Lonely Parade is the tightly knit art-punk trio of childhood friends Augusta Veno (guitar/vocals), Charlotte Dempsey (bass/vocals), and Anwyn Climenhage (drums). Formed when they were in their early teens in the small Ontario town of Peterborough, they have become, six years later at barely 20 years old, one of the most buzzed about new bands in Canada. Touring the country as teenagers they have shared stages with Weaves, PUP, Ought, and Nap Eyes (who opened for Lonely Parade on one of their first tours), appeared on festival stages at Sled Island and Lawnya Vawnya, and in 2017 played outside of Canada for the first time upon being invited to the Iceland Airwaves festival.
With all three members now of age and out of school the band relocated to Montreal this past fall, and spent the end of last year commuting back and forth to Toronto to work on their Buzz Records debut with producer/engineer Josh Korody (Fucked Up, Weaves, Dilly Dally) and Shehzaad Jiwani of Greys at Toronto’s Candle Recording Studio. The resultant LP, entitled The Pits, refines the technically complex instrumentation and hooky fuzz-blasted songwriting upon which the trio have built their budding reputation, drawing on influences ranging from the warped punk hooks of Uranium Club, to the guitar interplay of cult Canadian band Women, to releases from Lonely Parade's now Buzz Records label mates Weaves and Dilly Dally.
Appropriately for a band who have rapidly and publicly developed their idiosyncratic prowess, the album embodies an irrepressible spirit of self-discovery, both in its constantly probing and inventive construction, and in its subject matter, which concerns the collapse of the band member’s place in the small-town where they grew up. Written quickly and unsparingly, the album captures the band’s lyricists, Charlotte Dempsey and Augusta Veno at a time when their understanding of their world was rapidly evolving. Steeped in a biome of scene drama (Dempsey says the album’s central narrative began to emerge “when people from our town started dating each other and found out how shitty they were”) but buoyed by clear-eyed observations and a penchant for grounding details and turns of phrase, the album’s 10 songs display a compositional faculty and wry humor that communicate a remarkably fully realized vision for a band making its first steps into the wider world.
“I don’t think there’s any way we could write another album like this now,” laughs Dempsey. “It’s charged with a very specific negative energy. We were friends with almost everyone in our tiny scene, and now no one talks to each other and nothing feels as penultimate as how it did in Peterborough then. It’s so tiny there that if you fuck one thing up with someone and then go downtown, everybody knows. It just started feeling really small.”
The sense of ex urban ennui permeates the record, but the subject matter contrasts pointedly with the band’s imaginative musicianship and technical prowess. While the lyrics dwell on topics like bad room mates in shit hole apartments (New Roomate), joyrides around town with a crush where the only place to go is a fast food drive-through (Night Cruise), and punching through numbness and exhaustion to rediscover self-worth (“I’m So Tired”), Lonely Parade strike a balance between grungy guitar pop and math rock adjacent post-punk that’s both immediate and cerebral in its construction. Melancholy, but never dour; technical, but always engaging; sincere, but never self serious, the record provides an antidote to so many of the ideas that dominate the post-punk landscape and serves as a bold statement of purpose from a uniquely exciting band.