Under The Circumstances
What could contribute less to humanity than a Canadian rock music newsletter? How about a cassette compilation series inspired by that same newsletter?
Ignoring all sound advice to the contrary, I'm thrilled to plumb new depths of misguided effort with Some Party's Under The Circumstances series!
Under The Circumstances will be a periodic ongoing series of limited-run tape compilations showcasing new, rare, and weird tracks from some of the coolest Canadian artists from across the spectrum of punk, psych, garage, and indie rock. Volume 1 is available to order now and is shipping immediately. I'm thrilled that some of my all-time favourite artists have contributed material for this inaugural set.
1. New Vogue - "Deny Me"
New Vogue is the wild new DEVO-core project from Max Desharnais of Montreal's Sonic Avenues and PRIORS. It's a robotic assault of spazzed-out new wave and cyborg post-punk. A future mutation of "Deny Me" is expected on the upcoming New Vogue full length, but you'll only hear this first incarnation on Under The Circumstances.
2. Tough Age - "The 15th"
A few years back Tough Age pulled up stakes in Vancouver and relocated to Toronto, with guitarist Jarrett Samson and bassist Penny Clark reinventing their Mint Records garage-punk outfit as a trio with Calgary's Jesse Locke on drums. Shame, their first album of this new era, found the band delving headfirst into the Dunedin sound, geeking out over The Clean and that classic 80s Flying Nun roster. The Shame sessions also found the band warming with a few classic covers, notably "The 15th," originally from Wire's 1979 record 154. You're hearing it here for the first time ever.
3. Psychic Void - "Boneshaker"
It's been a few years since their Terminal Vacation tape kicked my ass, and I'm still singing the praises of Windsor's Psychic Void. The group marries the influence of 80s hardcore with tough-as-nails rustbelt protopunk. That's all given a spaced-out psych-rock flair thanks to Jesse Knight's reverb-drenched growl. "Boneshaker" is the band at their most aggressive, and one of the standout tracks from their brand new Vanilla Box LP Skeleton Paradise.
4. Partner - "Lost My Pick, Can I Borrow One?"
Landing in Windsor from their Sappy start in Sackville, New Brunswick, the righteously queer slacker rock act Partner are still riding high from their triumphant Polaris shortlisted You've Changed LP, In Search of Lost Time. "Lost My Pick, Can I Borrow One?" is a confection, a quip as an excuse for a bit of effortless guitar heroism from Lucy Niles and Josée Caron. It appears here on a physical release for the first time ever.
5. Wares - "City Kids (Alt)"
"City Kids" has been the rallying cry for Cassia Hardy's musical outlet Wares for years now, but you've never heard it like this. For this tape, the fuzzy Edmonton indie rockers turn the song indie out, crafting a gorgeous, undersea shoegaze take on their flagship tune. The band's follow-up to their self-titled 2017 LP is destined to arrive in early 2020, but you most certainly want to hear this wild reinvention of their past before then.
Some Party can neither confirm or deny the existence of a B side to this tape. It certainly wouldn't feature a sampler of other cool material from these same artists, along with a few twists and turns along the way. The very notion is preposterous.
So What's With The Title?
In 1972 the CBC's Peter Gzowski challenged listeners to complete the saying "as Canadian as..." (our counterpart to "as American as apple pie"). The winning submission, from Heather Scott, read "as Canadian as possible, under the circumstances."
Some Party's mission is similarly pragmatic. I focus on this county not to celebrate it, but to explore the bonds forged between disparate local music scenes linked by little else than an inconvenient southern border. Canada isn't all that special, but rock'n'roll most certainly is. If there's one thing the Ramones taught us, it's that anyone can make this racket. The bands, and the scenes supporting them, can crop up just about anywhere. In that sense, Canada's just a vessel.
These are the lines we draw and the connections we make under the circumstances of where we just happen to be.
Are you going to release these songs digitally?
I'm not. My interest is in adding some physical artifact to the ongoing cultural conversation, some waymarker that's a little more real than these zeros and ones. That's the tape, and these aren't my songs. The bands, of course, may or may not release as they see fit, and a few are already online.
Can I get a copy directly from the bands?
Quite likely, and while supplies last. Each band had a batch to do with what they will.
Are you going to make more if you run out?
I'm not inclined to, and at least not in an identical format. A second version, if it ever comes about, would need to be distinct in some way.
How many of these exist?
I've got 100. The bands have a few more on top of that. These could move quickly, or they could sit in the Some Party closet for the next decade, but why take the chance?
Is it safe to order these online?
The online store is hosted by Bandcamp and they handle the credit card or PayPal transactions. Some Party never touches the card numbers, so everything's entirely PCI compliant (if that means anything to you).