Through to You
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.
Motorists: "Through to You"
Bands are fragile constructs in the best of times, so it's heartening to see untested groups like Motorists not only survive the great pause but emerge from a place of strength. The power-pop trio launched their debut EP, a humble cassette titled From The Wreckage, in early March of 2020 - ushering the work into the world with a now-unthinkable basement show in those fleeting moments before the crisis hit our shores. Had guitarist/vocalist Craig Fahner, drummer Jesse Locke, and bassist Matt Learoyd simply thrown up their hands and succumbed to bad timing, it'd be hard to fault them. Friendships can endure, particularly in the online era. Functioning bands, rife with logistical hurdles even without a pandemic, are another matter.
Yet Motorists survives with a debut full-length on deck. Surrounded arrives on September 3, backed by three labels - Bobo Integral in Spain, We Are Time in the US, and Debt Offensive here in Canada. The latter's fitting given the group's roots in Calgary's weird punk scene. The set arrives on vinyl with twelve new songs, furthering Motorists' studious embrace of 80s jangle-pop, motorik rhythms, and vocal-driven pop-rock in the Sloan tradition. The press release describes an album that tackles the ever-ratcheting pressures of the modern world, or as Fahner describes, "isolation in a technologically-saturated society, laden with romanticism around radical togetherness."
You can preview the record now through the single "Through to You," which arrived alongside a video inspired by the old German music program Beat-Club. The band's new bio dissects the song:
"A sort of idealistic counterbalance to [the title track], 'Through to You' draws back the dark curtain of solitude to let in some sunshine. It's a song about yearning to connect with other people, written during the first lockdown springtime, when hope for a bit of familiarity was starting to blossom. The desire to feel close to someone without having to speak a word is expressed beautifully—both lyrically as a feeling of 'flowing through the veins of another heart,' and musically with the brightest jangly melodies on the album and a wistfully sweet vocal."
Motorists self-produced Surrounded, with mastering provided by Eddy Current Suppression Ring's Mikey Young (Dumb, Itchy Self, TV Freaks).
Craig Fahner and Jesse Locke's shared history stretches back to scrappy mid-2000s Calgary punk groups like Sudden Infant Dance Syndrome. In more recent times, Fahner's fronted Feel Alright and performed in Leather Jacuzzi. Locke drums in the modern incarnation of Tough Age and can often be found behind the kit for lauded legacy groups like the NYC post-punk artist Chandra and the Hamilton proto-punk legends Simply Saucer. Matt Learoyd's appeared in bands with both individuals over the years, with records from Lab Coast, and Mount Analogue, among his credits.
Ducks Ltd.: "18 Cigarettes"
On a sonically similar note, Toronto jangle-pop duo Ducks Ltd. recently shared the first single from their upcoming full-length. "18 Cigarettes" heralds the October arrival of Modern Fiction, due the first of that month from Royal Mountain and Carpark Records. The propulsive track, which pivots on a huge vocal hook in the chorus, features Mauno's Eliza Niemi guesting on cello. The song's also featured in a video from director Ali Vanderkruyk that, rather hypnotically, chases vocalist Tom McGreevy on a run through the streets of Toronto. In a press release, McGreevy revealed that the track was loosely inspired by, of all things, an Oasis performance of "Don't Go Away" from 1997. He revealed:
"The thing I came to love about the song after watching that performance over and over again is that it's a song that kind of tells on itself, It's a really raw emotional expression from someone whose capacity to talk about their feelings is stunted and they're cut up about it. '18 Cigarettes' is kind of an attempt to do a different version of what that song does."
Ducks Ltd, formerly Ducks Unlimited, pairs McGreevy (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards) with Evan Lewis (guitar, bass, drum programming). The band recorded from their Toronto apartments, with producer James Cecil (The Goon Sax, Architecture in Helsinki) remotely collaborating from Australia. Furthering the record's oceanic connections, the New Zealand indie-pop group The Beths provides backing harmonies on several songs.
Modern Fiction serves as Ducks Ltd's full-length debut, following their recently reissued and expanded EP Get Bleak. That record originally surfaced in 2019 on Bobo Integral.
Pillea: "Great Success"
Montreal's Micah Brown recently published a music video showcasing "Great Success," the standout lead single from his recent solo debut as Pillea. The clip strikes a far more comedic tone than the audio, positioning Brown as a bumbling gear reviewer in a send-up of a subgenre that musicians should be well acquainted with. He stated:
"I have a deep love for the website YouTube.com, I get so much information, education, and entertainment from the site. One type of video, in particular, demos of musical equipment, seem to steal a lot of my time when I'm on the website. To celebrate the album I made as Pillea, I wanted to add to the discourse, and create my own "gear demo". My efficacy to demo any gear was perhaps lackluster, but despite the issues we ran into on the day of the shoot, I felt like it was important to share the results of our hard work nonetheless. I hope you can find some entertainment in our disaster!"
Brown's perhaps a little more astute than he's letting on here, given his role as a producer for bands like BBQT, Conditioner, and NYON. As a musician, he's fronted the St. John's group MAANS and toured as a guitarist with Fog Lake. He also recently appeared on bass in the melodic hardcore combo Instep alongside members of Weird Star and GAZM.
Pillea's eight-song Swell arrived in May from Tennessee's Sun Eater Records. Brown recorded the pensive, emo-influenced set at both the Sanctuary Theatre in Saint John and Scrapi in Montreal, with Billy Mannino (producer for Oso Oso) mixing.
Winnipeg noise-punk trio Tunic has an acerbic new single online, titled "Quitter." The track arrives as the band's first new material since their recent LP Exhaling. In a statement, vocalist/guitarist David Schellenberg commented on the song:
"'Quitter' is about your best friend and creative partner leaving the band you've worked so hard to build and the emotions that come with that. When we were writing the song, Rory jokingly suggested we name the song after him and call it 'Quitter,' we laughed and the name stuck. It's also my two year anniversary of quitting drinking and I also quit my long-term job, so the word quitter is an important one of late.
Exhaling arrived in April as Tunic's debut release for Artoffact Records. That set clocked in with 23 songs, pairing the group's latest material with the entirety of 2019's Complexion LP.
Tunic features vocalist/guitarist David Schellenberg backed by bassist Rory Ellis and drummer Dan Unger.
The video for "Wring," the new single from Kitchener quartet Hyness, starts with a corner graphic mocking the old MuchMusic logo - and it's absolutely fitting given the vein of 90s alt-rock the band mines so authentically. "Wring" is the most immediately hooky of the band's 2021 singles, following April's comparatively angsty "Vacation" and "Bedroom." You could sneak any of the three onto a tape of alternative radio from my teenage years and nothing would seem out of place. That's hardly a complaint, as the pandemic's worn away any resistance I'd otherwise have for nostalgia. Bring it on.
Hyness entered 2021 with a reshuffled lineup, now consisting of Marcus Addams on vocals/guitar, Adam Padden on guitar, Sean Whelan on bass, and Colin White drumming. The new material follows the group's 2019 EP, River.
Autogramm: "I am a Situation"
Synth-heavy Vancouver power-trio Autogramm has a new video online showcasing "I am a Situation," a track from the group's recent LP No Rules. Drummer The Silo commented on the song in a press release:
"I wrote the lyrics to Situation a little more than a year ago, right at the beginning of the COVID pandemic lockdown. It was perhaps for the first time in a long while seeing myself at a distance. These very unusual events can force us to re-evaluate our lives in a way that life as usual tends to blind us to. I was thinking about how a person's life can appear from the outside to be so settled, ideal, in the right place, while on the inside they may be struggling, drifting, gone awry. This sort of thing tends to be exacerbated by our suddenly very isolated lives, when all we get to see from our friends and loved ones is an idyllic representation that we're fed through social media. Not everyone is comfortable sharing their fears and struggles in the public forum. So this song is just an acknowledgement of my own fucked-up-ness at that time, and also a reminder to really check in with your friends, because they may be having a hard time, despite appearances."
Autogramm's new wave-steeped sophomore full-length arrived on Nevado Music in April. The record, which follows up 2019's What R U Waiting 4?, features guitarist/vocalist Jiffy Marx (Hard Drugs, Blood Meridian), bassist CC Voltage (Dysnea Boys, Spitfires, Black Halos), and drummer Joshua "The Silo" Wells (Black Mountain, Lightning Dust, Destroyer, Spun Out).
Nathan Lawr: "Passing Train"
Guelph singer-songwriter Nathan Lawr recently shared a video featuring the third single from his new full-length Apocalypse Marshmallow. You can check out "Passing Train" on YouTube in a clip directed by Dustin Seabrook. In a press release, Lawr calls the record "the embodiment of duality," and likewise, this song's also had multiple identities:
"I've had the lyrics and chords for this song for what feels like a million years. It started out as a rocking sort of punk-ish number but never really settled down into that. I then let my great friend, engineer and producer Thomas Hammerton, try a solo piano treatment as a total 180. With that, "Passing Train" came into itself."
The track features Lawr on vocals backed by Hammerton's instrumentation, with additional percussion by Ben Grossman.
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 the Guelph-based funk ensemble Minotaurs.
20 Eyes: Human Enough
Preview and purchase at Bandcamp
The newsletter's featured no shortage of gnarly PEI punk bands over the past few years, and you can add 20 Eyes to the list. The horror-themed trio takes obvious notes from The Misfits and The Damned on their debut EP, Human Enough, a four-song set available now at Bandcamp.
The group features guitarist/vocalist Matthew Ford, bassist/vocalist Ryan Van Winkle, and drummer Jackson Boulter. 20 Eyes recorded with Sam Langille and Josh Langille of Charlottetown's Absolute Losers.
Little Kid: "John Arnott"
Preview and purchase at Bandcamp
Toronto folk-rockers Little Kid recently shared "John Arnott," the first single since their landmark 2020 LP, Transfiguration Highway. The track both celebrates the group's 10-year anniversary and arrives to mark the Solitaire reissue of their 2017 LP, Sun Milk.
The new track finds lead songwriter Kenny Boothby returning to the religious themes that marked the band's earlier work. He commented in a press release:
"The song is inspired by Pastor John Arnott, who started the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in Toronto, the site of the so-called Toronto Blessing - a charismatic Christian revival in the 90s and early 00s. I actually traveled up from Petrolia with my family to attend a service there, and later learned my partner was attending at the same time (though we didn't meet until about 15 years later). Most of the churches I attended in my teens and early adulthood were led by pastors inspired by the movement that started at TACF: focused on performing miracles, receiving the Gifts of the Spirit, having direct spiritual experiences with God - frankly, they were all a bit 'out there.'"
The reverb-drenched track features Boothby on vocals, guitars, piano, and keys, with Paul Vroom (bass, percussion), Megan Lunn (vocals, keyboards), and Brodie Germain (drums, keyboards).
Toronto (well, ex-Toronto) slack rockers PACKS continue to roll out low-budget videos featuring music from their recent LP, Take The Cake. Their latest showcases "Clingfilm," a track the band's earlier incarnation also shot a video for (although the PAX version's no longer available). In a statement, singer-songwriter Madeline Link commented:
"'Clingfilm' is a song about timing, compatibility, and exhaustion. At a time when I was working on film sets and I would spend hours wrapping multi-drawered dressers and semi-fragile frames in clingfilm I started a back and forth with this needy furniture. These abstracted objects that needed hours of attentive wrapping. I hated the furniture because it was so cumbersome and easily damageable but we all avoided the guilt and shame of damaging these props by wrapping them up tight and packing them carefully."
PACKS performs as a four-piece, with Link backed by guitarist Dexter Nash, bassist Noah O'Neil, and drummer Shane Hooper. Take The Cake landed in the digital realm earlier this summer through Royal Mountain and Fire Talk Records, with vinyl due this month.
Bad Waitress: "Delusions of Grandeur"
Last week Toronto punk quartet Bad Waitress shared a second preview of their upcoming full-length. You can find "Delusions of Grandeur" on YouTube now through a Genevieve Blais-directed video. The band commented in a press release:
"When the wrong people get put into power, songs like this get written. It's about wanting them to cut their teeth on the ground labourers have laid down for them. It's an expression of classic working class frustrations; knowing those people, fuelled by their own greed and narcissism, will never see what you see - which we are reminded of daily on the news. We're calling out a broken system with the hope and resilience to try to build something new. It's a dynamic song that doesn't go where you expect it to, complete with soaring vocals, bass breakdowns and disarming harmonies."
The new record follows the recent one-off 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.
K-Man & The 45s: "Hero with a Deathray"
Montreal ska-punk group K-Man & The 45s have another new video showcasing a song from their 2019 full-length Stand With The Youth. The new visuals provide an animated accompaniment to "Hero with a Deathray," directed by Marc-Andre Pichette and Caity Hall. The clip arrived to help promote some long-awaited show announcements, with the group hitting the road in Quebec in the coming months. You can find those details over on their socials.
Stand With The Youth came out in the spring of 2019 on Stomp Records.
Tripper and the Wild Things: "How Long?"
Preview and purchase at Bandcamp
Hamilton garage-punk unit Tripper and the Wild Things has an anthemic new single online, following up on their recent debut, Boomerang Kids. You can stream "How Long?" now through the band's Bandcamp page.
The four-piece features vocalist/guitarist Josh Keillor, bassist Eric Tarquinio, guitarist James Puntillo. and drummer Brian MacMahon. The group recorded this track with Dead Tired guitarist Marco Bressette producing from his Deadquarters studio. The Boomerang Kids EP arrived this past March.
Water Bear: "Moonlit Road"
Speaking of Hamilton, local indie rockers Water Bear have a new video online showcasing the sombre "Moonlit Road," the latest entry in their isolation-era Home Recordings series. The band debuted the song alongside a video shot at the exact street corner mentioned in the song (Concession 5 W and Westover, not that I'd plan your weekend around a visit or anything).
Water Bear features vocalist/guitarist Tom Dustome, guitarist/vocalist Alex T, bassist Jim Curtis, and drummer Craig Macdonald.
Scarlet Wives: "Smoking Pistol"
Lackhaüs Records recently premiered a second song from the grungy Montreal punk group Scarlet Wives. "Smoking Pistol" follows the riffy trio's debut single "Dream Funeral," released back in March. The band commented:
"Originally about hating the ceaseless hours working in the service industry to make ends meet, 'Smoking Pistol' reflects life's anguish, from daily frustrations to existential anxiety. Although this may sound dark, the song makes you feel like an empowered badass ready to take the world into your own hands."
Scarlet Wives features guitarist/vocalist Alice Slick, bassist 'The Mosquito,' and drummer Zenab Jaber. "Smoking Pistol" arrives alongside a video from Ariana Molly that captures the band in a throwback fog of vintage VHS-quality effects. The band recorded at the track at Lackhaüs' studio, with Chris Poirier mixing and mastering at Greenhouse.