Sunday June 20, 2021

Underneath

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.

Rick White: "Underneath"

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Rick White's provided a bounty of cool archival material throughout the pandemic. He's shared hours of hard-to-obtain, live, or previously CD-locked material that draws from his time with Elevator, numerous solo permutations, and of course, his career-making stint as the singer/guitarist of Moncton indie legends Eric's Trip. While much of that effort mined the past, White recently unveiled something wholly new: the debut single from a forthcoming solo record. You can preview the sinister buzz of "Underneath" now through a cleverly low-budget YouTube clip.

Don't expect a long wait to hear more, either. White's next record is due as soon as July through Blue Fog Recordings. Further details on the album (including the title) remain unannounced.

The release arrives following a spate of activity at Blue Fog. Vinyl reissues recently surfaced of Eric's Trip's debut EP Peter (expanded into an LP), and the Elevator/Elevator to Hell records Eerieconsiliation and August. In 2019 the artist paired up with Elyn Sof to release the "psych fairytale" record The Opening. Earlier this year, Rick also shared a front-to-back cover of Sloan's 1992 debut Peppermint (and you can surely thank the boredom of isolation for that one).

The upcoming album is one of several ongoing projects from the ranks of Eric's Trip. Chris Thompson's had a busy spring, with a new single recently available from the shoegazy Diamondtown and numerous EPs out with the Halifax garage trio Gemstones. Julie Doiron, meanwhile, continues to incubate the results of pre-pandemic studio sessions with Dany Placard and the Romano brothers, material we're eager to hear sometime this year on her next LP.

Daniel Romano: Fully Plugged In

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

On the topic of the prolific Daniel Romano, and by extension his band The Outfit, there's much to discuss. Last week the Welland singer-songwriter announced two LPs: the immediately available live set Fully Plugged In and the forthcoming studio album Cobra Poems.

The band recorded Fully Plugged In at The Earl in Atlanta during their ill-fated pre-pandemic tour. It clocks in with 11 tracks from across Romano's catalogue, plus a cover of "God's Children" by The Kinks. Julianna Riolino's vocals are notably more prominent here than in past outings, as well. This is the version of the Outfit captured on the similarly-packaged live record "Okay Wow" early in 2020, with JR and Danny joined by bassist Roddy Rosetti, guitarist Dave Nardi, and drummer Ian Romano. The group's usual studio collaborators are all present in the credits as well, with Kenneth Roy Meehan mixing and Tony Cicero mastering.

On the other hand, Cobra Poems is a wholly new studio full-length, due September 10. We know little about this one so far, other than the titles of ten songs. The band recorded in December of 2020 at Camera Varda, their new studio on the banks of the Welland Canal (it's the 70s-hued setting from February's "First Yoke" video). When the band finally hits the road post-pandemic, it looks like this is the record they'll tour behind - so expect a little more pomp and circumstance surrounding this one than recent digital efforts. Extensive tours in North America and Europe are in the works for 2022.

I've long counted myself a fan of the individual Outfit members, in some cases well before they came into Romano's orbit (most are somewhat local to me), so it's heartening to see their increasing visibility in promotional materials and album art. Interchangeable side-players these are not.

Picking the setlists for their eventual gigs could prove interesting, given that Danny issued 11 distinct albums in 2020, with a 12th (Kissing The Foe) arriving earlier this year. Of course, Romano is nothing if not restless, so the safe money's on more to come. If we somehow emerge from 2021 with nothing further from this crew, I'll eat my SappyFest ballcap.

Jimmy Vapid: K I L L M A T I C

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Jimmy Vapid, frontman of veteran Burlington punk band The Vapids, has a new full-length solo album ready. Dubbed K I L L M A T I C, the hard-charging set arrives with 14 songs. The record finds Jimmy on guitar and vocals backed by bassist Judy Dagmar and multi-instrumentalist Al McCartney (on drums, guitar, and synth, here, not to mention recording, mixing, and mastering). Vapid's self-releasing the LP, with Italy's Commando Records issuing a cassette. You can preview the whole set now at Bandcamp.

K I L L M A T I C features the same personnel as 2018's Night Moves. It also arrives as the artist's first project since Short Songs About a Virus, a home-recording project that found Jimmy building songs around lyrics contributed by friends worldwide. That 30-song set raised funds for the Italian Red Cross during the country's initial COVID-19 outbreak in March of 2020. The Vapids, proper, last released Suburban Reptiles in 2016.

Deliluh: "Amulet B"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

The formerly Toronto-based art-punk unit Deliluh resurfaced last week with Amulet, a new single for Tin Angel Records. It's notably the group's first new material since uprooting and relocating to Europe in the fall of 2019. The project arrives as a 10" vinyl EP, featuring the same composition on both sides performed by two versions of the band - rather uniquely documenting Deliluh's evolution.

The A-side version of the seven-minute track features the group's previous four-piece lineup, with enigmatic vocalist/guitarist Kyle Knapp backed by bassist Erik Jude, Julius Pedersen on synth and guitar, and Erika Wharton-Shukster on drums and violin. The flip finds Knapp and Pedersen as a duo, with modular synth stepping on percussion and Knapp picking up a heavily processed sax to build towards an eerie climax. The group recorded the songs between Berlin, Copenhagen, and Marseille (with the latter serving as Deliluh's new home base)

On the track's subject matter, the label revealed:

"The lyrics depict a jewel thief committing crimes with the conviction of a merciless zealot, and justifying them with a spite for the status quo. The protagonist amuses with the threat of being 'caught', a fate seemingly imminent and yet laughable in the crooked context of societal greed. Knapp delivers sharp criticisms with a swagger liberated of fear, imploring us all to root for the anti-hero in a time when danger is craved en masse."

Amulet follows a pair of cinematic instrumentals released last fall by Knapp and Andrew Matthews of WHIMM, under the name Dime Lifters. Deliluh last released the Slint-indebted albums Beneath the Floors and Oath of Intent in 2019.

Hubert Lenoir: "SECRET"

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I'm unclear how to position Hubert Lenoir with regards to this newsletter. I often strive to write about Quebecois artists despite the language barrier. While the translation tools at my disposal are imperfect, they're usually sufficient for the shallow research I do when putting this together. The results can indeed be clumsy, but I suspect my English comprehension isn't anything to write home about either. Lenoir, though, isn't just some garage band on a typical release cycle - he's a cultural figure. There's image and intent wrapped up in his public persona that's inseparable from (and often reacting to) the insular Quebec media sphere. I have no context to parse real controversy from celebrity spin outside of what a press release feeds me. Is there real transgression in Lenoir's work? Is this all an act? Is the purported blowback to the artist manufactured or deserved? Beats me, folks. I have no functioning bullshit detector when it comes to Hubert Lenoir, I just know I really liked Darlène.

That said, I still really like 2018's Darlène. If it managed to walk away with the Polaris prize that year, I'd defend it to this day.

Lenoir's second album, Musique directe, is now slated for a 2021 release, arriving later this year through Worse/Terrible and Simone Records. The announcement landed alongside a video for the single "SECRET," a sly pop track that breaks from the bombastic glam trappings of his debut. The song notably features top-billed guest slots from the Australian musician Kirin J. Callinan (on guitar) and Edmonton-born indie-pop star Mac Demarco (on drums). Whether their presence here says anything about the album as a whole is still unknown. Lenoir commented on the track in a statement:

"This is a song about the feeling of unshared love and being rejected when you know that it's only because you're different. It talks about social rejection and keeping those feelings for yourself because 'what's the point' and anyway you don't stand a chance. Not necessarily feeling bitterness or blaming the others but still finding the situation extremely sad and sending condolences to everyone that is like me, everyone that could live with the same ostracization in silence. A way of saying: I'm sorry, it won't be easy."

Musique Directe arrives later this year.

The Black Halos: "Uncommonwealth"

Hear it at Punknews.org

Vancouver glam-punk survivors The Black Halos return this summer with a new EP for Toronto's Cursed Blessings Records. "Uncommonwealth" is one of three new recordings collected on the set, including another new original dubbed "Fossil Fuel" and a cover of "Shoot You Down" by the 90s British punk act Birdland.

Frontman Billy Hopeless had this to say about the new set:

"….What can you do when life gives you lemons you ask ? Well squirt the juice in its eyes I reply, and that's exactly what we're doing with this new 3 song EP! Just take the lyrics 'It's the punchline line of the century that Brian Jones sunk like a stone' from the song Fossil Fuel and the line 'So this is what it looks like under the bus!' from the title track 'Uncommon Wealth.' We're not talking ballads here kids. Finishing it off we got a cover of the song Shoot You Down by the British gem of the delete bin band, Birdland, that we fell in love with and used to jam in the early years. We Hope these three offerings will keep you burning until the upcoming, soon to be announced, full length..."

The new EP launches the third era of The Black Halos, with the band having split and reunited twice before. The group's current roster includes vocalist Billy Hopeless and veteran guitarists Rich Jones and Jay Millette - now joined by bassist Josh Kerns (The Age Of Electric) and drummer Danni Action (Midnight Towers). Not to mention their upcoming full-length, the new EP serves as the band's first long(er) form release since 2008's We Are Not Alone. In the past couple of years, the Black Halos released two singles through Yeah Right - 2019's Geisterbahn II / Tandem Drown and 2020's ...Ain't No Good Time To Say Goodbye. The latter was a tribute to the late Mr. Chi Pig of SNFU.

The band recorded (at a distance - pandemic style) with Sean Pearson of Hamilton, Ontario's Boxcar Studios. Rich Jones tracked some additional material at home and with Eric Breitenbach at The Spot in Vancouver. Both Jones and Action mixed the new set.

Bad Waitress: "Strawberry Milkshake"

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Toronto punk quartet Bad Waitress recently announced their debut album, a ten-track record dubbed No Taste. Arriving September 3 through Royal Mountain, the set includes the acerbic new single "Strawberry Milkshake." The band commented on the track, stating:

"'Strawberry Milkshake' is saccharine sweet, milky pink terror. On the surface it's sexy and enticing - but there's a poisonous sludge bubbling just beneath. It paints the picture of an all-American beauty pageant with buckets of blood as the cherry on top."

The new record follows the recent singles "Pre Post-Period Blues" and "Too Many Bad Habits," all of which were recorded, produced, and mixed by Dave Schiffman (PUP, The OBGMs). The new material follows up on the band's 2018 Royal Mountain EP Party Bangers: Volume 1.

The band showcased "Strawberry Milkshake" in a new, zombie-themed video from director Justin Singer (Chastity). You can find it on YouTube. Bad Waitress features vocalist/guitarist Kali-Ann Butala, guitarist Katelyn Molgard, bassist Jessica Maxwell, and drummer Eva Moon.

Botfly: "Confessions of Depression"

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I'm fascinated with the evolution of the Haligonian post-hardcore act Botfly, and their latest track continues to stake new territory for the band. "Confessions of Depression" is the group's contribution to a recent four-way split, a song that finds Botfly weaving a moody, melodic counterpart with their well-established aggression. It's a sound that's, of course, reminiscent of a trend that became wildly popular in the early 2000s, but Botfly's take feels fresh, well-integrated, and never anachronistic.

The untitled LP finds the group performing alongside the Quispamsis, New Brunswick grind trio Anthesis, Montreal noise/sludge quartet Cell Press, and Cambridge, Ontario's equally grim Greber. Clouds Become Oceans, the ambient side-project of Anthesis guitarist Scott Miller, provides interludes between the four groups - elevating the release to something more cohesive than your typical compilation. The set's out on vinyl through Ancient Temple, with No Funeral Records issuing tapes.

That I'm focusing on Botfly in this write-up betrays just how out of my depth I am on the heavy end of the spectrum. Apologies to the other three acts - but nobody wants my ill-informed take on metal.

Botfly recently issued the one-off track "Disassociate" through No Funeral's recent comp, with all this new material following their band's acoustic isolation set, the At Home With Alex EP. It arrived in 2020. Boyfly features guitarist/vocalists Keegan Goodspeed and Alex Babineau, bassist Sean Mcinnis, and drummer Dewayne Shanks.

Ilusión: Ilusión EP

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Rick Aube's played in several of Ottawa's gritter punk-adjacent groups over the years, including Blemish, Chloroform, Omerta, and his namesake Aube. Based in Montreal, Aube recently debuted material from a new solo project that seems destined to evolve into a full band - an addictively lo-fi, scrappy hardcore EP under the name Ilusión. You can pick up his five-song debut at Bandcamp now.

The set, recorded in February at Montreal's Marsonic Studios, is due on cassette soon through the Tunisia-based non-profit tape label A World Divided.

Bleu Nuit: "Clef d'or"

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Montreal post-punk group Bleu Nuit are now working with October Tone, based out of Strasbourg, France. You can stream the band's first single with the new label, titled "Clef d'or," at Bandcamp now, or see it visualized through a busy new video at YouTube. It's the band's first new material since 2019's Le jardin des mémoires. Bleu Nuit's donating proceeds from digital sales to Hoodstock, a non-profit promoting social justice and fighting systemic inequalities in Montreal North.

This time out, the band's lineup features principal songwriter and vocalist Yan Skene backed by Nicolas Gaudreault, Maxime Sanschagrin, and Marc-Antoine Sévégny.

New Chance: "Two Pictures"

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Toronto electronic music producer Victoria Cheong has a new LP on the way as New Chance. Real Time arrives on July 16 through We Are Time (the new label launched by members of the Chandra band, of which Cheong is a member). You can stream the track "Earth House (Turning)" at Bandcamp now, with a video for the song "Two Pictures" recently live at YouTube. The latter features saxophone from Badge Époque Ensemble's Karen Ng. Lisa Conway (L CON) mixed the record.

In a press release, Cheong commented on her motivation this time out:

"Real Time is a transitional reality check where you can ask questions. What am I doing? What is humanity? What is the meaning of it all? The thing that became clearest to me during the pandemic is that we can't escape how closely we're all connected. We have free will, but fate is always intertwined, and every action has an impact on the people around us."

New Chance last released the Hardly Working EP in 2019.

CIA: "Chicken Schill"

Listen at SoundCloud

Toronto's Capitalist Invisible Army is back to take another swing at our looming dystopia, this time sharing the bold, 48-second "Chicken Schill." Here's what the CIA had to say about the track, addressing the closure of a beloved restaurant in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood:

"Pete's Corner Grill was the latest community institution that succumbed to the insatiable greed of yet another landlord. Once the location of a thriving community hub, the building was sold under the nose of the business owners during the COVID-19 lockdown just after they had finished thousands of dollars of renovations. Meeting places like this once acted as a mirror for our communities to reflect on and know ourselves and are neighbours as we are. It was a space welcoming and accessible to all people in the community. These establishments are quickly disappearing and being replaced by corporate entities willing to pay the exorbitant prices demanded by the market and landlords. This unfortunately is not an issue unique to my neighbourhood. The souls of our cities are hanging by a thread and we fight corporate developers and their dystopian Neo-liberal vision. Let's get angry, write our local representatives, organize and attend rent strikes, and not let our cities disappear with a whisper. "

The activist punk duo has a new full-length on the way through Toronto's Art of the Uncarved Block, with Spiritual Decline slated for a summer release.

AHRF: "I Fucking Love The Boys"/"I Thought I'd Be Famous By Now"

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Ottawa four-piece AHRF emerged as a high school band assembled to fill a void when all-ages rock shows were in short supply. Now college-aged, the group's continued to record and play in their spare time, slowly assembling material for a self-titled EP through Resigned Arts. You can stream two of these tracks online now, the playful pop-rock anthems "I Fucking Love The Boys" and "I Thought I'd Be Famous By Now." Both tracks bounce along inoffensively before launching into biting, muscular choruses, a trick the band executes deftly (and on "The Boys," in particular, to great comedic effect). Wonderfully fun, hooky stuff.

The Offsailors: "Fork In the Road"

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Red Deer bruisers The Offsailors recently shared a video for their new single "Fork In The Road," the latest preview of their upcoming record One More Then We Go. You can check the low-budget home-shot clip, in all its socially distant glory, at YouTube now.

A five-piece punk group, The Offsailors features members of Trashed Ambulance, County 23, and Avem among their ranks. Look for their full-length One More Then We Go on High End Denim Records on July 1.

Danko Jones: "Saturday"

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Toronto hard rock hedonists Danko Jones recently shared "Saturday," the third single from their upcoming full-length Power Trio. Clocking in as the long-running group's 10th LP, the new set drops August 27 through Sonic Unyon. Power Trio, the follow-up to 2019's A Rock Supreme, finds Danko Jones again working with veteran Canadian producer Eric Ratz.

"Saturday" arrived with a video directed by Trevor Bowman. You can find it at the usual places.

Kristian North: Fantasy Maxi Single

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal crooner Kristian North took another page from the 70s playbook last week, treating his Passion Play single "Fantasy" to a 12" maxi-single, complete with a set of remixes. Available on a limited vinyl run, the throwback record features the original alongside versions by the hypnotic post-punk duo Freak Heat Waves, Vancouver DJ Regularfantasy, and Faith Healer's Renny Wilson.

The Passion Play LP arrived earlier this spring through Mothland, finding the former Babysitter scuzz rocker in fully embracing a suave, sophisti-pop persona.

Freelove Fenner: "Find The Man"

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Montreal art-pop group Freelove Fenner has a new video up showcasing the lead track to their recent record The Punishment Zone. The clip featuring "Find The Man" premiered last week at Brooklyn Vegan, presented as a faux art documentary. The group commented on the production:

"The video for 'Find the Man' was shot on a 16mm Bolex and is cast with friends. Initially, we were supposed to shoot the video in a large, empty room but we lost that space at the last minute. Luckily, our friend Julia (who plays the boom operator in the video) came through and let us use her hair salon/art studio, which was much smaller. The location change meant hastily rethinking all our planned shots and working in a much more improvised way. Since the song is about a star-crossed production, things going a bit off the rails probably got us closer to the original idea. It was a fun time, and we are grateful that people let us dress them in questionable togas."

The Punishment Zone arrived in February through Arizona's Moone Records. It's the band's first new LP since 2013's Do Not Affect A Breezy Manner. Freelove Fenner features Caitlin Loney and Peter Woodford, recording from their entirely analogue Bottle Garden Studio in Montreal.

Chris Page: "Saints"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Ottawa garage vet Chris Page recently shared a cover of The Breeders' "Saints" (from 1993's landmark Last Splash). The track serves as a fundraiser, with digital sales benefitting the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society. You can pick it up at Bandcamp. Page recorded the song at his home studio this past February while pining for the summer.

When not stuck recording at home, 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.

SappyFest: Infinite Variety

See the application form

I offhandedly mentioned Sackville, New Brunswick's SappyFest earlier in the newsletter. As expected, the festival's again succumbing to circumstances beyond its control, going virtual for a second subsequent year for obvious reasons. In lieu of the sorely missed gathering, the event's 16th incarnation emerges as a community talent show to be broadcast online from Sackville for 28 straight hours starting Friday, July 30. Sappy's organizers seek "[the] reestablishing of connections and a reaffirmation of a shared sense of place" with the project. They commented:

"Sappyfest: Infinite Variety will be just that - a variety show of infinite possibilities, inspired by cable access telethons and the spirit of community presentation. It is every good and hopeful idea we can squeeze into a full 28 hour online broadcast. Infinite Variety will be performed live at Struts Gallery in Sackville, NB from the evening of Friday July 30 through the evening of Saturday July 31 and streamed out to a worldwide audience on the Sappyfest web channels. It's going to be fun. It's going to be strange. It's going to be Sappy.

The event's put out a call for participants to contribute segments to the show:

"Artists! Poets! Musicians! Dancers! Cooks! Thinkers and Scholars, Magicians and Acrobats, Creative Presenters - we're looking for your participation in Infinite Variety! Maybe you have a performance, reading, chat show, workshop, scientific demonstration, cooking show, comedy routine, or unexpected prowess or skill you'd like to present? We'd love to hear your ideas! Have fun, be serious, get real."

The event's application form is live if you'd like to take part.

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

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