Thursday March 17, 2022

Always a Little Bit Sad

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.

Yesterday's Ring: "Always a Little Bit Sad"

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It's been a decade since we've heard anything new from Yesterday's Ring, the rootsy side-project of Montreal punk heroes The Sainte Catherines. That dry spell ends on April 1 with the independent release of a new record, the mostly acoustic Goodbye Nightlife. The album finds the group reflecting on the excess of youth, looking back at their time on the road through the lense of age. You can hear two previews at Bandcamp now. "Always a Little Bit Sad" and "Money & Guitars" suggest a nostalgic outlook. The latter sells it with a well-placed guest appearance by Frankie Stubbs of the gruff UK legends Leatherface - who even in his youth carried the weight of the world in his raspy vocals.

Stubbs is one of several guests who took part in the record. It also features Felicity Hamer (United Steel Workers of Montreal), Keith Douglas (Mariachi el Bronx, Mad Caddies), Cleo Beauchamp-Paquette (Miracles), Ryan Battistuzzi, Joe Grass, and Margaret Tracteur. Rich Bouthillier and Marc-André Beaudet of The Sainte Catherines, of course, play a role. Given that the gang's all here, fans of the early-2000s punk act should undoubtedly take note. That band hasn't been regularly active in a decade either, last releasing the Fire Works LP in 2010.

The legend goes that Yesterday's Ring formally came together in Memphis, Tennessee, founded in 2000 as an offshoot of the then-touring Sainte Catherines by singer Hugo Mudie, guitarist Fred Jacques, and guitarist Louis Valiquette. The band last released Chasers in 2010, a record that revisited earlier songs with the group's then-seven-piece lineup.

Befitting their present-day status as wistful old codgers, the group's scheduled a responsibly restrained handful of tour dates to support the record. Those shows will see Yesterday's Ring accompanied by Lost Love's solo frontman Guilhem over the next few months. They're primarily sticking to their home province, other than a single date in Toronto. The run kicks off on April 9 at L'Anti in Quebec City.

Shoulder Season: "Dominoes"

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I didn't set out to make age and maturity a running thread in this week's mailing, but Dartmouth's Shoulder Season referred to themselves as an "adult women punk band" in a recent email, so I'm going to run with it. The quartet recently shared "Dominoes," their first new single with Meg Yoshida of Dog Day and Century Egg behind the drum kit. In a press release, the band commented on the track, penned and sung by Karen Foster (also of Safeword). They muse:

"What happens when the whole world loses a collective sense of what's normal, right and wrong? Changes that bring progress—the loosening hold of religion, the diversification in where we get our news and information —also have a double edge, because it's hard to know how to behave when no one is following the same rules or working with the same facts. As we watch our beliefs, and our sense that they're widely shared, come tumbling down like dominoes: how do we continue to understand and live with each other?"

The group recorded at Ocean Floor in Halifax. Rob Seaton of the Sudbury power-pop legends Statues Statues mixed and mastered the track with assistance from Jordy Oswald.

"Dominoes" arrives just a little less than a year out from the group's sole 2021 single, "Deep Fake." Shoulder Season features Karen Foster on keyboards and vocals, Mel Sturk (The Johnnies, Yuma County) on guitar and vocals, Kristina Parlee (The Maynards, Smaller Hearts) on bass, and the ever-in-demand Meg Yoshida drumming.

Seth A. Smith: Tin Can

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Speaking of Dog Day, frontman and filmmaker Seth A. Smith recently issued the soundtrack to his 2020 sci-fi flick Tin Can. The OST features 17 tracks, the brunt written and performed by Smith solo. Four songs feature renditions of music from the Baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti, with producer and Dog Day member Nancy Urich playing piano and harpsichord.

Smith directed the film, which he co-wrote with Darcy Spidle. The claustrophobic thriller stars Anna Hopkins (from The Expanse) in a plot that (for better or worse) coincidentally featured the horrific fallout of a global pandemic (although the fictional one sounds worse, all things considered). It was Smith and Ulrich's follow-up to their 2017 horror movie, The Crescent.

Dog Day, a beloved Haligonian "gloom-pop" quartet, last released the stellar Present LP in 2020 via their fundog label. The limited vinyl pressing of the Tin Can OST arrives through Label Obscura.

Ugly Sons: Ugly Sons

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Members of the prolific and incestuous Halifax lo-fi punk community have a new split cassette out. Attributed to Ugly Sons (or, sometimes inconsistently, Ugly Son - singular), the split release features four songs written and performed individually by Cody Googoo and Luke Mumford. The pair penned this material in late 2021, home-recording early this year to their respective four-track setups. Given the amount of oft-impenetrable noise this scene produces, it's quite a contrast to hear these two take a vulnerable acoustic detour.

Cody Googoo's played in a swarth of punk, hardcore, and garage rock bands over the years, including the Booji Boys, Alienation, Gemstones, Fragment, Heavenly Blue, and Mutated Void. Mumford's often found working on Googoo's projects as an audio engineer, but also boasts a sizable list of credits, including Negative Rage, Genetic Angry, and The Mark Vodka Group.

Julie & Dany: "Lying"

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Julie & Dany recently shared the second single from their upcoming full-length. You can preview "Lying" at Bandcamp or see it performed in a new live session on YouTube. Their 11-song debut arrives on April 29 through Simone Records.

The project features music composed by Quebec singer-songwriter Dany Placard and New Brunswick indie legend Julie Doiron. The joint effort arrives on the heels of Doiron's recent solo LP I Thought Of You, issued last fall through You've Changed Records.

Doiron and Placard, a couple outside of their professional relationship, worked on I Thought Of You together in early 2020, teamed with Ian and Daniel Romano in the studio. Last summer, Placard released Astronomie(suite), a companion piece to his early-2020 psych-rock opus J'connais rien à l'astronomie (both released via Simone - and both featuring Doiron on backing vocals).

Tess Parks : "Brexit At Tiffany's"

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Everything we've heard from Tess Parks' upcoming full-length sounds positively stunning. The psych-pop singer-songwriter's gearing up for the release of And Those Who Were Seen Dancing. It arrives May 20 through Fuzz Club and Hand Drawn Dracula. Her latest single, cheekily titled "Brexit at Tiffany's," finds Parks channelling Patti Smith with an engaging spoken-word delivery.

In a press release, the Toronto-born Parks commented on how the track came together:

"We were recording at Rian [O'Grady]'s house and the guys started playing this music which had Francesco [Perini]'s Ray Mananzarek Doors' sensibilities and Mike [Sutton]'s Neil Young-esque guitar, and then I started reading this poem I had written which pieces together definitions of words I found interesting and had written down. The title is thanks to Ruari [Meehan] who kept saying this over and over and we all thought it was the best thing we ever heard."

A video from director Robert Ascroft showcases the track. Shot in London, where Parks is now based, it features some rather horrific English breakfast masks.

The new album's the long-awaited follow-up to Parks' 2013 full-length Blood Hot. It's also her first solo record following 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 three years later.

Sheriff Birch: Duck Mug

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Winnipeg-based Metis musician Marshall Birch's played under various names over the years, with their latest long-player attributed to Sheriff Birch. Duck Mug, a 13-song set that landed in February through Ozarus Records, delivers a quirky slate of solo folk tunes, often addressing mundane topics with more memorable songcraft than they'd typically warrant. Songs like the title track or "Three Dead Cedars" deliver precisely what their titles promise but do so in immensely hooky, minute-long bursts. There's an innocent charm to weird little ditties like "Here, Have an Egg" that wouldn't be out of place on a well-crafted children's record.

From a genre standpoint, I'm not sure where you'd place Sheriff Birch (his press anoints his basement-recorded music as "lo-fi folk-baroque-country-rock"). Whatever you call it, the artist's oddball geniality transcends labels - a quality he shares with Calgary's Chad VanGaalen.

Pkew Pkew Pkew: "Maybe Someday"

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Toronto punk quartet Pkew Pkew Pkew return this May with a new full-length. Open Bar promises the 11 new songs from the hard-partying group, and if its anything like their last record, expect heightened levels of self-awareness underscoring all that good times. You can preview the album now through the single "Maybe Someday," as featured in a new video from director Shawn Kosmo (PONY, Tommy and the Commies).

Speaking on the song, vocalist Mike Warne revealed:

"This song is about sharing a bedroom with Ryan [McKinley] to save money on rent. It worked for a few months because we both stayed at our partners' houses, but when Ryan's fiance moved to Edmonton, suddenly he was home all the time."

On the album, produced by Jon Drew (Fucked Up, METZ), the band commented:

"Since we didn't have a hard deadline to finish, we felt a lot more freedom to take our time and mess around in the studio. Jon is the kind of producer that is down to try anything, so we had lots of fun playing with trumpets, old moog synths, glockenspiels."

Not counting the Expedition Denied EP that surfaced amidst the frustration of the band's pandemic downtime, the new record formally follows up 2019's Optimal Lifestyles. It arrives May 13 through Dine Alone Records. Notably, it appears that Pkew Pkew Pkew's continued their mentorship with Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, who's credited here as a "consultant."

Eliza Niemi: "Sushi California"

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Toronto's Eliza Niemi is a recurring character in this newsletter but appears most often as a collaborator: working with other artists through her Vain Mina Records label, as a backing vocalist, or making a guest appearance on the cello. At long last, the former Mauno member appears ready to seize the spotlight with Staying Mellow Blows, her debut solo long-player. It arrives June 1 through the UK's Tin Angel Records and Vain Mina. You can hear the playful lead single "Sushi California" now.

In a statement, Niemi commented on the quirky synth-pop track:

"It tells the story of two people spending the day together, each on completely different wavelengths. One is sadly thinking about their father aging, while the other is drunk on romance. It's about how the exact same interaction can feel completely different to someone depending on how they happen to project onto it. The first half of the song is playful (if not a bit delusional) as the protagonist projects affection and understanding onto their companion after a brief exchange.

The second half is pessimistic as the protagonist recounts the same exchange later in a different setting making them feel the complete opposite. There's such an element of performance to human interaction, especially in romance, and I wanted to expose the absurdity/tragedy/comedy of that in 'Sushi California,' especially with the music video. I am alone, in my own world, goofily performing for no one -- much like the song's protagonist."

You can find the accompanying video, directed by Ryan Al-Hage (Zoon, Commuted, Dorothea Paas), on YouTube.

You'll find a few familiar names among the lengthy credits of Staying Mellow Blows. It includes contributions from U.S. Girls collaborator Evan J. Cartwright, Toronto singer-songwriter Louie Short, Maryam Said of Poolblood, and Heaven For Real's Mark and Scott Grundy. You can peruse the complete list at Bandcamp.

Staying Mellow Blows follows Niemi's contemplative 2020 EP, Glass.

Handheld: "Bend the Iron"

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Revived Kitchener skate punk group Handheld has a new single out dubbed "Bend the Iron," the first track from their upcoming LP A Canadian Tragedy. Featuring guest vocals from Émilie Plamondon of the Punk Roquette podcast, the song addresses the 2013 train explosion that levelled Lac-Mégantic, QC. The band commented:

"You've heard the story, bare minimum safety protocols, inadequate staffing, and corporate oversight leads to tragedy. Bend the iron tells the true tale of how the lack of attention caused one of the worst rail disasters in Canadian history, claiming the lives of over 45 residents and destroying a picturesque lake-side town in Quebec."

The 11-song LP arrives June 14 through Montreal's Thousand Islands Records. The band commented on the record's overarching Canuck themes, revealing:

"Yes, Sorry we know we are friendly folk full of maple syrup and cheese curds. But Canada is not without its fair share of issues. A Canadian Tragedy is full of songs about love, irony, coverup, scandal, folklore and tradition all with a Canadian twist. 11 Fast melodic punk songs written with sing-along melodies and lyrics that make you go hmmm."

Since we're already leaning into Canadiana here, I should mention that one of these songs appears to be a cover of the Log Driver's Waltz. Take note.

Handheld issued a half dozen releases in their original incarnation, last issuing a self-titled full-length in 2008. They reformed in 2018.

3Dspex: Midwest Success

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Scrappy Sudbury emo/pop-punk act 3Dspex recently returned with "Midwest Success," their first material shared from a series of 2021 recording sessions. You can stream the track at Bandcamp now or see it featured in a new video on YouTube.

The new track follows up on the band's 2021 EP Sunny Days Inside - recorded under their old name of VCR (it turns out there already was one). 3Dspex features vocalist/guitarist Jame Quenville, guitarist Joe Genier, bassist Tony Carr, and drummer Dylan Baron.

The Dreadnoughts: "Cider Holiday"

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Vancouver's mariner-themed Celtic-punk act The Dreadnoughts return to action with Roll and Go, a new LP due June 24 through Stomp Records. They fittingly kicked off the cycle today, St. Patrick's Day, with the drinking song "Cider Holiday."

The new set features 13 songs, following up 2019's Into The North. The five-piece features Nicholas Smyth on lead vocals, accordion, and guitar, Andrew Hay on bass, Kyle Taylor on piano and violin, Aled Jenkins playing mandolin and bouzouki (a long-necked Greek lute), and drums from Marco Bieri. The band commented on the frenzied recording process posed by the pandemic:

"After ducking and weaving through countless travel restrictions, the Dreadnoughts managed to converge at Factory Underground Studios in Norwalk, Connecticut, USA, to learn, record and mix an entire album in nine days. We'll say that again: nine days. It was a harrowing, intense experience, one made even more intense by the fact that six guest musicians were recording their own parts in six different cities around the world, and that all of this had to be coordinated with virtually no time. But they got it done."

Jenny Berkel: "Kaleidoscope"

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Evocative Singer-songwriter Jenny Berkel recently unveiled "Kaleidoscope," the second single from her forthcoming LP These are the Sounds Left From Leaving. In a press release, the artist revealed:

"The internet with its rabbit holes, slipperiness, and propensity for mis- and disinformation inspired me to write 'Kaleidoscope.' I wanted parts of this song to evoke the same tense, frantic feeling that the internet can sometimes give, paired with a chorus that lifts its way out of that mood."

The song arrives alongside a video directed by Meg Hubley of Phyllis Rising Productions, filmed in the headquarters of Halifax's Shakespeare By The Sea.

These are the Sounds Left From Leaving arrives May 13 through Outside Music, following up last year's Pale Moon Kid. The record features contributions from Glentworth, SK folk duo Kacy & Clayton and string arrangements from Colin Nealis (Andy Shauf). Berkel co-produced the record with Dan Edmonds and Ryan Boldt (The Deep Dark Woods), recording live off the floor at London, Ontario's Sugar Shack with engineer Simon Larochette.

Cheval: Singer Songwrecker

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AA Wallace of the Sleepless Nights recently revisited his Cheval moniker, returning to the folky alt-country sound of his past for the first time in nearly 20 years. Originally from Nova Scotia but now operating out of Toronto, the artist's newly unveiled Singer Songwrecker feels awash in East Coast vibes. The 8-song set brings in some heavy hitters from the Canadian indie world, with contributions from Joel Plaskett, Loel Campbell (Wintersleep), Nils Edenloff (Rural Alberta Advantage), Thomas Moffett, and others.

The complete set's available digitally now through Acadian Embassy. Keep an ear out for the loving tribute to Trevor Murphy's beloved old radio show Halifax is Burning when checking out this one.

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 shared a wealth of electronic music under his name. Cheval kicked off this new era with the "Makes Me Wanna Die"/"Cool When Yer Old" single last March.

PasMort: "Serge Fiori Vs. Le Futur"

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Rivière Du Loup punk quartet PasMort continues to roll out new material. The band recently issued "Serge Fiori Vs. Le Futur" - continuing with the sci-fi and fantasy iconography their first singles were draped in. If you're not hip to the legends of Québécois prog, Serge Fiori fronted the band Harmonium in the 70s. Here PasMort declares that "Serge Fiori is our John Connor" amidst a tale of technological upheaval.

PasMort assembled 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.

Boring Girls: Fuck You So Much

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Montreal's Boring Girls emerged at the tail end of 2020, churning out three collections of brash punk rock in the time since. Their latest, the five-song Fuck You So Much, landed last week. That crassly titled set's also getting a limited physical release through Barrie's Tarantula Tapes.

Boring Girls issued their debut EP, Hello, Hell No in December of 2020, following it with the home-recorded full-length Bad Mammal in August of last year. With a raw sound rooted in early Californian hardcore, the limitations of home recording have served the group rather well.

Chief State: "Team Wiped"

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Vancouver's Chief State plays a slickly produced, modern style of pop-punk that's clearly on the other side of whatever line divides my old ass from "the kids," but don't let that stop you from checking out "Team Wiped." It's the energetic first single from their upcoming debut full-length Waiting For Your Colours. That record lands on July 1 through Mutant League Records.

Frontman Fraser Simpson commented in a press release:

"There's definitely a coming of age theme on the new album. We're asking ourselves: What am I looking to get out of life, out of being in a band? What joys do I want to pursue and where do I want to place my energy moving forward? We've come to the realization that we all need to stress less on the things we can't control and enjoy more of what we have, what we can control and the journey itself."

The new record follows up on 2021's stand-alone single "Metaphors" and the group's 2020 EP Tough Love. Chief State features Simpson backed by Nik Pang, Chris Kavanagh, Justin Pham, and Joseph Soderholm.

Alexisonfire: "Sweet Dreams of Otherness"

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I like to include one incredibly obvious update per mailing - something that should be news to absolutely no one, just in case I've got a subscriber returning home from an offline canoe trip. The internet just moves too fast for canoes, as we all know.

In case you missed it, the St. Catharines' bred post-hardcore superstars Alexisonfire recently issued "Sweet Dreams of Otherness," the first single from their first new record in over 13 years. The 10-song Otherness arrives on June 24 via Dine Alone Records. Comedian and actor Jay Baruchel, who seems to be everywhere these days, directed the "Sweet Dreams" video, which you can, of course, find on YouTube.

Vocalist George Pettit revealed:

"This song was largely Dallas [Green's] brain child but over the course of writing this record it became more of a mission statement for the band. It's kind of about performance and embracing a new found confidence in a state of peculiarity."

The band issued a collective opinion in that same regard, stating:

"A continuous thread through the fabric of Alexisonfire is the state of otherness. Otherness drew us all to spaces where a band like this could be formed. We attract the type of individuals that have all felt the sensation of being strange or unique. Perceived or otherwise, otherness has followed us through childhood, adolescence, and into our adult lives. It drives our tastes and proclivities. It bonds us with ourselves and others. And make no mistake, even at our most domestic and mundane moments, we are true outliers."

Alexisonfire self-produced the new record, with Jonah Falco of Fucked Up and Career Suicide mixing. The group's new material follows a series of one-off singles issued since their 2019 reunion. The band's last studio recordings of their initial run were 2009's Old Crows / Young Cardinals LP and the 2010 Dog's Blood EP.

The Nostrils: Undaunted

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Following up on last week's news of cool new archival collections spotlighting Victoria's Stick Farm and Calgary's Riot .303, the Supreme Echo label has another long-lost Canadian punk record ready for a new lease on life. April 15 will see an unearthed set of 1981 songs from Winnipeg's The Nostrils, collected as Undaunted. The Victoria label revealed:

"Kick you in the head! High-energy, lo-fidelity, loud, snotty, melodic, sardonic - The Nostrils emerged as the dawning light of Winnipeg's second wave of punk rock. Undaunted collects 8 songs spanning the group's in-yer-face punk and hardcore antics, including a celebratory cover of local greats Lowlife. Remastered from 40-year-old cassettes by vocalist Bruce Hallett with a meticulous upgrade by Audu Obaje. 16-page booklet with photos, art, and an anarchy-A chronicle of these Prairie Punks! Mega-long EP. Stickers. 550 copies."

You can hear two of the remasters streaming now at Bandcamp.

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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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