Posts Tagged ‘Canadian Punk’

Teenanger – “Touching Glass”

Toronto’s Teenanger land back at Telephone Explosion for a new single that’s spring-loaded with a vibrant snap and smoothed down with a quiet cool. “Touching Glass” knocks between its poles of jumpy, caffeinated rhythms and loping bass. They break up the calm with fuzz-eroded guitar blasts and ‘90s radio-ready vocals from bassist Melissa Ball. The song ties nicely with their polished approach from their eponymous 2017 album, seeming to ease into a less traditionally punk format — scraping from pop and post-punk without sounding like they’ve submitted to either totally. Instead the song’s a prime example of their knack for propulsive hooks and and subtle shading. The band’s upcoming LP Good Time is out October 2nd.





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Priors – “At Your Leisure”

A blast of jittery, caffeinated post-punk bursts out of Montreal’s fertile scene from Priors. On the latest single from their upcoming sophomore LP, the band bites into the cross-section of punk and New Wave with a rabid fury. They’re careening into view on a wave of anxiety and riding the fizzing angst with reckless skill. They pull from the same fuzz-infected well as their Canadian contemporaries Century Palm, though they fall closer to the erratic pop genius of Ausmuteants on “At Your Leisure.” The band cribs from quite a few of Canada’s punk underdogs, with members of Steve Adamyk Band, Sonic Avenues, New Vogue and The Famines rounding out the lineup. New Pleasure sidles out on punk powerhouse label Slovenly on November 16th.



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BB and the Blips, Tommy and the Commies, Rata Negra, Timmy’s Organism

Its been a packed fall, that follows on a pretty packed 2018 in general when it comes to the volume of releases that have found their way to listeners over the last ten months. With that in mind I’m going to try to increase the visibility on some worthy releases with occasional combo crunched reviews that still allow some depth yet let me move through the inbox faster than my busy schedule normally allows.

Tommy and the Commies – Here Come
First up, Ontario’s Tommie & The Commies crack open a breakneck punk record that’s pulling (almost too close for comfort at some points) right from the playbooks of The Undertones and The Buzzcocks. At only 16 minutes long, the album doesn’t leave a lot of time to catch one’s breath, but this kind of classic punk wasn’t meant for sitting still. It was meant for tossing beer bottles and stray spittle at the torn silhouettes on stage while mashing yer face into the mass of humanity that is the pit. The songs are appropriately nervy, snotty and breathless – never even stopping for a Ramones-worthy 1-2-3-4 to leap into the fray. Lead lugger Tommy Commy’s perfected his Feargal Sharkey impression to the point that its almost torture not to hear the band tear into a cover of “Jump Boys” every time a new track revs up. This one ain’t beating down any new paths, but for those punks who have been missing the glory days, this’ll do to get the pogo pounce out of your system.


BB and the Blips – Shame Job
Swinging the spotlight from Canada to Australia, but keeping the focus on new bands with a classic slant, we arrive at the proper punk burner from BB and the Blips. The band, made up of ex-pats from Housewives, Good Throb and Semi, is nailing down the kind of middle-finger teardowns that made X-Ray Spex and Penatration formative touchstones. The Blips are tackling a ten-track dissection of shame, but they’re hardly stopping long enough to linger on the stomach-sick effects of the emotion. The album blisters by in a growl of guitars and a delirium of helium and heat vocals. As with the Commies, this one feels reverent to another day and age, but they’re pulling it off with conviction and style, so who cares that this brand of gnash-toothed punk has been bought and sold before. Shame Job doesn’t waste a moment and never lets go.


Rata Negra – Justicia Cosmica
Another international jump swings the lens to Madrid, where Rata Negra have been bashing out acerbic post-punk since 2014. Following on the band’s absolute crusher Oido Absoluto the Spanish band continues to mop the floor with most contenders on Justicia Cosmica. The new record seems to lack a bit of the bottom-end grit that marked their previous effort, but it finds them just as frantic and furious as they’ve ever been. Adding some occasional keys to the mix pushes the dial forward on the time circuits here, landing them just a touch into the early ‘80s from where they last left off. Still not taking an ounce of shit, though, the band feels ready to fight via fists or phrases until their dying days. The bass is knotty, the vocals sound as if they could sear the flesh from your skull (at least until the rather wistful “Nada va a Permanecer Dorado” hits) and the guitars are filthy with fuzz. Madrid’s been something of a hotbed for punk and post-punk these days and Rata Negra are leading the charge among the city’s best.

Timmy’s Organism – Survival of the Fiendish
Detroit’s favorite degenerate emissaries are back with a new album and the same oil slick mutant punk in their pockets. Timmy’s Organism has long been a favorite around here and their latest ticks all the same boxes that endeared them to me in the first place. Survival of the Fiendish is sopping up the gutter grease that festers below us while we sleep. Timmy Vulgar is the embodiment of the reasons that parents have been confiscating punk tapes from the dawn of the genre. The album is full of ill will, evil intentions and the kind of oozing riffs that should reduce your speakers to a pile of festering goo. Though, the boys do let themselves evolve. Is that a piano I hear on “Green Grass?” Is that acoustic guitar wafting through “South Shore Train?” Maybe the mutants have softened in their old age. Well, maybe not. There’s still plenty of bile to be had, but the record does show some growth among the Organism’s impulses. After a move through the label ranks – Sacred Bones, In The Red, Third Man – the band graces the spools of Burger and it all seems to make sense. Thanks Baphomet for Timmy’s Organism. They’re perennial solid senders of the evil ooze.



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Dumb

Vancouver’s Dumb pull out their deep stack of ‘70s art-punk LPs and mash the best bits together for an album that’s brief but barbed. They plow through the heartpound pop of Wire and the wrinkled hooks of Magazine. They chew the same glass that feeds The Fall, Pere Ubu and early Alternative TV. As many are likely quick to point out, for a band called Dumb, they’re hardly lobbing lager-soaked odes draped in pop punk here. While its hardly easy listening, its plenty catchy and like fellow 2018 angular aficionados Lithics and School Damage the band knows just which pieces of the past still draw blood in the present. They capture the spirit of ’79 ably, though they often aim to emulate more often than elevate. There are moments when they do push the needled forward, smashing an ‘80s Midwest brashness into the vocals of “Party Whip” and giving pause when the sound of chimes ripples through the racket or giving the art crowd some sunshine shake with handclaps on “Ripesnakes.”

On Seeing Green they fuel the need to contort the soul, to break it, bend it, and smash it down on the crooked angles of their guitar lines. There’s unrest inherent in their lyrics, but also the kind of wry smile that would have made their influences proud. It’s a solid record, well versed and subtly catchy. The band trade less in earworms and more in a kind of can’t get that sound taste out of your mouth type of addictiveness. They’re young, and this is all the more impressive for their age and general tenure as a band. They’re aided in their vision by the lacerating production from Jordan Koop, which gives the LP an immediacy that paces their frantic stop-start whiplash. There’s a feeling as the album runs its course that this might only be the beginning, a wild knife slice that’ll settle into some methodical strikes as time wears on for the band. Whether or not they springboard off of the sound they’ve curated on Seeing Green, they’ve left a decent mark with this one.



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Simply Saucer – “Lo-Fi Garage Symphonette”

As reissues begin to mount interest in bands the next stage brings the inevitable rumblings of reformation. For fans that missed out on the live shows of ‘blink and you miss ‘em’ bands this is sometimes a godsend, though it also holds the possibility of besmirching a tight catalog with an experience that can’t hope to live up to the originals’ weight. Its with such weight that bands also embark on the endeavor to extend the catalog. It’s a hard rope to cross without leaning too far into imitating one’s prime or updating it into something that’s well out of the scope of what fans came to hear. Canadian psych obscurities Simply Saucer have been having a year full of reissues and they now come to the precipice of adding to the conversation with new works.

Their first single in 40 years ropes in two original members along with studio friends and Jesse Locke (Century Palm, Tough Age) who has been instrumental in getting the band’s work back out to the public. The songs are sown from their same well of weirdness, though it’s clear in their present state they’re working with much better equipment than the machines that wrought Cyborgs Revisited. With the technical upgrade comes some wish fulfillment in fleshing out their sound with a battery of keys and backup vocals. They don’t push too hard into making it a recording “of its current time,” so it sits well with their back catalog, but it loses a bit of the immediacy and electricity of something like “Bullet Proof Nothing” and neither captures the off the rails quality inherit in “Instant Pleasure.”

That said the single’s not without its charms and indeed its not an addition that falls into the besmirch category. 40 years is a lifetime and that the band still have some of the same tinfoil wobble that blew through their amplifiers when they stood on the edges of punk is a testament to their core. “Alien Cornfield,” taken without expectations and stripped of associations is a prime slice of sci-fi garage, though “Lo-Fi Garage Symphonette” gets a bit grandiose for my taste. Regardless, its good to have the band back in the public eye. As I mentioned with the reissue, they’re an essential piece of the psych-punk lineage.



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Pointed Sticks – Perfect Youth

The world is steadily knocking the dust from some of power pop’s most coveted gems and a new reissue of Pointed Sticks’ essential debut is a welcome addition to 2018. The last time that Sudden Death (who took over the reigns from original label Quintessence Records) issued this was back in 2005, but it’s no less necessary more than a decade later. Among the best power pop albums with the worst covers, the album is best known for the title cut, a bubblegum jolt of punk that’s brimming with ecstatic snap and an earworm chorus. Though the single is no an outlier in this collection thanks in no small part to the work of newbie producer at the time, Bob Rock. The industry go-to, who’d go on to hammer out hits with Aerosmith, Metallica and Mötley Crüe found his start with this as the first album under his belt, likely as a result of his work on EPs the previous year for fellow Quintessence artists Subhumans and Young Canadians.

The album is a bright and brimming collection of power pop pushed through a tangle of jangle-pop that reveals an overt love for Elvis Costello while pushing the tempos and temperament into what would become the signifiers of pop punk many years later. Following the homegrown success of this album the band became notable for being signed to Stiff Records, though the label itself was falling apart financially at the time and wouldn’t officially release any recordings by them in its tenure. There are several comps that pick these up though. Recently, as is the case with bands that burn out too quick, they’ve found success in reunited form and recorded a couple of new albums, however, without a doubt this remains the pinnacle of their career. Those with an ear to power pop’s transition from the ’70s into the ’80s would do well to dig this up, and along with Teenage Head, they remains some of the best exporters of Canadian punk from the time period. Ignore that god awful cover and press on to the chewy pop offerings between the grooves.


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Simply Saucer – Cyborgs Revisited

Haven’t heard too much about In The Red doing the universe a solid by cobbling together a “definitive” version of Simply Saucer’s sole collection Cyborg’s Revisited, but if you’re any kind of fan of future punk with a sci-fi soul, then this one should be on your list. The Hamilton, Ontario band recorded the bulk of the set at the studio of Bob and Daniel Lanois as demos, but given the absolutely stone-faced reaction they received to them, those demos remain the core of their output. Those tracks are represented here, as they have been on the Mole and Get Back editions of the record, but ITR bumps up the package from past LP editions by including a set of live recordings made at the time that give the studio sets some context to the band’s live presence.

The gears of Cyborgs Revisited are wound with a space rock float that hooks in Hawkwind and Floyd allusions, playing to the heads urging to break free from the beige constraints of the Canadian status quo. Trust me, I’ve been to Hamilton, ON – that city needed / still needs moonwalkers like Simply Saucer to throttle it from slumber. Breaking tone with much of the psychedelic fray is “Bullet Proof Nothing,” a VU-indebted pop gem that more modern listeners might recognize as covered by Ty Segall as the flip to his Goner Recs single “Caesar” way back in 2010. It’s as close as the band would ever come to a pop hit, and a damn fine gem in any band’s catalog.

The early editions were scarce, and rather unheralded unless you were a crack collector at the time, so for many this presents a new opportunity to snag this on vinyl without the premium of a Discogs dig. The label is touting this as a “definitive” version and for the format that holds water. Though it does leave off 1978 recorded versions of “She’s A Dog” and “I Can Change My Mind” that were recorded after the band recruited 15-year old drummer Tony Cutaia. The live version of the latter does appear in the bonus material, though. Still, a solid set that rounds up a lot of material to vinyl for the first time. The CD edition on Sonic Unyon might give it a run for the money in total coverage, if you’re into that kind of thing, but for turntable fanatics, this is your best shot yet. Can’t recommend Simply Saucer enough, if this is an oversight on your shelf, rectify it now.




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