Sunday April 14, 2019

Street Action

Aside from a few years of school, I've lived in Niagara Falls my entire life. Despite that, it's rare that I find a reason to mention my hometown here. Sure, the region's well represented in Some Party: a thousand songs have sprung from the garden of Welland's Attack In Black, and the suburban youth army following St. Catharines' Alexisonfire built the Dine Alone empire. Indeed if you live here (and don't have to rely on public transit) the boundaries between the named sub-sections of the Niagara Region can seem fairly meaningless. From that perspective, I certainly share a tinge of quasi-hometown pride for every Daniel Romano phase-shift and every ridiculous Dboy manifesto.

On the other hand, with strict adherence to our municipal boundaries, Niagara Falls comes up woefully short. We're hollowed out. We're an art desert. Our downtown evaporated in the 70s, and the city's money tends to unsurprisingly flow to where the tourists go. If you want to see a band in Niagara Falls (and not in a casino), with a few rare exceptions that means you're driving to St. Catharines (or you're three basements deep in some house show scene I'm not young or cool enough to know about).

Doug Ford could flash-amalgamate the lot of us next week, but at least at the moment, it's rare I see a band cross my plate with "Niagara Falls" touted in their bio, less so a glorious anachronism of youth crew hardcore like Wild Side.

A few years after their early demos caused some buzz in hardcore circles, the group came roaring back into the news last week with word of their first full-length. The Who The Hell Is Wild Side LP will come to light on Boston's Triple B Records on May 7. The 10-track set will include the single "Street Action," a mid-tempo rager that proudly wears the influence of genre-staples like Warzone and Murphy's Law.

The cover art finds the title plastered across a billboard overlooking the kitschy intersection at the top of Clifton Hill. While, like most locals, I've got no love for the tourist cheese, the pang of familiarity certainly has my interest piqued. NFHC, folks.

Listen: Wild Side - "Street Action" @ Bandcamp

Toronto low-fi rock duo Low Sun will return this year with a fresh collection of songs titled New/Shiny, it's the group's follow-up to their 2017 album Reservoir of Impermanent Light. On Friday I premiered the first single from the record over at Punknews.org, a crunchy slow-burning song titled "Don't Hesitate." The often understated band gave me a suitably sly comment on the song, stating "We left it open, the door to the henhouse... the fox slid right in."

Low Sun features the brothers Peter and Robert Johnson, the principles behind the Art of the Uncarved Block label who formerly played together as Shahman. The band sent over a little history lesson leading up to this record:

"Low Sun began sometime in 2017. They self-recorded a full length on a finicky 1⁄4 inch tape recorder in the middle of winter in a cabin on the edge of a frozen, moaning lake, without running water, heat or much light. The experience produced Reservoir of Impermanent Light, a droney rock album that probably wasn’t the best thing to make in 2017, but they liked it so off it went into the world. After the release they toured Eastern Europe, from the mountains of Slovakia to the mouth of the Baltic sea. The album also took them to Japan and a short round of performances in Hong Kong. Now, two years later, they present to you, New/Shiny, a collection of songs that took way too long to record. After spending nearly 8 months with a new bass player, the bass player ended up leaving a month before their 2 week European tour with Czech hardcore band, DNO. They re-wrote the entire EP, wrote more songs, and self-recorded it in one day. Born again as a self-described post-industry, loser-rock band, Low Sun awaits their next leap of faith."

Low Sun will promote the new release with a two-week European tour kicking off the last week of April. Those dates can be found at Punknews. The exact release date for *New/Shiny" has not yet been confirmed.

Listen: Low Sun - "Don't Hesitate" @ Punknews.org

I had the privilege last week of premiering more weird and wild sounds from Montreal art-punk duo CRABE. The band's gearing up to release their 7th record, Notre-Dame de la vie intérieure, this spring on Pantoum Records. Over at Punknews I shared the new video for the riffy and raucous "Le monde entier." It's the third single the band's revealed in recent months, following "Festival" and "Livre compliqué."

I asked the often oblique band about the new track and got a very satisfyingly-CRABE description back:

"'Le monde entier' is inspired by shared feelings about wars in the whole world, the wars as we know them. The global destructive wars on earth and the one sometimes inside people or between them. Lost people looking for a better self using toxic or bad ways to find light. And the peace of the mind when the wars are over, when you achieve the non-judgmental big lyfe, the energy lifestyle."

The trippy video by Katerine DM features animated seahorses, so you're pretty much obliged to watch.

CRABE is a duo pairing Gabriel Lapierre and Mertin Höek. They came together first in the southwestern Quebec town of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield before relocating to Montreal. Guillaume Chiasson of the Quebec City garage rock duo Ponctuation produced this new material.

Watch: CRABE - "Le monde entier" @ Punknews.org

I nurtured a mild obsession with Toronto's rootsy and raucous Bruce Peninsula in the years preceding Some Party, but they've been off-grid for the span of this newsletter's existence. I doubt that's going to change anytime soon, but several members have become independently active in the past few months. Ivy Mairi released a five-song EP titled Polarity at the start of March, and now co-founder Misha Bower is readying her debut full length Trying to Have It All.

The album will arrive on May 24. Bower and Will Kidman of the Constantines serve as co-producers, with Kidman also present on guitar and keys as a member of the studio band. That group of musicians includes Cons bassist Dallas Wehrle along with Royal City drummer Nathan Lawr, backing vocalist Lisa Conway, and strings from Mika Posen, Kelly Larochette, Jill Sauerteig, and Julia Narveson.

The London, Ontario-based artist released a teaser video for the album, commenting:

"It was filmed by Travis Welowszky at the Western Fair in London, Ontario, and is set to the opening song on the record, 'Starless Nights.' When the carnival came to town, Travis was like, 'Let's go to the fair. Let's make a video. Let's make a trailer.' We went. He made all the things. I played shooting and ball toss games and won three stuffed animals and two inflatable swords. I gave the toys away. I'm in the process of releasing the art, but consider it yours."

Watch: Misha Bower - "Trying To Have It All" teaser @ YouTube

The second single from Black Mountain's upcoming full-length is now available. You can find a video for "Boogie Lover" at YouTube, a song the Vancouver psyche-rock heavies describe as "space doom for lovers." It's a little less, um, cocaine Super Nintendo than the preceding single "Future Shade," but you can't win them all.

The song will appear on the band's upcoming 8-song LP Destroyer, which arrives on May 24 from Dine Alone and Jagjaguwar. It follows the band's 2016 full-length IV.

Destroyer features longtime principles Stephen McBean and Jeremy Schmidt with new players Rachel Fannan (Sleepy Sun) and Adam Bulgasem (Dommengang, Soft Kill). Returning collaborators this time out include Kliph Scurlock (Flaming Lips), Kid Millions (Oneida), and John Congleton (producer for St. Vincent, Cloud Nothings).

Watch: Black Mountain - "Boogie Lover" @ YouTube

Hamilton's low-brow showman B.A. Johnston is working double shifts these days. He's both celebrating the launch of his Ham Jam web series and hustling to keep his new record The Skid Is Hot Tonight on the minds and lips of Canadians. The latter got a boost recently with a video for the song "We're All Going to Jail (Except Pete, He's Gonna Die)," which finds Johnston and company in full Van Halen regalia. You can check it out below. The new clip was shot, edited, and produced by Pigeon Row in Toronto.

The song is one of 21 to appear on the recent full-length, which arrived this past February from Winnipeg's Transistor 66. It's Johnston's 12th album. This record, like its 2017 predecessor Gremlins 3, was produced by Mathias Kom of The Burning Hell and recorded out at The Quarantine in Port Greville, Nova Scotia with Colleen Collins and Dave Trenaman of Construction & Destruction. In the studio B.A.'s band featured Joel Tong on guitar and Jon McKiel on drums.

Watch: B.A. Johnston - "We're All Going to Jail (Except Pete, He's Gonna Die)" @ YouTube

Back over at Punknews, one of my co-contributors recently kicked off a series of premieres from Toronto pop-punk quartet Bad Buzz. Leading up to the May 31 release of the band's new EP, Try Harder, Punknews will share a new track every couple of weeks. The first to arrive is the song "Talkin' Shit." Vocalist/guitarist Ross Carvelli has this to say about the accompanying lyric video:

"The video came together quite quickly after we settled on the concept and sourced enough weird objects to write lyrics on. We shot and edited it in one day. The animation took a little longer, but we did everything ourselves. It was a lot of fun and very liberating."

It's a fun tune. Bad Buzz will celebrate the new EP with a May 31 gig at the Monarch Tavern.

Watch: Bad Buzz - "Talkin' Shit" @ YouTube

Neon Taste is streaming a track from Nuclear Family, the upcoming EP from Kamloops hardcore band Bootlicker. You can hear the song "Slasher" over at the label's sister zine Neon Waste. The site had this to say about the record:

"For those uninitiated, Bootlicker merge classic D-Beat with Oi while still paying attention to constructing tough riffs and lyrics spit with as much contempt as any other predecessor you’d care to mention. This is the first release after their appearance at Toronto’s Not Dead Yet Festival and hot on the heels of their 2018 releases on Warthog Speak and Neon Taste. Feel the shellshock. This is music for the end of the earth."

The label's expecting a May release date, with pre-orders set to commence once the test pressings arrive. Nuclear Family was recorded by Trevor Robson, and mixed/mastered by Will Killingsworth.

Listen: Bootlicker - "Slasher" @ Neon Waste

Montreal psych/punk act No Negative will return this year with a new LP for Drunken Sailor Records (Booji Boys, Corner Boys, Cheap Whine). It's titled The Last Offices and follows both the band's 2017 "Cellophane" single and their 2015 debut The Good Never Comes. Drummer Felix Morel once again put together the cover art.

There's no audio to share from this new record yet, but while we wait go hit up Bandcamp and stream the excellent "Cellophane" and it's b-side "Stickin' it to the Man, Again."

Listen: No Negative - "Cellophane" b/w/ "Stickin' it to the Man, Again" @ Bandcamp

A new single arrived last week from the buzzy Montreal garage rock act Pottery. Titled "The Craft," the song premiered alongside a video directed by Bronwyn Ford and Max Taeuschel. The band commented on the clip in the press release:

"With ‘The Craft’ we wanted to explore the unconscious oddities of everyday life and how an outsider alien ([vocalist Austin Boylan]'s character) may interpret these trivial actions. In the video each band member has a niche hobby that not only lends itself to blind emulation from the outsider, but also represents each member's individuality within our collective project."

"The Craft" will appear on No. 1, the band's debut EP arriving May 10 on Royal Mountain and Partisan Records. The group recorded the set over two nights, cutting live to tape and wrapping songs in a single take. Pottery features Boylan backed by guitarist Jacob Shepansky, keyboardist Peter Baylis, bassist Tom Gould, and drummer Paul Jacobs.

Later this year the group will hit the road for a North American tour supporting Dublin's Fontaines D.C. They'll also appear at several festivals, including the Iceland Airwaves festival in Reykjavík, and northern Ontario's River and Sky.

Watch: Pottery - "The Craft" @ YouTube

A month after their single "Porch," Vancouver grunge/punk quartet Dead Soft is rolling out another new track titled "The Static." We can only assume both tracks are destined for the eventual follow-up to the band's recent Arts & Crafts EP New Emotion. "The Static," finds the group taking a more measured and atmospheric tone, with bassist Keeley Rochon taking lead vocal duties. They commented:

"The song represents the feeling of being alone and afraid, having a partner to rely on but becoming aware of the fact that there's more to life than blacking out for the entirety of your work day only to get home and collapse in the arms of the one you love... It's also a love song."

Listen: Dead Soft - "The Static" @ YouTube

Buzz Records recently shared another preview of Plastic Memory, the upcoming LP from Vancouver bedroom-pop artist Kim Gray. The satisfying "On Screen" will appear as part of that set, which arrives on April 26.

Speaking to Exclaim, band lead Trevor Gray commented that this was the first song written for the record:

"At the time I was getting sucked into all sorts of YouTube conspiracy theory black holes. I was initially trying to write a smooth song for all the lovebirds out there, but ended up writing a song about Facebook... This song looks at memories, how they are influenced by social media and the permanency of all these 'memories' with the advent of the internet. It's funny for me to think about all the weird stuff kids will be able to dig up about their grandparents one day. It's a twisted and beautiful world."

Listen: Kim Gray - "On Screen" @ Bandcamp

Montreal 3rd wave ska vets The Planet Smashers are back with a new album this year, kicking off this cycle with the appropriately titled single "Can't Stop." It'll appear on Too Much Information, which arrives May 10 on Stomp Records. This is the Smashers first new record since 2014's Mixed Messages and their ninth overall.

Listen: The Planet Smashers - "Can't Stop" @ YouTube

Saskatoon's instrumental psych/metal collective Shooting Guns will release a new EP on April 26, titled Sports Drink. A video for the song "New Levitation" arrived last week, featuring the band's characteristic heavy riffing atop old VHS-quality footage of 80s monster truck rallies. The new EP follows a few years of dabbling in film, with the band scoring the indie horror/comedy Another Wolfcop and recording a live arrangement to accompany the 1922 classic Nosferatu.

Along with April's digital release, the EP will become part of a vinyl split release with Ottawa's The Band Whose Name Is a Symbol titled In Search of Highs Vol. 2. That set will arrive via the UK's Riot Season Records.

Watch: Shooting Guns - "New Levitation" @ YouTube

Whitby's grungy punk act Chastity has collected the material cut from their 2018 debut Death Lust as a four-song digital EP. The band commented on Facebook:

"We started recording Death Lust on April 1 2017, around 2 years ago today. it’s a concept album, and songs ended up getting cut by the label, severing the recording from its vision. on April 17th Death Lust Cuts will be posted online as an EP and include 4 songs, and for the first time the original Death Lust will be complete."

Death Lust was released last July on Captured Tracks and Royal Mountain Records. If you missed the performance of "Innocence" the band posted online last week, you should check it out as it's packed with guest appearances from some Some Party favourites like Odonis Odonis, Dilly Dally, and WHOOP-Szo.

Listen: Chastity - Death Lust Cuts @ Bandcamp

Vancouver garage/psych two-piece Monsoon Moon is readying the release of their first EP this May. Titled Two-Headed Dog, the 6-song set includes the recently unveiled single "Never Wonder." The band recorded with producer Jonathan Heath, who also mixed and mastered the record, at Rain City Recorders.

Monsoon Moon commented on the push and pull between the studio and their live show:

"As a two-piece band we have to consider our physical restrictions as we play songs live and try not to let the infinite possibilities of recording take away from our live sound. If it isn't reproducible on stage then we shouldn't do it. Having time in the studio allowed us to make our sound bigger without encroaching on our values as a live band."

Listen: Monsoon Moon - "Never Wonder" @ Bandcamp

Winnipeg power-pop quartet Merin has a new EP on the way titled Coral Island. It marks the band's return as a collaborative unit following singer/guitarist Cole Zachary's 2017 solo EP Space Camp (released, perhaps confusingly, under the Merin name). On this record, the band features Zachary alongside guitarist Kathryn Kerr, bassist Jordan Cayer, and drummer Joel Klaverkamp. Speaking to Come Here Floyd, where they premiered the title track, the group commented:

"'Coral Island' is a song about escape from mental illness and a menial existence. The idea that depression and anxiety can simply be left behind on this planet is obviously fantastical, so it requires an equally fantastical solution: May as well go to space!"

J Riley Hill (Living Hour, Basic Nature) recorded and produced the album. Carl Saff (Mitski, Guided By Voices, Speedy Ortiz) handled the mastering. Merin will kick off a 13-city tour supporting Coral Island The Apollo in Thunder Bay on May 3.

Listen: Merin - "Coral Island" @ Bandcamp

Toronto singer-songwriter Isla Craig shared a live video last week for the song "Young Woman." Her performance was captured at the now-defunct Kensington Market art space Double Double Land, recorded and edited by Craig's frequent collaborator Victoria Cheong (New Chance). Craig's band in the clip features Jonathan Adjemian, Josh Cole, and Colin Fisher. The singer called the track "a new meditation on embodiment and e prompts that wield existential dimensions of self and being." The footage also features lighting from visual artist Vanessa B. Rieger (whose work you may recall from Dilly Dally's recent "Sober Motel" video).

Isla Craig last released The Becoming LP on Pleasence Records.

Watch: Isla Craig - "Young Woman" @ YouTube

Last October Toronto indie-rock ensemble The Holy Gasp launched their emotionally-fraught divorce-themed LP with a 27-person orchestra performing the album track-for-track. Staged as a wedding with formally dressed attendees, the release show for The Love Songs of Oedipus Rex was captured on film at 918 Bathurst Centre in Toronto. The band's been releasing clips ever since, with the latest footage featuring the Benjamin Hackman-lead ensemble performing "A Daily Affirmation." You can check it out below.

Watch: The Holy Gasp - "A Daily Affirmation" @ YouTube

BC punk legends D.O.A. have a new archival set due for May 3. Titled 1978, the album will collect 21 previously unreleased demos, rare tracks, and early singles. The label had this to say about the track listing:

"The two constants on the album are Joey [Shithead Keithley] and Chuck Biscuits, who play on every track. From the start of 1978 begins their wild, 'I don’t give a shit' approach to punk rock. Now some forty years later one can hear it all, starting with the never-seen-the-light-of-day demo version of 'The Enemy'. This demo has a different set of lyrics that speaks to fighting Nazis—strange, what is old is new and vital again. There’s a ton of exciting tracks that range from the never heard before, such as 'Bored And Suicidal', 'The Mutant', 'No God No War', 'Rip Dis Joint', 'No Way Out' and 'Rent-A-Riot', to classic early singles like 'Fucked Up Ronnie', 'Disco Sucks', 'World War 3', 'The Prisoner' and '13'. Also included are demo versions of 'America The Beautiful' and 'Liar For Hire' with Biscuits drumming, which are wildly different than the classic versions you hear on War On 45.

The track list ranges from classics like 'Disco Sucks' and 'World War 3' to never-before released recordings like 'Bored and Suicidal,' 'The Mutant,' 'No God No War' and 'Rent-A-Riot.' Storied early drummer Chuck Biscuits is also featured on demos of 'America the Beautiful' and 'Liar for Hire.'"

1978 will arrive on the band's Sudden Death label as a double LP and CD.

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