Calgary’s Lab Coast make moony-eyed pop

Plus hear new music from Cate Le Bon, ZOOM, and Bernardino Femminielli.

April 15, 2016

No Rest for the Obsessed is a column spotlighting some of the most exciting new music AUX Editor Jesse Locke finds each week. It began in 2010 for Calgary’s dearly departed alt-weekly FFWD, and takes its name from a Lightning Bolt song.

Lab Coast – Remember The Moon

Calgary’s Lab Coast return this month with Remember The Moon, their first full-length offering since 2014’s wonderful Walking On Ayr. Since then, singer David Laing and octo-armed drummer/multi-instrumentalist Chris Dadge have been joined by the revitalized line-up of Samantha Savage Smith, Henry Hsieh (Cold Water), and Darrell Hartsook (Pre Nup). They’ve also found a fitting home on Calgary’s Wyatt Records, a new label founded by Fist City’s Evan Van Reekum.

What hasn’t changed is Lab Coast’s effortlessly ramshackle chops, sounding like the bedheaded British Invasion of early Guided By Voices or other home recording heroes like R. Stevie Moore and Departmentstore Santas. Watch their video for the melancholy “Bored Again” filmed in a swimming pool by Sara Hughes, then drift on with the daydreamy “Helen Bach.”

Cate Le Bon – Crab Day

Welsh singer Cate Le Bon is back to celebrate Crab Day, an album named for the imaginary holiday invented by her young niece. This Drag City delivery of tightly wound pop songs flashes back to the miniature mood-pieces of 2013’s Mug Museum following Le Bon’s diversion into hazier territory on last year’s Drinks, a collaboration with White Fence’s Tim Presley.

The skronks and plonks of “Wonderful” live up to its title, but the album’s real showstopper is “What’s Not Mine”, a twitchy twee-kraut stomper that continues to peak throughout seven glorious minutes.

ZOOM – Sweet Desperation

In 1976, Chris Haight and John Hamilton’s ZOOM released their sole 7″ that can be arguably be described as Toronto’s first punk record. Though not as unhinged as The Viletones (the band Haight would join shortly after) or as caffeinated as The Diodes (Hamilton’s follow-up gig as drummer), ZOOM’s “Sweet Desperation” was a campy prototype inspired by the theatrical sound of their heroes Reed, Ferry, Bowie, and Mael.

Heady Toronto-based archival label Ugly Pop has now turned up the unreleased recordings from ZOOM’s follow-up studio sessions featuring members of The Ugly, The B-Girls, and The Curse. These have been collected on a 13-song LP bundled with extensive liner notes, photos, and restored sonics from an overlooked moment in Toronto punk history. Grip with the quickness because copies of this one are gonna go zoom.

Bernardino Femminielli – Plaisirs Américains

Back in November, Montreal’s Bernardino Femminielli shared the first tantalizing glimpse at his long-percolating Plaisirs Américains LP. This subterranean star-studded opus is a co-release between Japan’s MIND Records and the Femminielli-helmed Bethlehem XXX, and you can finally hear it in full.

It’s going to take more than a few spins to take in everything here. The lushly produced late-night epic moves through bleary-eyed visions of Iggy Pop/Grace Jones’ guitar-grinding “Nightclubbing”, ominous electronic throbs à la Black Devil Disco Club, and the hair-raising pulses of Greece’s Lena Platonos, all narrated by Femminielli’s careless whispers. He calls it “acid televangelism” and that might sum it up better than anything else.

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