Sunday June 11, 2023

Nothing Matters

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.

I keep drifting off grid. Not literally, mind you. I'm still as unremarkably planted in suburban Niagara Falls as I've always been, but my relationship with the Internet and, consequently, the music news cycle is changing. It's all positive, mind you. I'm regularly exercising. I'm out in the vegetable garden fighting off rabbits. I'm shredding the last of my countercultural cred by volunteering as a Scout leader. It's disgustingly pedestrian dad shit all around, but I'm less online, which is all that matters. What's suffering is the Some Party schedule. While I'm committed to this publication, I'm off my weekly rhythm, which presents a few interesting hurdles, given that the world keeps turning.

I launched this newsletter in 2017 partly to push back on the twenty-year obligation I felt at Punknews to keep up with breaking news. The change of pace felt healthy on the surface, but in reality, it still reflected the rate at which most artists put new media out. I've now lagged enough that I'll see a new single from a band arrive before I've been able to mention the prior (my inbox is chock full of "just circling back..." emails - publicists love to just circle back). That's not a massive problem, but it might make for some awkward catch-up as I sort out the format. If I can't keep up with this crap, you surely can't either, so we'll defy the incessant march of time together. Since day one, every page of this website's carried the tag "react to it at your leisure," lifted from Daniel Romano's single "Modern Pressure." I forget it's there sometimes, but it was as true a mantra then as it is now.

Onward then, at our own inelegant pace...

Monk: "Nothing Matters"

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Years ago, I had an arms-length professional relationship with Frank Bach. This is back when he was based in Sudbury, working under a different name with far less of a public profile. It was after his experimental hardcore group Vicious Cycle wound down, but close enough to that era that my Punknews affiliation got me in the door. We never met in person, but his firm would line up web projects on which I'd do some technical heavy lifting. Likewise when I needed graphics, he was my guy. He's now living in LA, working as a key designer at the ubiquitous guided-meditation app Headspace, and from what I can glean, living a life with horizons and opportunities I can barely comprehend. I'm not overly jealous, Frank's earned it, but I am acutely aware that nobody's flying me to Zurich to speak about my oeuvre.

Bach returns to the punk sphere this summer with Monk, a new recording project marrying the hardcore of his youth with the mindfulness prescribed by his current gig. The six-song Rock EP arrives August 4 through Dine Alone Records. It features Bach on lead vocals, backed by Daniel and Ian Romano on guitar, bass, and drums. It's always a treat to hear the latter playing at Career Suicide speeds, an opportunity that rarely presents itself with The Outfit or Ancient Shapes. Bach recorded in LA, with the ex-Attack In Black crew working from their Welland, Ontario studio Camera Varda. Headspace composer Scott Sorenson mixed and produced the vocals while also playing synth to the recordings.

You can hear the furious lead single "Nothing Matters" everywhere, accompanied by a video by LA director Jovanni Martinez. A press release roots Monk's sound in early-2000s hardcore acts 86 Mentality and Knife Fight, although neither likely had as much to say on existentialism.

Among the Rock EP's six tracks, you'll find Daniel Romano taking guest credit on the song "Cool & Collected," while Cancer Bats vocalist Liam Cormier guests on "Monk Stomp." The set also includes a cover of the 2021 single "Brutal" by US pop singer Olivia Rodrigo.

Frank's back in Canada for a set of record release shows this August, with Monk playing as a four-piece supported by the Indigenous hardcore combo Indian Giver. They'll retrace the group's roots with an August 11 gig at Sudbury's Townhouse Tavern, followed by Toronto show at the Monarch the next day. August 13 sees the group in Montreal at Casa Del Popolo.

Vicious Cycle last issued Pale Blue Dot in 2010 through Deranged Records.

Vivat Virtute: June First

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Under the guise of Vivat Virtute, beloved Weakerthans principal John K. Samson marked the new month with the three-song June First EP. Billed these days as JS Fellows, the Winnipeg artist issued the set to recognize ten years of sobriety.

The set kicks off with "Royal Bank of Canada," a plea to RBC to divest in fossil fuels, set against the hymn tune "Eventide" by 19th-century English church musician William Henry Monk. Tow originals follow it, "Budget Delegations" and "All My Ex-Boyfriends Are You." Both feature John accompanied solely by his guitar. As a pair, they perfectly encapsulate the personal/political dichotomy John's leveraged as the bedrock of his career. Christine Fellows engineered the new tracks, with the couple's longtime studio collaborator Cam Loeppky mixing and mastering.

June First follows up on Hold Music, an almost entirely instrumental 18-song digital set issued by Christine and John in February. Vivat Virtute's 2023 recordings follow Christine Fellows' engrossing November studio album Stuff We All Get. John's last full-length studio effort remains 2016's Winter Wheat.

Crossed Wires: "Rain"

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Fuzzed-out Halifax pop-punk act Crossed Wires makes a welcome return this summer with Ellipsis, a new EP for Noyes Records. The six-song set arrives on a limited vinyl run from the label on August 4. You can hear the pre-release single "Rain" on Bandcamp now, which finds bassist/vocalist Heather Grant contrasting a bleak lyrical outlook with Kayla Stevens' propulsive guitar work. These are also the group's first recordings with new drummer Jonny May (of Blood Beach and The Mark Vodka Group), who steps in for longtime member Dewayne Shanks. "Rain" has been a fixture of the trio's live shows for years now, and as such Shanks, while currently playing full-time with Botfly, shares a writing credit.

Ellipsis arrives as Crossed Wires' third EP, following up on 2016's False Spring. The band recorded with Beauts' Palmer Jamieson at Golden Palm, with mastering performed at Eight Floors Above, the Ottawa studio operated by Dave Williams of Crusades fame. Elyse Moir provided the EP's cover art.

Heavenly Blue: "Flophouse"

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Sewercide Records has a four-song 7" in the pipeline from Halifax garage rockers Heavenly Blue. You can preview the EP, described by the label as a "blend of 60's garage, 70's biker rock and modern day weirdo punk" with the kinetic single "Flophouse." It's streaming at Bandcamp now. The gritty, lo-fi group features Booji Boys members Cody Googoo, Adam Ledrew, and Justin Crowe, with Alastair Macdonald.

The new EP, arriving this summer with a one-time run of 300 copies, follows up on 8 Tracks, a 2021 cassette issued through Don't Wanna Talk Records, and the band's Sewercide-issued demo tape from the same period.

Losers: Déjà Vu All Over Again

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It took a while for all the obvious world-ending reasons, but Toronto punk trio Losers finally have a full-length to call their own. Déjà Vu All Over Again clocks in with 15 tracks (including intros and interludes), including the recent scorcher of a single, "It's What You Do." You can find the complete set at Bandcamp now. Losers features Marcin Zach on guitar and vocals, Jesse Turnbull on bass, and Kurt Thornley drumming. Turnbull recorded and mixed at Taurus Recording with Dan Weston mastering. Jake Biggs of the Toronto hardcore band Expel and Robert Ortiz, known as the industrial/punk/hip-hop act Dear-God, both appear on the searing "Tough Chant."

Déjà Vu All Over Again follows up on Losers' 2019 debut, Welcome to Hell. They followed it that same year with a split EP with the TO hardcore group Wrot.

Michael C. Duguay: "Ain't Apathetic"

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Kingston singer-songwriter Michael C. Duguay recently shared the second single from his forthcoming album Saint Maybe. The reflective track, recorded in Whitehorse by Jordy Walker, arrived with an arrival date for the new record. Look for it in full on July 7.

Duguay calls the new single "a song about mistakes and misunderstandings." You can hear it at Bandcamp now or visualized in a lyric video on YouTube. That clip showcases footage shot by Duguay while on an artist's residency at Gamli Skóli in Hrísey, Iceland, this past January. The track also prominently features Andrew MacKelvie on soprano saxophone. Speaking to Frontview Magazine, the artist revealed:

"Ain't Apathetic is a song about the limitations of language... about being awed into silence, being silenced into desperation, and about being desperate enough to cast caution aside. It's about inarticulate prayers said without knowing their meaning, and apologies offered without knowing their worth."

Dougay's following up on his 2020 album The Winter of Our Discotheque.

The Ruffianz: "Faster and Stronger"/"Vultures"

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Veteran Montreal street punks The Ruffianz return this month with Straight Outta Dystopia, a 13-song full-length chock full of gritty battle cries and muscular gang vocals. You can preview the record with the songs "Faster and Stronger" and "Vultures," both streaming now at Bandcamp.

The new record's the band's first in over a decade, following up on 2008's similarly titled Straight Outta Disorder. It arrives through Denim Demon in Canada and Maniac Attack Records in Europe. Look for it on June 23.

The Penske File: "Chorus Girl"

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Burlington, Ontario trio The Penske File return in July with Half Glow, a 12-song LP for Stomp Records. The album's lead single, "Chorus Girl," finds the band deep in the wistful pop-punk mode of bands like The Menzingers and the Gaslight Anthem. You can see it brought to life in a video by director Victor Wiercioch. On the piece, guitarist/vocalist Travis Miles reveals:

"The video for "Chorus Girl" explores the interconnectivity of music and memory, and how the interplay between such forces holds the power to turn grief into celebration."

Drummer/vocalist Alexander Standen continues:

"'Chorus Girl' is a love song. I wrote it on the back bench of the van at the end of a long tour. For the first time in a long time I was super psyched to return home. My, then, new partner and I had made a tradition of going up north to her family's cottage after every tour for a week of refuge. Stocked in the place were a million CDs that we would crank up throughout our time together there. The song is about anticipation, it's about love; it's also about music and shared experience."

The band recorded at Toronto's Drive Studios with Steve Rizun (The Flatlines, Brutal Youth) engineering. As always, The Penske File features the tight-knit trio of bassist/vocalist James Hall, guitarist/vocalist Travis Miles, and drummer/vocalist Alex Standen. This new record follows up on 2018's Salvation.

Motherhood: "Wandering"

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Fredericton art-punk trio Motherhood recently shared "Wandering," completing the two-song single issued to support their summer tours. We heard the A-side "Dry Heave" in late April. The track arrives alongside a playfully animated video featuring the instantly recognizable cartoon style of Amery Sandford.

The new tunes, recorded in Memramcook, NB with Mike Trask, follow up on the band's 2022 LP Winded. That record surfaced last summer through the Forward Music Group. Motherhood features vocalist/guitarist Brydon Crain, keyboardist Penelope Stevens, and drummer Adam Sipkema.

Motherhood's playing their hometown Flourish Festival this coming weekend, with a UK tour to follow later in June.

Weird Nightmare: "She's The One"

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Alex Edkins' Weird Nightmare recently recrafted the Ramones classic "She's The One" into a twangy slow jam that's pretty much a perfect musical document. Perhaps that's not a heavy lift given the source material, but Edkins' power-pop side band brings the confectionary foundation of the Road to Ruin track to the surface. Aaron Goldstein (Bry Webb, Julianna Riolino) accompanies on Hammond organ and his signature pedal steel guitar, while Loel Campbell drums. Kenneth Roy Meehan mixed the track with Seth Manchester mastering.

A gorgeous video from Ryan Perry (LADYHEAD) pays a sweet tribute to the Ramones while delivering a string of nostalgic Toronto references.

The single's the latest in a series of one-offs from Edkins, including a cover of The Troggs' "Our Love Will Still Be There" and the original "So Far Gone." Since Weird Nightmare's self-titled debut for Sub Pop, the project's also issued a split 7" with Ancient Shapes.

As a member of the Toronto noise-punk stalwarts METZ, Edkins last issued Atlas Vending in 2020 through Royal Mountain and Sub Pop.

Jonathan Personne: "Deux yeux au fond d'une pièce noire"

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Jonathan Personne recently shared a new animated video showcasing "Deux yeux au fond d'une pièce noire," a track from last year's self-titled LP for Bonsound. The band's throwback to 60s psychedelia finds a perfect match in the kaleidoscopic visuals from director Liam Hamilton. You can see it on YouTube now.

Jonathan Personne is the solo effort of Corridor vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Robert. This track finds him on guitar and vocals backed by drummer Samuel Gogoux, guitarist Julian Perreault, bassist Mathieu Cloutier, and Emmanuel Ethier on mellotron. Naomie Delorimier of N NAO appears on backing vocals.

Odonis Odonis: ICON

Watch "No One Left" on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

As mentioned above, I've been playing catch-up on incoming promo, and one victim of that mess is the Toronto duo Odonis Odonis. The group's new collaborative EP ICON is out now, and I'd be remiss not to give it another subtle push here. The set finds Constantin (Dean) Tzenos and Denholm Whale lending their industrial post-punk toolkit to a slate of different artists. The six songs feature 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.

While the complete set's now available, make sure to check out the video for "No One Left," the track featuring Vancouver's ACTORS. That band's Jason Corbett commented in a press release:

"Being such a big fan of Odonis Odonis I jumped at the chance to contribute vocals to this song. I love working with artists I admire. Listening to the music really set the scene for what came out lyrically. I was responding to the emotional content of what I was hearing. The rest just unfolded in the vocal."

New York noise artist Dreamcrusher created the artwork for the ICON project. The album's out through Felte and Pirates Blend, following up on Odonis Odonis' new wave-inspired 2021 album Spectrums.

Béton Armé: Second Souffle

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Montreal Oi! outfit Béton Armé has a new EP out now. Second Souffle features four new songs, following up on the band's 2020 set Au bord du gouffre. The audio arrives through the French label Primator Crew and Brooklyn's Roachleg Records. The band recorded with Offside's Scott Spencer engineering at Studio 440.

In 2021, Béton Armé paired with their fellow francophone street punks Ultra Razzia to issue Demo 2018/Demo 2017, a split full-length collecting early tracks from each group that were previously only available on cassette.

Chris Cresswell: "Behind The Crow"

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Flatliners vocalist Chris Cresswell has a solo effort on the way titled The Stubbornness of the Young. Due September 15 through the band's newly launched PWC Recordings, the album promises ten new songs that find Cresswell delivering a lushly orchestrated sound that the increasingly mature latter-day Flatliners records only hinted towards. You can hear that in the album-opening lead single, "Behind The Crow," available in a new video directed by Mitch Barnes (The Dirty Nil).

The new album will be Chris' first proper LP since his 2014 solo debut. Several digital singles surfaced in years since, including the lockdown-era covers collection The Inside Man.

The Flatliners, Chris' popular Toronto punk group, recently celebrated 20 years together with the album New Ruin. It landed last August through Dine Alone and Fat Wreck Chords.

Kelly McMichael: "Tour From Hell"

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St. John's singer-songwriter Kelly McMichael recently shared "Tour From Hell," a new single and her first since the 2021's Polaris shortlisted Waves. "Tour From Hell" was written for the CBC's The Story and the Song series, originally premiering on April 8 through the Radio 1 program East Coast Music Hour. On the track, which weaves a Go-Go's bounce into the artist's hooky psych-pop, McMichael shared:

"'Tour From Hell' takes you on a ride that celebrates the magic of live performance while being haunted by recent tour nightmares and nerves over the current touring climate. It was released in conjunction with a set of rescheduled dates in an attempt to get back what was lost last year due to illness, van trouble and weather."

Those upcoming shows include a week of Ontario shows from June 21 through the 24th, with dates in Hamilton, Toronto, Guelph, and Peterborough. "Tour From Hell" features McMichael backed by bassist John Moran, drummer Geordie Dynes, and backing vocalists Mara Pellerin and Krista Power.

Tough Age: "Paradise by Another Name"

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Next week sees the release of Waiting Here, the new studio album from Vancouver's Tough Age. As a final preview this week, the group shared "Paradise by Another Name," notably featuring bassist Lauren Smithy in the lead vocal role. On the track, described by We Are Time as a "twee-punk ripper," Lauren revealed:

"I started singing this song right after a messed up breakup with this dude in Toronto that left me covered in flea bites and with another bruised heart. Leaving that stinky city and moving on quickly was the only option. Jarrett has this uncanny ability to craft the perfect break up song right when you need it! Smell you later, the 6!"

Waiting Here arrives on June 16 through We Are Time and the Spanish power-pop label Bobo Integral. This era of Tough Age finds guitarist/vocalist Jarrett Evan Samson again backed by the band's Toronto-era drummer Jesse Locke, with Smith, an early member from their first BC run, returning. Live, the band's now a quartet, expanded to include Wade from Stress Eating and Corner Boys. Following up on 2020's Which Way Am I?*, the new album again pairs Tough Age with Freelove Fenner's Peter Woodford at Montreal's Bottle Garden Studio. Jay Arner masters the set.

A release day celebration is planned for June 16 at Vancouver's Green Auto, with Tough Age supported by Be Afraid, TJ Felix & The ASAP Mob, and Sleuth.

Fucked Up & The Halluci Nation: "John Wayne Was a Nazi"

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Did you catch the Here's The Unity tour? I hope you were so fortunate. The now-concluded trek paired Fucked Up, the ever-restless Toronto hardcore titans, and acclaimed electric pow wow duo The Halluci Nation. It was a spectacle in ways that few quote-unquote punk shows are, the highlight of which happened in its final moments. In Toronto, and I have to imagine elsewhere, both groups united on stage for a collaborative encore. That included their earlier-shared Dangerous Rhythm cover "Electroshock," but also a visceral take on Millions of Dead Cops' landmark (and frustratingly still relevant) single "John Wayne Was a Nazi."

In a statement, The Halluci Nation's Bear Witness revealed:

"When my childhood buddy Joel Fisher first played me Millions of Dead Cops' music in highschool it made a big impression on me. They had songs that cut through the loneliness of growing up in a world that I didn't feel seen in. A lot of MDC's music has stuck with me my over the decades, so when Damian Abraham and I started sharing stories about life and music, the song John Wayne Was A Nazi and my connection to it quickly became part of the conversations. It's a story I tell on Damian's Turned Out A Punk Podcast. When it came time for our 2 groups to collaborate it was the first track we landed on doing... Playing JWWAN live on stage surrounded by an amazing crew of friends was such an amazing feeling.

This cover is for 15 year old Bear and Joel listening to MDC in his parent's living room. It's also for the Friendship and Unity our bands have found together. I remember how this song made me feel in highschool and I will always remember how it felt performing it for our fans during the Here's The Unity Tour!"

Fucked Up issued the ten-track One Day LP in January through Merge, followed by the Cops EP in April. The Halluci Nation, formerly A Tribe Called Red, last issued the One More Saturday Night album in 2021.

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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