Friday October 7, 2022

All The Queen's Men

Some Party is a newsletter sharing the latest in independent Canadian rock'n'roll, curated more-or-less weekly by Adam White. Each edition explores punk, garage, psych, and otherwise uncategorizable indie rock, drawing lines from proto to post and taking some weird diversions along the way.

Private Lives: "All The Queen's Men"

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The lockdown era understandably resulted in a wealth of home recordings, with many artists forced by circumstance into launching impromptu solo careers while embracing the low-fi bedroom approach. What's remarkable about this moment is that we're seeing those creative journeys reverberate into the real world as life awkwardly resumes some normalcy. I'll admit that before the pandemic, I was utterly oblivious to the fact that Jackie Blenkarn of Montreal rock quartet the Pale Lips was married to Chance Hutchison of garage-punks PRIORS, despite being a fan of both bands. Their creative paths never seemed to cross before that time, or at least not insofar as I knew. Stuck at home together, the duo churned out a small set of isolation songs as Chance & Jackie, striking an excellent balance between PRIORS' warped DEVOcore buzz and the Lips' throwback boogie.

That project's since evolved into Private Lives, a fully realized four-piece now on the cusp of issuing their debut EP. The band features Blenkarn on vocals and Hutchison on guitar, baked by Lonely Parade's Frank Climenhage on drums and Josh Herlihey on bass. The group recorded their five-song self-titled debut with frequent PRIORS collaborator Adrian Popovich, crafting a set of songs that weave threads from classic punk, atmospheric post-punk, and surf. You can now hear the track "All The Queen's Men" at Bandcamp, and keep an eye on Cincinnati's Feel It Records for the cassette release.

You can get in on the ground floor with Private Lives at a few upcoming shows. They'll play next Tuesday (October 11) in Montreal with Silicone Prairie, Snooper, and Joe Chamandy's Tha Retail Simps. The group's also making an Ontario trek to play Anxious Pleasers LP release party in Hamilton on November 11 alongside Bad Crush.

PRIORS issued the NEWNENEW EP in the spring as a follow-up to their 2020 LP My Punishment On Earth. Earlier this year, The Pale Lips shared a cover of The Go-Go's' classic "Get Up and Go," part of the tribute album If You Gotta GO-GO, GO-GO Now. It was one of the first new recordings they've shared since the 2019 release of their After Dark LP.

Layten Kramer: "Employment"

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Canmore psych-folk artist Layten Kramer recently shared the title track to his upcoming EP, Employment. The tune's a synth-driven ballad with a laid-back vibe that should appeal to fans of Astral Swans' lush arrangements and No Frills' languid sense of chill. The French label Nice Guys are backing the record. They comment "[Employment will make you] feel like life is an absurd idea, so why not just get lost in an ocean of mellow reverberated sounds and enjoy that feeling."

The track arrived alongside an animated video by recent Sappyfest artist-in-residence Amery Sandford - a clip that features "two bugs falling in love at a bug-sized mall." You can check it out now on YouTube.

Context, NA: Out of this World

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Jonathan Pappo's no stranger to this newsletter, having performed in different combinations of Toronto's WHIMM, Ducks Ltd., Scott Hardware, and Lee Paradise over the years. The artist's new full-length under the guise of Context, NA may prove an enigma regardless, dabbling in expansive post-punk soundscapes reminiscent of Cindy Lee and The Microphones. Pappo commented on the 12-song project:

"I was thinking about my musical roots and the naivete of making something, but also the obsession with a melody or riff that won't escape you. The title appeared to me midway through recording. I knew that I needed to get out of this world because I can't live inside it forever.. When I sing 'what do you want out of this world?' it's like I'm asking the album what it wants from me... The joke is that you can't get out, because when you finish the record you're right back to where you started...

"These are for better or for worse very personal recordings. They're almost naively sincere in some ways. I tried to combine all of these reference points to create something I like, which is usually a maximalist mess. I love to create layers of sound where there are intrusions."

Today, y can start your journey through the complete set, issued through Remains Records at Bandcamp. As Context, NA, Pappo last issued Collapse in 2018.

Internet Age: "Happiness"/"Change"

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Since parting ways with The Dirty Nil, Ross Miller's kept busy with his Hamilton-based cassette label Weepy Eye, issuing tapes for an array of artists, including Waste Youth, Strawberry Cough, and New Swears' Sammy J. Scorpion. He's also built a small but growing catalogue of material as Internet Age, a punk/hardcore recording project that's undergone several evolutions this year alone. Last month the band, now billed as a five-piece, issued a double A-side single featuring "Happiness" and "Change."

As with many of Miller's past side projects (BLUE, When I Move, and the duo SIDEMAN) there's an aggressively positive bent to his lyrics. You can find both new tunes streaming at Bandcamp.

The Mightabins: Authenticity E.P.

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Toronto punks The Mightabins issued their "Couch Song" single in December of 2019, promising an EP for the spring of 2020. We all know what happened instead. The band finally got it together with their newly available Authenticity E.P., a five-song set that gives that song a home among four brand-new tracks. Of those, I'm at just the right age to delight in the reference-packed "1994-1998." I suspect many of my readers are too.

These new tracks were recorded and mixed by NQ Arbuckle's John Dinsmore (PUP, Talk Show Host) at the Lincoln County Social Club in Toronto. Tom Scheponik mastered the set. The new EP arrived alongside a video for "Couch Song, directed and animated by Esme Blegvad.

The Mightabins feature Al on vocals, Mark Z on lead guitar, Clarita on bass, and Aleks drumming.

Snake River: "Though The Horse And Carriage Are The Same, The Rider Is Always Different"

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In the fall of 2021, Regina psych group Snake River wrote a score for the silent 1921 Swedish horror/fantasy film The Phantom Carriage. The group, led by songwriter Christopher Sleightholm, performed the piece over three nights in Saskatchewan around New Year's Eve that year.

The 14-song set's due on vinyl on October 21. Today, you can preview the (epically named) tune, "Though The Horse And Carriage Are The Same, The Rider Is Always Different," at Bandcamp. On these recordings, captured live at Regina's The Artesian, the band featured Sleightholm on guitar, synth, and keys, Amber Pb on viola and synth, Whistlin' Jeff M on bass, John De Gennaro on guitar, and Dustin Gamracy drumming.

This summer, Sleightholm issued The River Flew Right Past, his third solo-billed album. It follows up on Snake River's pandemic-delayed Lost Album (their sixth) and the debut from his blissed-out psych-pop act, The Sunshiny Daze. That project issued the Clouds Melt Away LP last year.

The Bare Minimum: "Conspiracy 2 (Shadowban)"

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Toronto punk four-piece The Bare Minimum has a new LP due November 4 titled Is A Gateway Drug, collecting the band's six recent singles with another six new tunes. You can hear one of those new tracks now, with "Conspiracy 2 (Shadowban)" serving as a sequel to the band's earlier song. Guitarist/vocalist Cam Gray commented (via The Punk Site):

"We released 'Conspiracy' as a joke song about conspiracy theories in 2017 and to this day we still get weirdos in our comment sections. The world has changed a lot since then. We wanted to make a song about misinformation that was high energy and funny, without pouring more gasoline on the dumpster fire that has become public discourse. Fingers crossed."

The Bare Minimum features Cam Gray on guitar/vocals, Mick Hutchinson on lead guitar, Donnie Hopper on bass, and Chris Nikolaidis drumming. The band recorded with Devon Lougheed at SuperBonBon Sound.

Safeword: "First Last Thing"

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Nova Scotian indie-pop group Safeword has a new single online dubbed "First Last Thing," their first new material since issuing the Currents LP in May. The band's Karen Foster tells me:

"The lyrics are tongue-in-cheek about Jeff Bezos, flying to space and later, standing at the gates of heaven contemplating the 'first last thing' he'll say. But more generally, it's about living a good little life here on earth, not hurting anybody, while billionaires destroy it and seek refuge on other planets."

The song's treated to a contemplative new video on YouTube, shot and edited by the band.

Safeword recorded with Thomas Stajcer mixed at Fang, with J. Lapointe mastering. The band features Shoulder Season's Karen Foster on vocals and keys, guitarist Dan Watt, bassist Greg Baller, and drummer Brian Foster.

By Divine Right: "Fuzzy Empire"

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By now, you should have a copy of By Divine Right's Otto Motto in regular rotation, but if you've missed the new LP from one of Toronto's longest-running indie rock groups, there's no time like the present. The band recently shared a new video for "Fuzzy Empire," a track the band earlier described as a "lo-fi love song" and one of my favourites from the record. You can find it on YouTube.

Otto Motto arrived on September 30 through Fortune Stellar Records. By Divine Right's persisted in various permutations since 1989, anchored by guitarist/vocalist José Contreras. The band's modern-day lineup features bassist/vocalist Alysha Haugen and drummer Geordie Dyne (with this song also featuring Stuart Cameron on rhythm guitar).

Before Otto Motto, BDR hasn't issued a new record since their 2016 Depeche Mode cover set Speak & Spell US. Their previous originals arrived in 2013 as the Organized Accidents album. Frontman José Miguel Contreras issued his latest solo LP, At The Slaughterhouse, in 2019 through Headless Owl.

Bonnie Trash: "Silence is a Killer"

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This week Guelph drone-rock duo Bonnie Trash shared the final preview of Malocchio, their new LP due October 28 through Hand Drawn Dracula. The haunting "Silence is a Killer" directly engages with the Italian curse from which the album gets its name, as the band reveals:

"Infatuated with the soul it captures, the malocchio becomes one with you. And you? You eerily love every minute of it. It tricks you into thinking this is now your life, drenched in evil. It will haunt you until the end. How can you break the curse? 'Silence Is A Killer' is a lyric video following a Trevisani recipe on how to remove a malocchio, or at least buy some time: boil and burn all the feathers in your pillow, then throw them in the river."

Sara May of Falcon Jane directed the "Silence is a Killer" video.

Bonnie Trash features guitarist Emmalia and drummer/vocalist Sarafina Bortolon-Vettor. The sisters recorded with Josh Korody co-producing at Candle Recording Studio in Toronto. The nine-song Malocchio follows up on the band's 2017 EP, Ezzelini's Dead.

Chris Page: Do You Remember EP

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Ottawa-area garage vet Chris Page recently shared Do You Remember, another new EP that continues his immensely satisfying Saturday night/Sunday morning series of digital singles. Like earlier editions, he's offering the new song in two forms: as a fully electric rocker and a more subtle, stripped-down arrangement. Page commented on "Do You Remember," recorded as his home in Vanier this past September:

"Sometimes you stumble on old cassette tapes from a long gone answering machine and find one that has an old crush playing mandolin, making up songs for you, having paid the long distance charges like the feelings were somehow mutual."

In addition to these multi-faceted singles, Page recently issued Those Aren't Stars Above Your Head, an acoustic reworking of Camp Radio's 2006 self-titled LP. That collection arrived in May.

With Leila Younis, Chris plays these days in the duo Expanda Fuzz. Before forming Camp Radio in the early 2000s (with bassist David Draves and drummer Scott Estee Terry), he played in the 90s-era Glengarry, Ontario pop-punk group The Stand GT.

Expanda Fuzz: "Locket Love"

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Speaking of Expanda Fuzz, the Leila Younis/Chris Page duo recently took part in Bop Til You Drop, the third covers compilation from The Ramones Project. On this set, released last month, the Ottawa group covers the Rocket to Russia classic "Locket Love." You can hear their take at Bandcamp.

Be sure to check out the previous volumes of the Ramones Project at Bandcamp. Based in Moncton, the project's showcased independent Canadian talent (and maritime musicians in particular) since launching in January of 2021. The Bop Til You Drop collection features several acts I've covered here in recent years, including DogsnotGods, Papal Visit, and TJ Cabot.

Johnny Terrien And The Bad Lieutenants: Split with The Suck

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Further to the subject of Ramones worship, London, Ontario garage-punk act Johnny Terrien And The Bad Lieutenants recently shared a platter with Harrisburg PA's The Suck. The two appear in the second volume of Faster and Louder Records' covers series, with The Suck tackling Terrien's "Lost My Mind" and Johnny giving his rendition of "Partytown USA." Each band also contributes an original to the four-song set.

The first volume in the split series came out in May of 2021, pairing Moncton Ramonescore group The Follow Ups with the Sarnia-bred, London-based Dave Rocket And The Jobbers. Following several short-form releases, The Bad Lieutenants issued their long-awaited self-titled debut in 2017 through Speed City Records.

MBG: "I'm Not In Luv"

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Toronto multi-instrumentalist Leena Rodriguez recently debuted "I'm Not In Luv," a hooky pop-rock single under the name MBG (short for Music Box Girl). The song finds Rodriguez working closely with co-writer and producer Phil Hirst. In a statement, Leena comments:

"I think at one point in our lives, we've had little harmless crushes on our friends and I feel like as a queer person having these feelings for your friends of the same sex while still trying to figure yourself out is a little wild and scary and this song is a little bit about that...

Originally when I started writing the verses I was just complaining about my friends being in love and feeling like a third wheel. Once I got to the chorus, I had mad writer's block and didn't know how to continue until I thought to myself, 'What if it's not really about me hating being the third wheel but rather being jealous because I secretly have a crush on my friend?' I felt in complete denial about it but eventually these feelings became so strong that I couldn't ignore them. I took that intention and finished the song so quickly."

Live, MBG features Rodrigues on vocals and guitar, Hirst on guitar, Rafael Callejas on bass, and Morgan Dunbar drumming. Look for an EP from the group sometime soon.

TJ Felix: "The Things an Injuns Gotta Do (Treat Me Right)"

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Prolific Secwépemc artist TJ Felix already has two 2022 EPs to their name, with a third now on the way. Today, you can hear the first single from that final, yet-untitled set at Bandcamp, a tension-building track dubbed "The Things an Injuns Gotta Do (Treat Me Right)."

Felix, who used to play under the name Industrial Priest Overcoats, issued True Love is Impossible (For a Parasite Like Me) in August, preceded by Honest Injun in June. Between those weird-punk epics and an assortment of cover songs, this year also saw the debut of their hardcore group Nasdaq. Further, Felix continues to perform from time to time with the off-kilter punk group Bedwetters Anonymous.

30 Going On 13: "Locked Out"

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Barrie pop-punks 30 Going On 13 keep turning out satisfying, 90s-steeped singles, and if we haven't heard all of their upcoming Sophomonic! EP by this point, we must be close. "Locked Out" follows "Mom Says Have Fun" and "Stage 5" by providing yet another shout-along EpiFat throwback. 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.

Harkness: Come And Get It

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Colourful Toronto psych-pop artist Harkness has a new EP out dubbed Come And Get It, a four-song set that serves as a preview to their forthcoming LP Ciao To The Beauty. Referencing the new material's pop hooks and tight arrangements (especially in contrast to the dense complexity of their earlier work), the artist commented:

"This Ep really sets the tone for the upcoming album, all it's songs are energetic, short and sweet refreshing musical nuggets" says the man behind the sound... I like to think of this next album as a Harkness Juke-box."

A video for the EP's title track arrived alongside the audio. Harkness' new LP, the follow-up to 2021's The Occasion, is due sometime in early 2023.

Eric's Trip: Live in Montreal - March 16th 1993

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Rick White celebrated the return of Bandcamp Friday by sharing a vintage live set from Moncton's legendary Eric's Trip. The Live in Montreal recordings feature eight songs tracked on March 16, 1993. White commented:

"I recently received this Eric's Trip live recording that captures our first time playing Montreal. Originally recorded and recently remixed by Howard Bilerman from cassette 4track. The tape was made with a direct board feed and stereo room mics. It's great to add to my collection as it's one of the better sounding live ET documents from my favourite era of the band.

The show was at the Jailhouse in Montreal on March 16 1993 with Planete X and hHead opening. Just before our Peter EP was released and a month before we started recording Love Tara. You can see some live video footage of out set shot by Musique Plus along with a bit of an interview in our Eric's Trip movie on Vimeo. Here's a link, footage starts at 20:20"

These recordings, of course, feature White on guitar and vocals, joined by bassist/vocalist Julie Doiron, guitarist Chris Thompson, and drummer Mark Gaudet.

Rick issued his latest psych-rocking solo LP Where It's Fine in 2021 through Blue Fog Recordings, followed by a set of throwback hardcore tunes earlier this year as a member of OLD. Doiron's recent I Thought of You reached the Polaris shortlist this year, with the singer-songwriter since releasing the debut album from her new duo Julie & Dany. Thompson's been busy this past year as a member of both the folk-shoegaze act Diamondtown and garage rockers Gemstones.

React to it at your leisure

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

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