Saturday January 6, 2024

Lovely Electricity

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.

Rick White: Music Box

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Rick White's home recording hot streak had one last surprise in store for 2023. In the waning days of December, he delivered a new collection dubbed Music Box, featuring twelve quirky songs with a minimalist new wave bent. While a far cry from White's hallmark of dense, grungy psychedelia, his skill as a composer's proven remarkably adaptable. The Eric's Trip legend commented on the project at Bandcamp:

"The title of my last release [November's De-Evolution] may have referred to the philosophies of a fave band of mine called DEVO, but the songs and sounds didn't. This new album does. I've always loved their inventive use of synths, peppy rhythms and catchy melodic tunes. So to celebrate their 50th anniversary, i was inspired to record a 'synth only' album. Not to specifically try and sound like them, but to just drop my song writing/recording self into a bit of their world for a while.

To make it extra fun, i limited myself to using only my old Yamaha PSS-270 keyboard and one mic for vocals. I really like putting limits like this on projects, it causes you to come up with different ideas than you normally would. Really happy with how it turned out, hope you enjoy it too."

The new EP comes at the tail end of a remarkably productive period for White, rich in both new sounds and retrospection. Following his 2021 solo album Where It's Fine, Rick's album of Sadies covers landed in 2022 as a tribute to the late Dallas Good. Last May saw the debut LP from the throwback-hardcore duo OLD, pairing Rick with Brian Taylor of the Toronto legends Youth Youth Youth). Following a pair of covers collections, November saw the release of De-Evolution, a full-throttle EP channelling White's feedback-drenched roots.

To top it all off, Rick's Blue Fog Recordings recently shepherded several reissues from the Elevator and Eric's Trip archives.

Wet Pleather: Hell Bent For Pleather

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If I recall, the Booji Boys habitually issued new material in the holiday interregnum, a tradition that lives on with their numerous offshoots. This past week saw two new salvos from the prolific Cody Googoo, first an EP from the low-fi racket Wet Pleather. Hell Bent For Pleather isn't going to win any beauty contests as it spits and growls through five grimy tracks in as many minutes. The Halifax punk band, featuring Googoo, Steve Earle, Chad, and Terry, recorded with their frequent collaborator and fellow Booji Boy Adam Ledrew.

You can snag a tape through Toronto's Broken Skull Records. Top points for the album title; sometimes low-hanging fruit just demands to be picked.

Mutated Void: Tarnished EP

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A couple days after Wet Pleather dropped, Googoo's Mutated Void reemerged with their 10-song Tarnished EP. Here we're still happily rolling lo-fi trash, but while Pleather threateningly lumbers in the gutter, the Void's tweaked enough to fight you in broad daylight. There's a breakneck skate/hardcore bent to the Dartmouth four-piece that's equal parts reckless and endearing. You can find the set on 7" through Milwaukee's Unlawful Assembly.

Tarnished follows up on 2022's Slash The Altar EP and the full-length Roses Forever. Mutated Void started as a duo featuring the Fragment bandmates Cody Googoo (Gemstones, Heavenly Blue) and drummer Ben Radford (Unreal Thought). This time out, they're operating as a four-piece with Malcolm and Terry on board. The band recorded in the spring of last year with Luke Mumford.

Y'Know: "Motion Sickness"/"Something"

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This newsletter closely covered the rise of Uh Huh, a dub-heavy evolution of the wry punks once known as Teenanger. Were I still in the habit of making year-end lists, the group's self-titled debut would have ranked highly on mine. Now, through the newly launched Telephone Explosion offshoot Spiritual World, half of Uh Huh are taking that sound a few steps further as Y'Know.

The duo features Bell (as Bally) on bass and vocals, backed by Jon Schouten (as N1_Sound) on guitar, synthesizers, and drum programming. It's an exciting prospect, as the Bell-fronted Uh Huh tracks were a blissful highlight on their album. This week, the pair unveiled their debut single, the two-song set of "Motion Sickness" and "Something." Recorded at the label's Studio Z, they describe the results as a "downbeat balearic dance dub." I'm venturing well outside comfortable frames of reference, but the label compares Y'Know to half-speed Italo-disco sound, with nods to 80s George Clinton and Sly & Robbie. None of that quite captures how Bell's airy vocals float high amidst the haze.

Self Defense: Demo 2024

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Slow Death Records continues unearthing the gnarliest corners of the BC punk and hardcore scenes. Their latest cassette features a 2024 demo from the Victoria quartet Self Defense. The eight-song set features thrillingly frantic vocals from Nathan Pollok (Bad Beat, Vic City), backed by guitarist Mark St Onge, bassist Jeff, and drummer Matt. The label's recommending this for fans of Urban Waste, White Cross, and Violent Future.

Look for a release show on Friday, January 19, at Victoria's Little Fernwood alongside S.S.I.K, Jacker, and Legit Heat.

Union Thugs: "Croire"

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In late December, Montreal folk-punkers the Union Thugs threw their support behind Quebec's public sector workers with a new single. The group had this say about "Croire," issued in solidarity with the striking Front Commun, FAE, and FIQ:

"With the Public Serivces strike that is going on right now in Quebec, we're currently living one of the biggest strike of North America. The teachers of the Autonomous Federation of Teacher have been exercicing an Unlimited General Strike for over 5 weeks now and when the other public services also go out, it's over half a million peoples who are periodicaly on strike at the same time. A strike that is mostly pushed by women, since they represent around 80% of the public services workforce! And a Strike that will have an impact on all society since it's about defending the access to public services such as school and hospitals.

With the Union Thugs, we felt it was our duties to add our voices to the movement. Our bassist is on an unpaid strike for 5 weeks and it's keep going on and the whole band have been cancelling shift at job to go play shows on picket lines, but we feel it's still not enought, so here's this new track, our own composition, to share our solidarity and hope!"

The track follows up on the Union Thugs' 2023 split with Brooklyn's Out of System Transfer and a 2022 set recorded as part of the Pils Sessions series.

Défaillance: Pils Session

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Speaking of the Pils Sessions, the series recently shared a new performance from the Saguenay punk act Défaillance. Last November, the quartet appeared at the Gatineau studio to track nine songs, including several covers. These tributes celebrate the unhinged output of GG Allin while mining Quebec's punk history for cult cuts by Arseniq33, Flokons Givrés, and Inepsy. Given that Pils mastermind Chany Pilote cut his teeth in Inepsy, he fittingly joins the band for a guitar solo on "Who's Next."

As it goes with the Pils Sessions, Pilote recorded and mixed the set at the NOMANSLAND studio while Dizz Hupé documented the results. Défaillance features vocalist Gagnon, bassist Elpunkos, guitarist Spikedfred, and drummer Gab.

Spectres: "The Old Regime"/"AM Gold"

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Slick Vancouver post-punk quintet Spectres have a new album due in March through Artoffact. Presence arrives with 11 new songs, including the lead single "The Old Regime" and this week's newly unveiled "AM Gold." You can preview both at Bandcamp, with the former heavily indebted to new wave titans New Order and the latter taking shades of The Cure. The new album follows up on 2021's Nostalgia, an odds-and-sods collection issued in the wake of 2019's Nostalgia LP.

Originally from Coombs, British Columbia, Spectres features vocalist Brian Gustavson, backed by guitarist Zach Batalden, guitarist Adam Mitchell, drummer Mitch Allen, and bassist Jason Renix.

Ducks Ltd.: "Train Full of Gasoline"

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This week, Toronto jangle-pop duo Ducks Ltd. shared a third single from Harms Way, their sophomore LP. You'll find "Train Full of Gasoline" showcased in a new video directed by boy wonder. In a press release, Tom McGreevy revealed:

"The jumping off point for this song was a friend telling me about the Lac Megantic rail disaster in Quebec. A 73 car train full of crude oil was left unattended and rolled down a hill before derailing and exploding in a town. I read about it a bunch, and to my understanding it was a scenario where a bunch of small errors built up and compounded each other, with the result being a catastrophe out of proportion with any of the individual failures that precipitated it.

The song is about self destructive patterns. How if you try to ignore or minimize issues in your life they can manifest in places you don't expect."

The tune features backing vocals from Ratboys' Julia Steiner and Moontype's Margaret McCarthy, with Ratboys' Marcus Nuccio behind the drum kit. The Chicago-area guests reflect the group's work in the Windy City with producer Dave Vettraino (other tracks also feature members of Dehd). These players appear on the record alongside Ducks' touring drummer Jonathan Pappo (WHIMM, Context, NA) and bassist Julia Wittman (Dilettante), backing the band's core songwriting duo of Tom McGreevy (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (lead guitar, drum programming).

Harms Way arrives February 9 on Royal Mountain and Carpark. It follows up on the band's 2021 album Modern Fiction.

Cinder: Something Strange and Cloudy Across a Crowded Room

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Toronto post-punk outfit Cinder rolled into the holidays with a new EP in hand. Something Strange and Cloudy Across a Crowded Room showcases five new songs from the group, featuring Sam Reilly (Channel Changer) and Robyn Bond (BLANKS). The goth-inspired duo has had this record in the works since 2019.

Cinder's new material follows up on their 2022 single "Another Beautiful Thing You'll Never Get Back" and the Saucers for Eyes EP. Live, the band recently performed these tracks as a four-piece.

Shiv and the Carvers: Physical Capital

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Cinder launched their EP in the last week of December at a show featuring Toronto's "queer roller skate punk" act Shiv and the Carvers. That band issued the bombastic Physical Capital tape in October. Beau Cassidy produced the four-song set with Jesse Turnbull (Dilly Dally, Losers) engineering at Toronto's Taurus Recording.

The Carvers features Shiv Scott on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, backed by lead guitarist Nicole Maxwell, bassist Mina Smart, and drummer Mike Wiznuk. Three of the four have their roots in roller derby, and the brash attitude that sport's famous for certainly comes across in the music.

Sea Of Troubles: "The Agency Group"

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While Hamilton noise-punk trio Sea Of Troubles called it quits last year, the group recently resurfaced to share an unheard track from their archives: an engaging cover of the early Alvvays hit "The Agency Group." The recording features Gawain Arseneault on drums and mastermind Denzel Gordon (A.R. Neptune) on everything else.

Sea of Troubles last issued their "Victor" single in 2022. A year prior, the group shared the one-off "Busted" and their avant-guard full-length カンニング.

Transcendental Rodeo: Pleasure Palace of the Golden Breed

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As a surprise on Christmas Day, Matthew "Doc" Dunn issued a new album from his long-dormant Toronto collective, the Transcendental Rodeo. The instrumental project's new album Pleasure Palace of the Golden Breed features seven previously unreleased songs recorded in the spring of 2012. At that time, the collective featured Dunn alongside Isla Craig, Randy Gagne (Man Made Hill), Steve Kado, Anna Silverstein, Laurel Waterman, Stuart Wiber, and Andrew Zukerman (Fleshtone Aura). Muff Jones produced and engineered the atmospheric set at The Ranch with Mr. Joy's Asher Gould-Murtagh mastering.

Transcendental Rodeo last released Kanata, a sizable posthumous box set issued in 2015 through Cosmic Range Records. Press at the time described the project as an "expanding head band" dealing in "communal hillbilly raga."

"Doc" Dunn issued his Fantastic Light full-length last November.

Friesen/Hume/Waters : Nightspeak

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Since we're trading in extended instrumentals this week, note this upcoming release from Shaking Box Music. Nightspeak is a six-track improvisational post-rock set from the trio of Friesen/Hume/Waters, featuring (then) Calgary guitarist Devin Friesen (Bitter Fictions) alongside drummer Andrew Hume (Cold Water, Burro, Dada Centauri) and saxophonist Nate Waters. Friesen revealed:

"Nightspeak is hardly the first time I've played with Nate Waters or Andrew Hume, but it is the first time we played as a trio. Everyone involved has been documented here on Shaking Box in some form since 2013. Kinda ridiculous it took this long to do so given our shared time in duos, bands, and as friends.

I think this session managed to place us outside of our respective comfort zones without totally losing it. The set of combined in/experience kept things interesting and exploratory - enough of a shared knowledge to not get shy or uncomfortable, but not so familiar as to be rote or too comfortable. Andrew and I have mostly played together in louder noise/rock contexts, but not so often in this post-whatever you want to call it niche that Nate and I tend to carve. Likewise, Nate and I can make a racket but we don't often start there, and when you play without drums you have more space to fill. Together the 'meeting point' drifts across guideposts both art school and dropout.

The record store jerk in me thinks of this as our 'ECMstatic Peace' offering."

The trio recorded this set live in Waters' basement studio in January 2019. Look for it digitally and on cassette through Shaking Box on January 26.

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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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