Tuesday October 31, 2023

Female Hide

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.

Penny Diving: "Female Hide"

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Montreal post-punk act Penny Diving unleashed a new EP this week. The compelling Dirty Pets follows the band's 2020 Hands and Moment full-length Big Inhale, and I'm thrilled to help debut the video for the lead single, "Female Hide." The group worked with PRIORS' Alan Hildebrandt of Studio Del Scorpio on the stylish short (we've seen his work before for bands like Taxi Girls, FRVITS, and NOBRO). You can check it out on YouTube. The video's swirl of dreamlike surrealism and spooky effects made it rather ideally suited for a Halloween premiere.

The classic sound and style of both Sonic Youth and The Breeders resonate throughout Dirty Pets, yet the four songs never veer too far into nostalgia. The band contrasted their new material with their earlier work in a statement, noting:

"Whereas Big Inhale was introspective and dreamy, Dirty Pets awakes from subdued slumber. The music tugs at your ribcage, while the lyrics take aim at social status and class alienation. The overarching themes of female subordination and classist beliefs are conveyed through the lens of 4 female protagonists, present within each song."

Penny Diving features sisters Chantal and Kathleen Ambridge with Thomas Augustin (Jesuslesfilles, Malajube) and Melissa Di Menna (La Sécurité, Jesuslesfilles). The sisters share vocal duties and respectively play guitar and bass on the record. Augustin and Di Menna trade off guitar and synth roles from track to track, with drums from an array of players (Augustin, Francis Mineau, and Julien Bakvis, to be specific). On the studio side, Augustin recorded the EP, with mixing by Miguel Marcil-Pitre (Corridor) and mastering from Ryan Morey (Half Moon Run/The Beaches).

Surveillance: "Iron Rose"/"Drone Hobbyist"

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Halifax punk/lo-fi garage act Surveillance are back in action with their first proper full-length. Less Than One, More Than Zero arrives November 4 through the Various label and Celluloid Lunch, promising a muscular set of 11 new songs from the four-piece. You can preview the record through the soaring rocker "Iron Rose" and the high-octane guitar heroism of "Drone Hobbyist." Each offers a dramatically different take on the group's sound, punctuated by the fact that a different lead sings on each. A video for "Iron Rose" can be seen on YouTube, with both songs streaming now.

The album follows the 2021 release of Planet Serum, the band's "lost album" of studio cuts from a sporadically active period between 2016 and 2018. Surveillance features guitarist/vocalists (and newly married couple) David Burns and Rachel Fry. Bassist Ben Brennan and drummer Tri Le hold it together on rhythm. The four self-produced the album, recording from the Eastern Passage. Luke Mumford (Booji Boys, Gemstones) mixed while Franc Lopes (Safeword, Century Egg) mastered at Ocean's Floor.

Chicago DJ Doug Mosurock (Heathen Disco) wrote about the record at Bandcamp, enthusing:

"There's grunge, there's flyin' the flannel, and the piney, open-air, guitar-stacks-to-the-bluest-skies approach Surveillance takes on this one that'll instantly touch a gritty nerve to a lot of listeners - both Amherst Dinosaur before the Jr and Donna Dresch hair-windmill era, that Solomon Grundy LP on New Alliance, the top layer of pop iceberg-bobbing in the violent diagonals of Eastern seaboard shoegaze, patchouli, your aunt's surprisingly deep cabinet of folk records, the leftover gear of uncles and burnouts to rattle the windows with, chain smoking over a bottomless cup of coffee in an all night diner with somebody elses and everything to talk about between you, artificially cheap fossil fuels and one car/maybe one license between all of you. I don't know where these folks fall in the age range to have experienced this sort of thing, what the rituals were in their adolescence and the early years of underemployed freedom, but something's been activated here in these 11 songs, like a smell or sense memory, a match lit, a breath visible in the chilly air, that's bringing it all back.

I'm especially taken with Rachel Fry's vocals - not gonna mention whose they remind me of, as I've done enough extrapolating here already. The words she's singing on songs like "On My Way," "Iron Rose" and "Last Breath" offset Burns' righteous anger with a defiance of her own. There's a big goddamn difference between aching teenage lovage and the questions asked in these songs, but they come from the same place – an overwhelming feeling of deep emotions, and the innate desire for trust beyond those feelings to protect it and the people it touches. Love is great and all, but some of us need to be sure, and these songs represent the challenge of a commitment: to unite and stay together, through lives lived, projects started and reconvened to make certain that magic is true.

Surveillance started something and are sticking around to continue it. In an era of woeful impermanence, that's gotta be worth something."

Look for a limited vinyl run of Less Than One, More Than Zero on November 4. Before their lost Planet Serum recordings, Surveillance released the Area C-51 demos in the fall of 2015.

Matthew "Doc" Dunn: "Fantastic Light"

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Old soul Toronto psych rocker Matthew "Doc" Dunn has a new album on the way. Fantastic Light arrives November 16, featuring ten new songs recorded, produced, and arranged by Dunn and Mr. Joy's Asher Gould-Murtagh. You can preview the set now through the mesmerizing title track. At nearly seven minutes, it exudes the timeless, sun-bleached blur that defines Dunn's solo work - paradoxically both substantial in scope yet ethereal in its delivery.

The new record follows up on 2020's country-focused Rain, Rain, Rain and the prior year's Upper Canada Blues, both issued through Dunn's Cosmic Range Records. Doc serves as the album's primary instrumentalist and serves in a dozen different roles. He's joined here by an extensive string section, and the record notably features a cameo appearance by Dinosaur Jr. legend J Mascis on guitar. Brett Zadravetz co-produced the album, with Gould-Murtagh mixing.

During the pandemic, Dunn, also known as the frontman of the psych-jazz combo The Cosmic Range, teamed up with members of Mr. Joy to form the supergroup Dr. Joy. They issued a self-titled LP through Idée Fixe. Last year Dunn took part in the legendary Sub Pop Singles Club, issuing the songs "Your Feel" and "Look In" on 7" vinyl.

Ducks Ltd.: "The Main Thing"

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Toronto jangle-pop luminaries Ducks Ltd. have an exhilarating new single in the wild. "The Main Thing" is one of the first new originals issued since the duo's 2021 LP, Modern Fiction (Royal Mountain/Carpark). In the time since, they've shared several collaborative covers, giving their spin on usually untouchable classics from The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cure, and The Feelies. The propulsive new track finds the band again bringing guests into the fold, with backing vocals from Ratboys' Julia Steiner, Dehd's Jason Balla, and Moontype's Margaret McCarthy (all Chicago-based artists, which makes sense given that Ducks recorded in the Windy City). They're also joined on this track by Ratboys drummer Marcus Nuccio. The band worked with producer Dave Vettraino at Public House Recordings and Palisade Studio.

Ducks Ltd. records as a duo featuring Tom McGreevy (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (lead guitar, drum programming). Royal Mountain notes that the song, penned by McGreevy, "concerns growing apart from a person whose views you once shared." He notes that "[it] may be the first jangle-pop single to make reference to both professional baseball and ritual magick."

86 It: Horse

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Ottawa punk trio 86 It are back with a new nine-song full-length. Horse boasts a brash and scrappy vibe that should appeal to fans of Toys That Kill and Dillinger Four. The set finds each member (bassist Angie, guitarist Chris, and drummer Mark) taking a turn on vocals, imbuing the project with an endearing sense of chaos and a casual lack of polish that I'm really quite fond of. They describe the record as "nine high-energy songs about the everyday crap we all have to endure," a list that includes but isn't limited to "doomed relationships," "bad fathers," and the "end of the world."

The new collection follows up on last year's Everyday Is EP.

Jacob Barber: "Show Me The Way Home"

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Jacob Barber, Sarnia's master of 60s-styled psychedelia, recently issued a new 7" single. The set features "Show Me The Way Home" backed by "I Can't Help But Wonder," with each track boasting a gleefully anachronistic (yet bafflingly authentic) take on the era. You can find the audio on Bandcamp or pick it up on a 7" from the artist.

Barber recorded and mixed the new material from home with the aforementioned Asher Gould-Murtagh (Mr. Joy) mastering. The material follows the Floating Nowhere LP, issued through Glue Gun Records in the fall of 2021. This past August, Barber shared a single titled "We're One With the Stars" to preview a forthcoming album of the same name. I'm unsure where that project resides, but the previously announced release date has come and gone.

In recent years, Barber's fronted Dream Seer and the psych-rockers Bad Habit. Over the past few months, he's performed with The Adventurines, recently taking part in the 6th annual Oscillitarium Music Lab on Wolfe Island.

Phane: Police System

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UK82-styled Vancouver punk act Phane has a furious new EP out on Phobia Records. You can find Police System on 7" through the Czeck label, featuring three new originals and a cover of "Time Is Running Out," a 1984 track by the early Montreal hardcore act Unruled.

Phane features Tim Fueled on vocals, Cordie Charge on guitar, Tyler Tornado on bass, and Pedro Negra on drums. Negra recorded the group at Suna Studio. The new EP arrives following the band's 2022 split with Montreal's like-minded Fractured.

Home Front: Nation 12"

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Radiant Edmonton new wave/oi! act Home Front continue their hot streak. The group kicked off a tour of the UK and Europe a few days ago, taking with them a new 12" single showcasing the Games of Power standout "Nation." The record features an extended mix of the track served up on the "deepest widest grooves imaginable." You can find a pair of previously unheard outtakes on the flip. Producer Jonah Falco (Fucked Up) playfully describes "Slice of Paradise" as "an unthinkably catchy neo-diy new wave ballad that could win Eurovision and shine your boots at the same time." "Jupiter," meanwhile, is a "synth grooved, Tangerine Dream tinged lost soundtrack to Rock Em Sock Em 10." Parse that as you may. You can find all three at Bandcamp or wherever you stream your stuff.

"Nation" notably features guest vocals by Cal Graham of UK brawlers The Chisel. Games of Power arrived in March through La Vida Es Un Mus, recorded with Nik Kozub in Edmonton. In the studio, Home Front recorded as the duo of Graeme MacKinnon (vocals, guitar, and bass) and Clint Frazier (synths, keys, drums, and programming). Live, the band expanded to a five-piece featuring bassist Brandi Strauss and guitarist Ian Rowley (both of Rhythm of Cruelty) with drummer Warren Oostlander (of No Problem). Both Frazier and co-producer Nik Kozub previously played in the dance-punk act Shout Out Out Out. MacKinnon formerly played with No Problem and fronted the late '90s street punk group Wednesday Night Heroes.

Wasting Time: "Coffee Break"

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Toronto pop-punkers Wasting Time recently shared their upbeat "Coffee Break" single through Steady Riot Records and Disconnect Disconnect. If you're an elder millennial looking for a fast route back to the carefree '90s, this brisk tune should do the trick. The song arrives following April's "Losing My Mind," the second follow-up to their 2022 LP Once More Without Feeling. Expect it as the opening salvo on the band's new EP, Chainsaw Dynamos, due November 10.

Once More Without Feeling arrived in March of 2022. You can expect the band's third LP early next year. Wasting Time features Mad Vlad on guitar and lead vocals, Mike on bass, Mark on lead guitar and Nick on the drums.

Expanda Fuzz: "It's Always Hallowe'en Inside My Head"

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Ottawa duo Expanda Fuzz celebrate the season with "It's Always Hallowe'en Inside My Head," a subdued and drone-driven single. They call it "our love letter to All Hallows' Eve" and "a dreamy damnation of those lovesick vampires and ghosts in our heads." You can pick it up at Bandcamp.

Expanda Fuzz pairs Leila Younis with Chris Page (The Stand GT, Camp Radio). They last released the full-length Cotton Candy Jet Engine in 2018.

On a similar note, Page recently shared a new solo rendition of the early Expanda Fuzz song "Psychopaths In Lukewarm Baths." That track originally appeared on the band's 2016 debut, Bleuets. You can also find his new take at Bandcamp, paired with an extensive breakdown of the song (and its campy horror origins) at his songwriting diary newsletter.

No Waves: "Math Class Day Dreams"

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Montreal garage-punk trio No Waves hooked up with Stomp Records to issue their new EP. Postcard arrives on November 10, featuring six songs from the group. You can preview the collection now through the lead single, "Math Class Day Dreams." An early cut of this track appeared on the band's surfy 2019 EP, but this version's undergone a rather significant retrofit.

No Waves recorded with producer Ryan Battistuzzi (Taxi Girls, Fuudge, Conditions Apply) at Le Stuzzio in Montreal. The band features Cyril Harvin Musngi on bass, Sam Sussman on drums and vocals, and Angel Parra Vela on guitar and vocals.

Innes Wilson's Freightliner: "Country Fair Queen"

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Guelph singer-songwriter Innes Wilson recently shared "Country Fair Queen," a joyful new single from his country-fried Freightliner trio. In a statement, the band commented:

"This song is really telling the journey of all small-town people who have their sights set on the big city, ready to follow their dreams and get the heck out of small-town life."

The track follows April's five-song II EP and last year's self-titled debut. It features Wilson on lead vocals and tenor guitar, R. P. McMurphy on guitars, bass, and organ, and Joshua Osmond on drums and percussion. Richie Gregor recorded and mixed the set, with Heather Kirby mastering at Dreamlands. Back in the lockdown era, Wilson issued several collections of frustrated pop-punk tunes as Part-Time Cool.

GAZM: Fuck You II

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I awoke Halloween morning to find a new EP GAZM lurking in my inbox, and how could I let this edition slip by without a last-second addition of what may very well be Montreal's evilest band? Fuck You II showcases five full-throttle songs from the grimy, metal-tinged hardcore quartet. You can find it at Bandcamp.

Fuck You II follows GAZM's 2019 LP Heavy Vibe Music. Pillea's Micah Brown recorded and mixed the set, with mastering by Brad Boatright.

Needle Crafts: Frow'd Up

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St. John's pop-punk/emo outfit Needle Crafts recently issued their debut full-length, a dynamic ten-song set dubbed Frow'd Up. Vocalist Elsa Simms delivers a vibrant performance here, backed by guitarist/vocalist Brandon Coaker (also of The Devoters), bassist/vocalist Brandon Parsley, and drummer Stephen Spencer. The band recorded with Krisjan Leslie at Lab of Chaos.

You're not going to find another record this season with a nerdy inside baseball song title like "I Got Thanked On The Da Slyme Album And All I Got Was To Live Below The Poverty Line." Needle Crafts' new album follows up on (and incorporates some material from) their 2022 EP Grad School Twitter.

Christopher Sleightholm: "Sour Cherry Moonshine Jane"

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Christopher Sleightholm of the storytelling Regina psych group Snake River has a new solo record due November 3. Looking For The Great Unseen promises twelve new tracks from the artist, as previewed by the pleasing country rocker "Sour Cherry Moonshine Jane."

This track features Sleightholm on vocals, guitar, and synths, backed by bassist Andy Beisel, guitarists Marshall Burns and Clayton Linthicum, drummer Ian Cameron, and Amber Pb on viola. The dozen players heard performing on the record as The Beautiful Band. Among their ranks, you'll find members of scrappy Regina groups like Piper Burns and The Steves.

The new LP is Sleightholm's fourth under his name, following 2022's The River Flew Right Past. In the fall of 2021, Snake River wrote a score for the silent 1921 Swedish horror/fantasy film The Phantom Carriage. That audio arrived online last October. The band issued their pandemic-delayed Lost Album in 2021, alongside the debut from Sleightholm's isolation-era psych-pop act, The Sunshiny Daze.

Empty Nesters: "The Simphony" (ft. Madeline Link)

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Last month Eric Liao's Ottawa dream-pop project Empty Nesters issued a collaboration with Madeline Link of the Toronto lo-fi rockers PACKS. The pair bills "The Simphony" as a shoegaze love song. It showcases Link on vocals, drummer Matthew Galamaga, and Liao in several roles (vocals, guitars, bass, and the midi flute). You can hear the tune at Bandcamp.

The song follows Empty Nesters' January single "Going By" and surfaced amidst the ramp-up for PACKS' forthcoming LP, Melt Like Honey. That album, their second in less than a year, arrives on January 14 through Fire Talk Records.

Big Thyme: "Hard Livin'"

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On a songwriting level, Sam Coffey's slavishly authentic country act Big Thyme may stick close to the genre's dusty roots, but the project's visuals have so far been off-the-wall bonkers. That's certainly the case with the new video for "Hard Livin'," a nearly eight-minute short that takes an unexpected detour into the occult. It's perfect for Halloween, but I'm unsure if the more traditionally buttoned-up Stetson crowd will be down with all the blood and devilry — their loss.

This madness comes courtesy of writer/director Ryan Kukec. The video lands about a year out from Coffey's self-titled debut single from the twangy project, a pretty dramatic break from the stadium bombast of Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs. That group issued their third LP, Real One, in 2021 through Dine Alone Records, with a follow-up expected soon.

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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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