Friday February 17, 2023

North Carolina Atomic Bomb

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.

Mononegatives: "North Carolina Atomic Bomb"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

I'm beyond stoked to help premiere "North Carolina Atomic Bomb," the electric opening salvo of the sophomore LP from London, Ontario synth-punks Mononegatives. In concert with my old haunt of I'm sharing the first of 14 tracks packed into Crossing Visual Field, due April 21 through the UK's No Front Teeth and LA design collective Dowd Records. Below you can check out "North Carolina Atomic Bomb, a madcap speedrun of a song that slams the component parts of new wave through a lo-fi garage-punk aperture.

While you've missed our chance to get one, we should stop and marvel at the wild vinyl pressing Dowd prepared for the single. The limited-edition (and now decisively sold-out) lathe cut 7" features pop-up cutouts of the band (and their van!), effectively creating a moving diorama while it spins. It's gloriously unnecessary in the finest way, and you can see it in action on Instagram.

That single's just the latest clever swerve from Dowd. Last year the Californian label's in-house gear workshop issued The Sender, a Mononegatives-signature version of their Furs Face pedal, designed explicitly for synth and bass guitar use. I'm betting you can hear that at play here.

Mononegatives features Robbie Brake (Isölation Party) on guitar, synth, and vocals, with drummer David Cereghini, and bassist Aaron Wallis. The new record follows up on a pair of recent EPs from the trio, namely Counterclockwise Interjection and Frequencies Rotating Clockwise, as well as a split with Albany's Mystery Girl. Mononegatives issued their debut full-length, Apparatus Division, in 2020.

Wasting Time: "When I'm Gone"

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Toronto pop-punkers Wasting Time get sentimental with their new single "When I'm Gone," a perfect offering for Valentine's Day (and one that's perhaps more necessary once you've realized that the holiday has come and gone). I'm thrilled to help premiere the track here at Some Party today in concert with the fine folks at The new song follows up on Wasting Time's 2022 LP, Once More Without Feeling.

The band had this to say about the tune:

"Our latest single, 'When I'm Gone' is a stand-alone Valentine's Day week release. This predominantly acoustic ballad was recorded, mixed and mastered by Matt Gauthier in Hamilton earlier this year. The song was written just before our Canadian tour last summer, and was inspired by the feeling of being away from a loved one for an extended period of time. While we do consider ourselves to be a pop-punk band, we are also inspired by classic rock/pop artists outside of that subgenre and are happy to release a song highlighting these influences."

Once More Without Feeling arrived in March of 2022, distributed through Paper + Plastick. Steve Rizun (The Flatliners, Junior Battles) recorded that 10-song collection at Drive Studios in 2020 and 2021.

Heavily influenced by heart-on-the-sleeve classics like the Smoking Popes, No Use For a Name, and the Alkaline Trio, Wasting Time's been active since 2017. Their currently undetailed third album's slated for release sometime later this year. The group features Mad Vlad on guitar and lead vocals, Mike on bass, Mark on lead guitar and Nick on the drums.

C.C. Voltage: Berliner Pilsner

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These days we primarily run into C.C. Voltage as a member of the synth-heavy trio Autogramm. The artist's lengthy resume goes so much further, though, with past roles in bombastic punk acts like The Spitfires and The Black Halos. That's not even touching on globe-trotting stints with Germany's Awesome Dudes, London's Loyalties, and Berlin's Dysnea Boys. With his newly unveiled solo single Berliner Pilsner, C.C.'s adding another volume to the loud and fast end of the equation.

Berliner Pilsner is a double A-side, backed with the rollicking "Bummer Party." You can find the garage-pop solo effort digitally via Ausländer Music, with a 7" pressed via Madrid's Snap Records (available domestically through Yeah Right!). In a press release, the Vancouver artist revealed:

"While I was living in Berlin my favorite beer company, Berliner Pilsner, had a song writing competition. I wrote the tune in full 80's beer commercial style, thinking that it'd be a shoo-in with the judges. I'm not sure if it was the crappy demo I submitted, or the fact that they were looking for German lyrics, but I didn't even get a response on my submission. Rich Jones and I revamped the song, made it rock a little harder and enlisted some pals to make it more interesting. We still love Berliner Pilsner beer, even if they don't like the song."

The songs feature several players from Voltage's past bands, including Jason Solyom (La Chinga, Nasty On), Jay Millette (The Black Halos, Darlings of Chelsea), Rich Jones (Michael Monroe, The Black Halos, The Dogs D'Amour, The Loyalties, The Yo-Yo's), Graham Tuson (The Spitfires) Marcel Lafleur (Arson, Smashed Gladys), and James Sullivan (More Kicks, Suspect Parts).

Autogramm's sophomore full-length No Rules arrived on Nevado Music in the spring of 2022.

Uh Huh: "Babylon"

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Back in December, I wrote at some length on Teenanger's transformation from a tightly-wound garage punk quartet into the dub-heavy Uh Huh, all the while tripping over my love for the one-off, pandemic-era Teenanger singles that seemed to pave the way to this new form. I shouldn't be so surprised, but I'm utterly delighted to learn now that the forthcoming Uh Huh record contain those very songs (or some version thereof) among its 8-track runtime. The refit group's first album arrives on April 14 through their longtime home of Telephone Explosion.

The news arrived alongside the new single "Babylon," another engrossingly chilled-out outing from the formerly high-strung group, with both Melissa Bell and Chris Swimming on vocals. The tune features additional percussion from Blake Howard and trumpet from Dylan Angell.

Despite the change in direction, Uh Huh still boasts Teenanger's entire original lineup of Steve Sidoli, Melissa Bell, Jon Schouten, and Chris Swimming (drums, bass, guitar, and vocals in the prior incarnation - now with less defined roles). The downshifted group's debut follows up on Teenanger's final LP, 2020's Good Time.

Rain Over St. Ambrose: "Popsong!!"

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Yarmouth's Rain Over St. Ambrose call their new single "Popsong!!" (replete with two indulgent exclamation marks), but the name's something of a swerve. The new tune from the Nova Scotia six-piece may indeed come packing a hooky chorus, but the band wraps it in a propulsive energy that's both grim and anxious. In some ways, there's a gruff, swampy weight to the track that seems cut from a similar cloth as Toronto's Bruce Peninsula. The urgent tune's the first from the band's upcoming LP, Liar, due out later this year through Acadian Embassy.

You can find "Popsong!!" visualized on YouTube in a new video from director James Turpin.

Rain Over St. Ambrose recorded at the Sonic Temple in Halifax with Darren van Niekerk. Tony Doogan mixed at the Castle of Doom in Glasgow, Scotland, while J. LaPointe mastered in Mineville, NS. The new record marks the band's first full-length outing since 2015's Still Waking Up.

Hellaphant: Crumble And Rise

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London, Ontario punks Hellaphant have a muscular new full-length out, with vinyl and tapes on the way through their hometown label Faster And Louder Records. If the 11-song Crumble And Rise sounds (at least partially) familiar, it includes a complete re-recording of the quartet's 2020 EP. Hellaphant charges out the gate with a 90s-indebted, raw-throated attack that's just screaming for an overcrowded mosh pit.

The group features vocalist/guitarist Garrington Begner, bassist Chris Arenburg, drummer Scott Cameron, and new lead guitarist Jason Holmes. A lifetime ago, Begner fronted the early-90s Oshawa pop-punk act Lame. That band's sole released full-length, Ol' Doctor Bomb, came out in 1996.

PONY: "Très Jolie"

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Sam Bielanski's bubblegum-punk outfit PONY issued a string of stunning pop songs over the past several months, a stealth buildup for their newly announced sophomore LP Velveteen. Details on the 10-song record, due May 19, came alongside the release of the album-opening single "Très Jolie." You can stream it everywhere and see it visualized in a new video over at YouTube.

A lengthy profile on the record, shared at Bandcamp, cites the influence of the British children's classic The Velveteen Rabbit, a story Bielanski drew upon while dealing with a months-long struggle with insomnia:

"I became obsessed with it but I always fell asleep before getting to the end. The way I interpreted the story was that it's the love that we give and receive that makes us real or whole. The one chapter I found especially heart wrenching is when the velveteen rabbit is trying to hang with the real rabbits of the forest, and through comparison, he realizes he isn't as real as he thought he was. It was a good lesson for me, even now, because I'm constantly fighting the urge to compare myself to others. Your individual experiences make you who you are and nothing can change that. That's what I thought, until I finally listened to the whole thing and found out that at the end of the book, a fairy turns the velveteen rabbit into an actual rabbit, which I felt undermined the earlier lessons of the story. After that, I was really confused."

You'll find a wealth of background information in the album notes at Bandcamp. PONY features Sam on vocals, guitar, synth, and piano partnered with Pretty Matty's Matty Morand (similarly busy with guitar, bass, synth, and keys) and drums from Trout's Josh Cassidy. The band recorded around half of the album with Josh Korody (Breeze, Beliefs) at Candle Recording and the remainder with Alex Gamble at Union Sound. Gamble mixed the results with Alan Douches mastering.

The new album follows up on PONY's 2021 full-length TV Baby and marks their second outing with Massachusetts' Take This To Heart Records.

Hippie Hourrah: Or aux dents

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Montreal psych trio Hippie Hourrah has a dreamy new single out dubbed Or aux dents - featuring two related but distinct songs under the same name. In a statement, the band revealed that they came close to tossing the whole project a few days before hitting the studio:

« Dire que 2 jours avant l'enregistrement, on a passé bien proche de la jeter aux poubelles... Pour finalement la réarranger complètement la veille du studio et terminer avec une de nos chansons préférées : une épopée psych-prog en deux temps, inspirée d'un vieux poète du Plateau Mont-Royal. »

Hippie Hurrah features the core trio of Cédric Marinelli (of Les Marinellis), Miles Dupire-Gagnon (Elephant Stone), and Gabriel Lambert. This track finds them again collaborating with Christian Sean Trudel and Samuel Gemme (the same team behind "Les murs" from last fall). This track also features Joé Napoleon on backing vocals and Chris Darley on guitar.

The group's following up on their self-titled 2021 LP, released via Simone Records.

Softtub: "Figure It Out"

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Sudbury's Keegan McDonald is readying the debut self-titled EP from his solo project Softtub, launching the project with the crunchy power-pop earworm "Figure It Out." While the track's a far cry from bedroom pop, it's indeed just McDonald working on the project, who cites Superchunk, Treble Charger, and PUP as influences. Those claims line up perfectly with the track's bright guitarwork and nimble hooks. In a statement, the artist commented:

"These days, there's so much being thrown at you all the time it feels like you have to become an expert on everything. 'Figure It Out' is a song about becoming exhausted and apathetic toward all that. It's about getting discouraged, shutting down, and the people in your life who help pull you out of that place."

McDonald's played with northern Ontario bands for the past decade, playing core roles in The Almighty Rhombus, Tofino, and White Hot. The debut Softtub EP lands on April 14.

Fuudge: "Ta yeule, toute va ben"

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Montreal stoner/grunge combo Fuudge advises against listening to their new single if you're trying to relax. Whiplashing between caustic and sludgy moments, "Ta yeule, toute va ben" is a striking expression of frustration from the group. Principle David Bujold revealed a bit of background in a statement, claiming:

« La musique je l'ai composée en gueulant dans mon char, coin Ontario pis Papineau. Les paroles me sont venues en sortant d'un meeting rempli de dénis et d'hypocrisie. Je dédie cette toune à tous les gens qui sont en criss. »

The track arrives alongside an animated video from Studio Nord-Est. Bujold recorded with engineer Ryan Battistuzzi (Yesterday's Ring, Les Mains Sales, Conditions Apply). The new track follows 2021's celebrated live set Déplogué au Grand Théâtre de Québec and the band's 2020 LP Fruit-Dieu.

da nang: "Don't Hate Me"

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On their first few singles, Toronto's da nang seek a middle ground between the sound of 90s grunge and the vulnerability of third-wave emo. The band issued "Young" in January, followed this month by "Don't Hate Me." The group's led by John Thai - a first-generation Canadian born to Vietnamese refugees in small-town Ontario. The tension between Thai's background and identity heavily influences the group's output, with da nang described as "an intentional revisit to 90's adolescence; a time when queer voices were never heard, or at least never this loudly."

On "Don't Hate Me," Thai explains:

"social anxieties and fear of being my authentic self made it near impossible for me to feel comfortable making music. There were no out and open musicians at the time who I could relate to, certainly not Asian ones. 'don't hate me' is a retrospective anthem for that queer adolescent kid who so desperately wanted out."

The group performs as a six-piece with Thai joined by Sean Leckie, Calum Shaw, JP Rautio, Fraser Elsdon, and Jarrad Robinson.

TJ Felix: "Charity Case"

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TJ Felix is unstoppable, and with January's 10-song In a Sentimental Mood now in the rearview mirror, the restless BC artist's already turned their attention to the follow-up. "Charity Case" crashes in as the first single from the Secwépemc artist's next project, apparently dubbed 2 Eggy 4 the Chain Gang, 2 Chainy 4 the Eggheads. That's a reference to egg punk/chain punk meme of 2017, for the uninitiated.

Felix, formerly known as Industrial Priest Overcoats, churns out anxious punk (egg, chain, or otherwise) at a furious pace in the weirdo vein trailblazed by the Urinals and DEVO. In addition to their 2022 solo output (around a dozen distinct sets of music by the time 4th World Problems dropped in December), Felix also performs with the similarly tweaked Bedwetters Anonymous and serves in the hardcore combo Nasdaq.

Cartoon Acid: "Concorde Blues"

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Ottawa's Cartoon Acid play lo-fi alt-country in a similar vein to Toronto roots-weirdos Hobby, but cruise along at a hypnotically languorous pace. The band issued Super Plus, their six-song debut EP, in February of last year. They've since spotlighted the deliberative album-closer "Concorde Blues" with a charmingly low-budget animated video. The band calls the piece "a meditation on the baggage that life saddles us with, the physical and emotional."

Cartoon Acid features Nic Comeau, Dusty Dewan, Marc Labelle and James Romanuk.

Double Date with Death: "Grand"

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This week Montreal psych rockers Double Date with Death unveiled their expansive new single "Grand," the second preview from their forthcoming LP Portraits. The immersive track was one of the first composed for the record with a vintage Yamaha PS-20 keyboard. The group comments on the song, and its goth vibes, in a statement:

« On avait la ligne de basse qu'on voulait enregistrer sur le morceau et Guillaume Chiasson nous a judicieusement suggéré d'ajouter un reverb assez long pour lui donner plus de personnalité. Ça donne une atmosphère plus inquiétante et sombre, un petit côté gothique 80's comme on peut retrouver dans The Cure, groupe qu'on adore. Grand nous emmène ailleurs ; on a toujours l'habitude de mettre en avant les riffs de guitare, plus que la basse ou le synthétiseur. Ça fait du bien, car cette ambiance donne plus de profondeur à la pièce et la rend assez spéciale pour nous. »

DDWD features vocalist/guitarist Vincent Khouni, bassist Julien Simard, drummer Mathieu Guay, and guitarist/synth player Stephen Baird. The band recorded with Guillaume Chiasson (Ponctuation, Bon Enfant) at The Treatment Room. Look for Portraits on March 17 through La Shoebox.

Meanlife: Up From The Dead

Watch "WTF" on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Jackson Fishauf's eclectic songwriting outlet Meanlife has a new full-length in the wild dubbed Up From The Dead. The set arrived from the Toronto artist alongside a video for the strangely compelling album cut "WTF." Regarding the collection, Fishauf issued a string of descriptors:

"A mean-spirited guitar album
The last thoughts of my twenties
From romantic to cynic in 48 minutes
Built on the bones of past projects
Approaching perfection to the Meanpop formula
The inner monologue harmonizing with itself
Greatest hits of a decade writing songs 2013-2023
Self recorded & produced 2019-2023"

As stated, the release collects several years of material issued in dribs and drabs throughout the pandemic. Finally assembled together, Up From The Dead stands as Fishauf's first complete collection since 2019's Bad Vibes in the Womb.

Mike Trask: "Back Tooth"

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Memramcook, New Brunswick's eclectic producer/singer-songwriter Mike Trask has a new single out, the latest in his archive-emptying VAULT series. Here's what the artist had to say regarding the stomping "Back Tooth," which features Sam Mallais on piano:

"For the fourth installment of VAULT, Mike harnesses the disquieting isolation of winter and embraces the simple pleasures of staying in, looking inward and gettin' weird. Recorded in rural New Brunswick in Jan 2023, "Back Tooth" drives like a dark carnival down Main Street in the dead of winter, with propulsive drums, kaleidoscopic guitar leads and a driving bassline. "

Past VAULT entries have featured collaborations with east coast artists like Janowskii's Keith Hallett and Les Hay Babies' members Julie Aubé and Katrine Noël. Trask's next proper LP is expected to be Landing Day, due later this year as the follow-up to 2021's TV Dinner.

Wordplay: "Neighbours"

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Toronto pop-punk quartet Wordplay has a new single out dubbed "Neighbours," an infectious two-and-a-half minutes of motormouth folk-punk. The band recorded the tune live-off-the-floor last year, working wholly DIY for the first time since their 2016 EP with Reminder. The new song's their first output since the 2020 single "8.5" and the preceding year's Short EP.

Wordplay features Kris Rose on vocals and guitar, Cameron Kennedy on guitar, Dan Gonzalez on bass, and Bill Morton drumming.

Hexoffender: The Dagger

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I'm never quite sure how many active bands lay claim to Robbie Brake of the above-profiled Mononegatives, and Rob may not know either, but I do believe they're still an active member of the Hamilton thrash-punks Hexoffender. That quartet recently issued The Dagger, a dark and grimy four-song EP that follows up on last year's Into The Grave. It's the type of black metal-inspired romp where you'll find cheery titles like "Bloodfuck."

The group recorded with Preston Lobzun of Saudade engineering, with Will Killingsworth mastering at Dead Air. You can pick the tunes up at Bandcamp now, with a 7" due soon through Hieb Stich. It would be best if you covered your windows in garbage bags either way.

Sluice: Live Au Mouse Trap

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Imminently likable Acadian power-pop group Sluice recently unveiled the concert film Live Au Mouse Trap. Directed by Matt Charlton, the 20-minute video finds the quartet performing at Good Robot Brewing in Halifax. The band describes their set as "part basement punk show, part house party, part Intimate & Interactive."

Sluice features Trevor Murphy on bass and vocals, backed by AA Wallace (of the Sleepless Nights and Cheval) on guitar, Cory Le Blanc on guitar, and Peanut Butter Sunday's Normand Pothier drumming.

Later this month, Sluice returns to the studio to record their sophomore album, with Wallace producing and Thomas D'Arcy (Small Sins, July Talk, The Sheepdogs) engineering. They'll work out of Taurus Recording in Toronto. The new record, expected later this year via Acadian Embassy, follows up on 2021's Le succès par le travail.

SUUNS: "Wave"

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Montreal art-rock heroes SUUNS recently shared the new one-off single "Wave," a track that came together while the band toured over the past year and a half in support of the 2021's The Witness. Vocalist/guitarist Ben Shemie commented:

"While touring (in support of) The Witness, between plane rides, car rides, van rides, and text threads, we started working on new music. New sounds and a new approach seemed to take shape while testing new material. What started to emerge were really slow songs, some strange experimentations, and some unclassifiable jams. Amongst these tunes, 'Wave' emerged. One of SUUNS' simplest songs, drawing on our classic rock and roll background and a nod to our Montreal brethren The Besnard Lakes."

Adrian Popovich (FRVITS, American Lips, Tricky Woo) engineered the track at Mountain City Recording Studio in July 2022. You can pick it up on a lathe cut 7" through Joyful Noise Recordings (cut right in the label's Indianapolis warehouse).

The track features Shemie on guitar and vocals, Joseph Yarmush on guitar, bass, and synth, with Liam O'Neill drumming and providing other electronic and analogue percussion.

Man Crush: "Wicked Game"

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Toronto's power-trio Man Crush recently applied their curious brand of high-octane bravado to "Wicked Game," Chris Isaak's hit 1989 single. You can hear it now at Bandcamp.

Man Crush features bassist/vocalist Antony East, guitarist/vocalist Tim Shilson, and drummer Declan O'Donnell. Everyone chips in on those massive vocal harmonies this time out, with Sarah Budden and Greg LeGros also lending their voices to the chorus. The band recorded with producers Chris Sampson and Jimmy Cain at The Orange Lounge.

The cover follows the group's 2022 singles "Don't be Trippin'" and "Sour Candy."

Sunnyside Uppers: "Nobody Gets Me" (Live at the Art Warehouse)

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Ryan Brown's Saint John-based power-pop project Sunnyside Uppers continues to trickle out audio from the second volume of the Official Bootleg Series. You can now hear the live recording of "Nobody Gets Me" at Bandcamp. Here's what Brown had to say about the tune:

"Released two years to the day after the original. My most sadboi jam at the time, and one I was afraid to release. Goes to a pretty vulnerable place. On the live version, I don't even have my wall of guitars to hide behind. But the magical, beautiful thing about music is that when you make that leap, you find other people right there with you. A cathartic moment when it happened and a valentine for the sadboi in all of us."

"Nobody Gets Me" first surfaced in 2021. Brown issued the Ruminations EP last May, with the first volume in the Bootleg Series landing in January of 2022.

Chris Page: "For Rescuing"

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Ottawa singer-songwriter Chris Page kicked off the month with a quiet new tune. Here's what the veteran musician had to say regarding "For Rescuing":

"The temperature's dropping down to harsh-town and I'm settling in for this continued winter's nap. The allure of the season is slowly wearing off like the darkness that encourages it. 'For Rescuing' seems to have the right vibe for days like these. Cozy up. And don't worry. Everything's fine."

Like clockwork, Page has issued new digital singles every month for the better part of the past two years. Amidst that run, we saw Those Aren't Stars Above Your Head, an acoustic reworking of the self-titled 2016 Camp Radio album.

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.

The Burning Hell: "All I Need"

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Some bands may dance around it or shroud the notion in metaphor, but The Burning Hell never shies from directly embracing the apocalypse (or wallowing in the fallout). The band's new video for the Garbage Island single "All I Need" leans into this directly, casting Mathias Kom and Ariel Sharratt as WALL-E-styled robots scavenging the wreckage of what's left behind. It's a spectacular visualization of the song, stunningly realized by director Joe Nicolosi and perhaps my favourite music video in a long while.

This track finds Mathias Kom on vocals, bass, and guitar, backed by Jake Nicoll on drums, flute, and harmonium. Nicoll also contributes backing vocals along with Simon Read, Charlie Glasspool, and Steve Sharratt. Jesse Sharratt has an all-important whistling credit on the tune.

Garbage Island arrived earlier this summer through BB*Island in Europe and You've Changed Records in North America. The new video arrives just as the band prepares to embark on a March tour of Australia, with European dates to follow in the spring.

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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