Canadian punk stable Deranged Records has been killing it for an impressive 15 years, but what’s even more astonishing is how many releases label founder Gord Dufresne has cranked out in that time. Spread across 12-inches, 7-inches, CDs and cassettes, the label’s page at discogs.com contains 234 releases.
Beginning as a purely hardcore-focused label in Toronto in 1999, Dufresne’s imprint has evolved to release post-punk and power-pop records while retaining a keen ear for hardcore in its various strains, from ’80s revivalism through d-beat and raw punk. Deranged signees come from all over the world (if you read about a hot new demo tape in MRR or a sketchy blogspot account, chances are Dufresne will find them and press their songs on wax), and include a diverse batch of internationally beloved, genre-defining acts like Regulations, E.T.A., Look Back and Laugh, Siege, and many others. But the label has also represented some of the best Canadian punk bands of the last 15 years.
Here’s a primer to some key Canadian punk releases that Deranged put out from 1999 to 2010.There’s simply too much to cover for one list, but stay tuned for another list of the label’s post-2010 Canadian classics (of which there are many).
Born Dead Icons — Part of Something Larger Than Ourselves
Montreal d-beat debonaires Born Dead Icons dropped one of the first Deranged releases with their 1999 effort Part of Something Larger Than Ourselves. The band, which lasted until 2007 and shares members with the equally brooding Complications, could not have been more spot-on with its title. Not only did they release material with other massive punk labels and draw some attention worldwide, but they helped launch Deranged as one of Canada’s best record labels.
Countdown to Oblivion — Brain Surgery for Beginners
Chris Colohan’s pre-Cursed band Countdown to Oblivion released their Brain Surgery for Beginners EP on Deranged in 2000. With heavy riffs, off-kilter drums and pinch harmonics aplenty, it’s likely the closest thing you’ll find to a metalcore release in the Deranged discography. That said, it still rips.
Haymaker — Love the Music, Hate the Kids!!! 7-inch
Though they’ve recently returned with some new material, Toronto’s Haymaker were absolute legends in the early 2000s. Known for fast, pissed, aggressive thrash and wild, violent live shows, their mythology preceded them. However, their debut Deranged release packed 12 songs onto one 12-minute 7-inch, and contained all of the terrifying speedy hardcore energy found in their live shows.
Fucked Up — Police 7-inch
It’s hard to pick just one Fucked Up release to include on the list, since Deranged has been a driving force in the band’s career, releasing singles, singles compilations and the vinyl editions of some of the band’s LPs. There’s a ridiculous amount of quality Fucked Up material on Deranged, but the band’s entire dichotomy of melodic and pissed can be found in their still excellent “Police” single, a live staple to this day. Plus, every Canadian punk release should have a line as straightforward as “Jack fucking Layton, lick my asshole,” as ol’ Pink Eyes sings on “Municipal Prick.”
Urban Blight – Urban Blight 7-inch
If there was a killer Toronto hardcore band in the naughts, you know Dufresne had his hand in it. He released the self-titled debut 7-inch from the city’s Urban Blight, complete with some classic hardcore-band cover art (displayed in terrible resolution above). The group perfected their sound on future outings, but this debut is a raw, hard classic.
Terminal State – Your Rules 12-inch
Another Toronto band, Terminal State played some simple sing-along hardcore punk with elements of early California hardcore along with hints of rock ‘n’ roll not unlike their labelmates, Regulations. It’s a sound that’s gotten rawer, snottier and, well, just damn right in the members’ new band, School Jerks.
The Tranzmitors – Bigger Houses, Broken Homes 7-inch
You might be noticing a trend here: Deranged was synonymous with Toronto hardcore. While that’s certainly true, the label has also had no problem branching out into other genres and territories. Their first western Canadian release came courtesy of finely dressed power-pop dandies The Tranzmitors. The group, who’ve had no trouble attracting worldwide attention for their impossibly catchy pop, released their Bigger Houses, Broken Homes 7-inch via the label in 2006. And it might just be the best thing they’ve ever done — the title track is a suburban sing-along, and the instrumental interlude in the eternal pop hit “Glamour Girls” is pure power-pop bliss.
Career Suicide — Attempted Suicide LP
But back to Toronto hardcore. Career Suicide have released plenty of excellent records through Deranged over the years, but their Attempted Suicide LP stands as one of the best Canadian punk releases of the 2000s. A powerful blend of no-frills punk with hints of melody and an unspeakable amount of energy, it’s an album that sounds as fresh today as it did in 2006, which you can’t say about many other punk releases from the time.
The Bayonettes — We’re Doomed 7-inch
One of Toronto’s longest running punk promoters, Mark Pesci previously played in The Bayonettes, a wonderfully poppy punk band who played melodic, garagey punk that sidestepped the murky howls and reverb drench of late 2000s garage punk in favour of pogo-worthy singalongs. Nothing wrong with that!
Brutal Knights — Feast of Shame LP
The project of now-comedian Nick Flanagan, Brutal Knights demonstrated his humour while also showcasing a band who knew their way around raw, punk-as-fuck garage with hints of hardcore. While it’s certainly up for debate, their sophomore LP Feast of Shame just might be the band at their best. No one should sound this cool while singing such stupid lyrics.
Marvelous Darlings — I Don’t Wanna Go to the Party 7-inch
Marvelous Darlings are quite literally No Warning’s foray into power-pop, as the band features both Ben Cook and Matt Delong from the hardcore heroes. There’s no sign of Ill Blood‘s face-pummeling breakdowns or Suffer Survive‘s hard-to-stomach alt-rock on “I Don’t Wanna Go to the Party,” however. Instead, it’s a frustratingly flawless power-pop anthem that’d work in any era, including the time it was first released and in listening back now. That little bastard Ben Cook knows how to get hooks lodged into your ears.
Sedatives — Sedatives LP
Before they were playing black metal-tinged pop-punk in the No Idea-signed Crusades, Ottawa punks Dave Williams and Emmanuel Sayer played together in Sedatives. The band released an LP via Deranged in 2009, and it’s an excellent mix of driving power-pop and keyboard-driven garage. It hinted at things to come from the band, while also offering some bleak melodies, not unlike Jay Reatard’s Lost Sounds.