Monday July 18, 2022

Skyscraper

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.

Live music must be back as I'm regularly facing agonizing bouts of indecision, just like old times. Here I sit in a hermetic bubble made of dreams, trying desperately to avoid the Nth-wave before my flight to New Brunswick - and I find my excitement for the return of Sappyfest coupled with pangs of regret that I can't be in Ottawa for the concurrent resurrection of Side By Side Weekend. It's, of course, entirely unreasonable to expect events 1,000 KM apart to worry about each other's schedules - but this newsletter's central conceit demands otherwise. So with my planned Sappy coverage on deck - let's focus this week on the capital.

I had the pleasure of attending the first edition of Side By Side in 2019 - a punk festival named in honour of its setting - with sets ping-ponging between the adjacent House of TARG and Black Squirrel Books. That event, organized by Anthony Cardozo, helped fill the yearning void left by the legendary Ottawa Explosion. I can't overstate the influence OXW had on Some Party - I researched every band on those lineups - so the launch of Side By Side was a thrill. Between it and Sitting On The Outside, the future felt bright for the Ottawa DIY universe.

...and then, well, it feels absurd even to bother recapping recent history. You were there. I was there. We all know what happened. Whatever...

While the summer of 2022 hasn't turned out to be nearly as worry-free as anyone hoped, the world's gears are defiantly turning again. Side By Side Weekend makes its triumphant return on July 29, 30 and 31 - with more than thirty acts convening in the nation's capital. Relocated this year to the recently renovated Club SAW, the Side by Side name perhaps now refers to the indoor and outdoor stages planned for each day. The event's getting an assist from several prominent scene boosters, including Sitting On The Outside, but also a brand revival of Cinqhole - a venue born from the momentum of the original event but tragically shuttered in the pandemic. They, along with notable promoters and publications like Ottawa Showbox, Debaser, and First Crush are sponsoring portions of the weekend.

As for the artists, throw a dart blindly at the lineup, and you'll hit someone I've written glowingly about, or I should. Friday features Precious Failures, Sea of Troubles, Mr. Power, and Wine Lips outside, with Bitch Stick, Sleep Late, Deliverables, Pretty Matty, and the beach punk fiends Barnacle indoors. How excited am I to learn that Barnacle survived the apocalypse?

Saturday starts with a matinee featuring Jasmine Trails, Auto Sleeper, and Pith, with the evening outdoor stage touting Backseat Dragon, Jazz Dads, Kicksie, and the ethereal Boyhood. Indoors look for perennial Some Party obsession Chris Page live with Expanda Fuzz, playing alongside Hug Mosh, Burner, and Rivalled Envy.

Sunday's outdoor matinee kicks off with Crisis Party - the new side project from Cluttered's Matty Grace, Ottawa mainstay Ska Jeff (ex-Dogma), and fest organizer Tony Cardozo. They'll play alongside Dogspear, Stoby, and The Flying Hellfish. That evening you'll find Dart Trees, Guest Room Status, Weekend Goodbye and Fanclubwallet outdoors. Finally, the weekend wraps inside with Ultra Love, Sonagi, NØ MAN, and the ever-evolving heavy Haligonians of Botfly.

I asked Tony how the struggles of the past few years impacted the fest, and by extension, Ottawa's underground rock scene. He didn't disappoint with his answer:

"We've all been dealing with so many degrees of hardship throughout the pandemic, and in varying levels of isolation too. It's been exhausting. Even at the best of times, it's easy to feel disconnected and alone. Local shows and small festivals have been life-changing for me in the past and they can be so important to the community. I knew I wanted to see something like this continue to exist here. We've lost some valued gathering places for local music and art, from Pressed to Cinqhole to Babylon... they all served important functions in service of the larger cultural landscape that is still reeling and recovering. I hope this thing can play a small role in connecting and reconnecting people with their community.

I also want to acknowledge the continued COVID-related risks and anxieties that exist around attending events. It's really hard to constantly retrain ourselves for what feels safe and comfortable, and I want to acknowledge that a lot of people are in very different places with that stuff. And attending events is by no means the 'only way' or the 'best way' to connect with your community; you are just as much a part of things whether you're physically present or not. All this to say, it's still a weird time, we're all still tired, but we're all still hungry for community and connection so this festival is an attempt at retaining some of that. I hope that connects and resonates with people. So, if you're gonna be in town and if you're able to / comfortable with it, MASK UP AND GET TO THE FRIGGIN GIGS!"

That's not all - this weekend (Friday, July 22), there's a pre-festival event at TARG featuring Vancouver siblings Apollo Ghosts and Tough Age - a stop on their tour eastwards to Sappy. They'll play the arcade alongside Outtacontroller and Heavy Bedroom. Hot damn.

Brutal Poodle: "Skyscraper"

View on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

This week the Vancouver power-trio Brutal Poodle unveiled "Skyscraper," the noisy (and rather triumphantly hooky) lead single from their upcoming LP Hi Apathy. You can see it visualized in a video filmed by Leila Meshgini and edited by the band's Dustin Bromley. It has all the attitude and charm of those classic Beastie Boys clips, with the trio mugging at the camera as they saunter through the urban landscape. Love it.

The album's due on August 16 through Westerly Records, featuring eight songs tracked with Jesse Gander at Raincity Recorders.

Brutal Poodle features bassist/vocalist Karmin Poirier, guitarist/vocalist John Johnston, and drummer Dustin Bromley. Members of the group previously appeared in SBDC, Jock Tears, and Slow Learners.

G.R.O.S.S.: Demo

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Restless Haligonian punker Matty Grace recently shared the first demo of G.R.O.S.S. through Sewercide Records. The band features Grace paired with her Cluttered bandmate Becca Dalley on vocals, with the pair performing a set of five speedy songs in as many minutes. It's part of a songwriting challenge Grace undertook to write "like... actual hardcore songs" earlier in the year. I think she did just that!

Sewercide's soon putting the demo out on cassette, with a pre-order up at Bandcamp. Earlier this year, Grace and Dalley appeared on Year Long Winter, the recent EP from bummer-punk heroes Future Girls. Cluttered meanwhile issued the Enemy Us split back in May with Toronto's Talk Show Host, celebrating the music of the defunct Californian punk group Enemy You. That's no more than a third of Matty's recent projects, but I only have so much space.

Conditions Apply: "Bulletproof Boots"

Watch on YouTube

The new Conditions Apply video has everything you could hope for: skateboarding hijinks, omnipresent black t-shirts, record store violence, and inexplicable wigs. You can see it all in "Bulletproof Boots," a song the band reveals is, quite appropriately, "about shooting yourself in the foot." It finds the Montreal punk trio working with directors Sebastien Gagnon-Dorval and Max Kalinowicz.

The band's previewing material for their upcoming debut full-length Rage & Ignorance, recorded with engineer Ryan Battistuzzi (Yesterday's Ring, Les Mains Sales). There's no word yet when the record's due, but I'd expect it this year. 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.

Fake Palms: "Visions"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

This week Michael le Riche shared "Visions," the second single from Lemons, the forthcoming third LP from his Toronto rock group Fake Palms. The track finds the artist upping the tempo and reconnecting the minimalist energy of early punk rock. He comments:

"'Visions' is the sound of power chords and an overactive right arm. No more intricate, overly complex guitar parts or different time signatures. It's Buzzcocks or the Dead Boys at its core, angular and jangly. Musically, it's the most direct thing I've ever done. No hiding behind walls of reverb, mutating time signatures, or vague lyrics."

The new set arrives on the heels of the full-length debut from Sauna, le Riche's synth-pop trio with ex-Weaves bassist Zach Bines and Greys drummer Braeden Craig. That group issued Dose Yourself in May. This new incarnation of Fake Palms finds le Rich mainly working solo, performing the brunt of guitar, bass, and vocals, with backing from Dilly Dally's Benjamin Reinhartz on percussion. Evan Lewis of Ducks Ltd. fleshed out a half-dozen of the songs on guitar, with additional appearances logged from early Palms guitarist Patrick Marshall, percussionist Braeden Craig, and Twist vocalist Laura Hermiston. The band recorded at Candle Recording with Josh Korody (Breeze, Beliefs) co-producing and engineering.

Justis Krar directed the accompanying video for "Visions," a similar treatment to the record's first single, "Satellite." You can find it on YouTube. Look for Fake Palms performing on September 2 at FME in Rouyn-Noranda, performing a showcase alongside labelmates Tallies. Lemons arrives on September 16 through Hand Drawn Dracula.

Daniel Romano's Outfit: "Genuine Light"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Given the volume of material Daniel Romano churns out, there's a shrinking list of variations on the form that he's not yet attempted. Dash progressive rock opera from the list - as September will see the arrival of La Luna - an LP featuring a single song comprised of 12 movements, complete with an overture and grand finale. The work finds the Welland singer/songwriter backed by his band The Outfit, with the usual ensemble augmented by Kenneth Roy Meehan, Mark Lalama, Raha Javanfar, Aaron Hutchinson, and Kristian Montano in various roles. This incarnation of The Outfit features the players currently touring behind 2021's Cobra Poems: vocalists Julianna Riolino and Carson McHone, bassist Roddy Rosetti, guitarist Dave Nardi, and drummer Ian Romano.

You can hear an excerpt from the new work, a segment titled "Genuine Light," streaming at Bandcamp now. In a write-up the label detailed each side of the LP, in the process shedding some light on The Outfit's roles in the work:

"Side 1 of La Luna is experienced as a document of first asking: musical themes are introduced, lyrics, later to be repeated, are given first voice. There is a lightness, not of illumination necessarily, but of feeling. The Outfit, the ever-masterful Outfit, giving collective voice to the poet's words. Yes, close followers of Daniel Romano's may well know his poetry oft bends to the Romantic, to the Mystical. You have read it in the collections of his poetry (Weaker Animals Too, At Last There Is No End); you have heard it sung in the psychedelic folk masterpiece Finally Free. These words gain new weight as Julianna Riolino, David Nardi, and Carson McHone weave their own voices around Daniel's, taking lead on individual verses, joining in immaculately arranged harmony. It is, in accumulation, a collective voice - a liturgy, an act of public worship. And like all worship, it is seeking an understanding of our place, of the very nature of our existence. A seeking that, despite moments of ecstatic clarity, given great musical voice throughout, ultimately discovers its own limits, discovering a place of ultimate unknowing: discovers 'true wisdom in seeking"; discovers 'Memory and Fate / And all that we create / Pale against the weight/ Of the keeper'

And so, with Side 2, we begin again, of course, more troubled, beginning again with all the unsolved riddles and questions of existence, down in the deep black groove. Where once the lyrics measured our closeness, now they measure our distance ('Prayer is but a personal obsession'). Side 2, haunted by echoes, crossed by shadows. If this is perhaps true of Side 2s everywhere, La Luna strikes me as unique in its brave acknowledgement of the facts. One must reckon with the past, the Grand Preceding; personal history of course, but also the harrowing recognition that the individual is born of collective histories."

That sounds like some unconstrained maximalism in the spirit of Fucked Up's Zodiac series, and I'm all for it. You can fully absorb La Luna when it arrives on September 9 through You've Changed Records.

The Outfit is currently on the road in Europe, paused but on the cusp of recovery from a COVID outbreak. To help recoup their losses, the group's shared a full concert film online for purchase or rent. The set features the band playing Lee's Palace in May - shot by Colin Medley, Blake Hannahson, and Sebastian Palfrey, with audio recorded and mixed by Kenneth Roy Meehan. You can pick it up at Vimeo and find further means of support on their Instagram.

Bonnie Trash: "Have You Seen Her"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

This week Guelph drone-rock duo Bonnie Trash detailed their debut full-length Malocchio, due October 28 through Hand Drawn Dracula. The news came alongside the heavy and forbidding new single "Have You Seen Her." The song, and in particular the accompanying video, furthers the band's fascination with Italian folklore, mining their grandmother's stories for haunting source material. They comment:

"The music video plays out like a sci-fi involving an alternate dimension/timeline. Using the same idea of the malocchio that haunted our nonna decades ago, what does it look like when conjured by generations later in the future, and can this generational haunting finish once and for all? We see two siblings confront the malocchio head-on, only for it to follow once more. The curse has become a part of them. Do not be afraid.

Have You Seen Her is also about the tragic loss of a loved one, longing to be with them, and wondering where they've ended up - above the clouds? Below the earth? A new (to us) dimension? Death is the only thing we know to be true in this world. Precious memories here are what we hold onto. When our loves are taken from us by what may be a curse, it's only natural that we want to find a way to reverse it, and reunite with them in harmony."

Bonnie Trash is a project of twin sisters Emmalia and Sarafina Bortolon-Vettor. Emmalia plays guitar on the track, with Sarafina on drums and vocals. The group recorded with the aforementioned Josh Korody co-producing at Candle Recording Studio in Toronto. The new set follows the band's 2017 Ezzelini's Dead EP and a few subsequent digital singles issued in 2019.

Trenchraid: Demo 2022

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Sechelt d-beat hardcore act Trenchraid has a new four-song demo in the wild. The Sunshine Coast group recorded the scorching set with Allan Russel Miller III at Hotbox Studios in Gibsons, BC, with the songs available tape via the BC punk archivists at Slow Death Records.

Trenchraid features vocalist Coleman, guitarist Hesher, bassist Patrick, and drummer Al.

Eliza Niemi: "Walking Feels Slow"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto's Eliza Niemi recently shared a video for "Walking Feels Slow," a haunting soundscape from the upcoming Staying Mellow Blows, due August 5 through Tin Angel Records and the artist's own Vain Mina. The track arrived alongside a video by director Ali Vanderkruyk.

In a press release, Niemi revealed

"I wanted to evoke the feeling of desperately trying to stay present on 'Walking Feels Slow.' This track is about the little games we play with ourselves and mantras we repeat to prevent us from projecting or worrying about the past or future. There's a manic energy in trying to slow down and enjoy each bite as if it's the whole fruit - a sort of buzzing at a high frequency - that I wanted to embody and convey."

The sparse yet effecting song finds the former Mauno member on vocals, bass, and cello, with additional electronic flourishes added by W. Statler. Staying Mellow Blows promises contributions from U.S. Girls collaborator Evan J. Cartwright, Toronto singer-songwriter Louie Short, Maryam Said of Poolblood, and Heaven For Real's Mark and Scott Grundy.

Lightmares: "Stick It (No Hard Feelings)"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Sudbury garage trio Lightmares recently shared "Stick It (No Hard Feelings)," the summer-ready first single from their upcoming full-length Dear Life. You can see it featured in a new video from director Travis Tiernay that's absolutely teeming with puppets. The band recorded with Bill Priddle and Dustin Goodall at Unsalted Audio in Sault Ste. Marie.

Lightmares last released a split EP with Barrie punk act Heavy Petter through Tarantula Tapes, along with a recent electronic diversion dubbed NÜ TOYZ. The band features vocalist/guitarist Jamie Millard, bassist Nicholas Millard, and drummer Zack Tymchuk.

Keith Hallet and Mike Trask: "What It's For"

Watch on YouTube - Purchase at Bandcamp

New Brunswick's prolific songwriter/producer Mike Trask has a new single paired with gritty bluesman Keith Hallet. "What It's For" was written on the road nearly a decade ago, captured here to 1" tape with a Tascam MS-16 at Hallet's Fredericton studio. The recording features Hallett on guitar, Trask on drums, and Papal Visit's Adam Mowery on bass. The accompanying video from director Matt Legere pairs the sinister lo-fi stomp with some suitably vintage 16mm footage.

Since the 2021 release of his LP TV Dinner, Trask has shared a diverse collection of archival material online. Hallet, who plays in the doom-punk band Janowskii, last issued the single "World War 3" backed with "One Kind Favour" in 2020 on Big Turnip Records.

Single Mothers: "Enough for You"

Hear it on YouTube

Ontario's Single Mothers recently shared "Enough for You," the second single from their upcoming fall LP Everything You Need. In a press release, principle Drew Thomson revealed the song's focus on the skyrocketing cost of living:

"My mom and I moved around a lot when I was a kid, and every couple of years I'd have to start at a new school. That anxious feeling has carried itself into my adult life with real estate prices climbing higher than ever and rentals being bought up by mega-corporations trying to edge out whomever they can. I walk past these 'Sold' signs plowed into meticulously mowed lawns all over and I wonder, 'if there's enough hope for you in this city, will there be enough for me?' And if I'm being honest, I don't really want to know. But eventually, we will all find out."

The new album, written entirely by Thomson, lands on October 28 through Dine Alone Records. This latest incarnation of the long-running, London-bred punk act features Thomson backed by Peter Landi and Daniel Ormsby.

The new record arrives as Single Mothers' first proper full-length since 2018's Through a Wall. That statement doesn't capture the wealth of free-wheeling home recordings Thomson shared in-between, with material in various styles issued as The Drew Thomson Foundation, No Idea Head, SM WorseWorld, and SM Worldwide.

The Flatliners: "Rat King"

Watch on YouTube

Last week Toronto punk heroes The Flatliners issued the third and final preview of their upcoming album New Ruin. "Rat King" arrives with a video by director Mitch Barnes (The Dirty Nil) that concludes the narrative spun in "Performative Hours" And "Souvenir." It finishes the story of TV host Ron Regal (played by Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll), last seen quite deceased in his coffin. The clip includes footage shot at Toronto venues Sneaky Dee's and the Hard Luck Bar.

On the song, vocalist/guitarist Chris Cresswell revealed:

"The abuse of power and stark division that's born from it should have no place left to thrive in our world, and yet it all still hides in plain sight. And for as much progress has been made in bringing people together, learning from each other's differences, and creating a more positive world from those conversations, there are always those who personify taking two steps back. The tails of hate always intertwine to create quite the mess. Together we can unify against the ignorance and arrogance of the rat king."

The new record lands on August 5 through Dine Alone Records in Canada and Fat Wreck Chords elsewhere. The group self-produced with engineer Matt Snell at Toronto's Noble Street Studios and Genesis Sound. Anton DeLost mixed the record with Jason Livermore mastering at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado.

New Ruin, the long-awaited follow-up to 2017's Inviting Light, lands as The Flatliners' sixth studio album and arrives in conjunction with their 20th anniversary. The Flatliners feature Cresswell with drummer Paul Ramirez, bassist Jon Darbey, and guitarist Scott Brigham.

Jerkswitch: "Truth"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal punk act Jerkswitch has another new single out, with "Truth" casting some serious 90s alt-rock vibes. It's the second song we've heard from the project after the irreverent "King of Shit" last month. It's also the final preview of an upcoming self-titled album, slated to surface online this very week (July 23, to be exact). The new record follows up on the group's 2019 Thousand Islands-issued LP BUFO.

Jerkswitch features EJ Lang on vocals and guitar, Will De Francesco on guitar and backing vocals, Pat Savate on bass and backing vocals, and Gabriel Lalancette-Allard drumming. The band was born from the ashes of the Montreal punk band The SkudFux.

30 Going On 13: "Patty Pits"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Amiable Barrie pop-punks 30 Going On 13 recently shared "Patty Pits," the latest gleefully manic single from the group's upcoming EP Sophomonic!. It follows the recent previews "Nemesis" and "Shut Up Becky," all of which you can pick up now at Bandcamp. The band, featuring Mike Smusiak, Shawn Arends, Kiegan Christie, and Adam Dyke, recorded with engineer Matt Snell (The Flatliners) at Toronto's Genesis Sound.

30 Going On 13 are following their self-deprecating two-song 2021 EP, Let's Start A Band. The group's found kindred spirits on the Fat Wreck roster, recently opening Barrie gigs from Teenage Botlerocke and The Last Gang.

Sloan: "Spend The Day"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

I have some ill-defined and essentially arbitrary criteria to exclude this-or-that artist from the newsletter - ostensibly, I swerve from artists big enough to drive conventional news cycles. In reality, I suspect it just comes down to my tastes, biases, and dumb punk hangups. So while the math says Sloan doesn't necessitate any real estate here, they have my nostalgic affection and, therefore, a pass (whereas the critically lauded ██████ ████, unfairly, do not). Hey, I don't make the rules.

The alt-rock vets recently announced Steady, their 13th studio album. It's due through Yep Roc Records on October 21, arriving 30 years to the month from the group's debut album, Smeared. The 12-song set features the new single "Spend The Day," written by guitarist/vocalist Patrick Pentland. In a press release, he calls the tune "an invitation to join me when I was maybe at my lowest."

Reflecting on the album's title and the band's longevity, bassist/vocalist Chris Murphy commented:

"They say if you want to go fast go alone but if you want to go far go together. I don't know if there are many other bands you can name that are still making records with their original line up 30 years in. Look it up!"

That lineup, of course, features Pentland and Murphy alongside drummer/vocalist Andrew Scott and guitarist/vocalist Jay Ferguson. The new record follows up their 2018 LP 12 and the two recent B Sides Win collections issued through the group's Murderecords.

React to it at your leisure

Some Party is one misguided weirdo's singular quest to share the latest in Canadian garage rock, punk, psych, and more. Subscribe and get it in your inbox weekly. Your information's always kept private, and unsubscribing is easy.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license

Enjoying the weekly newsletter? You can now also support Some Party by buying me a coffee!