Tuesday April 2, 2024

Phone Booth in the Desert of the Mind

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.

Motorists: "Phone Booth in the Desert of the Mind"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto power-pop trio Motorists returns in May with Touched by the Stuff, their sophomore LP. You can preview the set through the lead single "Phone Booth in the Desert of the Mind," a kinetic track that finds guitarist Craig Fahner and bassist Matt Learoyd singing in unison. This is the fullest Motorists have sounded by a mile, with their love of 90s alt-rock worn on their sleeves. On the tune, Fahner comments:

"This song continues a lyrical theme from Surrounded - of simultaneously wanting to leave society, but realizing the alienation that comes from being too far out of range. I remember writing it while I had a fever in the middle of summer in my non-air conditioned upstairs room in Toronto. The song has a real 'heat-induced delirium' feeling captured in the image of wandering alone in a desert, looking for an oasis but only finding a phone booth (a reference to the infamous Mojave Phone Booth). This song came together in one sitting - I was so excited about the hooky riff, Byrdsy rhythm guitar and off-kilter guitar solo that it made sense to keep on following the feeling and commit to the 'first-thought, best-thought' approach."

The single arrived alongside a quirky video game designed by Fahner and Nora Liu. In it, the player manipulates the landscape around a moving car, making the track's imagery literal while never ceding enough control to shed its surrealism. You can play with it at https://motorists.online.

The new material follows up on 2021's Surrounded, arriving May 24 through We Are Time in North and South America and Bobo Integral elsewhere. The trio recorded with Jesse Turnbull (Losers, Dilly Dally) engineering and mixing at Toronto's Taurus Recording, with Eddy Current Suppression Ring's Mikey Young (Dumb, Itchy Self) mastering.

Motorists features longtime collaborators Craig Fahner and Matt Learoyd, now backed by drummer Nick MicKinlay. While based in Toronto, Fahner and Learoyd have roots in several Calgarian bands, notably Feel Alright, Leather Jacuzzi, Lab Coast, and Mount Analogue.

Hood Rats: "Fuck The Police"/"Occupied Territory"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

There's something endearingly straightforward about Montreal's Hood Rats, and with each new release, I'm more impressed with how well they capture the vitality of early punk. The band's readying their first vinyl release for Friday, a 14-song set titled Crime, Hysteria & Useless Information. The LP collects material previously heard on the digital EPs Rockefeller Funeral and Drop In Burn Out with a few additional tracks. You can preview two of those, "Fuck The Police" and "Occupied Territory" at Bandcamp today. Circle Jerks energy abounds.

Hood Rats is a project by Montreal skateboarder Tony Salador (Tainted Youth, Road Bones). While nascent performances often found him anchoring the group as the joint drummer/singer, recent live shows feature Tony on guitar and vocals backed by bassist Andy McAdam (The Planet Smashers, Boids) and drummer Guillaume Tremblay (Durs Coeurs, Mode Alarme). This set recalls the work ethic of those early days, with Salador playing everything solo. Ryan Battistuzzi (Taxi Girls, Fuudge, Conditions Apply) engineers with Paul Edwards mastering.

Ariel, Mathias and Shotgun Jimmie: Hardly Working EP

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In early 2020, The Burning Hell's core duo issued Never Work, a concept album that recast traditional labour anthems for the information age. These were protest songs for the smartphone era, grappling with the gig economy, self-checkout kiosks, voyeuristic digital assistants, and other hits of late-stage capitalism. It's a favourite of mine but an unfortunate casualty of the first wave of the pandemic. Our attention diverted elsewhere, perhaps understandably.

It's a shame, though, as everything Ariel Sharratt and Mathias Kom wrote about proved remarkably prescient later that year: It was uncertain if CERB and other emergency benefits applied to the freelancer class. The tech billionaires promised ventilators that never quite materialized. Floor workers at Amazon's warehouses took the picket line over safety concerns. Never Work touched on it all mere months before the pandemic brought it into sharp relief.

The world kept turning (as it tends to). With a new Burning Hell album to support, Never Work took a backseat. The opportunity for a live showcase faded amid lockdowns and venue closures. But the band never forgot about it, and in the coming weeks, Kom and Sharratt, with their You've Changed labelmate Shotgun Jimmie in tow, are finally touring this material. They've even recorded a follow-up EP, Hardly Working, to celebrate the UK trip, with each artist contributing two new songs.

You can find the audio from your preferred soulless tech behemoth, except for a mysterious set of additional songs reserved exclusively for the cassette b-side. The trio recorded this material in February of this year, working remotely between their respective home bases in Fairfield, PEI and Brandon, Manitoba.

In the years since Never Work, The Burning Hell issued their Garbage Island LP. It landed in 2022 through You've Changed and BB*Island. Shotgun Jimmie had the good sense to release his Transistor Sister 2 LP in the summer of 2019, steering well clear of the then-looming apocalpyse.

Population II: "R.B."

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal psych trio Population II returns on April 19 with a new EP for Bonsound. Serpent Échelle arrives just a few months following the release of the group's sophomore LP, with three of its four tracks stemming from the same sessions that birthed Électrons libres du québec. This set finds the group experimenting with heavier sounds and taking wilder swings. You can hear that in the compelling preview track "R.B.," which balances a rough-hewn proto-punk vibe against an ominous Fugazi-evoking bassline.

The EP will be available digitally and on cassette on April 19. The group recorded with producers Emmanuel Éthier (Corridor, Jonathan Personne) and Dominic Vanchesteing. Population II features vocalist/drummer Pierre-Luc Gratton, guitarist/keyboardist Tristan Lacombe, and bassist Sébastien Provençal. The band originated in the town of Saint-Joseph-du-Lac in the Lower Laurentians.

This month, the group is touring the US to support LA psych act Meatbodies, hopping the border for a lone Toronto date at The Garrison on April 23. Look for the trio on the road this summer, performing the festival circuit in Quebec and Ontario.

Night Court: "Cellphone"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

This May, the Vancouver punk trio Night Court team up with Oregon cretins The Dumpies for a nine-song split EP on Hovercraft Records. You can check out the lo-fi rager "Cellphone" as your first preview of The Shit Split Part Duh. It's featured in a low-budget video shot while Jiffy Marx and Dave-O vacationed in Oaxaca, Mexico. On that, Marx explains:

"We make our videos like we write and record, pretty quick and dirty. We used whatever we could find- an abandoned boat, a busted pay phone, the swimming pool where we were staying- as the set and just made up the rest as we went along. Then Emilor and I shot her stuff in my basement when we got back home."

The band cites J Church, Toys That Kill, and Built To Spill as inspiration for the song.

The new EP arrives amidst news that Night Court will issue their next full-length through legendary Californian punk label Recess Records. The power pop trio features bassist/vocalist Jiffy Marx (Autogramm), guitarist Dave-O (Jiffy Marker, Blood Meridian), and drummer Emilor Jane (Synchromantics, Pet Blessings).

Night Court released Humans!, their third LP, via Snappy Little Numbers and Debt Offensive last summer. They followed it with the Frater Set EP on Dromedary Records in the fall.

Jade Hairpins: "Unreliable"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Jonah Falco's quirky indie pop side gig Jade Hairpins recently shared a new single. "Unreliable" is the first new music from the group since 2022's "Life in England" one-off. The quickly shifting track is described as "[a song] about living up to the ideals and expectations of an ever-changing brain, will, body, and world." The group further comments on the sound, calling it "a wink of Hairpins style Talking-Mondays pop stuffed around some 'we've got ABBA at home' lustre."

Falco recorded the track with Ben Spence at Fuzzbrain Studios in Walthamstow, London, with Mike Haliechuk co-producing. Dan Alvarez-Giraldo of Micromoon contributes a guitar solo to the piece, with Tamsin Murray Leach singing backup. The tune dropped as the group hit the road for a short run of shows supporting Pissed Jeans.

Pairing Jonah Falco and Mike Haliechuk of Toronto hardcore titans Fucked Up, the anglophile Jade Hairpins issued their debut LP, Harmony Avenue, through Merge in 2020.

Perestroika: "Foreign Keys"

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Montreal new wave revivalists Perestroika recently previewed their "Foreign Keys" single at Punknews.org. The track arrived with a video directed by PRIORS' Alan Hildebrandt at Studio Del Scorpio. The band's Shravan Deolalikar produced the new track, with the aforementioned Jonah Falco and Chany Pilote (of the Pils Sessions) mixing. Falco mastered the audio, as well. Lauding the track, he commented:

"Everything good happens after midnight. Like a heavy steel door swinging open bringing an unwelcome rush of cold air into a breathless, lowly lit bar, Perestroika brings you 'Foreign Keys.' Seven floor-filling bad decision blasts of lustrous and icy disco, topped with deep and melodic vocals that feel like The Sisters of Mercy on an all-inclusive vacation in Italy circa 1981. Touches of the ever-eternal KINO, 'Soviet Disco,' Brazilian Funk, Moroder, Happy Mondays, and an 80s action film you've never seen. A dark coat full of secrets, betrayal, back channel supremacy, justice, and malaise, 'Foreign Keys' is simultaneously the sound of going up and coming down."

Perestroika emerged in 2017 as the home-recording project of Shravan Deolalikar, US ex-pat and former bassist for bands like Richmond's Lost Tribe. After experimenting solo, the act grew to include guitarist Gustavo Rodriguez (Malokio) and vocalist Taylor Hoodlum Stevenson (The Omegas, Mickey Dagger, Young Blades).

The new Perestroika material follows up on 2021's Monolith.

Choices Made: "Happiness In Troubled Times"

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Choices Made's new EP, Happiness In Troubled Times, is slated for an April 19 release. You can stomp along to the minute-long title track in a new video from Crusty Media (Brutal Youth, Danko Jones).

Vocalist Josh Marostega commented on the new set, revealing that "[this] release is a bit closer to personal struggles," citing "mental health and the urge to find more out of life in a time where the modern world feels so bleak." Bassist Andrew Wright touts the record's intensity, noting "these new songs are a definite step up from our last release," promising "more thrash, more melody, [and] more heavy hitters!"

The band's scheduled a release party for Friday, May 3, at Toronto's Bovine Sex Club. Guests at the event include local punks Dragged In, Kitchener/Windsor hardcore act Bad Egg, and Tracy A from the heavy Peterborough act Cross Dog.

The Toronto hardcore/punk act is following up on Reason for Conflict, issued in 2021 through Cursed Blessings Records. Choices Made features Josh Marostega on vocals, guitarist Steve Medeiros, bassist Andrew Wright, and drummer Mike Krazz.

Wine Lips: "Fried IV"

Watch on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Toronto garage/punk combo Wine Lips recently shared a second preview of their imminent LP Super Mega Ultra. Vocalist/guitarist Cam Hilborn had this to say on "Fried IV," which arrives alongside a frantic new video:

"I was very transfixed on a riff from a song we decided to cut from the record so I just ended up reworking the whole song into something I was stoked about. It was the last song recorded for the record, I hadn't even rehearsed it with Aurora before going to the studio and I pieced the lyrics together right before recording them. We pretty much worked that song out on the spot with our engineer, Simon, and it became one of my favourite tracks on the record."

The new record arrives this Friday, April 5, through Stomp Records. It's the band's fourth full-length and second with Stomp.

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 Wine Lips 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.

The Fuckin Astronauts: "Sega Star"

Listen at SoundCloud

Toronto synth-punk duo The Fuckin Astronauts don't lift a finger without a sneer and a boast - and they apply that lousy attitude to classic video gaming with "Sega Star." If you funnelled your adolescent angst into Streets of Rage 2, this one's for you. You can hear the track on SoundCloud.

Come to think of it, this is (at least) the third TFA track to feature some childhood toy from the 90s. It follows up their "GT Racer" recording from February. The Fuckin Astronauts features Liam Cosby (Dark Trip, Vypers) with Dorrie Mack. They're billed here as Turbo Mike and Billie Hammer. The band's following up on their 2022 EP, PJ $TYLE.

The Dirty Nil: "Am I The Menace?"

Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Dine Alone Records has a deluxe edition of The Dirty Nil's Free Rein to Passions out this week. The new version adds eleven tracks to the playlist, including nine demos, a cover of Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," and a fresh single. Singer/guitarist Luke Bentham spoke briefly on "Am I The Menace?", revealing:

"When we cut this one and our producer, John Goodmanson, heard my lyrics, he laughed and called me a brat. A semi-sincere self examination, compiled from observing others."

The Dundas power trio issued Free Rein to Passions in March of this year. Goodmanson recorded it at Jukasa Media, a rural studio in Ohsweken, Ontario. The album is the first to feature Bentham, longtime drummer Kyle Fisher, and new bassist Sam Tomlinson (Captain Wildchild).

ACTORS: "In Real Life"

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Slick Vancouver post-punk quartet ACTORS recently shared "In Real Life," a cinematic new single and the first hint at their direction following 2021's Acts of Worship. You can see the track alongside a stylish black-and-white video that deftly nails the band's noirish cool. On the track, band lead Jason Corbett revealed:

"Writing and recording music is a kind of creative dance. You don't always know who's leading. You just do your best to listen and not get in the way. 'In Real Life' is the beginning of another chapter of the ACTORS journey."

The new track arrives via Artoffact Records. ACTORS features Jason Corbett on lead vocals and guitar, Leathers' Shannon Hemmett on synth, Kendall Wooding on bass, and drummer Adam Fink.

The Anti-Queens: "Doomed Again"

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Toronto punk'n'roll combo The Anti-Queens have a new LP lined up for a May 17 release through Stomp Records. You can preview the 13-track Disenchanted now via the infectious lead single "Doomed Again," a track that deftly channels the sound and energy of the EpiFat era. In a press release, the band's Valerie Knox commented:

"Doomed Again is a love letter to all the bands out there who never stop doing the grind. There's almost always something that can and will go wrong, but it's never dull being in a rock n' roll band".

The band's Emily Bones and director Michael Crusty showcase the track in a music video filmed in Ajax and Oshawa, Ontario, partly at the band's rehearsal space. They share:

"While we did our best to plan everything, we still ended up crafting our ghost costumes until 4 am just before the jam space shoot, all while a massive blizzard swept through. Very on brand for the title of the song".

The Anti-Queens features Emily Bones on lead vocals and guitar, Valerie Knox (of Oshawa's Black Cat Attack) on guitar and vocals, Dallas Conte on drums, and Taylor Cos (of Newmarket's Rue Bella) on bass and vocals.

Yoo Doo Right: The Sacred Fuck

Watch "Full Health (BBB)" on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal post-rock trio Yoo Doo Right returned in March with The Sacred Fuck, an EP built upon a layered collage of field recordings and strange audio artifacts, what the band calls "an attempt at evoking emotion and expressing narrative ideas through found sound sketches." These experiments play out over four tracks before cumulating in "FULL HEALTH (BBB)," a propulsive instrumental number recorded at Studio Mixart with engineer Trevor Turple. The powerhouse single's their first since their acclaimed 2022 LP A Murmur, Boundless to the East. Label Mothland wrote enthusiastically about the track, sharing:

"Anchored around an earth-shattering drum shuffle, the 8-minute epic pits melodic arpeggios against devilish harmonies, eventually reaching a cataclysmic finale that magnificently blurs the line between angst and hope."

The closing song is also featured in a new animated short by director Jared Karnas. In a press release, they reveal:

"This video is basically two simple loops playing over and over (and over) along this epic journey of a song that Yoo Doo Right crafted. It follows a cyclist riding head first into the eye of a storm (or into the chaos of life) with total disregard of their own safety."

Yoo Doo Right features Justin Cober on guitar, synthesizers, and vocals, Charles Masson on bass, and John Talbot on drums.

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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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