Friday September 24, 2021

You Gave Me The Key

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.

Julie Doiron: "You Gave Me The Key"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

We learned in February of 2020 that Julie Doiron was in the studio with Welland's Romano brothers and the Saguenay singer-songwriter Dany Placard. I excitedly covered it in the newsletter at the time, with no real information other than what I could glean from a few Instagram snaps. The prospect of this quartet recording ticked most of my boxes. Even before their prolific 2020 run, Daniel Romano and his brother Ian were demonstrably restless in their art. Placard was hot off the release of his psych-rock opus J'connais rien à l'astronomie, a record that to this day deserves more attention from English Canada. Doiron was still in the critical glow of Lost Wisdom pt 2, the heartwrenching sequel to her acclaimed 2008 collaboration with Mount Eerie. With these four players together at the peak of their powers, there was every reason to be excited.

In March of 2020 we, of course, hit something of a global snag. Notwithstanding the collective pause COVID inflicted on the arts, the monotonous mental grind of the pandemic's made any delay feel cruel. I self-medicate with nostalgia, among other things, and through this slog Julie's past hits, both as a solo artist and with Eric's Trip, have been a place of solace. I've likely gone a bit overboard in this regard, latching onto the artist's past work as some talisman of what we've lost. It holds court from a Bridge Street picnic table at SappyFests past. It's on a dark Niagara stage with Danny and Fred Squire, opening entire universes to a naive punk still clinging to Attack In Black. We'd certainly have celebrated Julie's return even if the world hadn't gone sideways, but in September of 2021 if it doesn't feel like the first goddamn sign of spring.

Julie Doiron's new LP, I Thought Of You, mercifully arrives on November 26 through You've Changed Records. You can preview the 13-song album through the joyous opener "You Gave Me The Key," a track "about a new beginning" that circles back to the refrain "starting over again." It's tough to avoid projecting all sorts of unintended meaning onto this one, but given the times we're facing (and the promise of better ones ahead), I'll take what I can.

The new record features Doiron on vocals and guitar, Daniel Romano on guitar, keys, and percussion, Dany Placard on bass, and Ian Romano drumming. Placard recorded the group at Studio B-12 in Valcourt, QC and Studio La Shed in Montreal, with Kenneth Roy Meehan mixing and Harris Newman mastering. Several songs on the record are evolutions of tracks Doiron recorded previously, the earliest being "Cancel The Party" from her 2003 split with Okkervil River

Outside of her brash 2017 side-project Julie & The Wrong Guys (with members of Cancer Bats and Eamon McGrath), Julie Doiron hasn't had a solo full-length out since 2012's So Many Days. In the years since, she's issued a series of EPs repurposing her material in Spanish. The new recording coincidently arrives on the heels of several active projects from other members of the Eric's Trip family, including a new solo album from Rick White (Where It's Fine), and numerous appearances from Chris Thompson as part of the garage trio Gemstones and the folk/shoegaze group Diamondtown. Maybe it's just a side-effect of the therapeutic fog of that nostalgia, but it feels like I see the New Brunswick indie legends mentioned everywhere these days.

New Vogue: "Safe on the Autobahn"

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Montreal's sinister DEVO-core unit New Vogue has a raucous new video online showcasing "Safe on the Autobahn," a highlight of the self-titled collection they issued on cassette in December of 2020. The clip heralds the album's arrival on wax through the French label Casbah Records - where it now carries the title Volume II. Alan Hildebrandt directed the clip, replete with a few loving visual callbacks to Kraftwerk.

New Vogue's the brainchild of Max Desharnais from the Montreal garage-punks Sonic Avenues and PRIORS. The group's performed in several forms, both as a duo and a full quartet, drawing on PRIORS' ranks to fill the roster as needed. The project previously released a self-titled EP in 2018, along with a Spazz Records 7" single that same year.

I'm probably biased because New Vogue appeared on the Some Party cassette, but this video is perhaps one of my favourites of the year.

Gally: Heights

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Three-piece Montreal garage rock act Gally recently issued their debut EP, a 5-song set dubbed Heights. You can find it on Bandcamp and see the moody lead single "September" showcased in a hypnotically pixelated video on YouTube. The group drapes their sound in early 90s indie rock, with some sharper edges retained from their past in the punk and emo scenes. Of course (as in all good things), the DNA of Eric's Trip is unmistakable here. The band comments that, lyrically, Heights explores "the transitionary feeling of one's mid-to-late 20s as relationships change, confidence falters, and projects fizzle out."

Gally features Barnacle bassist (and past CJLO music director) Allison on bass, Jess on drums, and Nat on guitar and vocals. The band recorded live off the floor in September of 2020 with Pillea's Micah Brown engineering (with a year of pandemic delay between that time and now).

No, It's Fine.: "Pisces•Gemini•Libra" / "YaYaYas"

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Quirky Halifax indie rockers No, It's Fine. issued a double A-side single today, showcasing the songs "Pisces•Gemini•Libra" and "YaYaYas." The frenetic "Pisces" arrives alongside a video from Alex Boyd and Jordo Haines, carrying the warning that "you can't blame your problems on astrology." The band's Cailen Pygott commented on the track in a press release, stating:

"The real lesson here is to surround yourself with people who just have your best interests in mind, and to maybe actually listen to them sometimes... The music video was inspired by Murder, She Wrote because, much like how Jessica Fletcher's idyllic self distracts from several grisly murders every week, the poppier form of 'Pisces' covers up the real themes of isolation, depression, and whether or not a lack of leafy greens in your diet is leading to an iron deficiency."

Matty Grace of Cluttered makes an appearance in the track. In contrast, the affecting "YaYaYas" takes a less high-strung approach. Pygott pondered over the musical career implied in its title:

"The music industry is weird. One day you're a well respected and revered indie-electronic-punk art star, and the next Kelly Clarkson releases a Dr. Luke (ew)-produced pop anthem modeled after one of your most popular songs... Then, nearly fifteen years later, the guy from Vampire Weekend tweets a modified version of the lyrics of the same song, and sings it over a beat that he later sells to Beyonce. 'YaYaYas' is about how weird it is that that happened to Karen O.

Of course, there's some hyperbole in here. I do NOT think 'Maps' is the only song of hers anyone remembers anymore - I regularly sing along to every song on Fever to Tell - but I do find it bonkers that it's probably one of her most recognized and lucrative songs, based on these reimaginings. 'YaYaYas' is also a tribute to her songwriting which has been so influential on me for the last fifteen years."

No, It's Fine. features Cailen Pygott, Chris Wilson, KT Lamond, Tori Cameron, and Clare McDonald. The band recorded their new material with Andre Gagne engineering and mixing. Dean Hadjichristou mastered the set. This new material follows the band's pandemic-era covers album (It's Nice To Pretend) We Wrote These Songs and their 2018 self-titled EP.

Stresser: "Rut"

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Toronto screamo act Stresser recently issued "Rut," the first single from Longing, their upcoming debut full length due sometime later this year via Art of the Uncarved Block. The song arrived with a video and a statement from the trio's Ivan Ostos. They commented:

"'Rut' was the first song I wrote on my little nylon parlour guitar back in 2016. When you write a song that long ago and its sound and lyrics are still relevant to you, you know it really means something. Especially after 2020 when everyone was dealing with a certain loneliness from isolation, it felt like the right time to finally put it out to the world. That monotony of getting up everyday and not knowing what you were doing with yourself, just seeing the weather change once in a while was a powerful sentiment to me. Even in 'good times' there's always someone going through it. The feeling aways comes back but playing this song let's me be open about that, making it a bit easier."

Stresser last released the Anxiety Attack EP in 2017.

Swimming: That's Ok

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

St. John's emo/math rock act Swimming are counting the days to the release of their debut LP in October. That's OK arrives on the 8th through cassette on Chillwavve Records and vinyl via Here Goes Nothing. Two samples of the nine-song release are available now at Bandcamp, the album opener "Sometimes Things Change" and the newly unveiled "Pursuit of Happiness." A video celebrating "Sometimes Things Change" premiered earlier in September. You can check it out if you haven't yet on YouTube.

The group recorded at home in Newfoundland, bringing in Great Grandpa's Dylan Hanwright to mix and Jack Shirley (Jeff Rosenstock, Deafheaven) to master the record. Hanwright was behind the boards on the recent Gulfer LP, and if you dug that style Swimming should be next on your playlist.

The new record follows a recent four-song EP released in August through Chillwaave and 2018's self-titled EP. Swimming performs as a trio featuring guitarist Liam Ryan, drummer Jacob Cherwick, and bassist Nick Hunt - with all three sharing vocal credits and trading off instruments in the studio.

Slow Down Molasses: "I Need The Darkness"

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Saskatoon post-punk outfit Slow Down Molasses has another preview of Minor Deaths online, the harrowing "I Need The Darkness." In a press release, guitarist/vocalist Tyson McShane revealed:

"[it] was one of the first songs written for this album... It seemed to set the tone for the subsequent writing sessions with us 'experimenting' with less layers and less effects, instead relying on interlocking parts to create all the tension and release we desired... Lyrically it is my personal rallying cry as an introvert who can't help but keep making music and trying to perform in front of crowds. No matter how much I love being on stage, it doesn't chase away my love of melting into the background or the shadows of a room. My internal conflict never stops."

The 8-song Minor Deaths arrives October 8 through Noyes Records and Divine Schism as the follow-up to 2016's 100% Sunshine. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's Alaska B mixed the new record, with Ryan Morey (Wares, Chad VanGaalen) mastering. The group recorded with engineer Mike LeFebvre at Saskatoon's Sweat Shoppe.

Slow Down Molasses features Tyson McShane on guitar and vocals, Aaron Scholz on guitar and synth, bass from Chris Morix, and Jordan Kurtz on drums.

Jesse Lebourdais: "Bottom of the Well"

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Vancouver folk-punk singer-songwriter Jesse Lebourdais has an EP of home-recorded, pandemic-era demos on the way this fall. You can preview the first single from the Rough Time Demos at Bandcamp now, titled "Bottom of the Well." Lebourdais commented:

"The song itself originates from watching the episode of the Simpson's where Bart pretends to fall down a well and then actually falls down a well. Having spent most of my 20's thinking it was cool to be poor and broke all the time, and then landing at the end of my 30's poor and broke all the time, I thought it was a good metaphor."

For better or worse, Jesse's doesn't take the bait and incorporate Krusty the Clown's "We Are The World" parody into his track.

Last fall, Lebourdais released Firelight, his debut fantasy novel, accompanying it with a Bandcamp-hosted audiobook in December. In 2019 he released See You In The Storm, a collection of b-sides from the Grief Intensity Friendship LP. That record arrived through My Fingers! My Brain! Records in 2017.

The Electric Petals: "Cherry Red"

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Temagami, Ontario psych/garage group The Electric Petals recently issued "Cherry Red," the second single from their upcoming LP Wild at Heart. In a statement, the band discussed the impact of Iggy Pop's swaggering late-70s output on the song:

"'Cherry' Red is first and foremost an ode to Iggy Pop. Specifically, the song is a '76-77 period piece set when Bowie and Iggy Pop were producing The Idiot and Lust for Life albums together in Berlin. 'The Passenger' is the most direct inspiration. Those albums have a way of taking you to another place and wanting to get up to no good...

Cherry Red paints a picture of stumbling into a dark and dingy alleyway door lit up with red light. Once stepping through the door, you feel energized and free, dancing in a dark room where you can only make out other dark silhouettes. It's a feeling and experience that is few and far between at the moment and we wanted to bring that back: the exotic feeling of exploring an unknown city alone and stumbling into a hole in the wall that turns into an amazing night."

The track prominently features Nico Suave of Montreal electro-soul ensemble Busty and the Bass on sax. The Electric Petals came together last summer, recording in a 50s-era log cabin on an island in Lake Temagami, dubbed Tall Pines.

Daveband: "Lemonade"

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Dave Archibald's wonderfully playful Halifax power-pop outlet Daveband recently resurfaced with a campaign to fund a vinyl pressing of their recent full-length. The 10-song This Was Your Dad at 28 arrived last year, chock full of loving nostalgia for the east coast indie rock scene. A physical copy's now in the cards, with a crowdfunding campaign handling the pre-orders.

Coinciding with the fundraising effort, last week Daveband premiered a video for the single "Lemonade" through Cups N Cakes. Archibald spoke to the network about the clip, filmed in Chicago in the innocent summer of 2019:

"I was travelling there for an ultimate frisbee tournament and had the chance to tack on a couple extra days to tour around and see the sites. A friend I was travelling with helped get cellphone footage of us touring around and goofing off. It was supposed to capture the fun, summery, carpe diem kinda vibes I spoke to in the song. It's an interesting document to look at now given the context of what's happened to international travel in the past two years."

Daveband recorded the brunt of This Was Your Dad at 28 with Thomas Stajcer at New Scotland Yard in Dartmouth (outside of a pair of songs tracked with Harley Alexander in a Montreal apartment). During these sessions, Daveband featured Archibald on guitar and vocals, backed by Stajcer on bass and drummer Kevin MacIsaac (nearly a dozen others players appear in various capacities). Details on the long-delayed tour supporting the album can be found at Cups N Cakes as well.

ACTORS: "Cold Eyes"

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Vancouver's slick and stylistic post-punk quartet ACTORS has a new video online featuring the single "Cold Eyes," the latest preview of their upcoming LP Acts of Worship. The track finds the group adding some industrial grit to their propulsive synth-pop formula. Look for the new LP on October 1 through Artoffact Records.

ACTORS' new record follows up on 2018's It Will Come To You LP. The band features Jason Corbett on lead vocals and guitar, Leathers' Shannon Hemmett on synth, Kendall Wooding on bass, and drummer Adam Fink. Corbett produced, mixed, and mastered the group's new material at his Jacknife Sound Studio.

Huron Lines: "Rock N Roll Will Save Your Life"

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Windsor's Huron Lines wear their hearts on their sleeves with "Rock N Roll Will Save Your Life," the latest preview of their upcoming LP Lost at the Border. Dave Mueller commented on the track at Bandcamp:

"Anyone who has been hit with the rock n roll bug should relate to this one. For me, rock n roll - in particular the crafting of songs and the creative process of making something from nothing with friends - has gotten me through a lot of crazy times and is something that I am thankful to be able to keep doing. I think it is great to see so many younger people finding their way to it again lately - but I don't necessarily think this song is about "rock n roll" the genre - it's just about finding your way back to what matters, what gives you inspiration and what keeps you out of the darkness in a positive way - whether thats music, the arts or something entirely different - just as long as when your doing it you feel alive and well."

The grungy quartet recorded in their hometown with Psychic Void's Josh Kaiser. Bill Skibbe (Fucked Up, Jack White, The Kills) mastered their new material at Third Man Mastering in Detroit. Huron Lines features guitarist/vocalist David Mueller, guitarist Grainger Harris, bassist/vocalist RJ Brando, and drummer Nick Mitchell (all past members of Club Thunderbolt). Lost at the Border arrives October 15 through Chieftown Music.

Comeback Kid: "No Easy Way Out"

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Comeback Kid's massive profile in the hardcore sphere likely makes their inclusion here wholly redundant. If you've been living under a thoroughly soundproofed rock, though, this is your formal notice that the Winnipeg group has a new single out. "No Easy Way Out" arrived last week as the band's first new music since the release of 2017's Outsider. Vocalist Andrew Neufeld commented in a press release:

"This was an attempt to conjure up an edge of your seat rhythm that stays the course but builds intensity the whole way through until the end. The feeling of looking over your shoulder and running for dear life. This is a stomper hardcore tune with a pummeling pace. When you're pushed in a corner, there's no easy way out!"

The track arrived alongside an NSFW video from director Kevin Keegan that finds the band violently pursued through some western Canadian forest.

Comeback Kid recorded "No Easy Way Out" at the Private Ear Recording studio. While there's no word yet on their next LP, look for them on tour in 2022 supporting Cancer Bats and A Wilhelm Scream in Ontario.

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