Friday August 18, 2023

Bite My Tongue

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.

Meta can't block the Some Party newsletter if it's so pathetically late that nobody would consider its contents news anymore!

That's my excuse.

Before we get rolling, one last reminder that I'm taking part in the Great Cycle Challenge to support the SickKids Foundation this month. Over 1,000 kids are diagnosed with cancer every year in Canada. It's the biggest killer of children from disease in the country. These past few weeks, I've spent every spare moment on two wheels raising money for the cause. Any pledge of support from the Some Party readership would be most welcome. You can donate here, and thanks to everyone who's already contributed.

Pack Rat: "Bite My Tongue"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Vancouver punk/power-pop act Pack Rat returns with a new EP this month. Bite My Tongue follows up on the project's 2021 debut Glad To Be Forgotten, with four new songs due August 24 through LA's Under The Gun Records and German label Turbo Discos. While conceived as a lockdown distraction for Patrick McEachnie, the project's since blossomed into a fully realized four-piece. That roster tracked these songs live off the floor (with cameras rolling for a future live video), and it's clear that they've found some cohesion. You can hear the crackling "Bite My Tongue" at Bandcamp now, with the remainder on deck for next week.

I asked Pat if his approach to songwriting shifted now that four personalities were sharing what was once a very isolated headspace. He shared:

"This feels like a completely different band from the initial covid recordings I did. I played everything on the first Pack Rat LP, and I had only been playing guitar for a year when I recorded it. They were the first songs I ever wrote. I put this band together to play those original songs live, but it immediately felt like more than that. Now I'm able to bounce ideas off Bella, Ripley, and Tony, and it's inherently more collaborative. This new EP has one song written and sung by Bella, which will be the first outside voice to Pack Rat. The LP we're recording this August has 3 Bella songs on it and 10 of mine.

I'm still writing songs almost constantly, but now I can flesh them out with much more skilled musicians than myself. Bella and Tony play together in Bratboy, and have been in countless bands over the years. Ripley comes from a musician family, so even though this is her first musical project, the process is very familiar to her. It's night and day compared to me locked up in my apartment, stabbing in the dark.

As part of the trio Bratboy, guitarist/vocalist Bella Bébê and drummer Tony Dallas issued their debut LP Bratworld this past April. Pat McEachnie drums in Vancouver's relentless Chain Whip and, before the pandemic, sang lead for the now-defunct punk group Corner Boys. Chain Whip last released Two Step To Hell in 2021 through Neon Taste.

Pack Rat is currently recording their second LP at Rain City Recorders with Jesse Gander (Wares, Woolworm, Necking).

Crossed Wires: Ellipsis

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

Fuzzed-out Halifax pop-punk act Crossed Wires recently issued Ellipsis, a six-song EP and their first new collection in nearly seven years. You can pick the set up on vinyl through Noyes Records. The record arrived alongside a video for the track "Looped," shot by Paul Atwood in July at the Halifax Havoc skateboarding competition.

I asked bassist/vocalist Heather Grant about both the gap and her new recording companions. This album saw longtime drummer Dewayne Shanks (Botfly) step back, with Jonny May of Blood Beach and The Mark Vodka Group taking his place. The band, a trio rounded out by Vulva Culture guitarist Kayla Stevens, also worked in the studio for the first time with Beauts' Palmer Jamieson producing.

"It has been seven years since our last record, not entirely by choice (see: world ending, crippling writer's block). I think because it had been so long and because we've really grown up and gained a lot of confidence in the time since our last record, we really wanted to give it our all with this one. We had also been sitting on a few of the songs almost since the last record, so there was a lot of time for them to evolve, and having Jonny in the mix now as a drummer also kind of helped light a fire under us. It's always nice to have that fresh enthusiasm. I took singing lessons (!) and spent a lot more time writing and refining the vocals than I have in the past. Recording with Palmer was such a dream, it was the first time as a band that we've been able to do the full studio thing and take our time with tracking and editing. Palmer was also a huge help on the production side and he deserves a lot of credit for how everything turned out.

[We're] definitely grappled/grappling with how to make pop-punk when you're grown up and generally settled in life but it turns out that there are still plenty of things to be angry about. And I don't think it'll be so long before our next release."

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

Pkew Pkew Pkew: "The Dumbest Thing I Ever Done"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

There's been a few changes to Toronto party-punk quartet Pkew Pkew Pkew. Lead guitarist Ryan McKinley's departed the band, which now features Kate MacLean contributing guitar, keys, and vocals. She joins the group's ongoing lineup of vocalist/bassist Mike Warne, drummer David Michael Laino, and bassist Emmett O'Reilly. The band's also hooked up with Montreal's venerable Stomp Records for the release of their next album, the 10-song Siiick Days. It arrives on September 22.

Siiick Days finds Pkew Pkew Pkew recording with Pete Steinkopf of the beloved 90s punk group The Bouncing Souls. He produced the new record in a ten-day session (in the thick of the pandemic) from his Little Eden studio in Asbury Park, NJ. He's not the only revered veteran in the loop, as The Hold Steady's Craig Finn again serves as the band's lyrical consultant. In the album's press release, Finn exclaims:

"A new Pkew record is always exciting for me. I love this band and the way they write about the dread and alienation of modern life, as well as the moments of elation that get us through."

You'll find the album's lead single, "The Dumbest Thing I Ever Done," paired with a suitably goofy homespun video. The song tells a charmingly low-stakes precautionary tale rooted in COVID boredom. In it, Warne sells off his video game console pre-lockdown, ignorant that the evolving crisis would severely limit his entertainment options. Chaos ensues. Or at least regret.

The new record follows Open Bar, issued in 2022 through Dine Alone Records.

Kleener: Kleener

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto hardcore act Kleener has a new EP out through Broken Skull Records, featuring six songs recorded this past April with Fucked Up's Jonah Falco. The propulsive collection serves the acerbic quartet's proper studio debut. Kleener first surfaced with a whip-fast set of demo recordings issued as part of 2020's Demo Fest (an event thrown amidst the home-recording boom to raise funds for migrant justice network Solidarity Across Borders). Band member Bee Traverse (Bib, Genetica) crafted the set's cover art.

NOBRO: "Let's Do Drugs"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

The infinitely hooky NOBRO has their first new single of the year out, and as you could infer from its title, "Let's Do Drugs" pulls no punches and leaves subtlety on the shelf. Vocalist/bassist Kathryn McCaughey addressed the track's gleefully brash approach:

"[It's] a 'dumb' rock song about getting older. It's about wanting to have one more wild night, while having no business doing so and failing miserably. Musically it's a middle ground between maybe '(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)' and 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap' but only the dumbest bits of those songs, distilled into something even more dumb. It's like shotgunning a beer then immediately puking on yourself."

That excess carries into the accompanying video by filmmakers Dan Esteban, Jeremy Shantz, and Jennifer Wade. NOBRO features McCaughey, guitarist Karolane Carbonneau, keyboardist/percussionist Lisandre Bourdage, and drummer Sarah Dion. The quartet last issued the Live Your Truth Shred Some Gnar in early 2022 through Dine Alone Records.

Rogue Tenant: "Jenny In Stereo"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Rootsy Toronto art-rock outfit Rogue Tenant recently shared a new single. "Jenny In Stero" lands as the band's first new studio recording since 2021's Always Another Day, following up on the home-recorded 2022 set Hallway Full of Mirrors. Project mastermind Patrick Grant commented on the track, stating:

"It's a hazy summery tune about the dangers of believing too heavily in any one authority... kind of written from the perspective of a cult leader or some such person. Title is a reference to Jenny Ondioline by Stereolab, whom I continue to miss live. Also perhaps more notably it's the first song I've released with [drummer] Nick [McKinlay] and [bassist] Paul [Saulnier] even though we've been playing together for years."

The recording features Grant on guitar, vocals, and organ, Saulnier on bass, McKinlay on drums, and Kurt Marcoux on guitar, vocals, and tambourine. The group recorded in part with Hobby's Stephen Pitman at Studio Z in Toronto.

The new Rogue Tenant track lands in the wake of "Floating Rock," the debut single from the grungy post-punk group SAP. That Toronto supergroup (of sorts) features Patrick Grant on guitar alongside guitarist/vocalist Rochelle Bulmer, Century Palm bassist Alexander Hamlyn, and Constantines drummer Doug MacGregor. A video celebrating that track surfaced last month, with a full-length due soon.

Luge: "A Little Bit (A Lot of)"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto's aggressively eclectic Luge returns in September with a new full-length dubbed I Live It Here, I Live Here. You can preview the quartet's new sounds with the single "A Little Bit (A Lot Of)." It features many of the group's past hallmarks, snapping back and forth between hooky art-punk and what I can only (poorly) describe as no wave freakouts. When announcing the record, Luge exclaimed:

"We have recovered from heartbreak, reflected on our sins, and pulled ourselves up by our luge-straps. We hope you have done the same because you will need to be in tip top shape to live, laugh, and listen to I Love It Here, I Live Here."

Luge features Kaiva Gotham on vocals and synth, Hobby's Cameron Fraser on bass, Tobias Hart on guitar, and Stuart Mein drumming. The group recorded at Toronto's Pie in the Sky Studios with Fraser producing. Tallies' Dylan Frankland mixed, with Will Killingsworth mastering.

The album launches on September 8 with a release show at The Garrison with support from not a band and the drag performer Tago Mago. Luge last issued their self-titled full-length in April of 2020.

Heavenly Blue: Heavenly Blue

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

In early August, the miserable maritime mutants at Sewercide Records issued the self-titled 7" from Halifax garage rockers Heavenly Blue. The set features "Flophouse" (our early preview) alongside "Push On Through," "Drifter," and "Zap The World." The label describes the record as:

"4 tracks of lo-fi garage punk that takes influence from snotty 60's rock'n'roll, 70's rough edged biker rock and enough modern day weirdo punk to keep things interesting. Maybe the Dead Boys covering some of the classics off of the Back From The Grave or Nuggets compilations? Give it a listen and judge for yourself."

Heavenly Blue features Booji Boys members Cody Googoo, Adam Ledrew, and Justin Crowe, with Alastair Macdonald. Sewercide's pressed 300 copies of the EP on vinyl, available now through their mailorder or at local record shops. The EP 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.

Jerkoff Diary: Jerkoff Diary

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Jerkoff Diary weaves several threads from 90s youth culture to craft a sardonic set of pop-punk tunes on their full-length debut. The band issued a 12-song self-titled cassette through Tarantula Tapes earlier this month, following up on a pair of earlier EPs. The label had this to say about the release:

"If you've ever had a bad relationship, gotten pics you didn't ask for, or been mansplained to, this album will make for a highly relatable sing-along. Jerkoff Diary is a modern day riot grrl force-to-be-reckoned-with. Opinionated, feminist lyrical content, softened with sweet wails of a girl-power front, they turn the Spice World bus into 90's Seattle grunge-on-wheels. With fuzzy guitars in contrast to Disney-level catchy hooks, listen closely and you can practically hear the eye-rolls."

With members hailing from Hamilton and Toronto, Jerkoff Diary features vocalist Alex, bassist/vocalist Erika, guitarist Alisha, and drummer Josh. As we've come to expect from Tarantula, this feels like a label family affair. Heavy Petter's Casey Cuff provides backup vocals on the record, with Core Bee co-producing, engineering, and mixing. Hysterics' Laura DeRocchis mastered the set.

Human Missile Crisis: "Liquor Store Stories"

Watch on YouTube

Next week the Dartmouth garage-punk trio Human Missile Crisis unveils their long-in-the-works debut full-length. Liquor Store Stories arrives August 25 with a celebratory release show at Daniels Alehouse in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The band's playing alongside Fire Valley Fire and The High Tide, with the party continuing the next day with a Saturday night gig at Gus' Pub in Halifax. You can hear three high-octane samples from the new album online: "Too Long," "Blackwater," and the title track. The latter's featured in a new performance video now playing on YouTube.

Human Missile Crisis recorded at The Sonic Temple in Halifax with Lil Thomas. Braden Kamermans mixed the record, with Brad Boatright mastering.

Brain Itch: Promo 2023

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Windsor hardcore group Brain Itch recorded a new EP earlier this summer with Psychic Void's Josh Kaiser. They made two tracks from that session ("An End to All Ends" and "Barbed Wire Diseases") available on their recently concluded east coast tour as a promo cassette, but if you missed them live, you can still find the digitals at Bandcamp.

Brain Itch last issued the Forced To Pay EP in 2021. It follows up on the 2019 Total Punk Killer split with Detroit's Shroud.

Chris Page: Summer Remains EP

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Ottawa singer-songwriter Chris Page has a new entry in his Saturday night/Sunday morning single series. "Summer Remains" maintains the satisfying quality of its predecessors, as Chris describes:

"Keeping the tradition alive... one version is mellow for those Sunday morning coffee nursing sessions and the other is full blown power pop rip-up for your Saturday Night warm up playlist (please turn that one way UP, it might be my fave Sat Nite version yet). 'Summer Remains' is a reflection on the whirlwind of bittersweet feelings you get as those warm summer evenings get shorter - when the fireflies fade away and the crickets come out in full force. It really is the best time of year, isn't it?"

Page shares new home-recorded digital singles monthly, keeping the habit up for nearly two years. Amidst that run, he also issued 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 garage group The Stand GT.

Faith Healer: "Another Fool"/"I'm A Dog"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Jessica Jalbert's Edmonton-based indie pop project Faith Healer returns on October 13 with The Hand That Fits The Glove, a new eight-song collection due through Mint Records. You can preview the set now through the sophisticated lounge-pop of "Another Fool" and the newly issued single "I'm A Dog." The album again finds Jalbert writing and recording in close collaboration with producer/multi-instrumentalist Rene Wilson.

On "I'm A Dog," Jalbert revealed:

"This song is basically about how the supposed sinfulness of indulgence and sensuality has been baked into my identity via Catholicism, and that makes me feel like an unruly dog or some kind of trapped animal. The track is light and easy, a throwback to jangly Faith Healer of old!"

The album features instrumental contributions from Jenni Roberts, Mitch Davis, Conor Donaldson, Ari Swan, and Ross Nicoll, among others. The album's accompanying press release rather deftly captures the mood Jalbert and Wilson create here, noting:

"Even in the album's most electrified passages, Faith Healer never overplays their hand. Throughout its various turns in mood and presentation, The Hand That Fits The Glove feels consistently cool-headed and congenial, with Jalbert and Wilson guiding us through every carefully considered step of the journey. It's an album that instantly takes the temperature in the room down by a few degrees, and one that will inspire repeat listenings in hopes of keeping its particular and revivifying vibe going just a little longer."

Faith Healer last issued Try ;-) in 2017, also through Mint.

Looks Like We Made It

I wasn't able to attend Sappyfest this year, but I'm eager to check out the new photo zine from my pal Stephen McGill. Looks Like We Made It chronicles ten years of the Sackville, New Brunswick music festival. You can find out more and snag a copy from Stephen here.

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!