Wednesday March 2, 2022

Message to Dallas

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.

Alas, I have no personal anecdotes to share regarding Dallas Good of The Sadies. We simply didn't know each other. Yet as I reminisce, I realize that I could tally up more face-to-face encounters with the man than I could with most musicians - there just always happened to be a stage monitor (or perhaps a merch table) between us. While I was dawn to Good's nimble guitar wizardry at every opportunity, he remained forever larger than life to me. I never broke past the stoic mystique of his stage presence. So while I've grappled with the news of Dallas' untimely death with a great deal of sorrow, those feelings remain wrapped in the otherworldly magic he projected as a performer. As familiar as it became, something enduringly surreal remains about the sound The Sadies created - double so the hands that helped deliver it.

I struggle to express this in more grounded terms, but it feels like the elves have sailed from the Grey Havens. Something old and noble's now lost, and while the world endures as it must, it's henceforth diminished. There won't be another.

Thankfully the personalities in Good's circle have far less abstractly Tolkienesque tributes to offer. Vish Khanna's connection with the band runs deep, and alongside penning Exclaim's obituary, he put his thoughts fourth on the Kreative Kontrol podcast. Likewise, Damian Abraham's Turned Out A Punk called up Jonah Falco to discuss Good's legacy, with some personal anecdotes from his time in Career Suicide. The discussion exemplifies how several eras of punk, hardcore and roots music seemed to find common ground through Dallas Good.

Good's ability to bridge genre silos played a massive part in my own growth as a music fan, and undoubtedly coloured my current trajectory. While 2004 found me in the thick of my Punknews tenure, I had little interest in covering the emo upstarts who were then in vogue, instead privately binging on Favourite Colours and Neko Case's Sadies-backed The Tigers Have Spoken. It always astonished me that The Sadies commanded my attention despite Good's history with the scene - I certainly wasn't aware of it then. The quality of their music was self-evident and indisputable.

Rick White of Eric's Trip and Elevator shared a long kinship with Good, notably performing alongside him (and the entirety of The Sadies lineup) in the early 2000s supergroup The Unintended. He issued a new recording dubbed "Message to Dallas," a heartfelt reworking of the song "Riverview Fog" from The Sadies' 2017 LP Northern Passages, as a tribute to his lost friend. Good wrote the original as an homage to White, who's returned the favour and reworked it from his perspective. You can stream or download the song at Bandcamp.

The Burning Hell: "Birdwatching"

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Last week The Burning Hell issued the second single from their upcoming Garbage Island LP - a fuzzy rocker dubbed "Birdwatching" that puts Mathias Kom's motormouth lyrical gymnastics on display. A press release reveals just a few of the references the PEI group packs into the two-minute track:

"The Burning Hell kick out the jams with a celebratory and wordy indictment of the hustle, the side-hustle, and all the personal and societal destruction that late-capitalism has wrought. Speedy rhyming references to Plato, The Lord Of The Rings, the Situtationists, and a whole world of self-help clichés are fuel for a Promethean fire (also referenced) that forges a new life from the garbage and debris of the old."

"Birdwatching" features Kom, Ariel Sharratt, Jake Nicoll, and Darren Browne. Look for Garbage Island later this year though BB*Island in Europe and You've Changed Records in North America. The set follows up on the 2017's Revival Beach LP and 2020's labour-focused Never Work, the latter billed as a solo project by Ariel Sharratt and Mathias Kom.

The new record's third single, featuring "Nigel the Gannet," arrives on April 23 as a Record Store Day 7" through Liverpool's 9x9 Records.

The Wesleys: "Find a Way"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal garage rock quartet The Wesleys recently emerged with the first single from an upcoming self-titled EP. "Find a Way" skitters about nervously, coupling a satisfying guitar jangle with cooly dispassionate vocals in the well-worn Pavement mode (it's also somehow five minutes long, not that it stands still long enough to make that evident). The song arrives through the tape label Burnt Sugar Records.

The Wesleys feature Henry Girard, William D'amours, Quentin Chisholm, and Pablo Garcia-Rejon Gaubeca. You may recognize Gaubeca's post-punk solo project Jyraph, a recent favourite of mine and a regular presence in this newsletter.

Colleen Coco Collins x Indigo Poirier: "Canard"

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The Greville Tapes Music Club is promoting a slate of upcoming tour dates featuring the entire company of the artists who took part in Season 2 of the collaborative recording project. Marian, Tooth & the Fang, Indigo Poirier, Colleen Coco Collins, Designosaur, and Sadie intermix to perform together at several East Coast venues this season, kicking off this week on March 3 at the Imperial Theatre in Saint John. Later this month, they'll make a stop at Fredericton's Charlotte Street Arts Centre (on the 18th) and Mel's Tearoom on Sackville (on the 19th), wrapping with a pair of Halifax shows at the Carleton on March 20.

The Season 2 collection features a dozen songs recorded in three sessions from the Fall of 2021. It first debuted on Bandcamp in January, with a cassette release on the way and wider digital distribution available later this week.

In the lead-up to the shows, the Club issued a new set of live videos, one featuring Port Greville's ethereal Coco Collins (ex-Construction & Destruction) performing the track "Canard" with Fredericton electronic artist Indigo Poirier. A second showcases the Fredericton rock group Marion with Saint John's folky Tooth & the Fang playing "Summer Heat" and "Revelation." You can check both out on YouTube.

NOBRO: "Eat Slay Chardonnay"

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NOBRO's hook-drenched EP Live Your Truth Shred Some Gnar landed last week through Dine Alone Records. The 7-song collection arrived alongside a video for the shout-along single "Eat Slay Chardonnay." In a statement, bassist/vocalist Kathryn McCaughey reflected on the record's ethos:

"Live Your Truth Shred Some Gnar is about needing to believe in something. For us, that's ourselves. Believing that we can and will do it. You have to live your truth and cannot lose sight of who you are. Even when you feel like a loser cleaning puke out of the bathroom sink, or because of rejection, heartache, and a seemingly never-ending list of reasons to give up. You have to shred some gnar because you are the only person who gets to live your own life."

Alan Hildebrandt of PRIORS directed the clip through Studio Del Scorpio (it follows similarly wild visuals he produced for Quebec punks FRVITS and New Vogue).

Thomas D'Arcy (Yukon Blonde, The Sheepdogs) produced NOBRO's new record, with Dave Schiffman (PUP, The OBGMs) mixing. It follows the Montreal quartet's memorable 2020 debut, Sick Hustle. The quartet features vocalist/bassist Kathryn McCaughey, guitarist Karolane Carbonneau, Lisandre Bourdages on keys and percussion, and drummer Sarah Dion.

No Fix: Neon Dreamz

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Windsor's Matt Menard is back with a scrappy four-song EP of lo-fi punk bangers as No Fix. The songs, collected as Neon Dreamz, arrive via Tetryon Tapes, the cassette subsidiary of Buffalo's Feral Kid Records. Matt recorded last September at Josh Kaiser's Kaiser Sound studio.

Menard's other musical hats (at least before the pandemic slowdown) include bass in the psych-punk group Psychic Void, vocals and lead guitar in the aggressive Brain Itch, and drums in Disco Assault. Neon Dreamz follows up 2020's No Fix EP, Apocalyptic Rock.

Unwanted Noise: Pils Sessions

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Gatineau's Pils Sessions continues their unwavering quest to document underground music from eastern Ontario and Quebec with a new studio set from Longueuil street punk act Unwanted Noise. The five-piece took part in the seventh edition of the series, recording in November 2021 at Pils Records' NOMANSLAND studio. As always, Chany Pilote engineered the performance with Dizz Hupé producing visuals.

The new recordings follow similarly staged sessions from Solitüde, Fractured, Dysruptive, Ciggie & The Darts, Ad Vitam, and Collapsed.

Unwanted Noise released a split with Quebec City's The Hacked in 2018, the Tonight We Die full-length in 2019, and another split with California's D-Con just last year. Look for them next on stage at the release party for Dayglo Abortions' Hate Speech LP on April 9 at Montreal's Foufounes Électriques.

Sunnyside Uppers: "All I Want"

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Some Party's bafflingly exhaustive coverage of Saint John's Sunnyside Uppers continues this week with news of "All I Want," the latest single from Ryan Brown's emerging power-pop outlet. This track stems from studio time spent Monopolized Records principal Corey Bonnevie (of Little You, Little Me and Doctor Mother Father). Brown had this to say regarding the track:

"'All I Want' was written during fall 2020. Corey (Bonnevie) had approached me about doing something in his studio. I was down but didn't have a song ready. We agreed to book some time when I did, and I got to work writing. Fall always makes me feel folky. In my mind I'm wearing plaid, playing acoustic guitar in the woods. Maybe there's a river. We fleshed it out between lockdowns and other projects over the following year. I played all of the instruments; Corey recorded, mixed and mastered the track.

Originally it was slower, in standard tuning. Then I read a biography of Joni Mitchell (from whom I borrowed the title) and started messing with open tunings. Found one that worked for this song, realized it was DADGAD, which is more commonly associated with Neil Young (he calls it D modal). I'd recently learned his "Pardon My Heart", which uses it, and realized I could steal some chords. Made the song strummier, so then I wanted it to be faster (to be honest there may be a part of my brain that's always worried whether a song is 'punk enough') - somewhere between the Sadies' 'Postcards' and 'Idle Tomorrows'.

Inspired by current events at the time - the pandemic, politics, polarization, protests, and people - as filtered through social media. The lyrics are about the idea that the ego needs an enemy. Wanting someone else to be wrong so you can be right. The disease of our discourse, in my opinion. None of this was supposed to be particularly relevant when it finally got released, but here we are."

The song's a quick follow-up to the first volume in the Uppers' Official Bootleg Series, a live EP that arrived in January.

Scott Murray: The Old and The Cold

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Scott Murray of Barrie, Ontario punk trio The Highdives recently issued a solo acoustic set dubbed The Old and The Cold. The five-song EP lands through his hometown tape label Tarantula Tapes as the follow-up to his 2019 debut Night Binge. You can hear the heartfelt set at Bandcamp now.

Murray recorded in the fall of 2021, working with local staple Core Bee in the studio (a bit of reciprocity for his appearance on the latter's 2021 record Sit and Drink). It arrives in the wake of the Highdives' 2019 LP, Ocean Blood.

Sunglaciers: "Out of my Skull"

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Calgarian post-punk group Sunglaciers recently shared a video showcasing "Out of my Skull," the synth-driven third single from their forthcoming Mothland LP Subterranea. The band's Evan Resnik directed the black and white visuals accompanying the track. He commented in a press release:

"'Out of my Skull' is dark but it's lively. I shot in black and white to lend a bit of a classic, noir vibe to the video, which also helped bring out some of my innate 90s influence.

The lyrics loosely reference Miles Davis and a few moments from his life: his hiatus from 1975-80, a shooting in 1969, being assaulted by a cop outside Birdland in 1959. I watched a lot of music documentaries in early 2020 when we began writing this record. Miles was a mysterious and brooding artist, and that initial inspiration helped me get into that mindset during songwriting and throughout the video production. The video is intimate but detached, with close-up faces in contrasting, unreal environments. We're in your face, but we're not really there."

The 13-song LP arrives on March 25 through the Montreal psych label. Calgary's acclaimed Chad VanGaalen produced the record, with Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Yves Jarvis) mixing.

The new Sunglaciers record results from an extensive pandemic-era songwriting exercise between multi-instrumentalist Mathieu Blanchard and vocalist Evan Resnik. On the road, Sunglaciers play as a quartet featuring synth player Helen Young and multi-instrumentalist Kyle Crough (Dri Hiev).

PasMort: "Le Sorcier de l'Espace"

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Rivière Du Loup's punk quartet PasMort recently issued their second single, with "Le Sorcier de l'Espace" chasing their January debut "Denis le Vampire." Despite the title and cover art, you'll find a brisk and rousing pop-punk tune here and not, say, 25 minutes of noodling Hawkind worship. You'd be forgiven if you assumed the latter; a space wizard carries certain connotations.

PasMort formed during the lockdowns from members of the Quebec punk groups A Tree At Last, Albatros, Lost Love, and Striver. The group features vocalist/guitarist Jonathan St-Pierre, bassist Louis-Alexandre Bouliane, drummer Francis Bernard, and guitarist Olivier Thériault.

Handheld: "Once (Again)"

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Kitchener skate punk group Handheld has returned to action after a 10-year hiatus, reconvening for a future release on Montreal's Thousand Islands Records. The band launched into a new era with a revamp of their early song "Once." They commented:

"If you don't know who we are, Handheld started in the late 90's when a bunch of highschool kids started playing in our parents basement. We released a bunch of albums and played all around Canada for the better part of 10 years. Handheld disbanded in 2008 but we always kept close. Some of us started playing in Curbside. In 2018 we started talking about putting together a few Handheld reunion shows and we started practicing again and we even re-recorded a few really old songs for fun. When the pandemic hit, all plans for a reunion went on hold. So we started writing again and before we knew it we had a whole album.

So before this new album drops, we went back into the archive and polished off of the very first songs we ever wrote. So here it is, a 22 year old song, re-written once again. Any ultra hardcore HH fans (the kind that live in their parents basements) will know this as the first track off the Homebrew album."

"Once (Again)" arrives alongside a video collage of photos from the band's early years. Handheld issued a half dozen releases in their original incarnation, cumulating in a self-titled full-length in 2008. Look for their new record this summer.

Moral Pleasures: Golden Autumn

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Last week Ryan McKinley issued the first full-length from his alt-pop solo project Moral Pleasures. The 10-song set includes the recent singles "Deathbed" and "View From The Canopy," following up on last summer's debut EP Sleepy Songs For Dying Loves. You can pick the collection up at Bandcamp now.

Moral Pleasures continues to prove a surprisingly mature outlet for McKinley, who we otherwise know from the Toronto party-punks Pkew Pkew Pkew. That group issued an acoustic EP last fall dubbed Expedition Denied, their first output since their 2019 Dine Alone full-length Optimal Lifestyles.

I love pointing out personnel connections, so, of course, I'm making mention of Pkew Pkew Pkew here. Moral Pleasures is so subtle and nuanced in contrast that the association is undoubtedly doing it a disservice.

Safeword: "Food For Something Else"

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Nova Scotian indie-pop group Safeword returned last week with the pensive "Food for Something Else." Vocalist Karen Foster revealed:

"I was in a funk about getting older when I started writing 'Food For Something Else,' realizing that people born after 2000 are full grown adults. I wanted to snap myself out of it by reminding myself that some people don't get to grow old.

An indie rock ballad that ends triumphantly, 'Food For Something Else' is partly about somebody in my life who died really young. But most of the track is just me wrestling with how not to waste my life trying to stay youthful. The rest of the band stepped up and made a sad song into something that rocks."

The new track follows up on the band's 2021 debut Things We Never Could Afford. Look for it on a forthcoming EP slated for the summer. The band recorded at Ocean Floor with Charles Austin (Outtacontroller, Future Girls, Souvenir). Joel Plaskett and Thomas Stajcer mixed at New Scotland Yard.

Safeword brings together members of Shoulder Season, Darts, Skullocybin, and Blackout 77. The band features Karen Foster on vocals and keys, guitarist Dan Watt, bassist Greg Baller, and drummer Brian Foster.

Thick Glasses: "Longsleeve Noir"

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Montreal skate-punk act Thick Glasses return next month with a new full-length. Look for L'échec héroïque on April 8. The group previewed the upcoming set with "Longsleeve Noir," a propulsive track that gets progressively heavier before it wraps. It's their first new tune since the "MVP" single, issued a year ago.

Thick Glasses features guitarist/vocalist Charles de Villers, bassist Étienne Dubé, guitarist David Roy, and drummer Gabriel Guimond-Mercille. The group's new record follows up the 2020 EP Courir après sa queue.

Crystal Eyes: "Don't Turn Around"

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Calgary dream-pop act Crystal Eyes recently unveiled "Don't Turn Around," the latest single from their upcoming album The Sweetness Restored. That record, the band's sophomore effort, arrives April 22 through Bobo Integral. In a press release, singer/guitarist Erin Jenkins commented on the psych-flavoured tune:

"We wrote this track starting with the synth line and formed all the other parts around that. The drums are actually built off a loop of the live drumming (played by Kenny Murdoch), that our producer, Andrew Woods, built. The guitar part (that guitarist Jordan Tettensor) wrote felt incredibly Joy Division - this is one of the darker tracks on the record. We were definitely going for something moody and also sanguine."

Andrew Woods and Basia Bulat produced the new album at Montreal's Breakglass Studios. Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Yves Jarvis, and the above-mentioned Sunglaciers) mixed it. This song features Jenkins on vocals and guitar, backed by Jordan Tettensor on guitar, Preoccupations' Scott Munro on bass and synth, Joleen Toner on organ and synth (a Canadian-made Theravox in particular), with Kenny Murdoch drumming.

Pastel Blank: "Terracotta Sunroom"

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Victoria art-rock act Pastel Blank has another new single online from their forthcoming LP. The groovy "Terracotta Sunroom" arrived alongside a video directed by William Wilkinson and guitarist/vocalist Angus Watt. In a press release, the latter revealed the literary influences on the track:

"I was reading a lot of Flannery O'Connor when I wrote 'Terracotta Sunroom', intrigued by her rendering of good country people wrestling with religious fanaticism, reproachable sins, and murky morality, all bubbling up to the surface through barely perceptible gestures. The novel 'Wise Blood' in particular was a big inspiration. When I was writing the lyrics, I thought of Hazel Motes and his tragic search for authentic belief in a world of religious hucksters."

The song follows December's single "Picture Perfect" in previewing the LP. Pastel Blank's forthcoming record finds the group working with David Parry (of Vancouver Island mainstays Loving and Jons). He co-produces with the band's drummer Oliver Hollingshead. There's no word yet on a release date.

Apollo Ghosts: "Island Kids"

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I'm proving incapable of keeping up with the onslaught of material previewing Apollo Ghosts' Pink Tiger, but I suppose that comes with the territory of a hefty double LP. Among the half dozen videos that arrived in recent weeks, the album's closing track recently surfaced in a new clip filmed by Mayita Mendez and edited by Ghosts principal Adrian Teacher. It closes what's said to be the more high energy of the album's two platters, billed as an "exuberant indie-garage rock celebration of the persistence of friendship, music, and hope." You can check it out on YouTube.

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 worked 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 live lineup expands to a quartet, with Amanda picking up a guitar and Brutal Poodle's 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.

Look for Pink Tiger on March 11 through You've Changed.

We Are Time: Chandra Mixtape Vol. 2

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The We Are Time label recently issued the second volume in their Chandra Mixtape series, focusing on new projects from the extended social circle of Canadian musicians who back New York post-punk veteran Chandra Oppenheim. The new set arrives a year after the first edition, available this Friday, March 4, as a download and limited cassette. You can see a teaser video by Joël Morin-Ben Abdallah on YouTube now.

The nine-song set features contributions from the jangle-pop trio Motorists, microtonal rock duo Body Breaks, Peleda's striking New Chance remix, the Chad VanGaalen/UncleBibby teamup, and more. You can preview the tape now through "The Leaves," a collaboration between the trip-hop act Miszczyk and Toronto's Marker Starling.

Peach Kelli Pop: "The Sign"

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Few songs haunt me like "The Sign," the inescapable 1993 hit by Swedish pop group Ace of Base. I was in fifth grade when it seemingly dominated all of western culture, and hearing but a note of it hurls me back to a time when I held no musical opinion other than a persistent state of annoyance. I suffer anew thanks to Allie Hanlon's bubblegum-punk act Peach Kelli Pop, who cover the song along with two others on Hardcovers, an EP arriving April 15.

If you don't share from my particular childhood trauma, you can hear the track on Bandcamp or pick it up on a limited flexi disc through Lauren Records. This rendition finds the group playing as a three-piece with Allison Young on bass and Pete Sosa drumming.

While now based in Long Beach, California, Hanlon's project has its roots up in frosty Ottawa where she drummed for Ontario garage-punk heroes The White Wires. Hardcovers follows Peach Kelli Pop's 2020 EP Lucky Star.

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