Thursday May 12, 2022

Year Long Winter

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.

Future Girls: Year Long Winter

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When this newsletter was merely a month old, I attended my first Ottawa Explosion. While I only showed up in the twilight years of the fest's existence, its impact on this project can't be understated. I poured over the event's previous lineups almost as a proof of concept for Some Party - making the case (to myself) that there was enough content for a weekly beat with this particular geographic focus. As I sit here today, buried under submissions, a week late, and scrambling to pull the edition together - that all seems so quaint.

The bands I saw in 2017 - at the early height of my enthusiasm - remain dear to me. They (and their descendants) are regular mentions here (see: Tough Age, Century Palm, Deathsticks, The Famines, Booji Boys, Partner, Tommy & the Commies, etc.). The fourth edition of Some Party even included a little pre-Explosion guest column from Future Girls' Heather Grant, who shared a festival recommendation for the (then) St. John's-based power-pop act BBQT. Future Girls and their sibling band Crossed Wires were top of mind when I got this thing rolling. They seemed to exemplify the elusive quality I was trying to hone in on better than anyone. These were primarily regional Canadian punk acts, operating on a DIY shoestring but somehow forging incredible bonds in disparate scenes across the country. I started Some Party to write about bands like that.

Of course, smaller-scale acts don't have much financial incentive to stay together, even in good times, so it's not surprising that with the pandemic also making the social aspect a drag, we'll emerge with fewer bands like Future Girls still intact. The five-song Year Long Winter EP may be their swan song, but we're lucky to have it. The group managed to convene in those fraught early days of COVID, somehow not lost among Matty Grace's then-forthcoming barrage of isolation side-projects. The remaining members brought in Designosaur's Becca Dalley on bass (who'd later join Grace in Cluttered). Guitarist/vocalist Heather Grant and Botfly drummer Dewayne Shanks remained on board from the group's earlier iterations.

The band feely admits that Year Long Winter's downtrodden "bummer punk" isn't the happiest of listens, and it's objectively not. Regardless it's putting a smile on my face. I can't shake what these players represent to me, and they even seem to allude to it in their brief write-up:

"It is not cheery, it is not fun but it is an honest continuation of a band that allowed us to make pals with some of the most kind and generous folks around."

Year Long Winter arrives digitally through Dirt Cult Records and on cassette through Barrie's Tarantula Tapes. The latter issued it simultaneously with a tape run of Grace's recent solo EP, I Was a Fat Stupid (I wrote more on that back in February). You can hear both in full at Bandcamp today.

Faster And Louder Records: Probably House Tribute

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Faster And Louder Records recently issued the Probably House Tribute, a five-song 7" that features bands who've played the underground London, Ontario venue, the Probably House. The set collects scrappy punk tunes from Sarnia's Wired Wrong, Toronto's School Damage, and London acts Bad Words and Dave Rocket And The Jobbers (the latter crafting the "Ballad of Property House" just for the set). The record fittingly wraps with the venue's namesake skate punks Probably performing the title track to their 2018 EP Sadistic Vandals.

You can pre-order a copy of the record from the Ingersoll label, with records shipping on June 1. Look for it in the US through Mom's Basement Records. Keep an eye out for a collage of gig flyers on the record's inner sleeve.

Innes Wilson's Freightliner: "To The Letter"

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Guelph singer-songwriter Innes Wilson recently debuted the first single from Freightliner, a rootsy three-piece combo. The group's self-titled EP arrives May 26, reworking five favourites from Wilson's back catalogue into organic rock songs indebted to Neil Young and The Band (with perhaps some of the anthemic clarity of the Joel Plaskett Emergency mixed in). The group features Wilson joined by guitarist R.P. McMurphy and percussionist Joshua Osmond. They shared some history at Bandcamp:

"In 2019, the beginnings of Freightliner came together in support of Wilson for a show with The Sadies at Dog Day Afternoon Music Festival. From there, they continued to test their sound on a handful of shows until the pandemic hit in March 2020. While the world sorted itself out, Innes Wilson's Freightliner spent time in backyard band practices and on a hay-strewn barn floor to coax out their defining sound."

You can preview that sound with "To The Letter," reenvisioning a hooky song from 2019's The Heart That Holds This Up as a classic country rocker. The band recorded these tunes at a home studio last fall.

In the summer of 2020, Wilson shared a seven-song set of isolation recordings titled Deference. Over the past year, he also issued four EPs with his pandemic pop-punk project, Part-Time Cool).

Ian Daniel Kehoe: "Sweet & Sour"

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Toronto's Ian Daniel Kehoe impressively hopped genres during the early months of the pandemic, issuing three diverse collections of songs in the summer of 2020. From those exercises, the artist's re-emerged with Yes Very So, promising a mature art-pop sound. You can hear that now through the confident yet understated "Sweet & Sour," which arrives alongside a video by Colin Medley.

The nine-song full-length lands July 8 through Tin Angel Records. Check the write-up on their Bandcamp page for a rather thorough exploration of the 80s influences at a play here. Before his 2020 album cycle, the former Attack In Black guitarist released Secret Republic in via You've Changed Records.

The Burning Hell: "Nigel the Gannet"

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The Burning Hell recently issued "Nigel The Gannet," the third single from their forthcoming Garbage Island LP. The quirky track arrived alongside a video painted and animated by the band's Arial Sharratt (her first foray into animation). The group commented:

"You may have heard this song in our live shows over the last couple of years, but it's finally taking off! We recorded Nigel originally in 2019, and a version came out on [the limited edition lathe-cut EP] Birdwatching on Garbage Island. It's here now, re-mixed, re-jigged, and with some new treats and finally out for everyone to hear."

The song tells the true story of a failed attempt by New Zealand conservationists to establish a gannet breeding colony on Mana Island. They lured in a single bird (the titular Nigel) with concrete replicas, only to find the creature seemingly content to play out its lonely life among the statues. It's pretty absurd, but the band makes the low-hanging XTC joke, so at least something good came of it.

The track finds Mathias Kom on guitar, Jake Nicoll on bass, synth and Wurlitzer, with Sharratt programming drums, with all three credited on vocals. Garbage Island arrives June 24 through BB*Island in Europe and You've Changed Records in North America. The set follows the beloved group's 2017 album Revival Beach and their 2020's labour-focused Never Work (the latter billed as a solo project by Ariel and Mathias).

Kamikaze Nurse: "Come From Wood"

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Vancouver's Kamikaze Nurse recently shared the second single from Stimuloso, their forthcoming debut for Mint Records. "Come From Wood" starts delicately, taking its time before a sudden left turn into urgent art-punk. The track's accompanying video from director Jaewoo Kang takes a few surreal twists of its own. You'll find the song on the 10-song LP when it arrives on June 3.

The band assembled the new set during one of 2020's lockdowns, with each member separately recording in their jam space (overseen by drummer John Brennan). That socially distanced process took over six months to complete, with vocals eventually tracked in a weekend with Rain City Recorders' Mariessa McLeod. 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.

B.A. Johnston: "Why Can't Tonight Be Wing Night"

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Details on B.A. Johnston's desperately needed Werewolves of London, Ontario are finally available. The 19-song set lands on June 3 with a vinyl release through Transistor 66. You can pour over the complete track listing in giddy anticipation now, and while you're at Bandcamp, stream the opening track, "Why Can't Tonight Be Wing Night."

The new album, produced by Mathias Kom of the above-mentioned Burning Hell, follows the Hamilton showman's 2019 record The Skid Is Hot Tonight.

The Fake Friends: "Flower Crowns"

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I just shared "Flower Crowns," the new single from Montreal punk group The Fake Friends, in the previous edition of the newsletter. In the days since, I premiered an amusingly confessional video for the track over at Punknews, so forgive me if I double-dip and include it again here. Despite my nominal retirement from the Blue-and-Grey Lady, I sneak out an article there every few months, mostly to keep my name on the corporate card.*

The Fake Friends emerged over the pandemic from members of Trigger Effect, Mundy's Bay, Watch for Wolves, and Kennedy. Good Enough, their upcoming EP, features vocalist Matthew Savage backed by guitarists John Donnelly and Luca Santilli, bassist Sergio Da Silva and drummer Joel Hoelscher. The group recorded at Goldlion studio with engineer Max Lajoie.

Da Silva, also the co-owner of legendary Montreal punk venue Turbo Haüs, has this to say about the record:

"It's pretty representative of what we're trying to do. It's that mix of loud/heavy/frantic hardcore that we have a background in with mellow parts so that you can listen to it with your mom in the car."

Good Enough arrives through Stomp just in time for the fast-approaching Pouzza Fest, where The Fake Friends play the Turbo Haüs (of course) on Saturday, May 21. They're joining Signals Midwest, The Penske File, Fire Next Time, Tunic, FRVITS, Tired Radio, Blurry Eyes, Screaming at Traffic and PasMort that evening.

*This, of course, doesn't exist. Don't tell Razorcake.

Motherhood: "Shepherd"

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Last week Fredericton art-punk trio Motherhood issued "Shepherd," the second single from their forthcoming album, Winded. Despite callbacks to the Beach Boys' sweet harmonizing, the song takes on some sinister vibes - especially when paired with director Nicole Cecile Holland's video.

Keyboardist Penelope Stevens commented on the song's development in a press release:

"I kept picturing someone walking through the halls of a motel, with shag carpet and cigarette smoke. The demo was originally called Creepy Motel, for that reason, even though the song ended up being about sheep. We spent a long time playing with major and minor transitions, taking inspiration from the Marty Robbin's Gunfighter Ballads and old westerns. Then Brydon wrote the verses and chord progression, and we battled it all out until basically the night before we went into the studio. For being such a hard-won song, it ended up being one of our collective favourites, for sure."

Winded arrives June 24 via the Forward Music Group. Motherhood recorded the 10-track record with 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.

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

30 Going On 13: "Nemesis"

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Barrie's 30 Going On 13 lean heavily into the awkward aging punk trope - it's right there in their name - but they do it with an almost unfair number of charming sing-along hooks. A video for "Nemesis" just landed to prove that again, debuting via a SilentCredit-directed video It'll anchor their forthcoming EP, Sophomonic!, when it arives later this year. As you could guess, there's a metric ton of nostalgia for 90s pop-punk here.

30 Going On 13 issued the self-deprecating two-song Let's Start A Band EP last year. They recorded their latest material with Matt Snell at Toronto's Genesis Sound.

Kingfisher: Generation Zero

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If we're chasing 90s punk nostalgia this week, we should loop in Ottawa's Kingfisher. The four-piece recently issued their second EP of the year, a four-song set dubbed Generation Zero. Steeped in the sounds of the EpiFat era, in particular, Face to Face and No Use For a Name, Kingfisher draws from a slate of veteran players from the Ottawa and Toronto punk scenes. You can find the complete set at Bandcamp now and check the yearning single "You and I" in a recently shared video on YouTube.

The group assembled in November of 2021 from past members of The Fully Down and In Heat (among others). That includes vocalist/guitarist Brent Walker, vocalist/guitarist Joe Brownrigg, bassist Casey Conner, and drummer Dave Dorval. The band unnecessarily contextualized their lineup in hockey terms:

"If Kingfisher was a hockey team: Brent would be the team sniper... bar down top cheese everytime; Dave would be a new school Kenny Dryden, holding down the back end like it was easy, watching the other player's backs; Joe would be the ultimate chirper a la Brad Marchand; and Casey would be the coach, quietly keeping everyone in line, odd smirk here and there, otherwise emotionless."

Generation Zero follows the band's self-titled January-released debut.

Brand New Lungs: "Stand Alone"

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I could do this all day. Montreal four-piece Brand New Lungs recently shared a lyric video for their new single "Stand Alone," a commanding 90s-styled punk anthem. It's our first preview of whatever the band's cooking up for Thousand Islands Records as the follow-up to 2019's Like Wildfire LP. The band joked on Instagram (en francais) that, given their track record, we should expect a several-year wait for the album.

"On voulait faire un peu de maths pour vous donner idée de la date de sortie de celui-ci.

On a sorti le premier extrait du premier album le 4 mars 2016. On a travaillé super fort de façon constante sans jouer à NBA Jam au lieu de pratiquer pour 1197 jours pour finalement sortir le premier album le 14 juin 2019. Vous pouvez donc attendre le prochain album (annonce officielle) pour le 11 juillet 2025, soit environ 2 ans après qu’Alex et Fred gagnent le championnat mondial de NBA Jam."

Brand New Lungs features Louis-Charles Berthiaume, Alex Bergeron, Fred Normand, and Philippe Thibodeau.

The Last Mile: "Dedicated To"

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One last hit, then I'll switch genres, I swear.

Last October, Montreal melodic hardcore act The Last Mile issued Respect The Frequency, an album they're now supporting with a European tour. To coincide with their return to the road, they launched a video for "Dedicated To," a lyrical collage of references to a few of the band's influences. The band wrote the song upon learning of the death of Hüsker Dü's Grant Hart. You can see it now on YouTube.

The Last Mile features guitarist/vocalist Chris Snelgrove, bassist/vocalist Stephanie Cole, and drummer/vocalist Josh Carothers. Respect The Frequency arrived via Rad Girlfriend Records.

Mike Trask: "All Digital"

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New Brunswick's prolific Mike Trask has a video out featuring "All Digital," celebrating the first anniversary of his 2021 LP TV Dinner. Papal Visit frontman Adam Mowery wrote and directed the clip, shot in that band's home base of Saint John, with an assist from Pierre Cormier. The video plays off the warped new wave vibes of the audio, crafting a B-movie horror tale about a man transforming into a cyborg.

Trask followed TV Dinner with a string of online-only archival singles dubbed the VAULT series. The third song in that set, "Goosebumps," landed in March, featuring contributions from Julie Aubé and Katrine Noël of Acadian indie-folk trio Les Hay Babies.

Young Guv: "Nowhere At All"

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Ben Cook continues to roll out new material from his twin 2022 LPs. "Nowhere At All" landed last week as the fourth pre-release track from June's GUV IV. The artist detailed the song in a press release, stating:

"This was the very last song written for these records in Los Angeles. Another nice co-write with James Matthew VII and Tommy Major (The Major) on the lead guitar. I feel I've always hinted at new wave and sophistapop with the Guv project, and it's definitely something I will be exploring much more on my next albums. Lyrics were taken from a little notebook I kept on me while in Taos - I actually had written this originally as this Tom Petty folk joint and they then were tried on a side project song for a jokey psych rock band we were calling Taosman 5 - but eventually found their home on this track. I think it's my favorite single."

GUV IV lands on June 24 through Run For Cover and Hand Drawn Dracula. When he isn't writing timeless pop songs, Cook's known as the frontman of Toronto hardcore group No Warning and as a former guitarist for Fucked Up.

The Dreadnoughts: "Problem"

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Vancouver's mariner-themed Celtic-punk act The Dreadnoughts have another new single online from this summer's Roll and Go. "Problem" follows "Cider Holiday" in previewing the new record, due June 24 through our pals at Stomp. Vocalist Nicholas Smyth commented on the new tune, stating:

"This song is about our love-hate-mostly-love-but-sometimes-really-hate relationship with Poland, a country we've toured many times. In particular, it's about a winter tour we did where everything just kept breaking and going wrong, and we kept fighting it and raging against it until we realized that this was normal in Poland, and that you needed to just do what everyone else did: sit back, have a beer and a smoke, and say 'to hell with it.' The Poles are amazing at this, it's actually a really healthy attitude to have in a lot of situations. The song's title comes from a word that means the same in English and Polish, and we quickly realized that we were going to hear it from our tour manager (who spoke no English) about 18 times a day. 'Ah...' he would say, his face scrunching up and worry-creasing his forehead... 'Problem'."

The new set features 13 songs, following up on 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.

Cellos: "The Downward Gaze"

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Windsor noise rock three-piece Cellos returned last week with a new one-off single, the first in a string of unheard sounds to be shared over the coming months. The band intended to record an album before the pandemic upended everything. Instead, they plan to digitally share the material piece-by-piece and hopefully collect it after the fact. You can hear the sludgy psychedelic "The Downward Gaze" on Bandcamp.

Cellos are following up on a 2019 split 7" with Toronto's Not Of and their 2017 LP The Great Leap Backward. The band features guitarist/vocalist Kyle Marchand, bassist Vincent Manzerolle, and drummer David Allan.

Juice: Demonic Frequency

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Last week Demolition Records announced a new three-song 7" from Vancouver bruisers Juice. Demonic Frequency marks the hardcore band's first new material since their well-regarded 2018 demo. Fifty records are due on clear lathe cut vinyl, pending pressing delays. The band recorded with Robert Foster engineering.

Cherry Blaster: "I Don't Wanna"

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The new single from Toronto alt-pop trio Cherry Blaster starts from a satisfying piano-driven slow burn. A minute in, "I Don't Wanna" wanders off into an intriguing cloud of live brass before kicking up the tempo with the defiant refrain of "I don't wanna do this anymore!" The band had this to say about the memorable track:

"[It's] a party-ballad (or ballad-bop) about being done with dating. I had been through yet another superficial dating experience that left me wanting more. I was feeling frustrated and hurt, even though I knew that I had been trying to see more in it than was really there."

The group features Iulia Ciobanu, Scott Given, and Tasker Hul, with the horns on this song performed by Aaron Hutchinson. The new material follows Cherry Blaster's lone 2021 single, "New Age."

Jasmyn: "Cruel Moon"

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Jasmyn Burke, the former vocalist for the Toronto art-punk combo Weaves, recently shared "Cruel Moon," the fourth single of her new solo era. It arrives alongside an animated lyric video. In a statement, the artist, now billed simply as Jasmyn, revealed:

"I wrote this song during this moment when I was so tired of staying indoors most of the time and having this pulling instinct of wanting something new for myself. I felt almost like I was in an escape room with no door out. So this song was about imagining having this out of body experience where I was going outside and moving and just peeling off layers and making room for a new identity, dancing my way through the growing pains."

Jasmyn's 11-song solo debut In The Wild arrives on June 3 through Royal Mountain and ANTI- Records. Weaves called it quits following 2017's Wide Open.

The Band Whose Name Is a Symbol: "Protostar"

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Ottawa psych outfit The Band Whose Name Is a Symbol recently shared "Protostar," the first preview of their upcoming album 474 Days Later. The group recorded the improvisational track outdoors last September, their first time reconvening since the summer of 2020. TBWNIS features Nathaniel Hurlow, Bill Guerrero, John Westhaver, Jason Vaughan, Dave Reford, and Scott Thompson on this recording.

While the public health crisis has mostly kept the space-rock act apart, they still somehow managed to issue a wealth of archival material these past few years. I'll fail at recapping it all here, so head to Bandcamp to unearth hours of extended instrumental freakouts.

Pillow Fite: "Leaves"

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Halifax folk-pop duo Pillow Fite has a buoyant new single out titled "Leaves." The nostalgic track pairs a bed of acoustic guitar with dream-pop electronics to great effect. The band's Art Ross commented on the album in a press release:

"This was always that one little song that I've kept in my back pocket. It was almost like a small page ripped from my diary when I was a teen. Because I had written the lyrics so long ago, I truly never thought it would ever escape its coffeehouse vibe. But when I showed Aaron (Green) the song, he revamped it, re-contextualized it, and now it's a song that invites the listener to reminisce about those reckless times."

The new song follows February's "Half Moon" single and with it previews the band's debut LP, due later this year from LMH Records. Pillow Fite features Art Ross and Aaron Green, the latter a veteran of the bands Floodland and Hello Delaware.

Opeongo: We'll All Go With (The-Will-O'-The-Wisp)

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Toronto folk-rocker Opeongo recently issued their sophomore record, an 8-song set dubbed We'll All Go With (The-Will-O'-The-Wisp). Inspired by the novel of the same name by Quebecois author Anne Hébert, the album cumulates in the striking murder ballad "Kamouraska." In the artist's words:

"'Kamouraska' is the murder ballad of a fictional abused woman who ends her suffering by murdering her spouse, only to be oppressed in a different way - this time by the law. That said, at least the protagonist makes her suffering her own and feels a sort of catharsis from her actions.

Whereas my first album, Miasma, is rooted in themes of earth and dirt, I picture We'll All Go with emerging through sounds of water. I wanted to write this album from a point of compassion; trying to understand other perspectives. I hope listeners can find a narrative that they can relate to in these songs."

The record features Keegan Trumpour on lead vocal and electric guitar, backed by Raha Javanfar on violin and Aaron Goldstein (Daniel Romano, Bry Webb) on drums, bass, and his signature pedal steel.

Rick White: Rick White plays The Sadies

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In the wake of Dallas Good's death, longtime friend and collaborator Rick White's kicked off a covers series celebrating the work Toronto alt-country legends The Sadies. While unveiling his renditions of "Another Season Again" and "Translucent Sparrow," White commented:

"I love the Sadies. I love the guys, their big loving family, seeing them play, playing with them in the Unintended or as a guest during one of their concerts. I also think they made some great albums with a lot of wonderful songs and lyrics. I've been actually planning this project for many years but the shock we all had a couple months ago has finally set me into motion."

Rather than complete an entire album beforehand, White plans to record and reveal a song or two a week until he has enough to fill an LP. I'm pretty excited to follow this project along for the next few months, and you should be too.

White's, of course, known as a member of the pioneering east coast indie acts Eric's Trip and Elevator. He last issued the psych-rocking Where It's Fine in 2021 through Blue Fog Recordings.

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