Thursday February 29, 2024

Ripping Invasives

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.

Apollo Ghosts: Amethyst

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Vancouver vets Apollo Ghosts are off to Japan, marking the occasion with an unexpected new EP dubbed Amethyst. Between the sprawling Pink Tiger and slow-burning diversions like Living Memory, the band's spent several years now expanding their palette and taking what felt like a decidedly unhurried approach to their art. In that context, it's surprising how focused and direct the new EP finds them. Amethyst is hardly a throwback, but it's the tightest expression of Apollo Ghosts' sound in ages - their hallmark charms on full display and laser-focused, particularly Adrian Teacher's nimble wordplay. They deliver this with some notably scrappy sonic trappings, a fascinating swerve from the measured subtlety of their recent work.

You've Changed Records notes just how fired up the band sounds in their press release:

"With distortion pedals and walls of feedback - a first for the Ghosts! - Amethyst overflows with introspection, defiance, and the frustration of grappling with the world's ills, contrasting the monotony of daily life with climate anxiety, the rise of autocracies with the rise of apathy. But throughout, the album cements Apollo Ghosts' status as lifelong underground music defenders and eternal optimists with plenty of nods to 90s indie rock heroes Yo La Tengo, Dead Moon, Pavement, Guided By Voices, Eric's Trip and Built To Spill."

The group recorded as a quartet, with Teacher on guitar and vocals backed by longtime bassist Amanda Panda, drummer Dustin Bromley (Brutal Poodle), and newly added guitarist Hasan Li (Cult Babies). They tracked these seven songs with Jordan Koop (Dumb, The Courtneys) at the Noise Floor on Gabriola Island. David Carswell (Destroyer, New Pornographers) mixed at JC/DC with Josh Stevenson mastering.

Amethyst is available everywhere as a digital-only set (for now, at least, but come on). The release follows 2022's double LP Pink Tiger and their one-off 2023 single "Gave Up The Dream."

Wine Lips: "Derailer"

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Livewire garage/punk combo Wine Lips returns in April with Super Mega Ultra, their fourth full-length and second outing with Stomp Records. You can preview the 12-song set through the commanding lead single "Derailer." On that tune, vocalist/guitarist Cam Hilborn revealed:

"It might have a few different interpretations but it's basically about the lengths people will go to to keep up an image or persona while sacrificing physical and mental health to get there. Pushing yourself to the edge until you feel like you're going to 'derail' off the tracks. I find that social media has this effect on people where they feel the need to act and look a certain way and it's all super fake and hilarious, it's essentially a song mocking that lifestyle."

Based in Toronto, Wine Lips features vocalist/guitarist Cam Hilborn, drummer Aurora Evans, and bassist/percussionist Simon Larochette. Larochette engineered the new album at The Sugar Shack in London, Ontario. Select tracks from the record feature past members Jordan Sosensky (guitar) and Charlie Weare (bass), who both recently resurfaced as part of the Toronto psych conglomerate The Royal Family.

The new album follows up on 2021's Mushroom Death Sex Bummer Party.

Schedule 1: "Crucible"

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Vancouver garage act Schedule 1 has their much-anticipated debut full-length set for a spring release. Crucible lands on April 10 through Council Records in North America and Mendeku Diskak in Europe. You can hear the soaring post-punk title track, one of ten songs from the record, streaming everywhere now. On it, the band comments:

"Forming a relationship with someone is like metallurgy. Sometimes the result is a stronger material, better than the sum of its parts. Sometimes it isn't. 'Crucible' is about this process".

The quartet recorded at Little Red Sounds with Felix Fung (Sore Points, Spectres). Adam Veenendal mastered the set. Schedule 1 features members from similarly goth-influenced Dead Cells, with members appearing in groups like Candy, Bishops Green, and Systematik over the years.

The new LP follows up on the band's self-titled debut EP, issued in 2022 through Dirt Cult Records. Schedule 1 features Grant Minor on vocals, Rob S on guitar, Alex Fraser on bass, and Mitch Schuman drumming.

Brookside Mall: "Mailer Daemon"

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Last week Brookside Mall shared "Mailer Daemon," the melancholy new single from their forthcoming album No More Fragrant Thoughts. The album grapples with relocating to a new town and the lonely, unmoored feelings that result. It reflects the thoughts Brendan MaGee experienced when moving from Fredericton to Halifax.

On the track, the indie trio commented:

"The song leans on a particularly absurd 'what if' to pull a character out of this lonely space where the mailer daemon is the only person sending you emails. In addition to feeling isolated and just sort of looking for contact, you find something comforting about this entity; the neatly itemized lists and thorough rationale for each bounce back. A search of your correspondence shows you've revealed more of yourself than you'd realized."

New Brunswick duo Pallmer contributed to the song's string arrangements. The band first previewed the new record in November with the tunes "NNNYN" and "School Tour." Collectively, they're the indie group's first new material in over five years.

Brookside Mall features Brendan MaGee on vocals and keys, Josh Steeves on percussion, and Dylan Ward on bass. Ward recorded the new album at Fredericton's Shiftwork Recording, with John McLaggan mastering at Parachute. Look for the seven-song No More Fragrant Thoughts in May, following up on the band's 2018 self-titled LP.

Tall Pork: This EP Has 22 Minutes

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North Bay's Tall Pork has a hell of a time on This EP Has 22 Minutes, their new eight-song collection of rough and tumble punk rock. The set, recorded with Peetr Nickle at Nude Beach Studios, marks a quick turnaround from their 2023 debut, The Last Thing You'll Ever Hear. You can find the record digitally or in plastic via Barrie's mighty Tarantula Tapes.

Proudly boasting the brash influence of Canadian legends like DOA and SNFU, Tall Pork features a four-piece crew with the stage names Davey the Mick Bastard (vocals), Vyvyan Bastard (guitar/vocals), Kevin Bastard (drums/vocals), and Pee Pee Bastard (bass).

Brain Itch: The Future Burns

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Hot damn is the new EP from Brain Itch ever a scorcher (befitting its title). The Future Burns, recorded last year with Psychic Void's Josh Kaiser, follows up on the band's 2023 demos - fully realizing two tracks from that session ("An End to All Ends" and "Barbed Wire Disease") as part of an unrelenting five-song set.

The Future Burns is the Toronto-via-Windsor hardcore act's first release with their current touring lineup. Look for the songs on tape next time you catch them live. Brain Itch last issued the Forced To Pay EP in 2021.

Bad River: "Pins and Needles"/"The Stench"

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Toronto garage rockers Bad River return with Modern Laundry, their latest full-length, on April 24. You can preview two songs from the record now, the grungy "Pins and Needles" and the slow-burning shout-along closer "The Stench." The trio recorded with Jesse Turnbull (Losers, Dilly Dally) at Taurus in Toronto, with Dan Weston mastering at the same studio.

Bad River features guitarist/vocalist Thomas Huhtala, bassist Scott Hempstead, and drummer Nathan Heuvingh. They're following up on their 2019 EP Petrol Head. Look for a few album release shows in late April, including a Hamilton stop on the 27th at It's Alright Ma and an April 28 party at Toronto's Bovine Sex Club.

Streets to Ourselves: "Crash"

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It's been a few years since we last heard from Streets to Ourselves, but the Daniel Peachy-lead pop-punk project's back in a big way with their memorable new single "Crash." It's our first preview of the Toronto group's upcoming sophomore LP The Truth Between Us, and it feels like a love letter to the youthful sound of the early 2000s. The band recorded with Sam Guaiana (Silverstein, Like Pacific, Interval) producing and Mike Kalajian (All Time Low, New Found Glory) mastering. You'll find "Crash" featured in an energetic performance video on YouTube.

Initially a solo project, Streets To Ourselves now operates as a trio with Peachy on guitar and vocals backed by bassist Sean Tardo and drummer Jesse Formosa.

Poolblood: "Wringer"

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Polaris long-listed Poolblood has a new EP due April 5 from Next Door Records. The amusingly named features two new studio recordings and a live session of the recent single "Twinkie." You can now preview the gorgeous "Wringer," a track reinforcing Poolblood's uncanny mastery of 90s-tinged dream-pop. You can see it visualized in a video directed by the band's frequent collaborator Shamir Bailey.

Poolblood is the stage name of Toronto singer/songwriter Maryam Said. This track finds them backed by Drew Harmon on guitar, Allen Tate on bass, and Griffin Brown drumming, with string and horn arrangements by Ellis Ludwig-Leone. Tate produced and mixed the new material from New York's Better Company Studios. The new EP follows up on 2023's acclaimed LP, Mole.

Bad Egg: Century Egg

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Acerbic Kitchener/Windsor hardcore act Bad Egg recently unveiled Century Egg, a new six-song EP and the long-overdue follow-up to 2019's Serotonin Flush. The group recorded with Bill Morton (Your Pal Bill, Wordplay, Debt Cemetary). Digital copies are streaming everywhere now, with details pending on a physical release. The band hints that this is the first of two major projects planned for 2024.

Shoulder Season: "Namaste"

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Halifax quartet Shoulder Season recently shared "Namaste," their third single new single issued since their 2022 EP, Not The Time. The band comments:

"It's a critique of wellness culture and self-care / self-help, so much of which is co-opted by capitalism because it's good for the economy. It's also just fun to yell 'NAMASTE!' over skronky guitars."

Shoulder Season features Karen Foster (Safeword) on keyboards and vocals, Mel Sturk (The Johnnies, Yuma County) on guitar and vocals, Kristina Parlee (The Maynards, Smaller Hearts) on bass, and Meg Yoshida (Dog Day, Century Egg) on drums.

Trashed Ambulance: "Kentwood" (ft. Amanda Sousa)

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Red Deer's Trashed Ambulance teamed up with Winnipeg artist Amanda Sousa on their new single "Kentwood." The skate-punk tune lands as the trio prepares for a run of Japanese shows next month. You can stream it at Bandcamp. The band recorded with Cody Blakely at Half Stack Studios.

The new track follows Trashed Ambo's recent "Cyntax Error" single, their second one-off shared following 2022's Thousand Islands Records-issued Future Considerations.

Trashed Ambulance features guitarist/vocalist Josh Hauta, bassist/vocalist Jason (Ozone) Ezeard, and drummer/vocalist Riley Bourne. Sousa's band Death Cassette recently released the snarling Get Rid Of It EP on Hauta and Ezeard's label, High End Denim Records.

Lightmares: "Satisfied Either Way"

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Sudbury garage trio Lightmares channel a vulnerable vein of 90s alt-rock on "Satisfied Either Way," a heartfelt new single and an intriguing tease of whatever they've been working on. The band recorded with Bill Priddle and Dustin Goodall at Unsalted Audio in Sault Ste. Marie.

In 2021 Lightmares released a split EP with Barrie punk act Heavy Petter through Tarantula Tapes. They've issued a handful of digital singles in the years since. The band features vocalist/guitarist Jamie Millard, bassist Nicholas Millard, and drummer Zack Tymchuk.

Sunglaciers: "Fakes"

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Calgary indie outfit Sunglaciers recently released a second preview of their Regular Nature LP, a skittering track titled "Fakes." The song, which opens the 15-track album, features guest guitar work from Chad VanGaalen, who also co-produced the album.

The band commented on the high-string track, which grapples with notions of image and authenticity in the always-online era:

"'Fakes' is a song about performance, artifice, and image. Partly a direct narration of a social scene, partly an inner monologue. It is about how our priorities have changed or are distorted. Instead of who we truly are, the importance seems to be on what we appear to be or how we act. Sometimes these intersect, but oftentimes are at odds. We are desperate to mold a certain self-image, a certain perception from the outside, despite what we really think about a situation. We run a risk of being seen as 'all style, not a lot of substance'. All social interactions are performative. We are striving to be seen as having a certain character, whether or not that's who we truly are or how we believe we 'ought' to be. 'Fakes' is like the subconscious taking over the controls of someone engaging in society ('Don't tell me your thoughts about the weather'), then abruptly turning its focus back inward ('I'm anxious, always acting up')."

Along with VanGaalen, the new record features contributions from shoegazer Daniel Monkman (OMBIIGIZI, Zoon), percussionist Chris Dadge (Lab Coast, the Bleach Wipes), saxophonist Nate Waters (Friesen/Hume/Waters ), and Wares' Cassia Hardy (appearing here on synth). Mark Lawson (The Unicorns, Land of Talk) mixed the album.

Sunglaciers features Evan Resnik on vocals and guitar, Mathieu Blanchard on drums, Kyle Crough on bass, and Nyssa Brown on vocals and guitar. All four members share synth credits. The band's last record, Subterranea, arrived in 2022. Regular Nature, the band's third, lands March 29 through Mothland.

Autogramm: "Diana" / "Licht Aus"

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Vancouver new wavers Autogramm are headed to Europe next month, and they're doing it with a fresh seven-inch single in tow. Issued via Sweden's Beluga Records, the new wax features the original "Diana" backed by a cover of "Licht Aus," originally by the 80s German new wave act Nichts.

C.C. Voltage commented on the composition, which calls back to the sound of Depeche Mode and the Human League:

"The bass line came to me while I was working. I was able to use my break time to grab a cheap synthesizer and track the idea quickly on Garageband. The Silo was able to polish up the ideas in his studio in Chicago and Jiffy used my scratch vocal idea to create the rest of the eerie atmosphere of the song."

The single follows up on the Autogramm's recent Stomp Records LP, Music That Humans Can Play. The band features Jiffy Marx (Night Court), C.C. Voltage (The Spitfires, The Black Halos), Joshua "The Silo" Wells (Black Mountain, Destroyer, Spun Out), and Lars Von Seattle (Bread & Butter, The Catheters).

The Trampoline Delay: "Excuses Excuses"

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Milton, Ontario singer-songwriter Pete Marino has a hooky new single out via his alt-rock / power-pop project The Trampoline Delay. "Excuses Excuses" follows up on the band's debut 2022 LP, In Your Head. On the tune, Marino commented:

"Lyrically, 'Excuses Excuses' is about letting your shyness or social anxiety take over. That battle you have with your inner voice that makes excuses as to why you shouldn't get out there and live your life.

Ironically, I came up with the verse first, which had the line 'But excuses always keep me from my life', after being invited out by a friend to see a band they worked with called Excuses Excuses. Like I sometimes do, my mind came up with an excuse as to why I shouldn't go out that night... and I sort of regretted it within hours. Instead of just going to bed, I went into my home studio, wrote the verse, and basically wrote and recorded the rest of the song in around 3 hours. This is pretty typical for me, as I often write and record, coming up with the parts on the fly, and then forgetting them when it comes time to play them, because they were one and done."

The track arrives via Swear Word Records.

The Trampoline Delay finds Marino on bass and vocals backed by drummer Gerard Ross, rhythm guitarist Willie Villaverde, and lead guitarist John MacIntosh. In a past life, Marino played in the late 90s/early 2000s indie rock act Knacker.

Phuture Memoriez: "Some Open Hand Cues"

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Vancouver synth-punk duo Phuture Memoriez have a wild new video showcasing "Some Open Hand Cues," a track from their recent LP Play Cobra. You can see it now on YouTube. The 10-song record arrived last fall boasting a curious concept, with the lyrics based around the unofficial instructions to Cobra, a musical improv game created by jazz musician John Zorn. Mercifully, the particularities of jazz theory aren't a prerequisite for enjoying this band's twitchy weirdness.

Phuture Memoriez is a post-industrial duo featuring Marc and Jessica Blaquiere. They formerly played as the experimental electronic group Jerk In The Can. Play Cobra follows up on their 2023 Coulrophobia split with Jibbernaut and their 2021 LP Super Awesome Fantastic Distortion Machines.

Julie Aubé: "I Won't Let Your Love"

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I won't twist myself in knots trying to justify Julie Aubé's place amidst the scuzzy punk that usually fills this space. The Acadian artist, one-third of East Coast indie-folk mainstays Les Hay Babies, is simply the best at what she does, and her enthusiastic twang makes me immeasurably happy. The artist's new single "I Won't Let Your Love" previews her first fully English release, a five-song set titled Boiling Over. It's an absolute delight of warm, Linda Ronstadt-channeling country goodness. You can stream it everywhere now.

The single features Aubé on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, backed by Mico Roy (Les Hôtesses d'Hilaire) on guitar, Marc-André Belliveau on drums, Benoit Bouchard (Dany Placard) on bass, and Chris Stafford on fiddle and pedal steel. The new record arrives on April 5 through Simone Records, following up on 2022's Contentement.

Mike Trask: "40 Fathoms Back"

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Memramcook singer-songwriter Mike Trask has a new single out, the compelling folk ballad "40 Fathoms Back." The track finds the eclectic fisherman-come-producer working entirely solo, performing guitar, bass, and drums while handling the production tasks. Trask's past career on the water heavily factors in the lyrics, offering a rare glimpse into a life his artistic output's only ever toyed with. It's our first preview of an upcoming full-length titled BEET.

The new record follows several entries in Trask's archive-mining VAULT series and a steady stream of oddball digital one-offs. Recent collaborators on those songs include Keith Hallett of Janowskii and the above-mentioned Julie Aubé and Katrine Noël of Les Hay Babies. Trask's last proper LP, TV Dinner, came out in 2021.

METZ: "Entwined" / "99"

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METZ seems a shade less chaotic on the first previews of Up on Gravity Hill, their new LP. All things relative, they remain the band who put Toronto's noise-punk scene on the map, but there's a noticeable shift in the loud/quiet dynamic of these new songs. With so many miles behind them, an uptick in maturity feels natural, and I suspect we're also seeing some bleed-over from Alex Edkins' power-pop side gig Weird Nightmare.

Edkins reflects on the band's evolution in a press release:

"The lyrical content is more heart-on-sleeve than I've ever allowed myself to do. I tried to be direct with my words, this record felt like a big step...

We've never been heavy enough for metal or hardcore purists, but we're way too heavy for indie rock. We just don't have a lane—and that's okay. We exist outside the lines of delineation. I think this record is even more like that."

The new record also finds the trio working with some notable guest collaborators, including string composer Owen Pallett and vocalist Amber Webber of Black Mountain.

Edkins continues:

"We're at the point now where we feel really strong as a band and as musicians, and there is no second guessing our collective instincts. Allowing ourselves to branch out and work with other musicians has been a blessing and also continues to remind us that what we have, our musical bond, is very rare and really special."

METZ's core trio remains guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins, drummer Hayden Menzies, and bassist Chris Slorach. The group again recorded with engineer Seth Manchester (Big|Brave, Tunic) at Pawtucket's Machines With Magnets. The new album arrives on April 12 through Sub Pop and Dine Alone Records, following up on 2020's Atlas Vending.

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.

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