Incantation." Levesque spoke about the seven-minute track in a recent premiere at Ottawa Showbox. There he commented:

"I've been into metal longer than any other music really. When I was an early teen, it was one of the first sounds I heard that was not country music and it has been a part of my existence since. The first band I ever jammed with in high school was a 'metal' band. Sonically I love low tuned, heavy music, its honestly calming to me."

The track's destined for a full-length titled Acédie, due in May. Topon Das mastered the set at Apartment 2 studios.

In a less dour mood, Cory Levesque plays with the Capital punk groups Jon Creeden & The Flying Hellfish and Fresh Hell. As a solo artist Levesque's issued a series of home recording projects to pass the time in lockdown, with his Alone, Together collaboration series currently ongoing at Bandcamp.

React to it at your leisure

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