Thursday March 10, 2022

Searching for You

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.

Weird Nightmare: "Searching for You"

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Alex Edkins' Weird Nightmare surfaced a little more than a week ago, inconveniently (for me) right while last week's edition was in the thick of editing (clumsy obituary and all). So my apologies if this feels like decidedly old news - it is at today's pace. Sub Pop's relentless promotional machine won't let me forget it either, bombarding me with daily reminders of how behind I am. My struggles with target marketing notwithstanding, the label's zeal seems justified. The lead single "Searching for You" delivers such a joyous sugar high that a bit of over-exuberance feels entirely forgivable.

Edkins is, of course, known as the guitarist/vocalist of noise-punk standard-bearers METZ, and while the Toronto trio certainly hasn't run out of gas - the pandemic did force them off off the road. The group issued Atlas Vending in the fall of 2020, with supporting tours only now disentangling from the COVID bramble. The downtime provided Edkins with the opportunity to finish a slate of songs that didn't fit the band's sludgy extremes - some of which sat on the shelf as demos from as far back as 2013. While the brisk punk of "Searching for You" certainly shares METZ' penchant for lo-fi distortion, it could never be mistaken as one of that band's songs. Edkins commented:

"It's a fun, no nonsense rock 'n' roll song. It's about searching for meaning and inspiration all around us. In my mind, the "you" in the chorus refers to something bigger than companionship or love; it's that intangible thing we all look for but never find..."

Due on May 20, the upcoming record promises ten new songs that show off this decidedly different shade of Edkins' songwriting. It's certainly not pop - but it feels worlds less encumbered than METZ' oft-punishing outlook. He continues:

"Hooks and melody have always been a big part of my writing, but they really became the main focus this time. It was about doing what felt natural... My favorite songs are the simple ones. I've never been attracted to virtuosity or technicality. Certain songs have the power to lift your spirits like nothing else can. I wanted to create that type of song."

The upcoming record features several notable guests, with Calgary folk mutant Chad VanGaalen appearing on "Oh No" and Alicia Bognanno of Nashville's Bully singing on "Wrecked."

A record release show, supported by Toronto's Sham Family, is scheduled for May 21 at The Baby G, followed by a tour with Kiwi Jr. that crisscrosses the border. You can find the routing on the project's website.

METZ released Atlas Vending, their fourth proper full-length, on Royal Mountain Records and Sub Pop in October of 2020. Last November, the group issued their Live at the Opera House LP, followed recently by a split 7" with London's Adulkt Life.

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Brandon Saucier's lo-fi solo project Print Head continues to churn out new tapes at a relentless pace. The 11-song Change landed last week, just a month and a half after the preceding In Motion and chasing at least four different sets of bedroom weird-punk from 2021. The longest track on this thing clocks in at a whopping 49 seconds.

Saucier's alternated between several stage names over the years, including WINT, Compassion Fatigues, and Tim Spacey. Change and January's In Motion follow December's IDKWTFimdoing and October's boringboring (the latter co-released through Australia's Under Heat Records).

Modern Cynics: Modern Cynics

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No less prolific, we have Matty Grace over in Halifax, rotating new material between her solo act, the white-hot punk quartet Cluttered, and her pandemic Ramonescore outlet Modern Cynics. The latter recently issued a self-titled seven-song collection via Bandcamp, recorded "abruptly" in the winter of 2021. It chases Auditory Postcards, a compilation of the project's initial salvo of lockdown tunes recently issued on tape through Dirt Cult Records.

In February, Grace put out the solo EP I Was a Fat Stupid, calling back to her time in the early 2010s pop-punk group Fat Stupids. Cluttered - I should note - recently announced that they'll open for Propagandhi when the Winnipeg punk legends hit Halifax this may.

TJ Cabot: SD Action! EP

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Moncton's TJ Cabot came roaring back last month with SD Action!, a four-song digital EP. The set's centred around a new version of the song "SD Action," a fresh take on a track that first appeared on the project's 2020 demos. A planned 7" featuring it and the b-side "On the Front Page" ultimately never materialized. Those songs appear here with the newer tunes "Streaming" and "Chewin" - all recorded in a basement to a laptop with no external microphones.

TJ Cabot's otherwise known as Tyler Boutilier - a member of the Phone Jerks, The Beaten Hearts, and Nerve Button. In December 2020, he released a rather killer set of home-recorded garage punk tunes on Alien Snatch as TJ Cabot & Thee Artificial Rejects. The Out Of Touch EP, a collaboration with Moncton synthwave artist Sonic Hz, followed in the spring of 2021.

Dogma: Pils Sessions

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In late February, the Ottawa peace-punk four-piece Dogma hopped the provincial border to neighbouring Gatineau to partake in the Pils Sessions, with the studio quickly turning their set around for a release this week. You can stream the group's five-song set at Bandcamp now. Alongside four originals, you'll find a cover of "Witch Hunt," originally by British anarcho-punk group The Mob.

Chany Pilote engineered the performance with Dizz Hupé documenting the visit. Dogma's following up on their 10-song debut full-length, released via Grow Your Own Records in the fall of 2020. The band features vocalist Steph, guitarist Justin, bassist Ricky, and drummer James. Ottawa scene regular Ska Jeff helped write some of the band's new material before moving on from the group.

Dogma's the second capital punk group to play a Pils Session following Ciggie & The Darts' appearance last fall. The ongoing series recently hosted a legion of Quebecois bands, including Unwanted Noise, Solitüde, Fractured, Dysruptive, Ad Vitam, and Collapsed.

Indian Giver: "Blind"

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Tough Indigenous hardcore act Indian Giver recently shared "Blind," their latest in a series of pummeling singles and their first since "Blood on the Cross." As with that song - all proceeds raised are due for the intergenerational survivors of the residential school system and indigenous artists.

The band recently announced plans to play the first day of Philadelphia's Break Free Fest on June 18. The event finds them billed alongside Winnipeg's acclaimed and sludgy Vagina Witchcraft.

Rip Pop Mutant: "Parfois" / "Évidemment"

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Alex Ortiz of the Montreal indie trio We Are Wolves and the space-punk noisemakers FRVITS has a pair of new songs online previewing his solo debut as Rip Pop Mutant. The project's first record, Fluxus Pop, promises a quirky mix of synthpop, new wave, and psych elements. Ortiz paired with Adrian Popovich (PRIORS, Tricky Woo, Mudie) to create the record, with both individuals performing and recording in the studio. Two previews from the album are now online - the slick English language "Parfois" and the newly unveiled French track "Évidemment." While the former's a more conventionally structured new wave throwback, the latter's quirky instrumental refrain and reverb-drenched vocals feel wonderfully distinctive. The 13-song record arrives on April 9 through Simone. Christophe Lamarche Ledoux mixed the album, with Oliver Ackermann of A Place to Bury Strangers mastering.

A video for "Parfois" went live in January. You can check it out on YouTube.

As part of We Are Wolves, Ortiz issued the La main de Dieu EP in the summer of 2019. FRVITS unveiled their barn-burning debut Stupid Era EP in late 2021 through Slovenly Recordings. 2020 also saw Ortiz participate in a pair of songs from the Montreal noise-rock unit TV Erased.

Heaven For Real: "Sweet Rose" +2

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We haven't heard much from Halifax/Toronto indie-pop act Heaven For Real since their 2016 Mint Records LP, Kill Your Memory. Pandemic hurdles aside, the quartet did manage to get together over the past couple of years, quietly putting some new material to tape. We now have our first taste of that with three new songs, "Sweet Rose," "Green Winter," and "Desk Top." You can hear them all at Bandcamp, with a full six-song EP due March 25. That record carries the mammoth title of Sweet Rose Green Winter Desk Top Tell This Side Autumn Of The Fighter Hot In A Cool Way - a concatenation of every song title that no human shall ever hope to mutter aloud without practice. Shrug emoji.

Heaven For Real last issued the Live In Japan tape in 2018. The group features brothers Mark and J. Scott Grundy, Nathan Doucet, and Cher Hann. In the years since the last H4R material, the Grundys recorded Our Drawing Club, Mark's quirky solo debut as Quaker Parents. It arrived in 2019. Nathan Doucet's played with several sonically varied acts over the span. These include work in the studio with Halifax neo-soul group Aquakultre and an appearance in one of the live permutations of Scott Hardware.

Super Kill Me Now: Super Kill Me Now

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Members of the defunct (and/or indefinitely hibernating) Ontario noise-punk acts Deathsticks and WLMRT are playing together in a new trio with the cheery name Super Kill Me Now. The group features Deathsticks' Matt Post on bass and lead vocals, backed by WLMRT alumni Alex Wood on drums and guitarist Luke Mackinnon Trotta. Last Friday, the group issued a nine-song self-titled full-length of suitably agitated, shout-along rock songs at Bandcamp.

The band's one of several active projects from Post, who recently issued several electronic-heavy recordings from the Matt Post Band and a low-fi punk EP with The Gunge.

Real Sickies: Danny, It's Not Your Birthday

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Edmonton punks Real Sickies have a new EP out, and it carries a bit of a rather curious backstory. The group issued Danny, It's Not Your Birthday last Friday, revealing that the set resulted from an attempt at fraud. An individual contacted the band online seeking to commission a birthday song, all as the means of kicking off a banking scam. While the band avoided the worst of the financial trap, they still wrote the song! Frontman Ben Disaster commented:

"...this scam targets mostly singer songwriters and now bands. Someone asks for a song and gives a big heartfelt story. They over deposit money and when you send the remainder their cheque bounces. Then you are left with the debt of what you sent them plus the bank fees. It's crazy to me. And around Christmas too."

You can find the full story at Bandcamp, along with the resulting audio.

Real Sickies issued Love is for Lovers last year through Stomp Records. It was the group's first full-length since their home-recorded 2020 LP Quarantined, featuring 14 new tracks with guest appearances from Dave Bacon (The Real McKenzies/SNFU) and dream pop singer Lucette.

Sauna: "Float"

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Toronto synthpop trio Sauna recently shared "Float," another danceable glimpse of their forthcoming LP, Dose Yourself. The track arrived alongside some vintage psychedelia from video director Justis Krar of IMMV Productions. Krar discussed the clip:

"The goal was to get out of the way and let the words and groove take the video to where it needed to be. Like finding a VHS at a thrift store with the words FLOAT UP written on the side. What kind of disco space odyssey will you go on?"

The new songs follow the double A-side singles "Only Luck" and "Modernization" in previewing the new album, due May 20 through the band's namesake Sauna Records. The group features Michael le Riche of Fake Palms on vocals and synths, performing with ex-Weaves bassist Zach Bines and Greys drummer Braeden Craig. Sauna recorded at Palace Sound with Christopher Sandes producing.

The new LP follows up on Sauna's 2019 debut, a self-titled EP issued through Idée Fixe Records.

The Moröns: "Orinoco Flow"

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Calgary party punks The Moröns have a new home on Red Deer's High End Denim Records, kicking off the relationship with (of all things) a raucous cover of Enya's late-80s hit "Orinoco Flow." Frontman Robbie Moröns commented on the band's rendition:

"I thought it would be funny to cover Enya and I'd never heard anyone else attempt it so I gave it the old college try and it's turned out to be one of our 'fan faves' at shows. We usually play it last though so they could just be cheering cause we're done..."

The new relationship makes a ton of sense, given that frontman Robbie Morön recently released his Palooka Haymaker collection through High End Denim. The Moröns last released the Today's Special LP early in 2020.

Sam Coffey: "Worried Mary"

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Toronto's Sam Coffey continues to tease out solo recordings in the lead-up to Big Thyme, a planned country record. He digs deep into folk history on his latest: a rendition of the Appalachian traditional "Worried Mary." You can stream it now via Bandcamp.

Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs issued Real One, their superbly maximalist third LP, a little more than a year ago Dine Alone Records.

Meanlife: "Selfish Loop"

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Jackson Fishauf's eclectic songwriting project Meanlife recently issued their single "Selfish Loop" - backed by a cover of the Beatles' first US single, "Please Please Me." It's the first preview of an upcoming LP titled Dark Arts. The new single, described as a "frustration anthem," features drums by Nutrients' Turner Wigginton and Jon Drew mastering. A video shot with help from Charlotte Law is now playing on YouTube.

Meanlife last released the "Smile in the Night" single in April of last year, following several digital one-offs. The new record, when it arrives, will be Fishauf's first since 2019's Bad Vibes in the Womb.

No Frills: "Darkhorse"

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I've become more infatuated with each successive preview of Downward Dog, the forthcoming debut LP from Toronto bummer pop group No Frills. Our latest glimpse arrived last week with the extended "Darkhorse." Daniel Busheikin described the slow-burning jangle-pop tune in a feature at Spill Magazine:

"'Darkhorse' was written after I was fired from a café of the same name (oops!) and is about the carrot dangling in front of our collective faces, promising an ultimate material reward that will always elude us. Basically a more pretentious version of 'work sucks // I know.'"

Downward Dog arrives April 1 as the follow-up to No Frills' 2018 EP Nice To Meet You. Lead by songwriter Daniel Busheikin, the relaxingly downtrodden group features Kelvin Grove (who plays in Grounders with Busheikin), Jon Pappo (Hooded Fang, WHIMM, and the live Ducks Ltd.), Matt 'Bucky' Buckberrough (Twist, Beds), and Maddy Wilde (Rapport).

Wasting Time: "Certain Days"

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Toronto pop-punk act Wasting Time slows things down for their latest single, with the acoustic "Certain Days" leaning into the quieter influence of bands like the Alkaline Trio and Smoking Popes. It's likely the final preview of the group's forthcoming LP Once More Without Feeling, due March 25 with distribution through Paper + Plastick. You can check out a video for the track at YouTube, directed by Crusty Media.

Steve Rizun (The Flatliners, Junior Battles) recorded the 10-song album at Drive Studios in 2020 and 2021. The new record follows Wasting Time's 2019 EP Separation From Your Senses and their 2018 full-length Tales from the Morgue. Look for a kick-off show on the release day at Toronto's Hard Luck Bar, with Wasting Time appearing alongside The Anti-Queens and K-Man & the 45s.

Worst Days Down: "Chasing It"

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Ben Sir's Edmonton folk-punk act Worst Days Down continues to roll out heartfelt acoustic material while circumstances keep the band off the road. Recent recordings have strayed quite far from the "punk" end of that hyphenation, and their latest certainly follows suit. Sir recently shared "Chasing It," commenting:

"This is an incredibly personal track that is meant to address mental health, my struggles with it and others, but my simultaneous privilege that music and touring has brought me. And also a couple very impactful experiences. Visiting a concentration camp and working in Vancouvers downtown Eastside, which I will be again shortly. The beauty and darkness of life all exist at once. We find our way through or give up."

Worst Days Down earlier hinted at an upcoming record titled It All Exists At Once. When it arrives, it'll serve as the follow-up to 2017's Elsewhere full length.

Lammping: Stars We Lost

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Toronto psych-rock group Lammping recently issued Stars We Lost, a five-song EP and the follow-up to their 2021 full-length Flashjacks. The set lands via We Are Busy Bodies as a one-sided limited edition 12" record. In a statement, singer/songwriter Mikhail Galkin commented:

"Stars We Lost comes from the classic tabloid headlines of when celebrities pass. I thought it sounded like a good album title and thematically reflected some of the record... Our first records were more traditional Psych/Stoner Rock albums, propelled by guitar riffs and solos, but we ultimately always wanted to reach beyond that. We love Sleep and Sabbath and King Gizzard but we also love De La Soul and Madlib, for example. The approach for this record was much closer to 3 feet High and Rising (De La), where we look at all the ideas and sounds we have in our minds almost as samples. Once you approach the recording process in that way, where you're almost building a sound collage around a song you wrote with just a guitar, the world opens up musically. The end result is still under the psych umbrella, but we hope it translates to something that transcends cliche and categorization."

Lammping emerged as a songwriting project between Galkin and Badge Époque Ensemble drummer Jay Anderson. The group's since grown to a four-piece, augmented by Matt Aldred on guitar and Scott Hannigan on bass.

Flashjacks, the band's sophomore LP, arrived in 2021 through Echodelic Records. It followed their self-titled 2020 debut through Nasoni Records.

Chris Page: "Holding Court at the Funeral Brunch"

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You can't shake me from the Chris Page beat, and the Ottawa garage rock veteran makes it too easy. Last week Page issued "Holding Court at the Funeral Brunch," the latest in a long line of stripped-down digital singles issued at a steady pace over the pandemic. You can read a bit of commentary on the song at Page's website, recounting some of the memories reflected in the lyrics.

When not stuck recording at home, 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.

Nyssa: Dos Demos (Pisces '22)

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Toronto glam-pop hero Nyssa recently shared a pair of rough demos, previewing the songs "Appetite 4 Destruction" and "The Initiate." Both home-recorded tracks feature the artist's uniquely triumphant vocals, with frequent collaborator Zack Burgess (Kremlin, Gardenworld) accompanying on guitar. Nyssa comments these are "a little baby taste of what this witch has been cooking up while the shit's been hitting the fan."

Last year Nyssa's multi-year run of show-stopping singles finally came together as a cohesive album, with Girls Like Me arriving on vinyl through Fuzzed and Buzzed.

Baby Labour: "Seattle"

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Guelph, Ontario's jazzy math rockers Baby Labour return April 30 with a new four-song EP. You can now preview Kissin Hands & Shakin' Babies through the preview track "Seattle" at Bandcamp. The record, the band's third, arrives via Brampton's Glue Gun Records.

This album features guitarists Dan Loughrin and Troy Lafontaine backed by drummer Jake Cadieux. It's also notable as Lafontaine's final effort with the group. Going foward, Baby Labour's new lineup includes Loughrin and Cadieux alongside Kyle Coveny (Glüv, Badminton Racquet) and Michael Siegrist (a veteran of numerous Royal City punk groups, including Got Social and The Nasties).

Young Guv: "Take Up All My Time"

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You'll probably have Young Guv's GUV III in hand by the time this email reaches you, but don't miss the final video issued in the lead-up to Ben Cook's latest slate of throwback guitar pop. "Take Up All My Time" arrived last week alongside a clip co-starring Eliza Niemi. Director Adam Stewart gives the clip a distinctive look through a process that saw the film boiled in saltwater.

Cook discussed the new tune in a press release, stating:

"I made a demo of this song really high in the middle of night when I lived in NYC, still pre-pandemic. I don't have a clue how to play it and all the guitar tracks are in different capo positions. I'll probably never know. When I got to the mountains in New Mexico, this was an instrumental that I always had planned to write lyrics to, but I hadn't had the chance yet. Again, I wrote the words and recorded the vocals in the middle of the night, very high, and put it on my hard drive and never listened to it again. I knew it would be on the album because I knew I'd never write a ballad-esque, emotionally-driven high-desert-by-way-of-Brooklyn shuffle ever again. When we got to the studio in LA to record the live drums that's all we did to it. I left all the demo tracks and all my home recorded vocals on it because I couldn't recreate the mood–and like I said... I have no idea how to play this song. It's about the feeling of wanting to throw yourself into someone else and completely disappear, that feeling of wanting to spend every waking moment together. I deeply fear that in this new world of intense isolation I might never feel that again."

GUV III arrives tomorrow (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.

PUP: "Matilda"

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PUP shared a new track at some point in the last seven days, so of course, that means it's likely to have supplanted the national anthem by the time you read about it here. In case you've been living under a rock, the popular Toronto punk quartet issued "Matilda" as the latest preview of THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND. Lead vocalist Stefan Babcock revealed the story behind the track in the band's newsletter:

"Matilda was a gift from my friend Ryan. We were on tour in 2014 with our pals The Menzingers, it was the first time we'd ever played in Richmond Virginia and everybody hated us and we played like shit and it was BAD but now our shows in Richmond are GOOD it's funny how sometimes things get BETTER OVER TIME unless they get WORSE, which they FREQUENTLY DO. Wow, sorry. Dark.

Anyway, like I was saying, the show was piss. And at the end, I accidentally dropped my only guitar and it broke into pieces. We were in the middle of a long tour and I had no guitar and no money to buy a replacement, and Ryan literally gave me his guitar. It's up there on my list of 'nicest things anyone's ever done for me'.

I played Matilda nonstop for 5 years at every single PUP show, even when my bandmates started complaining that she sounded like shit. As the shows got bigger, the pressure to sound better was building and so eventually they convinced me to buy a 'good' guitar and I played Matilda less and less. Before I knew it I hadn't played her in over a year. I wrote this song based on this intense feeling of guilt and sadness and shame and nostalgia and regret, watching her rot away in a corner. I love this guitar and I love Ryan and wanted to do right by them, and I felt like I'd failed them both. I convinced the band that Matilda deserved one last rip on a PUP record, and I played her during the bridge of this song. It sounds so shitty. But good shitty. Great shitty. For me, it was the most joyful and cathartic moment in the entire making of this record."

The song arrived alongside a video directed by Jeff Dutton, starring comedian Mike Mitchell (of the Doughboys podcast).

THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND arrives on April 1 through the band's Little Dipper imprint. The new record follows the Toronto band's pandemic-era EP This Place Sucks Ass and their critically lauded 2019 album Morbid Stuff. PUP features vocalist/guitarist Stefan Babcock, guitarist Steve Sladkowski, bassist Nestor Chumak, and drummer Zack Mykula.

Stick Farm: Reharvest

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Supreme Echo has several reissues of long-lost Canadian punk records on deck for this year, and last week the Victoria-based archival label announced a pair of them.

Stick Farm also hailed from Victoria and in their early 90s run played thrashy hardcore informed by bands like Neurosis and Nomeansno. The label's packaged up a good portion of their limited discography into an LP dubbed Reharvest. They detail:

"Canadian Teen Crossover. A potent hybrid of metal-tinged hardcore drenched in progressive thrash. STICK FARM from Victoria, BC secured a record deal before performing live or entering a real studio, releasing two 7" EPs in a fast-paced, two-year rise. From their humour-laden hardcore days, they quickly graduated to more complex lyrics and arrangements. Reharvest comprises 8 songs in 37 minutes recorded 1990-91 by legendary punk rock producer/engineer Scott Henderson and remixed from original reels by Cody Baresich. Large-format 12-page booklet with photos, art, and the band's inside story. Two stickers. 475 copies."

You can hear three of the remixed songs streaming now at Bandcamp, with the LPs out on March 30.

Riot .303: Riot .303

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On a similar note, look for a self-titled collection from early Calgary punk group Riot .303 arriving via Supreme Echo on March 30. Again, the label sneaks a history lesson into their pitch:

"Canadian Prairie Punk! Early 80s greats RIOT .303 from Calgary featuring ex-Sturgeons rhythm section and future Beyond Possession vocalist. 17 punk rock anthems recorded 1981-83, including their full studio output — four each from 1982's super-rare Crowd Control EP and Thrasher's Skate Rock Vol. 1, plus 9 powerful unreleased songs. Meticulously remastered by Audu Obaje. 8-page booklet with photos, art, and full-band interview. Two stickers. 550 copies, colored vinyl."

Three remastered songs from the record - "Drugs," "Skate Punx," and "In The City" - are streaming now at Bandcamp.

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