Handheld are a friendly looking punk band from Kitchener, Ontario. When I saw their picture I thought to myself, “They seem fine”. After seeing the music video for “Leaving Candyland,” off their forthcoming album, that feeling only intensified. Before we get into the music, the band, and the history of Kitchener formerly being called Berlin before anti-German sentiment during World War I resulted in changing the name to a former British field marshal (we might not actually get to that part), let’s talk about this amazing music video in greater detail.
Both the song and the video pay homage to the peerless John Candy, who is a Canadian treasure of the highest order. If you don’t love John Candy, then you’re a bad person who hates punk, and must only be here for those stupid Google ads about that company who makes tech fiber cargo shorts with knife holsters. This video brings back to life many of John Candy’s best roles, with the band dressing up as Barf from Spaceballs, Uncle Buck, Del from Planes, Train, and Automobiles, and more. Famous scenes from these seminal films are reenacted, but with guitars. It’s well done, and a lot of fun to watch. The song itself is catchy early Fat style punk that should appeal to anyone who snowboarded with blue hair in the 90s. In particular I hear the first two Strung Out albums, but with some Blink 182 in there as well. It’s got the young goofiness of the latter, but also there are multiple kick drums firing off at rapid speed the whole time, bits of metallic noodling, and tons of dudes going, “Aaahhhh, laaahhh”. I think if you like either of those bands, you’ll like this record too. It’s got a lot of good things going for it. John Candy for one, it’s a comeback album (their first in 14 years, which I love), and they’re from non-Toronto Ontario, which has churned out some of the best punk rock the world has ever known.
These guys seem like they’re having a good time and actually like each other, which is something that always translates well into the music. Look at Oasis for example, they’re terrible. I bet catching Handheld live in their hometown, especially after a long hiatus, is not a bad way to spend a night out in Kitchener.
Burning Nickels (containing members of Trashed Ambulance and The Moröns) has dropped their latest release – a 5 song EP called Bernie Goes To College via High End Denim Records. Recorded and mixed at Overserved Studios in Red Deer, Alberta, the songs are a heaping pile of fun, bubblegum pop punk. With subject matter ranging from the excellence of their niece to the unstoppable force known as Jerome the dog, listeners are encouraged to kick off their shoes, put their feet up, and forget about their worries for the 15 minutes it takes to spin this EP!
Guitarist/Singer/A-hole Josh Hauta comments on the creation of the EP.: “We had a bunch of silly songs in our repertoire that certainly didn’t fit in with our other bands so we decided that since the only rule we have in Burning Nickels is that there are no rules, we made the call to go super fluffy fun punk with this one. Walking and Waiting was actually a song that Ozone and I’s wives grandfather (they’re sisters, not the same person) had written and recorded onto a 45 back in the 50’s so we gave it the old Nickels twist. He’s sure to hate it. Then I blew my voice out singing along to the Boney M Christmas album so luckily, Rob and Ozone stepped up to write and sing on Summer Boner and Long Minute, respectively. I think it all turned out wonderful!”
You can pick up the album on the High End Denim Records bandcamp or stream it on your favourite platform. There is currently no plan to release these songs physically but stranger things have happened! Stay safe!
Here’s a quick shout out to Terminal City Rats with their new album, Year of the Rat. Hailing from Vancouver BC, these neighbors to the north have kicked out a solid punk rock record.
13 tracks of punk. largely in the vein of some of the crack rocksteady sounds of Leftover Crack, Star Fucking Hipsters, Morning Glory etc. Not a carbon copy, of course, but clearly going down that path.
It’s good, so give it a listen. You aren’t doing anything right now anyway.
Cheers! Jerry Actually
Tracks: 1. Intro 00:58 2. Year of the Rat 00:17 3. TCRA 01:11 4. Stand Proud 02:14 5. More than a Scene 01:32 6. Lion’s Roar 01:37 7. Never Surrender 02:00 8. The Struggle 01:53 9. Hastings 01:29 10. Stay Sharp 01:21 11. Here’s to You (Broken and Alone) 01:33 12. Queens 01:41 13. Wants and Needs 01:56
Bio: Started sometime in early 2018 by founding members, bassist and songwriter Jeremy Starcok and drummer Liam Ready, Terminal City Rats were just two new friends brought together by their mutual love for punk rock. The duo spent a couple of months jamming and composing ideas before guitarist Chris “Crash” Campbell (F’Neh / The Receptionists) joined. “I ran into Crash at a show and casually mentioned that I had started a new project when he pretty much informed me that he was going to be our guitar player”, recalls Jeremy. “He basically told me right there on the spot that he was coming to our next practice without me even asking.”
Having played together in the short lived Vancouver punk band Struck A Nerve years earlier, the two knew they shared some musical chemistry and common tastes. Eager to find a singer, the trio made a social media post in search of someone. Bed ridden and recovering from a nasty knee injury, Jameson Trenholm (Obscene Being) answered jokingly with “I’ll join your band”, not expecting anything to actually come of it. “…I had turned my knee into mashed potato. I somehow managed to hobble my broke self to a few jams where I was crowned the Singer”.
Now a four piece and the addition of a second songwriter in Jameson, the band spent the next few months crafting a collection of songs, three of which would be recorded on their debut self titled demo recorded at Rain City Recorders by Stu McKillop in the fall of 2018. For the next year or so, Terminal City Rats played a handful of shows at venues around Vancouver including the Have A Good Laugh festival and legendary local haunts such as the Alf house, Pub 340 and SBC. “Those were really fun shows and we played with some killer local and touring bands but when we started this band, it was always the plan to have two guitar players. Two differently styled players who complimented each other.” says Jeremy.
Enter Mandy Green (Frank Love) in August of 2019. “…having known Jameson through the Vancouver music scene, he said they were looking for a second guitarist and after hearing their fast, raw, high energy sound I said ‘I’m in.’” With the long time plan of being a 5 piece finally coming to fruition, the band set out to incorporate Mandy’s guitar playing into their set. More shows followed including a sold out night at the Cambie in downtown Vancouver playing with some of Vancouver’s finest in Space Chimp, Alien Boys, Chain Whip and The Vicious Cycles. Riding the high of that night, the band again decided to enter the studio to record the follow up to their first release.
Whilst practicing and preparing to record, the Covid-19 pandemic hit, essentially halting the band’s ability to get together and jam. Months passed, during which time founding member Liam decided that he no longer wanted to be a part of Terminal City Rats and left to focus on other areas of his life. The band, now without a drummer and quickly approaching studio time, started to consider cancelling their scheduled recording session. As some of the pandemic restrictions started to be lifted, the band was able to begin jamming again but was still without a drummer.
Through friendship and connections in the local community, Jameson approached drummer Marco Bieri (Space Chimp, ATD, The Dreadnoughts) about the possibility of helping the band in the studio. With his various projects also on hold due to the pandemic and itching to play, Marco welcomed the opportunity. Learning 5 songs in only a few practices, the band entered Rain City Recorders for two days in June 2020 again with Stu McKillop at the helm. With the reinvigorated energy of a new drummer in addition to the results of that session, Marco asked “Why not do a full length album?” 8 more songs and two weeks later, Terminal City Rats returned to the studio to finish their debut full length album “The Year of the Rat”.
I’ve not heard of Fire Next Time until just today, but in all fairness, I’m so far out of the loop that I don’t know shit from Shinola any longer. Nevertheless, Knives is the brand new release from the punk rock band out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
The one sheet says the band is “folk punk”. I don’t know that’s really the case. We can nitpick about genres/subgenres all damn day and never agree. I’m going to go ahead and call them punk. The tunes aren’t out of place on set with Against Me, Dead to Me, American Steel, Street Dogs or Social Distortion, so you file that however ya like.
Knives provides 10 tracks of riff heavy, hard rocking storytelling. I suppose that is where people might slap on the “folk” badge. The band has something to say. Good for them, say it.
What I hear though, is a great album of heavy driving punk rock, with some amount of sensible pop melody.
The band is on tour this spring / summer in Canada, if you live in the area, or are visiting our neighbors to the North, check ‘em out:
05.11 – Calgary, AB – Dickens
05.12 – Edmonton, AB – Brixx
05.13 – Saskatoon, SK – Black Cat Tavern
05.14 – Winnipeg, MB – Park Theatre
05.16 – Timmons, ON – The Working Class
05.17 – Hamilton, AB – Absinthe
05.18 – Toronto, ON – Hard Luck
05.19 – Montreal, QC – Pouzza Fest!
05.20 – Ottawa, ON – Maverick’s
05.25 – Regina, SK – The Mercury
05.26 – Medicine Hat, AB – The Silver Buckle
FIRE NEXT TIME – Knives
CD/LP/DIGI Release Date: May 4, 2018
With ten years under their belt, Fire Next Time’s latest album KNIVES is a culmination of shared experience, heartbreak and triumph. “My spirit is broken” are the first words screamed over a sea of distortion on the first track Wanderlust. The anthemic anguish meanders with Collars reading like a confession letter that will never be sent. Never afraid to proudly display their influences, a haunting Nebraska-esque quality is brought to Old Scratch thanks to the support of stellar Vancouver vocalist Jody Glenham. KNIVES is Packed with visceral imagery and leaves little room to breathe. The themes explored on the album are sure to please your inner cynic. In Walking Blind they are eager to remind us that, in the end, “we all choke.”
For Fans of: Against Me, Gaslight Anthem, Flatliners, Tom Waits, Off With Their Heads
I don’t want to be the guy that throws labels around. Honestly, there are just too many of them, but since I’m a jerk, I’ll throw one more in the mix. Montreal’s Society’s Ills is (and you can quote me on this) “post-punk-core/hardcore/semi-melodic”
No, but really, I’m listening to the new full length by Society’s Ills and it is pretty damn rockin’. My goofy labels aside, it is 14 tracks of short burst hardcore laced punk with a lot of energy and decent amount of grit. As I listen to this, the tracks get better and better. I can see this becoming a regular rotation release on my car ride to work, ‘cause nothing makes the ride into work better than some kickass fastbreak punk rock.
So, um yeah, 14 fast tracks of hardcore punk with great guitar work, intelligible vocals, and a rock solid rhythm section. It reminds me of H2O a bit with undertones of way fast Black Sabbath, but more punk less posicore (regarding H2O, not Sabbath) if you know what I’m saying.
Bottom line is, great stuff, buy it now!
Call me confused. When I saw this CD in the ‘inbox’ I was super excited that I had some new psychobilly from “Thee Flatliners” … turns out that an extra e makes all the difference in the world. Immediately I was disappointed. Have you ever gone to take a drink of soda or beer or whatever and grabbed someone else’s beverage instead? Even if it isn’t something bad, the initial confusion of it not being what you expected can leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Well that is what I was experiencing with The Flatliners right off the bat. I’m glad that I stuck it out. I’ve been listening to Cavalcade for the last few days on my way to and from work. Over these last few days I’ve found a lot to enjoy. I also found some things to be concerned about, but I’ll discuss that later.
The disc provides 14 tracks of surprisingly diverse punk flavored tracks, each one with its own distinct flavor. There is a subtle Lawrence Arms quality as well as touches of Bracket. I think it speaks wonders for the roster consistency of Fat, no? Aside from the label mate similarities I hear bits of Bruce (Springsteen) and the other Bruce (Dickinson). Maybe I read too much into things though.
Aside from my initial disenchantment and eventual rock and roll epiphany, I can offer these words for The Flatliners – Cavalcade: Don’t be like me by almost not giving it a chance. That is wrong and I should know better and so should you.
A final word for the band, while I now appreciate what you’ve got going on, you’re flying dangerously close to the radio rock sun. Be careful Icarus. Be careful.
Here’s another odd review coming out of the dark (and apparently perverted) land of Canada. Toronto, to be more specific, but that hardly matter since most of you reading this don’t really have much grasp on geography anyway. (Yeah I’m talking to you USA)
“Drunk Punk Anthems” (or what may possibly be entitled, “Pink on the Inside”) knuckle shuffles forth 11 tracks of sophomoric sexual frustration remarkably disguised as punk rock. It’s a whole lot like Stephen Lynch got a distortion pedal. The music (lyrical content notwithstanding) on the other hand is actually rather enjoyable. I really brings back the late 80’s thrash that I grew up on. Seriously though, the goofy, campy, pervy nature of the lyrics prevent my from really latching on to this release. It’s the exact reason that I never really got into Mucky Pup or Scatterbrain.
It is almost too bad though, because musically it is spot on for a bygone era that I miss and love, even down to the metal ballad ways of track six, Canadian Psycho. If I could give more points for effort, I probably would. (Who am I kidding? I can give or take points as I see fit)
What it really all boils down to is some rockin’ thrash punk that I enjoy horribly entwined with a far too lowbrow theme. To be fair, however, there are 2.5 positive stars. This would seriously kick ass at a frat party and if I was still in high school I might be a bit more forgiving of the thematic elements.
I look forward to hearing more for Braincell Graveyard in the future, if only to see if stop writing songs straight from the crotch. … Time will tell.
The Decay, hailing from Guelph, Ontario, Canada (which makes me think of the 12th/13th century conflict between the papacy and the holy roman empire, but I digress) are a punk rock band and they graciously sent me a CD. I happen to be listening to it right now.
“This Months Rent” contains 14 tracks and an intro of reasonably snotty and rowdy punk rock, but with more song-craft than you’d initially suspect from my pigeon hole description. I’m lead to believe that the cost to produce and distribute this disc was the cost of a month’s rent. Presumably the band is either now homeless or have successfully worked things out with their landlord. … and I digress further.
The Decay bridges the gap between straight up punk and rock and roll by adding emphasis on melodic hooks and well structured choruses as evident on track four, The Street. Speaking of that particular track, it reminds me a lot of Gaslight Anthem. Without being overly verbose, because I keep getting distracted, let it suffice that “This Months Rent” is a rock solid DIY punk rock release with a serious nod to its roots of rock and roll.
On another note, there is a track on here that is over the four minute mark. Normally I’d start to complain about anything past three. In this case, I think the harmonica interlude divided it up enough to maintain my attention. When all is said and done, I like this and it makes a damn fine road CD.
For fans of: Street Dogs, Gaslight Anthem, Hudson Falcons, Welchboys