Wednesday February 9, 2022

Cling like a fly to honey

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.

Swamp Prince: Swamp Prince

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

You may recall Liz Robinson as the bassist for Halifax garage rockers Best Friends. After some time off-grid, the scene veteran's back with a new project, debuting a super lo-fi and intensely personal EP last week as Swamp Prince. The group finds Robinson on guitar and vocals, fronting a three-piece backed by bassist Kayley Moon and Astral Gunk's Zakary Slax drumming. Those two play these days in the Montreal indie rock act Feeling Figures (formerly known as the Dead Beat Poet Society - they issued a debut last year through Celluloid Lunch). Thomas Molander (also of Feeling Figures) engineered and mixed the trio.

Robinson commented on the self-described "messy EP" via Bandcamp, stating that they recorded in Montreal after practicing together just once. She revealed:

"Behold, my lisp and my discordant guitar perform the soundtrack to your next vomit. We jammed once and recorded live the next day ~ I essentially had our second band practice mastered."

I, perhaps foolishly, endeavoured to listen to absolutely everything that hit my inbox this week, and the effort left me completely hollowed out. The brunt of what came down the PR funnel felt overly glossy and consciously manufactured for some online audience that I'm clearly too old for. I'm sure it was all competent and well produced by whatever TikTok metric they measure against - but it's just not for me. On the other hand, Swamp Prince isn't paying for a publicist by any means. They were only on my radar because I stumbled upon mutual acquaintances cheering them on. What they've assembled here, however hasty, feels worlds more meaningful than anything the mechanisms of the industry pushed my way.

The Swamp Prince debut features four endearingly broken songs. It's available to pick up today at Bandcamp.


Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

TOHC83 is a Bandcamp presence tied to Brian Taylor of the Toronto record store Rotate This, providing a digital home for historic punk artifacts from the city like the T.O. Hardcore 83 tape and classic records from Chronic Submission and Youth Youth Youth. Last week saw the quiet arrival of OLD, a self-titled nine-song set of classicly styled hardcore from a group of scene veterans. The band features Taylor on bass and vocals, the legendary Rick White of Eric's Trip fame on guitars, and Curtis (who I've not yet identified) on drums. They recorded in December of last year.

The set follows a spate of activity from White, who issued the psych-rocking Where It's Fine solo LP in 2021 through Blue Fog Recordings, along with a slate of recent vinyl reissues from Elevator/Elevator to Hell and Eric's Trip.

Brutal Poodle: "Drainage"

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Vancouver power-pop trio Brutal Poodle recently shared "Drainage," a track cut from the upcoming LP they recorded with Jesse Gander at Raincity Recorders. The hooky one-off arrived alongside a video directed by drummer Dustin Bromley. It incorporates some vintage Hi8 video footage by Corbin C alongside the band's performance. There's no word yet on when their forthcoming LP is due to arrive, but I'd expect it this year.

Brutal Poodle features bassist/vocalist Karmin Poirier, guitarist/vocalist John Johnston, and drummer Dustin Bromley. Members of the group previously appeared in SBDC, Jock Tears, and Slow Learners.

Kerkland Jerks: Demo

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Kerkland Jerks recently emerged in Vancouver from members of Tough Age, Debt, and Mango Reinhardt. The quartet plays scrappy lo-fi noise-pop while maintaining a curious preoccupation with the big-box retailer Costco.

The band issued a four-song demo on Bandcamp earlier this month, featuring three originals plus a cover of Sloan's "I Am The Cancer." Vancouver mainstay Jay Arner engineered and mixed the demo. Kerkland Jerks features Allison McClare on lead vocals and keys, John Packman on guitar, Reagan Belan on bass, and Jesse Locke drumming. Belan sings lead on the Sloan track.

Yves Jarvis: "Prism Through Which I Perceive"

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Montreal's enigmatic Yves Jarvis recently shared a new single, issuing "Prism Through Which I Perceive" alongside an animated video by Chad VanGaalen. Yves' track presents a brisk but busy 60 seconds of acoustic psych-rock with massively multitracked vocals. He commented on the song obliquely, calling it a "mandatory prism sentence" in which "I calibrate and blitz forthwith."

On the visuals, VanGaalen was slightly more talkative but no less forthright:

"Quantum spellcheck guides the pen through this rhythmical visual. 'Prism through which I perceive' a quote from a master chef, shrink wrapped in the wav file. Zoom in and zoom out but always zooming, always morphing. Evolution of endless thoughts and the language that is indeed creating reality as we know it. These shapes come from the song!!! It's me, CVG transposing the vibrations of YJ. Lucky to be able to put on this suit and walk for a bit."

The track follows Javis' recent singles "Body of Work" and "Projection." The artist last released Sundry Rock Song Stock in 2020 through Flemish Eye and ANTI-.

Matty Grace: I Was a Fat Stupid

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Restless Halifax artist Matty Grace revisited her earlier sounds last week with the EP I Was a Fat Stupid, referencing her time in the early 2010s pop-punk group Fat Stupids. The set, "recorded as a reaction to nostalgia," features six newly written songs patterned after the style of that now-defunct trio. A cassette release is due soon through Barrie's Ontario's Tarantula Tapes.

Grace always seems to have a half-dozen projects on the go. Her buzzing punk group Cluttered recently issued their vinyl debut, a ten-song collection titled The First Pandemic. Last year she appeared as part of the new lineup of the mandopop rockers Century Egg and issued a series of isolation Ramonescore tunes as Modern Cynics.

For their part, Fat Stupids last released the EP Reaction in early 2017.

No Frills: "Copy Cat"

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Toronto bummer pop group No Frills continues to roll out songs from their forthcoming LP, Downward Dog, last week sharing the single "Copy Cat." The track stands out from their recent singles as it finds Maddy Wilde (also of TO synth-pop act Rapport) on lead vocals. It arrived alongside a playfully animated video from Angela Kirkwood (described in a recent Range interview as "Yellow Submarine meets Schoolhouse Rock! meets Mr. Men").

The song follows "I Don't Wanna Be Your Dog Anymore," "Ice Cream Cone," and "Drip" in previewing the new record, due April 1.

Downward Dog arrives as the follow-up to No Frills' 2018 debut EP Nice To Meet You. That record saw Daniel Busheikin (of Grounders) establish the band's relaxingly downtrodden outlook, backed by his fellow Grounder Kelvin Grove, Jon Pappo (of Hooded Fang, WHIMM, and the touring version of Ducks Ltd.), and Matt 'Bucky' Buckberrough (of Twist and Beds).

Jasmyn: "Crystal Ball"

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Jasmyn Burke, former vocalist for the Toronto art-punk combo Weaves (and now billed as simply Jasmyn), recently shared "Crystal Ball," the second single of her new solo era. In a statement, the artist revealed:

"I was writing about being afraid of moving into the future but also getting excited by it... I knew that I had to change my life and follow my heart in order to evolve and be happy. I think I leaned on nature to do that. Staring at the sun go down, watching birds just float. Nature seems to move without regret or worry. I wanted to write about leaning on my intuition and charging forward into the future with what felt right. I was hit with fresh love and fresh air and a new beginning -- it was exciting. I think this song is about the concept of having a personal renaissance. Looking inward and finding that consistency for yourself even if it means letting go sometimes. Happiness is on the other side."

The song arrived alongside a video directed and animated by Rosalie H. Maheux. The track features Zac Rae on synth, prolific producer John Congleton wearing multiple instrumental hats, and a skittering percussion track from Beck and R.E.M. session drummer Joey Waronker. Burke's signed with Royal Mountain Records in Canada and the Epitaph imprint ANTI- abroad, launching this new chapter earlier this year with the single "Find The Light."

Weaves landed two records on the Polaris Music Price shortlist during their run, last releasing Wide Open in 2017 through Buzz.

Rogue Tenant: "Hallway Full Of Mirrors (Epitaphs)"

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Bandcamp recently restarted its artist-supporting Bandcamp Friday events, unleashing a predictable surge of new material from all quarters. Among the crowd, rootsy Toronto art-rock outfit Rogue Tenant resurfaced to share "Hallway Full Of Mirrors (Epitaphs)," a home-recorded song that follows up on last year's Always Another Day EP. The track finds principal Patrick Grant on vocals, guitar, keys, and accordion, with Daniela Gassi appearing on strings.

The credits note that Grant borrowed the "uh huhs" in the chorus from the Twist song "Blowin'" (the closing track from 2018's Distancing). Grant played in the Laura Hermiston-fronted group while they were active.

Smuther: Demo 2022

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Kamloops' Slow Death Records recently unveiled the four-song demo from Chilliwack, BC punk group Smuther. The label commented:

"At long last a band from the valley joining the roster and a solid unit of youths to boot. Smuther has been throwing shows in their area for the past few years as well as playing gigs in Vancouver regularly. Their fire for punk is burning high on this demo, and even just in 4 tracks. Proper pissed hardcore with lots of piss and vinegar, it's a new generation picking up the torch."

Slow Death has a limited run of 50 cassettes in the works. Smuther plays as a five-piece featuring Noah, Joey, Jordan, Taylor, and Gloris. Look for them this summer on the roster of Vancouver's Have a Good Laugh festival.

Young Guv: "Good Time"

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With the release of "Good Time," we nearly have the full A-side of Young Guv's GUV III available to preview. Ben Cook commented on the upbeat guitar pop tune in a statement, referencing back the band's isolation-era residency in Taos, New Mexico:

"When James Matthew VII said he wanted to come down and join us in the high desert, I contacted our landlord in The Earthship and she towed small trailer up and put it in our land and he lived in it. James got into a deep groove with how we were living immediately. He would knock on my door every morning and wake me up and play me ideas. He's big on working every single day, and he really helped take the relaxed creative schedule we'd all been on and turnEd it into more of a productive daily routine. 'Good Time' was the first songs we created when he pulled up. It's obviously a bit of a Tom Petty/Jeff Lynne cosplay/worship track, and I'm totally ok with that".

GUV III arrives on March 11 through Run For Cover and Hand Drawn Dracula, to be followed by GUV IV later in the year. Cook issued the similarly adorned GUV I and II LPs in 2019. Wearing a far more aggressive hat, Cook's known as the frontman of Toronto hardcore group No Warning and a former guitarist for Fucked Up.

Scott Hardware: "Love Through The Trees"

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Toronto Avant-pop act Scott Hardware recently issued the third single from the upcoming LP Ballad of a Tryhard. Project lead Scott Harwood spoke about "Love Through the Trees," which builds up a significant level of momentum from a gently unassuming opening:

"This is a love song! The night I wrote it, I was in a mad rush against my own urge to self-censor - the lyrics bare no mystery or even much poetry. More than that, they're honest in a way that STILL makes me uncomfortable. Being able to get them out before I could stifle this loud and proclamation of love was a big deal for me as a songwriter and as a person."

The 10-song Ballad of a Tryhard arrives on March 4 through Telephone Explosion. It follows 2020's Engel, featuring songs written during a residency in Spain. Harwood co-produced the new work with Matt Smith (Prince Nifty, Owen Pallett).

Elephant Stone: "M. Lonely"

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Montreal psych-rockers Elephant Stone have a new video out featuring "M. Lonely," the latest single from the group's upcoming EP Le voyage de M. Lonely dans la lune. The four-song set, notable as the band's first sung entirely in French, arrives on February 18 through Elephants On Parade and Fuzz Club. On the new track, frontman Rishi Dhir commented:

"I built this story line about a hermit named M. Lonely who is very content in his solitary world until a world event happens that causes everyone else to stay home as well... sound familiar? He sees this as a mockery of him and his choices, deciding instead to build a rocket ship to the moon to be left alone... [M. Lonely] ultimately realizes he was happier back on imperfect Earth with all of its imperfect people."

Directors Daniel Ross and Vincent Gauthier treat the song to a suitably psychedelic video. The new record features Dhir on vocals, bass, sitar, synths, guitar, and percussion, with Miles Dupire-Gagnon drumming, guitar and keys from Jason Kent, and Robbie MacArthur on guitar.

Elephant Stone last released the Hollow LP in 2020.

Jason Kent: "Something More"

Preview at YouTube

Speaking of Jason Kent, the Montreal musician has a new single of his own titled "Something More." It's due on Soft Commotion, an LP arriving March 31 from Elephants On Parade. While Kent typically fronts the ensemble Sunfields, this new album's billed solo - his first release under his name in nearly 16 years (Sunfields-proper issued the Late Bloomers LP last March). The artist commented in a press release:

"At the heart of my new single, "Something More," is the sentiment that we are currently living in an age where most things are a commodity, and thus we'll never be completely satisfied. It's a shrewd nod to the current state of affairs with some rhymes and a backbeat you can sway to... Neil Young said every guitar gives you at least a few songs. I wrote this song the day I purchased my 'new' 1968 acoustic guitar. It was literally the first thing I played on it."

UncleBibby: Inward Bound

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Following up on her collaborative "Friendfishes" single with Chad VanGaalen, Calgary electronic music artist UncleBibby's issued an album's worth of new material titled Inward Bound. The sample-heavy songs explore aspects of vaporwave and chiptune while drawing from nostalgically familiar slate of video game sounds. The album also reflects Locke's multiple neurological conditions, including Tourette's Syndrome, autism, and OCD. She comments in the release notes:

"ive been working on figuring stuff out, like my gender and my sexuality and my disability and whether im a furry/otherkin/voidpunk etc etc etc and im starting to realize that i have a lot of work to do and im not sure im up to the task. im afraid of a lot of stuff and very very afraid of some supposedly very essential human things and im wondering if i need to knock down those doors or if it's okay for me to leave them standing. my life is pretty small & isolated tho so i may run out of room to live if i don't. just kinda befuddled. these are some songs ive made or found hidden on my harddrive that represent the past few years, i guess. basically im saying please don't expect normal human behavior from me because thats far too terrifying. please be happy with what i am for now. i can't be anything more."

The set follows "Friendfishes" and Locke's 2019 full-length John Money's Money, landing as the 12th album from the project.

Jon Creeden: Louisbourg Demo

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Gruff Ottawa folk-punker Jon Creeden has a pair of new demos online. Recorded in the summer of 2021 at Broken Clock Studios in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, the appropriately named Louisbourg Demo features the new tracks "Road's End" and "Winnipeg." Creeden recorded these while tracking his cover of Rancid's "The Wars End," which appeared on Let Me Go, Anxiety Attack Recordings' entirely Canadian tribute to the East Bay punk legends.

Jon last shared a set of demos titled Canadian Pools in early 2021. As the frontman of The Flying Hellfish, he issued the Parti EP in the fall of 2020.

Worst Days Down: "Perfect, Dark And Still"

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Ben Sir's Edmonton folk-punk act Worst Days Down recently shared the single "Perfect, Dark and Still," the group's third acoustic tune issued in the past few months (following "That Was Fair" and "Lights On"). Sir revealed:

"Hey folks, I hope you all are well and your loved ones happy and healthy. I won't go on and on but this is a different kind of song for me. I hope you like it. Jonny Lovell put down the lead guitar and Kevin Klemp came up with the primary melody years ago. It's rattled in my brain ever since and only through Covid did I feel ready to work on my finger picking (which is far from good) and write this. I hope Jonny, Kevin and I can work on a fuller-band-full-band version soon, but it's an important song to me in a form I never expected I'd either do or be able to pull off. It's supposed to be melancholic, but build into whatever makes you feel light. Whatever helps you see past that melancholy. I hope you enjoy it."

Worst Days Down earlier revealed that a new record titled It All Exists At Once is planned for the near future. When it arrives, it'll serve as the follow-up to 2017's Elsewhere full length.

Chris Page: "Lost Love in Semitones"

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I'm fully aware of how often Ottawa garage vet Chris Page appears in this newsletter. I suppose I should cast a wider net, but he issues these lovely homespun singles with such regularity that to miss one would be an abdication of my sacred duty. His latest, "Lost Love in Semitones" landed for Bandcamp Friday. The track was a regular in Page's pre-pandemic live sets and arrived amidst the ongoing sturm und drang of the Freedom Convoy's occupation of the capital. He commented:

"As if we haven't been through enough. This past week has been extra difficult, and continues to be, for many here in my hometown. And music heals. So how about some new stuff?

...My friend John Higney played some great tenor guitar parts during those live performances. Eventually I'd love to re-record this to capture that magic he had going on. And he also suggested I change a lyric, so he gets songwriting credit as well.

'It's a hardened heart I'm leaning on'.

Keep safe and try to stay positive. Special shout out to my Ottawa friends and small business owners to hang in there. We've all got your back."

Page's Bandcamp sales during Friday's event supported Shepherds of Good Hope and Cornerstone Housing for Women. The song arrived following "The Hymnals On A Clear Day" from a few weeks ago.

Outside of his solo ventures, Chris Page plays in the duo Expanda Fuzz with Leila Younis. His past work includes stints fronting Camp Radio and the 90s-era Glengarry, Ontario pop-punk group The Stand GT. Last year he released Decide To Stay and Swim Again, an LP revisiting the songs originally recorded for his 2004 solo record Decide To Stay and Swim.

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Some Party is Adam White's misguided quest to share the latest in Canadian garage rock, punk, psych, and more. Subscribe and get it in your inbox more-or-less weekly. Your information's always kept private, and unsubscribing is easy.

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