Friday September 16, 2022

Big Thyme

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.

Big Thyme: "Big Thyme"

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There was plenty of country woven into the denim-clad early work of Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs. Less so these days. With the band continuing to delve into 70s-tinged, hard rock maximalism, there's simply less room for honk, let alone tonk. Sam hasn't forgotten his roots, though, and under the new solo guise of Big Thyme he's proudly reclaimed his Stetson. The first single from the project shares its stage name, presenting a throwback shuffle with an authentic twang. You'd never guess it's a product of southern Ontario in 2022.

Visually Sam's having (perhaps) too much fun, and his homemade video plants his tongue decisively in cheek. Here we find the artist dispassionately lip-syncing while working through a cowboy hustle as if forced. Behind the line dance, lava lamps swirl on a low-budget green screen. Occasionally the camera moves in for an uncomfortable close-up, with stock footage of car races arising from the contextless ether. There's an homage to James Bond, for some reason. Sam isn't taking the piss from a sonic standpoint (see his lovingly sincere rendition of the Appalachian traditional "Worried Mary"), but I'd love to witness the reaction to this video from some unprepared traditionalist. As a contrarian, I find the algorithmic confusion sewn by Big Thyme's visual approach deliciously nihilistic. Heck, the project's very logo even eschews its titular herb for a large pot leaf. Total anarchy, and I'm here for it.

The single features Sam backed by drummer Erik Grice, with Morgan Husty layering some pedal steel over Sam's guitar, bass and piano. Backing vocals in the hooky chorus come courtesy of Toronto glam-pop hero Nyssa, Sam's mother Audrey Coffey, and his fiancée Regan Macdonald. Sam commented:

"This song wouldn't have come out sounding the way it did without the amazing talent lent by my friends and family. It was just a demo before Erik Grice recorded a drum track for it. It was barely country before Morgan Hasty recorded Pedal Steel. Nyssa led the charge on the background vocals so well that it gave me room to get my family involved. I can't help but smile every time I hear my fiancée and my mom singing together on this."

I had the pleasure of taking in Big Thyme's humble inaugural show earlier in the summer, and I'm certainly on board for more. Your next chance is at his first hometown gig, slated for September 21 at Toronto's Bar Mordecai. The Iron Lungs, meanwhile, remain on guard to support their excellent third LP Real One, released in 2021 through Dine Alone Records.

Dead Friends: Ain't Now, Never Was

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Edmonton garage rock act Dead Friends have a new 10-song full-length available today. Ain't Now, Never Was impressively hops between genres, trading off between surf and alt-country elements while maintaining an almost sinister atmosphere throughout. Fans of The Sadies' vintage sounds or the aggressive dynamism of the Deadly Snakes should dig this.

The band hasn't issued much in the way of a public statement on this one, so I'm short on details for this write-up. Don't read that as a lack of an endorsement on my part - I suspect I'll spend a lot of time with this album in the coming months. Do check it out.

The new set follows Dead Friends' 2020 full-length Shirley.

Limblifter: "Haystack Rock"

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90s alt-rockers Limblifter are poised to return this fall, readying Little Payne for an October 31 release on We Are Busy Bodies. The album's the fifth from the veteran band and their first since 2015's Pacific Milk. It also lands just north of the 25th anniversary of the Vancouver group's self-titled debut.

Guitarist/vocalist Ryan Dahle self-produced the new work. For years he's collecting song parts in various genres from his East Vancouver studio, the recRoom. After wrapping up an early 2020 tour with California's Donny McCaslin (notable as the bandleader on David Bowie's Blackstar record), Dahle and partner/bandmate Megan Bradfield relocated to a Southern Gulf Island cottage to assemble the songs. Dahle revealed:

"Moving away from my busy Vancouver studio life and from touring gave me perspective. Living in the middle of this spectacular forest on an island has put Megan and I back in touch with nature. The combination of all these things gave me laser focus to write new material and finish the songs we'd started."

McCaslin appears on saxophone on several of Little Payne's songs, reciprocating Dahle's contributions to his 2018 album, Blow.

You can hear the album's hooky lead single, "Haystack Rock," now. The accompanying video, directed by Minty Productions, features Dahle and Bradfield playing in a hundred-year-old barn, intercut with Shane Morgan-shot footage of drummer Eric J. Breitenbach playing in his neighbourhood alley in East Vancouver.

Dahle reveals:

"The farm belongs to our friends and once a year they ring me up and ask me to lend a hand with hay baling in the spring, so I've spent a lot of time lifting hay off the fields, riding their trailer into the barn and stacking bales. The song was written a couple of years before I started to help with baling, and it's always repeating in my head when I work. Because of this, the song floated to the top of the list of songs to include on our new record."

Limblifter's headed east soon for (at least) a pair of dates supporting the release. Look for them on November 3 at The Marquee in Halifax, followed by an appearance at Toronto's legendary Horseshoe Tavern on November 5.

Fake Palms: "Flags"

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The new Fake Palms LP is out today, returning Michael le Riche's angular garage outlet to the turntables of the nation after a five-year absense. The record landed alongside a final pre-release video featuring the song "Flags." On the track, le Riche commented:

"'Flags' is a song about having to find where you fit within the machinery. Is it comfortable? Is it against what your beliefs are? Do you want to do it or do you have to do it? Do you feel like a traitor? Or are you scared at how much you actually enjoy it? We all seem to have these spectres we answer to, these things we rally for or against subconsciously. This is kind of about what happens when you are forced to stare your decisions in the face."

The clip again finds Fake Palms paired with director Justis Krar of IMMV Productions.

Lemons, out now on Hand Drawn Dracula, represents a back-to-basics approach from Le Riche. He's primarily working solo here, performing the brunt of guitar, bass, and vocals on the recordings with Dilly Dally's Benjamin Reinhartz on percussion. Evan Lewis of Ducks Ltd. later fleshed out a half-dozen of the songs on guitar ("Flags," included), with additional appearances logged from early Palms guitarist Patrick Marshall, percussionist Braeden Craig, and Twist vocalist Laura Hermiston. The crew recorded at Candle Recording with Josh Korody (Breeze, Beliefs) co-producing and engineering.

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.

Shirley & The Pyramids: "Forever Whatever" / "Chinese Pyramids"

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Saskatoon indie rock group Shirley & The Pyramids has a new two-song single out, pairing the droney fuzz rocker "Forever Whatever" with the spacey instrumental psych of "Chinese Pyramids." The pair's available digitally from Bandcamp and on a limited lathe cut 7" from Dublin's Fuzzed Up & Astromoon Records.

The songs represent some of the band's first new material issued since their 2019 EP A New American Classic. In 2020 the Aron Zacharias-lead group shared a set of ambient recordings titled Teleroboxer, but that music (shared as a limited-time fundraiser) is no longer available.

Doctor Mother Father: "Wish You Didn't Know"

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A new feature in Grid City Magazine documents the evolution of Saint Johns' Doctor Mother Father from Corey Bonnevie's solo recording outlet into a collaborative power trio. The band now finds Bonnevie, known for both playing in Little You, Little Me and heading Monopolized Records, backed by bassist Kortni Nicols (Lionsault) and drummer Colin Ferris (Sheik, Cool Dudes Fighting, Butcher). The new format promises a higher energy follow-up to 2020's Catholic, with the new single "Wish You Didn't Know" revelling in hooky power pop and garage crunch. You can hear the track, which features backing vocals from Sadie Donahue, streaming at Bandcamp.

Doctor Mother Father issued the oft-dark pandemic-era Catholic album in the summer of 2020.

Full Throttle: "Sh!tshow"

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Young pop-punk trio Full Throttle shamelessly embraces the 90s, demonstrating an intrinsic understanding of what made bands like Green Day and Blink-182 teenage sensations in the years before everything went emo. Last week the London, Ontario band followed up on their recent "Friday Night" and "Summertime" singles with "Sh!tshow" - perhaps the most authentically East Bay of this run of songs. The track premiered with a feature at Tinnitist.

Full Throttle features guitarist/vocalist Max McGill, bassist Evan Levite, and drummer Kaelin Chase. The band recorded with Simon Larochette (Jenny Berkel, Wine Lips) at London's Sugar Shack. At the 2022 Forest City London Music Awards, the group notably took home the Youth Award, beating out six other high school bands from the city.

Gemstones: Not The Creep

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We only recently learned of the upcoming EP from Dartmouth garage trio Gemstones, and the wait's proven mercifully short. The five-song Not The Creep EP is available in full at Bandcamp, featuring a fresh batch of lo-fi material recorded this past summer. A run of 50 tapes is on sale through Don't Wanna Talk Records.

Gemstones are a trio of veteran players led by guitarist/vocalist KC Spidle (Diamondtown, Dog Day). He's joined here on drums by Eric's Trip legend Chris Thompson (also of Diamondtown) and on bass by prolific Haligonian noisemaker Cody Googoo (Mutated Void, Booji Boys). After emerging as a solo project early in the pandemic, Gemstones united as the band it is today with a trio of short-form releases. Nevermind, Novel of Nothing, and Paranoid Amp all arrived in the first half of 2021.

Huron Lines: "Blacklight"

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Gritty Windsor rockers Huron Lines only emerged with their debut last fall, but a sophomore LP is already on the way. The group recently shared the grungy "Blacklight" as the first single from the forthcoming Found in Floods LP. Frontman Dave Mueller commented on the song:

"I read an article about the concept of 'Death By Despair' dealing with the never ending tragedy of suicide and how adult males in the western world are particularly susceptible and statistically more likely to die by suicide. It left an impression on me. There is this strange darkness that can sometimes lurk around adult males in North America. Expectations around social and economic achievements can create a heavy weight that can be too much for some to bear. The lack of acceptance around talking about these things is a huge issue. The idea that we all have something following us around - something that triggers us into a mentally dark place - but is rarely talked about - is something that I think you start to realize as you get older. I would say this song is a journey around that entire theme."

The song finds Huron Lines again working with Psychic Void's Josh Kaiser as producer. Jacob Rye (The Glorious Sons, Michigander) mixed, and Bill Skibbe (Fucked Up, Jack White, The Kills) mastered at Third Man in Detroit. Look for the album in early 2023. Huron Lines features guitarist/vocalist David Mueller (Full White Drag), guitarist Grainger Harris (The Movement, Silent Movie Type), bassist/vocalist RJ Brando (Silent Movie Type, Grough), and drummer Nick Mitchell (NC17, Ayndrone) - all also past members of Club Thunderbolt. The band's first album, Lost at the Border, surfaced in November 2021.

Julianna Riolino: "Queen of Spades"

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Could this be the most country edition of Some Party to date?

This week singer-songwriter Julianna Riolino shared another glimpse into her forthcoming record All Blue. "Queen of Spades" lands as the album's third preview, again finding the artist channelling Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, with her assertive vocals playing off Aaron Goldstein's signature pedal steel guitar. The album, recorded in 2020 at Goldstein's now-defunct Baldwin Street Sound studio, features Dave Nardi and Daniel Romano on guitar, Roddy Rosetti on bass and twelve-string, Ryan Gavel (Young Guv) on bass, Ian Romano on drums, Thomas Hammerton (Nathan Lawr) on keys, Jason Bhattachary (Dan Edmonds) on percussion, and Anthony Ronaldi on baritone sax.

All Blue follows up Riolino's 2019 EP J.R. and stands as her first solo full-length. As a prominent member of Daniel Romano's band The Outfit, she stepped into the lead vocal spotlight on 2021's Cobra Poems, affirming that role with their recently released psychedelic rock opera La Luna. All Blue lands October 15 on You've Changed Records.

Hell Diablo: "Push Comes to Shove"

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Lethbridge, Alberta's Hell Diablo churn out high octane garage rock - recently issuing the single "From Push Comes to Shove." It's the first preview of the forthcoming LP Bad News Travels Fast, the group's sophomore effort following 2021's Blood is the new Black.

Hell Diablo has roots in the now-defunct psychobilly group The Phantom Creeps, featuring that band's creative lead Tyler Brownfield. The group shored up their roster over the past year to include guitarist Taylor Ackerman (Global Acid Reset, Shaela Miller), bassist Shawn Worden, and drummer Eric Hamilton.

Mudie: "Liquid T"

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Hugo Mudie's explored various styles in the years since gruff Montreal punks The Sainte Catherines were active. Metal, to my knowledge, is entirely new territory, though. The artist recently paired with collaborator/producer Adrian Popovich (Tricky Woo, PRIORS) to issue "Liquid T." The track features instrumentals by Popovich paired with Mudie's first Terminator-themed foray into the genre. He comments:

"LIQUID T est mon homage ( ou une tentative ) de faire une toune métal pour avoué au grand jour mon amour pour Metallica, Dimmu Borgir, Mastodon et Aggretsuko quand elle est en criss contre son boss et va au karaoke. La chanson parle d'avoir en sa possession, son propre T1000."

You can see the song immortalized in a video from Boulevard Brutal. Solo, Mudie last issued the hockey-themed 2020 punk single "Kucherov," a follow-up to his full-length Concerta Fantasio. After a decade off-grid, the rootsy Sainte Catharines offshoot Yesterday's Ring resurfaced this past April with the primarily acoustic album Goodbye Nightlife.

Hyaenas: "It's Not Up To Me"

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Queer feminist Vancouver rock group Hyaenas recently shared "It's Not Up to Me," their third recent single and one carrying the unmistakable influence of 80s synth rock. In a press release, the group revealed:

"The song alludes to the fight, flight, or freeze stress response and that serving up anger can be warranted (especially when it's towards a toxic manipulator who is the subject of this track). The choruses support the cathartic healing that anger brings, and the bridge encourages the release of letting it go."

The group recorded the song with Jesse Gander (Wares, Woolworm, Necking) at Rain City Records. Hyaenas feature vocalist/guitarist Sophie Heppell, bassist Jessie Robertson, drummer Jen Foster, and Luvia Petersen on synth. Expect the band's debut EP sometime later this year.

Rest Easy: "Hey Maxine"

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Vancouver skate-punk quartet Rest Easy recently shared a lyric video for "Hey Maxine," the latest preview of their forthcoming LP Hope You're Ok. That album's due October 28 through Mutant League Records. On the track, bassist/vocalist Dana Edwards shared:

"Maxine just came together pretty easy. I think it took about 5 mins to write the lyrics. I had the hook melody already figured out several months prior. I guess I was just waiting for the right song for it to fit into."

The new album finds the group, featuring Daggermouth and Shook Ones members, working with producer Tim Creviston (Spiritbox, Misery Signals). Brett Romnes (Brand New, The Movielife) mixed the 12-song record. Look for Rest Easy on the road in Ontario and Quebec this fall, touring alongside Montreal melodic-hardcore combo Instep. They'll be at the Bovine in Toronto on October 14, at Montreal's Hemisphere Gauche on the 15th, and playing Ottawa's Dominion Tavern the day after.

30 Going On 13: "Mom Says Have Fun"

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Barrie pop-punks 30 Going On 13 recently shared " Mom Says Have Fun," the latest preview of the group's upcoming EP Sophomonic!. Like "Stage 5," "Pay Pits," "Nemesis," and "Shut Up Becky," it showcases the group's incredibly likable sing-along style, rooted in the poppier end of the EpiFat 90s. The group, comprised of 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.

Sedatives: Some Things You Can't Forget : The Anthology

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It's been years since Ottawa's dark punk act the Sedatives were active, a 2016 reunion notwithstanding. While the band's still apart, they've freshly collected most of their discography for a new digital archive titled Some Things You Can't Forget. The 24-song set leads with the group's complete self-titled LP, released initially in 2009 on P.Trash and Deranged Records. Jesse Gander remixed the entire record at Rain City Records this past summer. The remainder of the Anthology's runtime collects material from EPs and compilations, all of which Dave Williams remastered at Eight Floors Above in July.

The album wraps with three live recordings captured at a 2016 reunion at House of TARG - featuring covers of Blitz and The Vicious paired with an intriguing prototypical version of "New Calling" - a song Ian Manhire later based an entirely new band around (see: The New Calling).

Sedatives proved an incredibly fruitful spawning ground for several notable Ottawa bands. The group featured Dave Williams and Emmanuel Sayer, later of Crusades, Ian Manhire of The White Wires, and Steve Adamyk, who subsequently kicked off a prolific solo run as The Steve Adamyk Band.

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