Tuesday December 5, 2023

This Is A Life?

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.

Excited To Die: This Is A Life?

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

Dartmouth hardcore act Excited To Die kicked off the month with their first full-length. This Is A Life? churns through twenty songs in twenty-one minutes, offering a lively spin on old-school hardcore that feels almost inexplicably fresh. That's a testament to the quality of the players, veterans from a raft of cool Maritime bands. The set's available on Bandcamp and through a limited cassette run on No Norms Records. A decidedly nerve-racking video for the 30-second single "XXX" can be seen on YouTube, as well.

Excited To Die's the latest endeavour of Gemstones bandmates KC Spidle and Cody Googoo. If that garage rock combo's off your radar, then a quick trip down their family tree will surely impress. You may know Spidle from shoegazers Diamondtown and their predecessor Husband & Knife. He also plays with the beloved Haligonian gloom pop act Dog Day. At any given time, Googoo is active in six or seven bands, ranging from the mighty Booji Boys (Canada's best punk export) to the throwback rockers Heavenly Blue and the ear-splitting Mutated Void. The pair appear here on guitar and bass, joined by drummer James Macneil and Rod Meade Sperry of Equimerton on vocals.

Sperry's background is also super interesting, and this band's quite unlike his other output. Among his various projects, he notably co-authored a pair of books on Buddhist teachings with Miguel Chen of the Ramonescore heroes Teenage Bottlerocket. I'm not sure how much overt dharma we're supposed to read from his thrillingly unhinged vocals, but it's a nifty bit of trivia.

The band recorded with Mike Nunes in the spring and summer of this year.

Little Kid: "Something to Say"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Last week, the contemplative indie-folk act Little Kid shared word of their forthcoming LP. A Million Easy Payments is due February 23 through Chicago's Orindal Records and Bristol's Gold Day Recordings. The album showcases eight new tracks from the Toronto band, including the album-opening lead single "Something To Say."

Speaking to Flood Magazine, lead songwriter Kenny Boothby commented on the track:

"It's a song about worrying what people might be saying about you when you're not around. It's also about the way smoking weed can make those thoughts even worse, and sometimes a person's gotta take a break from that stuff. It's a simple song, but it feels good."

The article elaborates that the song "felt like a track one" even before the band recorded and sequenced the remainder of the album. Little Kid's lineup features Boothby on vocals, guitar, and keys, backed by Brodie Germain (drums, guitar), Paul Vroom (bass), Megan Lunn (vocals, banjo, keyboard), and Liam Cole (drums, percussion). Guests on the album include Eliza Niemi on cello, Anh Phung on flute, Seth Engel on additional percussion, Peter Gill on pedal steel, and vocals from Fog Lake's Aaron Powell. Vroom engineered and mastered the album, as he did the band's previous three. Little Kid's toiled away on this record for years, their work spanning the entirety of the pandemic era. They recorded in fits and starts out of various studios in and around Toronto, Kingston, and London(s) (both of them).

Mark your far-flung future calendars for album release parties on March 22 at Toronto's Tranzac (with Eliza Niemi) and March 23 at Montreal's Casa Del Popolo (with Laughing). Both shows will feature Little Kid's Orindal labelmates Advance Base supporting. The new LP follows up on 2020's Transfiguration Highway.

Rick White: De-Evolution

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

While content on his recent work to wander amidst swirling clouds of psychedelia, Rick White's new EP strives for high-volume immediacy. De-Evolution delivers seven new tracks with a hefty crunch. The influential artist revealed:

"This project started with a whim I had one day to record a new version of an Eric's Trip song from our 2nd demo cassette called "BELIEVE." Originally written by me in early 1991, I wanted to see what it would sound like recorded with my evolved recording skills and equipment, but still played with the same style and sound that we had back then.

I like how it turned out and it got me into writing and recording more new songs inspired from this old sound. Bringing me back into the heart of my noisy old gear. A 5th gen Big muff pedal i got for $10 from a Moncton pawn shop in 1989, my trusty old Traynor Mark 3 head, my wore out 4x12 Marshall cab and my Roland Space Echo that I also acquired way before they were expensive. I think it was $100 at some shop in Montreal early 1992. Anyhow, this gear is family to me and I wanted to really celebrate it with a thicker, loud style of playing and mixing like I did in the 90's."

You can hear that rendition of "Believe" as a bonus track at Bandcamp. The EP's available as a limited run 12" vinyl from Blue Fog Recordings.

White issued the Where It's Fine LP in 2021 through Blue Fog. His album of Sadies covers, Rick White Plays The Sadies, landed in 2022 as a tribute to the late Dallas Good. Over the past year, White's shared an additional pair of cover collections (20 Golden Hits of the 60's and 20 Golden Hits of the 80's), both of which you can find at Bandcamp. In the spring of this year, he issued the debut LP from OLD, a throwback hardcore duo with Brian Taylor of the Toronto punk legends Youth Youth Youth.

Ducks Ltd.: "Hollowed Out"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Last week, the cerebral Toronto jangle-pop duo Ducks Ltd. announced Harms Way, their sophomore full-length and follow-up to 2021's stellar Modern Fiction. The nine-song album arrives on February 9th via Royal Mountain and Carpark. The announcement came with a preview of the album-opening "Hollowed Out" (we heard the "The Main Thing" a few weeks back). In a press release, the band describes the album's prevailing focus on "the near-impossibility of keeping a level head when everything around you seems to be falling apart."

Tom McGreevy commented on the new material, stating:

"They're songs about struggling, about watching people I care for suffer, and trying to figure out how to be there for them. And about the strain of living in the world when it feels like it's ready to collapse."

The band worked with producer Dave Vettraino at Public House Recordings and Palisade Studio, enlisting several Chicago-area guests for the record, including members of Ratboys, Dehd, and Moontype. Ducks' usual touring lineup of drummer Jonathan Pappo (WHIMM, Context, NA) and bassist Julia Wittman (Dilettante) also appear on the recordings. The core Ducks duo of Tom McGreevy (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (lead guitar, drum programming) again anchor the project.

The band's launching the album with a special February 8 show in-store at Toronto record mecca Sonic Boom. They'll perform alongside Cootie Catcher and Only God Forgives. Tickets are available now through Royal Mountain, and they're bound to go fast as there's limited capacity. A few days later, look for Ducks Ltd. on stage as part of Montreal's Tavern Tour VIII, playing on Saturday, February 10 with support from The Wesleys.

The Effens: "Someone's Gonna Get You" (ft. Denz McFarlane)

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto's The Effens recently shared "Someone's Gonna Get You," a new single that continues to twist their glam and grunge influence into something wholly their own. The track features guest vocals (and lyrical input) from Densil McFarlane of celebrated punk trio The OBGMs. This isn't the first cross-pollination between these two groups, either. A few years back, Effens principal Austin Nops worked with McFarlane on the videos supporting The OBGM's acclaimed LP The Ends. Nops commented on their latest collaboration in a statement:

"There was an understanding about the concept of the song and I was excited to hear Denz take those ideas and elevate them. After he recorded his verse I completely changed my vocals and lyrics for my verse in the song. It was a great back and forth, making the song better in a way that is not possible writing alone."

The Effens write that the track addresses "the fear and paranoia that people are contending with right now, living online." The track follows up on the band's 2021 EP Eventually, and is likely our first taste of the eventual follow-up.

Red Mass: A Boy And His Robot

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

In my previous mailing, I dove into 111, a series of eleven concept albums from the Montreal "free creative enterprise" Red Mass. While that multi-genre, multi-label endeavour continues its slow rollout, the group's thrown a new, wholly separate single in the mix. You can pick up A Boy And His Robot on vinyl through Spacecase Records. The label calls the A-side a "standout soul stomper," featuring the band's core duo of Roy Vucino (CPC Gangbangs, Les Sexareenos, PYPY) and Hannah Lewis (Birds of Paradise) accompanied by drummer Sam Bobony. The b-side features a pair of vocal guests, with prolific psych madman Paul Jacobs droning through "Millionaire" while Chantal Ambridge of Penny Diving takes the lead on "Addicted." The latter also features Pouf on drums and Matthew Donald on bass. The band recorded everything at Sauropelta Studios.

This wealth of new Red Mass material follows their 2020 Mothland LP A Hopeless Noise.

Emmett Morris: Emerald

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

You wouldn't know it from his psych-country solo output, but you've probably heard Barrie's Emmett Morris, albeit in far louder contexts. Emmett's paid his dues in the punk trenches as a hardcore guitarist for bands like Niagara Falls' Wild Side and Toronto's Best Wishes. The songwriter's latest solo EP, Emerald, falls decidedly on the gentler side of that spectrum. The set features four new tracks recorded live off the floor with producer Aaron Goldstein (Daniel Romano, Bry Webb) at Toronto's Gold Standard Recorders. The resulting record has a decidedly vintage feel, evoking the early 70s — particularly so on the lead single "Take Me Down To Vegas," a Gram Parsons-channeling duet with Nicolette Hoang of Guelph's Nicolette & the Nobodies.

Morris commented on the new material:

"These are the first songs in this phase of my career that I've worked out with a band of steady collaborators. I wrote the songs, but the band helped form them. There's a lot of camaraderie in the gigs and practising. The project has my name on it, but it's a family affair — we're at the bar before and after just about every practice."

In a statement, he further reflects on the band's particular combination of influences and what uncertain category that leaves them in:

"We're not quite country enough for the country scene, we're a little too rockin' or jammy, but we're maybe a little too prosaic and fun-loving and boisterous for the psych crowd."

You can hear that balancing act in full force on songs like "Glimpse Of Beyond."

The collection features Morris up front on vocals and guitar, backed by his old Total Love bandmate Dan Darrah on guitar, Zac Bishop drumming, Johno Brown on bass, Thomas Hammerton on keys, and (of course) Aaron Goldstein on his legendary pedal steel (among other flourishes). Kenneth Roy Meehan mixed the set, with Kristian Montano mastering. The new EP follows up on 2021's A Better World's To Come.

Jacob Barber: We're One with the Stars

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

A month ago, we discussed the new 7" single from Sarnia psych scholar Jacob Barber, and while "Show Me The Way Home" remains fresh and well worth your time, the album it overtook in his release schedule is also out. We're One with the Stars was due out much earlier this year, but the nine-song set's finally available ("after countless hours of editing," the artist notes). With that record in hand, be sure to check out the accompanying feature in Mouthpiece Magazine, first published in March. In that, Barber comments:

"Writing songs is meditative for me. I'll take my guitar and really just try to empty my mind. I start playing around, without thoughts, just strumming and feeling out what feels good to me, and then I'll start humming melodies while I strum. I write songs almost every day. I have hundreds. Many that will never see the light of day. Usually I write about what I'm thinking or feeling that day, like an ongoing daily journal of sound. But this album is different. It's more passionate. This album is bigger and more outside of myself. The love isn't romantic, it's cosmic."

As with the recent single, Barber recorded and mixed the new album from his home studio with Asher Gould-Murtagh (Mr. Joy) mastering. This new material follows up on the Floating Nowhere LP, issued through Glue Gun Records in the fall of 2021.

Dermabrasion: "Goblin Dance"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Industrial/goth duo Dermabrasion embrace a bizarre collection of early internet memes for their "Goblin Dance" visualizer. The video, directed by the band's Kat McGouran, delivers our second sinister preview of the band's upcoming debut LP Pain Behaviour. The album arrives on January 26th via Hand Drawn Dracula.

Dermabrasion features Kat McGouran on vocals and bass with Adam Bernhardt on guitar and synths. The pair previously played together in the storied Toronto punk act WLMRT. Josh Korody recorded, produced, and mixed the 10-track LP from Candle Recording with Noah Mintz mastering. Pain Behaviour is the band's first album, following up on their 2021 EP, Lunate.

Sun Junkies: Parachuting

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Brantford, Ontario's Sun Junkies put on a solid showing with Parachuting, a frenetic new full-length issued in late October. Over 15 tracks, the quartet plows through a playful set of shout-along punk tunes, clearly informed by the same anxiety-wracked post-emo dynamism that's powered Jeff Rosenstock's career. In a press release, the band commented:

"The title of our album, Parachuting, is in reference to the idea of taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone in order to achieve something you couldn't otherwise. It's about trying to be in the moment and experience what you're doing while you're doing it. The idea of having no regrets and being content with your past: 'if we tried our best we could remember everything, but if we're talking remakes man, I wouldn't change a thing.'"

Sun Junkies self-produced the record over the past four years, with Kristian Montano mastering the final product. The band features Noah Carmichael and Ethan Silver sharing guitar and vocal duties, backed by Issa Mohammad on bass and Nick Stacy on drums. The new record follows a few years of one-off digital singles and the 2021 EP Unconventional Methods of Transportation.

Chris Page: "Cruising Altitudes"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Ottawa singer-songwriter Chris Page recently wrapped another year of monthly singles, sharing "Cruising Altitudes" in December and "Jenny Said See You Saturday Night" the month prior. The latter's a reworking of the artist's 2021 track "Jenny," supercharged into a full-blown power-pop tune. Meanwhile, Page calls "Cruising Altitudes" a "mellow song that had an interesting journey," revealing:

"It started out as an uptempo, goofy melody on an acoustic guitar and morphed into something I could never have predicted. And I feel like it's a good way to end the year. "

Page has reliably persisted with his COVID-era single output for the past few years, complimenting his ongoing output with 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.

Hot Garbage: "Mystery"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Heavy psych act Hot Garbage recently shared our second preview of their forthcoming album Precious Dream. "Mystery" is one of nine songs slated for the Toronto quartet's sophomore effort, available January 19 through Mothland and Brussels' EXAG' Records. You'll find "Mystery" featured in a new video from directors Nika Belianina and Michael Goodin. Mothland recommends the track to fans of A Place to Bury Strangers and the Jesus and Mary Chain, enthusing:

"'Mystery'... delivers the curious story of Judy and Billy amidst a fuzzed-out riff with a twisted surf twang. After successfully summoning Davie Allan's long-lost Mosrite, the Toronto psych rockers elect to delve deep into chromaesthesia, painting a stylish musical fresco about voluntary amnesia and blissful confusion. The track builds and builds, reaching an intense, swirling climax - a familiar feeling for those acquainted with the band's previous work - before dropping the listener back into the song's hypnotizing guitar hook, effectively leaving them to wonder: 'What was this all about?'"

The band recorded with Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh at Palace Sound. Hot Garbage features bassist/vocalist Juliana Carlevaris, guitarist/vocalist Alex Carlevaris, keyboardist/vocalist Dylan Gamble, and drummer Mark Henein. James Plotkin mastered the new material, which follows up on the band's 2021 LP RIDE.

Hot Garbate plays Montreal's Tavern Tour VIII on Saturday, February 10 supporting the live return of PYPY at Le Ministère. Their record release show goes down on February 17 at Lee's Palace, with guests Mother Tongues and Luge.

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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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