Monday April 4, 2022

Titanic / Lusitania

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.

It's a new era at Some Party!

That's perhaps overly dramatic given that the newsletter isn't changing its mission or format - but hear me out. Last week I turned 40 - and while I loathe acknowledging my birthdays at the best of times, I used the numerological heft of this one as an excuse to draw a few new lines. I may have thrown a bit of an existential tantrum in the process.

Before the big day arrived, I nixed most of the social media in my life. That's going to have an impact here, at least psychologically. I've rejected the pressure to over-brand this venture from the start, and there's never been an official Some Party presence to upkeep elsewhere. Through personal accounts, though, I'd share the link to each edition, dutifully tagging each artist I referenced in a given week. It was a reliable wellspring of cheap validation - an easy way to accrue likes, shares, and hollow digital attaboys. It accomplished very little in terms of subscriber growth - but the dopamine hits were just lovely.

It wasn't real, though - it was too wrapped up in the systems built to hold my attention by flattering my ego - so now I'm going to do without.

Whatever I'm seeking post-40, recognition as some quippy, always-online personality isn't it. Free from these distractions, I'm hoping to engage with the world without half my mind drawn to my phone. I fully intend for that newfound clarity to reflect in what I'm producing here; however, given my reduced online footprint, your direct feedback is now all the more vital. It's just me and you, faceless email recipient, and you know how to reach me.

Night Court: "Titanic"

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The Vancouver trio Night Court has a May 6 release slated for the second volume in their two-part debut. The group emerged with Nervous Birds! One in December, a brisk and hooky slate of punky power-pop. The 12-song Nervous Birds! Too completes the group's manic brain dump of pandemic era songwriting, a set you can preview through the bright new single "Titanic." Last week, the song arrived with a video premiering at my old haunt of Punknews.org. There, bassist/vocalist Jiffy Marx commented:

"This video was a real group effort because we were low on time. We shot the band stuff in my basement the day after my birthday then I left to play some solo shows in California the next day. Dave did the puppet animation while I was gone and Emily got to warm up her acting muscles which we will have her fully flexing in future vids!"

Night Court features Marx (of the BC new wavers Autogramm), along with guitarist Dave Soul (Jiffy Marker, Blood Meridian), and drummer Emilor Jane (Synchromantics, Pet Blessings).

Like its predecessor, Nervous Birds! Too, arrives via Debt Offensive Records and Snappy Little Numbers).

Weird Nightmare: "Lusitania"

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Keeping with this week's serendipitous ocean liner theme, Alex Edkins recently shared "Lusitania," the second single from his solo debut as Weird Nightmare. The track landed alongside a video from director Colin Medley, starring Allie Higgins. In a statement, Edkins revealed:

"'Lusitania' was a big breakthrough for the entire Weird Nightmare album. I realized that, musically, my goal was to make songs that would make people feel good! This idea of waking up from a terrible dream or winter changing into spring. Momentary relief. We all need that feeling right now and music has always been what I turn to most."

Edkins, well-known as the guitarist/vocalist of Toronto noise-punk originators METZ, has a May 20 release date lined up via Sub Pop. His 10-song set, recorded during his main band's pandemic downtime, features several notable guests, including Calgary folk mutant Chad VanGaalen and Alicia Bognanno of Nashville's Bully. 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.

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.

By Divine Right: "St. Leon's"

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Toronto indie rock survivors By Divine Right have a double LP slated for the fall, dubbed Otto Motto. It arrives September 30 through Fortune Stellar Records. The group, which has persisted in one form or another since 1989, commented that the record's first single tells "a true tour story about our adventure in Nakusp BC, and beyond." You can hear "St. Leon's" at Bandcamp now.

The track arrived alongside a lyric video comprised cross-Canada road footage. The song features the band's modern core trio of guitarist/vocalist José Contreras, bassist/vocalist Alysha Haugen, and drummer Geordie Dyne, with Stuart Cameron (The Heartbroken, Matthew Good) contributing a guest guitar solo.

By Divine Right's prior full-length was a curious one. They issued Speak & Spell US in 2016, a song-for-song cover of Depeche Mode's 1981 debut (with the synths swapped for guitars). Organized Accidents preceded in 2013. In 2020 the entire band appeared on Let It Beek, backing singer-songwriter Dave Schoonderbeek on his recent LP. Frontman José Miguel Contreras issued the solo LP At The Slaughterhouse in 2019 through Headless Owl.

Steven Lambke: "Sea Level" / "Acorns And Beach Stones"

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Following a pair of songs shared last month, Steven Lambke's offered up another preview of his upcoming solo set Volcano Volcano. You can now hear "Sea Level" and "Acorns And Beach Stones" streaming at Bandcamp. The former boasts some stripped-down guitar rock reminiscent of Lambke's later Baby Eagle material, described as "a party song for growing things."

The artist had more to muse on the latter. He ponders at Bandcamp:

"When the whole is incomprehensible we might try and understand it by its parts. Big things, like oceans and oak trees, remembered in some small way by the acorn or the polished stone sitting now on the window sill. Big things like "the world" or "nature". I don't like these words when used as if to refer to something completely separate from us, something that we might interact with, look at, or experience. Something separate that we might contemplate, exploit, or even love. I was looking for a language of relationship, of connection. A language that affirmed a shared existence. A language of mutuality."

Lambke, known as a guitarist and co-vocalist of the beloved Constantines, has the new record on deck for an April 29 release via You've Changed Records. The songs feature Daniel Romano on drums, organ, and vocals, Dave Nardi on bass, and Carson McHone on backing vocals, with material recorded both at Welland, Ontario's Camera Varda and Lambke's Toronto home.

Volcano Volcano follows up 2019's Dark Blue LP and several COVID-era curios. These include the instrumental dub.tape EP and the lead vocal role on Romano's hardcore-styled Spider Bite (part of the landmark run of roughly a dozen records Danny issued in the first year of the pandemic).

The Fuckin Astronauts: "Pistol John"

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Last week Toronto synth-punk duo The Fuckin Astronauts shared a video for "Pistol John." The new single continues the band's descent into scuzzy lo-fi, a quest they've approached with an aggressive zeal that reminds me of The Spits. The track premiered via the Toronto scene zine Ultra.

The Fuckin Astronauts features Liam Cosby (Vypers, Dark Trip, ROY) with Dorrie Mack. The new song's slated for an EP dubbed PJ $TYLE, due on April 20.

Look for the first live appearance from The Fuckin Astronauts later this month at Sarnia's Empty Fest. They're playing the April 30 show at Maud's Variety alongside Psychic Void, Burner, Not A Band, and Roof Rats.

Mike Trask: "Goosebumps"

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New Brunswick's prolific Mike Trask recently shared "Goosebumps," a sinister garage stomper that arrives as the third installment of his online-only VAULT series. The gritty tune has roots as a 2018 demo, later enhanced with some retro guitar and bass sounds from studio tech Paul Gamache. Julie Aubé and Katrine Noël of Acadian indie-folk trio Les Hay Babies appear at the track's conclusion, sparring with Trask in both English and French. Aubé earlier appeared with Trask on the VAULT duet "Love On The Rise," which surfaced in January.

Trask kicked off his VAULT series in October of last year, delving into his archive of demos and B-sides. He last issued the proper full-length TV Dinner in May of 2021.

Motherhood: "Ripped Sheet"

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Fredericton art-punk trio Motherhood return this summer with Winded, a new full-length due June 24 via the Forward Music Group. The group announced the new record alongside the release of the single "Ripped Sheet." The track arrived alongside a frenetic animated video by BBQT's Amery Sanford.

In a statement, vocalist/guitarist Brydon Crain commented:

"We wrote "Ripped Sheet" after talking about writing a 'straight-ahead punk' song for a while and then finally learning some Bad Brains covers. Lyrically, I was trying to describe the transition from my lowest point to getting sober, to the euphoria I was feeling once I was back in regular life. I could see that there was a long way to go but I was happy to be back on dry land and moving."

Motherhood recorded the 10-track record with the above-mentioned Mike Trask and Kyle Cunjak engineering at the analog studio MRC Recording in Memramcook. Cunjak and the band co-produced, with Deerhoof's Greg Saunier mixing. Bryan Martin mastered at Sonosphere. Julie Aubé and Katrine Noël of Les Hay Babies make a guest appearance here as well.

Motherhood last released Dear Bongo in 2019. The trio features vocalist/guitarist Brydon Crain, keyboardist Penelope Stevens, and drummer Adam Sipkema.

Forty Seven Teeth: Apologies

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Kingston, Ontario's Forty Seven Teeth are back after a lengthy absence, delivering a new full-length of 90s-styled alt-rock with some tasteful emo flourishes. The band calls Apologies their "pandemic baby," and it's a rather substantial release, packed with "16 tracks of memories, history, reflection, and biography." The group worked with Tim Aylesworth in the studio.

It's been a few years since Forty Seven Teeth's last material. The three-song Emotional Support landed in 2017, following up their self-titled debut EP from the year prior.

TJ Felix: Punkhouse Elegy

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TJ Felix recently unearthed Punkhouse Elegy, a two-song EP of unreleased early material. The Vancouver-based Secwépemc artist commented on the A-side, "Parasitic Lifestyle," in an Instagram post:

"[It's] a song about a shrouded time in my life that I wrote/recorded a few yrs ago... recorded on an old desktop in a pile of trash in the first place I lived in w/ my best friend at the time, who has since passed away, on the eve of our eviction.. prob from about 12-13 yrs ago when I was just a lil baby hoodrat"

That track arrives backed with a cover of Daniel Johnston's "Mentally Ill" (from his Danny And The Nightmares project), recorded in the same era.

The new songs arrive on the heels of (I Am) The Land, a 14-track collection of off-kilter, trauma-grappling punk tunes issued in January. For nearly a decade, TJ Felix recorded as Industrial Priest Overcoats. In recent years he's appeared as part of the group Bedwetters Anonymous.

Heavy Petter / The Holdouts: Split

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Ontario punk groups Heavy Petter and The Holdouts have a new split EP out now through Tarantula Tapes - available on cassette (of course) but also as a limited lathe cut 7" (a first for the label - manufactured by Red Spade Records).

Heavy Petter's contribution follows a similar split last year with Sudbury's Lightmares and their 2019 LP Such A Drag. The Holdouts issued their For Reasons Unknown EP in 2021. Hailing from Barrie, Heavy Petter plays as a trio featuring vocalist/guitarist Casey Cuff, vocalist/bassist Core Bee, and drummer/backing vocalist Jon Boyer. Melodic hardcore act The Holdouts call St. Catharines home and play as a quartet with vocalist Rick backed by guitarist Jer, bassist DG, and drummer Matt.

Cursed Arrows: "Highway of Thoughts"

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While we're on the Tarantula file: Barrie garage duo Cursed Arrows recently issued a video for "Highway Of Thoughts," a sludgy grunge number from their recent EP Mage. There's a sinister stomp here reminiscent of early Black Mountain.

Cursed Arrows features Jackie and Ryan Stanley, with both players trading off on vocals, guitar, bass, and drums from song to song (this track, in particular, has Jackie singing lead). Mage also features Nick Johannes (The Kettle Black) on bass and organ. The EP arrived in February via Tarantula Tapes.

Jasmyn: "Edge Of Time"

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Jasmyn Burke, former vocalist for the Toronto art-punk combo Weaves (and now billed simply as Jasmyn), recently shared "Edge Of Time," the third single of her solo era. It arrives alongside a video from director Iris Kim. In a statement, the artist revealed:

"I feel like while we exist there are a series of choices that one makes to get them to the next point in their lives. Maybe you move forward and try something new or maybe you stay put and are feeling stuck... For me this song is about walking through one's fears in hopes of experiencing a new way of being and seeing the world. It's the push and pull dynamic of changing and evolving, and how we sometimes can feel sorrow when shedding the old version of ourselves."

The track landed alongside news of Jasmyn's full-length solo debut. The 11-song In The Wild arrives June 3 through Royal Mountain and ANTI- Records. Weaves last released the Wide Open LP in 2017.

Lenny Bull: "Mother Lover"

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It's impossible to discuss the new single from Toronto's Lenny Bull without referencing Chrissie Hynde, and the artist's press handlers smartly embrace that resemblance. It's certainly not a shortcoming, as "Mother Lover" evokes The Pretenders' confident pop instincts and early punk edge in all the right ways. The track's our first preview of the album Strange Vacation.

In a press release, Bull comments:

"'Mother Lover' is a modern-day romance - a song about a girl who's been dating a 'mama's boy'. She's been trying to coax him to get away with her but this guy just can't get his shit together. A winner or snoozer - which one is he? If he can't make his mind up soon, she'll have to move on with her life.

The verse is written from the perspective of someone watching and the chorus is what she's saying to him. Plot twist... this girl's a little bit wild. Does our guy want that drama in his life or should he stay home with mommy?"

Aaron Goldstein (Daniel Romano, Bry Webb, Kiwi Jr.) produced the new record, following up Lenny Bull's 2019 EP Sharp Teeth. Her band in the studio featured guitarist Evan Fowler, bassist Matt Cooke, and drummer Galen Pelley. Brjánn Batista Bettencourt directed the track's accompanying video.

Lenny Bull previously sang for the Toronto country-rock act Tolero.

Crystal Eyes: "Like a Movie"

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Calgary dream-pop band Crystal Eyes recently shared "Like a Movie," their latest preview of the upcoming album The Sweetness Restored. The band's sophomore effort arrives on April 22 through Bobo Integral. In a press release, singer/guitarist Erin Jenkins commented on the track:

"'Like a Movie" is three minutes of indie rock bliss in the artistic vein of Sharon Van Etten or Alvvays. The secret to its sound is a classic Hammond organ with Leslie speakers, a kick-ass guitar solo and the backing of a string quartet that calls to mind flashbacks of Neutral Milk Hotel. If love is 'like a movie', how will the ending be?"

Andrew Woods and Basia Bulat produced the new album at Montreal's Breakglass Studios, with Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Yves Jarvis, Sunglaciers) mixing. Crystal Eyes currently features Jenkins backed by guitarist Jordan Tettensor, Joleen Toner on synth, bassist Will Johnson, and drummer Paul de Andrade.

Miesha & The Spanks: "Mixed Blood Girls"

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Calgarian hard rock duo Miesha & The Spanks has an expansive new video online featuring "Mixed Blood Girls," the emotional core of 2021's Singles EP. The piece, directed by Indi City's Alex Manitopyes and Angel Aubichon, features a cinematic exploration of Miesha Louie's childhood as a mixed-Secwépemc girl in the East Kootenay region of BC. The video also opens with a reading of the poem "Mixedblood Girls" by Rain Prud'Homme, which Louie credits with spurring her to write the song:

"I didn't 'come out' as NDN on this track, I've always been. But I've never used my platform as an artist to talk about my disjointed connection with my Indigenous identity. It was hard to be so vulnerable, but I was inspired, and it was something I needed to do. I heard Rain Prudhomme read her poem Mixedblood Girls one evening, when I attended my hometown friend Smokii Sumac's book launch here in Calgary. She was sharing her mixed experience so openly and it was beautiful and I related and I was drawn to it immediately."

Miesha & The Spanks plays as a duo, pairing Louie with drummer Sean Hamilton. The Singles EP followed up on 2018's Girls Girls Girls.

Thick Glasses: "Mydriase"

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The new single from Montreal skate-punk act Thick Glasses delivers some massive pop-punk hooks. "Mydriase" is the latest preview of the group's new full-length L'échec héroïque, due April 8. The band recorded with Jordan Barillaro at Tone Bender Studio and Studios de Rouen.

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 their 2020 EP Courir après sa queue.

Safeword: "Dirty Fingernails"

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Nova Scotian indie-pop group Safeword returned last week with the acerbic "Dirty Fingernails." They explain in a press release:

"[It's] a spite letter to the wealthy, from a city increasingly divided into ruins and homelessness on one side and luxury and excess on the other. It calls out the delusion of the self-proclaimed job-creators and wealth-generators, who believe they are owed something—respect, love, admiration—by those who are harmed most by their system."

The track follows February's decidedly gentler "Food for Something Else," both of which arrived in the wake of Safeword's 2021 debut Things We Never Could Afford. Look for these songs on a forthcoming EP slated for the summer. The band recorded at Ocean Floor with Charles Austin (Outtacontroller, Future Girls, Souvenir) and Franc Lopes. Joel Plaskett and Thomas Stajcer mixed at Fang, with Alex Burris mastering.

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.

Ronny Howl: "Lies"

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Speaking of Ocean Floor, the studio's showcased in the video for "Lies," the first single from emergent Halifax garage rockers Ronny Howl. The band issued the song last week through Acadian Embassy in anticipation of their debut release.

Ronny Howl brings together a veteran group of Maritime musicians, including guitarist/vocalist Nigel Tinker and guitarist Jeff Chew (both of Joyless Streets), guitarist Mike D'Eon (of Fossil Cliffs), bassist Alan Hoskins (from Myles Deck & The Fuzz), and Cold Warps drummer Lance Purcell. The band recorded at Ocean Floor with Charles Austin, readying their first self-titled EP for a release next month.

Blonde Elvis: "Still Life in Glass"

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Toronto glam-pop group Blonde Elvis has teased a record titled On Humility for what feels like years, and a release finally looks likely in the spring. A new single dubbed "Still Life in Glass" recently cropped up on Bandcamp, and while the band's thus far said little of it, it's a fantastically crafted slice of distinctive, new wave-indebted rock that's well worth a listen.

The band's still teasing that the record's first single lands on April 8 - which, of course, hasn't happened yet - so your guess is as good as mine to which it refers. This track features Mike Duffield, Kristina Koski, Andrew Hastings, James Kearns, Jesse James Laderoute, and Max Cotter. Both Duffield and Koski, in the past, played with Goosebump.

Hood Rats: 2022 Demo tracks

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Montreal punks Hood Rats have a new full-length record in the works, delayed as most are by the worldwide vinyl backlog. The band shared a set of four demo recordings to hold fans over. These tracks mark the gritty group's first new material since 40oz Of Fury in the summer of 2019.

Sunglaciers: "Best Years" (ft. Chad VanGaalen)

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Calgary's Sunglaciers unleashed their Subterranea full-length last month, launching it alongside a video for the song "Best Years" (a song featuring a guest appearance from the record's co-producer Chad VanGaalen). Vocalist Evan Resnik commented on the piece, which again finds them working with director Ryan Kostel:

"The song is about getting stuck in what comforts you and losing years inside passive contentment. Time passes, you realize all those plans you had for yourself have charred on the back burner or disappeared completely. You thought you were happy, but it was just the safety of your situation, a relationship or a decent job, that made you feel this way. Suddenly the world is dull and you feel like your time is up. I'm very afraid of that feeling and these days I try my best to avoid it.

The video was made by Calgary-based multimedia artist Ryan Kostel. He reworked old film footage and ran it through different media (weird lenses, old TVs, VCRs, etc.) to create a visual story for the song."

Subterranea landed on the Mothland label, showcasing a slate of isolation songwriting from 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).

Drew Thomson: Existential Collapse

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Single Mothers frontman Drew Thomson recently shared Existential Collapse, a five-song EP described as a "lo-fi bedroom experimental crisis." You can pick it up at Bandcamp now. It's the latest in a now-extensive catalogue of pandemic-era home recordings. While stuck at home, Thomson's issued material under a freewheeling cluster of names, including The Drew Thomson Foundation, No Idea Head, Single Mothers, and any possible permutation of the latter (SM WorseWorld, SM Worldwide, etc.).

Last year Single Mothers issued the full-length Bubble, expanding their sardonic punk pallet to take on industrial and electronic notes. The one-off track "Need," reflecting on the fifth anniversary of Drew's sobriety, surfaced last fall.

Meanlife: "Hard 2 Read"

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Jackson Fishauf's eclectic songwriting project Meanlife recently issued another preview of the upcoming LP Dark Arts. You can now pick up the songs "Hard 2 Read" and "Dark Arts Theme" at Bandcamp. Fishauf describes them respectively as "an introspective indie country pop ballad" and "an instrumental guitar workout that reminded my mom of Twin Peaks." Both tracks arrived with accompanying videos that recycle some classic film footage.

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.

Allegories: "Always True"

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Hamilton electronic duo Allegories recently shared a trippy visualizer for "Always True," a throbbing dance track and the final pre-release single from their upcoming LP Endless. The band commented:

"'Always True' feels like the dark part at the end of the night. The wrong side of 5am. A dark warehouse bouncing to ominous synth pads, and 909s. A sudden surge of energy, a second wind, one more dance while the night wears off."

The track follows "Pray," "It's a Parade," and "Constant" in previewing the record, which arrives after a nearly 14-year hiatus from the group (following their now essentially lost 2007 debut, Surreal Auteur). Look for Endless on April 29 through Hidden Pony.

Allegories feature childhood friends Adam Bentley and Jordan Mitchell, formerly of indie rock act The Rest.

Colyn Cameron: "Fault Lines"

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Wake Owl's Colyn Cameron recently shared "Fault Lines," the first single from an upcoming solo full-length. That record, titled Freehand, lands on August 5. You can hear the rootsy track at Bandcamp or accompanied by some vintage-looking film from director Rob Rice. Speaking on the song, Cameron shared:

"The term 'Fault Lines' could serve as a metaphor for many elements of the fractures between things we see and feel but also the past and future, and frankly any pair of opposites. The song is two parts, the first half speaking more to my failures (shortcomings), and the second half more critiquing the world's (sometimes palpable voids)."

This track features Cameron on guitar and bass, Aiden Ayers on lap steel and violin, with Josh Contant drumming. Based in Vancouver, Colyn Cameron's following up her 2018 LP Sad & Easy. Wake Owl last issued The Private World Of Paradise in 2014.

Chris Page: Those Aren't Stars Above Your Head

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Chris Page shares new home recordings like clockwork, but last week saw a rather substantial escalation with news of an entire album on the way. Those Aren't Stars Above Your Head is a modern-day acoustic reworking of Camp Radio's 2006 self-titled LP. The Ottawa-area artist referred to the original as "my favourite collection of songs I've written."

You can hear three of the revamped songs at Bandcamp now, with the complete set available on April 29.

Page plays these days in the duo Expanda Fuzz with Leila Younis. Before forming Camp Radio in the early 2000s (with bassist David Draves and drummer Scott Estee Terry), he played in the 90s-era Glengarry, Ontario pop-punk group The Stand GT.

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