Monday December 18, 2023

Formed in the Snow

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.

Ivan Rivers: "Formed in the Snow"

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In his solo guise as Ivan Rivers, Toronto's Ivan Raczycki has a melancholic new holiday song perfect for a downbeat season. Last week the oft-esoteric songwriter, known in louder circles for his part in the punk act Stuck Out Here, shared "Formed in the Snow." I'm usually hesitant to mention Christmas music in the newsletter, as most of it feels insufferably cheesy and, outside of a narrow context, unlistenable, but this I like. Perhaps that's due to the somewhat atypical lyrical content, as the alt-folk artist revealed:

"It's about two anarcho-lovers burning down Huron County but like in a festive way. Throwing rocks at cop cars but like, in a Santa Claus way. It's maudlin. It's lovely. I'm stoked about it."

Stuck Out Here/Pkew Pkew Pkew member Emmett O'Reilly produced the track. We'll hear more from this studio pairing on Rivers' forthcoming EP, which makes this a promising hint of what the two can accomplish. Look out for that in the Spring. The tune also features some tasteful "ocean noise" guitar effects from Devin Staple (The Old Salts, Red & the Ramblers, Sparse Parts).

The song appears on Eternal Bummer Records' new compilation Holidaze Forever, the fourth in their series. It's a packed set showcasing over 30 songs and performers, including net material from Jesse Fellows (Shared Arms), Toronto art-punk act Martian Crisis Unit, and a stupefyingly compelling mock cover of "Last Christmas" from Strokes tribute act The Blokes. Ivan notes that the project includes the debut of Hellbendr, a post-rock act helmed by Adam Cook of Vaughan's Permanent Bastards. It also features the first appearance of Last Drag, a new band featuring Tabi Irani of The Victim Party and Jesse Colburn of Closet Monster.

As a member of Stuck Out Here, Raczycki issued Until We're Each Someone Else in 2019 and the Live at Rum Runners set in 2020. Solo, Ivan Rivers last issued a pair of EPs in 2020, Drag My Corpse Through the Country Music Hall of Fame and There's No Such Luck. He's followed them with a smattering of digital one-offs in the years since.

Blemish: Pils Session

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Montreal quartet Blemish issued their first material as part of 2020's Demo Fest, a lockdown-era avalanche of impromptu bands sharing rough bedroom recordings. A self-titled cassette followed in 2021 through A World Divided, proving the group's sharp take on late 70s punk had legs.

Earlier in the fall, the group convened in Gatineau to participate in the Pils Sessions. They tracked four originals plus a cover of the Cortex tune "Reality." As usual with Pils Sessions, Chany Pilote recorded and mixed the set at NOMANSLAND studio while Dizz Hupé documented the results. You can find the session at Bandcamp now. The band features Lisa Czech on vocals and guitar, Gustavo Rodriguez Mateus (Bosque Rojo, UZU, Perestroika) on guitar, Katia Desautels on bass, and Rick Aube (Ilusión, Omerta) drumming. Before the pandemic, Lisa, Gustavo, and Katia performed together in the Montreal punk group Malokio.

The Blemish session follows recent Pils appearances from Quebec and capital-area punk acts such as Ain't Right, Good Sick, Self Control, and Molotov MTL.

Cult Crime: Demo

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We know Matt Menard in a few contexts. He infrequently surfaces as the lo-fi punk act No Fix, plays bass for the Windsor psych-punk brutes Psychic Void, and most recently screamed to the East Coast and back with the Toronto hardcore act Brain Itch. We can now add Cult Crime to that impressive list. It's a buzzy garage-punk project described by the artist as a "low-class rock'n'roll." A three-song demo recently surfaced at Bandcamp, with cassettes due soon.

Menard self-recorded the new songs, with drums tracked down at Kaiser Sound in Windsor. Cult Crime's highly recommended if you're into the velocity and vibe of tightly wound bands like PRIORS, which you damn well should be.

Territories: Colder Now

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I appeared on a recent episode of the Punk Till I Die podcast, reuniting with a few of my former Punknews colleagues to chat about our favourite music of the year. Since I have exactly one, sadly predictable musical interest, I brought a big box of Canadian punk to the party. The hosts humoured my arbitrary national focus and even threw a few new Canuck acts my way. It turns out that Tom and Neil are big fans of the Calgarian quartet Territories, a band I'd missed.

That group, formed from the ashes of the Alberta punk staple Knucklehead, issued the 11-song Colder Now LP in November. Available through Pirates Press Records, the band's sophomore album consistently delivers well-crafted, 90s-styled punk in the Bouncing Souls vein. Big woahs. Big hooks. Lots of heart. I've clearly developed a blind spot for the very style of Clash-rooted punk I grew up on (bands that don't sound like a clown throwing a toolbox down the stairs), so all credit goes to the PTID guys for bringing this to my attention.

The new album follows up on Territories' 2020 EP When The Day Is Done and a split 7" with Vancouver moto punks The Vicious Cycles.

Nervousmen: Wait Longer For Less

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London post-punk trio Nervousmen are back with a four-song EP titled Wait Longer For Less, another studio collaboration with Red Arms' Roberto Lorusso. Both bands plan to appear at an early New Year's party on December 30 at the Palasad Socialbowl, sharing a bill with Pro Wrestling The Band and MVLL CRIMES. They have a little something extra planned for the performance, as the group revealed on Instagram:

"We're doing a tribute/memorial set, remembering Rick Froberg from Hot Snakes (among other amazing bands), along with the songs from our new EP.

Hot Snakes is the reason Nervousmen exist as a band, and we all felt Rick's passing this year deserved a show of respect. Our good friend and producer Roberto LoRusso will be joining us for this set (before he plays with his band Red Arms)."

Nervousmen features guitarist/vocalist Steve Bennett, bassist Nick Beard, and drummer Sean Murphy. The new set follows up on 2020's Other Favourites.

Shearing Pinx: Splits with Banananananana and Murder Murder

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It's a fool's errand to try keeping tabs on Vancouver agitators Shearing Pinx, who often operate (enviously so) as if the digital world was an afterthought. Two of the noise-punk group's recent split releases are now online courtesy of Isolated Now Waves. This includes June's pairing with Hamilton's "legendary slopcore duo" Banananananana and July's tape backing the improvisational San Franciscan group Murder Murder.

As expected, these tapes feature a smattering of archival cuts culled from underground live shows and rehearsal space shenanigans, the oldest of which (on the Murder Murder tape) reaches back to 2014. Nic Hughes (vocals/guitar/electronics) and Jeremy Van Wyck (vocals/drums/electronics) helm Shearing Pinx, with contributions on these recordings from Erin Ward, Jesse Taylor, and Sydney Koke.

Outside of their seemingly unending cassette splits, Shearing Pinx last issued People LP in 2014 through Psychic Handshake. In 2021, the enigmatic band released When You Have No Taste, You Can Do Anything, an anthology of previously unreleased material spanning 2008 through 2019.

Breeze: Sour Grapes

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Prolific Toronto producer Josh Korody has a new album out as Breeze. The nine-track Sour Grapes follows 2021's Only Up with a more cohesive, full-band effort. While its predecessor featured a raft of collaborators and jumped between 90s alt-rock styles (with a heavy UK pop bent), this new effort finds cohesion in Cure-indebted new wave.

Korody recorded these songs at his Candle Recording studio and the legendary Hotel2Tango (the latter with Shae Brossard). Mark Gardiner of shoegaze pioneers Ride mastered the set. The album features just a pair of guests, with Korondy's Beliefs bandmate Jessica Upton featured on "Never Gave You" and Ducks Ltd.'s Tom McGreevy appearing on both "Disposable" and "Weapon." The full-band lineup of Breeze features Korody backed by Braeden Craig (Sauna, Greys), James Kearns (Oil Giant), Robyn Phillips (Vallens), and Julia Wittman (Dilettante).

Bad Egg: "Rare Animals"

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Kitchener/Windsor hardcore act Bad Egg has an EP slated for an early 2024 release. You can hear a preview of the forthcoming Century Egg with the acerbic single "Rare Animals." The band recorded with Bill Morton (Your Pal Bill, Wordplay, Debt Cemetary). The track follows a string of digital singles issued over the past year, including a cover of "Cold" by The Cure. The group's last collection, Serotonin Flush, surfaced in 2019.

Ex-Cowboy: Mr. Frog/Dino DNA

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Victoria's Ex-Cowboy recently issued a slate of new music, dropping the full length Mr. Frog in August, chased by Dino DNA in October. The former's the main attraction, spinning half a dozen genres around a punk core. It's an impressively dynamic set that never dwells long on any given style. While he doesn't always employ it, vocalist Colin McParland possesses a thrillingly frantic warble. There are tracks here where he channels a (somewhat) less snide Jello Biafra. Those early punk affects stand out, particularly in contrast with the band's habit of slipping into atmospheric detours that shift the vocals into a supporting role. Ex-Cowboy recorded Mr. Frog in January at Raise Your Voice Studio, with Ben Wittrock and Evan Matthiesen engineering.

Dino DNA veers off in another direction, presenting a mostly instrumental set of noisy experiments. It's compelling in its own right and another clear expression of the group's restless nature. Would a newcomer even recognize the two collections as the work of the same band?

Ex-Cowboy features guitarist Jordan Allen, bassist Daniel Froese, drummer Gunnar Byers, and vocalist Colin McParland.

Telepathic Love: "Cool Wave"

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I should have mentioned it then, but Ross Miller's solo punk outlet Telepathic Love issued a crackling new single in September. "Cool Wave" is the second track the Hamilton artist shared this year, following "Oh Boy!" in the summer. Each finds a satisfying middle ground between early 90s garage punk and the more personality-driven indie pop of the post-Weezer era. Miller never takes his bombast as far as he did as a member of The Dirty Nil, but there's a familiar sense of enthusiasm here.

The new material follows 2022's The Greatest Challenge EP. The tracks again find the artist working with Vince Soliveri, who serves as producer, drummer, and second guitarist on the recordings. In recent months, Miller's also appeared on bass for the hardcore act Zero.

Zero: "Shows Who You Are"

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Speaking of... the muscular Welland hardcore act Zero played their first show in five years as part of October's Yourin Fested weekend. The band returned to action with the new single "Shows Who You Are," also recorded, mixed, and mastered by Vince Soliveri. It's the first new recording they've shared since 2018's Nobody Owes Me Anything EP. Clocking in at well under two minutes (including the requisite breakdown), there's not a shred of fat on it.

Down Memory Lane: "BPM"

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Melodic skatepunk quintet Down Memory Lane recently shared "BPM," the first single from their upcoming EP Space. It's the Montreal band's first new material since their 2021 EP Breathing, issued via Thousand Islands Records. Look for Space through People of Punk Rock Records in the new year.

The group's already slated to appear at the label's Red Bridge Fest in the summer of 2024, performing alongside veterans like Lagwagon, Millencolin, and Zebrahead (pretty wild given how those first two, in particular, seem like foundational influences on DML). That event goes down in Pont-Rouge, QC on June 7 and 8. The label also recently pressed a vinyl release of the band's Catch & Release album (a compilation of their 2018 and 2019 EPs).


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Heavy-psych act AAWKS recently shared LUNA, a four-song EP anchored by the sludgy new original "The Figure." It appears alongside covers of classic tunes by Pink Floyd and A Flock of Seagulls, plus a live take on the band's own "All Is Fine." On Bandcamp, the Barrie-rooted group revealed:

"Cultures have been obsessed with the mysterious, magnetic wonders of the moon since the dawn of time. We've also been fascinated by 'the unexplained' and tried to make meaning of the messages in dreams or weird lights in the night sky. This collection of songs entitled LUNA each represent the aforementioned subjects in some way or another. We may not have the answers but we did our best to paint the feeling and thoughts one may have while walking down a path, alone in the woods at night or maybe waking up from an odd dream that left you questioning 'what did that mean?'"

The collection arrives via Black Throne Productions. AAWKs recorded with Zack Horvath at Z Hollow Studios. The new set follows up on a split with Austin's Aiwass and the 2022 full-length Heavy on the Cosmic (issued jointly by Black Thorne, Northern Haze, and Tarantula Tapes).

AAWKS features guitarist/vocalist Kris Dzierzbicki, bassist Roberto Paraiso, and drummer Randy. Bassist Dan Trickett also performs on several of these tracks.

Death Waits: "St. Jude"

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The grungy Toronto group Death Waits has a new track out dubbed "St. Jude" (ominously subtitled "Lord of the Flies"). You can hear the grim midtempo track alongside an atmospheric video on YouTube. The band notes that the song represents something of a turning point:

"Thanks for being patient. This is without a doubt my favourite song on the new album, and kind of marks a demarcation point for new ideas, new energies. I do so hope you enjoy it."

Formerly known as Champion Lover, Death Waits features Edward Masuda, Erik Tokar, James Cain, and William Masuda. The band worked with Cancer Bats guitarist Scott Middleton on their latest material, eventually expected on the long-awaited follow-up to 2017's Russian Prince (the last under the old name). "St. Jude" is Death Waits' first new release since their "Scum" single in the spring of 2022.

Hyness: "Waiting Arms"

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Kitchener indie rockers Hyness recently shared another new single from their sessions with José Contreras of By Divine Right. The band described "Waiting Arms" in a statement, revealing:

"This track was the first one written after Settle Down in the Dirt in 2021 and a short period without any planned new Hyness songs. As a bit of a loud rocker, we'd thought to dress it up as a bit murkier and hang some cobwebs in the corners. It's the same recording approach as 'Weatherman' with a very different type of track, as if two bands shared the same session. The result is Hyness nonetheless."

The current era of Hyness features the songwriting duo of guitarist/vocalist Marcus Addams and drummer Colin White, with Amy Addams on vocals. You can hear the new tune at Bandcamp.

The Speakeasy: "Devil In Disguise"

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Montreal punks The Speakeasy have a hard-hitting new single in the wild dubbed "Devil In Disguise." The track features guest vocals from Jean François Buteau of Gatineau's Colorsfade and previews their yet-unannounced next LP. That record's expected in the new year via Thousand Islands Records, following up on the two-part Tales from the Moonshiner EP cycle.

Earlier this year, The Speakeasy shared the singles "Breakfast Drugs" and "Bright Side," which I'd wager are also cuts from their forthcoming album.

Elephant Stone: "Another Year Gone"

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I get in my own way sometimes. Elephant Stone shared a wealth of new material over the past few months, but I neglected to keep up on any of it. While I lack any real insight into the band's popularity, they run such a tight, professional operation that my punk-damaged brain assumed they were well-covered elsewhere. For better or worse, there's an inverse relationship between the number of vinyl variants you can sell and how urgently Some Party covers you. So, my apologies; I've done a disservice by not sharing this sooner.

The seasoned Montreal psych-rockers have an album due in February dubbed Back Into The Dream, a ten-song LP from which you can currently preview six tracks. Arriving February 23 through Elephants On Parade and Little Cloud, the record follows up on 2020's Hollow and clocks in as Elephant Stone's sixth full-length. The latest preview is the album-closing "Another Year Gone," a short but affecting tune flexing the band's spot-on mastery of 60s pop. On the song, band lead Rishi Dhir commented:

"The COVID-19 pandemic often felt like a surreal, endless loop, reminiscent of Groundhog Day—each day waking up to the same reality, marked by uncertainty and stasis. In this repetitive existence, it was easy to become untethered, adrift in thoughts while feeling emotionally and physically suspended. 'Another Year Gone' is an anthem for these disorienting times. It's a narrative of contrasts—between those grappling with stress, fear, and economic hardship, and those who profited from the chaos. Above all, this song is a musical embrace, a reassurance to hold close the ones you love and to tell them that, despite the world's turmoil, everything will be OK."

You can see the track accompanied by a playful video from director Laurine Jousserand. Dhir produced and recorded the band at Sacred Sounds in Montreal between January 2022 and March of this year. The artist appears in myriad vocal and instrumental roles, notably contributing Elephant Stone's hallmark sitar flourishes. He's joined on the album by drummer Miles Dupire-Gagnon, keyboardist/guitarist Jason Kent, Adam Kinner on sax, Robbie MacArthur on guitar and synth, and Shawn Mativetsky playing the tabla.

Comeback Kid: "Trouble In The Winner's Circle"

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You could levy a similar criticism at my habitual neglect of Comeback Kid. There's a host of veteran punk-and-adjacent bands that I rarely cover here, mostly because I perceive them to be so well-established that I add little to the conversation. I've likely overlooked updates from the Winnipeg hardcore titans for that reason.

"Trouble In The Winner's Circle" is pretty hard to ignore, though. The massive new single marries the band's well-honed attack with just enough self-aware humour to feel fresh. It's the first preview of a new EP, Trouble, due March 15 through New Damage Records. Vocalist Andrew Neufeld commented in a press release:

"'Trouble In The Winner's Circle' is about public meltdowns. Having the world crashing down on you on display for the masses to see, like peering into a fishbowl. It's a tongue and cheek rock anthem driving its point to the bitter end."

The track comes alongside a high-concept video from director Daniel Priess, which finds a miniaturized Comeback Kid performing in a fishbowl while a fight club rages around them. Remove the whimsical aspect, and you're left with a stereotypically meatheaded hardcore video, which is very likely the point.

The band recorded with producer John Paul Peters (Cancer Bats, Propagandhi) at Private Ear Recording in Winnipeg. Will Putney (Knocked Loose, Every Time I Die) mixed the new material. Comeback Kid features vocalist Andrew Neufeld, guitarists Jeremy Hiebert and Stu Ross, bassist Chase Brenneman, and drummer Loren Legare. Trouble follows up on 2022's Heavy Steps.

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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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