Rags And Bones is a monthly look at the loud and noisy happenings across Canada, focusing on musical styles and sounds that might otherwise fall outside Chart Attack's usual coverage.
When I started this column earlier this year, I wanted to focus on musical discovery more than anything else. Few Canadian-focused music websites or magazines have a dedicated space for regular coverage of punk, metal and everything in between, which means a great number of the bands that normally fall under the Rags And Bones banner are going unnoticed elsewhere.
Among other things, this roundup opened our ears to Calgary's "small town stuck in a big city" punk scene, Toronto psych ragers, and handed the reins to a hardcore vet. But having started the column in August, there was also plenty of stuff I missed the chance to cover. So in addition to championing some of great stuff discovered and covered by Rags And Bones in 2014, now is a good time to run through all of the releases that made 2014 great: 5 favourites I covered, and 5 favourites I didn’t.
5 Favourites I Covered:
Hag Face, Rag Face
I think I wrote more about Hag Face in 2014 than any other band, but I can’t promise that I’ll shut up about them any time soon. Their sophomore tape Rag Face as well as their split tape with Shearing Pinx are absolutely essential. They balance out their doomy punk intensity with a biting sense of humour, and a lean post-punk sensibility that evens out their darker moments of psychedelic psychosis. I love everything about these Calgarians.
Pretty Boys, Future Tiberian Baths
Originally appearing in the first ever Rags And Bones column due to their association to the guys in VCR, Pretty Boys’ Future Tiberian Baths tape proved that they’re much more than just a footnote on another band’s feature. Incorporating influences from just about everywhere, Pretty Boys’ appeal stems from just how fresh and vital they sound. “Get Rid of Yourself,” for instance, recalls the excited energy of Nashville’s Be Your Own Pet as filtered through Queens of the Stone Age’s “Songs For the Deaf.” They are one of the tightest bands I’ve heard all year, both live and on tape. Hopefully we haven’t seen the last of them.
Pura Manía, Musica para gente fea / La estafa Musical
I’m not sure there were better sounding or better looking 7’’s to come out of Canada this year than Pura Manía’s Musica para gente fea and La estafa Musical. As soon as I heard “Sospechoso” I was hooked. The Venezuelan-Vancouver band’s lean, infectious songwriting is peerless.
Life Chain, No Laughter
Back in November, I asked Greg Benedetto, Toronto punk show promoter and organizer of the annual Not Dead Yet fest, to run through some of the top Canadian acts billed at this year’s NDY. Halifax's Life Chain were at the top of his list. Hearing their No Laughter EP, it’s easy to understand why. Featuring members of Abject Pax and Vixens, Life Chain’s big, loud, d-beat driven guitars deliver an elbow to the gut while detached, reverberated vocals climb toward the ether.
Glitter were introduced to me by the ladies in Hag Face, and their "Self Titled Mini LP" rips with an unrestrained focus that's wild and slightly shambolic. Glitter features members from Exotic Functions as well as the guys behind Garbage of the World/Spirit Of Truth promotions, making them a pillar of the hardcore punk community in Calgary.
5 Favourites I Missed:
Farang’s 12’’ EP dropped in April, a few months before this column took off, but it wasn’t easily forgotten. Farang bring a great deal of technicality to their take on hardcore, but do so without ever sounding “metal.” Blistering and often unresolving guitar leads suggest mathier leanings, but the production has a vintage warmth that undercuts any modern influence.
Born Wrong, Art District 7’’
Born Wrong are Southern Ontario’s answer to the overhyped and Pitchfork-approved punk coming out of the area. Art District suggests how citizens are dealing with a new and thriving Hamilton, in four acerbic songs.
Various Artists, Atlantic Canadian Hardcore Compilation
Weak Link Records’ hardcore punk comp is not one to be missed. This cassette features the best of the best from Atlantic Canada, including new songs from Nova Scotia’s twisted Grump and Newfoundland’s guttural giants New Flesh, and Adam Kindred’s brilliant black & white artwork makes it a must-grip.
I sometimes wrestle with the idea of whether it’s worth covering a band’s demo release. As a first impression of a band’s work, it might not be their best. But in the world of punk, the recording techniques a band uses on their demo won't necessarily improve dramatically in the future, and a demo is more often than not all we get before they call it a day. This demo from Vancouver’s OAF makes a strong argument to be considered one of the best debuts of the year, demo or otherwise.
Two Crosses, Desolation
Kitchener/Waterloo’s Two Crosses make self-described “anxiety-core,” a hybrid of hardcore and powerviolence that comes out in a knotty, chaotic fit. Desolation might’ve arrived at the outset of 2014, but it’s a record that demands and rewards multiple listens. It's stuck with me all throughout the year.