The Log Driver's Waltz
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.
Handheld: "The Log Driver's Waltz"
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Look, I'll admit that operating a Canadian music publication can be a little awkward at the best of times. It's tone-deaf and perilous to lean too much on national symbolism - not only is it not particularly woke, but it's not particularly punk either. As a lefty person of empathy, I understand I should strive to be at least one of those things. I've been mindful of using Canada not as a point of pride but as a common denominator. It's the sky under which we happen to find ourselves, and its presence has a shared impact on how artists operate within its borders. Canada provides context. It's a circumstance.
But I'm not made of stone, dear reader. All the Propagandhi records in existence can't enlighten the part of my subconscious that's still profoundly nostalgic for National Film Board shorts. I'm particularly affectionate for the animated pieces that gave life to songs by the folk singer Wade Hemsworth. "The Black Fly Song" and "The Log Driver's Waltz" are the soundtrack of weekends spent with my grandparents. In retrospect, those shorts, used as filler between half-hour cartoons on Canadian stations, feel downright foundational. I suspect they're a common touchpoint for many TV-raised children of the 80s.
In the hands of the recently revived Kitchener punk group Handheld, "The Log Driver's Waltz" is given a new life as a galloping skate punk anthem - replete with some self-aware lyrical additions. Don't get me wrong - this is a silly and entirely unnecessary recording, but I revel in it. It also harkens back to the early days of Napster when you could search for literally any piece of music and find it suffixed with the words "punk cover" (and more often than not misattributed to Rancid or Green Day). Those were never high art. This isn't either - but goddamn if it isn't playing my tune.
You can find Handheld's version on YouTube, which repurposes and augments the original short's animation. The version we remember first arrived in 1979, directed and animated by John Weldon. It featured vocals from Kate and Anna McGarrigle, then of the folk group The Mountain City Four. Hemsworth shared no more than 20 completed songs in his lifetime, with most written in the mid-50s.
Handheld's rendition is one of 11 tracks slated for A Canadian Tragedy, their forthcoming LP for Thousand Islands Records. It arrives on June 14. You can also catch the band at the upcoming Kitchener/Waterloo Punk Rock Flea Market, sitting near the top of a busy bill that includes Pkew Pkew Pkew, The Anti-Queens, Psychic Void, The Flying Hellfish, and Frank Dux. That mini-festival goes down on June 4 at the Rhythm & Brews Brewing Company in Cambridge, Ontario.
Handheld put out a half dozen releases in their original incarnation, last issuing a self-titled full-length in 2008. They reformed in 2018.
The Fuckin Astronauts: PJ $TYLE
This week Toronto synth-punk duo The Fuckin Astronauts unveiled PJ $STYLE, the fledgling group's first EP after a string of one-offs. The set features four tracks (well, three full songs and one atmospheric interlude), including the recently shared "Pistol John." These are dirty, lo-fi recordings delivered with cooly dispassionate vocals. It's the tossed-off, attitude-driven scuzz you need to survive in this absurd world. The album closer's a great example of this - a mean road tune with the nonsensical premise of hauling Pogs in a big rig.
You can see a full-length EP visualizer on YouTube, courtesy of the Toronto scene zine Ultra. 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. You better believe the band's making Pogs as merch.
La Sécurité: "Suspens"
Montreal psych label Mothland's lining up a busy year of new releases, and I'm particularly excited about the forthcoming output from local art-punk collective La Sécurité. The group recently issued their first recording for the label, a twitchy new wave tune titled "Suspens," which channels nervous DEVO energy better than most.
The group commented on the song's accompanying video, which features choreography from lead vocalist Éliane Viens-Synnott:
"'Suspens' was filmed as a single-sequence shot. Staged within a constrained space in a somewhat mysterious location, the video features hand-held camera work, setting up a sense of proximity with the protagonist. All at once a contemporary dancer, a singer and a musician, Éliane choreographed her own movements, with the help of Pamela Aubé, Zoé Delsalle et Châtelaine Côté-Rioux. She bases her movement patterns on the intertwining melodies and sounds meshing together but also the restless tone of the lyrics that loosely reference pandemic restrictions. On a more intemporal level, she is expressing her desire to step out in the dizzy and electric nightlife. This first music video was directed by members of the band at Pow Pow bar in Montréal.
The band recorded "Suspens" with Samuel Gemme engineering at Gamma Recording Studio (Corridor, Anemone).
La Sécurité features Éliane Viens-Synnott on lead vocals and synth, Félix Bélisle on bass, Kenny Smith on drums, Laurence-Anne on guitar and synth, and Melissa Di Menna also on guitar and synth. Backing vocal credits abound. The group features current and former members of Choses Sauvages, Laurence-Anne, Jesuslesfilles, Silver Dapple, DATES, and Pressure Pin.
Slow Dawn: "Decompression" / "See-Through"
Ottawa psych-punk group Slow Dawn returns with a new record on May 13. Into the Machine Haus features six densely packed songs that explore a range of cacophonous styles over a 22-minute runtime, two of which you can preview now on various corners of the Internet. You can see crashing waves of distortion from the hypnotic "Decompression" visualized on YouTube, then hear the angsty "See-Through" streaming at Bandcamp. The new set arrives on vinyl through Centripetal Force in North America and Cardinal Fuzz in the UK and Europe.
Slow Dawn features Dan Druff (ex-Holy Cobras) on guitar and vocals, Jesse "Iceman" Winchester (MASSS, Heavy Mental) on bass and synthesizer, and "Dr" Chris DiLauro on drums. The new record follows up on 2020's excellent Experimental Farm
Crosshairs: "Demo 2022"
Preview and purchase at Bandcamp
I don't know much about Victoria's Crosshairs, but the hardcore act has a new four-song tape out on Slow Death Records that, to my ear, sounds absolutely thrilling. The trio moves at a breakneck pace, and despite calling this set a demo, the recordings from engineer Cody Baresich sound bright and lively. A limited run of cassettes is available through Bandcamp while they last.
Crosshairs feature vocalist Tyler, Mike recording guitar and bass, and Athena on drums.
Blurry Eyes: "Quicksand"
Montreal pop-punk act Blurry Eyes has a new single out. While upbeat and propulsive, "Quicksand" is rooted in the frustration of inertia - inspired by the stifling inaction we collectively experienced in the COVID lockdowns. The track's ultimately hopeful, with songwriter Marc-André Beaudet commenting:
"The group singing at the end represents to me the fact that we're not alone. By the end we're a whole group feeling the same way together... I wish for you all to manage to get out of your personal quicksands. Whatever drags you down, pulls you back or keeps you up at night"
The quartet features Marc-André Beaudet on vocals, guitar, and synths, Louis Valiquette on guitar, Mathieu Dumontier on bass, and Karl Houde drumming. Beaudet and Valiquette were previously bandmates in Monreal punk heroes The Sainte Catherines (and before that, both played in the ska-punk act Roller Starter). The new song arrives via the Fantasio Club label. Blurry Eyes recorded with Ryan Battistuzzi.
Partner: "Not Today"
Partner would never let 4/20 go unnoticed - that was true in their earlier slacker rock days, and it remains so in their post-classic-rock renaissance. While "Not Today" is degrees more mature and blazes less overtly than past pot anthems like "Everybody Knows," it's no less accomplished. The song's another recording from the 2020 sessions that stemmed from an artist's residence on Gabriola Island, BC. Like the earlier released "Time is a Car," the band tracked "Not Today" with Jordan Koop at The Noise Floor.
Partner commented on their process:
"We had a series of early morning writing sessions that began at 7 am and produced this and several other songs. At the time we were not sure when we would play a show again, and it would turn out not to be for almost a year, but we were grateful to get a chance to rock out in the woods. Maybe because we were missing playing shows, some of the songs ended up sounding very arena rock. We can't wait to take this one on the road."
The songs from Partner's BC sessions arrive in the wake of Never Give Up, the band's 2020 full-length for You've Changed Records. Founded in Sackville, New Brunswick, Partner features vocalist/guitarist Josée Caron, vocalist/bassist Lucy Niles, and drummer Simone TB.
Snake Noise: Stuff We Like
Preview and purchase at Bandcamp
Speaking of Sackville, Snake Noise recently emerged as a new trio from the New Brunswick college town. The group's four-song debut EP, Stuff We Like, surfaced last week through Must Be Nice Records and delivers a set of endearingly scrappy lo-fi rock songs. The group's bio captures their outlook rather succinctly:
"Three friends met at the old public house over on Bridge St. What better way is there to solidify a friendship than to a band? An emo-punk trio raised on basement show sing-alongs, on a constant mission to hear something new. High on nineties punk rock, navigating through clouded stories of stoner nostalgia."
Snake Noise features bassist/vocalist Christine Robichaud, drummer/vocalist Glenn Barrington, and guitarist/vocalist Zachary Brown. The group recorded with James Anderson engineering.
The Effens: "Step Dog"
This edition of Some Party has the honour of debuting the video for "Step Dog" from grungy Toronto's glam rockers The Effens. The song appears on the band's 2021 EP Eventually - and it's the final of the record's six tracks to gain accompanying visuals. The group described the clip's rather unusual premise:
"The Effens are found in some kind of distorted episode of The Magic School Bus, playing a rock concert in a pregnant belly as the proud parents listen in... From the beginning, it was a goal to have a big visual presence with this EP and to complete a distinct video for each song, and I'm pumped we made it happen. All the credit goes to animator Chris Fast and video star Valerie Massi for this one."
Eventually landed last summer via Hidden Pony Records, following up on the quartet's 2019 EP Unsafe. The Effens features vocalist Austin Nops, guitarist Paul Theo, bassist Hannah Edgerton, and drummer Fabian Oblivion.
Matthew "Doc" Dunn: "Your Feel"
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Old soul Toronto psych rocker Matthew "Doc" Dunn recently took part in Sub Pop's venerable Singles Club. The songs "Your Feel" and "Look In" were recently issued to subscribers of the long-running series. If you missed the vinyl, the best I can do for you is a YouTube clip.
Writing about the record for Sub Pop, Jesse Locke described the new songs:
"'Your Feel' dances into frame with a zigzagging solo from Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis and swelling mellotron from producer Asher Gould-Murtaugh, as Dunn's insistent vocals conjure the pains of longing for a lover's touch. 'Look In' mellows the tempo to a country slow-dance with glistening slide guitar, as Dunn wipes the tears from his eyes and moseys off into the sunset."
Last year Dunn, known as the frontman of The Cosmic Range, teamed up with members of Mr. Joy to form the supergroup Dr. Joy, issuing an LP through Idée Fixe. We haven't heard new solo material from Dunn since 2020's country-rock outing Rain, Rain, Rain.
Shoulder Season: "Making Plans"
Preview and purchase at Bandcamp
Shoulder Season's new track is hooky as anything you'll hear this week. "Making Plans" may rely on a simple repetition of the title to make that happen, but the result's undeniably infectious. It's the group's second new single of the year, following "Dominoes," with both songs slated for the EP Not The Time. Look for that one on May 20. The band commented in a press release:
"There's always someone making a plan that impacts you: but all-too-often those plans do little to make your life better or, worse, feel like they are actively working against you. 'Making Plans' is a track for everyone who has ever wanted to live in a world that isn't defined by greed and the resulting poverty, environmental degradation and general ugliness. Pissed-off but fun, Making Plans features buzzing guitars, new-wave keys and interlocking vocals that build to a shout-along crescendo asking for a reprieve of 'thought, time and breathing space.'"
The group recorded at Ocean Floor in Halifax with Charles Austin (Outtacontroller, Future Girls, Souvenir). Rob Seaton of the Sudbury power-pop legends Statues Statues mixed and mastered the track. Notably, this is the first of the band's songs to feature bassist Kristina Parlee on vocals.
Proudly billed as an "adult women punk band," Shoulder Season features Karen Foster (Safeword) on keyboards and vocals, Mel Sturk (The Johnnies, Yuma County) on guitar and vocals, Kristina Parlee (The Maynards, Smaller Hearts) on bass, and Meg Yoshida (Dog Day, Century Egg).
Peroxide: Pils Sessions
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90s-era Quebec City punks Peroxide recently performed for the Pils Sessions. The veteran group travelled up to Pils' NOMANSLAND studio in Gatineau this past March to perform four songs, all of which are now live at Bandcamp. The group made new recordings of three tracks from their 1995 Des Mots demo, with the fourth in their set ("La Ronde") never before released.
Peroxide features Sylvain on vocals, Hugo on guitars, Val Tourmentée on bass, and Marty Crew drumming. To celebrate their 25th anniversary, the band recently issued their 1997 album Plat De Résistance on vinyl for the first time.
Chany Pilote engineered the band's Pils performance, with Dizz Hupé documenting the visit. Peroxide follows a host of Quebec punk bands to take part in the sessions, with recent appearances logged by Unwanted Noise, Solitüde, Fractured, Dysruptive, Ad Vitam, and Collapsed, among others.
Mobina Galore: "Whiskey Water"
Winnipeg punk duo Mobina Galore has a new single in the wild, an aggressively delivered but ultimately positive tune titled "Whiskey Water." Jenna Priestner commented on the song, a tribute to her grandmother:
"We were on tour a few summers ago on our way to a festival in Ontario when I got word that my grandma had passed away and that I wouldn't be making it back to Edmonton for the funeral. We played the festival that night with some really good friends and had the best time, despite what was going on behind the scenes.
The lyrics to "Whiskey Water" started coming as we were driving to and from that festival; soaking in the reality of everything happening, the good and the bad Grandma's favourite drink was a whiskey water. We drank one in her honour that night on tour."
The song arrived alongside a video from director Martin LaFrenière. It follows the band's 2021 acoustic EP Waiting, available through New Damage in Canada and Gunner Records overseas. John Paul Peters engineered the new track from Private Ear Recording in Winnipeg.
Mobina Galore features guitarist/vocalist Jenna Priestner and drummer/vocalist Marcia Hanson. The group last released Don't Worry in the fall of 2019.
Nutrients: "Window Seat"
This year, laid-back Toronto jangle pop act Nutrients returns to action, kicking things off with the single "Window Seat." Speaking on the single, vocalist Taylor Teeple commented:
"This is a quick guitar pop song that harkens back to songs Nutrients used to write. The guitar interplay is actually just two guitars playing this one-string riff at the same time with some minor deviations. The riff kinda sounds emo-adjacent almost."
Nutrients debuted as a Montreal-based bedroom-pop project from vocalist Taylor Teeple. Since relocating to Toronto, Teeple built out a full band, enlisting guitarist Will Hunter, drummer Turner Wigginton, bassist Sean McKee, and pianist Iulia Ciobanu. Since the group's self-titled 2019 LP, their ranks have grown to include multi-instrumentalist Ben Fukuzawa.
Miesha & The Spanks: "Dig Me Out"
Calgarian hard rock duo Miesha & The Spanks has a high octane new single out titled "Dig Me Out." The song and video directly grapple with the recurring news of mass grave discoveries on the sites of former residential schools. Guitarist/vocalist Miesha Louie commented:
"I wrote this song to process everything I was feeling: the grief, the horror, the anger, and the helplessness. Like most Indigenous kids, I already knew the history of abuse that came with the assimilation these schools offered. I saw it first hand reflected in the generational suffering of my family. My Grandmother survived Tk'emlups Residential School, sent there after her two older sisters died at St. Eugenes, the one closer to our home. Unlike her sisters, she made it back home, shamed and pregnant. As the numbers piled in from all across Canada, gaining more press and social media attention, survivors and their relatives shared their stories, again, because they've been doing this for years while no one listened, and I read them all. I found myself in a very dark place, absorbed in my Grandmother's story and so many like her, and it was very difficult to dig myself out."
All funds raised by the song are due for the Indian Residential School Survivors' Society. "Dig Me Out" arrives as the follow up to 2021's Singles EP. Miesha & The Spanks performs as a duo, pairing Miesha Louie with drummer Sean Hamilton.
Pkew Pkew Pkew: "Drinking in the Park"
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Toronto punk quartet Pkew Pkew Pkew recently shared the second single from the upcoming LP Open Bar. You can stream "Drinking in the Park," a song that needs no further explanation, over on YouTube. The track follows "Maybe Someday" in previewing the record.
The new album finds the Pkew Pkew Pkew working with producer Jon Drew (Fucked Up, METZ). Not counting the Expedition Denied EP that surfaced in frustration during the band's pandemic downtime, the Open Bar formally follows up on 2019's Optimal Lifestyles. It arrives May 13 through Dine Alone Records.
Juice Girls: "CQ"
Preview and purchase at Bandcamp
The Halifax dream-pop combo Juice Girls have said very little about their newly shared single "CQ," so I'm short on context for this one. Head over to Bandcamp to check the song out. It arrives as the follow-up to the group's 2021's singles "Poison Ivy" and "Water Woman." The track again finds the band working with longtime producer Scott Randles.
Ryan Bourne: "End of Story"
Calgary singer-songwriter Ryan Bourne recently shared the psych-pop breakup song "End of Story." It's our latest preview of the forthcoming LP Plant City, following "Black Hole" and "Wasted World." The artist commented:
"I wrote most of 'End of Story' on my front stoop at golden hour, soaking up the rays in the aftermath of a toxic entanglement. Doo-wop chords propel a whistful, paradoxical lyric (with perhaps an echo of Daniel Johnston via Beatles), and there's this sense of contradiction, the non-linearity of memory, of time. I wanted the words to have a quality the rational mind can't fix on; to be slightly caustic yet somehow at peace - with the music remaining defiantly happy - drifted in some sweet beyond."
The song arrived alongside a video co-directed by Rebecca Reid.
Bourne plays with the Calgary indie rock troop Ghostkeeper and serves as a member of Chad VanGaalen's backing band the Bleach Wipes with Chris Dadge. This song features all of the above, with Dadge on percussion, VanGaalen on synth, and Shane Ghostkeeper adding the sound of a backwards saw to the mix.
Sluice: "Bunker's Island"
Trevor Murphy's francophone power-pop group Sluice has a video out for the song "Bunker's Island," a track from 2021's Le succès par le travail LP. The clip arrives in anticipation of an appearance at le Festival international de Louisiane in Lafayette, Louisiana, where Sluice will take part in a showcase at the Pavillon Acadien. The video places Murphy in overgrown baseball fields, shot on Surette's Island and Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau, NS, paired with footage from the song's namesake island in Yarmouth Harbour.
Sluice's debut LP, issued last April via Acadian Embassy, is currently up for the Francophone Album of the Year award at the East Coast Music Awards, to be decided on the first weekend in May. The studio recording of Bunker's Island features Murphy backed by Chris Murdoch (Word On The Street, Souvenir) on drums.
Tallies: "Hearts Underground"
Toronto dream-pop quartet Tallies recently announced details on their forthcoming full-length. Patina arrives on July 29 through Hand Drawn Dracula, Kanine Records, and Bella Union. The announcement arrived with a video for the new single "Hearts Underground." On that, the vocalist Sarah Cogan commented:
"This song is that little voice that kicks yourself. The voice that says, 'why'd you do that?'. In this case, it was about how it holds me back, sometimes for the better. It's about self-sabotage. Sometimes you wish this little voice would speak up sooner and not just after the fact. I wrote a song about that little voice that I've heard my whole life; it's a reflection on times when I've held back too much or when I wish I'd held back more."
Tallies are currently billed as a trio, featuring singer/guitarist Sarah Cogan backed by Dylan Frankland on guitar and Cian O'Neill drumming. The band recorded the new album, a follow-up to their self-titled 2019 debut, with Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh.
Young Guv: "Change Your Mind"
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If you thought there'd be a lull between Young Guv's pair of 2022 records, you'd be mistaken. With GUV III fresh in hand, the cycle's already started for the fourth volume in the eponymous series. "Change Your Mind" isn't our first preview of the next LP, as the 12-song tracklist includes both "Cold in the Summer" and "Maybe I Should Luv Somebody Else" - songs we first heard as one-off singles back in 2020. "Change Your Mind" is a psych-pop number with just a hint of country twang - likely owed to the harmonica and pedal steel guitar.
GUV IV lands on June 24 through Run For Cover and Hand Drawn Dracula. When he isn't writing timeless little pop songs like these, Cook's, of course, known as the frontman of Toronto hardcore group No Warning and as a former guitarist for Fucked Up.
Yoo Doo Right: "Feet Together, Face Up, On The Front Lawn"
Montreal post-rock trio Yoo Doo Right return this summer with A Murmur, Boundless To The East, their second full-length for the Mothland label. The announcement came alongside a mammoth first single, with "Feet Together, Face Up, On The Front Lawn" clocking in at over 16 minutes. At that scale, you can forgive the label for describing the accompanying video as nothing less than an "experimental short film." You can see the piece, directed by Mackenzie Reid Rostad, on YouTube now.
The director elaborated on the piece:
"We knew we wanted to explore a narrative or continuity with the film and in the end, this happened to be that of enclosure. It's both a product and a process of something that itself has no end. The track's title and those for the rest of the album really echo this general desire to transcend this something as manifest in the proliferating enclosures of the visible (fences, power lines, highways, etc.) and non-visible (frontiers, thresholds) world. The entire video was shot with a thermal camera and beyond the materiality of the image (light/heat and visible/non-visible), its very existence is a fragment of the latter, as this kind of technology has been developed and heavily deployed in the service of private property and national frontiers. These are the kinds of things I'm thinking about when listening to Yoo Doo Right anyhow and again this something, of which enclosure is an aspect, is a process. I started with this somewhere in the back of my mind and the music pulled this process out of everything that followed."
Yoo Doo Right recorded live-off-the-flor at Hotel2Tango, working with producer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Suuns, Ought, Fly Pan Am). While segmented into just five tracks, the record's a whopping 45 minutes in length.
Look for A Murmur, Boundless To The East on June 10. The record follow's Yoo Doo Right's 2021 debut Don't Think You Can Escape Your Purpose.
Deliluh: "Credence (Ash in the Winds of Reason)"
Listen at YouTube
"Credence (Ash in the Winds of Reason)" arrived this week as the latest single from the cerebral art-punk unit Deliluh. The track's our latest preview of Fault Lines, the group's upcoming LP for Tin Angel Records (they previously shared the album cuts "Amulet" and "Body And Soul"). The record arrives on May 27.
The band commented:
"'Credence (Ash In The Winds Of Reason)' was a shared effort from our previous four piece iteration. The foundation was written and tracked together in Copenhagen in January of 2020, and then completed by the two of us between lockdowns almost a year later. The lyrics are from the perspective of a guilt stricken priest, grappling with a corrupt parish and the culpability of his faith."
Now based in Europe, having taken flight from Toronto during the pandemic, Deliluh now operates as a duo with Kyle Knapp and Julius Pedersen. The band last released the Slint-indebted LPs Beneath the Floors and Oath of Intent in 2019.
Tess Parks: "Do You Pray?"
Tess Parks continues to floor me with the smokey psych-pop of And Those Who Were Seen Dancing, her new LP arriving May 20 through Fuzz Club and Hand Drawn Dracula. The track "Do You Pray?" recently surfaced as the album's third preview, a song that ties in elements of the traditionals "My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean" and "When the Saints Go Marching In."
In a press release, Parks commented on the choreography central to the "Do You Pray?" video:
"Mark Wagner is seen whirling like a dervish, a sacred dance derived from the ancient Sufi practise, ritual and meditation of the 'Sema'. The dance is trance and euphoria-inducing and offers a sense of connectedness and expansiveness among many other virtues. I have been a fan of Mark Wagner for years now. I can't even remember how I came across him, but I would always watch his videos and be absolutely mesmerised.
I messaged him late last year and asked him to dance in this video and I said he could choose wherever he wanted to in the whole world to film it. Our correspondence was no more than a few e-mails back and forth, not even a phone call. He sent me this video and I was actually speechless. Not only had I been unaware that he was based in London, but we had shot outtakes for the 2018 album cover with Anton [Newcombe] at the exact location that he had chosen. Mysticism at its finest!"
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.
Fresh Pepper: "Congee Around Me"
Preview and purchase at Bandcamp
André Ethier recently completed a three-album cycle of breathy, nature-inspired folk songs with the LP Further Up Island. It's a body of work so distinctively quirky and subtle that you almost forget the absolute racket he made for years with Toronto garage rockers The Deadly Snake. A follow-up project has now emerged, and while it trades the pastoral setting for the hustle and bustle of a commercial kitchen, it seems no less mindful.
Ethier recently announced Fresh Pepper, a new culinary-themed band co-helmed by Toronto saxophonist Joseph Shabason. The group's 8-song debut arrives June 17 through Telephone Explosion. The record presents something of a supergroup, with players that include Robin Dann, Kieran Adams, Felicity Williams, Thom Gill, and Bram Gielen. That crowd shares a collective resume that includes Bernice, The Weather Station, and Beverly Glenn-Copeland's band. Destroyer's Dan Bejar also appears on the record, contributing to the song "Seahorse Tranquilizer."
You can hear the album's first single, "Congee Around Me," streaming at Bandcamp. As for the overall concept, I'll toss that to the press release, which reveals:
"[Fresh Pepper's] self-titled debut playfully navigates the mental and emotional mark left on many musicians by the hospitality industry. It carefully plays with an environment where porcelain and cutlery clatter in bus bins like little medieval battlefields; the chatter of patrons smears into a single stormy texture and the kitchen staff hollers and chides as their own chosen music competes for the ear of anyone walking to the restroom. The fact that restaurants employ so many hustling musicians, whose entire lives are centered around sonic sensitivity and awareness, is either grand irony or total synergy."