Wednesday May 15, 2024

Think Blue Count Two

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.

Golden Drag: Twin Paradise

Watch "Think Blue Count Two" at YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Greys had one hell of an arc. The Toronto noise-punk group teased new frontiers with each subsequent release, ending somewhere entirely different from where they began and demonstrating growth with a grace that bands often find elusive. As a solo project, Golden Drag probably shouldn't have to shoulder the weight of its predecessor, but it's hard to hear Shehzaad Jiwani's vocals without putting the two into conversation. I still rock an increasingly threadbare Greys t-shirt, so I'm not the best judge of when to let go.

I assume the see-you-in-the-pit types were unhappy then, but I liked that Greys got weird. As the group took their foot off the gas, they traded angst for atmosphere with almost surgical precision, never expanding so far or fast that they lost the plot but demonstrably uninterested in standing still. The shift to electronics and navel-gazing bedroom pop felt well-earned when an increasingly world-weary Jiwani debuted Golden Drag with 2018's Pink Sky. When 2022's Promenade foregrounded a Britpop influence, the change felt as natural as any that came before.

Twin Paradise landed in April with 15 new songs covering a spectrum of moods and subgenres. The artist discussed the work in a series of lengthy screenshots shared on Instagram, explicitly drawing attention to the record's unwieldy scope. These posts share Jiwani's affection for sprawling, famously unpruned double and triple albums in the spirit of Sandinista and The Fragile, along with "post-masterwork" 90s records like Hello Nasty. It's a fascinating and candid piece of writing. As tempted as I am to paste the complete dissertation here, it would double the length of this newsletter. Ultimately, he calls the collection "the closest thing to an optimistic record I have ever made."

You can stream the album now and see the industrial-leaning "Think Blue Count Two" in a video by Jiwani and the glitchy visual artist Dan Haywood. Shehzaad calls the track emblematic of the record with its "equal parts cybernetic and psychedelic" sound. He notes the accompanying video tries for "something in the Adam Curtis zone by way of William Gibson" but "mostly just ended up being me bothering people around Chinatown with my unsanctioned buffoonery." At least I'm amused, for what that's worth.

Golden Drag will match all proceeds from sales of Twin Paradise, and donate the funds raised to Anera and HEAL Palestine. Pick up a copy at Bandcamp.

Laughing: "Bruised"

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Montreal quartet Laughing has their debut LP lined up for the summer. Because It's True promises a well-considered set of melodic power-pop from a veteran group of players. The group brings together Josh Salter of Nap Eyes and Monomyth, Cole Woods of Human Music, singer/songwriter André Charles Thériault, and Fountain's Laura Jeffery. Jeffrey's drumming while the rest trade off on guitar and bass, with everyone chipping in on vocals. If you were to map those past bands, you'd draw lines spanning Vancouver Island to Halifax, with stops in Winnipeg and Sudbury, at the very least.

The group recorded the brunt of their 11-song debut with Faith Healer's Renny Wilson at Value Sound (a single track stems from a session with Preoccupations' Scott Munro, as well). You can preview the 90s-flavoured lead single "Bruised" alongside a suitably lo-fi video.

Celluloid Lunch Records has Because It's True slated for a Canadian release on June 28, with Madrid's Meritorio Records serving the record elsewhere. You can dig into Laughing's history in an interview recently published by the Paperface Zine.

Cosmic Club: Don't Dream at Night

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I'll go out on a limb and boast that Some Party is the nation's foremost Chance Hutchison news source. I'm unsure if that's much of an honour, but it's probably not a stretch. Over the past few years, I've followed a flurry of activity from the Montreal musician with the slick post-punk outfit Private Lives and buzzsaw favourites PRIORS. There's always a scattering of side projects in the mix, and Cosmic Club's one we've been waiting to hear from since 2019.

Ostensibly a solo project, Cosmic Club doesn't stray far from the sounds Hutchison's known for, albeit with a jangly garage-pop spin. You can hear the playful three-song Don't Dream at Bandcamp now, a set recorded at the Blueberry Patch in Chateauguay, QC.

Private Lives' debut LP Hit Record came out last summer, as did PRIORS' Mothland debut, Daffodil.

Stephen Hamm Theremin Man: Songs For The Future

Watch "Planet Earth" on YouTube

Stephen Hamm has a rather storied history in the Vancouver music universe, from the infamous 80s punk act Slow to the absurdist Canned Hamm and eventually a stint with Nardwuar's manic Evaporators. Hamm's solo efforts of late have focused on the theremin and dive gleefully into space rock. That's the case, sonically and thematically, with Songs For The Future, the artist's new LP as Stephen Hamm Theremin Man.

You can stream the nine-song epic everywhere, with videos available for the singles "Planet Earth" and "Are You Receiving Me." In a press release, Hamm touts the collaborators joining him on his latest psych-rock odyssey:

"I'm excited to share Songs for the Future with everyone. This album represents a new chapter in my creative journey. Unlike the first Theremin Man album, which was a solo effort, I also had some great help with this new album from Shawn Mrazek (Flash Bastard, The Evaporators) on drums and Felix Fung (Pointed Sticks, Colleen Rennison, Mode Modern) on guitar and production."

The theremin is notoriously tricky, as it requires no physical contact from the performer and has a reputation for eerie, otherworldly sounds. The player manipulates the device by moving their hands among two antennae, separately controlling the pitch and volume. Hamm studied the instrument under the tutelage of German virtuoso Carolina Eyck and New York's Dorit Chrysler.

Hamm issued his first Theramin Man record in 2019.

Fold Paper: "Nothing to Report"

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Royal Mountain Records is working with the Winnipeg-based Fold Paper. Led by Nigerian-born, Michigan-raised guitarist/vocalist Chell Osuntade, the quartet delivers high-strung post-punk on their new single "Nothing to Report." It's available to stream everywhere and captured in a new video from Julio Assis and BNB Studios. Osuntade's skittering guitar work and deadpan vocals make one hell of a first impression.

The band has a summer of domestic and overseas festival appearances planned, including stops at Calgary's East Town Get Down and Sled Island.

Osuntade's played in several Winnipeg groups over the years, most recently as bassist for the indie rock group Julien's Daughter. He's toured internationally as a sideman for JayWood and Super Duty Tough Work.

Constant Greetings: Showpony

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

In the spring Saint John indie rock act Constant Greetings issued their sophomore LP Showpony. The group recorded at a New Brunswick fishing camp with Corey Bonnevie (Doctor Mother Father/Monopolized Records), their second outing with the producer following their 2023 debut, Field Trips. You can hear the 10-song set everywhere, with the single "Bootsmart" featured in a video with footage from those camp sessions.

Constant Greetings features JP Lewis on vocals and guitar, guitarists Stephen Robinson and Jeff Marr, bassist Jeff Melanson, drummer Peter Wallace, and synth/keys player James Lea. Lea joined after their last record, and their presence gives these songs an added dimension compared to that early work.

If you, like me, spent the better part of your young adulthood binging Constantines and Ladyhawk records, you'll find a lot to love here. Constant Greetings crafts with a comforting sense of space in their songs, and JP Lewis's wearied vocals are perfect for the style.

The Garrys: "Cakewalk"

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Saskatoon "cold surf" group The Garrys are now a quartet, with sisters Lenore, Julie, and Erica Maier now joined by their brother Matthew on guitar. The group's new single "Cakewalk" is the first to showcase their expanded lineup. It arrives alongside a vintage-styled video from director Carey Shaw, using the band's oft-haunting sound as the soundtrack to a fictionalized Miss Saskatoon pageant (although very much inspired by a 1988 archive of the real thing). The band shared:

"On 'Cakewalk,' The Garrys weave criss-crossing guitar riffs and a three-part braid of harmony with the rhythmic stutter and warm analog warble of a well-loved VHS tape. Lyrically, the track explores the nuggets of good advice we've all ignored, the existential discomfort of holding multiple truths, and the stoic relief of resignation to an indifferent universe - sounds easy enough, right?"

The Garrys recorded with Barrett Ross at Rec Hall Studios in Saskatoon. The track features Erica and Matthew on guitar, Julie on bass, and Lenore on drums, with the sisters sharing vocal duties. The song's the first from the group since Get Thee To a Nunnery, issued in 2021 through Grey Records and produced by the late Dallas Good of The Sadies.

Amery: Continue as Amery

Watch "Mountain FM" on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal artist Amery Sandford recently revealed her latest evolution, shedding the Alpen Glow moniker to perform simply as Amery. The title to her debut solo LP lampshades the shift, with Continue As Amery due May 31 through Glasgow's Night School Records. You can preview the artist's take on late-night synthpop through "Hotwire the Night" and "Mountain FM," the latter accompanied by an animated video from Quinn Hopkins of Noodin Studio. Sandford's live band, featuring Sarah Harris, Jack Bielli, and Frank Climenhage, can be heard on the single.

Amery recorded in Montreal with David Carriere (TOPS, Marci), Patrick Holland, and Kristian North.

As Alpen Glow, Sandford issued a series of short-form indie-pop releases throughout the pandemic. She and David Carriere also performed as the pop duo Born at Midnite during that period. In a past life, Sandford recorded a small catalogue of delightful pop-punk tunes as part of the Newfoundland group BBQT.

The Anti-Queens: "Crusade"

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Toronto punk combo The Anti-Queens issue their new LP this week through Stomp Records. The band highlights the politically charged single "Crusade" in a new video by Michael Crusty, filmed at The Biltmore Theatre in Oshawa. The group shared the clip in late April with an unequivocal statement of intent:

"The song 'Crusade' delves into the oppression of minority groups, particularly the Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Reality reveals a history of land theft, forced assimilation and cultural erasure, where colonizers impose their values and religion while kidnapping and committing murder. At the heart of it all, despite these atrocities, many of us yearn for peace, reconciliation, and equality for all, including minorities, and advocate for an end to the perpetuation of falsehoods in education. It's crucial for white individuals and colonizers to acknowledge the truth and stop the cycle of misinformation. There is no pride in genocide."

The video features appearances from Cross Dog's Tracy A and Ale Serritiello of MakeWar and The Creepshow. You can hear Tracy and Toronto powerhouse Danko Jones shouting along on the audio.

The Anti-Queens' new 13-track record features Emily Bones on lead vocals and guitar, Valerie Knox on guitar and vocals, Michael Crusty on bass, and Alejandro Serritiello drumming. The band recorded with producer Steve Rizun, following up on their 2019 self-titled record.

Cross Dog: "Hard Feelings"

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Speaking of Cross Dog, the Peterborough hardcore act also has a new record due from Stomp. The group performs as a guitarless three-piece, with vocalist Tracy A backed solely by the rhythm section of bassist Mark Rand and drummer Mikey Reid. The band's new LP arrives on June 7, a 10-song LP following up on 2019's Hollow. It finds the group recording at High Wattage Cottage with ex-Cancer Bats guitarist Scott Middleton.

You can get your first taste of Cross Dog's new sounds with the album-opening "Hard Feelings." It arrived alongside a Mikey Reid-directed video contrasting the band's everpresent angst with bonkers comedy.

Dany Placard: "Promener le chien"

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Saguenay singer-songwriter Dany Placard returns this fall with a new record, one you can preview with the advance single "Promener le chien." An ode to canine companionship in difficult times, the folk tune finds the artist playing in a stripped-down mode, especially compared to his recent album cycle.

In 2020, Placard issued J'connais rien à l'astronomie, a lavish and guest-packed psych-rock opus. He followed it with the companion piece Astronomie(suite) the year after, both through Simone Records. In 2022, Placard and New Brunswick indie legend Julie Doiron issued their debut as the duo Julie & Dany.

Placard's on the road in June, playing a run of Ontario shows as part of Doiron's backing back with Ian and Daniel Romano. It's a live reunion of the recording team behind Julie's 2021 You've Changed LP, I Thought Of You.

Les Hay Babies: "Entre le chien et le loup"

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Acadian folk-rock trio Les Hay Babies recently shared "Entre le chien et le loup," the rollicking first single from their upcoming LP. Due in the fall, the album will be the Moncton group's fourth, following up on 2020's Boîte aux lettres.

Les Hay Babies features Katrine Noël, Vivianne Roy, and Julie Aubé. They're backed on this recording by slide guitarist Mico Roy (Les Hôtesses d'Hilaire) and drummer Marc-André Belliveau. Mico and Léandre Bourgeois recorded the group at La Grosse Rose studio in Tintramar, NB.

The new Hay Babies record follows Julie Aubé's recent country EP Boiling Over, her first entirely performed in English. It arrived in April through Simone Records.

20 Eyes: Summer Camp

Watch "Silent Where You Hide" on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

This Friday, Charlottetown punks 20 Eyes issue Summer Camp, their debut LP. The band's Misfits influence remains strong as ever and benefits from a noticeable uptick in production value. The new album collects the band's three recent singles, including the recent "Evening Walk, "Cold Love," and April's "Silent Where You Hide." A video featuring the latter just surfaced on YouTube.

20 Eyes features guitarist/vocalist Matthew Ford, bassist/vocalist Ryan Van Winkle, and drummer Jackson Boulter. The group last issued the "All Hallows' Eve" single in 2022. Look for the band on tour through June, with gigs lined up in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes alongside Green Eyes, Witch Hands.

The Slime: Trapped on Blood Island

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Toronto hardcore quartet The Slime recently issued the gritty three-song Trapped on Blood Island. The group recorded the EP with Dylan Frankland (Tallies/Head Crack) at Wychwood Sound, following up their 2022 Cursed Blessings LP Living on Borrowed Slime.

My pal Em Moore recently interviewed the band in depth at The piece delves into the band's recording process and the inspiration they find in horror flicks. Check it out.

Dirty Cheetah: Polite as Fuck

Watch "Can't Sleep" on YouTube - Preview and purchase at Bandcamp

Montreal garage-punk act Dirty Cheetah recently issued their four-song Polite as Fuck EP. The set finds the band recording with engineer Jocelyn Gagné and mixer Ryan Battistuzzi - the same team they worked with on 2020's Never Too Late. You can hear the raucous set at Bandcamp or watch the kinetic "Can't Sleep" video on YouTube. That clip finds the band attending a Battlewar wrestling show at Montreal's legendary Foufounes Electriques.

Dirty Cheetah features vocalist/guitarist Patrick Morissette, guitarist François Letourneau, bassist Luc Binett, and drummer Lynn Poulin (Pale Lips, Taxi Girls).

Subb x Mudie: Cat Songs

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This June Thousand Islands Records promises a unique collaboration from Montreal punk veterans Mudie and Subb. The bands paired up for a fundraising tribute to the late Kim Shattuck of The Muffs. On the limited edition Cat Songs record, the groups join forces to cover the Muffs songs "Outer Space" and "End of it All" - with a portion of the proceeds slated for the ALS Foundation. The bands round off the release by covering each other, with Subb tackling Mudie's "Post-Pyong" and Mudie returning the favour by covering the punk group's "Rodney Dangerfield." These songs mark Subb's first new studio work in nearly 15 years and feature their first French performance.

The silk-screened album cover, which opens in the centre (barn door style), features new artwork by Hugo Mudie. The four songs appear on a single-sided 12" cut at 45 rpm. Look for Cat Songs on June 21.

Mudie's known for his years fronting bands like The Sainte Catherines and Yesterday's Ring before launching a prolific and varied solo career. Subb was a staple of the early 2000s Montreal ska-punk scene. They last issued To This Beat in 2009 on Stomp.

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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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