Wednesday February 2, 2022

Black Hole

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.

Ryan Bourne: "Black Hole"

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I don't think I've yet addressed Calgary singer-songwriter Ryan Bourne directly, but his past work resonates through the Some Party archives. With a cursory search, I can see him mentioned as a member of the Calgary indie rock troop Ghostkeeper and credited on the lovely 2020 LP from Edmonton's Marlaena Moore. That I missed Bourne's 2021 singles (April's "Hopeless' and September's "Wasted World") is an unfortunate oversight on my part (especially given how propulsively weird the latter is - just an absolutely on-brand Some Party tune if there ever was one). This week, the artist returns with the psych rocker "Black Hole," the latest in a series of studio collaborations with alt-folk icon Chad VanGaalen and Calgary super-connector Chris Dadge (Lab Coast/Alvvays). For years Bourne and Dadge have served as VanGaalen's sometimes-backing band The Bleach Wipes, so it's no surprise how well everyone clicks here. On "Black Hole," Bourne sings while covering guitar, bass, and keyboards, Dadge plays drums and cello, and VanGaalen handles synths and backing vocals.

Bourne commented in a press release:

"'Black Hole' is a kind of sensual satire set to a post-punk bounce. I was messing around with three-chord pop feels on guitar, and the melody felt really '80s, so the synth hooks took '80s baroque pop and dream pop cues, and the lyric took shape as a kind of metaphysical dystopian daydream.

Waning attention spans in a 'Black Hole' of apocalypse anxiety, pandemic isolation, climate change and nuclear threat... information saturation, the vacuum of technified modernity... but human contact being made nonetheless, and a kind of sexy, non-binary, spiritual illumination realizing itself in spite of the trouble we appear to be in."

The eventual home for these new songs appears to be an upcoming LP titled Plant City. There's no confirmed release date yet, but I wager you'll see it by the spring.

"Black Hole" arrives alongside a video directed by Bourne and Rebecca Reid. It includes footage of several Treaty 7 art installations, including a Katie Ohe sculpture in Bankview, the Contemporary Calgary gallery, and the Maillot Homes Art Castle.

Tess Parks: "Happy Birthday Forever"

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Psych-pop singer-songwriter Tess Parks recently announced And Those Who Were Seen Dancing, a new full-length due May 20 through Fuzz Club and Hand Drawn Dracula. The Toronto-born artist, now based in London, shared the news alongside the gospel-influenced "Happy Birthday Forever." In a press release Parks commented on the single and the difficult path to the record's completion:

"In my mind, this album is like hopscotch. These songs were pieced together over time in London, Toronto and Los Angeles with friends and family between August 2019 and March 2021. So many other versions of these songs exist. The recording and final completion of this album took over two years and wow - the lesson I have learned the most is that words are spells. If I didn't know it before, I know it now for sure. I only want to put good out into the universe.

I really felt discouraged to complete this album. I stopped listening to music for honestly about a year altogether and turned to painting instead. I really had to convince myself again that it's important to just share whatever good we can - having faith in ourselves to know that our lights can shine on and on through other people and for other people. The thought of anyone not sharing their art or being shy of anything they create seems like a real tragedy to me. Even if it's not perfect, you're capturing a moment."

The new album's the long-awaited follow-up to Parks' acclaimed 2013 full-length Blood Hot. It's her first solo record since a pair of collaborative LPs with Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. The intergenerational duo issued I Declare Nothing in 2015 and the self-titled Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe in 2018.

Klazo: "Nobody Can Tell Us"

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Two-piece London punk bruisers Klazo return next week with the 'Demik Dementia LP, a set they're previewing with a raucous cover of "Nobody Can Tell Us" (originally by the first-wave Munich punk trio PACK). The new record arrives on February 4 through Big Neck Records in the US and No Front Teeth in the UK. The band commented, "If you like guts, death and explosions and KBD Rocknroll make damn sure to buy the fuckin thing!"

Klazo features Robbie Brake on vocals and guitar, with Jesse Allison drumming (both playing under the surname "Yadautas"). We know and love Rob's prolific output through a seemingly unending parade of synth-punk groups, including Mononegatives and Isölation Party. Allison runs the It's Trash label and spearheads the Radio Mutation internet radio network.

Julie & Dany: "Mayo"

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Quebec singer-songwriter Dany Placard and New Brunswick indie legend Julie Doiron have a new collaborative album on the way. Titled plainly Julie & Dany, the record arrives April 29 through Simone Records, bringing 11 new songs, including the preview single "Mayo." The set comes on the heels of Doiron's recent LP I Thought Of You, on which Placard played bass.

The "Mayo" single arrives alongside a video from Sylvain Dumais. Doiron commented on the track in a statement:

"'Mayo' is a day like many days in our little house in New Brunswick... And while it seems we are just singing of things like mayonnaise and carrots, we are mostly singing of the ups and downs and all the moments in between."

The new record reflects the monotony of life during the stay-at-home orders, written and recorded from the real-life couple's respective homes during the slow grind of the pandemic.

Doiron and Placard worked together on the recent I Thought of You in early 2020, teaming with Welland, Ontario brothers Ian and Daniel Romano in the studio. That record arrived last November through You've Changed Records. Last summer, Placard released Astronomie(suite), a companion piece to his early-2020 psych-rock record J'connais rien à l'astronomie (both via Simone - and both featuring Doiron on backing vocals).

Apollo Ghosts: "Pink Tiger"

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The grand return of Apollo Ghosts continues with the unveiling of "Pink Tiger," the title track to the Vancouver group's forthcoming double LP. As we explored a few weeks ago, the record presents a dichotomy between its two platers, and this track provides our first preview of the collection's gentler side. You've Changed earlier described the A and B sides of Pink Tiger as "an intimate home-recorded acoustic-based cycle that grapples with loss, illness, death, and memory." We're told the C and D side roar back with "an exuberant indie-garage rock celebration of the persistence of friendship, music, and hope." Slotted in as the first track on that gentler A side, "Pink Tiger" has the label exclaiming: "This one's for the flower-punks!"

It's a striking counterpart to "Spilling Yr Guts," the lead rocker from the plugged-in half that we previewed in January.

Lisa Marr of the Vancouver cuddlecore legends Cub directed the "Pink Tiger" video alongside Paolo Davanzo. Notably, the filmmakers processed the clip's 8mm film using a tea of flowers and organics sourced from the garden at Echo Park Film Centre North.

Apollo Ghosts recorded with Jordan Koop (Dumb, The Courtneys) at the Noise Floor, with additional production and mixing provided by David Carswell (Destroyer, New Pornographers) at JC/DC. The band recorded as a three-piece in the studio, with longtime drummer Amanda P. and bassist Robbie N. backing Teacher (on guitar, vocals, piano, and more). The group's future live lineup expands to a quartet, with Amanda picking up a guitar and Dustin B. cycling in on drums. The new record arrives following 2019's slow-burning instrumental Living Memory and marks Apollo Ghosts' first outing as a full band since 2012's Landmark. Pink Tiger arrives on March 11 through You've Changed.

Bratboy: "Dream Rope"

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Last week the emergent Vancouver punk act Bratboy issued "Dream Rope," the second preview from an upcoming full-length the band also recorded with Jordan Koop. The track comes on the heels of October's "Blue Eyes," a similarly impactful pop-punk tune that debuted the group's three-piece lineup. Now home to former members of the indie rock group Jo Passed, Bratboy's comprised of guitar/vocalist Bella Bébê, bassist/vocalist Megan Magdalena, and drummer Tony Dallas. The new track lands alongside a slick video from director Zachary Vague.

Bella and Meg took their first swing at this project in early 2019, releasing a pair of songs under the abbreviation BB (that single, collectively titled X, saw a limited physical release through the UK subscription label Flying Vinyl).

NOBRO: "Bye Bye Baby"

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Later this month Montreal quartet NOBRO's collecting their recent singles as an EP. Live Your Truth Shred Some Gnar arrives on February 23 via Dine Alone Records. The announcement landed alongside "Bye Bye Baby," which follows the infectious "Julia" and "Better Each Day" in previewing the 7-song set.

The new track is notably the first that guitarist/vocalist Karolane Carbonneau wrote for the group. She reveals:

"When I wrote that song, I was having the worst breakup of my life. Kathryn, the lead singer of our band, said to me 'you should take advantage of your sadness to write a freaking badass song.' I've always wanted to sing lead vocals on a song, but I never got the guts to do it. Props to Kathryn for the support and forcing me to do it! And please, do yourself a favour and never let anyone bring you down. Always believe in yourself."

Thomas D'Arcy (Yukon Blonde, The Sheepdogs) produced the upcoming record, with Dave Schiffman (PUP, The OBGMs) mixing. It follows the band's impactful 2020 debut EP, Sick Hustle and a rather busy (if constantly interrupted) slot opening some major tours in this country. NOBRO features vocalist/bassist Kathryn McCaughey, guitarist Karolane Carbonneau, Lisandre Bourdages on keys and percussion, and drummer Sarah Dion.

Horde of Two: I Knew I Was a Rebel Then

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Cinematic Vancouver instrumental duo Horde of Two recently returned with a new full-length. I Knew I Was a Rebel Then arrived in January from California's Shrimper Records, following up on 2009's Guitar and Bass Actions. The record kicks off with the striking 20-minute opus "Durruti: A Life in 8 Parts." A press release detailed the record's sound and the opening track's (unfortunately relevant) historical roots:

"As the world increasingly lurches towards tyranny, David responded by creating a musical sketch based on the life of anti-fascist Spanish rebel Durruti. From its pulsing power pop beginning it swerves through melancholy soundscapes to end on optimistic bursts of distorted guitar. Rebellion infiltrates the rest of the album through field recordings, finger snaps, stand-up bass, crazed laughter and a live one-handed guitar frenzy..."

You can hear the complete work now at Bandcamp. A 42-page chapbook of the same title, featuring two intertwined stories by the band, is also available from Bamboo Dart Press. Horde of Two features David Lester of the pioneering Vancouver indie-rock act Mecca Normal and experimental bassist Wendy Atkinson,

Ducks Ltd.: "Shades of Grey"

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Toronto jangle pop act Ducks Ltd. are riding high on the critical success of their stellar Modern Fiction LP. With that record still fresh, the group's unveiled their first follow-up single - a one-off titled "Shades of Grey." Singer/guitarist Tom McGreevy shared a bit on the track's history:

"This song is actually one of the oldest in our catalog. We wrote it around the same time as Get Bleak, or maybe a little bit after, and played it live a bunch, but never quite finished it. We kept poking at it for a long time until we finally got it to where we wanted it to be, which happened during the Modern Fiction sessions. We ended up leaving it off the record as it didn't quite thematically fit with the other songs, but I'm excited we're finally getting to put it out as I've always liked it. It's about the inertia of depression, and how hard it can be to break out of those cycles, but also about the pleasure of embracing that state. There is a certain, temporary comfort to be found in the abyss! Somewhere right before it inevitably becomes extremely awful."

The new song arrived alongside news of the band's spring tour dates supporting Brooklyn's Nation of Language and a rescheduled UK routing for the fall.

Ducks Ltd. records as a duo featuring Tom McGreevy (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (guitar, bass, drum programming). Modern Fiction, the band's first LP, arrived in the fall via Royal Mountain and Carpark Records.

PasMort: "Denis le Vampire"

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During the pandemic shutdown, members of Quebec punk groups A Tree At Last, Albatros, Lost Love, and Striver came together as a new band dubbed PasMort. Based in Rivière Du Loup, the quartet issued their first single in January, the punchy and anthemic "Denis le Vampire." The track arrived alongside a video that repurposes some classic Nosferatu footage. You can find it now on YouTube.

PasMort features vocalist/guitarist Jonathan St-Pierre, bassist Louis-Alexandre Bouliane, drummer Francis Bernard, and guitarist Olivier Thériault.

dianacrawls / Botfly: Split

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Their landmark Lower Than Love LP is just a few months old, but Haligonian post-hardcore noisemakers Botfly aren't standing still. Last week the band issued a new split EP with the Montreal skramz act dianacrawls. You can pick up the digital release today, with 7" vinyl due later on from No Funeral and Italy's Fresh Outbreak Records.

The split marks dianacrawls' first new material since 2020's EP A Glitter Manifesto. Before their latest LP, Botfly similarly teamed up with three sonically extreme Canadian acts - appearing on a four-way LP with Quispamsis grind trio Anthesis, Montreal sludge act Cell Press, and Cambridge, Ontario's Greber.

Moral Pleasures: "View From The Canopy"

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Pkew Pkew Pkew guitarist Ryan McKinley has an unassumingly hooky new single out from his alt-pop solo guise Moral Pleasures. The artist describes "View from The Canopy" as a song concerning "the majesty of trees and inspired by old growth forest defenders." The track's the first since Sleepy Songs For Dying Loves, a five-song EP issued in the summer of 2021. The new song arrives alongside a video directed by Jesse Powell.

McKinley's decidedly less subtle punk outfit Pkew Pkew Pkew issued an acoustic EP last fall dubbed Expedition Denied, their first output since their 2019 Dine Alone full-length Optimal Lifestyles.

Mo Kenney: "With You"

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Dartmouth singer-songwriter Mo Kenney recently issued the single "With You," the artist's first new work following last winter's Covers collection. The wistful track finds the artist working entirely solo, playing organ, guitar and mandolin (notably, it's her first studio recording without longtime collaborator Joel Plaskett taking part). In a press release, Kenney describes:

"...a track about my own messy, true-to-life experience with loss, reflecting on dashed dreams, miscommunications, and moments of quiet connection. I wasn't feeling depressed about my heartbreak, more-so optimistic. 'With You' is meant to capture that vibe with a hopeful feeling despite the darkness in some of the lyrics."

Kenny's working towards a follow-up to their 2017 full-length, The Details. Last year's Covers set featured renditions of classics by Big Star, The Kinks, Tom Petty, Daniel Romano, and others, including a haunting performance of Guided By Voices' "Game of Pricks" that's forever burned into my memory.

Sunnyside Uppers: Official Bootleg Series Vol. 1

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Saint John power-pop outfit Sunnyside Uppers has a new live EP, labelled as the first volume in an Official Bootleg Series. The three-song set features two originals plus a cover of Katrina and the Waves' unmistakable "Walking on Sunshine." Uppers principal Ryan Brown commented on the summer-recorded project:

"The fact that it exists is a happy accident; my friend Gavin Maclean was in town over the summer to shoot video for some as-yet-unreleased stuff. He's my former bandmate in Glory Glory and has created or edited most of my music videos (has also made videos for a bunch of East Coast artists). We went to local Lebanese restaurant Let's Hummus for some food, he loved the decor and wanted to shoot something there, and they let us! We did 3 songs. The EP is the audio from the camera, doctored up a bit (hence it being a 'bootleg')."

Videos of the three songs have trickled out over the past few months - with "If All is Lost" delivered on Christmas and "Walking on Sunshine" arriving this week to counter the bomb cyclone threatening the East Coast.

Bring on the Storm: "Decompose"

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Technical punk quartet Bring on the Storm returned last week with a new single dubbed "Decompose." The accompanying video finds the Calgary band performing in a garage, notably that of their hometown motorcycle shop Ill-Fated Kustoms. You can see the clip, directed by Alan Bremner, on YouTube now.

Singer/guitarist Chris Kreuger commented on the song in a statement:

"This tune is about an invisible monster that burdens and even sometimes takes life away. We all know victims. We've named the monster depression."

Belvedere's Casey Lewis recorded the track at Echobase Studio in Calgary, with John Harcus (of the Scottish punk band Pmx) mixing and mastering. The song lands as some of the band's first new material since 2018's Altruism LP and marks their debut for Montreal's Thousand Islands Records. A year ago, the band issued "Isolation," a track recorded from their respective homes during one of the COVID lockdowns. A split release with the French skatepunk group Call It A Day looks to be next on deck.

Bring On The Storm features Chris Kreuger (formerly of Torches to Triggers) on vocals and guitar, guitarist Brandyn Smith, bassist Josh Wallace, and drummer Clayton Fandrick.

Chimp Change: "Permanent"

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Red Deer's High End Denim Records recently shared a video for "Permanent," the new song from Albertan punk act Chimp Change that surfaced last summer. The long-hibernating group recorded the track to coincide with the cassette release of their sole full-length, Type Zero Civilization.

Bassist/Vocalist Blitzcraig commented on the song:

"Millennials will be the first generation since the beginning of the 20th century who will be on average less prosperous than their parents. We've lived through our entire adulthoods stumbling from crisis to crisis, lied to the whole time about how things will get better or it'll get easier if we 'just stick with it' or 'try a little harder.' 'Permanent' is a furious refutation of the pernicious lie that our generation is to blame for the state the world is in, and a warning that no matter how bad things are there's always farther to fall."

Type Zero Civilization first arrived digitally in 2013. The eventual physical release was a joint project between High End Denim and Barrie's Tarantula Tapes.

Cheval: "The Boys in the Bright White Sports Car"

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Despite my self-appointed role as a Z-level Canadian music booster, I'd be the first to admit that there are certain songs from the CanCon era that we're doomed to suffer for the rest of our lives, like CRTC-mandated scar tissue. In fits of post-ironic revisionism, I've learned to appreciate some of these, but so many I reject with every punk rock bone in my body. "Makin' It Work" is a goofy joy. "Oowatanite" I can get behind. "Patio Lanterns" is instant fucking death. Where does Trooper's 1976 hit "The Boys in the Bright White Sports Car" fall on that spectrum? I can't say I've ever been a fan, but AA Wallace makes a strong case for redemption with his new take.

The genre-hopping Nova Scotian songwriter has a cover of the radio staple out under his recently resurrected Cheval moniker. Wallace's take pulls back the throttle of the original, trading pop cheese for a decidedly darker Crazy Horse stomp. You can judge for yourself on YouTube.

After nearly 20 years, Wallace returns to Cheval with a new full-length due this March. That record includes contributions from Joel Plaskett, Loel Campbell (Wintersleep), Nils Edenloff (Rural Alberta Advantage), and Thomas Moffett. It arrives in the wake of the act's 2021 single "Makes Me Wanna Die," issued last March through Acadian Embassy.

Wallace's Toronto-based rock band Sleepless Nights released the full-length Every Word Is a Trap in May of 2020. Throughout the pandemic, he's also released a wealth of electronic music under his name.

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