Sunday June 27, 2021

Signed, the Body Electric

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.

Dr. Joy: "Signed, the Body Electric"

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Idée Fixe recently announced a collaboration between two heavyweights of Toronto's burgeoning psych scene. Matthew "Doc" Dunn of the acid-fried free jazz combo The Cosmic Range has joined up with the psych-pop quartet Mr. Joy to form Dr. Joy. The group previewed an upcoming self-titled full-length last week with the expansive single "Signed, the Body Electric." It's a swirling mix of heady samples and bubbling Krautrock percussion, with Dunn's livewire guitar periodically surfacing to slice through the thick like a hot knife.

Idée Fixe has a limited 300 LP run of the Dr. Joy album due September 17 (dig that comic collage cover art). In a press release, the label commented on how the artists came together on this project, rattling off a list of influences that includes nothing less than "cubism, dadaism, Baltic disco, Italian soundtracks, and babbling brooks." They state:

"Born out of friendships first, the collaboration between celebrated songwriter/cosmic rider of the range Matthew 'Doc' Dunn and Toronto-based psychedelic savants Mr. Joy... began as a modern-day parlour. Started as deep communal conversations that revolved around life philosophies, film, art, and obviously music, the quintet soon incorporated instruments into their congregations. A few sessions later they had the bulk of the material recorded for their eponymous debut."

With Dr. Joy on the horizon, let's not forget that Mr. Joy has just over a week until their new EP lands. The four-song Yes! Yes! Yes! is slated for a July 9 release, providing a distance-recorded follow-up to the early 2020 record The Dreamer's Workbook. The group features multi-instrumentalists Blob, Steven McPhail, Asher Gould-Murtagh, and Harrison Forman.

Dunn, as always, has numerous projects and collaborations percolating. Last fall, he released the country-styled Rain, Rain, Rain full-length through his Cosmic Range Records, one in a string of recent sunbaked solo records. It followed the recent debut from Stonegrass, a psych duo with Badge Époque Ensemble's Jay Anderson, and two volumes in his ambient Dance Works series.

Just a note that if you've missed it, friend-of-the-newsletter Jesse Locke recently took a stroll through the Toronto psych scene at Bandcamp, profiling groups like Possum, ROY, Hot Garbage, Mother Tongues, Kali Horse, Zacht Automaat, and, of course, Mr. Joy.

Lee Paradise: "Tripping Over Daisies"

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Dan Lee's "cyborg-funk" project Lee Paradise returned last week with a brilliantly breezy summer single. "Tripping Over Daisies" features a few notable guests, with Karen Ng of the Badge Époque Ensemble appearing on saxophone and flute, while Toronto singer Blunt Chunks lends backing vocals. Telephone Explosion broke down the track in a press release:

"Composed in two parts, the first addresses the maddening and confounding notion of time, how we sometimes try to bend it to our own wills, use it to its maximum potential, get caught up in future possibilities, or try to correct the past.

The second part of the track opens up wide, like clouds separating after a classic Toronto summer thunderstorm. It sounds like something that could be heard on the PA at La Hacienda in the early 90's."

The new tune follows up The Fink, Lee's 12-song full-length released through Telephone Explosion last December. Dan Lee plays in the Toronto art-rock group Hooded Fang as well as the electronic psych-pop group Phèdre.

Instep: Demo 2021

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The Montreal melodic-hardcore combo Instep recently emerged with a commanding four-song demo. The group pulls together personnel from Weird Star, GAZM, Pillea, and Frail Hands to pay homage to East Coast hardcore sounds from the late 90s and early 2000s. Speaking to No Echo, vocalist/guitarist Jordan commented on both Instep's influences and the band's therapeutic role during the pandemic:

"I always wanted to make music like Lifetime, Crime in Stereo, Title Fight, and all that shit... like a hardcore band with emo vocals. It was really dope to be making and playing a lot of music because this was right after our city was ending lockdown for the first time.

The songs are about keeping it PMA... Positive, Mental, and Attitude. Most of the songs I think are pretty positive even if you think they're emo."

The less abashedly emo Micah Brown recorded and mixed these songs (he's playing bass as well), with Jay Maas mastering. Along with Jordan and Micah, the group Joe on guitar and Tom on drums. This initial Instep set's available now on cassette through Ice Island Hardcore.

Instep is one of several recent projects from this crowd. Joe and Seb of GAZM recently paired up as the over-the-top, trope-embracing Category 514 (the first Ice Island release before Instep). Micah Brown's decidedly gentler Pillea also recently issued their debut. Swell arrived in April as an accomplished solo effort in the tradition of bands like Jimmy Eat World and The Weakerthans.

Real Sickies: "Love is for Lovers" / "Communication Breakdown"

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Edmonton's Real Sickies are moving faster than I can keep up, issuing a video for their massively hooky pop-punk single "Communication Breakdown" and shortly thereafter sharing a second preview of their new record. You can find the former on YouTube, and the latter, the title track to Love Is For Lovers, at Bandcamp. In a statement, vocalist Ben Disaster described the album as "working through the ups and downs with those you love with the overall view that love is for everyone, not just what is stated by outdated laws and beliefs." On the new single in particular, he revealed:

"I really wanted to address some homophobic comments left on some of our videos by a specific individual. So funny to troll people about that, who are very open-ended, so it was finally time to address that and the politics around love."

Love is for Lovers arrives 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.

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

Chain Whip: "Death Was Too Kind"

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The pre-order for Chain Whip's Two Step To Hell vinyl went live last week, as did the full audio for the six-song EP. Those of you tuned into this country's punk history will want to give the set's final track a spin, as it features the caustic Vancouver upstarts' take on the Subhumans' classic "Death Was Too Kind." The original version of that track, penned by the late Brian "Wimpy Roy" Goble, kicked off the 1979 EP The Subhumans.

Two Step to Hell arrives in Canada through Neon Taste, with Drunken Sailor handling the UK and Europe. Chain Whip features Josh Nickel of Fashionism on vocals, Joel Butler of Nervous Talk, The Moby Dicks, and Corner Boys on guitar, Brett Thompson of Stress Eating on bass, and Patrick Bertrand of Corner Boys on drums. The band last released 14 Lashes in 2019, with their 2020 Demo set for a limited vinyl release from No Spirit Records in Germany.

The Nonsense: "Is There Something Up With You?"

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Toronto power-pop trio The Nonsense has two new singles online, the spring-released "Over and Over and Over" and this month's "Is There Something Up With You?" - with both expected on the group's first full-length later this summer. That record, a 10-song set titled Wake Me Up When The Nonsense Ends, lands Friday, August 13. There's a bright, quirky quality to these tracks - a refreshingly playful sensibility that's in the ballpark of early Elvis Costello or The Jam - with the band citing Guided By Voices and Buzzcocks among their influences.

The Nonsense features vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Brent Hough, drummer Jordan Bruce, and bassist Michael Milosh. Hough and Bruce have collaborated for years, playing with Bellevue, Purple Hill, Leonids, and most recently 1977. The latter's Julie Kendall also appears here on piano and backing vocals. Milosh likewise has a long list of credits, notably recording as Home Movies and playing in early incarnations of both Timber Timbre and By Divine Right.

Absolutely Free: "How To Paint Clouds"

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Toronto's prog-pop trio Absolutely Free returns this year with Aftertouch, a new LP arriving September 24 through Boiled Records (FET.NAT, Cots). The set's first single, "How to Paint Clouds," landed last week with an innovative accompanying video demonstrating just what the title says, albeit with a technological twist. The clip, directed by Matt King, carousels through a succession of cloud images, each procedurally generated through artificial intelligence. The band mused on the intersection of intentional art and artificiality:

"A song about how great lengths are taken to develop artwork that carries a deeply considered intention, but once it is met by an audience, who come from their own unique set of experiences, this clear idea is laid open for reinterpretation in a way that ultimately negates this labour.

A video developed by using machine learning to interpret 2000 paintings of clouds found on the internet to teach an algorithm to create it's own original cloud paintings. This means that every image in the video has been created by a computer program. The closed captions were created by feeding the vocals through a speech detection program and laid over the video using Youtube's closed captioning system.

In this, the immateriality of the paintings subject matter reflects the songs dissection of the nature of art and ideas and exposes the tension found in the correlation between futility and necessity of intention. Although there are unimaginable forces at play in developing a cloud, or in creating art, however, all we are able to look for is another face in the sky, a mirror looking back at us."

Absolutely Free recorded Aftertouch with producer Jorge Elbrecht (No Joy, Japanese Breakfast) at Palace Sound, notably embracing the work as a studio project with little regard to how they'll perform these songs live. The set follows the band's 2019 EP Geneva Freeport and their 2020 soundtrack to the film Two Cares Due None.

Absolutely Free features Michael Claxton, Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg, and Matthew King.

Lost Love: "Petty"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

This week the Montreal pop-punk group Lost Love shared "Petty," the second single from their upcoming full-length Empathy. With mile-a-minute wordplay racing to an emotional crest, it's emblematic of the smart power-pop unit the group's become. The song follows "Hell" in previewing the record, due this fall from Fantasio Club.

Empathy arrives as the band's fourth album, following 2019's Stomp-backed Good Luck Rassco. Lost Love recorded in Montreal with producer Marc-André Beaudet (The Sainte Catherines, The Frenetics, Blurry Eyes).

Over the past year, Lost Love vocalist/guitarist Guilhem issued two solo albums. Bored & Bored arrived just as the pandemic dashed any hope of touring it, with the French-language follow-up La Peur Au Ventre surfacing this past April. The band last released the Glenn Spaghetti Legs EP in 2019 on Germany's Uncle M Records.

Fiver with the Atlantic School Of Spontaneous Composition: "June Like a Bug"

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This week You've Changed Records shared a video for Fiver's "June Like a Bug," a track from the Polaris long-listed Fiver with the Atlantic School Of Spontaneous Composition. The clip, directed by Simone Schmidt, features one of the improvisational tracks from that recent record.

The album features material Schmidt composed during a Maritime residency in 2017 and 2018, working alongside an accomplished trio of Nova Scotian musicians to stretch the boundaries of the singer-songwriter's alt-country playbook. These players included Nick Dourado (Aquakultre), Special Costello's Jeremy Costello, and Vulva Culture's Bianca Palmer.

Fiver with the Atlantic School Of Spontaneous Composition arrived 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.

Dead Ringer: "No Brainer"

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The young Hamilton pop-punk group Dead Ringer recently shared their debut single, unveiling the bratty "No Brainer" alongside a wonderfully frenetic video. The papercraft stop motion clip follows a skeleton in an oft-troubled attempt to get to the record store. The quartet doesn't have much other info online yet - so keep an eye out for them when the world ambles back to life.

Mobina Galore: Waiting

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Winnipeg punk duo Mobina Galore recently shared a new two-song acoustic EP. Titled Waiting, the set pairs the new track "Talk Me To Sleep" with an unplugged recording of "Thick & Thin" (the original first surfaced on the group's 2016 Singles & B-Sides EP). The single's available on 7" through New Damage in Canada and Gunner Records overseas.

Mobina Galore features guitarist/vocalist Jenna Priestner and drummer/vocalist Marcia Hanson. The group last released Don't Worry in the fall of 2019.

Album: "165 Refrains"

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This weird summer dares you to embrace another bizarre video from Gatineau's Album - the generically named "glitch-groove" duo of Simon Provencher and Olivier Fairfield. "165 Refrains" is our latest preview of the group's self-titled LP, an 11-track set due July 9 through Telephone Explosion. As with the other Album visuals, this clip comes from retro computer animator Katerine Dennie-Marcoux and (fittingly, given the music) defies all explanation.

Album pairs Simon Provencher of the dance-punk trio VICTIME, and Olivier Fairfield, known for the confrontational punk-jazz group FET.NAT. The Album album arrives on the heels of Provencher's experimental solo EP Mesures, released through Michel Records just a few months back.

FET.NAT most recently released the Polaris-shortlisted Le Mal in 2019. VICTIME's Mi-tronc, mi-jambe EP landed that same year.

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