Tuesday December 28, 2021

Rock n' Roll

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.

Here's one last salvo before 2021 goes mercifully silent. Since this mailing launched in 2017, Some Party's managed to stick to a reliably weekly schedule, with only a few hiccups along the way. I think it's news to no one that December's been rough for everybody, myself included. So while you have my apologies for the delay and somewhat erratic schedule, it seems that the artists I cover have likewise downshifted. There's likely not much we've missed.

2021 also marks the first time I've not capped the year with a Best Of list in two decades. While I'm likely sacrificing some of my critical clout, it feels (mentally) healthy to shed another arbitrary deadline. The artists I celebrate are no secret, and I don't waste my time covering music that bores me. The archives await.

Before we close the year, though, I'd love to get some feedback on enhancing Some Party for 2022. I'm tempted to add an audio aspect to the mix - a podcast, radio show, or even a simple playlist to compliment what I'm sharing here. I'm curious what you'd like to see on that front. If it's not apparent, this publication's maintained a disdainful distance from Spotify since the start - but perhaps I need to re-examine that bias. I'm stubbornly musing if I should produce this show in partnership with a college radio station for that reason, but I have a punk rock habit of making my life more challenging to maintain a flimsy veneer of anti-corporatism. In any case, you know how to get ahold of me, and I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. We'll get through this.

Tha Retail Simps: "Rock n' Roll"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Whatever horrors 2022 has in store for us, one guaranteed bright spot should be the debut full-length from Montreal garage act Tha Retail Simps - the latest outlet from Celluloid Lunch maven Joe Chamandy. Following the proudly lo-fi lineage of Protruders and Kappa Chow, Reverberant Scratch: 9 Shots in tha Dark is the joint pandemic-era brainchild of Chamandy and regular collaborator Thomas Molander. It arrives fresh off their contributions to the indie rock act Feeling Figures and the latest Hélène Barbier LP. I find the Total Punk Records' manic write-up for the release rather enthralling, so here it is in full:

"What if the Velvet Underground had written 'Wooly Bully' and Sam The Sham 'Sister Ray?' If Ron House picked up some bongos and joined CCR or If Half Japanese and Hasil Adkins started a Meters cover band? This is the scrap yard of the Retail Simp's mind. Gang activity started when moldy Joe (Celluloid Lunch, Itchy Self...) enlisted fellow rhythm bro, Tom tha Moleanderthal (Feeling figures, Hélène Barbier band...) to make a perfect record in the Ides of corona March. A million Doll hairs and several rock bottoms later, the idea was to make something that would easily fall apart, this was executed with Montreal's best and brightest in the wings, lending a foot (all in the name of bogtime[sic] exposure). Bathroom-stall-wart and Barstool-smart Chrispy Burns (Terminal Sunglasses, American Devices...) was brought in to add his patented 'racket roll' guit-o-rama. James "Gogo" Goddard (Skin Tone, Egyptian Cotton Arkestra...) skronked his reliable sax machine and the ticket was printed. Short on practice and high on ideas, thee Retail Simple Tones were born, well traveled and unraveled individuals, bound by a musical adventure. Now to show for it, Reverberant Scratch is a 9 track ruckus of tinny guitar sketching, horn-honking deliberations, keyboardarific doodles, and whatever else one can summon in a basement to bang on. It's a ramshackle party stabber. Loose, loud, and 100% TOTAL PUNK!!!"

The album arrives on cassette on March 1, but you can preview two of the shots right now at Bandcamp. "Love Without Friction" and the album-closing "Rock n' Roll" are steaming now, with the latter subject to an extended (and aggressively bonkers) music video, as premiered by influential Spanish webzine Tremendo Garaje.

Tha Retail Simps arrives just a little more than a year out from Chamandy's 2020's debut as Itchy Self. That band's first LP, Here's The Rub, remains timely as ever - frozen in the COVID amber along with everything else from the past few years. Here's hoping we can see both on stage soon enough.

Outtacontroller: "Parts Unknown"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Long-running Halifax power-pop act Outtacontroller shared a new single over the holiday, premiering the midtempo space odyssey "Parts Unknown" at Bandcamp. The track's our second preview of an upcoming full-length titled Come Alive, following the release of the title track way back in January.

Whenever it arrives, the new record follows up on Sure Thing, released in the cursed month of March 2020 through Germany's Alien Snatch!. Outtacontroller features vocalist/guitarists Terry A'hearn and James O'Toole, bassist AJ Boutilier, and drummer Sean Parsons.

Worst Days Down: "That Was Fair"/"Lights On"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Ben Sir's Edmonton folk-punk act Worst Days Down recently returned with two new singles, issuing the acoustic numbers "That Was Fair" and "Lights On" over the past week. Commenting on the former, Sir stated:

"Hey folks. It has been a minute. I hope you are all keeping relatively well, sane and safe throughout this ongoing and challenging chapter of life. First I want to say thanks for listening, I hope the songs have brought moments of excitement, calm, catharsis, joy or whatever you may need in any given moment.

A few times over Covid I set up some recording equipment in my bathroom (I know, classy) to work on some demos with the plan of doing a new full band record. But with all the isolation and distance of the pandemic, my patience has grown thin, so I'm posting some home recording acoustic 'demos' (I think they sound decent thanks to my friend Jonny) to connect with folks, leading to a new acoustic album coming out next month."

The new record's slated for January, carrying the title It All Exists At Once. Worst Days Down last released the full-length Elsewhere in 2017.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson: "Head of the Lake"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

You've Changed Records wrapped the year with the video debut of "Head of the Lake," a collaboration between Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and multidisciplinary Outaouais, Quebec artist Caroline Monnet. Monnet's visuals take their cue from a beautifully haunting track from the Polaris shortlisted LP Theory of Ice.

Speaking to Simpson about the piece, Monnet wrote:

"All images for the video were taken in Anishinnabe territory in the Pontiac region. The name of the lake is Trout Lake.

I was particularly inspired by one sentence in the lyrics that says 'I hold your hand, without touching it'. Made me think of trees and how they grow together, making sure they make room for every branch to grow higher. Somehow your song speaks to me about memories. Creating new ones, but also those that fade away. That's why I decided to use the mirroring effect so everyone could see their own memories, could navigate between two dimensions and create new ones."

Simpson, an acclaimed Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar and musician, released Theory of Ice last March via You've Changed. The record features instrumental backing from Ansley Simpson and Nick Ferrio, with production from Evening Hymns' Jonas Bonetta and Jim Bryson.

Dark Trip: "Christmas with the Boys"

Watch at YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Hamilton's Dark Trip resurfaced over the holiday to share "Christmas with the Boys," a hooky new single that gives Sam Coffey a run for his money by similarly channelling Thin Lizzy through garage rock. The track's another solo production by the group's mononymous frontman Dave, who's worked without bandmates throughout the pandemic on several one-off singles. "I Just Wanna Smoke Weed at Work" arrived in April, following January's "D.U.M.E." Hayley Elsaesser co-produced the accompanying video for the song, available now on YouTube.

Any money raised by the new single at Bandcamp goes to the Hamilton Community Fridge. Dark Trip released their self-titled debut EP in May of 2019.

The Crowleys: "Lampshade"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

While we're in Hamilton, let's drop in on the psych-rock quintet The Crowleys. The group recently shared "Lampshade," the second single from their upcoming debut full-length. They announced:

"Continuing with the dystopian theme of their previous single (Somnia), the song follows a protagonist longing for a pre-apocalyptic world. Stylistically evoking a bright, care-free energy, Lampshade is a departure from Somnia's dark, broodiness. So leave your bags, run-away, and forget all about the end-of-days."

The new material follows a string of digital singles issued over the past few years, with the eventual LP due from Wel-Pel Records sometime in 2022. The band recorded with co-producers Cohen Wylie and Michael Keire at Threshold Recording Studio.

Mr. Power: "Santa Is Not Real"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Just a few weeks ago, I shared some updates from Ottawa's Mr. Power, who, along with the rest of the Clubhouse Recording Club roster, hyped a New Years Eve gig at the Dominion Tavern. As we all know, the public health situation in Ontario (and elsewhere) has since gone rather exponentially awry, and you can hear some of that frustration in the warped "Santa Is Not Real," a new track written and recorded on Christmas Eve.

Mr. Power is the formal odd-pop moniker of Mikey Power, of Ottawa surf-punks The Thrill. In June he released Romance, a five-song digital EP, through Clubhouse.

The Stand GT: "Stocking Stuffer"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

I was hesitant to share a bunch of Christmas-themed music in a newsletter that had no hope of seeing your inbox until after the holiday - but The Stand GT convinced me otherwise. There's nothing sonically seasonal about "Stocking Stuffer," lyrical content aside, and its buzzsaw 90s pop-punk attack is evergreen. The rarity comes from a 7" originally released by the Glengarry, Ontario group in 1993 through Montreal's En Guard Records. The band's Chris Page commented on the recently unearthed track:

"Sometime around 1993, Paul from the Ripcordz reached out to ask if we were interested in putting together a 7" Christmas EP. We'd just come off a national tour with them and we were planning our next projects. Over the telephone and fax machine, we tossed around ideas for a compilation and invited other bands we'd met on the road to participate. Two takers were our friends in Down (Charlottetown) and the Naked and the Dead (Edmonton). When we asked our Edmonton pals to be on this, we had no idea they were Jewish, but they jumped at the chance to contribute a new song with a nod to Hannukah. Ornament is a brilliant track, but I'm not sure where you can find a copy of this song online. Incidentally, Colin and Chris covered it a few years ago for another Christmas comp. You can hear that one here.

Our contribution, Stocking Stuffer, was a lo-fi power pop blaster, which we remember being influenced by our new Seattle buddies Sicko. The opening riff of the track is a direct result of watching and listening to them during a US tour."

The band can't recall when they recorded this song, but Rod Shearer likely engineered from the now-defunct Piranha Studios in Montreal. With the master recordings long lost, this digital track comes from a direct recording from the vinyl - pops and cracks included.

React to it at your leisure

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