Monday December 12, 2022

Somewhere Beyond

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.

Uh Huh: "Somewhere Beyond"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

I'm not one to fret over a band changing directions. I'm actually rather enamoured with the narrative of a creative shift, as there are often breadcrumb trails obvious only in hindsight. If a compelling story arc's hidden among isolated songs and past diversions, connecting those dots is immensely satisfying. Honestly, you don't even need to be right about it. Such is the case with the sardonic Toronto garage punks of Teenanger, and their newly debuted second life as the dub-heavy art-rock act Uh Huh.

On 2017's confusingly-named Teenager LP, the quartet took their foot off the gas, swapping some of their earlier punk grit for synth-supported new wave flourishes. Those changes came with an increasingly wry sense of urban exhaustion and weed-fueled cynicism. 2020's Good Time kept pace, contrasting the band's early snap against some delightfully weird yet increasingly groovy instrumentals. Like everything that year, the album fell into a COVID fog without much opportunity for live support. The group shared a pair of one-offs from isolation: "Good, You?" and "Blinds Drawn" - the latter I'll go to bat for as the high watermark of their catalogue. "Blinds" pushed the six-minute mark, strutting along at a blissed-out pace like the club remix of some long-lost post-punk 12-inch.

That stylistic drift unsurprisingly paralleled the increasingly ambitious output of the group's Telephone Explosion label - home to the lush orchestrations of Tony Price and Scott Hardware, the robot funk of Lee Paradise, and the sprawling psych-jazz of the Badge Époque Ensemble.

Given all that history, Uh Huh feels like a natural progression. The new unit still boasts Teenanger's entire original lineup of Steve Sidoli, Melissa Bell, Jon Schouten, and Chris Swimming (drums, bass, guitar, and vocals in their past incarnation - now more freely trading up roles). They issued the single "Somewhere Beyond" as their first output under the new name, firmly planting a flag that their dub digressions were anything but. The band notes:

"The slinking, fractured grooves of 'Somewhere Beyond' call to mind the deranged minimal dub-wave of Naffi or an imagined world where the splattered funk of Maximum Joy were a production of Wackies' Brooklyn studio in the early 1980s. Elastic basslines and serpentine guitar phrases throb and glide, cutting through the dubwise sonic murk like a hand moving through an opaque cloud of reefer smoke."

I'm not cool enough to get those references, but I'm entirely on board with wherever this is going. The quartet recorded at Studio Z in Toronto with Sidoli and Schouten engineering. Dave Plowman, fresh from working the latest Badge Époque epic, mixed the track. You can pick it up now at Bandcamp or wherever you stream.

When Teenanger issued what's now their final track, I commented that I wouldn't complain if they delivered "a full record of burnt-out, neon-washed bummer jams." It sounds like I may get my wish. Keep an eye on 2023 for the first Uh Huh LP.

Shirley & The Pyramids: Maid of Time

Watch "Infinity Blues" on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Saskatoon's atmospheric indie heroes Shirley & The Pyramids recently announced Maid of Time, a new nine-song full-length due January 13. The set collects material written and recorded since the world went awry, showcasing the band's knack for crafting evocative soundscapes from drone and shoegaze elements. It lands in Europe through Dublin's Fuzzed Up & Astromoon Records and in Canada on Grey Records. The group commented:

"During the pandemic, we wrote and recorded over 20 songs of varying genres and tempos, not really having a specific direction. Over time, a kind of narrative started to form and make sense, the depressive fog started to clear, and things started coming together again. This is the first finished batch of those tunes, and we sincerely hope you like them."

Project lead Aron Zacharias co-produced the new record, the band's third, with Duncan Pickard. While you wait for the LP to drop, you can now preview the album audio in full at Bandcamp or check out a video for the lead single, "Infinity Blues," on YouTube.

The album follows up on the group's September singles, "Forever Whatever" and "Chinese Pyramids." This period of activity follows up on the band's 2019 EP A New American Classic.

Butcher's Laugh: Demo 2022

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Clayton Keithley of the Vancouver punk act Brain Bag recently resurfaced in Butcher's Laugh, a new hardcore project making its debut on Slow Death Records. The BC punk label recently issued the band's 2022 demos on cassette, commenting:

"Pinpointing the inspiration was a little tricky on this one cause it encompasses so much that backs up why hardcore rules. Defective and botched sounding, never too tight never too loose, just annoyed, bored and pissed music made in a kitchen/basement/bedroom/shed wherever. It checks all the boxes, and you'd expect no less from Joey Shithead's son. I can't give it enough praise, so I'll shut up and let it hit you like it hit me."

As the principal behind Brain Bag, Clayton put out a separate batch of demos in April of this year, also recently collected on tape by Slow Death.

Sweet Dave: "Chains"

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TV Freaks frontman David O'Connor recently shared "Chains," the first single from a new batch of home-recorded solo material under the guise of Sweet Dave. The artist commented:

"In the last 'lockdown' I decided I would bring a Tascam 4 track cassette recorder and a limited bunch of instruments up to our dining room table and record a batch of very simple, un-laboured-over songs. I finished them, but got sidetracked with life and they never saw the light of day. I didn't labour over the mixing of these- they are as they are on the tape. Raw and simple."

Like Dave's past solo work, the track accentuates the goth potential of his vocals, a quality that's often lost among the Freaks' garage-punk racket. Look for more recordings from those dining room sessions in the coming weeks ("Big Hat No Cattle"/"Golden Age" just dropped at press-time).

This material follows Sweet Dave's 2021 full-length, Now More Than Ever, and a busy slate of side-projects. The artist recently issued short-form material as a member of The Trophies (a 60s garage revival band with his Trophy Tattoo coworkers) and Perfect World (a new project with the Freaks' Vivienne Bell with Chance Hutchison of PRIORS). TV Freaks-proper last issued their ambitious People LP in 2020 through Schizophrenic.

Hood Rats: Drop In Burn Out E.P.

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Montreal punks Hood Rats have a new EP of "lo-fi, unfiltered bangers" out dubbed Drop In Burn Out. The four-song set, written, recorded, and performed entirely by Tony Salador (Tainted Youth, Road Bones), lands following a collection of demos earlier this year.

Salador, a notable Montreal skateboarder, espouses at Bandcamp:

"Don't waste your time on useless information. They're trying to sell you a quick solution to your problems, pushing the ideals and products of their parent companies. They'll exploit you till you're all broke with nothing left. Just vultures picking at bones fighting over scraps... A hollow shell of a life consumed with self importance, it makes me sick."

Hood Rats tend to play as a trio, with Salador anchoring the group on drums and vocals. The gritty group's currently at work on the follow-up to their 2019 album 40oz Of Fury.

Kali Horse: "In The Water"

Watch on YouTube -Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto art-rock duo Kali Horse recently shared a propulsive yet intriguingly dense single dubbed "In The Water." Described as "our offering on the shapeshifting of guilt," it's the first new song from the group since 2020's "ANIMA." The self-described "ethereal post-psych swamp rock" act, once known as Kaleidoscope Horse, features collaborators Sam Maloney and Desiree Das Gupta. In a press release, they comment:

"We wrote this song with a simple in-the-box beat, pressed play on Sam's looper. Des decided to freestyle vocal to remove her from her overthinking and allowed the channel to be open. Sometimes on three, sometimes on four, but for whatever reason, there was conviction behind the vocal entries. No guitar was decided early on, straying from original form. 'In The Water' is Kali Horse's foray into our personal unknown. A mixture of the dripping of a faucet digitally tuned to its unusual key and beats inspired an exploration of how analog recording and digital music coexist."

This track, in particular, features contributions from Kyle McDonnell on drums and backing vocals, Cassandra Ellen on the tongue drum and singing bowls, Hannah Bussiere-Kim on harp and violin, and Dylan Lee Gamble of Hot Garbage on double bass. Mr. Joy's Asher Gould-Murtagh mixed the song, with Kristian Montano mastering. You can check the song out in a new Adam Stewart-directed video on YouTube, featuring footage shot on film that was later boiled in salt water (you may recall Stewart's previous work in that medium for Preoccupations and Young Guv).

Hobby: Dog Don't Mind

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Weird-Americana quartet Hobby recently the three-song Dog Don't Mind, with each canine-themed track maintaining the Toronto band's pleasantly-unhurried outlook. As with earlier works, this project feels charmingly self-aware of its anachronistic nature but somehow never stumbles into parody.

Hobby features guitarists Stephen Pitman (Only God Forgives, Tallies) and Cameron Fraser (Luge), with bassist Duncan Wardlaw and drummer Foster Medeiros (with vocal credits all around). The new set follows up on the group's 2021 LP Weed and a split with the folk-punkers Westelaken.

Tearing Up: "Said Something"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto's Graham Caldwell recently revamped his punk/power-pop project Billy Moon, relaunching the effort with a more mature outlook as Tearing Up. While the new name only recently took flight with October's Billy Is Dead EP, we already know a good deal about its second act. Last week Caldwell issued "Said Something," the first single from an upcoming full-length dubbed Heavy. That set, boasting 14 tracks, lands on January 27.

On Instagram, Caldwell revealed the grim origins of the track, stating:

"I wrote it after a family member died by suicide and all of us tried to piece together how something so tragic could have happened so suddenly."

The song landed alongside an animated lyric video by Graham and Lukas Avoledo. You can now preview both "Said Something" and the album cut "Your Flame" at Bandcamp.

Ivan Rivers: "Poppy"

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Ivan Raczycki's Guelph-based folk act Ivan Rivers often trades in the absurd, but their heartfelt new single "Poppy" is nothing but sincere. A press release describes the song as:

"A loving and forlorn ode to a fallen love, five years since her passing and on the occasion of her 28th birthday... 'Poppy' is a tender and lush but ultimately weighted exploration of the time spent together by Ivan Rivers and their old paramour, Tess Richey. A downtrodden country rustle with baby grand piano, rhythmic acoustic, and the signature finger-slide playing of [Devin] Staple, Rivers pines and ponders over this beautiful and touching release."

The song, engineered by Jef Harrison at Era Sun Sound, features "Heavenly" Devin Staple of The Old Salts on guitar and Kara Lea Manovich (Ensign Broderick, Justin Rutledge) accompanying on vocals. The track arrives as a stand-alone waypoint on the road to a forthcoming EP produced by Raczycki's Stuck Out Here bandmate Emmett O'Reilly.

With the Toronto punk act Stuck Out Here, Raczycki last Until We're Each Someone Else in 2019. A follow-up is reportedly in the works. Solo, Ivan Rivers last issued a pair of EPs as part of 2020 EPs, respectively titled Drag My Corpse Through the Country Music Hall of Fame and There's No Such Luck.

Innes Wilson's Freightliner: "To The Letter"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Speaking of Guelph, singer-songwriter Innes Wilson recently featured a wealth of city footage in their video for "To The Letter," part of the self-titled debut from his three-piece combo Freightliner. You can see it now on YouTube.

The band's EP, issued this past May, reworked five favourites from Wilson's solo catalogue into fully-realized country rock songs in the tradition of Neil Young and The Band. "To The Letter" first appeared on 2019's The Heart That Holds This Up.

Tang: "Future Plans"

Watch on YouTube

The scrappy Toronto lo-fi project Tang recently resurfaced with a new single previewing their forthcoming album. Last week at Punknews, I debuted the band's serenely aquatic video for "Future Plans." It's our first glimpse into the dynamic, pandemic-fueled racket of Fish in a Fishbowl, due digitally on December 17 through Influenza Records in Europe and Art of the Uncarved Block in Canada.

Tang principal Peter Connelly (Low Sun, Shahman) notes the song's roots in those fraught early days of the Ontario COVID lockdowns:

"The song and album were recorded in the basement of Toronto's infamous Owl's Club legion hall during the first days of the initial pandemic lockdown. The song is set during this current season and reflects on the impermanence of life and grieving losses which offer little closure. It's a return to a present state of being and accepting a new reality that is actually sort of [sic] 'rad'."

Jake Chirico directed the Future Plans visuals. Look for a record release show lined up for December 17 at Toronto's Bar Orwell with support from Cootie Catcher and Cloudwatch. The 11-song set follows up on 2020's basement recorded The Quiet Earth.

B.A.L.M Squad: Point of No Return

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It's been quite the week for Gatineau's Pils Records with a trio of new releases. First up, the label issued the Point of No Return, the six-song debut from the Ottawa street punk act B.A.L.M Squad. The group recorded the with Pils' Chany Pilote at the NOMANSLAND studio.

The Squad represents yet another recombination of lifers from the deeply interconnected capital punk scene, including members of Ciggie & The Darts, Dogma, The Gormless, and the Whiskey Shits. You can hear their first salvo in full at Bandcamp now, with tapes to come soon.

UZU: Pils Session

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The Montreal punk trio UZU recently took the trip to Gatineau to record a propulsive set for the Pils Sessions. The band notably delivers their dark melodic punk music entirely in Arabic. UZU features bassist Mimel, drummer Gustavo, guitarist/vocalist Adlene, and guitarist Mathieu. Before setting up in Montreal, members of UZU previously played in the Algerian group Demokhratia.

The band's Pils set lands in the wake of their self-titled full-length, issued in April of this year. As with all Pils Sessions, Chany Pilote produced while Dizz Hupé documented the studio work. You can see the latter's video for the song "Akhtanik اوزو أختنق" on YouTube now.

Méfait: Dark Turn

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Rounding out their busy week, Pils Records and Total Rampage Records have teamed up to issue physical tapes and LPs of Dark Turn, the debut album from Montreal hardcore act Méfait. The nine-song set first surfaced online from the band in the summer.

Méfait recorded with Scott Golyardi at Studio 440. The five-piece features Antoine on vocals, guitarists Victor And JC, bassist Felix, and drummer Emilien. Collectively they've spent time in numerous Quebec bands over the years, including Puffer, Tightrope, and local legends The Nils.

Doctor Mother Father: "Happiness"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Saint Johns' power trio Doctor Mother Father recently shared "Happiness," the second single from their forthcoming LP Feelin' Fine. The 90s-flavoured jangle pop tune lands alongside a video from director Naomi Peters. The track features Corey Bonnevie on vocals, guitar, and keys, backed by bassist Kortni Nicols (Lionsault) and drummer Colin Ferris (Sheik, Cool Dudes Fighting, Butcher). Sadie Donahue provides backing vocals on the recording.

Feelin' Fine lands on February 10 through Monopolized Records. Bonnevie, known for playing in Little You, Little Me and helming Monopolized, last issued the Doctor Mother Father LP Catholic in the summer of 2020.

Weird Nightmare: "Our Love Will Still Be There"

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Alex Edkins' Weird Nightmare shared another one-off single last week, delivering a cover of The Troggs' "Our Love Will Still Be There." It follows a slate of fall releases, including the "So Far Gone" single and a split Sub Pop 7" with Ancient Shapes. They commented:

"British Invasion is a really big part of my musical DNA... The Kinks, The Troggs, The Pretty Things are my go-to comfort music. I wear their influence pretty heavily on my sleeve on at least a couple Weird Nightmare songs, 'I Think You Know' and 'Lusitania' come to mind. The Troggs, and all the American garage bands they influenced, make distorted pop that, to my ears, sounds like the precursor to punk. Loose, gritty, immediate, and heartfelt."

The METZ frontman's currently working in support of their debut solo LP. It arrived in May through Sub Pop. METZ-proper last released Atlas Vending, their full-length, on Royal Mountain and Sub Pop in October of 2020.

Chris Page: Listen for the Lonely

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Ottawa garage vet Chris Page has a new single out dubbed "Listen for the Lonely," which arrives in two distinct variations, like the artist's other recent songs. Page comments:

"...continuing the series, I've released two versions of 'Listen For The Lonely': Saturday night has a slow-burn, indie rock swagger while Sunday morning is a version you can hum along to, staring into your morning coffee."

Both tracks are available at Bandcamp. This prolific run of home-recorded singles follows Those Aren't Stars Above Your Head, an acoustic reworking of the 2016 self-titled LP from Page's then-active band, Camp Radio. 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, he played in the 90s-era Glengarry, Ontario pop-punk group The Stand GT.

OwlMountainRadar: Bluey Pink

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Chris Page also recently shared a long-lost EP from a trio dubbed OwlMountainRadar. The band features the Stand GT frontman recording alongside the celebrated singer-songwriter Jim Bryson and Jeff Kainz (also of Camp Radio, recently of Coastal Pigs). The trio put these songs to tape in late 2010 and early 2011. Page revealed:

"It's like digging up a time capsule. Over 10 years ago I recorded an album with Jim and Jeff in a cottage on a mountain. The concept was simple. Each of us would write a few songs to bring along. We'd collaborate and record them. The catch was the songs had to be written on a tenor guitar. That set off a weird obsession (for all of us I think), about all things tenor... guitars. Like all obsessions, maybe that faded a bit, and the songs were archived for posterity. It took us a while, but we decided to let a few of them out. Here are the first three."

The band's making these three songs, collected as the Bluey Pink EP, available as a limited-run 7".

63 Monroe: N.F.G.

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London's Yeah Right! Records have dusted off one of the Ontario town's classic early-80s punk artifacts. The seven-song N.F.G. album marked the debut of the now-long-running glam/punk act 63 Monroe. It's now available for the first time digitally from the label, with a vinyl reissue on the way. The band, at the time, featured vocalist Steven R Stunning, guitarist Marky Burnaway, drummer Pete "Lambougini" Lambert, and bass at various points from Bob Gliddon and Mark Deroux. The album opens with three songs tracked at EMAC Studios in June of 1980, with the remainder taken from a live set at the Cedar Lounge in February of that year.

This update features remasters of the audio from the original analogue tapes, performed in March of 2022 by Rob Nation.

Sunday Morning: "Junky Don't Care"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp - Watch on YouTube

Vancouver's Sunday Morning recently shared a new single, a synth-driven darkwave cover of Art Bergmann's 1988 classic "The Junkie Don't Care." Billed as a tribute to the legendary Young Canadians frontman, the track arrived online backed by the Sunday Morning original "Explain the World." The band recorded at Little Red Sound Studios this past summer, with Felix Fung producing. On this single the ensemble features Bruce Wilson on vocals and keys, Fung on guitar and programming, Max Sample on bass, keyboards, and piano, and Emily Bach on violin.

Wilson, a Vancouver scene vet known for the early-90s band Tankhog, commented:

"Art's music has been a soundtrack to my life and his poetic lyrics and brilliant vocal delivery are qualities I've always aspired to. More than anything this song is a loving tribute to a man who has never stopped being an artist and whose work has influenced me since I was the pink haired teenager writing bad high school poetry in spiral notebooks during math class."

The track arrives alongside a video by RD Cane, a director intimately familiar with Art Bergmann's catalogue (he shot the videos for "Bound for Vegas" and "My Empty House"). Sunday Morning's new recordings, boasting the distinct influence of Iggy Pop and David Bowie, follow up on their 2020 EP Consequence Of Love. Look for news on the band's sophomore LP soon.

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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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