Saturday February 4, 2023

Faded State

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.

Is this mailing late? It feels late. They usually are. In my defence, I took off to Mexico for our big post-pandemic vacation, from which I, because the universe has a great sense of humour, returned with COVID. That it was also just Bandcamp Friday didn't help either, as that event always wreaks havoc with my already overflowing inbox. It's also freezing outside. Can I blame that, too? Hurdles abound.

Thanks for your patience.

Home Front: "Faded State"

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Look, folks, I try to pay attention given the beat I'm chasing, but I'm often baffled at the exceedingly cool things that pass me by. Edmonton's Home Front plays new wave revival with the energy of a hardcore band. Unbeknownst to me, they issued their debut EP Think of the Lie in 2021, produced, mixed, and mastered by Fucked Up's Jonah Falco. The duo's following it up soon with the 12-song Games of Power LP on March 3, a record from which you can now preview the opening 1-2 punch of "Faded State" and "Real Eyes."

Given how much I've botched my Home Front coverage to date, I'll lift from Falco's write-up on the album directly:

"Enormous full length debut from Home Front who have managed to fix truth to the beautiful and borderline mythical threadneedle moment in which punk, new wave, pop, indie and rock and roll all descend upon a single source. We may have only dreamed that Tears for Fears might have been going to see GBH at the weekend or that Annie Lennox spent her evening sewing Crass patches to her Wrangler Blue Bell jacket, but Home Front have rang the dinner triangle for us all to feast. High moments of perfectly patinated synth brilliance, tender new wave considerations, punk anthems that could fill the biggest stadium, and fiery hooks that could warm the coldest cynic. The Champagne, the gluebag, the boots, and the eyeliner, GAMES OF POWER clutches to it all."

The band recorded with Nik Kozub in Edmonton, while Falco co-produced remotely from overseas. Cal Graham of UK brawlers The Chisel appears on the song "Nation." A video for "Faded State," directed by multi-JUNO nominee Lyle Bell, can be found on YouTube, as well. Look for Games of Power on vinyl through La Vida Es Un Mus, with an extra non-LP track available with the digital version.

In the studio, Home Front records as the duo of Graeme MacKinnon (vocals, guitar, and bass) and Clint Frazier (synths, keys, drums, and programming). Live, and in the "Failed State" video, the band expands to a five-piece featuring bassist Brandi Strauss and guitarist Ian Rowley (both of Rhythm of Cruelty) with drummer Warren Oostlander (of No Problem). Both Frazier and producer Nik Kozub previously played in the dance-punk act Shout Out Out Out. MacKinnon played with both No Problem and once fronted the late-90s street punk group Wednesday Night Heroes.

Bart: "Turncoat"

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Toronto post-punk / psych-jazz / funk-whatever combo Bart returns this April with their third full-length. Some Kind of Way features an eclectic arrangement of nine new songs, preceded by the tightly wound and surprisingly succinct single "Turncoat." Christopher Shannon addresses the track in a press release, stating:

"'Turncoat' is about the 'othering' of people in our communities based on political tribalism, and how that makes it difficult for anyone to grow, change, or come together."

Multi-instrumentalists and co-vocalists Christopher Shannon and Nathan Vanderwielen once again spearhead the project. They're backed here by a new core band of familiar faces, including Harrison Forman (Hieronymus Harry, Mr. Joy), Patrick Lefler (ROY, Possum), and drummer Micael Brushey. The new album draws even deeper from the Toronto psych scene, with appearances from Fresh Pepper's Joseph Shabason (tenor sax), Jason Bhattacharya (percussion), Zacht Automaat's Carl Didur (piano/synth), Patrick Smith (soprano sax, flute), Ewan Farncombe (trumpet), Eliza Niemi (cello), and Rachel Cardiello (viola).

Some Kind of Way arrives on April 7 through Idée Fixe. It follows the band's 2019 album Today, Tomorrow, & The Next Day.

Brock Pytel: "Anemic Heart"

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Given this newsletter's forward focus, there's a massive swath of Canada's punk history that I've yet to touch on, but I relish the opportunity when it presents itself. Original Doughboys drummer / co-vocalist Brock Pytel resurfaced last year in Vancouver with an unearthed slate of solo recordings, starting with the dark and driving "Hurrah Horray." This winter brings us a second contemporary(ish) track from the veteran musician in the form of the melancholic "Anemic Heart." The single arrived alongside a video from Vancouver visual artist R.d. Cane.

Both tracks stem from a 2011 session at Montreal's Hotel2Tango with Howard Bilerman (Nap Eyes, Greys, Godspeed You! Black Emperor), born from the Doughboys' reunion tour supporting the Foo Fighters. The track likewise features two former Doughboys in the studio, with Jonathan Cummins playing guitar and Jon "Bond Head" Asencio appearing on bass. Ronan Chris Murphy (Gwar, King Crimson) mastered the new material.

A 2020 health scare finally spurned Pytel to share these songs publically. He comments:

"One of the things that really hit me at that time was how little music I'd put out into the world compared to how big a part of my life making music is. I was really motivated to get things going in that regard. These digital singles are me clearing my plate, so to speak, and making room for the new. When things seem to be lagging with the SLIP~ons (waiting for mixes, etc.) it helps with the frustration of working on getting these songs out."

Look for further material from the Hotel2Tango sessions over the next few months, along with a new 5-song EP from Pytel's power pop group SLIP~ons. That band last issued the Bad TV single in 2019. The best I can tell, Pytel's preceding solo outing was 2000's Second Choice.

Based out of Montreal, the Doughboys initial run took them from 1987 through 1997 (Pytel left the group in 1989). Speaking of Jonathan Cummins and Jon Ascenio, the pair appear these days in Montreal group The Low Sixes. That band issued an energetic new full-length on New Year's Day titled Yes Is The Answer that's now sitting high on my to-delve list.

PACKS: "4th of July"

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Madeline Link's slack-rock quartet PACKS have their sophomore album on the way next month. Crispy Crunchy Nothing lands March 31 with 14 new songs, including the recent single "Abalone" and the newly unveiled "4th of July." The latter arrived alongside a new video directed by Breathe. On it, Link commented in a press release:

"Sometimes it feels like all I have are questions. What can I do if I don't understand something? Write a song about it! The 4th of July is a celebration that sums up a lot of questions I have about how we like to live today in this glorious year of 2023.

For the video I was excited to work with Sam and Alex from Breathe because they were so gung ho about shooting on film! I knew I wanted to make a bunch of creepy paper mache masks and include some occultish vibery. I drove myself nuts making the masks, but we had a fun day out in the golden horseshoe, dressing up like funky creeps! My Own Private Idaho vibes!"

Link recently completed an artist's residency in Mexico City, working with papier-mâché as a visual medium. From there, she fleshed out demos remotely with bandmates dialling in from Ottawa and Toronto. The band, including lead guitarist Dexter Nash, bassist Noah O'Neil, and drummer Shane Hooper, later convened for a week-long recording retreat in rural Quebec - tracking in a cabin on Lac Sarrazin.

The new album's their second through Royal Mountain and Fire Talk Records, following 2021's Take The Cake and the recent WOAH EP.

Smaller Hearts: "Sleeper Agent"

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Dartmouth electro-pop duo Smaller Hearts recently resurfaced with a new song that, while carrying the hallmarks of their earlier synth-pop experiments, breaks their longstanding "no guitars" rule. You can hear "Sleeper Agent" at Bandcamp now. The group reveals:

"The title hints at the meaning, 'Sleeper Agent' is a song about trying to escape reality by sleeping and dreaming—but also the limits of that approach. Sleeping through your problems can feel like a relief; but at some point you might notice that you're accidentally escaping a lot of good stuff as well as bad. We wanted it to feel dreamy and optimistic, but tinged with melancholy. There's a cloud of background noise throughout that frames the sunnier guitar melody and vocal harmonies—the hope is that it reflects the moment of pleasant confusion you feel upon waking from an hopeful dream."

Smaller Hearts features Kristina Parlee (of The Maynards and, most recently, Shoulder Season) paired with Ron Bates, a veteran of Moon Socket, Orange Glass and Elevator To Hell. The new tune follows up on the band's 2021 full-length Attention (their third) and the 2020 remix set Gone Before the Messages Arrive.

King Khan & Mary Ocher: "Search The Brady Landfill"

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While operating out of Berlin these days, King Khan hasn't overlooked the troubles of this country. Last month the garage-soul impresario released a collaboration with activist/musician Mary Ocher and Montreal's Choyce (Roy Vucino of Red Mass) to raise awareness of the ongoing dispute over Winnipeg's Brady and Prarie Green Landfills. Protesters erected a blockade of the Brady site in late December and early January to force the city to search the grounds for the remains of four slain Indigenous women. Khan posted the song "Search The Brady Landfill" with the following note:

"The recent refusal to search the Brady Landfill for the remains of Morgan Harris, Mercedes Myran, Rebecca Contois and Buffalo Woman in Winnipeg has inspired me to write this song about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The genocidal behaviour of the government and police is absolutely appalling and as we bear witness to this something must be done. I teamed up with fellow songwriter Choyce and activist/singer Mary Ocher to help deliver this important message. All proceeds from this song will go to Camp Morgan, as told to me by Cambria Harris, daughter of Morgan Harris."

A petition supporting the search efforts is available to sign at The song features cover art by Red River Métis artist Rihkee Strapp.

Rip Hickie & King Khan: Haunted & Hunted

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January saw a second release from King Khan with a prominent Indigenous angle. Last week the Berlin-based musician issued a six-song EP paired with Lethbridge, Alberta musician Rip Hickie. Given the twists and turns in the story, I'll defer to Khan's telling verbatim:

"The story of Rip Hickie (aka Cody Ciscolane Prairie Chicken) is a complicated one. When Cody was 17 years old his band She Lives from Lethbridge, Alberta was told they would be on the cover of Beatroute magazine. They had an interview and photo shoot and were as excited as a young band could be to be graced on the covers of a magazine. About a week before the issue was going to come out, Beatroute called She Lives and gave them the bad news that they had been replaced by The King Khan & BBQ Show for the cover. Mad as hell Cody went to our show with his best Beatle boots on ready to kick some ass. But then suddenly as he entered the room he saw King Khan wearing his Tina Turner outfit, doing his best Chuck Berry duck walk and BBQ belting out the hits like the Sam Cooke of our generation that he is. Cody fell in love with their music and his rage turned into a life long desire to be on stage and fuck shit up.

Fast forward 17 years.... Cody reached out to King Khan and sent him a song. "We Love You" which was written about Cody's deceased wife Jayne 'Otahkonisskim' Crop Haired Wolf (RIP). When King Khan heard it, he signed Cody to his Khannibalism record label. These 6 songs were recorded during the pandemic with his mama's guitar on Cody's cellphone. King Khan added his spices to the tracks and here they are for you. Cody is a proud member of the Blackfoot/Blood Tribe and pseudo-leader of the Lost Boyz rankster pack. He resides in Lethbridge, Alberta and is 34 years old."

Like "Search The Brady Landfill," this album also features art from Red Deer's Rihkee Strapp. A video for the track "Last 3 Words" previously surfaced in 2021, with visuals by Mi'qmak artist Rob Tait Jr. You can see it on YouTube.

Strawberry Cough: "Sad At The Mall"

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I've not paid enough attention to Brampton's Strawberry Cough, but engagingly off-kilter rockers like "Sad At The Mall" are sure to change that. The dynamic new track arrives a year out from the band's "Bathe in the Sun" single and heralds the release of an EP this March.

The trio features vocalist/guitarist Zachary Bourdages, drummer Travis Myers, and bassist Bob Calwell. The band recorded with producer Kyle Ashbourne (MVLL CRIMES, Wasted Potential) at The Sugar Shack with Daggermouth's Stuart McKillop mastering.

A release show for the band's forthcoming EP (title to be announced) is slated for Hamilton's Mills Hardware on March 9 with support from Captain WildChild and Sun Junkies. That EP follows the band's 2021 short-set Victory Lap!.

Miesha & The Spanks: "It's My Year"

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The high-octane Calgarian duo Miesha & The Spanks recently signed with Vancouver indie mainstays Mint Records, teeing up the 15-song Unconditional Love In Hi-Fi for an April 14 release. The set features several of guitarist/vocalist Miesha Louie and drummer Sean Hamilton's recent singles, including "Dig Me Out" and "I Can't Wait." They appear alongside the newly unveiled "It's My Year." On that track, which arrived with a video from director Sebastian Buzzalino, the band stated:

"'It's My Year' began as an ode to my niece who was having a hard time with some friends in her small town, and I wanted to pump her up a little. But it also brought me back to when I was a pre-teen and having my own trouble with friends in my small town... at first you always feel like you're the problem, the weird one, but ultimately you've just got imagination and big ideas and you want more! So, this song's really for all the weirdos who want more.

The highs and lows are meant to reflect the feeling when you shake off some of that self-doubt and hesitation, and just move forward, showing the world everything and not apologizing for how rad you really are - what better way than with a big party chorus that's celebratory and confident, perfect for dancing and shaking too! That means layers of fuzz, tambourine, back-up oohs, and we even added some classic rock n roll organ."

The duo recorded at National Music Centre last April, with producers Danny Farrant (modern-day drummer of the Buzzcocks) and Paul Rawson, with Eric Cinnamon engineering. The new song follows up on Miesha & The Spanks' 2021 Singles EP and their recent double A-side highlighting "Dig Me Out" and "I Can't Wait," issued through Reta Records.

Tunic: "Dull Ache"

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Last week the Winnipeg noise-punks Tunic shared "Dull Ache," their first new single since "Rituals" appeared last May. The band observes, "it's a bit of a different track for us because it's very long (for a tunic song), uses a weird tuning and even has some clean guitar." All things being relative, "very long" is still shy of four minutes, but the band's dire rackets often come at a breakneck speed.

The new tune finds the trio recording with Drew Carlin of Abbotsford post-punks Blessed at No Fun Club. Tunic last issued the Quitter LP in 2021 through Artoffact Records. Seth Manchester (METZ, Lingua Ignota, The Body) engineered and mixed at Pawtucket's Machines with Magnets.

blesse: "creusercreuser" (ft. Sophia Bel)

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I'm too old to feign any understanding of hyperpop. Still, as I'm fond of the now-defunct Saint-Lambert rock band Zen Bamboo, I'm making a valiant effort to figure out what Léo Leblanc, Charles-Antoine Olivier, and Xavier Touikan have going on in their new outing blesse. The post-Bamboo band's new single "creusercreuser" deftly leverages the talents of Montreal's Sophia Bel to craft a propulsive and joyous romp with psych and pop-punk notes. The new tune follows last year's "météore" single and heralds appearances at Quebec winter festivals like the Taverne Tour and Le Phoque OFF.

The band calls the track "an energy bomb triggered by an extreme discomfort with accepting oneself and the world" and "a high-speed journey towards the blooming of the mind and finding inner peace." Expect the new tune to be part of their's forthcoming LP for Simone Records.

Zen Bamboo last issued GLU in 2020.

Dart Trees: "Lazarus of Cryville"

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Lo-fi Ottawa slack-rockers Dart Trees sound suitably dishevelled on "Lazarus of Cryville." The band's new single follows "Jim Watson You've Had it Too Good for Too Long" - the latest in a promising run of exquisitely titled and amusingly detached material branching out from the 2022 EP Music for Dudes Named Ryan. The quartet features vocals and guitar from Nick Baker, Hunter Vanerlaan on bass, Nik Skilton on lead guitar, and Sam Rymil on drums. Dart Trees recorded with Hannah Judge (fanclubwallet).

The Speakeasy: "Bright Side"

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Gruff Montreal punks The Speakeasy are back with "Bright Side," a triumphant and optimistic single marking their post-pandemic return to action. It's the group's first preview of an upcoming LP, due later this year through Thousand Islands Records. The forthcoming album follows up their two-part EP cycle, Tales From The Moonshiner, issued in two parts between 2018 and the fall of 2020.

For these new recordings, the five-piece reunited with producer Vincent Côté (L'Affaire Pélican, Bussieres).

Kingfisher: "Praying for More Pain"

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Last week Ottawa punk group Kingfisher shared "Praying for More Pain," a new single that heralds the next entry in their fast-growing catalogue. In 2022 the band issued three EPs of solid melodic skatepunk, indebted to 90s greats like Face To Face and No Use For a Name. That included their self-titled debut in January, Generation Zero in April, and Hidden Enemy in August.

Kingfisher features vocalist/guitarist Brent Walker, vocalist/guitarist Joe Brownrigg, bassist Casey Conner, and drummer Dave Dorval. In prior times, members played in acts like The Fully Down and In Heat, among others.

Babyland: Babyland

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Babyland's the lo-fi bedroom project of Sammy Klacker, a former member of Moncton garage act the Klackers. The artist's issued a string of what they claim are "terrible quality songs" over the past few years, leading up to a new self-titled EP unveiled just last week. You can pick up the five-track digital release at Bandcamp.

Dead Alright: "Strong Enough To Fail"

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As promised, Montreal skate punk act Dead Alright's started sharing a steady stream of new material, with "Strong Enough to Fail" following up on last month's debut "Smoke & Mirrors." The project's a solo effort from Louis-Charles Berthiaume of Never Hit Again and Brand New Lungs. The anthemic posi-punk tune continues to tap the spirit of EpiFat heroes like Millencolin or A Wilhelm Scream. On it, you'll catch guest vocals from Never Hit Again's Alexandre Lindsay.

While there's no album announced yet, I expect Thousand Islands Records to carry the torch on this one.

Full Throttle: "All I Want"

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London trio Full Throttle continues to exude boundless youthful energy while simultaneously embracing a teenage pop-punk sound that's at least 20 years in the rearview mirror. I don't know how those two realities co-exist, but they're pulling it off. The band recently shared "All I Want," a new tune following up on their fall single "Sh!tshow." A teenage version of me from the summer before I got too cool for Blink-182 would have been all over this.

Full Throttle features guitarist/vocalist Max McGill, bassist Evan Levite, and drummer Kaelin Chase.

Zoon: "A Language Disappears"

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Celebrated Anishinaabe shoegazer Daniel Monkman has their sophomore LP as Zoon lined up for an April 28 release through Paper Bag Records. You can preview the 10-song set through the single "A Language Disappears," unveiled alongside an animated video animated by Shawn Chiki. Monkman created the central character in the clip using a VR sculpting method in collaboration with the director. On the song, they comment:

"'A Language Disappears' touches on a common experience among Indigenous people: the fear of your language being forgotten. This was something I started to fear when I became a Born Again Indian in my late 20's. For a lot of native folks, we're taught to hide our identity, to keep us safe from the outside world. Somewhere along a native person's journey, they start to ask questions about their heritage and where they come from."

The new album, titled Bekka Ma'iigan, follows up on Zoon's acclaimed 2020 debut Bleached Wavves and a series of subsequent EPs. It also lands in the wake of Sewn Together, the Polaris-shortlisted debut from OMBIIGIZI - a joint project between Monkman and Adam Sturgeon of Status/Non-Status.

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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