Wednesday May 3, 2023

Fixed Up By Orange Light

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.

Westelaken: "Pear Tree"/"Fixed Up By Orange Light"

Watch "Pear Tree" on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

I've always wondered how southern Ontario became such a hotbed for strange Americana, Toronto in particular. The eclectic Westelaken returns this month to further explore that elusive sound, with their new full-length I Am Steaming Mushrooms due May 26. You can now preview two tracks from the album: the uptempo alt-country number "Fixed Up By Orange Light" and the weird-folk lead single "Pear Tree."

The latter features Jordan Seccareccia on guitar and vocals, Alex Baigent on bass, Rob McLay on drums, and Lucas Temor on piano. The band recorded with returning producer Paul Vroom (of Little Kid) at London, Ontario's Sugar Shack, with piano tracked separately at the Tranzac in TO. You can check out an accompanying video as well from director Devin Shears. On the tune, Jordan revealed:

"'Pear Tree' was written in 2019. It's a song about a body, found on a beach, and the questions and conclusions people draw from bodies. Most of the questions aren't resolved and the characters in the song argue as they circle around understanding. Finding comfort with uncertainty is a theme that runs through the album. There's a musical emphasis on the space between players, listening to the hesitation and commitment between notes. Everything is measured and slow and quiet so that the tape can pick up that sweet silence and hold it in the mix. I wanted to find that weird comfort, that bleary eyed early feeling when the day is a hazy mystery, the weathered and windswept quiet as the late afternoon begins to dim and chill."

The lively "Fixed Up By Orange Light" arrived this week alongside a performance video shot at the Toronto bookstore Sellers and Newel. On that track, the band commented:

"Something we wanted to do with Paul on this album that we knew he was good at but didn't really get to fully exploit on the last album was to record as much of it live off the floor as possible. The songs on this album all create a lot of space, they breathe, and the players all stretch their legs as they go. It's not really an album of 'parts' but of 'playing' if that makes sense. To me it's a real benefit if you can hear the space in the room between the players in the live take, especially with songs like these. 'Orange Light' was the hardest song to record like this because it's full of little tricks and twists and is relatively uptempo. We did take after take to try to get the right tempo, the right feel between us, good solos, fun little fills and stuff. Paul is so good at keeping things engaging and focused and honing in on the sound we're all looking for."

The recording features guest contributions from Rachael Cardiello on viola, Rachel Bellone on vocals, and Little Kid's Kenny Boothby on "some batshit noisy guitar stuff."

Westelaken would have fit right in on the old Three Gut Records label, and it's easy to hear the lineage of scrappy Ontario roots/indie acts like Royal City and Cuff The Duke in the ramshackle sounds they've assembled here. The group plans to celebrate the album release with a May 26 show at the Tranzac with Little Kid and Only God Forgives supporting. The new record follows Westelaken's 2020 full-length The Golden Days Are Hard.

Woolworm: "Bangs"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

The oft-grim Vancouver indie rock act Woolworm made a welcome return last month, teasing their fourth full-length while issuing the new single "Bangs." The track, one of two recently crafted one-offs, finds the long-running group working with Nick Short of Dumb at Choms Studio. A second track, "Ritual Pass," is due in a few weeks. In a press release, Giles Roy describes "Bangs" as a love song, commenting:

"A vocal melody fell into place naturally over a riff within minutes of its composition and, as is the case with every Woolworm song, Heather Black's backing vocals then took it to a new plane of existence. The goal was to reimagine My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything sound as something a little more forceful and clear. Appropriately, like the love that inspired it, the song showed up suddenly and fully formed."

The track also debuts the group's revamped lineup. Since we last heard from Woolworm, longtime drummer Nick Tolliday and guitarist Alex Pomeroy each departed to follow loved ones far from the band's orbit (relocating to Toronto and England, respectively). Their shoes are filled here by drummer Graeme Macdonald, formerly of grunge rockers Dead Soft, and guitarist TJ Reynolds, currently of the Vancouver hardcore group Punitive Damage.

Woolworm last issued Awe in the fall of 2019 through Mint Records. Giles Roy and Heather Black surfaced last year as guest vocalists with the LA hardcore group Militarie Gun, appearing on two songs from that band's All Roads Lead To The Gun album.

Imploders: "Call Your Bluff"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Livewire Toronto punk act Imploders return with their debut LP this summer. Look for it on June 16 through Neon Taste domestically and Static Shock elsewhere. If you sneak over to New Noise Magazine, you can preview the breakneck "Call Your Bluff," one of 16 songs packed onto the self-titled set. Speaking to the website, the band revealed:

"This is the last song we wrote that squeaked onto the album. It's about the breaking moment when you can no longer take gilded deceit from someone, whether it be in the form of endless bullshit, vexing hype, or obvious blame shifting and denial. Overall, it falls in line with the theme of a lot of our other songs regarding the sheer frustration and stupidity of people, things, or ourselves."

Imploders congealed during the pandemic, brimming with pent-up grievances and the influence of early Californian hardcore. The band features Todd Faux (ex-Average Times) on vocals, Joey Parenteau (Vicious Cycle, Pink Wine) on guitar, Mikey Microwave (First Base, Teen Archer) on bass, and Curtis Tone (PlasticHeads, School Damage) drumming.

The new album follows the band's recent live tape, EXD, and their similarly self-titled 2021 EP.

Tough Age: "Give It a Day"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Vancouver's Tough Age recently shared another preview of their forthcoming album Waiting Here through the propulsive "Give It a Day." Bobo Integral's write-up reiterates some of the band's key influences, calling it "another perfect mix of The Feelies, sped up R.E.M. and all Flying Nun kiwi pop." What more could you want?

In a brief statement, guitarist/vocalist Jarrett Evan Samson cited the emotional upheaval of Penny Clark's retirement, referring to "Give it a Day" as:

"A song about not giving up despite having every reason to, inspired by Penny leaving the band and...other things, reflecting on everything working against me all this time including myself"

While Samson and Clark remain partners off-stage, the bassist/vocalist stepped back from an active role in the group with the conclusion of their Toronto residency.

Waiting Here lands June 16 through Spain's Bobo Integral and the Chandra-band affiliated We Are Time. This era of Tough Age finds Samson again backed by their Toronto-era drummer Jesse Locke, with early Tough Age bassist Lauren Smith returning to the fold. Live, the band's now joined by Wade from Stress Eating and Corner Boys. The new album finds the group again recording with Freelove Fenner's Peter Woodford at Montreal's Bottle Garden Studio, with Jay Arner mastering.

Tough Age's final full-length in their four-album run for Mint Records, Which Way Am I?, arrived in 2020, followed by the Pizza Punks split 7" with Vancouver slackers Dumb.

Odonis Odonis: "Beast" (ft. TOBACCO)

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto chameleons Odonis Odonis have undergone yet another conceptual shift, with the duo (Constantin (Dean) Tzenos and Denholm Whale) launching a collaborative era supporting an ambitious list of artists. The upcoming ICON EP features six songs, each lending the pair's industrial post-punk toolkit to a different collaborator. The set includes team-ups with Brooklyn noise heroes A Place to Bury Strangers, Pittsburg producer TOBACCO, LA industrial pop act Patriarchy, atmospheric Montreal art-rock group SUUNS, and a pair of Vancouver bands: the synth-punks ACTORS and darkwave artist Terror Bird.

The announcement came packaged with a preview of the aggressive electronic outing "Beast." In a press release, Denholm Whale spoke on how the track, which features TOBACCO (Thomas Fec, also of the psych outfit Black Moth Super Rainbow), came together:

"The track started by just recording a bunch of jams with an erica synth bassline and linn drum. We sent the jam over to Tom Fec (Tobacco) and he picked out his favorite moments. We used those parts to block out the song structure and some scratch vocals. Then Tom added a bunch of lead synth lines on top with a Juno. After that was mostly just polishing the track up until both parties were happy with it"

New York noise artist Dreamcrusher created the artwork for the ICON project. The album arrives June 9 through Felte and Pirates Blend. Odonis Odonis is following up their new wave-inspired 2021 album Spectrums.

Plastic Act: Plastic Act

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Last week Montreal's Brain Gum Records issued the debut single from Plastic Act, a new solo project from Josh Herlihey of Private Lives. The 7" burns through three breezy yet blown-out proto-punk tunes, instantly likable and (as the label rightly observes) "constantly on the verge of falling apart." Herlihey's playing everything on the record, working in the studio with the like-minded Patrick McEachnie of Pack Rat and Chain Whip. Adrian Popovich (FRVITS, American Lips) mixed the EP, with Eddy Current Suppression Ring's Mikey Young (Itchy Self, TV Freaks) mastering. That's a Murderers' Row of cool rock'n'roll talent if there ever was one.

Herlihey made noise recently as part of the debut lineup of Private Lives, a Montreal four-piece also featuring Jackie Blenkarn of the Pale Lips, Chance Hutchison of PRIORS, and Frank Climenhage of the Lonely Parade. They issued a self-titled EP in October, available on cassette through Feel It Records.

Lost Love: Goes To Skallege

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal's Lost Love is nothing if not lovable, just a warm blanket of a band that's made a career churning out of nostalgically earnest pop-punk gems. Their unexpected Goes To Skallege EP delivers exactly what it says on the tin, revamping four tracks from their back catalogue as horn-supported ska numbers. In the hands of any other band, this could be a recipe for kitschy throw-aways, but Lost Love's inherent charm and pop bona fides surmount it. Despite the parody cover art and silly song titles, Goes to Skallege is no joke. It might just be great.

Lost Love released Empathy through Fantasio Club in the fall of 2021. The quartet recorded both that album and this 2-tone set with producer Marc-André Beaudet (The Sainte Catherines, The Frenetics). The new EP hypes a hometown appearance in a few weeks as one of the anchor tenants of Pouzza Fest.

Roach: "Swimming"/"Drowning"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto indie/emo quartet Roach shared a pair of new songs last week, previewing their forthcoming debut LP, No One to Lose. You can hear the evocative "Swimming" and "Drowning" at Bandcamp, presenting a significant leap forward for the group after years of roughshod demos and public health roadblocks. The group features drummer Carly Harris, guitarist Jackson Seaward, and Violet de Rege Braga on guitar and vocals. They're joined on this recording by bassist Michael O'Meara, Robyn Bond (Blanks, Cinder) on synth, and Casper Skulls' Fraser McClean on guitars and harmonies. The band recorded with Dex Piecowye engineering.

The new recordings follow the band's 2020 single "R.I.P. Soft Serve." Expect the new album through Brantford, Ontario's Bummer Records.

Kristian North: "Pseudoscience Fiction"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal sophisti-pop artist Kristian North recently shared the dramatic title track to Pseudoscience Fiction, his fast-approaching new album. Over a propulsive bassline, the song finds North cruising through a dark retro-future, with the fleeting appearance of a Trans-style vocoder driving that home. In a press release, the artist commented:

"At some point, I thought it would be the first or last song on the album with this kind of opening or closing credits thing, but it never fit. I noticed it worked opening the album's B-side, bolstering the album's non-linear storytelling, hopping around from past to present to future and back.

As the title track, this song also serves as a kind of theme song for the record. I was trying for a kitschy disco song, like something that would be on the Warriors soundtrack or something like that."

Animator Jordan 'Dr. Cool' Minkoff (Teenanger, Suuns) showcases the track in a neat visualizer available on YouTube. Pseudoscience Fiction lands May 19 through Mothland, playing host to an impressive list of guest musicians, including Cindy Lee Woland on guitar, Joe Grass on pedal steel, Ari Swan on violin, and Andrea Mercier on sax. Celluloid Lunch players Hélène Barbier and Joe Chamandy (Tha Retail Simps) both appear, as does their labelmate Elle Barbara, who performs on the duet "Mercy."

Pseudoscience Fiction follows up on 2021's Passion Play. It's the third solo effort from North since he parted ways with the shambling punk act Babysitter.

TV Erased: TV Erased

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Post-punk act TV Erased formed in 2019 as something of a Montreal indie rock supergroup. The quartet brings together vocalist/guitarist Joseph Yarmush of SUUNS, bassist Alex Ortiz of We Are Wolves and FRVITS, bassist Trevor Barnes of Turbo, and drummer Alex Hackett of Pang Attack. The quartet recently issued a limited-run, three-song cassette through the newly launched Stress Test Records, their first physical release and a collection of everything they've shared digitally to date. You can hear the audio or pick up a tape at Bandcamp.

Grimelda: It's So Feeling When You Rock!

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Sakatoon's eclectic Grimelda recently released a rather gnarly six-song EP dubbed It's So Feeling When You Rock!. The set puts on a muscular display of arty, unpredictable punk rock, not unlike the recent efforts of Fredericton's Motherhood. The collection arrived while showcasing the single "Dirty li'l Dirtbike." On that, the band commented:

"[The song] grew from the stereotype of a 'cool dude' in the form of a motocross bro and having a non-judgemental perspective on that. It can be really easy to judge things/people you don't know much about and it's something that everyone is guilty of whether it's directed towards artists, hipsters, rednecks, athletes or whoever. As Bob Dylan once stated, 'we all like motorcycles to some degree.'"

The duo, formerly known as The Faps, is a long-running collaboration between Blair Colwell and Skyler Cafferata. Under their former name, Grimelda last issued their New Daft Punk EP in 2021 via Transistor 66. It followed an LP titled Grimelda from 2018.

Monsoon Moon: Circulating

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Last month the Montreal-via-Vancouver garage duo Monsoon Moon returned with Circulating, a five-song EP and their first collection since 2019's Two-Headed Dog. The set features a lively and stylish collection of surf-flavoured, organ-backed rock songs. You can now find a video celebrating the title track playing on YouTube.

Monsoon Moon last issued the "Satiate" single in May of 2022. The duo features Riley McMaster on vocals and guitar paired with drummer/keyboardist/vocalist Marie Foxall. The band's formally launching the new album with a show on May 12 at L'Hémisphère Gauche, backed by Debbie Christ and Binoculars.

Pantayo: "One More Latch (Give It To Ya)"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto's celebrated Pantayo return June 9 with Ang Pagdaloy, their sophomore full-length for Telephone Explosion. As a queer-identifying band from the Filipino diaspora, the group presents a sound and perspective that feels utterly unique in the Canadian music landscape. As on their Polaris-shortlisted 2020 debut, Pantayo's blazing new trails through the combination of Western indie staples and the kulintang, a percussive instrument indigenous to the southern Philippine islands of Mindanao. You can hear the 8-song album's first single, "One More Latch (Give It To 'Ya)," online now, or see it visualized on YouTube in a piece by Omar Rivero (Driftnote) with art by Em Esquivel.

The band enlisted Toronto filmmaker Tricia Hagoriles to comment on the new single:

"With the visceral use of only gongs, drums and vocals, One More Latch (Give It To 'Ya) feels like an homage to women musicians in the 90s that wrote or performed songs about their own sexual desires (ie. TLC's Creep and Janet Jackson's That's the Way Love Goes). Which, for an all-women Filipina band near-explicitly, expressing sexual desire, is a point of subversion in itself.

Overt sexualization and fetishization that is grounded in white supremacist, racist, sexist, and classist objectification has always had a taxing effect on Asian women. For Filipinas in Canada and other diasporic communities, the experience trickles into their daily lives in specific ways; gendered marginalization due to labor (ie. caregiving), occupying the lowest rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, hypervisibility in occupations such as nurse or nanny, and mail order brides in the 1980s. And when you consider Queer spaces, the Filipina can be rendered invisible. As objects of desire and imposed tropes under a white supremacist gaze, Filipinas are seen as powerless and disposable.

One More Latch (Give It To 'Ya) IS a BOP of a hookup song, but it's also a reclamation of desire. As Pantayo speaks about the writing process, the song came from an unabashedly lusty place. The song and the upcoming music video will be about owning carnal instincts, overcoming the shame of wanting and being wanted, redefining desirability and sensuality beyond a physical and one-sided realm."

Pantayo features Eirene Cloma, Michelle Cruz, Joanna Delos Reyes, Kat Estacio, and Katrina Estacio. The five-piece again recorded with Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's Alaska B producing.

Boo Radley: Goodnight, For Now

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Red Deer's High End Denim Records recently issued a four-song EP from Calgary punk/emo trio Boo Radley. The band debuted the title track last month on The Punk Site, revealing:

"'Goodnight, For now' is a song about dealing with the pressures of life, self medicating, and trying desperately to find a way out of a toxic environment of substance abuse with nobody around you to pull you out."

Boo Radley features Cam Gillies, Hunter MacFarlane, and Sock. They recorded with Eric Svilpis engineering.

Remy Verreault: Dignity

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

That's not all from the High End Denim camp, as there's an entirely new full-length available from Saguenay punk veteran Remy Verreault, just months after his last. The artist's following up their February LP On My Own with the 12-song Dignity. It's another domino in the impressively prolific solo career Verrault launched during the pandemic, clocking in as the eighth album issued digitally by the artist since May of 2021.

Verrault has a few decades in the Quebec punk scene under his belt, serving time in bands like We Love Danger, Wrong Advice, and most recently drumming for Mark & The Wolves.

Fucked Up: Cops

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Record Store Day has come and gone, and with it, a new entry in Fucked Up's mammoth singles catalogue. Cops is a three-song set, offering a blunt revival of the band's early-career benchmark, "Police." The record dials back the group's experimental tendencies, offering straight-up hardcore on "Cops," "Fucks," and a curious instrumental cover of "Quality Seconds" by the UK techno outfit Orbital. Regarding the latter, the band offered some connective tissue on Twitter. There they hint that the song featured in the trailer for the 1992 Jackie Chan vehicle Supercop. That's an impressively obscure reference, but the first letter of "ACAB" stands for "All," after all. You can hear the EP in its entirety at Bandcamp.

Later this month, the Toronto punk institution's returning to Canada for a slate of co-headlining spectacles partnered with electric pow wow duo The Halluci Nation.

Fucked Up issued the ten-track One Day in January through Merge, capping several fruitful few years of activity in the wake of 2018's Dose Your Dreams. Recently, the band shared the sludgy Oberon EP, the massive Year of the Horse Zodiac single, and a series of reissues celebrating the anniversary of David Comes to Life. Cops features longtime bandmates Damian Abraham on vocals, Mike Haliechuk and Josh Zucker on guitar, Sandy Miranda on bass, and Jonah Falco drumming. Lauren Moses-Brettler (Damian's spouse) appears on the EP as a backing vocalist.

Barnacle: Old Songs

Watch "Bare Knuckle" on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

I adore the weird aquatic punk of Montreal's Barnacle, but their future seemed bleak. Keeping momentum is hard in good times; the past three years have been anything but. Would lo-fi beach freakouts be forever left as pre-pandemic relics? Fortunately, the universe isn't that cruel, and there's some life left still in the tidal pool. The group acknowledges the forced hiatus on Old Songs, a nine-song collection written between 2017 and 2019, recorded just as the world fell apart. They mythologize the long-awaited debut on Bandcamp:

"In 2019, Barnacle was working on their debut album, Freak on a Beach. They poured their hearts and souls into the recordings, and they were excited to share their music with the world.

But fate had other plans.

During a sailing trip off the coast of Montreal, a sudden storm hit, causing their boat to capsize. The band members barely made it to safety, and the tapes containing their album were lost to the depths of the ocean.

Years passed, and the band went their separate ways. But in 2023, a team of deep-sea divers made an incredible discovery. They found a rusted metal box at the bottom of the ocean, and inside were the lost tapes of Barnacle's debut album.

The band members were overjoyed to be reunited with their long-lost recordings, and they worked tirelessly to restore the tapes. Finally, after all these years, the world could hear Barnacle's debut album: Old Songs."

The set arrived alongside a new video for "Bare Knuckle," edited by Raphaël Sandler. You can see it on YouTube.

Century Palm: "If You Could Read My Mind"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

I'm ill-equipped to eulogize someone with the stature and impact of Gordon Lightfoot, and with a wealth of tributes flooding in from all corners, there's little new I could offer. I can confidently say I stole my parents' beat-up copy of Gord's Gold years before my punk rock brain knew how to appreciate it. It seemed important — canonical. I wasn't wrong in that assumption if slow to realize it. My copy still has a War Amps return address sticker marring the cover; moms in the 80s stuck those on everything.

I am, however, particularly well suited to gush over Century Palm, the short-lived Toronto post-punk that brought members of Tough Age, the Ketamines, and Zebrassieres together to make cool new wave tunes. The band's debut arrived in early 2017, contemporaneous to the first Some Party mailings. You could say I imprinted on them, as I did many artists and festivals from this publication's early days.

Century Palm remains utterly defunct, but given the news, they've unearthed a previously elusive cover of Lightfoot's untouchable "If You Could Read My Mind." The audio, available on Bandcamp, features Paul Lawton and Alex Handlyn performing (with the latter on lead vocals). It's pretty neat, and given its sombre presentation, it feels entirely appropriate.

Rest in peace, Gord.

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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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