Sunday June 6, 2021

Communication Breakdown

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.

Time's playing tricks on me here in Malaise, Ontario. The summer release season's accelerating at a healthy clip, and my notes for next week's edition are already piling high. A few days late and I'm a million years behind. I'd complain about keeping up with the content treadmill if it didn't herald a return to live music and better times ahead. So don't fret, I'll catch you up with new sounds from Chain Whip, Diamondtown, Odonis Odonis, and more in the next edition. Don't overlook these cool new sounds in the meantime...

Cluttered: Accidents

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Momentum's an elusive quality, and it can be as hard to qualify as it is to reproduce. I have no firm evidence confirming that the Halifax punk quartet Cluttered has indeed achieved such a state, but it feels like it. Something's in the air. Matty Grace was busy even in pre-pandemic times, fronting Future Girls, playing with Weekend Dads, Outtacontroller, Cutie, and others, not to mention amassing a solo catalogue of respectable post-Against Me! folk-punk jams. In the stilted past year, she's somehow found the energy for numerous home recording projects, notably releasing a tape of pure frustration-core rockers as Modern Cynics and providing the backbone for the energetic rebirth of mandopop rockers Century Egg. So what separates Cluttered from the pack? Don't bore me with your Spotify stats - my gut says it's pure momentum - momentum in its most nebulous, qualitative form. Magic stuff. Spooky action at a distance. Cluttered has it.

Accidents arrived last week as the group's second EP, following a self-titled demo from the winter. The set still shows hallmarks of socially distanced constraints, with Grace handling the bass, guitar, and lead vocals. Outside of drummer Dylan Mombourquete (of Alright Already) the remainder of Cluttered's roster are, thus far, only credited with vocals. Becca Dalley (Designosaur, Book Buddies) and Danny Bailey (Jabber) appear in that regard - but you'd be wrong to minimize their roles. If there's some secret ingredient that sets Cluttered apart from Grace's prolific solo catalogue, they may be it. With AJ Boutilier notably on reserve for some future live version of the group, it's evident that Cluttered isn't what it intends to become. Strangely, wonderfully perhaps, that doesn't really matter. Accidents feels fully formed, despite the circumstances. There's no IOU here.

The four-song set wraps with "The Toll," a track that notably features backing vocals from Cassia Hardy of Edmonton's luminous Wares. Cluttered debuted the EP with the urgent "Don't Hold Your Breath." Grace spoke to The Bad Copy in a feature premiering the track, commenting:

"The song is about that feeling when you open your eyes and you've immediately exhausted before even starting your day. The doom-scrolling, the shitty tweets, the eye-rolling all combine into this need to self-medicate just to exist all while living through a worldwide pandemic and working a menial-brain-numbing job to try and make rent. Everything feels terrible all the time and sometimes it feels like it's not going to change so don't hold your breath.

This EP, Accidents, is very much written from a place of reflection on the past couple years and how I ended up where I have. Personal growth is hard and I'm still left wondering just how many shitty jobs you have to work to try and survive in a city that just wants to build a condo on your corpse."

Accidents arrived last week from Iowa 'dirt pop' purveyors Bloated Kat Records. Grace and Mombourquette recorded the songs in various locations, with the latter mixing. Will Killingsworth mastered the set at Dead Air. You can find it at Bandcamp now.

The Garrys: "Get Thee to a Nunnery"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

It's an eye-rolling thing to say, given that they recently scored a vintage film about witchcraft, but there's something absolutely haunting about Saskatoon surf trio The Garrys. The group recently announced Get Thee To a Nunnery, a new full-length due September 24 through Grey Records. The sister act's notably also found a kindred spirit in Dallas Good. The Sadies' celebrated guitar wizard serves as producer on the 11-track set. Given the career Good's made trading in vintage cool, he's perfectly suited to tease that out from The Garrys' smokey 'doom-wop.'

You can hear the record's title track now, a song that harkens back to the religious attitudes of Saskatchewan in the 60s. A press release elaborates on the complicated tension between the group's nostalgic tendencies and the truth of the past:

"On lead track "Get Thee to a Nunnery", The Garrys playfully explore the push-pull of rebellion and redemption that comes within a religious upbringing, and the seeding of persistent guilt that all former Catholic school kids know well. The album and this track in particular were inspired by stories from the band's mother of her teenage years at an all-girls boarding school and convent in small-town 1960's Saskatchewan. Even for artists as reverentially nostalgic as The Garrys, it's impossible to avoid grappling with the tensions that arise from their sources of aesthetic inspiration. On one hand, they look upon this era and environment as timelessly cool, and coloured with a sepia-toned innocence; on the other, they know it was inescapably repressive to young women and various 'others'."

The song's featured in an animated video by BBQT's Amery Sanford, as previewed last month as part of the Lawnya Vawnya festival. You'll find it on YouTube this Friday. The Garrys recorded and mixed the new album with Barrett Ross at Rec Hall Studios, with Harris Newman mastering at Grey Market.

The Garrys features sisters Erica, Julie, and Lenore Maier. In 2020 the trio released an acclaimed retroactive score for the 1922 film Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages. Their last proper full-length, Surf Manitou, arrived in 2017.

Real Sickies: "Communication Breakdown"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

I'm in awe of the livewire energy that Edmonton's Real Sickies exude in everything they do. While their fervent devotion to the Ramones and Teenage Head may imply some nostalgic constraints, singles like "Communication Breakdown" feel youthful and immediate. The track heralds the pop-punk group's new LP Love is for Lovers, arriving July 9 through Stomp Records. It's the group's first full-length since their pandemic-anchored 2020 LP Quarantined, featuring 14 new tracks with guest appearances from Dave Bacon (The Real McKenzies/SNFU) and dream pop singer Lucette.

2020's Quarantined found the group writing and producing an entire full-length in seven days to raise funds for the WHO's COVID-19 Response Fund. It followed the band's proper 2019 studio effort, Out of Space. The Sickies feature vocalist Ben 'Disaster' Crossman, well-known for his This Is Pop radio show on CJSR, along with bassist Alex Mckie, guitarist Evan Hughes, guitarist Mario Nieva, organist Dennis Eric Budd, and drummer Rob Lawless.

Prettyboy: "O.I.C.A."

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Bratty Toronto punk quartet Prettyboy has a pair of EPs on the way, respectively titled Becky and Darlene. The first single from Becky arrived last week through a premiere at IDIOTEQ, with "O.I.C.A." landing alongside a video collage of live footage (twisting the knife, just in case you weren't sorely missing shows at this point). An accompanying interview reveals that the EPs are set to arrive alongside a lyric zine with art by Megan Stanton.

Prettyboy recorded at Hamilton's Boxcar Sound with Sean Pearson. The EPs are due this summer through Must Be Nice Records, with Becky available on Bandcamp this week.

Prettyboy's current lineup finds founding drummer Izzy Dean (Found Objects) and guitarist Joni Cassidy now joined by vocalist Kirsten White (LILIM) and bassist Kat McGouran (WLMRT).

Bootlicker: "Modern Science"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Vancouver's bruising Bootlicker has another preview of their summer LP online, with "Modern Science" blazing by at just under a minute and a half. It's our third preview of the group's first full-length, due June 18 from Neon Taste and Static Shock Records. The self-titled effort builds on a foundation of D-beat and UK82 that's the group's battle-tested on several recent EPs.

This iteration of Bootlicker features Lewis Jay Podlubny on vocals, Athena Joan on guitar, Josh Nickel (Chain Whip) on guitar, Lucas Treadwell drumming, and new bassist Mark. The group recorded with Trevor Robson in August of 2020, with Will Killingsworth mixing and mastering at Dead Air (I really should rig up a Killingsworth-counter for the newsletter). The LP comes packaged with an illustrated 16-page zine by Athena Joan.

Bootlicker last released the killer How To Love Life in the fall, the fourth EP from the group since 2017. Last year also saw the Live In The Swamp cassette issued through Neon Taste.

Imploders: "Dimwit" / "Rip Em Off"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

...but that's not all! Neon Taste also recently turned the spotlight on Toronto's Imploders, a sneering new group steeped in the aggression of 80s Californian hardcore. The band's hard at work on their full-length debut now, with a five-song, self-titled EP paving the way on August 20. You can preview "Dimwit" and "Rip Em Off" at Bandcamp now.

Imploders are too new and too cool to have a complete lineup published, but a little light social snooping reveals that the group, at the very least, features Mikey Microwave (First Base, Teen Archer) and drummer Curtis Tone (PlasticHeads, School Damage). Our pal Sam Coffey (of the Iron Lungs) gets a mixing credit on this thing.

The moment I can see a band like this play some shitty bar at whatever horrible hour Toronto puts on shows, I'll know we're truly on the other side of things.

TRAITRS: "Magdalene"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto's post-punk/darkwave duo TRAITRS returned last week with a new EP titled The Sick, Tired and Ill, their first follow-up to their 2018 Pleasence full-length Butcher's Coin. You can preview the six-song collection through the authentic 80s goth vibes of "Magdalene." That single's now streaming at Bandcamp and featured in a new video from director Shawn Tucker.

Speaking to Post-Punk.com, the band detailed writing the song while on tour in Copenhagen, noting the influence of Naked Eyes, The Smiths, and The Police. Vocalist Shawn Tucker commented:

"You can direct the pain from loss in both healthy and self-destructive ways. Eventually you just feel numb from it all and dream of a day when the hurt finally stops."

The Sick, Tired and Ill serves as the group's first release for the young Freakwave label. Look for the release on July 2 as a 10" record, limited to a run of 500. TRAITRS features Shawn Tucker and Sean-Patrick Nolan.

Ship of Fools: "Open for Business"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Political Newmarket punks Ship of Fools recently shared a video celebrating "Open for Business," their timely Doug Ford takedown from the spring's Status Quo EP. Karl Meury put the clip together, effectively layering the song's lyrics across a maddening collage of provincial absurdity. You can see it now on YouTube.

Status Quo arrived in April through Montreal's Hell For Breakfast. The set followed the group's 2018 full-length debut A Perfect Place for Harmony. Ship of Fools features vocalist/guitarist Andrew Yeo, guitarist Niall Gunovski, bassist Chris Seymour, and drummer Greg Nathaniel.

TJ Felix: "I Listen (For Giants)"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Vancouver's TJ Felix recently shared "I Listen (For Giants)," the urgent second single from Slow Preventable Spirit Death. It follows "White Sage Bubblegum" in previewing the EP, offering another showcase for the Secwépemc artist's distinctively anxious brand of off-kilter punk. You can find the track at Bandcamp now.

TJ Felix played for nearly a decade as Industrial Priest Overcoats, recently retiring the name. The new EP arrives on the heels of April's BIGPOETRYASS single and January's I Used to Pick Berries.

Choices Made: "Reason for Conflict"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

This past weekend Punknews premiered a new video from Toronto's melodic hardcore upstarts Choices Made, sharing the clip showcasing the title track to their blistering new EP, Reason for Conflict.

Vocalist Josh Marostega commented on the feelings and frustrations explored in "Reason for Conflict":

"The song is about not getting lost in all the hate and division that is out there in the world right now. Some people feel isolated and even cornered by being forced to pick a side and I think really what it comes down to is that we all just need to treat each other with respect and to always be proud of being an individual in a world trying so hard to tell you how to think or feel.

The world needs change, it has for a long time, but we won't get there if we keep creating more conflict in between."

Bassist Andrew Wright revealed a bit on how the video came together:

"The idea came about while I was sitting on my sofa looking up at the Rat Fink and bobbleheads I have on my shelf. Being a fan of stop animation, the skating Rat Fink just made sense… I love the fact that this band is still so D.I.Y. The fact that we can all get together and put something like this together is amazing."

The new EP arrives via Cursed Blessings Records (the new label spearheaded by The Almighty Trigger Happy's Al Nolan). Choices Made features Josh Marostega on vocals with guitarist Steve Medeiros, bassist Andrew Wright, and drummer Mike Krazz.

Joni Sadler: 1986 - 2021

See the memorial

Last week saw an outpouring of tributes to Joni Sadler, a fixture of the Montreal music scene and the drummer of Lungbutter. The artist, who served as director of communications for Constellation Records, died in her sleep from a brain aneurysm on May 30. She was 35.

Constellation's put together a lovely memorial website celebrating Sadler's life and all that she contributed to the independent music scene in this country. Head there for a detailed breakdown of her roles, including stints with the University of Ottawa's CHUO, McGill's CKUT, and the Pop Montreal festival. With the acclaimed art-punk trio Lungbutter, Sadler released a sole LP - 2019's Honey.

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