Sunday May 2, 2021

Find a Home

Some Party is a newsletter sharing the latest in independent Canadian rock'n'roll, curated more-or-less 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.

Status/Non-Status: "Find a Home"

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With the tours planned in support of their Polaris long-listed Warrior Down scuttled, London, Ontario's WHOOP-Szo seemed to vanish. The rock group went far beyond the expected and unavoidable COVID break: retracting their very name from most online outlets. What's evident now is the band didn't spend the time idle - they were privately undertaking nothing less than a full-blown existential overhaul. The folk/sludge group, lead by guitarist/vocalist Adam Sturgeon, is reborn in 2021 as Status/Non-Status - with the new name directly grappling with Sturgeon's family history, his Indigenous identity, and how those complexities run up against the Canadian arts world.

The group detailed their new persona and perspective in a write-up at Bandcamp:

"Adam is 'non-status' as defined by the Canadian government. Adam's grandfather Ralph made the difficult decision to enfranchise in order to support himself and his family by joining the Armed Forces. Enfranchisement was the government's term for the legal process of turning in one's Status Card, terminating one's Indian Status, and becoming instead a Canadian citizen. It was a pillar of the government's assimilation policy and a requirement for any Indigenous person who wished to enlist.

In the name of providing a better life for himself and his family, Ralph was required to forsake his Anishinaabe roots, an all-too-common experience for Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island. Acts of colonial violence such as enfranchisement, the residential school system, and the Indian Act have resulted in disconnection amongst generations of Indigenous people from their communities, languages, land, and identities. Today, new voices are rising up and — through acts of reclamation via art, language, music, and community — taking back spaces that have been dominated by settler culture for so many years.

Who is native enough? Who 'counts' as Indigenous, and who does not? These questions swirl through the Canadian arts discourse today, impacting every medium and revealing fundamental inadequacies within our current identity-defining systems. For Adam, the proof is in the work; his commitment to telling his family's story with integrity and truth informs every aspect of his music and his life. Now a father to his own young son, it is the future that allows Adam to dig further into his roots."

Matt Bobkin spoke to Sturgeon in an excellent Exclaim interview that dug deeper into some of the headaches Sturgeon's non-status classification creates when navigating Canada's music industry. They use the example of "Cut Your Hair," a Warrior Down track addressing the residential school system. The band promoted a specific version of the song remixed by Ojibwe musician Daniel Monkamn (aka the Hamilton shoegaze artist Zoon). Despite the song's themes and the personnel involved, Sturgeon's lack of an active band membership disqualified it from consideration for Indigenous songwriting prizes.

The era of Status/Non-Status begins with a new five-song EP titled 1, 2, 3, 4, 500 Years. The record arrives May 28 through You've Changed and Edmonton's The Grizzlar as a 12" EP with an etching on the B-side. It features songs tracked in Guadalajara back in 2018 during WHOOP-Szo's tour of Mexico (material from that session appeared earlier on The Dive, a Grizzlar-released 7" issued that same year). You can preview the new set now through the gorgeous acoustic single "Find a Home," available at Bandcamp or through a new video by Olde Nightrifter and Savanah Sewell.

Talk Show Host: "Crisis Actors"

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Not to brag, but in the pre-Internet days, I was the type of teenage nerd who ran a dial-up bulletin board system from a 386 in my parents' basement. I made ANSI art in TheDraw while the rest of my peers were going to parties. So wearing my l33t sysop hat, I have a particular affection for the DOS vibes that kick off Talk Show Host's video for their new single "Crisis Actors." Your mileage may vary, but the nostalgic kick I get from this is absolutely wild. The piece is propelled along not just by the confrontational pop-punk tune but through some wonderfully clever editing as the video tears through the early Internet to emerge in the social media era.

Am I also hopelessly biased because there's a scene where you can see a bookmark in the browser window? Nah. You can't butter me up that easy. I'm just in it for the HyperText.

In the premiere at Brooklyn Vegan, vocalist/guitarist Chris Veinot revealed:

"'Crisis Actors' was written a couple of years ago and I distinctly remember worrying that the lyrics might seem dated by the time we released it, especially after we had to delay the record due to COVID. Fortunately (?) I didn't have to worry at all! Hooray? Yes, it's about stupid internet bullshit, but at its core it's about trying (and pretty much always failing) to empathize with someone who doesn't seem open to empathy.

The video was another lockdown concoction, and evolved as a kind of visual history of how my relationship with the electronic world has evolved since the early '90s. But mostly it was an excuse to play ZZT again. Everyone remembers ZZT, right?"

The track appears on Talk Show Host's 10-song debut full-length Mid-Century Modern, due July 4 from LA punk label Wiretap Records and Disconnect/Disconnect in the UK.

The new record finds Talk Show Host once again working with NQ Arbuckle's John Dinsmore (PUP, Great Lake Swimmers) at his Lincoln County Social Club studio. Dinsmore previously engineered the band's Not Here To Make Friends EP, along with their one-off 2020 single "This Monologue." Talk Show Host features guitarist/vocalist Chris Veinot, drummer Sean Woolven, and bassist Fabien Rivenet.

Heavenly Blue: Demo

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This week Sewercide Records unveiled the first demo from throwback Halifax garage rockers Heavenly Blue. The band's five-song demo delivers a fuzzy, punk-informed take on some Nuggets-era sounds from members of the city's interconnected lo-fi scene. Booji Boys members Cody Googoo and Adam Ledrew recorded these tracks over the past year. Given the players and the style they're tackling, you're going to hear rough and tumble vibes of bands like the Oblivians, the Deadly Snakes, or all that garage scuzz from deep in the Bomp! archives.

The Heavenly Blue demo arrived as a professionally manufactured cassette, limited to 80 (and I may have just bought the last one). It's perhaps unsurprising given this newsletter's unshakable pro-Booji-bias, but I think this is pretty fucking cool.

Album: "Hommage à M. Cusson Pour H. Hoek"

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Simone Provencher and Olivier Fairfield have paired up as a duo to form Album. The Hull-based band, self-described as an "experimental glitch-groove duo," will release a new album, the self-titled Album, this summer through Telephone Explosion. You've likely heard both these players in recent years, with Provencher on guitar with the dance-punk trio VICTIME and Fairfield drumming for the confrontational punk-jazz group FET.NAT.

The duo built the 11-track full-length by manipulating samples cut and pasted from live jam sessions. Olivier commented on the busy collage of sounds in a press release:

"It's hard to tell what's computer music and what's actually played... Our instinct was to say, 'This makes absolutely no sense, but let's make it work.'"

You can hear one of these tracks, the erratic "Hommage å M. Cusson Pour M. Hoek," accompanied by an animated video by Katerine Dennie-Marcoux. Philip Shaw Bova (Kiwi Jr., Lido Pimienta, John K. Samson) mastered the set.

Last month, Provencher released the experimental solo EP as Mesures through Michel Records, which also featured Fairfield on percussion. FET.NAT last released the Polaris-shortlisted Le Mal in 2019. VICTIME issued the EP Mi-tronc, mi-jambe that same year.

Botfly: "Disassociate"

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Halifax post-hardcore noisemakers Botfly have partnered with Cambridge, Ontario's No Funeral Records, with several unannounced projects planned for this year. The group kicked off the relationship with new merch and a video featuring "Disassociate," a track Botfly contributed to No Funeral's Compilation 2 last October. You can check the Emily Moore-directed clip on YouTube now.

"Disassociate" finds the band drawing on the influence of early 2000s melodic hardcore, a bit of a shift from the down-tuned noise rock of their self-titled 2017 full length. When considered alongside the intimate acoustic sounds of 2020's At Home With Alex EP, Boyfly's stylistic future seems wide open.

The band features guitarist/vocalists Keegan Goodspeed and Alex Babineau, bassist Sean Mcinnis, and drummer Dewayne Shanks.

CRABE: "8008 rue des Lombards"

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Erratic Montreal art-punk duo CRABE returns next week with a new full length. Sentients arrives May 7 through Pantoum Records. The 11 song set finds Gabriel Lapierre and Martin Poulin-Légaré working with a massive group of collaborators. This generation-spanning list includes everyone from glam rock firebrand Hubert Lenoir to Voivod guitarist Daniel Mongrain. The album credits contributions to Vincent Peake (Grimskunk), Mathieu A Seulement (Technical Kidman), Laurence-Anne, Yuki BT (IDALG, Jesuslesfilles), and Étienne Dupré (Klô Pelgag, Duu). Furthermore, CRABE opted to record without acoustic drums on this record, relying instead on the synthesized thump of an early-2000s Roland V-Drum.

You can preview the record now through the newly unveiled single "8008 rue des Lombards." It follows the double-single "16ème vague" and "Musique électrique," shared earlier in April. A press release lauded Daniel Mongrain's solo at the lead-in to "Musique électrique" as nothing less than "the most beautiful guitar solo in the history of rock music."

Technical Kidman's Mathieu Seulement co-produced the record with the band. The full-length (and each single) also comes adorned in artwork crafted by Corridor's Jonathan Robert. CRABE last released the Down with the acquis EP in 2020. Their prior full-length arrived in 2019 as Notre-Dame de la vie intérieure.

Safeword: "Broken Heart Song"

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Safeword, self-described as "basement music therapy for four friends from Dartmouth and Halifax," brings together members of Shoulder Season, Darts, Skullocybin, and Blackout 77. The indie-pop group released several demos and singles over the past year, the most recent of which was "The Pride You've Swallowed" in early April and the instantly memorable "Broken Heart Song" just this week. You can check out the band's fledgling but remarkably strong catalogue over at Bandcamp. Don't sleep on this.

Safeword recorded at Ocean Floor throughout the pandemic with Charles Austin (Outtacontroller, Future Girls, Souvenir) and Franc Lopes (Walrus, Century Egg). The new material appears as part of an upcoming 9-song debut, Things We Never Could Afford, mixed at New Scotland Yard by Joel Plaskett and Thomas Stajcer. Look for it May 7.

Safeword features Karen Foster on vocals and keys, guitarist Dan Watt, bassist Greg Baller, and drummer Brian Foster.

Shoulder Season: "Deep Fake"

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Speaking of Shoulder Season, the Dartmouth indie rock quartet has a new track of their own online, the low-droning "Deep Fake." The band commented on Instagram:

"Conspiracy theories, fake news, fear of science: information is power, but in 2021, truth too often gets lost in the noise. Drone on with our new noise while you question everything you once thought was real."

"Deep Fake" arrives as the band's first single since "This Town" in October of 2020. Shoulder Season features Karen Foster, Mel Sturk, Kristina Parlee, and Erica Butler. The quartet features past members of The Stolen Minks, The Maynards, Smaller Hearts, and The Johnnies.

PACKS: "Two Hands"

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Toronto slack rockers PACKS continue to roll out charmingly uncomplicated videos showcasing the songs of their upcoming Take The Cake LP. Last week the group premiered "Two Hands" through Nylon. The short clip features singer-songwriter Madeline Link laying face-up in the soil, with flowers planted (and watered) next to her head. It's a low-budget piece but one that perfectly fits the relaxed vibe of PACKS' new material.

Take The Cake is due digitally on May 21, with vinyl shipping for July 9 through Royal Mountain and Fire Talk Records.

PACKS is an evolution of Madeline Link's bedroom recording project, which played in recent years as the phonetically similar PAX. The four-piece features Link backed by guitarist Dexter Nash, bassist Noah O'Neil, and drummer Shane Hooper. As PAX, that group last released the full-length Ouch in 2019 through Art of the Uncarved Block, with the digital EPs Melt It Down and Sucked Up surfacing online in the time since.

Huron Lines: "Lost and Found"

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Following their debut track in March, Windsor's Huron Lines are back with another new song. "Lost and Found" follows "Older Now" in previewing the group's upcoming full-length Lost at the Border, due October 15 through Chieftown Music. There's a fantastically gritty Constantines-styled slow burn to this one.

Guitarist/vocalist David Mueller commented on the track:

"This song is derived from that feeling of being somewhere you don't want to be but you have to be. Like sitting beside someone in a hospital bed waiting for them to wake up wondering if they ever will. While also wondering if you could have done something to change the situation. The feeling of being totally lost but knowing that there is only one place you can be in that moment."

The quartet recorded these songs with Psychic Void's Josh Kaiser. Bill Skibbe (whose massive list of credits includes Fucked Up, Jack White, and The Kills) mastered at Third Man Mastering across the river in Detroit.

Huron Lines features Mueller with guitarist Grainger Harris, bassist/vocalist RJ Brando, and drummer Nick Mitchell. All four members previously performed in Club Thunderbolt.

Fox Run: "A Hundred Thousand Welcomes"

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Melodic Barrie punk group Fox Run has a brand new single in the wild titled "A Hundred Thousand Welcomes." The track rolls in a full year after "Self Help" and "Funeral for a Bird," the band's early 2020 singles. Fox Run features Dave Smith, Tyler Broydell, Randell Stringer, Evan Smith, and Matthew Galbraith. The latter, who recently joined as their new bassist, you may recognize him as a member of The Highdives.

Century Egg: "Cornered"

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We're just a week out from the release of Little Piece of Hair, the new EP from joyful Halifax mandopop-rockers Century Egg. Their latest preview is "Cornered," and while the song's a shade darker than last week's sugar-rush J-Pop cover, I suppose most things are. Last week the band shared their version of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's "Ring a Bell," following "Do You Want To Dance?" which kicked off the cycle.

Little Piece of Hair launches Century Egg's 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). The quartet recorded the EP at Ocean Floor in Halifax with Franc Lopes.

Look for the new release on May 7 through the Forward Music Group, arriving as a 180g 12" with an etching on the B-side. Century Egg last released the We Can Play EP in April of 2020.

Heavy Petter / Lightmares: Split

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Sudbury garage-punk trio Lightmares and the Barrie punk act Heavy Petter have joined forces for a new split EP. The set's available now on cassette through Tarantula Tapes, with each band contributing two new songs (at the very least - there are two secret tracks on the physical release as well).

Heavy Petter features vocalist/guitarist Caset Cuff, vocalist/bassist Core Bee, and drummer Jon Boyer. They recorded their side of the tape at One Star Studio with Shane Heath. Lightmares also plays as a trio with vocalist/guitarist Jamie Millard, bassist Nicolas Millard, and drummer Zack Tymchuk. They tracked their songs in the Millards' Big Nickel garage.

The release comes just a few weeks after Heavy Petter member Core Bee issued Sit and Drink, a 13-song acoustic full-length.

Dusted: "Little More Time"

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Dusted, the low-key solo vehicle of Holy Fuck's Brian Borcherdt, returns this summer with III. The 12-song LP arrives June 30 as the follow-up to 2018's Blackout Summer. In a write-up at Bandcamp, Borcherdt, now based in Canning, Nova Scotia, explains III's origins in "forgotten songs" demoed over the years.

"For years I carried these songs around with me, intending to record them all in time. While it could've been a heavy process, pulling them all back into my life, listening to them that morning was fun. I was hearing someone else. Forgetting them allowed me to hear them fresh and un-judged. Over the next few days I felt the sense of burden returning. My friend Alex, singer of Metz and fellow bandmate in LIDS, had the sage advice: pick a few favourites, add them to whatever is already on the go and record it all, quick! The result was a three day session at Palace, engineered by Chris Sandes. I enlisted the help of a couple friends on a few songs. It was probably the easiest studio session I've ever done. I was back to the lessons I learned on my first Dusted record, Total Dust: Keep the songs bare, and unburdened. Keep the intention and emotion honest and exposed, right on the surface."

You can read his full write-up at Bandcamp, which links his move eastward with the rediscovery of this material. You can preview the track "Little More Time" through a new video on YouTube.

With the alt-electronica group Holy Fuck, Borcherdt released Deleter in January of 2020 through Last Gang.

Down With Space: "Homebody"

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Down With Space is a Montreal-based alt-rock duo featuring Rob Helsten (vocals/guitar/synth) and Steve Dumas (drums/bass/vocals). The pair recently shared their new single, "Homebody," their first of 2021. The group commented:

"this track emanates that fear of the unknown that we all share when we decide it's better to be an introvert. Featuring a minimalist soundscape and a driving rhythm that will keep you locked into the rich vocal arrangement, the intricacies of the chord progressions are hidden within the simplicity of the delivery. Initially the main part was composed on a Roland Juno 106 but later transcribed to guitar to better fit the feel of the song by pairing the jangle of a telecaster with the pulse of analog synth bass echoing sentiments of bands like Spoon, Low, or Arcade Fire that flirt the line between rock and electronics."

The band recorded at Delicate/Automatic, a Montreal studio co-owned by Helsten and Matthew Hills. "Homebody" follows three similarly sly and moody singles released over the past year. You can find the whole set at Bandcamp.

Blessed: iii remixes

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This weekend Blessed shared a new set of remixes, with a few notable Canadian artists giving industrial, ambient, and otherwise out-there spins to the songs of iii, the indie rock group's recent Flemish Eye debut. The four-song collection features contributions from No Joy, Odonis Odonis, and Graham Walsh of Holy Fuck. You can snag the EP on Bandcamp now.

Blessed released iii this past February, following up on their 2019 debut LP, Salt. The Abbotsford art-rock unit features Drew Riekman, Jake Holmes, Reuben Houweling, and Mitchell Trainor.

Fly Pan Am: "Grid / Wall"

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Montreal post-rock unit Fly Pan Am has a new video online featuring "Grid / Wall," the eight-minute opening track to their upcoming record Frontera. The piece, filmed by Huot & Vallentin, features scenes from the Frontera stage performance that ran before the pandemic. The band collaborated with the Quebec dance troupe Animals of Distinction, UK lighting outfit United Visual Artists, and choreographer Dana Gingras on the spectacle, which performed internationally before the COVID interruption.

The video premiered at Beats Per Minute in a feature that shared comments from Gingras, bassist Jean-Sébastien Truchy, and guitarist Roger Tellier-Craig. On the clip, Tellier-Craig revealed:

"The band wanted the video to act as a kind of document of the show rather than as an artistic statement on the band's part since this music was written specifically because of the show, so it was therefore important for us to put it in that context. The artistic statement here is Frontera itself, and 'Grid / Wall' is simply one of its constituents."

With further live shows on hold, Fly Pan Am entered the Hotel2Tango studio with Radwan Ghazi Moumneh to put the audio side of the show to tape. The LP arrives May 21 through Constellation Records, servinc as the follow-up to the band's 2019 reunion record C'est ça.

Kitten Spitt: Covered In Spitt, Vol. 01

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Here's something fun to wrap this edition up. The Fredericton duo Kitten Spitt recently shared their debut EP Covered in Spitt, featuring rowdy bedroom-recorded punk covers of classics from Blondie, the Ramones, Joan Jett, the Misfits, Anti-Flag, and Black Flag. The duo features Scout and Emilia (with guest backing vocalist Chloë), accurately self-described as "Queer Maritimers makin' some bangers."

If you're on the east coast, you may have encountered Emilia's tiny punk zine Post-Cheese at local vendors. If not, you might just be able to snag a copy if you ask nicely on Instagram. They're super neat.

React to it at your leisure

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

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