Thursday June 2, 2022

Performative Hours

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.

Well, the month of May came and went, and I managed to eke out only two mailings. So much for my weekly schedule, not to mention a strong showing for the inglorious fifth anniversary of Some Party. I can't lie and say that my increasing inability to meet self-imposed deadlines hasn't become a stressor. While I'm still grappling with that, it does have me reflecting on one of my initial motivations for the newsletter. I started writing weekly to unhitch myself from the daily grind of music coverage - to get away from the compulsion to break stories and rush out search-optimized nothings before a story grew stale. I hammered that home in the title of the very first edition, lifting a lyric from Daniel Romano's "Modern Pressure." "React to it at your leisure" was as much an instruction for readers as it was a cautionary mantra for me. Perhaps I should take my own advice and relax a little.

Hell, by my count, there's been 241 issues of Some Party over these five years - around 48 a year, not counting the odd extra feature. That's not too far off the mark, all things considered.

In that spirit, here's an update that's neither timely nor comprehensive. Proudly so.

The Flatliners: "Performative Hours"

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The 2017 roots of this newsletter coincided with the release of Inviting Light, the then-most recent full-length from the Toronto punk group The Flatliners. While I, like much of the Punknews crowd, wrestled with that album's clean pop sensibilities - we never imagined how much of an impact frontman Chris Cresswell would soon have outside of the group. By the fall of that year, he was on stage, unplanned, with Gainesville legends Hot Water Music, filling in for that band's ailing Chris Wollard in front of a hometown crowd at The Fest. As Wollard pulled back from the band's live commitments, Chris proved to be more than a mere ringer - appearing to this day as a fully-fledged contributor to the beloved punk group. Look no further than last week, when the band showcased the Cresswell-fronted "Turn The Dial" as a single from their new studio album.

Of course, the pandemic dominated the years since that unlikely pairing came together, a further impediment for whatever The Flatliners' next move would be. They'd spend nearly 600 days apart before convening to record New Ruin - their most extended break since emerging on the ska-punk circuit back in 2002. That should provide as clean a slate as any, but even with Inviting Light so far removed, it's surprising how aggressive the band sounds on "Performative Hours," New Ruin's first single. In a press release, Cresswell commented:

"There's a desperation that's run rampant within us as people, and it's the need to be validated. A shadow of what's really real, a version of the truth, a performance at all hours. As the world around us grows more mechanically able to connect, us as people will abuse that power to simply brag or complain, feverishly attempting to create a moment instead of just enjoying one. It feels as though we've found ourselves in an age of insincerity, with people putting in the hours for nothing more than upholding an image. Time now ticks in performative hours."

Director Mitch Barnes (The Dirty Nil) showcases the song in a frenzied, satirical music video starring Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll (Kim's Conveniences, Baroness Von Sketch Show) as a hard-drinking, disaster-prone variety show host. The band, Cresswell with drummer Paul Ramirez, bassist Jon Darbey, and guitarist Scott Brigham, performs as the television program quickly unravels.

The new record lands on August 5 from Dine Alone Records in Canada and Fat Wreck Chords elsewhere. The group self-produced at Toronto's Noble Street Studios and Genesis Sound with engineer Matt Snell. Anton DeLost mixed the record with Jason Livermore mastering at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado. New Ruin lands as The Flatliners' sixth studio album, arriving in conjunction with their 20th anniversary.

Sammy J. Scorpion: "Happy Birthday"

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I missed it last month, but Sammy J. Scorpion of the Ottawa party-punk outfit New Swears has a solo EP through the Clubhouse Recording Club and Ross Miller's cassette label Weepy Eye. While you can find the six-song release on major streaming platforms now, take a moment and circle back to the single "Happy Birthday." Scorpion, born Sammy Lewis, spoke to the Scene Point Blank early in May, revealing:

"This song is about the melancholy feeling of growing older and how time can feel like it's quickly passing. I guess you could say, the years start coming and they don't stop coming...

You can hear me playing a cheap plastic harmonica on this track. I had a nicer one that sounded great and was way easier to play, but something about how challenging it was and how breathy and labored it sounded brought some life to the song. When you're recording music I think there's a tendency to make everything sound flawless. But sometimes there's magic in the little imperfections."

Lewis recorded and mixed at his home studio, with Organ Eyes' Cam Steacy mastering. You can check the song out in a new video shot by Melanie King - Lewis' co-conspirator in the country duo Scorpion King.

New Swears last released Night Mirror in 2019 through Dine Alone Records.

Conditions Apply: "Angry All The Time"/"Consolidation Prize"

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It's been a while since we've heard from the gritty Montreal punk act Conditions Apply, nothing since a slate of demo recordings at the end of 2019. The trio's since recorded material for their debut full-length, working with engineer Ryan Battistuzzi (Yesterday's Ring, Les Mains Sales) on the forthcoming Rage & Ignorance. You can hear two songs from the LP, "Angry All the Time" and "Consolation Prize," streaming at Bandcamp. There's no word yet when the record's due.

Conditions Apply features bassist/vocalist Jonah Aspler of ...And The Saga Continues and All The Answers with ex-Mental Fix drummer Marie-Eve Turcotte and guitarist/vocalist Steve Lumpen.

Nasdaq: "Kill Urself"/"Jung Youth"

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The four-piece hardcore group Nasdaq recently emerged in Vancouver, sharing a pair of unmastered previews of their forthcoming full-length. While information on the band's scant at this time, we do know that their roster includes TJ Felix of the excellent Bedwetters Anonymous. Do yourself a favour and spare three minutes for the crashing, noisy "Kill Urself" and "Jung Youth."

TJ Felix: Honest Injun

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The Nasdaq debut arrives alongside a new solo EP from Felix, a Vancouver-based Secwépemc artist known for recording years of weird-punk gems as Industrial Priest Overcoats. The three-song Honest Injun sounds like a jangly panic attack, carried by Felix's distinctively frantic yelp. The new set arrives on the heels of (I Am) The Land, a 14-track collection of off-kilter, trauma-grappling punk tunes issued in January.

Les Shirley: "Random Call"

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Montreal power trio Les Shirley recently shared "Random Call," a slick summer single that follows up on the band's well-received 2021 LP Forever Is Now. It's the group's first hint towards their sophomore LP, due in the fall of 2022. There are massive hooks in this one - the harmonizes in the pre-chorus, in particular, are just out of this world.

The band features guitarist/vocalist Raphaëlle Chouinard, Sara Dion on bass, and Lisandre Bourdages on drums. Both Dion and Bourdages also serve in the white-hot punk quartet NOBRO. François Lafontaine appears on this track playing keys, with additional vocals kicked in by the production team of Marie-Pierre Arthur and the above-mentioned Ryan Battistuzzi.

Zoon: "Astum" (ft. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson)

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Anishinaabe songwriter Daniel Monkman recently announced a new EP from his shoegaze project Zoon. The five-song Big Pharma features a guest on each track, a roster that includes Cadence Weapon, Michael Peter Olsen, Sunnsetter, and Jasmine Trails. You can hear the delicate lead single "Astum" now, a song that includes an appearance from Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar and musician Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. On the track, Monkman commented:

"Astum was the first Cree word that my late father, Glen Olsen, taught me as a child. It means 'hurry up' or 'quickly'. He would walk in front of me and at the door say 'Astum, Daniel! Astum!' Thinking of it as a game, I'd run towards him as quickly as possible. I thought about this and what the word means in my now adult life, especially now in my musical career. Passing down language was something that I prayed for as a kid. I remember wanting to attend the reservation school to learn but our Ojibway teacher disappeared one month earlier and never came back.

'Astum' also touches on active addiction and the challenges that it brings to an individual. While in active addiction, it's extremely difficult to function in the known society and it leaves you feeling even more lost. I reflect on how it's really sad and you watch a lot of good people leave because it's impossible to keep a firm grasp on reality. You're longing for a great relationship but know it could never happen because you're constantly trying to numb out past traumas."

The EP's due June 21 from Paper Bag, following up on 2020's Bleached Wavves. The set also arrives in the wake of Sewn Together, the acclaimed debut from OMBIIGIZI, Monkman's joint project with Adam Sturgeon of Status/Non-Status (formerly WHOOP-Szo).

La Sécurité: "Try Again"

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Mothland recently shared a second single from the Montreal art-punk act La Sécurité. "Try Again" follows the band's debut "Suspens," and together they make one hell of a first impression. Here's the label's florid write-up on the new track, which I'm not even going to try and paraphrase (it should be clear why):

"Cute, yet deadly mushrooms, weird multidimensional plumbing pipes and multicolored flying turtles are just some of the elements that inspired La Sécurité's cryptic post-punk groover: 'Try Again'. While cowbells and woodblocks dance in and out of its unique angular beat, repetitive riffs and catchy synthesizer lines ensure that listeners are hypnotized, ultimately taken into an easter egg-ridden 2D metaphysical labyrinth where psychedelic musical bliss awaits."

The band recorded 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. The group features current and former members of Choses Sauvages, Laurence-Anne, Jesuslesfilles, Silver Dapple, DATES, and Pressure Pin.

Never Plenty: "Tranquilized"

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Vancouver's Never Plenty arrives fully formed on their confident and distinctive debut single, "Tranquilized." The song bounces along with a gleeful helping of DEVO weirdness, punctuated by reverb-washed vocals delivered with an almost childlike yelp. The track's our first preview of a 5-song EP due this summer, recorded at Meadows Mansion and mastered by Joshua Stevenson at Otic Mastering. Never Plenty features former Dopey's Robe member Max Knudsen on guitar and vocals, Brandon Grittner on drums, Jon Comstock of Hygiene (and Jaundice Records) on bass, and Jesse Cramer on keys.

Look for Never Plenty's first show on June 22, opening for LA's Frankie and the Witch Fingers and Seattle's Monsterwatch when they roll through Vancouver.

Paul Jacobs: "The Tree Outside My House"

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Montreal psych artist Paul Jacobs recently detailed his upcoming EP. 185 On The Corner arrives July 8 through Bonsound, collecting, among other tunes, the earlier preview "After Dark" and the newly unveiled "The Tree Outside My House." The track, self-produced and recorded entirely solo, follows the artist's recent embrace of mellow, folky psychedelia, a massive contrast to his years churning out dense walls of distortion.

Jacobs, a prolific solo artist and the drummer of the maximalist garage act Pottery, is currently touring behind his 2021 solo LP Pink Dogs on the Green Grass. Look for him at several festivals over the summer, including La Noce in Chicoutimi, the FEQ in Quebec City, and Grosse Lanterne in Béthanie. A run of shows in the US midwest go down in August.

The Trophies: "Bad Guy"

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Were you aware that TV Freaks frontman David O'Connor, aka Sweet Dave, started a 60s-style garage revival act with his coworkers from Hamilton's Trophy Tattoo? I was not, but no one tells me anything. The group's a trio featuring O'Connor on vocals and bass, Mike Bialek on guitar and vocals, and Jon Gray drumming. They issued a 7" single in March titled "Idle Threats," which is now followed by the digital one-off "Bad Guy." You can find it all at Bandcamp.

As Sweet Dave, O'Conner explored goth and new wave on 2021's Now More Than Ever. TV Freaks-proper last issued the ambitious People LP in 2020 through Schizophrenic.

Twenty2: "Grudge"

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Montreal punk group Twenty2 continues to rope in impressive help to launch their second life. Initially playing from the late 90s through 2007, the band pulled together again in 2018 for the Nice Knowing' Ya EP. That record featured appearances from both Al Nolan of Toronto's Almighty Trigger Happy and Stephen Egerton of the Descendents/ALL. This time out, the band paired with members of the Californian punk veterans Good Riddance, working in pandemic-necessitated remote sessions with guitarist Luke Pabich (who co-wrote the album with Twenty2 vocalist Jon H) and drummer Sean Sellers. Chris Beeble and Jason Livermore mixed and mastered the new songs at the aforementioned Blasting Room. Jon H, aka Jonh Génier, remains the band's sole founding member, with bassist Dan Cole having played with them since 2005. The Montreal-based pair recorded their parts with Gautier Marinof at Tone Bender studios.

Titled Dismissed, the new record lands as the band's third overall full-length and their first since 2006's Defective. You can check out the hard-driving single "Grudge" through a lyric video on YouTube. Look for it through Thousand Islands Records on July 22.

Among Legends: "Monochrome"

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Waterloo pop-punk act Among Legends recently announced a July 1 release date for Take Good Care, their 13-song debut full-length. The album's queued up on Rad Girlfriend Records domestically, with Little Rocket Records carrying it in the UK and Sounds of Subterrania handling Europe. You can find the album's second single, the anthemic "Monochrome," featured in a new video on YouTube and streaming everywhere.

The five-piece recorded with Siegfried Meier (Face to Face, Stuck Out Here) at Beach Road Studios and The Cat Box. The group's following up their 2017 EP Some Days. Look for an album-release tour heading to and from the Maritimes in July, kicking off with what's undoubtedly going to be a massive KW show on July 9.

Among Legends features vocalist Mitchell Buchanan, bassist Anthony Amorim, guitarist Cameron Bechtloff, drummer Sara Fellin, and guitarist Tyler Boles.

AAWKS: "The Electric Traveller"

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Tarantula Tapes managed to amass a sizable punk roster managed to amass a sizable punk roster in a few short years, but their latest finds them taking a deep plunge into the epic murk of stoner rock and heavy psych. The label linked up with their hometown wizards AAWKS for the June 10 release of Heavy on the Cosmic, a joint project with the GTA's Black Throne Productions and Sudbury's Northern Haze. Light some incense, turn on the black light, and take in the album's lead single, "The Electric Traveller," available now at Bandcamp.

Tunic: "Rituals"

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Last week Winnipeg noise-punks Tunic shared "Rituals," a one-off single follow-up to their 2021 LP, Quitter. Issued to coincide with the band's ongoing tour, it has all the raw and visceral qualities we've come to expect from the David Schellenberg-led three-piece.

Quitter arrived last October through Artoffact Records, recorded and mixed by Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes and mastered by Carl Saff (Mitski, Guided By Voices, Speedy Ortiz). The group plans to spend the remainder of the month in Europe touring in support of the record.

The Crowleys: "Sewer Drain"

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Hamilton psych-pop quintet The Crowleys has a new single out titled "Sewer Drain," the final pre-release preview of their forthcoming debut full-length. The band notes a few of the tech-noir undertones invoked in the song:

"Warning this tune is moody and might invoke listeners to suddenly be transported into a funky dystopian future. It'll summon visions of hover cars driving down city streets slick with acid rain, surrounded on all sides by skyscrapers disappearing into the smog-filled void."

The new material follows a string of digital singles issued over the past few years, with the eventual LP due from Wel-Pel Records sometime later this year. The band recorded with co-producers Cohen Wylie and Michael Keire at Threshold Recording Studio.

Void Fill: Landfill History

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Indie rock trio Void Fill spans the Atlantic, uniting vocalist Pete F. Davies of the art-punk act Gad Whip with Ontario-based guitarist Ken Holiday and the multi-instrumental producer Jakob Rehlinger. The band recently assembled their complete discography as Landfill History, a 14-song collection available on CD through Fourth Dimension Records. You can pick up the digital version at Bandcamp, delivering a sound described as "sitting in the delta of the '80s post-punk and '90s madchester/baggy/grebo revival."

Holiday and Rehlinger previously played together in the dance-punk group The Clap in the mid-2000s. These days, the former records as the London, Ontario-based Eveything is Geometry, while the latter trades as King Pong Dub System. Gad Whip issued a cassette through Rehlinger's now-defunct Arachnidiscs label in 2017.

Shoulder Season: Not The Time

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I've been following along with Halifax's self-described "adult women punk band" Shoulder Season for a few months now, and the band's debut EP Not The Time is finally in hand. You can find the six-song set at Bandcamp now, including the newly unveiled "Bleed Me Dry," a defiant synth-driven tune that's, in the band's own words, "about women, their bodies, societal expectations and the lack of control we often feel around our health."

The group recorded at Ocean Floor in Halifax with The Super Friendz' Charles Austin (Outtacontroller, Future Girls, Souvenir). Rob Seaton of the Sudbury power-pop legends Statues Statues mixed and mastered the set. 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).

Safeword: Currents

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It's been a momentous few weeks for Karen Foster, as her other gig Safeword also has a record out. The Nova Scotian indie-pop group issued their 10-song debut in its entirety at the end of May. The release also unveiled the album highlight "Revisionist History," perhaps the most traditionally punk track in their varied repertoire. Foster commented:

"A coping mechanism I have, like a lot of people, is to convince myself I didn't want the thing I failed to get, whether it's a relationship, job, or what have you. It's a kind of revisionist history where you edit your real feelings to pretend you never cared. I actually think it's a fine coping mechanism, but it can still be uncomfortable to confront."

On the recording, she revealed:

"I had to work on the yell so I didn't just sound like a mom yelling about cleaning your room. It took a few tries, and there was a lot of laughing in the studio. That said, we all love the recent pop punk revival and figured this would be a good track to step out on."

Like Shoulder Season above, Safeword also recorded at Ocean Floor with Charles Austin, also working with Franc Lopes. Joel Plaskett and Thomas Stajcer mixed at Fang, with Alex Burris mastering.

Safeword brings together members of Darts, Skullocybin, and Blackout 77. The band features Karen Foster on vocals and keys, guitarist Dan Watt, bassist Greg Baller, and drummer Brian Foster.

Fresh Pepper: "Walkin'"

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It's been a few weeks since we first previewed Fresh Pepper, a culinary-themed recording project co-helmed by saxophonist Joseph Shabason and André Ethier of Toronto garage legends The Deadly Snakes. The album's second single recently surfaced, a jazzy instrumental dubbed "Walkin'" You can hear it now at Bandcamp.

The group's 8-song, self-titled debut arrives June 17 through Telephone Explosion. The record presents something of a supergroup of Toronto studio players, with contributions from Robin Dann, Kieran Adams, Felicity Williams, Thom Gill, and Bram Gielen (members of Bernice, The Weather Station, and Beverly Glenn-Copeland's band - not in that order). Destroyer's Dan Bejar also appears on the record, contributing to the song "Seahorse Tranquilizer."

André Ethier recently completed a three-album cycle of breathy, nature-inspired folk songs with Further Up Island. Shabason issued his acclaimed LP, The Fellowship in 2021.

That's it for this week. Look for more very soon as the backlog is both daunting but brimming with cool stuff. Here's to five years squatting in your spam folder.

React to it at your leisure

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