Sunday May 16, 2021

Nonsense

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.

The Major: "Nonsense"

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You may not immediately recognize The Major by his formal rank, but you've certainly enjoyed his work, be it as the frontman of the electric garage-punk trio Tommy and the Commies or a member of Ben Cook's vintage pop-rock combo Young Guv. While both groups remain active (our forced communal hibernation notwithstanding), The Major's since struck out on his own with the release of his first solo single. "Nonsense" finds the Sudbury musician on vocals and guitar and backed by a few familiar faces, notably Young Guv's Ryan Gavel on bass and Cook in the producer's chair. Ian Romano (Attack In Black, Daniel Romano's Outfit, Career Suicide) drums on the track, with frequent Romano collaborator Kenneth Roy Meehan engineering his end. The song fits well within the canon of either Guv and the Commies, built around a great pop hook that's somehow both a throwback to a simpler era and timeless in its universal appeal. "Nonsense" could have crossed your plate at any point in the last five or six decades, and it would sound just as fresh.

There's no word yet on further solo material from The Major. Tommy and the Commies (a trio also featuring Jeff and Mitch of the well-missed Sudbury garage-punk group Statues) last released the Hurtin' 4 Certain EP on Slovenly Recordings. Young Guv's had a handful of singles out over the past few months, biding their time since the release of the double GUV I and GUV II LPs on Run For Cover last year.

Nathan Lawr: "Restless"

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Guelph singer-songwriter Nathan Lawr recently unveiled "Restless," the second single from his upcoming full-length Apocalypse Marshmallow. In a press release, the artist commented on the folk-rock number:

"I wrote this song more than nine years ago. I actually can't remember at all when or where I was when I wrote it. I've been making this record for so long, things have gotten pretty blurry along the way. It's such an eerie feeling, my past self sending me messages through song for the future.

Because 'Restless' is a song for now. It's all about living in this moment of perpetual dissatisfaction, the search for things we already have, and while we endure this moment of profound physical disconnections, we wait, so restless."

The track arrived alongside a video by filmmaker Tobin Stewart. "Restless" finds Lawr on acoustic guitar, vocals, and drums backed by keyboardist Thomas Hammerton, bassist Anna Ruddick, and Nick Zubeck on electric guitar. Andy Magoffin (Constantines, Gianna Lauren) engineered, mixed, and mastered the tune. Apocalypse Marshmallow is due in July.

Nathan Lawr's winding career in music follows his roots as the drummer for Three Gut's seminal Royal City. He later performed with Sea Snakes, FemBots, Gentleman Reg, Cuff the Duke, Bry Webb (as a member of The Providers), and his Guelph-based funk ensemble Minotaurs. That's an incomplete list, to be sure.

CRABE: "Psychologue"

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The erratic Montreal art-punk duo CRABE (sorry, "présent-punk" as they're billing themselves) recently released their new full-length Sentients. The band has a new video online featuring the single "Psychologue," launched as an entry in the Sirius XM sponsored "Music Video Champ" contest that's running as part of the ongoing Santa Teresa Festival.

The clip, directed by CRABE's Mertin Hoëk, follows guest vocalist Yuki Berthiaume-Tremblay (IDALG, Jesuslesfilles, Yocto) and the band as they undergo experimental therapeutic treatments. Hoëk commented:

"I wanted CRABE to be their own shrink, summoning its Noonday Demons in hopes to rise above the pandemic. Yuki Berthiaume-Tremblay (Jesuslesfilles, IDALG), who sings on 'Psychologue,' also takes part in this weird, yet potent therapy as CRABE embarks on a series of ludicrous activities, all which serve one purpose: to appease their mind and soul. The music video is filled with complex and unexplainable mises-en-abîme, as the protagonists go through the many trials that come with therapy... AMEN!"

Sentients arrived in early May through Pantoum Records. The 11 song set finds Gabriel Lapierre and Martin Poulin-Légaré working with a massive group of collaborators including the above mentioned Yuki BT, and also Hubert Lenoir, Voivod guitarist Daniel Mongrain, Vincent Peake (Grimskunk), Mathieu A Seulement (Technical Kidman), Laurence-Anne, and Étienne Dupré (Klô Pelgag, Duu). Technical Kidman's Mathieu Seulement co-produced the record with the band.

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.

Body Breaks: "Eyes to Brightness"

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Microtonal rock duo Body Breaks recently shared a second single from Bad Trouble, their upcoming full-length debut. The band premiered "Eyes to Brightness" last week through Ears to Feed, following "Between the Heart and Mind" in previewing the upcoming 8-song full-length. You can stream the song at Bandcamp now or check it out through a new animated video on YouTube.

Body Breaks features tonally askew instrumentation from Montreal's Matt LeGroulx (Expwy, Galaxius Mons) with lyrics from Toronto's Julie Reich (Bile Sister, Chandra). Reich provides vocals this time out. She's also credited with assembling the accompanying video.

Bad Trouble arrives on vinyl this June through We Are Time, the label recently launched by members of the Chandra band. The record comes packaged with a booklet that delves deeper into the concepts behind microtonality, including guitar tunings so that you can follow along at home.

Mr. Power: "Blizzards"

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The Thrill's Mikey Power used 2020's Demofest event to soft launch Mr. Power, a warped-pop counterpoint to the decidedly more aggressive role he plays as part of Ottawa's interconnected punk scene. Mr. Power's proper debut arrives June 1 as an EP through the Clubhouse Recording Club (with tapes slated for the Pulpo label). Romance clocks in with five tracks, including the debut single "Blizzards." You can check that track out with an accompanying video on YouTube. Sammy J. Lewis of party-punk institution New Swears directed the clip.

With the psych/surf flavoured punk trio The Thrill, Mikey released a self-titled EP in December of 2019. Mr. Power's seven-song DemoFest set arrived at the end of last year as part of the online home-recording festival.

The Faps: "Bonez" (ft. respectfulchild)

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Saskatoon's aggressively eclectic avant-punk duo The Faps returns this summer with a new four-song EP that boldly declares itself the New Daft Punk. You can preview the first cut from the set through "Bonez" a wild new song featuring an appearance from the interdisciplinary Prairie artist respectfulchild on violin (well, violin and "chaos," whatever that means). respectfulchild contributes strings to three of New Daft Punk songs, with Brodie Moniker likewise appearing on sax. You can find the audio now at Bandcamp or showcased in a video on YouTube.

Speaking to Cups and Cakes the band revealed:

"...it is likely our most annoying song to date. One friend once said 'it's like you're mocking me for liking your band'. We've been playing this one for years, it's always the set closer with people taking the sticks or a guitar while we devolve into total chaos."

New Daft Punk arrives June 4 on Winnipeg garage label Transistor 66. Mike Lefebvre (Soul Mates, Slow Down Molasses) recorded the group at The Sweat Shoppe in Saskatoon, SK. The Faps pairs Blair Colwell and Skyler Cafferata. They're following up on their 2018 LP Grimelda.

Sluice: "Électrique"

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Trevor Murphy's francophone power-pop group Sluice has a video online featuring "Électrique," the latest single from their recent full-length Le succès par le travail. Gavin Maclean (Sunnyside Uppers, waants) directed the clip, filmed in several Acadian villages now part of the municipality of Argyle on the south shore of Nova Scotia (Surette's Island, Sluice Point, Pubnico). In a statement Murphy commented on the clip:

"Throughout the video, you see shots of the Sluice Point Hall - an old schoolhouse that was used as a community hall when I was growing up. It was in this hall where I played one of my first shows, where I had my first kiss, where I started to figure out that my life would be centred around music. The song reflects the frenetic energy of being young and full of hope, of losing yourself in the bliss of existing, and of forging your own path towards your passion."

Le succès par le travail arrived in the last week of April 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. Murdoch features on this track in particular, with Valerie's Palmer Jamieson also credited on synth.

The Dirty Nil: "Damage Control"

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Dundas power-trio The Dirty Nil has a new animated video online featuring the Fuck Art album track "Damage Control." The clip, which finds the band thrust into all sorts of violent dream states by a malevolent wizard, comes courtesy of Greg Doble. If you recall the memorable cartoon showcasing NOBRO's breakthrough "Don't Die" single, that was also Doble's work.

The director commented:

"Damage Control is a song that touches upon the both the hard moments in life, as well as our individual perception of those moments. We all want to run 'damage control' when things aren't going our way, but the reality of the situation is different in the minds of each person involved. I was quite drawn to the line 'beware the things you wanna feel, 'cause that don't mean they're real.' To me, this line speaks to our ability as people to gravitate towards feelings, or our own personal bias, but in the process losing touch with a shared, concrete reality.

For the music video, I wanted to break those two pieces of the song along very literal lines: There is the peril that each band member experiences, but on the other hand, we keep being pulled back out of a dream state and left wondering if any of this is real. The personal bias is made literal by the fact that the wizard in the story is toying with The NILs perception of reality and the possible future."

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

Choices Made: Reason for Conflict

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Toronto punk quartet Choices Made has a new EP out via Cursed Blessings Records. Reason for Conflict delivers six hard-driving new songs from the group, striking a bruising balance between the influence of tough New York hardcore and Californian speed. The new material follows up on the group's early 2020 EP Convince and the subsequent one-off singles "Won't Break" and "Irrational Reality." Vocalist Josh Marostega recorded the set, with Steve Rizun (The Flatliners, Junior Battles) mixing and mastering. You can stream the record in full below.

Choices Made features Josh Marostega on vocals with guitarist Steve Medeiros, bassist Andrew Wright, and drummer Mike Krazz. Wright commented on the set, claiming, "this is the peanut butter and jelly sandwich of hardcore punk... enough salt to make you think, and enough sugar to put you on a high!"

Cursed Blessings recently emerged from Al Nolan, frontman of 90s-era Toronto punk legends The Almighty Trigger Happy. The label's managed by Doug Smart, who was notably one of the co-founders of storied Oshawa venue The Dungeon.

The Follow Ups/Dave Rocket And The Jobbers: Split

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The Faster And Louder Records label recently emerged in London, Ontario - launching with a split 7" pairing the Moncton Ramonescore group The Follow Ups and the Sarnia-bred, London-based Dave Rocket And The Jobbers. You can find the four-song set at Bandcamp now. Outside of Canada, look for the split distributed by Stardumb Records in the EU and Mom's Basement in the States.

This is one of the first releases from the wrestling-obsessed Jobbers (they've had several compilation contributions over the past year, including an appearance on the Vapids tribute These Kids Are Sick). The Follow Ups released a set of cover tunes and live recordings in 2020, following their ...Don't Like You Either LP from 2019.

TJ Felix: "White Sage Bubblegum"

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Secwépemc weird-punk luminary TJ Felix has a new single online, with "White Sage Bubblegum" offering our first preview of their upcoming EP Slow Preventable Spirit Death. The tracks come just a few weeks following the two-song BIGPOETRYASS EP, a set that saw the artist shed their established Industrial Priest Overcoats name after nearly a decade.

The new recordings from Felix, based in Vancouver, come on the heels of January's I Used to Pick Berries - the now-final release of the IPO era.

Down Memory Lane: "White House"

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Melodic Montreal skate-punk quintet Down Memory Lane has a new single out dubbed "White House." The track follows "Picture Perfect" in previewing their upcoming EP for Thousand Islands Records. Vincent Côté (L'Affaire Pélican, Bussieres) mixed and mastered the song. The band's new EP is expected on June 18.

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.

Hey Slugger: "With Us Or Not"

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"With Us Or Not" by Barrie's Hey Slugger throws you right back to the late 90s when Blink-182, New Found Glory and their ilk ruled the airwaves with upbeat teenage anthems. You can preview the single, the band's second following the recent "Take You Back," through a new lyric video at YouTube.

The pop-punk quartet features Andrew Salazar, John Miorin, Craig Terzievski, and Jeff Britten.

Zoon: "Round The Bend"

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Daniel Monkman's Hamilton-based shoegaze act Zoon recently shared a cover of "Round The Bend," a track from Beck's 2002 record Sea Change. In the premiere at Under The Radar, Monkman commented:

"Growing up in my hometown of Selkirk, Manitoba, it was really hard to find new music that resonated with me, until one day someone introduced me to Nick Drake and I had hoped it was a new artist. Shortly after I found out he had passed away in the early 70s and I was pretty upset. I was explaining to a friend my frustration and they told me to check out Beck's album, Sea Change and after my first listen I was so moved and at the time I was going through a pretty bad break up and this album helped me process my depression. Throughout my time away from music I'd always have a copy beside me; it kept inspiring me that I could try any kind of music style. I chose 'Round The Bend' because it was like a contemporary Nick Drake song."

The track features Monkmon on guitar, vocals, bowed guitar, and keys, with Michael Peter Olsen on cello and Marina Van Der Veen on violin. Andrew McLeod engineered the song with J Riley Hill co-producing and mixing. Ryan Al-Hage (Commuted, Dorothea Paas) directed the accompanying video.

Zoon released their acclaimed, Ojibway-influenced "moccasin-gaze" full-length Bleached Wavves last year on Paper Bag Records.

Backstreet Scum: Defund The Police

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I have very little background information on the Montreal street punk combo Backstreet Scum, but they're not the type of band that requires much. The group recently shared Defund The Police, a three-song EP that neither pulls its punches nor shies away from embracing its studded leather predecessors. You can stream their bruising debut now at Bandcamp.

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