Wednesday March 22, 2023

Time & Again

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.

Tough Age: "Time & Again"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

The next era of Tough Age is upon us. Now again based in Vancouver with a retooled lineup that combines members of their earliest incarnation with their Toronto era, the band's re-emerged with a new record for an unexpected label. Waiting Here lands June 16 through Spain's Bobo Integral, with the Chandra-affiliated We Are Time handling the domestic release. The news broke alongside the pensive jangle-psych single "Time & Again," a track described in a press release as "frontman Jarrett Evan Samson's attempt to write a pre-folk-revival Fairport Convention song played by The Byrds."

The song finds Samson's increasingly meditative guitar work and soul-searching lyricism in full bloom. Affable percussionist (and Simply Saucer biographer) Jesse Locke again anchors from behind the drumkit. With Penny Clark stepping away, early Tough Age bassist Lauren Smith returns to the fold (and even takes lead vocals on a "twee punk ripper" titled "Paradise by Another Name"). It's not all so cut and dry, though, as Clark performs on the album's title track (and that's to say nothing of the band's newly expanded live lineup - now a quartet with the addition of Wade from Stress Eating and Corner Boys). The group again recorded with Freelove Fenner's Peter Woodford at the proudly analogue Bottle Garden Studio, tracking post-SappyFest in the late summer of 2022. Jay Arner mastered the album.

Tough Age last issued the Pizza Punks split 7" with slack-punks Dumb (a celebration of Cole Pauls' comic collection of the same name). Which Way Am I?, the band's final full-length in their run for Mint Records (and the ultimate expression of the Toronto era), arrived in the summer of 2020.

If you circle back to my SappyFest Primer from last summer, you'll find a deep-dive conversation with JES, which covers the band's westward transition and the launch of this latest chapter.

Des Arcs: Masks

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

It's not lost on me that to fulfill my role as a reliable author of overlong music emails, I've condemned myself to forever be buried in them. I'm constantly rifling through song previews and PR detritus with a speed and carelessness that borders on disrespect, but for the most part, that imperfect system works for me. For the most part. Two seconds into the crunchy bass line that opens the new Des Arcs album, I thought, "oh, that's an obvious inclusion if there ever was one!" Sure, I felt mildly ashamed that the band's earnest and unsolicited email sat unread for nearly three weeks, but I'm used to being late. No harm done. Then I realized that Des Arcs just happened to be Dave Alcock's final gig. Well. Shit.

Dave drummed for Calgary pop-punks Chixdiggit! at the precise moment when I was finding my home in music (Canadian or otherwise). In my weird little pantheon, he's foundational. Furthermore, Sundae Sound is a place of liner note legend in my memory. Alcock worked so many of my early obsessions there, from the Riff Randells and Huevos Ranchers to the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir. He joined Des Arcs, off my radar, in 2015. Dave passed unexpectedly on January 1 at the age of 47.

Des Arcs commented upon the release of Masks:

"It is bitter-sweet. After losing our drummer and brother, Dave Alcock, in January we didn't really know what end was up. Dave made this record great. We laboured over it as a band for most of 2022. He was proud of it. The drums and mix are killer largely due to his vision, skills and ear. He made us all better players, and the record is better for it. So, today we let it go. We wish he was here to celebrate with us. Heavy hearts."

Masks is a wonder: chock full of anthemic guitar crunch that's punk enough to maintain that elusive underground edge but never so genre-conscious that it shies away from embracing big joyful hooks. The 12-track album follows the band's 2020 EP Thief Valley and their 2018 LP Take Me To Your Island. Lorrie Matheson (Art Bergmann, Ghostkeeper) produced the album. Plans for a vinyl release of Masks are in the works, as is a tribute party for Dave, tentatively scheduled for May at the Palomino.

Des Arcs features Travis Davies on guitar and vocals, Mark Rudd on bass and vocals, Dave Anderson on lead guitar, and Dave Alcock drumming.

Andrew Neville: "Rust"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Andrew Neville of the Halifax post-punk act Moon has a hushed new song online dubbed "Rust." It arrived with little context, surfacing on Bandcamp the same day as an archival cover of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" (which isn't to imply that "Rust" therefore implies a "never sleeps" - it's an original). The track's the first new material we've heard from Neville since his 2020 EP Standard Response and looks to be the first preview of a forthcoming album dubbed Convenience. You'll learn more about that when I do.

Moon last released the Paradise String EP in early 2017.

Telegenic Pleasure: Concentric Grave

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

There's been so much buzz surrounding London synth-punks Mononegatives that it's easy to forget that single-project focus is something of an aberration in the world of Robbie Brake. Despite the Mono's looming release, Brake's thrown caution to the wind and unveiled an entirely separate LP from his cross-Atlantic duo Telegenic Pleasure. The spastic Concentric Grave snuck out last week through Buffalo's Feral Kid Records. While built on similar bones, this project pairs Brake's electro-freakout with vocals from Marco Palumbo-Rodriguez - a UK artist known for The Gaggers, Miscalculations, and co-running No Front Teeth (who are, of course, handling the overseas release).

Catering to this newsletter's baffling geographic obsessions, the 12-song LP features a cover of "I Wanna Know" by early Ontario punk legends The Demics. Brake recorded his half of the album in the pandemic summer of 2020 from home, with Palumbo doing the same across the pond at that other London. Brake mixed the results with Will Killingsworth mastering at Dead Air.

The new record follows Telegenic Pleasure's self-titled 2018 LP. Meanwhile, Mononegatives' new album Crossing Visual Field arrives on April 21 through No Front Teeth and LA's Dowd Records.

The Steves: "Texas"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Irreverent Regina garage rockers The Steves return with their third EP this week. To The Band squeezes ten new songs into 16 minutes, a set filled with wry observations and sarcastic takedowns of overinflated musical egos. You can hear this in the pre-release single "Texas," which arrives just in time for the SXSW migratory season. You can get a further hint at Cups N Cakes, who premiered the hilarious "To The Band."

The new EP follows up on several digital singles issued in the long years since 2017's Weak Man. The Steves recorded at various Regina home studios over the past few years, with drummer Paula Bogdan engineering. Orion Paradis mastered at SoulSound Studio. In addition to Bogdan, The Steves feature Piper Burns on vocals, guitarist Ethan Anderson, and bassist Andy Beisel. Grind Central Records is handling the release.

Forbidden Dimension: Midnight Stew

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Veteran Calgarian horror-rock act Forbidden Dimension returns with a new album this week. Midnight Stew emerges as the group's ninth full-length since their creep show kicked off in 1988. You can hear the 13-song set at Bandcamp now or pick it up on vinyl through Canora, SK's Wasted Wax Records.

The current incarnation of Forbidden Dimension records as a three-piece with Jackson Phibes (aka Tom Bagley) on vocals and guitar, backed by Virginia Dentata (Jean Cho) on bass, and P.T. Bonham (Mark Igglesden) drumming. Belvedere's Casey Lewis recorded the group at Echo Base Studio in Calgary last fall.

Forbidden Dimension's playing a release show at the Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club on Saturday, April 15, with support from Iron Tusk and The Galacticas.

Kkidss: Five

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Despite its prolific nature, Chris Edwards' Alberta-based lo-fi project Kkidss seems to have escaped my attention. An under-the-radar existence fits Kkidss' character, though: enigmatic, insular, and clearly motivated by an obsessive urge to create. That usually implies an understandable lack of appetite for promotional tedium. Who has the time?

Five is the aptly-named fifth full-length from Kkidss, a quick follow-up to last summer's Apple Sauce album. Like its predecessor, this set weighs in with 18 new songs. Lines are easy to draw to the obvious influences: Sebadoh, Pavement, and Guided by Voices, among them. Yet Edwards' home-spun output accentuates those sonic touchpoints with a vulnerable, intimate quality. A series of eclectic genre hops further works in the album's favour, granting its psychedelic overtones something of a trickster vibe.

You can pick up Five now at Bandcamp, with wider digital distribution expected later this month.

Guilhem: "Le Surf"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal's Guilhem, the mononymous solo project of Lost Love's Guilhem Benard, has a new album on the way this spring. Régler la mort arrives May 5, and you can preview the nostalgic "Le Surf" now at Bandcamp.

This track finds Guilhem on acoustic guitar, vocals, and bass, backed by David Carpentier-Laberge on guitar, Julien Blais drumming, and Kaine Wakiyama Newton on violin. The album, co-produced by Hugo Mudie and Karl Houde, is due through Music Mansion Records. It follows up on 2021's La Peur Au Ventre.

Lost Love released the LP Empathy through Fantasio Club in the fall of 2021. You'll be able to catch both his pop-punk act and Guilhelm solo at Pouzza Fest this May.

TJ Felix: Aboriginal Sins + more

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

I've tried to keep up with the madcap output of TJ Felix, but I give up. The reigning champion of Secwépemc weird-punk issues material at such a frenzied rate that it's now outpacing my ability to follow it. That actual art's produced faster than I can copy and paste bullshit into an email has me seriously questioning my work ethic. In any case, January's 10-song In a Sentimental Mood has been succeeded by the equally sized Aboriginal Sins album. Since this ride never stops, you can also now check out "Cowards in the Clone Room (Head4Peace)," the first single from the surely-fast-approaching post-Sins album. You can find all these and more at Bandcamp.

Felix, formerly known as Industrial Priest Overcoats, churns out anxious punk tunes grappling with generational trauma in the grand sonic tradition of the Urinals and DEVO. In addition to their solo output, Felix also performs with Bedwetters Anonymous and serves in the hardcore combo Nasdaq.

Cam Kahin: "Try Again"

Watch on YouTube

Dunnville-bred, Toronto-based Cam Kahin is gearing up to release his new EP When It's All Over, on April 6 through Dine Alone Records. Earlier this month, the artist issued a video for the single "Try Again," a swaggering garage rock anthem. It follows "Birds" and "Compass" in previewing the young artist's six-song debut. Lebni T. Avitia of Heirmanos directed the clip. In a press release, Kahin calls the record "a depression-fueled coming-of-age story," stating, "every month you're a different person... it's a lot of feeling uncomfortable, and not knowing what's stable and what's not."

Kahin will celebrate the record with a Toronto headlining show, his first, at the Hard Luck Bar on April 14. He'll perform with support from NORA and Camille Léon.

Dart Trees: Consider Two Beers

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Ottawa slack-rockers Dart Trees issued a pair of charmingly tongue-in-cheek singles over the winter months, and those tunes now have a home on Consider Two Beers (a title firmly in line with the latest public health decrees). The five-song lo-fi EP collects "Lazarus of Cryville" and "Jim Watson You've Had it Too Good for Too Long" with three new tunes. You can check out the complete set at Bandcamp now, and you'll find it's rife with don't-give-a-shit energy.

The quartet's following up on their 2022 EP Music for Dudes Named Ryan. Dart Trees 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).

Man Crush: "The Sting"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto power trio Man Crush fuse their maximalist muscle with some cool surf guitar licks on "The Sting." It's all in service of a noirish crime story, or so they reveal:

"This jam tells the story of a P.I. as he goes through a rabbit hole of trouble, on what could be his very last case..."

The gritty earworm stems from the same sessions that produced the band's cover of Chris Isaak's 1989 hit "Wicked Game." Man Crush features bassist/vocalist Antony East, guitarist/vocalist Tim Shilson, and drummer Declan O'Donnell. Sarah Budden and Greg LeGros appear on backing vocals. The band recorded with producers Chris Sampson and Jimmy Cain at The Orange Lounge.


Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

We have one last preview of the new PACKS record before Crispy Crunchy Nothing arrives. The sophomore LP from Madeline Link's slack-rock quartet lands March 31 through Royal Mountain and Fire Talk Records. You can hear the downtrodden "EC" streaming now or see it in a video on YouTube. On the track, Link revealed:

"The unexpected death of a coworker I had never met struck me like a brick wall. I had been in charge of packing up all of his electronic hardware and shipping it to him just months before. As I found myself preparing shipping labels for his mother to place on the boxes to send back, a lasting sadness set in."

The 14-song album follows up on 2021's Take The Cake and the recent WOAH EP. You can hit up release shows on April 7 in Toronto at Collective Arts Brewing, April 8 at Ottawa's Club SAW, and April 22 at Montreal's La Sotterenea.

PACKS features Madeline Link backed by lead guitarist Dexter Nash, bassist Noah O'Neil, and drummer Shane Hooper.

Softtub: "Love Me Anyway"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Last week Sudbury's Keegan McDonald shared a second preview of their self-titled EP as Softtub. The bright power-pop tune arrived alongside a video directed by Shawn Kosmerly of Here Kitty Kitty Productions (Sam Coffey, Pkew Pkew Pkew). It finds McDonald leaning into his life as a home-recording geek, playing any instrument he can get his hands on wherever he happens to be in the house. On "Love Me Anyway," the artist commented:

"This song is about friendship and unconditional love, inspired by hazy festival nights where friends may go off in all directions but find each other in the end, excited to share each other's adventures."

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

The Sylvia Platters: "Blue Juniper"

Watch on YouTube

While the studio version of The Sylvia Platters' "Blue Juniper" remains under wraps, you can check out a live performance of the track today on YouTube. The footage comes from a session at Burnaby, BC's Malibou Sound, recorded last December by Dead Soft's Kyle Shick. Keep an ear out for the finished version as the lead single from the jangle-pop quartet's new EP. Daniel Sparrow and Brendan Taylor of Zone Pictures directed the video.

The Vancouver band's new material follows their 2022 EP Youth Without Virtue. The Sylvia Platters are guitarist Alex Kerc-Murchison, bassist Stephen Carl O'Shea, vocalist/guitarist Nick Ubels, and vocalist/drummer Tim Ubels.

Nova Doll: "Waydown"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Barrie, Ontario's prolific cassette label Tarantula Tapes recently partnered with Nova Doll, a new stoner rock project from their hometown that's also something of a label supergroup. The band features guitars and lead vocals from Heavy Petter's Casey Cuff, backed by AAWKS' Kris Dz on guitar, with Daniel Allen and Sean Alten of the Dead Cosmetics on drums and bass. You can hear the snarling lead single "Waydown" now. It's our first preview of a forthcoming full-length dubbed Denaturing, recorded and mixed by Daniel Allen in the Bethlab.

The new album's due in the fall, a co-release with Black Thorne Productions and Doomshire Tapes.

Swear Jar: "Unfinished Business"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Vancouver melodic hardcore/emo outfit Swear Jar returns later this month with a new EP dubbed Swear Jar II. It's the quartet's follow-up to their eponymous 2018 debut. Last week the group previewed the set with the hard-hitting advance single "Unfinished Business," which premiered alongside a video from director Kyle Pigeau. You'll hear the unmistakable hallmarks of the early-2000s post-hardcore boom on this one.

The new EP's due on March 31 through Early Onset Records. The group recorded with Tim Creviston (Spiritbox, Misery Signals). Swear Jar features members of Rest Easy, Youth Fountain, Parting Ways, and The Greatest Sons.

The Filthy Radicals: "Bug Stepper" (ft. Corey Jesse Shields and Eric Crowley)

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto ska-punks The Filthy Radicals have a new video online showcasing "Bug Stepper," the latest single from their Stomp Records debut The Fine Line Between Real and Insane. The EP arrived via the Montreal ska institution back in the fall of 2021. The song notably features appearances by Eric Crowley and the late Corey Jesse Shields, both members of the Toronto skacore act Body Heist. The Radicals commented on how they strove to honour their contemporaries:

"We really wanted to make sure we paid tribute to our fallen brother CJ with this and [video director] Michael Crusty did a great job. We are so happy with how it turned out! We recorded [CJ's] feature for this on a demo a long time ago and we really did everything we could to preserve it, so please check this video out and leave a 'REST IN PARTY' for our brother"

CJ Sheilds was killed in a car accident in 2017, a few months after his band issued their Party Of The Year EP.

The Filthy Radicals issued a pair of gritty ska-punk EPs in 2021, the aforementioned The Fine Line Between Real and Insane for Stomp, and the Freedom 45 set for Cursed Blessings Records.

Zoon: "Gaagige" (Single Edit)

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Celebrated Anishinaabe shoegazer Daniel Monkman recently shared "Gaagige," the latest single from their sophomore LP as Zoon. The piece features lyrics, vocals and bass from Sunsetter's Andrew McLeod, with string arrangements from Candian indie royalty Owen Pallett. Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Yves Jarvis, Sunglaciers) mixed the track. In an Instagram post, Monkman revealed that the song title (pronounced "gaa-gee-g") is an Ojibway word for "forever, eternal." You see the song in motion on YouTube with a visualizer by digital artist TRUdy Erin Elmore.

Zoon's new album Bekka Ma'iingan arrives on April 28 through Paper Bag Records. The album follows up on the project's acclaimed 2020 debut Bleached Wavves and a few subsequent digital 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.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license

Enjoying the newsletter? You can now also support Some Party by buying me a coffee!