Monday July 31, 2023

Bang to Rights

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.

Before we get started this week, I'd like to ask for your help! This August, I'm taking part in the Great Cycle Challenge to fight kids' cancer and support the SickKids Foundation. Over 1,000 kids are diagnosed with cancer every year in Canada, and it's the biggest killer of children from disease in the country. I'll be taking to two wheels to help raise funds for the cause, and any pledge of support from the Some Party readership would be most welcome. You can donate at my page here.

The Vapids: Revenge Therapy

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Veteran Burlington punk band The Vapids are back with their first new full-length since 2016. Revenge Therapy is nothing if not efficient, delivering 15 stripped-down tracks in just over 25 minutes. If you pull up the set at Bandcamp you'll find the audio presented as two unbroken sides, LP-style, in what I suspect is more than a subtle hint at how the group prefers you'd consume it. The Vapids recorded as a four-piece last December, tracking in St. Catharines with Al McCartney engineering.

It's been a long haul since coming together in 1993, but The Vapids persist, with vocalist/guitarist Jim Reed (Jimmy Vapid) as the driving force. The band's modern four-piece lineup features Reed's longtime collaborator Eric Felgner on bass, Hamilton's prolific Matt Ellis (Anxious Pleasers, Flesh Rag, PlasticHeads, et al.) on guitar, and founding Vapids drummer Scott Johnston behind the kit. As always, the band sits proudly on the shoulders of the Ramones, pulling from the first-wave songbook with abandon.

The new Vapids album may follow up on 2016's Suburban Reptiles, but that's only part of the story. Jimmy released his Night Moves solo record in 2018 and found a new sense of urgency early in the pandemic. Nobody knew how long things would drag out when Short Songs About a Virus dropped in March of 2020, a collection benefitting the Italian Red Cross (Italy was an early COVID hotspot back). That project found Jimmy building thirty songs on the quick around fan-submitted lyrics. It landed the same month that the Italian label I Buy Records issued These Kids are Sick, a massive tribute that saw over forty bands record lo-fi Vapids covers to their phones. In 2021, Jimmy shared a second solo effort dubbed K I L L M A T I C amidst the lockdown home-recording boom.

I asked Jimmy about his approach to The Vapids at this point in their odyssey. He revealed an almost obsessive focus on efficiency:

"I write music in big short spurts. Very spontaneously every year or so. I never pick up a guitar and noodle around; it's always to write - and for specific purposes, either solo stuff or for The Vapids. It's two entirely different processes, but it's always done fast. Every day for two weeks straight. Words, words, words.

Eric [Felgner] and I wrote these songs in a few days last November. We made quick demos, sent them to the guys, and literally just said, 'learn them and meet us at the studio in December.' A few weeks later, we were there recording them. We recorded the whole thing in 4 or 5 afternoons. Six months later, we had a record."

At this stage, Reed bristles at the painstaking notion of workshopping songs in a jam space.

"I just end up tired of hanging around or tired of the songs. By the time they're on record, I already don't like them. We've done it that way many, many times over the years. Totally over it. Not gonna lie...

Suburban Reptiles from 2016 was done the same way: written fast, but I didn't demo anything. We all just met, learned the songs, and recorded in one day. It's easily our best, I think. Not because of the production or blah blah, but because it's just what it is. You can't be fancy with a name like The Vapids."

While at no stage in their career could you describe The Vapids as overwrought, Revenge Therapy finds them at their most purposefully unadorned. With age, Reed's become confidently averse to sonic indulgences:

"I think what we've been doing... is almost the opposite, stripping the sound down even more on Revenge Therapy, cutting more fat off the songs, using fewer studio tricks. Shorter. Faster. Relying on the song and the lyrics itself. Not following any trends, and keeping it all at home and DIY. After this long, we know our product. As long as we don't have to hang around each other too often, I'm sure we can continue to be a distant unit and make music for years to come."

Jim qualified that last statement with "maybe not though," noting that his attention will inevitably drift to his next solo project before inevitably swinging back to the Vapids.

You can pick up the Revenge Therapy audio at Bandcamp, with LPs directly available through the band and Forbidden Beat Distro.

Headcheese: "I Wanna Be Special (Forces)"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Josh Nickel of Vancouver's Neon Taste Records wryly exclaims that "Headcheese are pieces of shit," calling them "the worst band I've ever worked with." He continues:

"What makes them so fucking insufferable is what is also the best part about them. They sound like it what they are. This isn't fly-by-night garage pop that sticks around like half chewed gum to your shoes. It's turbulent, aggressive hardcore that's very likely to pull the ceiling tiles down out of your basement show and piss in the corner."

Hailing from Kamloops, Headcheese issued their self-titled debut on Neon Taste in 2021, presenting an aggressively sardonic worldview in the tradition of irreverent punk bands like Toronto's beloved Brutal Knights. The group's new 12-song LP, Expired, arrives on October 4. You can preview the snarling lead single "I Wanna Be Special (Forces)" at Bandcamp now.

POPULATION II: "Beau baptême"

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Montreal psych trio POPULATION II return with their sophomore full-length this fall. Électrons libres du québec lands October 6 through Bonsound. The album plays with a variety of styles, described by their label as "psychedelic rock infused with feverish funk rhythms, a hint of jazz philosophy, a burst of early punk energy, and a love of minor scales that harkens back to the roots of heavy metal." You can get a taste with the dynamic lead single "Beau baptême."

POPULATION II features vocalist/drummer Pierre-Luc Gratton, guitarist/keyboardist Tristan Lacombe, and bassist Sébastien Provençal. They recorded with producer Emmanuel Éthier (Corridor, Jonathan Personne). The new LP follows up on the band's 2020 Castle Face Records release À la Ô Terre.

Look for POPULATION II on stage late on the first night of the FME festival in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. The band will share the stage with Pressure Pin, the art-punk solo project of La Sécurité drummer Kenny Smith.

Hobby: "Take a Hit"

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The lovably weird urban Americana quartet Hobby recently shared the studio version of "Take a Hit," a twangy earworm we first previewed as a live recording back in January. You can see the single visualized in a new video directed by Shelby Wilson of Only God Forgives. The Toronto band recorded with Jimmy Bowskill at Cobourg, Ontario's Ganaraska Recording Co. Little Kid's Paul Vroom mixed and mastered.

Hobby features guitarists Stephen Pitman (Only God Forgives, Tallies) and Cameron Fraser (Luge), with bassist Duncan Wardlaw and drummer Foster Medeiros. The new single follows up on their 2021 LP Weed and a split with the like-minded alt-folk act Westelaken.

Look for Hobby live on August 12 at Toronto's Bar Orwell, supporting the Nora Kelly Band. Speaking of...

Nora Kelly Band: "Horse Girl"

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In relaunching her musical career as a country artist, ex-punk Nora Kelly inherited a wealth of dated tropes, expectations the artist toys with on her new single "Horse Girl." In a press release, Kelly revealed:

"When I started writing country music a few years ago, I arrived with a deep appreciation for the genre and history. Still, I live in Montreal, where I earned a Fine Arts degree. I'm not trying to fool anyone. I'm no 'Okie from Muskogee' or 'Coal Miner's Daughter.' But I'm not the first city slicker to love playing 'cowboy' either. In writing 'Horse Girl' it felt good to just come out with it... 'I always tip my waiter but I've never tipped a cow' and 'I could ride the range but I don't know how.'

Maybe this is the Nora Kelly Band's theme song. It definitely was a group effort. I delivered the lyrics and vocal melody to the band, and more than any other track we really workshopped the music together. The result feels fresh and playfully new."

You can hear the track in a video from director Sasha Khalimonova, shot at a country fair in Ormstown, Quebec. The single comes from the upcoming LP Rodeo Clown, due August 25 on Mint Records.

The single features Kelly on vocals and guitar, backed by Ethan Soil (Fleece/DISHPIT) on drums, Vader Ryderwood (Treasure Eyes) on bass, Rachel Silverstein on keys, and Dylan Keating on pedal steel. Kelly and Soil co-produced their new work, with Pietro Amato (The Luyas/Belle Orchestre) mixing.

Nora Kelly first grabbed our attention when fronting the post-punk act Dishpit. After several years of delay, their Steve Albini-recorded debut landed in 2021, only for the group to fall apart in the pandemic. The Nora Kelly Band last issued the Perfect Pig EP in the summer of 2022.

Among their extensive upcoming tour plans, the Nora Kelly Band will play a Mint Records showcase at the summer-ending FME festival in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. They'll appear on September 1 alongside Heaven For Real.

Psychic Void: "The Man"/"Back 2 Reality"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

In July, Windsor's raucous Psychic Void shared two new singles. Head to Bandcamp to crank up "The Man" and "Back 2 Reality." The songs follow the gritty punk group's 2021 double A-side "City of Waste" and "Wash It Down."

Psychic Void features vocalist Jesse Knight, guitarist Josh Kaiser, bassist Matty Menard, and drummer Pete Garant. The group's following up on their 2019 LP Skeleton Paradise, available through New York's Vanilla Box Records. They also notably (well, notably for me) appeared on the ill-timed first Some Party compilation mixtape Under The Circumstances 1, which arrived suspiciously at the onset of the pandemic. Sorry about that.

Extensive Slaughter: "Life is a Cold Hell"

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Further to the Headcheese news, Neon Taste Records has a new album from the Vancouver crust act Extensive Slaughter arriving this fall. You can preview the 8-song More Than a Nightmare with the blistering "Life is a Cold Hell." With members hailing from across the city's death metal and hardcore scenes, Extensive Slaughter delivers a punishing sound the label recommends for fans of Cotärd, Languid, Disclose, and Disfear. Look for it on October 4.

Nova Doll: "California Sunshine"

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Tarantula Tapes and Black Thorne Productions are readying the vinyl release of Denaturing, the debut full-length from Barrie, Ontario stoner rock outfit Nova Doll. Look for it on September 29. We previously previewed the lead single "Waydown," and the band's since shared the stomping album cut "California Sunshine." You can find it at Bandcamp or see it celebrated in a trippy video that recently premiered on Doomed Nation.

Nova Doll features guitars and lead vocals from Heavy Petter's Casey Cuff, supported by AAWKS' Kris Dzierzbicki on guitar, and Dead Cosmetics' Daniel Allen and Sean Alten on drums and bass. Allen and Cuff co-produced at The Beth Lab, with Laura DeRocchis mastering. In addition to the vinyl, watch Doomshire Tapes for a cassette release.

Komodo: "Coming Soon"

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Toronto post-punk group Komodo recently shared "Coming Soon," a bright new single steeped in authentic new wave sounds. The track arrived alongside a video from director Laura-Lynn Petrick (Kiwi Jr., Julianna Riolino). The song offers our first preview of an upcoming full-length, following up on 2020's Low Rise.

Komodo's fronted by bassist/vocalist Rich Forbes and features lead guitarist Andrew Wilson, guitarist Chris Chin, and drummer Mitch Dixon. The group recorded these tracks with Tallies' Dylan Frankland at Candle Recording Studio and Palace Sound. Mark Gardener mastered.

Dead Broke: "Not Yours to Take"

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Toronto punk'n'roll act Dead Broke recently issued "Not Yours to Take," a swaggering new garage rock single and their first new material since 2020's Druids. The track arrived with a stylish video from director Ryan Brough. The group recorded at Dream House Studios with producer Alex Bonenfant (METZ, Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs).

Originally coming together in Oakville, Dead Broke features siblings Mike and Rachel Bright on vocals/guitar and bass, respectively. Drummer Evan Saunders (Burner) and lead guitarist Zack Carlan round out the quartet.

Baited: Cutting Teeth

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Charlottetown hardcore group Baited shared a new EP earlier this month. Cutting Teeth clocks in with six bruising new songs, offering a mix of punk energy, high-octane rock flourishes, and heavy metal stomp. Speaking to Exclaim earlier in the summer, the band enthused:

"Cutting Teeth is us being our most rowdy and chaotic selves. Our first release was still energetic but had moments of sorrow. This release is us balls to the wall. No holding back."

Baited features Liam Farrell, Chris Gallant, Andy Adams and Tyler Turner. The new EP follows up on the group's self-titled 2022 debut.

Album: "Salade"

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Gatineau glitch-groove duo Album return this September with their sophomore full-length. Portrait de l'artiste promises nine new tracks from the impossible-to-define group, as previewed by the lead single "Salade." Telephone Explosion commented on the band's latest experiment:

"'Salade' is present music, looking forward while playing off a misremembered past. Through misuse of memory and off-angle interpolations, Album recalls NY improv groups that exist only in unconscious forms. An archetype reconstructed through a word salad of 'jazz-enough' reference points and simmering uncertainty."

Following their 2021 self-titled debut, Album again pairs Olivier Fairfield of punk-jazz agitators FET.NAT with Simone Provencher from the dance-punk trio VICTIME. Performers Philippe Charbonneau, Scott Warren, and Charlotte Savoie join them on this track. Look for Portrait de l'artiste on September 22.

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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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