Tuesday November 22, 2022

Anxious Attachment

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.

Emmett O'Reilly: Anxious Attachment

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase My Vacation at Bandcamp

Back in September Emmett O'Reilly issued My Vacation, a rapid-fire three-song EP of anxiety-driven pop-punk in the Jeff Rosenstock mode. While its here and gone in under five minutes, one should never mistake brevity for lack of depth. The artist, better known as a member of the Toronto punk acts Pkew Pkew Pkew and Stuck Out Here, had loftier goals for this material.

November finds the My Vacation triad carefully reconsidered and cleverly reimagined as the soundtrack to a short film dubbed Anxious Attachment. Directed by Malcolm Cottle, the video strings a story between the tracks, each of which the band re-recorded live off the floor. Emmett's backed here by the same crew that tracked the original EP, drawing on Toronto songwriters Kaan Gunesberk, Ian Culley, and Luke Graves (all three of which previously played in groups like Owen Wilson and Kilmanjaro). You'll find footage of their live performance interspersed among the new narrative, so head over to YouTube to take in Anxious Attachment now.

The hard-partying Pkew Pkew Pkew issued their Open Bar LP this past May through Dine Alone Records. Stuck Out here released Until We're Each Someone Else in 2019, followed by a live album in the summer of 2020.

Christine Fellows: "Ghost Particle"

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Winnipeg singer-songwriter Christine Fellows is counting down to the release of her 8th solo studio album, due November 25 through Vivat Virtute. As I write, you can see three songs from the record visualized as stop-motion animated collages, with a new clip (one for each of the record's 13 songs) slated to debut weekly. So far, you can find "The Line," "Swag," and (most recently) "Ghost Particle" on YouTube and Vimeo. Look for new entries every Wednesday.

This new record, which follows up on 2018's Roses on the Vine, finds Fellows wearing multiple hats as producer, primary multi-instrumentalist, and lead vocalist, backed by a host of collaborators. That cast includes Ashley Au (double bass), Christine Bougie (lap steel), Rusty Matyas (bass), Alex McMaster (cello, trumpet), Ford Pier (string and horn arrangements), and Leanne Zacharias (cello). Members of The Weakerthans family make welcome and expected appearances, with Jason Tait contributing drums, percussion, and bass while John K. Samson sings backing vocals. Fellows' longtime studio collaborator Cam Loeppky returns to engineer and mix the album.

Perfect World: It Could be Worse

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

A few of my favourite personalities from the Canadian garage-punk realm recently teamed up as a new group dubbed Perfect World. The band pairs TV Freaks members David O'Connor and Vivienne Bell with Chance Hutchison of PRIORS. Recording last month in Châteauguay, the group's since issued a pair of songs as a digital EP titled It Could be Worse. You can pick both up at Bandcamp now.

This set lands amidst a wealth of recent activity from these players. While PRIORS recently returned to the festival stage, playing a Mothland showcase as part of M for Montreal, Hutchison's also been on the road touring behind the debut cassette from Private Lives. That band's a quartet fronted by his partner Jackie Blenkarn (best known as the lead vocalist of the Pale Lips). The Hamilton, Ontario-based TV Freaks are working on the follow-up to their expansive 2020 LP People. O'Connor's issued recent material both as his goth/new wave solo guise Sweet Dave or as a member of the 60s garage revival band The Trophies (with his Trophy Tattoo coworkers). Bell recently resurfaced as a touring member of the latest incarnation of Daniel Romano's Ancient Shapes.

Golden Drag: Promenade

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Objectively the pre-pandemic era was a short time ago - no longer than your typical album cycle. Emotionally it feels like a decade. That time warp doubly applies to Shehzaad Jiwani - as we've heard nothing from either his noise-punk act Greys or his solo project Golden Drag since the wheels fell off. The latter returned this week with Promenade, a five-song EP of satisfyingly understated Britpop-rooted tunes draped in layers of moody electronics. It's a welcome return from Jiwani, who debuted the atmospheric project with the Pink Sky full-length back in 2018. You can find the songs at Bandcamp, with all proceeds to be matched by the artist and donated to the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation.

Greys released Age Hasn't Spoiled You, their third full-length, in 2019 through Carpark Records.

The Dirty Nil: "Bye Bye Big Bear"

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Dundas power-trio The Dirty Nil returned with a new one-off single last week. "Bye Bye Big Bear" celebrates the humble Hamilton convenience store neighbouring the band's former residence - housing used at times by past or future members of The Glorious Sons, Attack in Black, Career Suicide, Seaway, and Single Mothers. In a press release, the band commented:

"For 5 years we lived together at a house in downtown Hamilton. For 5 years we were sustained by the Big Bear convenience store, located directly across the street. There we were nurtured with sparkling water, protein bars and cigarettes. There we witnessed an untold number of human dramas play out in the parking lot, ranging from the hilarious to the hopelessly sad. For 5 years it was our clubhouse, our pirate ship, our prison. So we say farewell, thank you for everything: Bye Bye Big Bear."

The track's due on vinyl soon through Dine Alone Records, backed by a cover of the Teenage Head classic "Ain't Got No Sense." Look for the record in February. The release is the band's first recording with new bassist Sam Tomlinson. The Captain Wildchild member began performing live with the group last year.

This single's the band's first since their Fuck Art LP in January 2021. Along with Tomlinson, The Dirty Nil features guitarist/vocalist Luke Bentham and drummer Kyle Fisher.

Weird Nightmare: "So Far Gone"

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While born as a lockdown time-killer, Alex Edkins' Weird Nightmare shows no signs of slowing down. The METZ frontman's out touring behind both his self-titled debut full-length and a recent split single with Ancient Shapes - a quickly growing catalogue that now includes the one-off single "So Far Gone." Issued last week through Sub Pop, the label describes the track as "an exuberant blast of fun-as-hell, melodic indie rock that mixes equal parts Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, and Edkins' own METZ-ian snarl." You can pick the song up at Bandcamp now.

LeDrew, Luke & Crowe: Third Time Around

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Halifax three-piece LeDrew, Luke & Crowe are back with another collection of vintage garage tunes. Like its predecessors, Third Time Around successfully taps into lo-fi Nuggets magic with a bluesy crunch (and once again, it exists almost humbly, with the principles making little noise that the album even exists).

As the name states, the band features Adam LeDrew and Justin Crowe, veterans of the frenzied Haligonian punk act Booji Boys. They're joined here by their frequent studio collaborator Luke Mumford (Negative Rage, Genetic Angry, The Mark Vodka Group). All three provide vocals and trade off instruments from song to song.

Third Time Around follows Come & Go As You Please, a full-length set of songs issued in the summer of 2021. In recent years we've seen LeDrew and Crowe performing throwback garage rock of a more aggressive stripe with the quartet Heavenly Blue.

The Vitals: Anesthetics

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Winnipeg's The Vitals have a new EP out dubbed Anesthetics. The moody, five-song set keeps one foot in the goth aesthetic while dabbling with the sharp-edged toolbox of Dischord-style post-hardcore. The collection arrives nearly six years after the band's self-titled debut, delivering a sound described as "an eerie vibe of impending doom, characteristic of our collectively ominous epoch."

Before the pandemic, The Vitals recorded and mixed this set at Collector Studio with Milligrub's J. Riley Hill. The band features guitarist/vocalist Sean Andert, Rob Hill on guitar and synth, bassist Pat Ross, and drummer/vocalist Jimmy Shand.

Jade Hairpins: "Life in England"

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Anglophile Fucked Up offshoot Jade Hairpins lean hard into their obsessions with "Life in England," a delightfully manic track the band describes as "90 seconds of choral combustion." The song's so brisk it's best experienced through the accompanying lyric video, where Pythonesque animation adds a whole extra layer of madcap snark.

"Life in England" is the first new material from the group since their debut LP Harmony Avenue. That record arrived through Merge Records in 2020. Jade Hairpins emerged as the pop counterpart of the Toronto hardcore group in 2018, spearheaded by Jonah Falco and Mike Haliechuk (with the former, fittingly, residing in the UK these days). During their last go-around, they performed as a quartet with the English musicians Tamsin M Leach and Jack Goldstein.

Pretty Matty: "Weird Year"

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Toronto power-pop act Pretty Matty recently shared a propulsive new single dubbed "Weird Year." The track comes with something of an esoteric premise (although a fitting one for the co-host of the 2 Much TV podcast), namely:

"[It's] all about the universal and relatable experience of seeing a guy you knew as a kid portray an ill-fated biker on TV and wondering about your own life choices."

The song's the second recent single from the group, following July's "See You Around." Pretty Matty features Matty Morand on guitar and vocals, backed by his PONY bandmate Sam Bielanski on bass and Josh Cassidy (Trout) on drums. It's the latest in a string of digital one-offs that surfaced in the years since the band's self-titled 2019 LP for Get Better Records. As concurrent members of Bielanski's bubblegum punk group PONY, the pair saw the release of TV Baby in the spring of 2021 through Take This To Heart. Since that LP, they've likewise issued a string of online singles under that name, most recently sharing "French Class" in October.

Matt Post Band: Up Up Up Left Down Down Down Left Up Up Up Left Right

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Matt Post's esoteric solo outlet, the Matt Post Band, continues to explore the weirder corners of basement lo-fi with Up Up Up Left Down Down Down Left Up Up Up Left Right. The four-song EP, named after a video game cheat code, is the first new collection to emerge from Post's namesake since the 2021 long-player Habitat. It's also the first solo material he's shared since the launch of his noise-punk outfit Super Kill Me Now back in March. That far-louder group finds Post, formerly of the Oshawa duo Deathsticks, joined by WLMRT alumni Alex Wood on drums and guitarist Luke Mackinnon Trotta.

Miesha & The Spanks: "I Can't Wait"

Watch "I Can't Wait" on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

High-octane Calgarian duo Miesha & The Spanks have a new double A-side single out on vinyl through Montreal's Reta Records. The set pairs their April-issued "Dig Me Out" with the newly unveiled "I Can't Wait" on a super limited 7" (lathe cut in limited quantities by Red Spade Records). The latter track arrived alongside a new video from director Sebastian Buzzalino.

These latest songs follow the band's 2021's Singles EP. Miesha & The Spanks performs as a duo, pairing guitarist/vocalist Miesha Louie with drummer Sean Hamilton.

Lonely Little Kitsch: "The New Scene"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Riffy Niagara alt-rock act Lonely Little Kitsch recently emerged as a duo featuring Kristen Goetz and Nolan Jodes. They launched the band with the single "The New Scene," which arrived with an accompanying lyric video. Goetz commented on the track:

"Lyrically, it's pretty straightforward - it outlines a person bandwagon jumping again and again, immersing themselves into whatever new scene they think will gain them the most favour, or following. It's all about optics, and the false belief that the public is always interested in their new personas. Pair that with a few catchy melodies and Nolan's rock riffs and addictive bass lines, and that's 'The New Scene'."

The band observes that their video presents them as pretty much the opposite of the character described in the song, noting, "it's just us being us, goofing off, not taking ourselves seriously at all. We're not cool. Not even a bit."

Diz James: Headfirst Backwards

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Speaking of Niagara - earlier this month, Pelham multi-instrumentalist Diz James issued Headfirst Backwards. The 12-song full-length explores a delightful array of styles, rooted in a mature psych-pop sound with some soulful undertones. It lands as the prolific artist's sixth collection this year alone, following a series of EPs which each tackled a different style. You can explore Diz James' fast-growing catalogue over at Bandcamp.

Choices Made: "Nothing Without"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto's melodic hardcore act Choices Made recently shared a video for "Nothing Without," the latest highlight from their new EP Reason for Conflict. Speaking to the music blog That's Good Enough For Me, the band commented on their experience working with director Michael "Crusty" Amaral. Vocalist Josh Marotega revealed:

"When I think of music videos, I personally get awkward just thinking about being in a room and recreating passion or intensity for a song I have created to put it out there visually. When I write the words I sing, it is all about just how I am feeling in that moment, so to come back to the song and create something new to represent a moment in time is hard... [Crusty] made it feel comfortable, told us to perform it exactly how we would want it to feel and the final video truly was something I feel proud of and will look back and be grateful for."

The new EP arrived via Cursed Blessings Records. Choices Made features Josh Marostega on vocals with guitarist Steve Medeiros, bassist Andrew Wright, and drummer Mike Krazz.

Mike Trask: "Detroit Diesel"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

New Brunswick's ever-productive Mike Trask has a new video out featuring his playful new single "Detroit Diesel." It's our first taste of a new LP titled Landing Day, due sometime next year as the follow-up to 2021's TV Dinner.

In the song, Trask exuberantly recounts (or creates - I'm not sure!) the folk legend of the Maritime fisherwoman Detroit Diesel - a name she shared, for better or worse, with the workhorse engine common to many fishing boats. A self-produced video finds Trask, himself a former lobster fisherman, stepping back into his hip waders to deliver a wonderfully surreal bit of physical comedy on the water. He comments:

"I do my best to represent all the subjects and situations with the respect they deserve. "Detroit Diesel" is no different. I hope my admiration for Detroit Diesel translates into a message of empowerment for the listener."

Trask followed 2021's TV Dinner with a string of online-only archival singles dubbed the VAULT series. Those songs, available through Bandcamp, feature collaborations with several east coast artists, including Janowskii's Keith Hallett and Les Hay Babies' members Julie Aubé and Katrine Noël.

The Bloody Hell: Nobody Cares

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

After several years of singles, Halifax horror-punk bruisers The Bloody Hell have finally issued their sophomore full-length. Nobody Cares gives a home to nine songs, including the politically charged early-pandemic previews "When You're Gone" and "Nobody Cares About America Anymore." Here you'll also find the band's cover of The Modernettes' classic "Barbra," a rendition which first appeared on the Paul Gott-curated Punk Canada compilation.

The Bloody Hell recorded much of their new material at Dartmouth's New Scotland Yard Studio in the summer of 2020. This set follows up on the band's 2018 self-titled debut.

TJ Felix: SONGLAND

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

The world can't keep up with TJ Felix, and the artist knows it. The Vancouver-based Secwépemc punk recently issued their third full-length of the year, a 12-song set dubbed SONGLAND. Written and recorded in a bedroom in just under three weeks, the album arrives right on the heels of October's 18-track The Things an Injun's Gotta Do to Survive on Stolen Land. It follows (at least) a half dozen different EPs and singles issued in the months since this year's initial album (January's (I Am) The Land). In an all-caps statement, the artist frames their punishing pace as a desperate survival mechanism:

"I HONESTLY FEEL LIKE I COULD BECOME A CASUALTY OF THE WAR ON DRUGS ANYDAY NOW SO I SPEND EVERY MOMENT ALONE WORKING ON ART IN SOME EGOMANIACAL EFFORT TO COMMUNICATE ALL THAT I AM BEFORE MY LIFE GOES UP IN SMOKE

MAYBE ART DOES MATTER..? IT'S SUBJECTIVE I GUESS.. I PERSONALLY ONLY SEE ART, OR MORE SPECIFICALLY THE CULTURE THAT SURROUNDS ART, TO BE MORE DESTRUCTIVE THAN ANYTHING.. DOESN'T MATTER.. CAUSE EITHER WAY I SIMPLY NEED AN OUTLET TO KEEP SURVIVING IN THIS HELL WORLD"

Felix, who formerly played under the name Industrial Priest Overcoats, continues to carry the sonic banner of weird-punk legends like the Urinals and DEVO while branching into a dizzying mess of subgenres. In addition to their prolific 2022 solo output, this year Felix also debuted the hardcore group Nasdaq and continues to perform (from time to time) with the off-kilter punk act Bedwetters Anonymous.

Fucked Up: "Found"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto hardcore visionaries Fucked Up recently shared the second preview of their forthcoming LP One Day. "Found" is the 10-song set's opening track and one of the five penned for the project by Mike Haliechuk. In a statement, the artist mulled over the song's historical and semantic roots:

"I used to live on Davenport Road, which is one of the oldest streets in North America, and has been a First Nations trail for thousands of years, running along the north shore of Lake Iroquois, which receded after the last ice age. Just to the east was Taddle Creek, which was buried underground during the 19th century, to build the streets I walk on. I thought about gentrification a lot, watching little stores get swallowed up by big buildings until I realized I am one of those big buildings. The name of the song comes from the Shadi Bartsch translation of the Aeneid, where she points out that the words 'found; and 'stab' open and close the book, which are two meanings for the same greek verb. That discovery is actually conquest, and that settlement is always violence. And that any story I try to tell myself about the place I found to live can only be a story to justify the expansion of one people across the world of another."

One Day arrives January 27 through Merge, capping a fruitful few years in the shadow of 2018's Dose Your Dreams. Recently we've been treated to the sludgy Oberon EP, the massive Year of the Horse Zodiac single, and a series of reissues celebrating the anniversary of David Comes to Life.

See the prior edition of Some Party for a lengthy rumination on this record's first single and the current state of the band

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