Wednesday April 13, 2022

Expelled Virtue

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.

PRIORS: NEWNEWNEW

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PRIORS seem a little ticked off on their newly shared EP, but it's anger of a particular quality. Granted, it's a pretty shallow observation to recognize "the punk band is mad," but there's a tossed-off frustration to NEWNEWNEW that's rather impressively petulant. In the wrong hands (my son's, for example), that's not a great look - but through PRIORS' storm of buzzsaw garage and blown-out synth noise, it's strangely endearing. There's undoubtedly some backstage drama powering the three-song NEWNEWNEW, billed as a "fuck you to the industry" - but those details are never explicit. Soon after sharing, the Montreal group quickly qualified their attack in an Instagram post - noting that they didn't necessarily intend to lash out at every label - just a select few who've earned their ire (I suppose they know who they are):

"I mean fuck, I have a lot of friends running very beautiful amazing little nuggets of art foundations... but as we push on in this weird fucked up world the artists continue to get fucked, and this is what this record is about."

I'll note here that PRIORS' DEVO-core offshoot New Vogue appeared on the tape I released a while back, and Some Party hasn't paid Max one red cent of that windfall - so I best keep my snark in check.

You see the title track visualized in a new video directed by Studio Del Scorpio (FRVITS, NOBRO). It premiered this week through the tastemaking Spanish webzine Tremendo Garaje.

PRIORS last issued My Punishment On Earth in 2020, with Belgium's Drink & Drive Records issuing it in Europe and the band's own Brain Gum carrying it domestically. That record followed their 2018 Slovenly LP New Pleasure and the Call For You EP. PRIORS features vocalist Chance Hutchison, drummer Drew Demers, bassist Alan Hildebrandt, and guitarists Maxime Desharnais and Sebastien Godin.

Pale Lips: "Get Up and Go"

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That's not all from the PRIORS camp - last weekend saw the debut of Private Lives - a new group led by Chance and his partner Jackie Blenkarn. Last Saturday, the group appeared as a four-piece at Montreal's L'Escogriffe with Blenkarn on lead vocals and Chance playing guitar - a full band follow up to their lockdown home recording project Chance & Jackie. We'll have to wait for any officially sanctioned audio from the group, but clips of their performance may still be floating around Instagram if you know where to look.

I should note the rest of that bill - as it sounds like a night of firsts. Private Lives debut also featured saw the debut appearance of Laughing, a new project from Josh Salter of Nap Eyes and Monomyth fame. I know even less about Groupe B - other than it appears to feature Stephen Baird of the Montreal garage act Double Date with Death. Once I learn more regarding these two projects, you'll know it. Stay tuned.

Circling back to Jackie - this week, her main gig, the high-energy punk'n'roll combo Pale Lips, shared a cover of The Go-Go's' classic "Get Up and Go," their contribution to the tribute album If You Gotta GO-GO, GO-GO Now. That record, which featured 24 bands produced by Travis Ramin, arrived recently on CD via RumBar Records and vinyl through the legendary Sympathy for the Record Industry. You can hear the Pale Lips' take on Bandcamp now - it's one of the first new recordings they've shared since the 2019 release of their After Dark LP.

Roye Trout: "Dreamers"

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Our Hell is a new four-song split pairing Windsor singer-songwriters Jesse Fellows and Roye Trout. Roye's songs break from his namesake rock band's recent 90s alternative vibes - drawing on sounds from a few decades earlier. You can hear the new direction on "Dreamers," the album's confident lead single (as visualized in a clip from director Garett McKelvie). Trout comments that the song's "about the pursuit of artistry, and how much we as artists are willing to sacrifice for our craft." He continues:

"For many artists, the pursuit of their craft is seen by others as an unsustainable passion and generally a poor decision. There's a perverse irony in the idea that an artist often earns respect not based on the merits of their creation, but on their success in growing an audience.

I think there's a catharsis in the pursuit and the struggle itself and that it is a worthwhile endeavor, regardless of the result. I want the listener to resonate with the idea that pursuit of success can be both extremely painful and extremely fulfilling."

On the flip side, Fellows authentically channels the sound and energy of Sloan and their power-pop contemporaries. It's a massive contrast from the EP he released last month with Returners (more on them in a moment).

Our Hell arrives as a 7" from Windsor's Psychic Readings Records. Roye Trout plays in the bands Eraserhead, No Hands, and Lychi - with his namesake Trout last issuing the single "Q.T." in the summer of 2020. Last year, Fellows released a wonderfully hooky EP titled The Four Oranges.

Returners: Returners I

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So on to Returners - a freewheeling Toronto hardcore duo featuring the above-mentioned Jesse Fellows and Shane Gelinas. The latter commented upon the March release of the group's brisk debut EP:

"Short and sweet, just like us (Jesse is taller but like not that much), it's 4 songs in 5 minutes about bugs and calling in sick, and I couldn't be prouder to be working alongside my absurdly talented friend Jesse, genuinely one of the finest songwriters who has ever made a big crazy "UNGH" sound at the exact right moment in a song."

Similarly enthused, Fellows claimed:

"...jangle and joy on what we expect will be remembered as the single greatest hardcore EP since MILK's first go-around. Thin and rigid music for people of all shapes and constitutions."

You can snag the exuberant Returners I at Bandcamp now.

Paul Jacobs: "After Dark"

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Montreal psych artist Paul Jacobs recently shared "After Dark," a song that presents something of an unhurried subterranean stomp. With more atmosphere than direct hooks, it's perhaps a curious pick for a lead single, but it's a wonderfully evocative piece. It's also the first taste of an unnamed upcoming EP set for release in July through Bonsound.

Jacobs, a prolific solo artist and the drummer of the maximalist garage act Pottery, will soon hit the road for a belated tour supporting Pink Dogs on the Green Grass, his 2021 solo LP on Blow The Fuse. The run kicks off on May 12 at Ottawa's Dominion Tavern, with appearances scheduled out to Vancouver.

Basketball Knees: "Beauty Lines"

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Toronto lo-fi power-pop trio Basketball Knees recently shared "Beauty Lines," the triumphant first single from their upcoming album Garden. The set features Joel Wheeler on guitar, Amye Sagar on bass, and Stefan Dos Santos on drums, with all three sharing vocals. The group commented:

"Blast this while you're cruising down the highway and cry for all the things we've lost, and are going to lose!"

Will do. Look for the complete album on April 30. The group has a gig scheduled for the album release day at Toronto's Hard Luck Bar, sharing the stage with Punchu, The Mature Themes, and my pals in London's Mononegatives.

Gutser: "The Spilling Joke"

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The recent single from Montreal thrash punks Gutser is utterly massive, a song that lunges for the throat in the first 15 seconds. "The Spilling Joke" is a relentless teaser for Spill Everything, the group's 11-song debut LP due this week from Tarantula Tapes. After you check it out on Bandcamp, head over to No Echo to preview the sardonic album cut "Wicked Set Dude."

Gutser worked with engineer Jordan Barillaro (Thick Glasses, Mass Hysteria Agency) at NoFun Audio. This Saturday, the group plays a release party at Montreal's Turbo Haus with fellow heavy lifters Cell Press and Obelisk.

Harkness: "I.D."

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Given their steadfast commitment to their quirky visual shtick, it's easy to look side-eyed at Harkness. Some lizard part of my punk rock brain sees any amount of sincere stagecraft through a thick layer of suspicion, questioning the authenticity of the whole enterprise. How dare this goofball dress like a space cultist without cynically reflecting on the absurdity of doing so! It's unmooring.

My dumb hang-ups aside, there's plenty to love in the relaxed psych-pop / surf-rock hybrid "I.D.," as showcased last week in a new video from director Mark Crabtree. It's the fourth such video from The Occasion, the Harkness' 2021 full-length. It arrived through Windchild Records last summer. The one-man band commented;

"This video was inspired by the fact that I treasure taking secret picnics off the beaten path with my lover. Finding a place where no one else can, where we eat, drink and be as merry as we like, just the two of us. A place where we can essentially completely 'disappear' for the day."

You can check it out now on YouTube.

Steve & Ginie Jackson: "7 Billion People"

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Acoustic duo Steve & Ginie Jackson return on May 26 with Colder Than The Sea, a new full-length for Thousand Islands Records. While the Montreal group's a tad less amped-up than the Montreal skate label's usual fare, their traditional sound should play well among the bluegrass-friendly folk-punk crowd. You can hear the album's first single, the lockdown love song "7 Billion People," streaming now.

The new record follows the band's 2019 EP Dance Away.

The Soviet Influence: "Put You Up"

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While I can't independently confirm that The Soviet Influence is, in fact, the angriest socialist band from the 800-person hamlet of Limehouse, Ontario, I think we can safely agree they're in the top five. The explicitly political group, led by singer-songwriter Peter Snow, recently unveiled "Put You Up," the latest single from the upcoming 8-song album Thieves of Joy. You can hear the anthemic alt-rock song over at Bandcamp.

The Influence earlier shared the album tracks "The Catastrophe" and "Boll Weevils." Look for Thieves of Joy, fittingly, on May Day.

Jenn Nucum: "Five Year Plan"

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It sounds like Toronto singer-songwriter Jenn Nucum's on a similar ideological bent with her new single "Five-Year Plan." While the artist's earlier work often drew from her perspective as a queer member of the Filipino diaspora, this new track gives that outlook an additional shade of labour activism. Nucum commented in a press release:

"Not to be facetious, but when I was writing this song, I felt pop-ish and playful with it in a 'fuck capitalism' and 'fuck the corporate machine' kind of way. It's a mix of being nonchalant but still very much annoyed with capitalist-hierarchical-bureaucratic bullshit.

In my corporate career, I went through severe burnout and stress that led me to come home from work crying almost every night for several weeks. I eventually developed anxiety and had to go to therapy in order to be able to function as a human being. Anxiety is something I'm still managing to this day and I recognize it may never go away. This is reality for countless people working in the corporate world, where employers prioritize profits and their 'five-year plan' over the health and wellbeing of their workers."

The new single follows February's "Monuments" and Nucum's 2020 EP Revival.

Easy Tiger: "Ibiza"

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Gabrielle La Rue (Guidestones, ex-NOBRO) and Sarah Dion (of Les Shirley and currently of NOBRO) recently formed the Montreal garage-pop duo Easy Tiger. The pair's crafted what their press release floridly bills as "the soundtrack of a tiki bar full of cowboys drinking margaritas," with an EP lined up for a May 6 release. You can preview the 6-song Breakfast In Bed through the lead single "Ibiza" over at Bandcamp.

No Frills: "Darkhorse"

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Toronto bummer-pop heroes No Frills celebrate their new full-length this Saturday with a gig at the Monarch - joined by Nutrients and Louie Short. The band issued Downward Dog on April 1 - sharing the complete record alongside a video for their slow-burning jangle-pop opus "Darkhorse." They put a fittingly downtrodden sell on the piece from director Sam Maloney, commenting:

"Shot in 60 fps to capture maximum emotion, you can watch me mope around town and experience an escalator."

Buckle up.

Led by songwriter Daniel Busheikin, No Frills features Kelvin Grove (Daniel's bandmate in Grounders), Jon Pappo (Hooded Fang, WHIMM, and the live version of Ducks Ltd.), Matt 'Bucky' Buckberrough (Twist, Beds), and Maddy Wilde (Rapport).

Chastity: "Happy Face"

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Suburban-angst-rockers Chastity has a new video out or "Happy Face," the latest single from their recent LP, Suffer Summer. On the track, Whitby-based singer-songwriter Brandon Williams commented:

"This is the most nonfiction Chastity song — it's about my friend Andrew who died in a Salvation Army shelter in London [Ontario], meters away from where we record everything. He was the first outsider I ever met. I was such a Quiksilver-wearing elementary-school kid, and he was older and was like, 'Have you seen this Zero skate video called 'Dying to Live?' Neil Young was on that soundtrack, Slayer was on there, Nirvana — it was an insane soundtrack. He showed me that and The Misfits, and it really opened my world. After I met him, I grew my hair long, and it was, like, on for me. Andrew was a path changer for me, so learning about him dying was a fucking brutal heart-sinker."

Suffer Summer arrived in January through Deathwish Inc and Dine Alone. It completed a thematic trilogy of records that started with 2018's Death Lust and continued with Home Made Satan in 2019.

Real Sickies: "Scammy"

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I detailed the bizarre fraud attempt that resulted in the Real Sickies latest EP a few weeks ago, so I won't repeat it here. The Edmonton punk act's making the most of their near-miss with financial misfortune, treating the song "Scammy" from their Danny, It's Not Your Birthday EP to a frenetic new video. You can find it on YouTube now.

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.

Look for the band on Friday, May 13, in Vancouver, at the Sewing Machine Factory with support from Night Court.

The King Khan & BBQ Show: "Going Down"

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We've not heard from The King Khan & BBQ Show since 2015's Bad News Boys, but the eclectic duo is finally readying their fifth full-length, a set you can preview now with the boldly askew, doo-wop-inspired "Going Down." No strangers to a bit of lyrical sleaze, the band noted:

"It is and isn't about what you think. We are here to subvert. Social media has tried to sap our potency. But we are cockroaches. And real rock'n'rollers. We have been recording on and off for a bit, after both of us 'went through things' that left songs rotting on the vine (this one I wrote maybe 4 years ago?)."

I'm told the track's gone viral on TikTok, but I have no way of independently verifying this being an adult of a certain age.

The group also announced a long-awaited return to the road, with fall shows booked in Toronto, Vancouver, and throughout the US. If you've forgotten the Heritage Minute, I'll remind you that BBQ (aka Mark Sultan) and King Khan (then under the name Blacksnake) first played together as members of the 90s Montreal garage punk group The Spaceshits. Whenever the next King Khan & BBQ Show record arrives, I'd look for it through In The Red.

React to it at your leisure

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