Thursday March 24, 2022

Boom Josie

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.

Kamikaze Nurse: "Boom Josie"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Vancouver's Kamikaze Nurse returns this summer with their sophomore full-length. Formed in 2018, the group's heady cross-pollination of shoegaze and art-punk continues with Stimuloso, a 10-song LP due June 3 on Mint Records. You can preview the set now by checking out "Boom Josie," the album's swirling, visceral opening track. It premiered this week on CBC Music alongside a video from director Jason Lei, which sets the song to kaleidoscopic scenes shot on Vancouver Island's Botanical Beach.

The band assembled the new set painstakingly during the 2020 lockdown, with each member separately recording in their jam space (overseen by drummer John Brennan). That socially distanced process took over six months to complete. Vocals were tracked in a later concise burst, laid down over a single weekend with Rain City Recorders' Mariessa McLeod. Faced with the challenge of unifying their cerebral, often cinematic dalliances into something concrete, the group brought in Greg Saunier of San Francisco noise-pop mainstays Deerhoof to mix.

Kamikaze Nurse features vocalist/guitarist KC Wei (hazy, Late Spring), drummer John Brennan, bassist Sonya Eui (Necking), and guitarist/vocalist Ethan Reyes. They issued their first LP, Bucky Fleur, in 2019.

Nora Kelly Band: "Hymn for Agnostics"

Watch on YouTube

Nora Kelly's new project sounds worlds removed from the racket she makes fronting the grungy post-punk trio Dishpit. The Montreal artist used the pandemic downtime to reinvent themselves, crafting smouldering alt-country with the Nora Kelly Band. That group's new single "Hymn for Agnostics" just landed alongside a video directed by Sasha Cay.

Speaking on the song, Nora revealed:

"When I was 11, I had my first panic attack about my impending mortality. To calm myself I began praying to God every night, although who's God, I couldn't have told you. I wasn't raised religious. In my adulthood the panic attacks have become less frequent, but my need for spiritual understanding has remained. 'Hymn for Agnostics' is for those of us who have no religion to lean on but who's faith in the spiritual is supported in our connections with each other, the planet and ourselves.

I have experienced many moments that led me to feel there is some kind of design. Ghost sightings, the psychic connections between a parent and child or two best friends, DMT and the power to keep fighting when it's easier to give up, have all played a part in my spirituality. Hopefully this song will play a part in yours."

The track offers an early preview of an upcoming full-length, due later this year. That record features Kelly on vocals and guitar backed by Ethan Soil (Fleece/DISHPIT) on drums, Vader Ryderwood (Treasure Eyes) on bass, Rachel Silverstein on keys, and Michael Feurstack on pedal steel. Pietro Amato (The Luyas, Bell Orchestre) mixed the album.

Dishpit's Steve Albini-recorded debut landed in 2021 after considerable delay. They're returning to action this May with an appearance at the 10th edition of the Montreal punk gathering Pouzza Fest.

B.A. Johnston: "Thrift Store Jesus"

Watch on YouTube

This week Hamilton poet laureate B.A. Johnston issued "Thrift Store Jesus," a preview of his upcoming full-length Werewolves of London, Ontario. The witty acoustic number's one of the first studio recordings we've heard from the LP, following a string of ramshackle online peeks through pandemic-era live streams (and an early listening party, if you were so lucky to have caught it). The record, which follows up on 2019's The Skid Is Hot Tonight, arrives this June. The reference-packed album sleeve by illustrator Paul Hammond, a send-up of the Strange Brew soundtrack cover, simply needs to be seen.

Stephan MacLeod directed the clip's accompanying video, described plainly by B.A. as "a tale of a man and his best friend, a picture of Jesus from a Salvation Army."

It does exactly what it says on the tin.

PUP: "Totally Fine"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Even for them, PUP's new video is gleefully insane, taking the running corporate shtick from their new record's promotional campaign to its zenith (quite literally). The clip comes from the band's longtime visual collaborator Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux, the director behind most of the Toronto group's key singles ("DVP," "Kids," et al.).

Drummer Zack Mykula had this to say in the band's newsletter:

"Did you have 'PUP releases an outrageously affronting music video' on your 2022 disaster bingo card? Well, you're in luck! Suffice it to say, we've really overstayed our welcome. Three videos in as many months?? Get outta here. But we're pretty confident that this visual circus, truly a rapturous panoply of incoherent imagery, will be the subject of thinkpieces for years to come. Watch it and you'll agree, this makes those big comic book movies look like the storytelling equivalent of a fetid decanter of unadulterated donkey piss, or the cinematic equivalent of happily chomping down on some kale and finding that it's FULL OF SAND (I was eating kale while writing this). Either way, you'll probably have to watch it a few times to truly absorb all of the idiocy and easter eggs within. But don't worry - it's totally not a waste of your time! It's the video for 'Totally Fine'!"

"Totally Fine" features guest vocals from Melanie St-Pierre of Casper Skulls. It's one of 11 songs due for THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND, arriving on April 1 through their Little Dipper imprint.

The new album follows the popular Toronto punk 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.

Ducks Ltd.: "Head On" (ft. Illuminati Hotties)

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp - Watch on YouTube

Toronto jangle-pop stalwarts Ducks Ltd. recently launched a series of covers, dubbed The Sincerest Form of Flattery. Last week, they kicked things off with a rendition of Jesus & Mary Chain's 1989 single "Head On" featuring Sarah Tudzin of LA's Illuminati Hotties. Expect each song in the series to pair the Ducks with a new collaborator.

Singer/guitarist Tom McGreevy revealed:

"I really like covers! If memory serves the first time we did one as a band was when Evan's parents came to visit Toronto from Australia and we had a show while they were in town so we learned a song called 'Before Too Long' by Australia's poet laureate Paul Kelly (who for those who don't know him is sort of like Australia's Bob Dylan/Bruce Springsteen/Elvis Costello all rolled into one very beloved guy). We've kept doing them live, both sincerely (The Go-Between's 'That Way') and as something of a goof (Tom Petty's 'American Girl'), ever since and every time we do one we feel like we learn something about songwriting and arranging that makes us better at making our own music. This project is kind of an extension of that exercise, and as a band who obviously wear our influences on our sleeve a bit, it's a fun way to share some stuff we're into.

The original 'Head On' is total a classic, and the lyrics are just so brilliant in an understated kind of way, but I actually started thinking about covering it after listening to the Pixies' cover of it on Trompe le Monde (which is the best Pixies album, don't @ me). They really kick the shit out of it, in a totally different way than The Jesus and Mary Chain do, and it made me desperate for a chance to sing it, and also got me thinking about ways you could adapt the vibe of it to make it fit into our world a bit. Sarah Tudzin has an immense and powerful production/mixing mind and one of my favourite singing voices of anyone doing stuff right now, so we asked her if she'd be down to work on it with us and she helped us figure out how to make it work. Truly a high honour! She also persuaded us to record our guitars through actual amplifiers for the first time ever, rather than going straight into the box like we normally do which feels momentous! Amplifiers! Who knew!"

The cover follows the band's recent one-off single "Shades of Grey" and their recent Royal Mountain/ Carpark LP, Modern Fiction. Ducks Ltd. records as a duo featuring Tom McGreevy (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (guitar, bass, drum programming).

Yves Jarvis: "Bootstrap Jubilee"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal psych/folk enigma Yves Jarvis returns May 13 with The Zug, a new full-length due through Flemish Eye and ANTI-. The 14-track LP includes the recent single "Prism Through Which I Perceive," along with the freshly unveiled "Bootstrap Jubilee."

A video for the track features a collage of Jean-Sébastien Audet's family photos, branching out from his childhood in Calgary. The artist dissected the song in a statement:

"The first verse describes both evolutionary biology and psychology; 'In the event that there's an opportunity / Coalesce into a higher form of being / Watch me bootstrap from the substrate underneath.' 'Bootstrap Jubilee' is the commemoration of my 25th year on earth, but all of humanity is being celebrated in verse 1 for the achievement of being. Verse 2 is a personal account of my childhood 'Born in 1996 with an immediate reluctance to exist' and foray into the arts: 'Busking on the street proved to be lucrative — made connections in the local radius' and 'Rubbing elbows with the Artists we revered, climbing up the rungs of a music career.'"

The Zug follows 2020's Sundry Rock Song Stock and a 2021 collaboration with Tasseomancy's Romy Lightman as the Lightman Jarvis Ecstatic Band. That duo issued the full-length Banned last year.

Commuted: The Notebook

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

For a few years now, David Eatock's teased an upcoming record for his weird-pop solo project Commuted. Like everything else, the pandemic threw the timeline for The Notebook into flux, but you can finally dig into aggressively eclectic artist's complete work. The set's streaming now at Bandcamp, just in time for Commuted's tour dates supporting the British anti-folk band Crywank.

As Commuted, the Toronto-based Eatock last released In a Waiting Room in 2019.

Jane Inc: "2120"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp - Watch on YouTube

I'll own my failure to mention the first single from Jane Inc's sophomore full-length. While I'm more interested in geography than genre, I'll admit that I too aggressively revert to the punk mean when I'm behind on my self-imposed deadlines. Sometimes a compelling outlier ends up cut, and it was certainly the wrong move in this case. The inertia of writing off "Contortionists" almost had me miss this record's enormous second single. "2120" is such an immediate, danceable joy that to suffer your week without it would be a tragic loss.

Carlyn Bezic had this to say about the thumping synthpop number:

"This is a song about the relentless passage of time, the tension between hope and despair, and choosing to be hopeful about the future of our planet despite all the reasons we have not to be. It's about feeling powerless as an individual, yet finding power in my emotional reaction to what's happening in the world… That my sadness and my anger is meaningful and important, and it can fuel me to commit to hopeful action."

"2120" is one of nine tracks on the self-produced Faster Than I Can Take, out April 22 through Telephone Explosion. When not performing solo as Jane Inc, Bezic's one half of the Toronto synthpop duo Ice Cream, plays in the rock outfit Darlene Shrugg, and serves as a touring member of U.S. Girls. The new album follows her 2021 debut Number One.

The Wesleys: "Find a Way" (Live)

Watch on YouTube

A few weeks ago, I shared the first single from emergent Montreal garage quartet The Wesleys. The skittering "Find a Way" arrived as our first taste of an upcoming self-titled EP, due soon via Burnt Sugar Records. This week, that track gets a little more mileage with a well-recorded live take, captured at the band's first show at Holy Mountain Sound. Clayton Dupuis' credited with editing the VHS footage, shot at the February 26 gig by Ty. You can check it out on YouTube.

The Wesleys feature Henry Girard, William D'amours, Quentin Chisholm, and Pablo Garcia-Rejon Gaubeca (Jyraph).

Sunnyside Uppers: "All I Want"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

I shared some in-depth background on Sunnyside Uppers' recent single "All I Want" earlier this month, so I won't repeat it here. That track, recorded with Monopolized Records principal Corey Bonnevie, recently resurfaced in a new video. The clip, directed by Naomi Studio, sees principal Ryan Brown performing the upbeat power-pop track as a one-band band. You can check it out now on YouTube.

The song follows the first volume in the Uppers' Official Bootleg Series, a live EP that arrived in January.

Lost Love: "Everything Is Alright"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal pop-punk group Lost Love is headed out on the road soon in support of Empathy, heading westwards to BC and back in April before their homecoming at May's Pouzza fest. They celebrated the announcement with a video for "Everything Is Alright," their fifth single from the record. Inspired by Boston ska band Big D & The Kids Table, the low-budget clip finds the band putting away more than a few drinks.

Lost Love released Empathy through Fantasio Club last October, following up their 2019's Stomp LP Good Luck Rassco. The band recorded in Montreal with producer Marc-André Beaudet (The Sainte Catherines, The Frenetics, Blurry Eyes).

The Stonemen: "Faded Colors" / "In the Evening"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

I've delighted in the nerdy history lessons we've had on Canadian punk these past few weeks through Supreme Echo's reissue efforts. Not to be outdone, Joe Chamandy's Celluloid Lunch Records has a pair of unearthed gems from the nation's garage rock past on the way. The first arrives on April 20 with a reissue of an obscure 1967 single from Cap-Pelé, New Brunswick group The Stonemen.

Eric's Trip drummer Mark Gaudet scribed the liner notes for the "Faded Colors" / "In the Evening" redux, commenting, in part:

"This space...if written by Claude Surette, could speak of growing up in the mid 1960s around 'rue principal' in Cap Pele and hearing music blasting from a house unlike heard before. Or if Ron Bourgeois (The Little General), could tell of when they were on his TV show 'Top 10 Plus' a number of times. Or when they were in CKCW studios on Gordon St., Bill McFadden could elaborate on all the songs they recorded and what it was like working with them.

Instead, you're stuck with me, who wasn't there or knew them. My story starts in 1990 when Paul Roy gave me their Faded Colour record on the Maritime label, which he bought at Harrison Trimble High school at one of their concerts. The importance of this record wasn't made apparent to me until I met Nardwuar the Human Serviette in 1993. Since then, their legend seems to keep growing."

The Stonemen were rhythm guitarist/vocalist Fernand Leblanc, lead guitarist Danny Leblanc, bassist/vocalist Norbert Leblanc and drummer Eric Leblanc. The band recorded these two tracks at CKCW Moncton with the above-mentioned Bill McFadden in 1966, first issuing them the year after on Maritime Records. Celluloid Lunch's reissue should be a tad more affordable than the original, copies of which have moved for $1,500 on Discogs.

The D-Vices: "Adequate" / "Modern Boy"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

April 20 will also see Celluloid Lunch issue an unreleased early EP from The D-Vices, the group that later evolved into long-running post-punk act The American Devices.

Montreal new wave historian Keith Strange gave a bit if history in the liner notes, commenting:

"A lot of folks who know The American Devices do not know that they started out as the D-Vices, with Phil Nolin as their front man and guitarist extraordinaire.

I met Phil in 1979 or 80 at the Hotel Nelson. I used to go there by myself every Friday night to hang out, meet people, and see bands, as my own group The Ulterior Motive had just broken up. At the Nelson, I saw the Normals and talked to Robert Labelle between sets. I also saw The Electric Vomit, Teenage Head, and The Brains there too. One night, Teenage Head, during their set, threw their album into the audience so that whoever caught it would keep it. That person was me. Phil was there that night and we met. I was looking to reform The Ulterior Motive, so we decided to join forces. What we did was, when I was playing my songs, Phil would play the bass, and when Phil did his songs, I played the bass. Our drummer was Pierre Perron. This worked for a while, but then Phil decided to go out on his own. Hence was formed the amazing D-Vices.

These two re-discovered tracks are an incredible find! I am so glad they are finally being released. More than ever, in this age of washed-out, gutless music, these songs, Phil's vocals, and amazing guitar work need to at last be heard again!"

On this 1980 demo, The D-Vices were vocalist/guitarist Phil Nolin, bassist Rick Trembles, and drummer Guy Lapointe. You can read statements from both Nolin and Trembles over at Bandcamp.

React to it at your leisure

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.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license

Enjoying the newsletter? You can now also support Some Party by buying me a coffee!