BeatRoute Magazine Alberta print e-edition - Feb. 2016

beatroute

BeatRoute Magazine is a monthly arts and entertainment paper based in Western Canada with a predominant focus on music – local, independent or otherwise.

Propagandhi • Parquet Courts • Classified • Lemmy Tribute Show • Cirque Nuit • Oscars Preview • Savages


Editor’s Note/Pulse 4

Bedroom Eyes 7

Places Please 13

Vidiot 19

Edmonton Extra 30-31

Letters from Winnipeg 32

Let’s Get Jucy! 36

This Month in Metal 45

FEATURES

Block Heater 39-41

CITY 9-14

Music Mile, Cirque Nuit, Garter Girls,

Black Diamond Tattoos, Smutty Story

Circle, Palomino Anniversary, Jedi Handbook,

Isolde, Jazz in Banff, Rose & Crown

Bandd

FILM 17-19

The Oscars, Netflix & Kill, $100 Film Festival,

Jumanji

Propagandhi - page 21

TABLE OF CONTENTS

MUSIC

rockpile 21-32

Propagandhi, The Bright Light Social

Hour, Parquet Courts, Container, Frank

Turner & the Sleeping Souls, Couer de

Pirate, Rae Spoon, Barnaby Bennett,

Ex-Boyfriends, the CJs, Fake Werewolves,

The 47s, the Smalls

jucy 35-36

Classified, Treasure Fingers

roots 39-41

Block Heater 2016

shrapnel 43-45

Lemmy Tribute, Megadeth, Trivium

REVIEWS

cds 47-55

Savages and much, much more ...

live 56

Calgary Songs Project, Elder, The Revival

BEATROUTE

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

Brad Simm

Marketing Manager

Glenn Alderson

Advertising Manager

Ron Goldberger

Production Coordinator

Hayley Muir

Managing Editor/Web Producer

Shane Flug

Music Editor/Social Media Consultant

Colin Gallant

Section Editors

City :: Brad Simm

Film :: Joel Dryden

Calgary Beat :: Willow Grier

Jucy :: Paul Rodgers

Roots :: Liam Prost

Shrapnel :: Sarah Kitteringham

Edmonton Extra :: Jenna Lee Williams

Letters From Winnipeg :: Julijana Capone

COVER: Peter Moller

This Month’s Contributing Writers

Gareth Watkins • Christine Leonard • Jennie Orton • Sarah Mac • Kate Holowaty •

Michael Grondin • Maya-Roisin Slater • Robyn Welsh • Aaron Swanbergson • Breanna

Whipple • Maria Dardano • Max Maxwell • Shawn Vincent • Shane Sellar • Ari Rosenschein

• Brittany Rudyck • Heather Adamson • Michael Dunn • Jonathan Crane • Arielle Lessard

• Andrea Hrynyk • Jodi Brak • Kennedy Enns • Jamie McNamara • Sara Elizabeth Taylor •

Jonathan Lawrence • Dan Savage

This Month’s Contributing Photographers & Illustrators

Jodi Brak • Andrea Hrynyk • Cristian Fowlie • Tom Bagley • Étienne Saint-Denis • JJ Madina

• Greg Gallanger • Chris Apollo Lynn • Gavin Howard • Fox Foto • Arif Ansari • Savior Faire

• Jess Baumung • Valerie Martino • Devin Brewster • Todd V Wolfson • Rob Waymen • DD

Morris • Keith Skrastins • Parker Thiessen • Brandi Strauss • Jesse Nash • Andreaa Catana

Advertising

Tel: 403.451.7628 • e-mail: sales@beatroute.ca

Distribution

We distribute our publication in Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, Canmore, and Lethbridge.

SARGE Distribution in Edmonton – Shane Bennett (780) 953-8423

BeatRoute Magazine

Mission PO 23045 T2S 3A8

e-mail: editor@beatroute.ca • website: www.beatroute.ca

Connect with BeatRoute.ca

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Copyright © BEATROUTE Magazine 2015. All rights reserved.

Reproduction of the contents is prohibited.

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 3


pulse

BAMBOO BASS FEST

Western Canada’s bass music culture is heading way, way south. The

first ever Bamboo Bass Festival will be taking place in Jaco, Costa

Rica from February 19th to 21st. The festival was organized by

Western Canadians Crystal Rhodes and Jordy Grant, and hopes to

blend a taste of our region’s signature style with vibrant Costa Rican

electronic music.

BLACKBERRY WOOD

It’s their first Western Canadian

tour in a long time, AND THEY’RE

BRINGING THE CIRCUS! The

wonderful musical sounds of old

and new, as in Gypsy Punk, Americana,

Ol’ Jazz razzamatazz and

footstompin’ gut-bucket style

country are coming your way.

Kris Mitchell, Blackberry Wood’s

extravagant leader, is “thrilled to

death, or at least very close, to

be traveling with a the amazing

talents of Burns The Dragon, fire

breathing, bed of nails and all

kinds of twisted feats of human

oddities, and Little Miss Risk, burlesque,

snake charming, dancing

on glass and much more!” It’s

gonna be a night to remember

the rest of your life.

Thurday, Feb. 25

Oak Tree Tavern

SOUNDOFF MUSIC

Calgary presents the third edition of SoundOff this February

25th-27th. Taking place at Commonwealth, The Ironwood and The

Gateway, this festival features local artists like 36?, Beach Season and

Dragon Fli Empire for audiences and industry types alike.

Come watch your favourites play their guts out.

RAGE YOGA

Find your inner peace... By channeling your unabashed rage. Every

Monday and Wednesday at Dickens with instructor Lindsay Istace.

Screaming, cursing and drinking are all acceptable at this no-judgment

event. Beer is on special!

4 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE


The Secret Sanctuary

The space on Page 7 was originally designated to something we called Bedroom

Eyes. A peek inside of whoever would allow us to trample through their secret

sanctuary and, hopefully, capture a rare moment. That was the original idea.

After a couple of years, the bedrooms were looking similar or not all that exciting

and we decided to go elsewhere taking one-off photos. Last year, however, we put

the band formerly known as Viet Cong on the cover for the release of their self-titled

album. Their record label had press photos that they offered for cover art, but we

wanted to have an exclusive, and the band agreed.

Sebastian Buzzalino, then the music editor and handy with the camera, set up a

time on Sunday morning for the shoot, although there wasn’t a specific plan or place

where he would photograph the band. We roamed the neighbourhood they were

staying in looking for a good backdrop—a garage door, a metal shipping container

and the old stand-by, a brick wall, were our best options. Then Buzzalino got a call

from the band to come over to the house that they were at and apparently had been

the night before... the party was still lingering. When he got there someone had the

genius to suggest the band jump into a big beautiful bed complete with canopy.

Brilliant idea! Lights, camera, action. Buzzalino got the money shot but it never ran

on the cover. That wasn’t the kind of image the band wanted to have portrayed of

themselves. Fair enough, we pulled it and ran a photo of them in their not-so-exciting

practice space with a rug hanging on the wall as a backdrop. Oh well.

It would be a shame, a crime, if this photo didn’t see the light of day. Valentine’s

2016, Bedroom Eyes returns with a rare glimpse of some great looking men.

Cheers, B. Simm

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 7


CITY

THE SMALLS: Forever Is A Long TIme

w documentary on the legendary punk band opens on the prairies

by B. Simm

and a sincere artistic desire to simply make music that meant something

to them was key. Their writing process is discussed in the film. They agonized

over every time change and riff for months and months. Nothing

made the album without massive scrutiny. Plus, the fact that they went

on stage in John Deere hats, winter boots and gloves, and hid under

hoodies, only made their mystique and punk character richer. There

were no typical shout-outs or pandering introductions, they simply

stepped up and murdered it for one and a half hours. People often left

the show in shock, still interpreting the experience… “What was that?!”

The smalls were unquestionably a rare breed that seem to come

out nowhere—metal, jazz and punk all tucked under a John

Deere hat. An unlikely combo that had a solid ten year run who

still remain fresh in the memory of legions of friends and fans. In 2014,

13 years after calling it quits, they brought the memory to life once

more for a reunion tour across the country. Filmmaker Trevor Smith

followed them and documented not just a series of shows, but also their

history delving into the inner workings of what makes this band such a

rare, enigmatic treasured force. BeatRoute asked the questions, Smith

emptied his head:

Your relationship with the smalls dates back to the ‘90s. Were you a

friend or fan of the band? How did you get involved? What kind of

low-to-no budget films were you making of them at that time?

Smith: I was a fan first, then came to know the guys in the Edmonton

circle of bands, hockey buddies, and general bar community. My musical

tastes were shifting from classic metal and into alternative sounds that

defied convention. The smalls symbolized that transformation in me. I

identified heavily with their sound—their origins were mysterious, and

that added to the allure. They were like farmer metal from jazz hell. It

was pre-internet. You had so little good information, bands were bigger

than life and full of mystery. All you had were liner notes, or a pirated

cassette tape. Plus their live shows were simply insane.

I wasn’t even making films for them yet. I was figuring out super 8 and

16mm. A friend in Molly’s Reach had two old cameras, and we were all

experimenting with film, exposure, and lab processes. It was all magic.

Eventually I helped out assisting on their “Pity The Man With The Fast

Right Hand” video. I remember an Easter video we cut on tape in some

guy’s home edit suite he had in his closet. That never saw the light of day,

it had Corb’s cousins on motorbikes, although some of the raw live material

makes it into the feature film as archival material.

Over the course of their 10 year history, what type of film footage was

gathered and used for the documentary? From your perspective, what

CITY

story or kinds of stories does that footage reveal about the band and the

era they existed in?

Smith: We had access to the band’s whole archive of stuff. Corb had

it all in a stack of Rubbermaid containers. That included every VHS,

BetaCam, DVD, and miniDV imaginable. There were over 300 posters

and 150 handbills, plus stacks of handwritten fan mail. We scanned and

photographed them all to consider as assets. Again, this was a “viral”

band before the Internet existed. They lived in rumour, word of mouth,

and their genius management of touring and brand. In the end, proportionally

anyway, not much old footage makes the final cut. I became so

interested in the guys as they are today, that the historical view became

more of a technique to evaluate each character’s journey from the

nineties to 2014. It was an act of comparison. The old degraded video

footage and that handmade gig poster style informs the film in many

ways though. When we do spend time to look at the band as younger

men in those shitty clubs, we also take a similar journey back in our own

memories. Images don’t get recorded like that any longer, so the archival

material is in itself a trigger for memory, and a portal to the past we can

never fully grasp again. That’s one of the themes of the film—the draw

and peril of nostalgia—and the inevitable, mostly invisible act of growing

up. In the end, these guys reunited for a very small window of time on

their terms, killed it, and left their fans and themselves both with the full

satisfaction of knowing that they accomplished a sound signature that is

truly one of a kind.

Musically, the smalls cut through a lot of different territory—country,

blues, metal, jazz—creating their own brand of prog punk in the process.

In addition to their music, what kind of personality or character

do you think the band embodied? For instance, did they make any

particular social statement, or was there anything specific that their

audiences identified with?

Smith: They were definitely difficult to categorize, and that may have

been one of their long-term obstacles to any major record deal. Who

knows? But your use of the term “personality” is important. That’s what

made them special I think. It was a fundamental indifference to trends,

How does the documentary unfold? Is it a linear narrative that depicts

their development—beginning, trails/tribulations, the decline? What

notable aspects of their history are drawn out?

Smith: It is somewhat linear. We experimented with different narrative

structures, but in the end we used the reunion tour, and its preparation,

as the backbone. Over top of the six month journey from rusty rehearsals

to the cathartic finale in Edmonton, we walk the viewer through the

band’s ten year trajectory. We don’t pull any punches, and posit lots

of ambiguity and questions. The band didn’t want a sugar coated puff

piece, and I sure as hell didn’t either. The band always had darkness. Let’s

face it, it’s metal deep in there. So we always wanted some fearlessness

core to the film. But we touch upon all the primary beats: the original

members, the Grant MacEwan days, SNFU roots, endless touring, small

town armies, the powerful brand, the signature merch, the grind of the

Canadian road, the enigma of Ontario, the Cargo Records fuck-over, glass

ceilings, the dissolution, and eventually Goodbye Forever and the end

of the band. There are little nuggets that didn’t make the cut, like the

Kamloops riot, but we hope to put them on the DVD extras :)

The reunion. That in itself was quite a milestone. What does the documentary

capture that’s most significant about their coming together

again?

Smith: It was an amazing achievement. You continually see all these

garbage reunions for money, when guys who clearly hate each other just

put on a brave face for a year to rake in millions. This wasn’t that at all.

Corb made room in his schedule, and they all very seriously dedicated

themselves to getting back into that metal saddle and executing

perfectly. None of them I don’t think ever really thought it would

materialize—just the sheer force of putting four disparate mid-forty

lives back into a van for 20 plus dates is a feat in itself. But what was so

magical was the connection with the fans. Every show sold out, and it

was pandemonium. We talk about it in the film. That “conversation”

Corb called it, and fulfillment of a bond between the band and their

loyal fans, was transcendent. It breathed life and humanity into the film.

I think on this reunion tour certain guys opened their eyes for maybe the

first time and without the pressures of the next album or money, simply

took in the joy of a well oiled, shredding musical tour. They just freely

expressed themselves as friends and artists and celebrated it. Every single

night people across western Canada were able to reconcile their feelings

for the band with a live marriage of that mutual adoration. The word we

kept using in the interviews was “joy”. It was bittersweet though, for us

all. It came and went so fast.

Finally, as the members of the smalls reflect upon their history what

do they have to reveal?

Smith: I think it becomes clear in the film that they were a huge success

(despite the optics of failure). They maybe realized it through this

reunion with new wisdom and fresh eyes. The lives they impacted, the

people in western Canada they carried, and the timeless music they

made left an indelible imprint. That’s a huge accomplishment. That level

of magic and independent courage, for ten years, is impressive. In fact, it’s

miraculous. As a fan and friend, I’m grateful for what they gave me one

last time.

Forever Is A Long Time starts officially at the Globe Cinema in Calgary on

Friday February 16-25. In Saskatoon at the Broadway March 4-14 and

then Edmonton at The Garneau/Metro Cinema March 18-24.

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 9


CIRQUE DE LA NUIT

now is the winter of our discotheque

GARTER GIRLS

neo-burlesque: praise diversity, praise booty!

By Willow Grier

is such a bleak time of year, we really wanted to kick

out the winter blues and give people a reason to celebrate,”

explains Jai Benteau, co-founder of Calgary-based

“Winter

independent arts collective Cirque de la Nuit. “Having mounted Veradeasi

at the Fairmont Chateau in Whistler, B.C., we were eager to bring

the show West to share with the fans who are so special to us.”

A multidisciplinary showcase of artistry in all its forms, Cirque de

la Nuit events encompass and entire panoply of physical and auditory

delights including roving musicians, cunning contortionists, and

mystifying sideshow oddities. Coming from a background that included

planning raves and private parties, Jai and his cousin Sarah Benteau have

been creating circus-themed fetes since early 2013. What better way

to commemorate their company’s third anniversary than by mounting

their most ambitious affair to date?

“We’ve really stepped up the theatrical side of our shows,” says

Jai, who also performs as an electroswing DJ under the moniker Bass

Caravan. “Our themes change, but are always wrapped around the

idea of circus performers who inhabit a land that’s been frozen in time.

Veradeasi takes place in an enchanted wood during the bleakest dark

of winter; where all of these characters come to life for one crazy night.

It’s much more organic than previous shows like Mécanique, which

had a steampunk style to it. Our entire troupe goes to great lengths

to create props, costumes, make-up and sets that reflect a traditional

vintage circus. As we’ve grown we’ve learned how to transform all sorts

of different venues and how to restructure decor and stage layouts to

create the most impact in a space. We want people to feel like they’re

being whisked away to another world, and lose their inhibitions, as soon

as they walk through the doors of Flames Central.”

A three-ring smorgasbord for the senses, Cirque de la Nuit’s Veradeasi

promises to be a happening that is best entered into with an open

mind and a participatory spirit. The full onstage musical merriment

provided by funk-monky Freak Motif, violinist Michael Fraser, will be

spread throughout the crowd thanks to some 45 presenters including

stilt-walkers, aerialists, dancers, and assorted sideshow oddities who

will engage party-goers in a Bacchanalian array of choreographed and

spontaneous encounters.

“It’s a mix and mash between polished acts and intense free-flow

entertainments, where you’ll find a diverse spectrum of people walking

around and seeing life from a new angle,” Jai explains. “Everyone’s trying

to push envelope, but for us it’s a matter of how you repurpose it. You

don’t get an opportunity to participate in an amazing one-on-one audience

experience when you buy a ticket to Cirque do Soleil. So come out,

dress up, and let go of the nine-to-five routine. Lose your inhibitions and

be more than just a spectator.”

Cirque de la Nuit presents Veradeasi at Flames Central Feb. 13.

• Christine Leonard

Valentine’s Day can mean a lot of different things to people.

For some, it's the holiday of affection: a time to celebrate

lovers and shower them with gifts and treats. For some, it's

an unwelcome reminder of being single. For The Garter Girls, it's

a chance to celebrate a year of think-outside-the-box burlesque

performances and invite the best-of-the-best to share their stage

for two nights of pure revelry.

The Garter Girls have been bringing a vast array of performers

to the stage for 10 years. This variability will be highlighted in the

two pre-Valentine’s Day shows at The Engineered Air Theatre in

Calgary. Performers will include a stripper veteran and former Miss

Nude Canada multi-award winner, a professional ballerina, last years

Burlesque Hall of Fame “Most Dazzling” award winner, and perhaps

most exciting of all: the former King of Boylesque, Mr. Gorgeous.

So what has brought this varied group of artists and performers

together? Garter Girl Lily Bo Pique tells of her experience: “As an

actor I'm always auditioning for stuff. Someone else is in charge and

I'm always asking questions, and asking permission to be an artist.

With burlesque absolutely no one can tell me how I should be.”

“With the Neo burlesque movement has been about is open

sexuality, acceptance, body positivity, and sex positivity,” Describes

troupe-mate, Raven Virginia. “In the burlesque industry, I'm not at

the whim of someone else. I get to design things and dictate and

create my own movement.”

Bo Pique recalls being inspired by frustrations of how she was

being perceived in the acting world when she designed her first

storybook-character-gone-ballistic routine. This is an approach

she shares with special guest, Mr. Gorgeous. “We don't just choose

someone for their looks. That's never how this works,” Raven Virginia

continues. “He too has taken the image people have of him,

which is of a Clarke Kent/Superman type with amazing chiseled

features. And flips that on its head and changes everybody's perception

of him by doing weird shit. It's a new, very funny and odd

style that is absolutely perfect for us as a troupe. We always bring

our best, brightest and newest acts to the Valentine’s Day shows.”

While Valentine's Day can mean any number of things, the

Garter Girls have curated a spectacular lineup to unite crowds for

one common theme: to praise diversity, and most of all, to praise

booty.

Catch The Garter Girls February 11th and 12th at The Engineered Air

Theatre, Arts Commons, Calgary, for their Valentine's Day Specials.

10 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE CITY


SMUTTY STORY CIRCLE

not your grandma’s dirty lit

The topic of desire can often be difficult to

write about. At a glance, the Smutty Story

Circle, being held on February 14th, might

conjure up images of awkward confessionals and

your grandma’s dirty romance novels. But the

event’s workshop facilitator and organizer, Tiffany

Sostar, says that this event not only possesses great

depth but also provides a unique outlet that she

felt was missing in the community.

“It seemed like there were a lot of people who

were struggling with things like reconciling their identities,

orientations, fantasies and sometimes histories

of trauma,” says Sostar. “And there wasn’t really a safe

place to do that exploration.”

The Smutty Story Circle is a workshop and safe

space open to anyone to be creative and candid

without fear of judgment or scrutiny. Sostar starts

each session with an outline of expectations, which

include respectful language use as well as thoughtful

sensitivity when listening to others share their work.

Writing can be a critique heavy art and sometimes

the focus can be on what’s doesn’t work and what

needs to be edited rather than what is done well.

“The writing workshops are meant to be a space

where you can kind of stretch your wings a little bit

and try some things out and not worry that you’re

going to be told everything that you’re doing wrong,”

says Sostar.

If you are the type who appreciates or prefers

constructive criticism you can divulge that before you

share any written work. Sostar also does editing work

for participants who want more extensive feedback.

The low-pressure workshop consists of three writing

prompts given by Sostar after which the group writes

for 15 minutes per prompt. Then participants can

either choose to share their work or just listen.

“One person had been attending for almost a year

before they shared anything and when they do share

it’s this incredible writing and there’s so much depth

and personality,” she says.

While all workshops are confidential, Sostar can

by Kate Holowaty

say that there is always a wide spectrum of work

created from humourous stories that have the entire

group clutching their sides in laughter to intense

writing that can make anyone’s toes curl.

The Smutty Story Circle is for anyone wanting to

explore any aspect of their sexual being and identity.

This has a personal stake for Sostar, who identifies as

genderqueer.

“When I was kind of coming to terms with my

gender identity and struggling with a lot of anxiety

about what it may mean, the Smutty Story Circle

was actually one place where I was able to come and

play with my gender identity in a safe space before I

ever came out to any of my partners or even really to

myself,” Sostar says.

With the belief that writing belongs to everyone,

Sostar is excited to enter her sixth year of facilitating

workshops that help people find their creative voice.

“We often don’t allow people to write, we

don’t allow them that creative expression

because it’s held up as this thing that only a few

magically talented people can do,” Sostar says. “I

think that everybody can write, everybody has

a voice, everybody has something valuable to

share... and the Smutty Story Circle offers a space

where they can dip their toe into that and then

slowly gain the confidence to be more vocal at

the Story Circle or in their life.”

The Valentine’s Day Smutty Story Circle workshop

costs $15 and happens at 535 - 8 Ave. SE, 1 – 3 p.m.

CITY

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 11


PALOMINO 12TH ANNIVERSARY

12 years of beers, bands and barbecue by Colin Gallant

Rock club, country bar and smokin’ good

BBQ joint, The Palomino has been around

since 2004 with operating partners Arlen

Smith and Dan Northfield taking over in 2011.

In this period specifically, The Pal has attracted

talent from all over the world while putting

Calgary’s own scene in the spotlight.

This is well showcased in the fourth annual

Palomino Smokeout vinyl compilation being

released in conjunction with their anniversary

party on February 20th. It weights Calgary

scene-fixtures (The Von Zippers) and newcomers

(The Synthetiques) with top-tier talent from

around the country (Public Animal–Toronto,

Solids–Montreal, Black Thunder–Regina).

“This is a way for us to feel like we’re part of

a band and part of rock ‘n’ roll culture,” says

Smith. “I also look it as a way to be able to

put out local bands’ music that may not get

a chance to put out songs.” For several bands

featured on the composition, this marks the first

time their music has ever been put to wax. “It’s

an expensive process,” acknowledges Smith. “It’s

nice to hear from somebody, ‘My band’s on a

fuckin’ record, man.’”

The featured artists vary widely in style and

sound. There’s the stoner riff-rock of Black Thunder

bumping up against the drum and synth

rampage of Shattered. Northfield explains that

there’s a thread tying it all together. “They’re all

friends of The Palomino.”

Friends of The Pal come from far and wide.

Touring bands and out-of-towners flock to the

venue as their regular go-to destination point,

while local music lovers fit in comfortably sideby-side

with the business lunch and happy hour

crowd. Asked how the club keeps such a diverse

draw coming back time and time again, Smith

puts it simply: “It’s all about beers, bands and

good barbecue.”

The Palomino’s 12th anniversary party takes on

Sat., Feb. 20. Public Animal, The Von Zippers, Bad

Animal, Black Thunder, The Tontos, The Synthetiques,

The Shiverettes and Moanin’ After perform.

The Palomino Smokeout #4 comp will only be

available at the show and advance tickets can be

redeemed at the show for a copy.

12 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE CITY


ISOLDE

an experiment in adultery

Experimental theatre is one of the scenes,

outside of the glare of mainstream

media and beyond commercial concerns,

where the future is being made. The

techniques being developed in front of 20

people in Lower East Side lofts might be a little

esoteric for public consumption 99 times

out of 100, but the one per cent remaining

is going to end up in sitcoms and superhero

franchises.

Richard Maxwell is quite rightly regarded as a

major figure in late-20th and now-21st- century

theatre. A former alumni of the Steppenwolf

Theatre Company (alongside John Malkovich,

Gary Sinise, Joan Allen and others), a founding

THE BOY’S OWN JEDI HANDBOOK

episode flashback: a new ‘New Hope’

There’s an undeniable thrill that accompanies

the sound of the “Imperial

March” composed by John Williams,

whether you're a diehard nerf-herder or

aspiring Padawan, it’s easy to understand

why legions of fans snap to attention at the

mere mention of the Star Wars universe. So,

when it came time for Ryan Luhning, artistic

director of Calgary’s Ground Zero Theatre, to

take his own daughter to see Star Wars: The

Force Awakens, the magnitude of the cultural

milestone was not lost on the longtime devotee

of the Lucasfilm franchise.

“Obviously, I was a young boy myself when

the original three movies came out,” says

Luhning. “Fast-forward to when The Force

Awakens opens and I’m taking my daughter

who’s 11 years old and remembering how

I felt when I first felt saw it in the theatre. I

looked over at my daughter and saw this expression

of absolute wonder, joy, and surprise

on her face and I thought, ‘This will be her

Star Wars.’”

Coincidentally, while shifting through the

company’s records in search of his next inspiration,

Luhning came across materials going

back to the first time Ground Zero presented

award-winning playwright Steven Massecotte’s

work The Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook

(and The Girls Strike Back) in early 1999.

CITY

member of the Cook County Theatre Department

and now founder and director of the New

York City Players ensemble, his plays have been

performed in 16 countries and have garnered

him two OBIE awards.

He is comfortable with the ‘experimental’

label, saying: “I think it means an unwillingness

to accept a rote method or system of making

work. It means a continual examination of the

form of theatre and what that exploration will

yield. It’s a continual moving forward, and what

goes along with that is an acknowledgement

that as an experiment it might fail.”

His newest work, coming to Calgary early

February, is Isolde, based in part on Tristan and

by Gareth Watkins

Iseult, the nearly millennia old story of doomed,

adulterous love that has been adapted by

Richard Wagner, François Truffaut and German

power-metallers Blind Guardian (seriously.)

“I was drawn to the idea of an actress who

was losing her memory as a way of interrogating

the method approach to acting,” Maxwell

says, “where you don’t only need to remember

your lines, but you need to remember past life

experiences in order to be convincing onstage.

I also like this image of the idea of building a

dream house, where we can’t show the house

so everyone has to imagine what that house

would look like. I have the character of this

actress’s husband be a contractor and they hire

an award-winning architect to help them realize

their vision.”

The actress, Isolde, and the contractor, Massimo

begin an affair, causing the contractor’s

friend to step in to defend his honour. Maxwell

didn’t bring in the Tristan and Isolde inspiration

until much of the play had been sketched out:

he had a dream and woke with the word ‘Isolde’

on his lips, giving him a title, a structure and a

character’s name all at once.

The resulting play, starring Maxwell’s wife

Tory Vasquez as Isolde, has been a Critic’s

Choice in the New York Times and was given

five stars by Time Out New York. It’s at once

refreshingly familiar (who doesn’t like a love

triangle?), unsettlingly deadpan and well, well

worth your time.

Isolde runs Feb. 10-13 at Theatre Junction

GRAND.

by Christine Leonard

“At the same time worldwide fervour was

swirling over The Force Awakens coming out

I was looking at revisiting some of the old

works that had brought us into the game of

theatre. Back when I was all bright-eyed-andbushy-tailed

about the world. I had been going

through the archives when it hit me like

ton of bricks. Why not go back to that play

that inspired me so much as young artist? I

wondered what it would be like to revisit that

work 15 years later. Would it reinvigorate my

spirit with the same feelings I had as a young

artist? Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook was the

perfect choice; it’s all about releasing your

inner child and recapturing that time in your

life when everything seemed possible.”

Already a cult-favourite, the play was

remounted as a Trilogy under the direction

of Johanne Deleeuw in 2002. Featuring a dramatic

third chapter known as The Return of

the Jedi Handbook, this hilarious production

saw lead actor Christian Goutsis laying claim

to the pivotal character of “the kid.” A role he

was born to play.

“When I came up with the idea, the first

person I called was Christian Goutsis. It’s

such an iconic roll and the only I wanted

to revisit it was if Christian was available to

play ‘the kid.’ Not only because he’s a natural

storyteller and one of the most diverse characters

actors I’ve ever met, but because of the

connection he has to playing it in his mid-20s

and now again in his mid-40s. He was quick

to agree and didn’t hesitate in asking to bring

on Carl Stein, a great young fight director and

an incredible actor, to play the role of James.”

Calling upon a diverse selection of emerging

theatre talents and established artists

who have been with the company since its

inception, Luhning hopes to bring balance

to the Force behind Ground Zero’s beloved

flashback-steeped fantasy.

“We have the privilege of working with the

amazing JP Thibodeau [Storybook Theatre],

whose set designs have created a whole new

world for Jedi’s actors to explore. Part of our

vision is to incorporate elements of the actual

film through the use of video and projections.

In the past we didn’t have the technical

capabilities we do today. It really is a new

show from top to bottom. We asked Steven

to do some brush-up work on the script, and

he has written a piece that will appeal to the

old fans as much as the eight-year-olds in

the audience. It’s a dynamic combination of

reviving the nostalgic flavour of the past and

looking at the process through fresh eyes.”

The Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook plays at Vertigo

Theatre Feb. 11-21.

PLACES PLEASE

The Little Prince - The Musical

It’s been said time and time again: Calgary has some of the

best theatre not just in the country, but also in North America

and beyond. We are so truly lucky to live in this city and have

access to the incredible creativity and energy of its theatre scene.

This month, Calgary’s theatre companies are living up to this reputation

by bringing three different world premiere productions

to our city’s stages!

The Little Prince - The Musical

Theatre Calgary in association with Lamplighter Drama

Max Bell Theatre

January 19 - February 28

Stranded in the middle of the Sahara Desert, far from civilization, a

pilot meets a young prince who has fallen to earth from a tiny asteroid.

So begins Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, one of

the best-selling and most universally beloved books ever published.

Theatre Calgary in association with Lamplighter Drama (London,

U.K.) brings this story to life in a new musical seven years in the making

that celebrates its world -- and galaxy -- premiere in Calgary.

Calamity Town

Vertigo Theatre’s BD&P Mystery Theatre Series

The Playhouse at Vertigo Theatre

January 23 - February 21

It’s 1940, and Wrightsville, New England, the Great Depression now

in its rearview mirror, is booming once again. The charming town

is full of hope and optimism -- much to Ellery Queen’s dismay. The

mystery author has come to Wrightsville looking for material for

his new novel, and he’s convinced that corruption, poisonings and

murder hide behind the town’s white picket fences.

Book Club

Lunchbox Theatre

Lunchbox Theatre

February 8-27

The pressures of motherhood can get to anyone -- even a seemingly

perfect wife and mother like Jenny. When she doesn’t show up for

book club one day, her friends turn detective and follow her trail to

solve the mystery. Adventure, true friendship and lots of laughs are

all guaranteed in this madcap romp.

• Sara Elizabeth Taylor

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 13


WHERE NEXT?

creative writing takes on different visual mediums

by B. Simm

ACAD is going to be opening its doors to a

series of speakers from across North American

who will be talking about writing as a

visual medium. Weavers, graphic designers, copy

writers, typesetters and authors are just some of the

artists presenting different views on how we understand

what writing can be in the 21st century.

Derek Beaulieu, Calgary’s Poet Laureate for 2014-

16, explains, “What does writing and reading start

to become like when it incorporates things like

commercials, websites and graphic novels? What

does writing start to look like in a visual context?

Some of the speakers presenting at this unusual

but highly innovative gathering are PhD candidates

and researchers involved with one of a kind

projects. For instance, Jason Edward Lewis, one of

the keynote speakers, from Concordia University

is working a several million dollar federal grant in

which Mohawk youth from around Montreal area

decode and recode computers games so they can

then tell First Nations’ myths.

Another presentation, by Nick Sousanis, who

completing a post-doctorate at the U of C, has

written a dissertation, what Beaulieu refers to as a

“beautiful book”, called Unflattening. It’s the first

time anyone has done a PhD thesis on comics “in

the form of a comic.” Harvard published the 300

page comic which has sold across the globe.

Most people understand what a graphic novel

is, but when writing becomes a visual narrative

embedded in artwork and it’s more abstract than

images which tell explicit stories, interpreting that

narrative may be difficult. Beaulieu says that’s one of

the symposium’s objectives.

“What we’re trying to do is weave between

how were those forms created and how do we

understand it? What tools do we bring to the

table to form a new kind of writing?”

WHERE NEXT?: Creative Writing, Narrative, Film

and Contemporary Art takes place at ACAD on

Feb. 12 and 13.

14 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE CITY


FILM

OSCARS 2016: WHO WILL WIN?

(spoiler alert: mostly white people)

Leonardo DiCaprio wakes from a fevered dream in which he loses to Fassbender in a scene from The Revenant.

It’s back! The bloated, dull and protracted

plod that is The Oscars is back on February

28th, and all your favourite white people

will be there! Clooney, Damon, DiCaprio –

yes, even Jennifer Lawrence. You’re out of

luck if you enjoyed Idris Elba in Beasts of No

Nation or Will Smith in Concussion – this

was the year of #OscarsSoWhite. Even movies

with largely black casts were neglected

this year. The well-reviewed Straight Outta

Compton did receive a nomination for best

original screenplay but two white dudes

wrote that script. Oops.

The Academy’s president, Cheryl Boone

Isaacs, responded to the public backlash in a

statement, proclaiming that the Academy is

going to lead and “not wait for the industry to

catch up.” Which is a neat thing to say after you

publicly blow it.

It’s not a big surprise, as the Academy of

Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences board is

principally numbered by old white guys. Out

of 52 members, 37 are white men, 13 are white

women and – the agents of diversity – a black

woman and an Asian man. So it’s not really

a shock they didn’t identify that well with an

N.W.A. biopic.

But let’s get into it. It’s BeatRoute’s annual

“Who Should Win/Who Will Win?” an original

feature no other media outlet has had the

foresight to come up with.

BEST PICTURE

Nominated:

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

FILM

Who should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Granted, it won’t win. George Miller’s triumphant

return to the post-apocalyptic franchise

he started in 1979 was thrilling, smart and

visually stunning – one of the highest rated

movies of the year. After years of shrugs like

Jurassic World and paint-by-numbers Marvel

films, Mad Max was downright shocking when

it hit theatres – a revolutionary action film that

reminds you the genre can actually still thrill. It

stands no chance to win Best Picture.

Who will win: Spotlight

The smart money is probably on The Revenant,

but it feels as though the Academy will pull a

reversal on what happened at this year’s Golden

Globes. Spotlight is more traditional Best

Picture choice, and has some momentum now

after winning the top prize at this year’s Critics’

Choice Awards.

BEST ACTOR

Nominated:

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Who Should Win: Leo, The Revenant

Let’s just give him one and get it over with.

Who Will Win: Leo, The Revenant

He’s been more deserving for roles past – The

Wolf of Wall Street and The Aviator, for example

– but for his excellent work being eaten by

a bear, consuming a liver and breathing deeply

for two and a half hours, DiCaprio will finally

take home an Oscar. If nothing else, he deserves

the award for enduring what was reportedly a

brutal, lengthy shoot in the frozen wasteland

that is Calgary, Alberta.

BEST ACTRESS

Nominated:

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

by Joel Dryden

Who Should Win: Brie Larson, Room

Cate Blanchett could be nominated for

any role handed to her. Give her “Systems

Analyst” in Transformers 5, and she’d

probably garner some buzz. So this year,

it’s all Brie Larson. Just watch Room, and

you’ll see. Oof.

Who Will Win: Brie Larson, Room

Book it. Room is a lesser movie without

Larson’s performance. She elevates it to Best

Picture nominee. Buzz online also seems to

be trending in her direction. Just check out

these comments from users on Brie Larson’s

IMDb page:

“She has the best odds.” - straw_hat_boy_

luffy

“She was absolutely extraordinary.” -

maude29

“Named after smelly cheese? What why!” -

frankzappayay

For a full list of nominations, visit oscars.

com. The live broadcast, hosted by Chris

Rock (thank god) is scheduled for February

28. If you’re anything like me, you’ll fall asleep

before the monologue is over.

If you’re looking for more stimulation

during the three-and-a-half-hour affair, the

Calgary International Film Festival is hosting

a “red carpet” screening of the Oscars at Art

Commons. Tickets are available at calgaryfilm.com

NETFLIX AND KILL

streaming shows that slay it (or don’t)

If you have even the rudiments of a soul, your February

will be spent counting down the days until series two of

Daredevil comes out and we can finally, finally see good

live-action versions of The Punisher and Elektra. In the meantime,

watch these things:

Mr. Robot (Shomi) cleaned up at the Golden Globes, but

only because I wasn’t a judge. The story of a l33t group of

haXX0rs taking down an evil corporation named, ahem,

‘EvilCorp’ plays like something written by a committee of

50-somethings who just had Wikileaks explained to them and

deploys the ever-popular, ever-fucked-up Aspergers-as-superpower

trope, marinating it in the multiple-personalities bit

that has shown up in a whole lot of awful shows but never in

real life, then laying in narration, fucking shit-crap-bastardfuck

narration, the absolute worst storytelling device of ever.

Just watch Silicon Valley.

Love (Netflix) is a Judd Apatow-created, Gillian Jacobs-starring

comedy… drama? Details haven’t exactly been forthcoming,

and when the company scored a genuine hit with Master

of None you’d think they’d be pushing scripted comedy,

which could indicate that this is a turd they’re looking to bury

in off-season.

Fuller House is premiering, because… I don’t know. A quick

re-watch of the badly aged original should clear away any

nagging nostalgia and free up time to contemplate how good

Daredevil is going to be.

Lastly, Netflix are releasing their biggest original movie yet

at the end of the month: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon:

Sword of Destiny. Provided they didn’t put all the good fight

scenes in the trailer it’ll be more Beasts of No Nation than

The Interview.

• Gareth Watkins

Daredevil

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 17


$100 FILM FESTIVAL

celluloid festival coincides with 50-year anniversary of Super 8 film

PAUL SHARITS (2015) is among the celluloid films on offer at this year’s $100FF.

As modern filmmaking settles in to a long

digital marriage with 4K, RED, ARRI – that

is, any manner of very expensive and very

impressive digital equipment – Kodak played the

nostalgia card at this year’s Consumer Electronics

Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

In what Kodak’s Jeff Clarke called a new “ecosystem

for film,” the company unveiled what they

dubbed the Kodak Super 8 Revival Initiative – meant

to coincide with the 50th anniversary of manufacturing

Super 8 film; the initiative includes the release of a

new 8mm film camera (the Kodak Super 8).

This isn’t state-of-the-art tech – remember, it isn’t

digital, so one can’t hit record and instantly upload

it to social media networks. The image doesn’t come

close to what you can do with your new iPhone,

it’s expensive (you’ll have to ship the cartridge back

to Kodak for processing and return) and audio is

another step in the process entirely – but the new old

camera was one of the hottest pieces of tech at CES.

There’s just something to Super 8 film, as any

prominent Hollywood director will tell you. Quentin

Tarantino called the return of the format an “incredible

gift,” while J.J. Abrams, hot off Star Wars: Episode

VII, said the new camera is a “dream come true.” If

you like your movies to have a bit of grain in them

and not look like Global News, you probably feel the

same way.

But long before Kodak recommitted to that

format, smaller groups of film-lovers have gathered

to experiment on and celebrate celluloid – including,

right here in Calgary, the Calgary Society of Independent

Filmmakers (CSIF) $100 Film Festival.

Since 1992, the festival has zeroed in on bringing a

wide variety of “quality small-format films” to Calgary

– and despite an industry rushing to switch to digital,

the $100 FF has always stuck to celluloid.

“The $100 Film Festival has always been on

film. We never felt like we needed to change,” CSIF

programming director Nicola Waugh says. “There’s

always been interest. There’s (even) been international

recognition for being one of the exclusively cellulite

festivals in the world.”

Once again this year, the festival will feature the

always-popular Film and Music Explosion, in which

local emerging filmmakers create Super 8 films based

on a song by a local band.

“The filmmakers don’t have much time to put

them together. They gather Super 8 film, they shoot

and splice it by hand,” Waugh says. “[It’s done] over a

two-and-a-half-month period. They have to shoot it,

and we send it away to Toronto. On the night of the

festival, the bands will play a short set and their last

set will be played to accompany their film. It’s a pretty

cool thing.”

One of those pairings will be electronic-experimental

Calgary act SET and ACAD graduate and

filmmaker Kyle Whitehead. Whitehead – who is

well-versed in experimental sound and small-format

cinema – said it was exciting to work with a song that

was a little “more experimental or ambiguous.”

“(SET) is an instrumental, synth band which is kind

of a nice thing when you’re making an experimental

film, rather than working with musicians that have a

by Joel Dryden

lot of lyrics or more narrative to their work,” he says.

“I’m working on it now, and I have an idea of how it

will look, but it’s a pretty experimental process I’m

working with.

“It’s difficult to say what it’ll be until it’s closer to

finishing it.”

Whitehead’s creation will be unveiled on Feb. 27

alongside a performance from SET. Other pairings –

hard rock act Dextress paired with Simon Chan on

Feb. 25, as well as lo-fi no wave group The Basement

Demons with a film by Berkley Brady on Feb. 26 – will

kick off the other nights of the festival.

This year, Edmonton’s Lindsay McIntyre will serve

as visiting artist, and one of her films will be shown

each night of the festival.

Despite Kodak’s celebratory hullabaloo surrounding

the “revival” of Super 8, analogue lovers have a

long memory – and though they have stuck with the

format, it wasn’t so long ago Kodak had seemed to

abandon it entirely.

“They’re touting this celebratory thing, look at our

brand new camera, whereas three, four years ago,

they were like, we’re cancelling all of these,” Waugh

says. “It brings up [questions]. Is film dead? What

does it mean, is there a resurgence? What does it

mean if there is a resurgence, and why? Those are

questions that are hard to answer.”

Check out the 24th Annual $100 Film Festival at Art

Commons’ Engineered Air Theatre from Feb. 25 to 27.

For a full schedule and more information, visit 100dollarfilmfestival.org

JUMANJI

The Fifth Reel brings Robin Williams-fueled nos talgia to Plaza Theatre

In The Plaza you must wait, until the dice read 5 or 8 ...

If you’re a 20-something, there’s a good chance you watched

Jumanji as a child, and for most of us it boiled down to one of

two feelings: it either enthralled you or spooked you something

awful. Released in 1995, Jumanji was the immediate response to the

phenomenal success of Jurassic Park, and its Spielberg-ian influence

is obvious. While not quite reaching the lofty standards set by the

groundbreaking dinosaur flick, it’s innovative for creating a magical

atmosphere where something small as an ancient game can greatly

affect the real world. It’s not without its shortcomings, but ask any

of those 20-somethings and they’ll likely remember the film fondly.

The fact is that Jumanji is undeniably nostalgic.

The film opens in 1869 with two kids frantically burying the titular

mysterious board game in the depths of a thick forest, cursing

its ominous powers. A sudden (arguably naïve) question comes to

mind: were there board games in the 1800s? It turns out that they

had a few, such as The Checkered Game of Life, the antiquated

predecessor to today’s Life. Jumanji may not be the most fun board

game to play, but it certainly sounds more exciting than 1888’s The

Game of the Telegraph Boy.

We fast forward to an idyllic New England town (read: Vancouver)

in 1969 where we meet Alan Parrish, a lonely, curious boy who

is ignored by his parents and is the prime target of the neighbourhood

bullies. Every peaceful small town needs a gang of bullies, after

all. Things get real when Parrish plays the game with his friend Sarah

by Jonathan Lawrence

Whittle, and, after rolling an unlucky hand, mysterious forces pull

his body into the board game itself (the scene that likely scarred

many a young’un). The game’s tagline suggests that it is there for

those who seek to leave their world behind, and Parrish gets just

that and then some.

Twenty-six years pass, and two new children discover the game

and inadvertently bring back the lost Alan Parrish from the plains

of Africa to his old hometown. Bearded and wild, we finally see

the main appeal of the film, the late great Robin Williams himself.

Williams plays a much calmer character in the film than what he

usually does, but is no less likeable. It’s fitting that, like 1991’s Hook,

he is playing a child trapped in a man’s body. Though, oddly enough,

for a guy stuck in the unforgiving African wilderness for most of his

life, he has an acute sense of humour.

Once Parrish returns, the excitement ramps up as he, the two

children, and his old friend Sarah (now completely neurotic from

witnessing Alan’s disappearance), desperately try to reach the

end of the merciless game that forces the gang to endure legions

of monkeys, stampeding rhinos, crocodiles and a host of other

predicaments before things can go back to normal. Not only that,

but since Alan’s disappearance, the once pristine town has turned

into an Escape from New York-style dystopia. It’s obvious now that

Alan got what he wished for, and there were great consequences to

his choice.

Most people saw Jumanji upon its release over 20 years ago and

remember it as a classic childhood flick, but most people probably

haven’t seen it since. Courtesy of the Fifth Reel, this is a rare

and exciting chance for everyone to get together once again and

experience one of the definitive ‘90s family films and one of Robin

Williams’ many memorable performances.

Catch Jumanji at the Plaza Theatre courtesy of the Fifth Reel on Feb. 19.

The pre-show will feature Calgary band Pine Tarts.

18 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE FILM


THE VIDIOT

rewind to the future

by Shane Sellar

Everest

Jem and the Holograms

The Intern

Straight Outta Compton

The Walk

Everest

To capitalize off inexperienced climbers, Nepal

should really open a funeral parlor on the side of

Everest.

Case in point, the imperilled alpinists in this fact

based thriller.

When competing commercial climbing companies

descend on the legendary summit in the spring

of 1996, team leaders Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), Scott

Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) and their clientele (Josh

Brolin, Sam Worthington, John Hawkes) are not

prepared for the storm that strands them on the

slope sans oxygen.

Meanwhile, the wives of the marooned mountaineers

(Robin Wright, Keira Knightley) await word of

their rescue, expecting the worst.

While it’s hard to empathize with the willing

participants and their death wishes, you can’t help

but feel for their families, or deny the white-knuckle

action or edge-of-your-seat excitement emanating

from this ill-fated expedition.

On the bright side, at least the Yeti population

now has a surplus of frozen meals for the week.

Hotel Transylvania 2

The key to dating Dracula’s daughter is making sure

to always wear a garlic-flavoured condom.

Unfortunately, the new dad in this animated

movie didn’t heed that warning.

Unsure if his grandson Dennis will turn out to be

a monster like his mother (Selena Gomez) or human

like his father (Andy Samberg), Count Dracula

(Adam Sandler) and his cronies (Steve Buscemi,

Keegan-Michael Key, Kevin James, David Spade) take

the tyke for the weekend.

But when his father (Mel Brooks) shows up unexpectedly,

Drac must keep Dennis’ mixed bloodline a

secret from the old orthodox bloodsucker.

The unwarranted sequel to the mediocre original,

HT2 does an inadequate job of establishing any time

has past with the newfound parents still resembling

teenagers.

Furthermore, the jokes failed to have matured as

well, making for a dismal revisit all-around.

Incidentally, the issue of human/monster hybrid

fetuses is going to flip the abortion issue on its ear.

The Intern

Nowadays, most retirees have to return to the office

in a janitorial position.

Thankfully, the widower in this comedy doesn’t

have any dependents living in his basement.

Feeling obsolete since retiring from his job, former

phone book publisher Ben (Robert De Niro) returns

to the workplace as a senior intern for an online

fashion house.

Assigned to the site’s workaholic founder Jules

(Anne Hathaway), Ben quickly becomes an indispensable

part of her life thanks to his sage wisdom.

But his ethics are tested when he learns a secret

about Jules’ husband that could send her into a

tailspin, and her website under.

In spite of its far-fetched premise, obvious plot

points and sitcom-esque situations, this coming-ofold-age

comedy is wryly writing and playfully acted

by its charming leads, whose chemistry is awkwardly

comforting.

Although, you do have to constantly reassure

senior staff that women are allowed to wear pants

to work.

Jem and the Holograms

Holographic performers are only successful in hip

hop because bullets faze right through them.

Unfortunately, the pop group in this drama is

intangible only in name.

Sent to live with their aunt (Molly Ringwald) and

foster cousins - Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora

Perrineau) - after their father dies, Jerrica (Aubrey

Peeples) and her sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott) find

solace in music.

When an online video of her singing under the

sobriquet Jem goes viral, Jerrica and her sisters are

signed to Starlight records. However, producer Erica

(Juliette Lewis) wants Jem to drop the Holograms,

while her son Rio (Ryan Guzman) simple wants

Jerrica.

More a follow-your-dreams commercial for the

YouTube generation than an homage to the ‘80s

cartoon, Jem manages to utilize the material but

distorts it in a way that is unrecognizable to fans, and

unexciting to newcomers.

And while Jerrica may secretly be Jem; Jem is

actually Barbie with keytar.

The Martian

The best thing about commercial space travel is the

black box is easy to find in the floating wreckage.

Fortunately, all the astronauts in this sci-fi movie

made it back safely – save for one.

Believed killed in a Martian dust storm by his

crewmates (Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Michael

Peña, Sebastian Stan) and left behind, botanist Mark

Watney (Matt Damon) must learn to survive on the

inhabitable planet.

Once communications with Earth has been

reestablished, NASA (Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Sean

Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor) begins work on retrieving

Mark before his food supply runs out.

Rich in hard science and unique in its narrative,

director Ridley Scott does an exceptional job of

harmonizing the two. Damon’s lighthearted one-man

performance deserves accolades as well.

However, these positives don’t make up for the

film’s improbable premise.

Besides, NASA would only return for a marooned

astronaut if they were impregnated with an alien.

Sinister II

Twins make the worst paranormal victims

because you have to haunt them twice as much

as normal.

Which is why the ghost-children in this horror

movie only torment one sibling.

Every night Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) is visited

by a group of adolescent apparitions that haunt the

abandoned farmhouse their mother (Shannyn Sossamon)

moved him and his brother Zach (Dartanian

Sloan) in to.

Jealous of his brother’s newfound friends, Zach

attempts to gain their favour by abusing his brother

and watching the horrifying home videos that his

squeamish brother refuses to.

Meanwhile, an ex-deputy (James Ransone) with

knowledge of the home’s history hopes to torch it

and the sinister Super 8 reels inside.

Thanks to its untalented new cast and scream-free

script, this slapdash sequel to the surprisingly disturbing

original fails to capitalize off of its predecessor’s

cult status.

Furthermore, who needs ghost-kids when twins

are scary in and of themselves?

Straight Outta Compton

Being a roadie for a rapper is easy because you only

have to carry around a milk crate of old funk albums.

However, as per this biography, personal baggage

counts as sound equipment.

In 1986 drug dealer Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) and

MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) enter the studio of producer

Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) who pairs them with DJ

Yella (Neil Brown, Jr.) and Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson,

Jr.). They subsequently release a hit single under the

acronym N.W.A.

But when Eazy-E hires businessman Jerry Heller

(Paul Giamatti) to be their manager, his misappropriation

of their revenue tears the group asunder.

Spanning the social and racial issues of the early

‘90s with great aplomb, this O.G. origin tale may

whitewash some of the harsher realities of the

real-life situation but is ultimately a well-acted, keenly

directed hip-hop masterpiece.

However, not surprising is the fact that all East

Coast film critics dissed this movie.


The Walk

If you string rope between any two objects in New

York City it will become a clothesline in minutes.

That’s why the tightrope walker in this drama is so

secretive about his latest stunt.

Tired of busking in Paris, street performer Philippe

Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sets his sights on New

York’s Twin Towers.

With assistance from circus performer Papa Rudy

(Ben Kingsley), Petit learns proper wire set-up and

the proper mindset for the feat.

But securing the wire between the towers is only

half the battle.

Based on events from 1973, director Robert

Zemeckis attempts to make a man walking on a wire

interesting - a feat he only half accomplishes.

While the final walk is heart pounding, the journey

there is not so much, thanks in part to Gordon-Levitt’s

authentic but annoying accent.

Incidentally, in New York, even on the high wire,

there’s a good chance you could be hit by a cab.

He’s a Publicity Stuntman. He’s the…Vidiot

FILM

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 19


ROCKPILE

PROPAGANDHI

legendary Winnipeg political punks talk new member and coming tour

by Sarah Mac

Propagandhi are going with the flow while thinking of the future.

Canadian punk rockers Propagandhi are

hitting the road again and this time

Western Canada are the lucky ones to

revel in the glory.

Although many are quite familiar with Propagandhi,

for the stragglers, here’s a quick history lesson.

Propagandhi are veterans of the punk rock

scene, forming in 1986 and based out of Winnipeg,

Manitoba. They’ve released six studio albums and

a handful of singles and live albums. They are best

known for their quick-witted, progressive political

punk, accompanied by fast tempos and a heavy

sound. But it’s their devotion to activism that has

put them above and beyond. Not only are the majority

of their songs screaming demands for human

and animal rights, they also have contributed much

of their earnings to many deserving charities for

both these worthy causes.

Since the release of their first album, How to Clean

Everything (1993), Propagandhi’s sound has matured:

what started out as smart-alecky, power punk has

grown into a heavier, thrashier style. This style was

mastered on their last album, Failed States, which

was released in 2012 and immediately became a new

favourite among fans.

Recently, there were some changes with the band,

and with their growing tour schedule and no real talk

of a new album in the works, BeatRoute chatted with

long-time bassist Todd Kowalski to discuss all things

Propagandhi and get the story straight.

In 2015 Propagandhi went through a lineup

change—something that hasn’t happened since

2006, when David “Beaver” Guillas joined the band—

adding not only a fourth member for the first time,

ROCKPILE

but a rhythmic guitar section as well. Then sadly, last

June, the Beaver decided to move on to other things

and rather than continue as a three-piece as they had

for decades before, the remaining members decided

to replace him.

“I think we just enjoyed being a four-piece band

more. It’s fuller and we had more options on guitar.

We can add more layers and textures to the songs.

Also, just having someone else in the band brings

more ideas to the table, as well as a different personality.

And you [the fan] also have more to focus on,”

Kowalski explains.

Propagandhi decided on an old-school approach

to finding their new guitarist, they placed

a want ad-style application on their website and

potential candidates submitted videos showing

off their skills. Although this sounds like a lengthy

process, they were determined to find their Beaver

replacement. In a matter of days they received

hundreds of audition videos from people across

the world. With one video standing out from the

rest, Propagandhi made the official announcement

in September, welcoming Sulynn Hago,

Floridian and badass axe-shredder, as the newest

member of Propagandhi.

“She seemed really cool, she handed in her audition

video really quick and it was done really well.

Also, what she wrote in her bio, she seemed pretty

awesome. We wanted someone with a lot of go-getem

spirit, you know. And her video showed us a lot of

that. It showed a lot of effort and hard work right off

the bat. She’s good at improvising on the guitar, and

she’s just into music 100 per cent. That really came

across in her video. She just eats and breathes guitar.

But, the fact that she lives in Florida is a little tricky,”

Kowalski reflects.

“Even though we didn’t really have one thing

in particular we were looking for, every little thing

helped. Especially for us, we have a lot of certain

ideas, and we wanted someone who meshed with us.

Hago has listened to us for a long time and is kind of

on the same page,” he continues.

“It does help that she’s vegan, it goes with the

spirit,” he chuckles.

With the change in lineup, and their irregular touring,

Propagandhi fans wondered if there would finally

be a new album in the works, and if so, who would be

performing on it.

“We have a bunch of songs we’re working on, not

recorded… The goal is to be recording by the end of

the year, I hope,” he says.

“But in the end, we would rather have a good

record than one that’s out by a certain time. We

jam every week, five to six times. We have lots of

music on the go that we’re really excited about it.

And we know we gotta get back out there, but for

some reason it takes us awhile to get all our gears

going. I don’t know why. It happens every single

time,” Kowalski continues.

Rumours spread that possibly Hago will just tour

with the band, and wouldn’t be involved in any of the

recordings. But Kowalski thinks it’s safe to say that

that’s not the case.

“We’re opening up our doors to Hago a bit more.

We had to get to know her first and see what’s up.

But we’re going to get her up here [Winnipeg] and

record some songs. At the same time, we haven’t

closed the door on Beaver either. We’re just going

with the flow, making tunes and having fun. But yes,

we want Hago in the mix too and you know, we’ll see

what happens.”

Many of the Propagandhi shows on this tour are

somewhat smaller in size and most of them have sold

out quite quickly. The disappointment of the sold out

shows was brightened by second dates in some cities,

while others will sadly have to wait for the next tour.

“We’ve added shows to B.C. and here in Winnipeg.

But unfortunately, we can’t add second dates

for Calgary and Edmonton because we have to

be back in Winnipeg for a show. For the Calgary

show, it really sucks, because it sold out so fast,” he

reveals apologetically.

“When you are in a band, you really don’t want to

overshoot with a big place, and so we figured we’d

just go out and play these small- to medium-sized

venues and see what happens. Cause you know, you

really don’t know what to expect.”

This is not so comforting for those that are ticketless,

but don’t give up hope yet.

“When we have the new record out, we’ll come

back and play the bigger shows. Promise.”

Well, at least there is a light at the end of this very

long show and album-less tunnel. Let’s just hope

Propagandhi gets those gears going sooner rather

than later.

At printing time, tickets were still on sale for Propgandhi’s

Vancouver show at the Rickshaw on February

6th, in Victoria at Sugar on the 7th, in Banff at Wild

Bill’s on February 10th and in Winnipeg at the Garrick

Centre on February 13th. Edmonton and Calgary stops

are sold out.

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 21


THE BRIGHT LIGHT SOCIAL HOUR

after finding a place in space, these psych-rockers intend to go everywhere

The Bright Light Social Hour have been

sharing new music and rocking the western

hemisphere for about 12 years now. The

band has played shows in Canada, America and

Mexico and has had three lineup changes since

2004. The four-piece psychedelic rock band from

Austin, Texas has three EPs and two albums under

their belt.

Their most recent album, released in March 2015,

is entitled Space is Still the Place.

Bassist and lead singer Jack O’Brien says that the

name of the album came from both the 1974 sci-fi

film and the 1973 jazz album of the same name,

which the band was interested in at the time of

making the album.

“Space is still the place is also the first lyric of the

album,” O’Brien adds.“So that is another reason why

we named it that.”

The 10-track record includes the single, “Infinite

Cities,” which was made into a music video a year and

two months before the record release.

“It was fun,” the longtime musician remembers.

“We got lots of friends together [for the music video]

and just had a day of everyone dancing.”

The music video was filmed in January 2014 near

Lake Travis, which is close to the band’s studio on

the south side of Austin. The video was directed and

edited by O’Brien, with a little help from a friend.

The location, mostly underwater, was taken

over by a drought at the time and made the

perfect location for the music video. “It kind of

looked like another planet.”

O’Brien says his favourite or most memorable moment

while playing in the band was opening up for

“bad boys from Boston” Aerosmith. On July 12, 2012,

they played in front of roughly 85,000 fans at the Bell

Stage at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City. “It was

scary,” O’Brien confesses.

The Bright Light Social Hour have finally hit the

road supporting their newest album. The band’s

extensive North American tour starts off in El

Paso, Texas in January and concludes Atlanta,

Georgia in April.

O’Brien and his band mates, guitarist and

vocalist, Curtis Roush, drummer Joseph Mirasole

and keyboardist and guitarist, Edward Braillif, have

played multiple shows across North America, but

O’ Brien believes there is a difference with the

crowds in both countries.

“I feel like in Canada, people are more engaged,”

O’Brien admits. “They are more focused and they save

their rowdiness for the very end, which I really like.”

The longtime musician and lover of travelling says

the band would love to play in Europe, specifically

Berlin, as well as Africa, and hopes for more of a

worldwide tour in the band’s future.

“I would like to play everywhere.”

The Bright Light Social Hour’s Western Canadian

tour makes stops in Edmonton at Brixx Bar and Grill

on February 5th and in Calgary at The Gateway on

February 6th.

by Andrea Hrynyk

Austin band The Bright Light Social Hour take influence from sci-fi and jazz on new album.

photo: Chris Apollo Lynn

22 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


PARQUET COURTS

Brooklyn punks break vow of silence, find a higher power

photo: Matt Lief Anderson

Parquet Courts have made quite the name for

themselves, brandishing a four-album discography

of lyric driven art-rock. Reminiscent of

other such New York bands as Modern Lovers, the

Velvet Underground or the Talking Heads, they’ve

adapted a sound so ingrained with the city it’s almost

hard to believe they’re Texas implants. The beginning

of their latest EP, Monastic Living, released this

past November, starts off on the same path as most

Parquet Courts albums do. Singer Andrew Savage

ends the EP’s first track “No, No, No!” shouting over

a steady drumbeat. “I’m just a man // I don’t want to

be an influence // I don’t want you to understand //

I don’t want to curate, publish no memoir // ‘No, no,

no!’ // We’re just a band.” From that point forward,

it’s all silence.

“You know I anticipated that with this record

people would say, ‘Oh they’re too lazy to even write

words.’ But really, that’s not what it is. We were doing

a vow of silence for a while, and we weren’t doing any

interviews, you’re actually the first I’ve done after this

vow of silence. So people have this impression that

we’re slacking. But really we decided we’re going to

take this monastic vow and we’re not going to talk.

Much like someone who is a monk or a nun, or whatever

faith the monastic positions apply to, my heart

and mind is devoted to Parquet Courts in a way a

monk’s heart and mind might be devoted to a higher

power,” Savage says. The silence Parquet Courts blanketed

us with hasn’t been completely void of sound,

just words. The first track on Monastic Living is the

only one with lyrics, from there it falls down the

rabbit hole of experimentalism. Each song is noisier

and less organized than the last. The entire record is

ROCKPILE

by Maya-Roisin Slater

improvised. When asked what contributed to this

shift Savage says plain and simply, “We became very

religious and wanted to make religious music.”

For the foreseeable future it seems they will be

taking their newfound spirituality to the people.

They have broken their vow of silence, chatting over

the phone on a Monday with a modest monthly

music magazine from Western Canada. They’re

embarking on a tour where they will be participating

in clean living and hard playing. “When we go to

Canada there’ll be no Molson for us. It’ll be longer

sets. We might be doing a Bruce Springsteen kind

of thing. You know, hardest working man in rock

and roll, playing for about six, seven, eight hours

sometimes. That’s my prediction. I would say even

less words, maybe chanting. I would encourage all

faith-based people of Alberta and British Columbia

to come check it out. I know there’s a large Sikh

community in Western Canada. I encourage them to

come.” Savage also welcomes Christians, Buddhists,

the non-converted, and people who have already

surrendered to the almighty power of music.

If you’re still confused after reading this and are

searching desperately for a way to get on to Parquet

Courts’ level, Savage says to look inside yourself and

not to external sources. That’s how they found a

higher power. However if you look inside and don’t

find anything particularly mind blowing, I wouldn't

sweat it too much. After all, Parquet Courts don’t

want to be an influence, they don’t want you to

understand.

Parquet Courts play in Calgary at The Commonwealth

Bar & Stage on February 19th.

CONTAINER

techno outsider eschews the club aesthetic

trying to make my version of dance

music, and I don’t even ever dance

“I’m

really.”

This admittance comes from Ren Schofield,

a techno producer who doesn’t appear at first

glance to really care all that much about techno.

The Rhode Island native lives in a small house in

south side Providence where, for the better part

of the last five years, he spends most days making

music as Container. Techno is a relatively new venture

for Schofield, who used to make experimental

noise music in various groups and on his own.

Over three albums as Container, Schofield seems

eager not to make his music easily definable. It sits

in a murky grey area somewhere between noise

and techno. The only constant he maintains is

that the songs are focused around a beat.

“Everything with the project is going to be

techno, at least in some sense. That’s something

that I always have in mind. I’m not really thinking

about how it would work in a club necessarily,

but if the rhythm is right, I feel like it could work

in that sense,” says Schofield on the phone from

his home.

Despite his reluctance to classify his music,

Schofield is still finding himself being accepted

by both the noise and techno communities. His

reluctance has resulted in the opportunity to play

a wide variety of shows: everything from techno

raves in massive nightclubs like Berlin’s Berghain

to small house shows with rock-oriented lineups.

“Recently I’ve been playing just like rock shows,

which has been kind of cool. It’s just a bunch

of bands and then I’m on in the middle and it’s

totally weird, but it makes more sense to me than

playing at some fancy techno club. I kind of enjoy

it more than doing that, but it is nice to have the

opportunity to both those things and play some

noise show too.”

Beyond playing live, his music has seen release

on behemoth labels in the electronic community

like Mute and Liberation Technologies. It’s not

From Berghain to basements, Container brings bristling rhythm.

by Jamie McNamara

hard to see why Schofield’s music connects with

fans of non-traditional techno. His latest LP, aptly

titled LP, is Schofield’s most immediate work

as Container. It is an intensely brief 27-minute,

seven-track adventure into the some of the

most punishing songs Schofield has created yet.

It is intensely percussive and loop heavy, every

sound has been smashed down by compression,

rendering even the smallest sounds as powerful

as gunshots.

Noise and techno are not as unrelated

as one might think, there’s always been the

noisier contingent of techno producers.

Clark, Primitive World, and Andy Stott are

just a few examples of producers who utilize

noise and general chaos in their tracks. Still,

none of the mentioned do it to the degree

of Container. Songs like LP leadoff “Eject”

are decidedly non-melodic, but still more

accessible than they have any right being.

Like most of the album, the song seems to be

put together on-the-fly, their rough nature

making it seem as if the song were made only

once, never to be replayed. Schofield himself

admits that his writing style lends itself to an

improvisational tone.

“I usually am playing music every day, and a lot

of time nothing will really happen and I’ll spend

hours just kind of messing around. Eventually

something will click and it’ll be one part that will

give me a bunch of ideas to build off of and it will

just grow that way.”

Schofield is getting set to release an upcoming

EP on London-based Diagonal Records. The EP

experiments with found sounds and methods

that Schofield wasn’t using while making LP.

Much like Schofield himself, the results will probably

be far from ordinary.

You can catch Container on February 26th at

Good Luck Bar in Calgary with support from

Corinthian and Private Investigators.

photo: Valerie Martino

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 23


FRANK TURNER & THE SLEEPING SOULS

crossing the pond for intimate shows

To sum up Frank Turner, we’d say: a liberal,

storytelling, folk-punker.

Hailing from Hampshire, London, Turner

has made a name for himself in the folk-rock community.

Imagine floor-pounding barroom chants, drunken

sing-a-longs and angsty lyrics fueled by whiskey

and insight. Turn the page to the softer side of Turner

and you’ll find heartfelt medleys and lyrics that create

vivid memories shared as if your own.

While at a stop on tour in Germany, Turner managed

to sneak in a quick call to discuss his upcoming

Canadian tour, as well as help Canadians get better

acquainted with himself and the Sleeping Souls.

Turner’s solo career started in 2005. Originally the

front man of the ever popular, U.K. post-hardcore

band Million Dead, Turner decided to try something

different and ventured solo. A wise decision on

Turner’s part, since he has released six studio albums

including his latest, Positive Songs for Negative People

(2015), as well as a few compilation, live albums

and EPs.

“It was challenging going solo, but that’s in a slight

way why I did it. I’ve been in hardcore bands and

playing shows for about seven or eight years. I really

felt like I hit the end of that road. For me personally

and creatively, I really needed to do something that

was different. I wanted to do something that was going

to challenge me and take me out of my comfort

zone,” Turner explains.

“And the idea of playing the acoustic guitar alone

onstage, having just spent all these years touring as

a singer of a noisy guitar hardcore band, that’s kinda

Frank Turner is bringing his all to an extensive Canadian tour.

terrifying actually. I would say there’s definitely something

much more exposed about being up there on

your own with an acoustic guitar and songs that you

wrote,” he continues.

Since his decision to go solo he enlisted the

assistance of a backing band, The Sleeping Souls; each

musician talented in their own craft and perfectly

suited to Turner’s style.

by Sarah Mac

“I wanted the band to have a name, because

it’s important to me that people are aware that

I’m not playing with just some hired hands, like

a pick-up band or something. I want people to

know the people with me on stage and appreciate

them for their contributions and skills.

The model for me was always the E Street Band

[Bruce Springsteen].”

Starting this February, Frank Turner will be hitting

the road in Canada, and on select dates he’ll be

accompanied by the Sleeping Souls.

“There’s the standard run across Canada, which

we’re doing full band. But I thought since we’re

starting to do well in Canada, it would be fun to get

to some other spots that I haven’t been to before, like

Red Deer, Kelowna and Halifax. To do those shows, it

was more affordable to go solo.”

Although Turner may sell out stadiums in the U.K.,

shows can be in a more intimate setting when he

travels to North America. These cozier settings don’t

hinder the performance, you’ll still get the whole

Frank Turner experience—because for Turner all

shows are equally grand.

“We play bigger shows in the U.K., but it’s nice to

have a change of pace in one’s career. But anything

more than a hundred people in the room is a big

show to me.” He laughs.

Check out Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls on tour

this February. The Canadian tour includes stops in

Calgary at the MacEwan Ballroom on March 5th and

in Edmonton at Union Hall on March 6th.

COUER DE PIRATE

straddling underground music and pop, Francophone and Anglophone listeners

In addition to more English lyrics, Coeur de pirate adds bigger production to recent album Roses.

In this fast-paced world, nostalgia and true

connections between people are waning, says

award-winning Montreal singer-songwriter

Béatrice Martin, known as Coeur de pirate —

French for “pirate’s heart.”

Last August, Martin released her third full-length

album, Roses, on which she wanted to address what

she says is a loss of connection in our relationships.

“I wanted to do something different, something

for me and something that could resonate with

other people, like about growing up and how the

early 20s can be confusing and how our generation is

not nostalgic about anything anymore,” says Martin,

26, during a phone conversation from Montreal. “I

thought that was an interesting thing to look at when

writing these new songs.”

Singing in both French and English, Martin is

known for her emotionally-charged piano ballads,

situating a space that bridges the gap between

underground music and pop, as well as between

Francophone and Anglophone.

Martin, who began playing piano at age nine and

was also a member of post-hardcore band December

Strikes First, wanted Roses to be a cinematic expression

of connection between people.

“I feel like everything is going so fast now, it’s like

people can’t keep actual relationships anymore. It’s

really hard to stay in the present and stay connected,”

she says. “We are so ADD now, and that really shows

in our relationships and how we deal with pain and

grief and love, and I thought that it was rubbing off

on me and I try to talk about that on the album.”

Roses sees much more instrumentation and bigger

production than her previous releases, songs that become

more than just an emotional soul and a piano.

“Piano is still very present in this album as well,

it’s just put differently, made differently. I wanted

to make something that was almost like music out

by Michael Grondin

of a movie. I wanted something that people could

imagine images onto.”

Martin also made an effort to write more songs in

English to reach more people in Canada.

“It came naturally, but it was still a challenge for

me to see if I could actually do it,” says Martin, adding

that being a Canadian is “part of my heritage, it’s who

I am. I speak French, I speak English and I’m really

happy I did it.”

Coeur de pirate just finished a tour through

Europe. Martin and her band will be embarking on

a tour through Canada and the United States this

spring, stating that she is excited to play in new cities

this time around.

“It’s very weird what is going on right now with

Canadian music, with the whole pop aspect of it,

which exports itself and that is great. Many of the top

artists right now on the U.S. billboards are Canadians,

and they acknowledge it,” says Martin. “But for me, I

come from another sector of Canadian music, being

from Quebec, but I am so happy because I get to play

shows outside of Quebec and people come to see

me play.”

For aspiring musicians and artists in Canada that

want to make a connection in any way, Martin says,

“Stay true to who you are and what you do.”

Coeur de pirate is playing sold out shows in Calgary

and Edmonton this month, with tickets still on sale

as of press time for stops at the Broadway Theatre in

Saskatoon on February 14th and at the Alix Goolden

Hall in Victoria on February 19th.

24 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


RAE SPOON

constructing armour, piece by peace

by Sarah Kitteringham

Rae Spoon will release their next album Armour on February 19th.

“I

had this moment where I went ‘where do I

go after this revelation?’”

It’s a question that prominent Canadian

indie pop musician Rae Spoon levelled at theirself following

the release of the deeply personal, harrowing

and gorgeous 2013 documentary and soundtrack My

Prairie Home. The film conceptually chronicles the

life of Spoon; their devoutly religious upbringing in

small town Alberta under a schizophrenic, Evangelical

Christian father and experience with gender

dysphoria, interlaced with visually arresting music

videos. In their 15 years as an active musician, Spoon

has transformed their sound and location, emerging

as a country roots artist in Calgary and now living in

Victoria and makes music converging pop, indie and

electronica. They’ve released albums constantly while

becoming a figurehead in the LGBTQ community

and beyond for their advocacy and authenticity.

“When My Prairie Home came out, it ended up

going more places than I expected,” they elaborate.

“I was thinking a lot about acceptance. For trans

people.”

For those confused by the pronoun, Spoon

prefers the term “they” to avoid being labelled as

male or female.

“For trauma, for whatever happens to you and

wherever you are, you still need to live your life after.”

The result of continuing on is Spoon’s brand

new album, the sublimely beautiful Armour. The

10-track record is a continuation of the precocious

2012 full-length I Can’t Keep All Our Secrets, a stark

contrast to the acoustic folk of My Prairie Home’s

soundtrack. Inside are deeply evocative, rich lyrics

alongside cascading synths, contrasting guitar,

clacking drums, the gentle coo of Spoon’s soft, sweet

voice, and the occasional cello accompaniment. With

drum programming from long-term collaborator

Alex Decoupigny, the troubadour wrote the album in

Montreal, Victoria and Calgary.

“Armour was more coming to terms with all

of these things that I’d been discussing. But I also

wanted it so that it could be armour for other people

[in whatever situation] they find themselves in. I

didn’t want it to be so personal, or at least so specific.

ROCKPILE

photo: Foxx Foto

It was just the feeling of growing armour, if you need

armour, and just those boundaries,” they continue.

While lyrically it’s not as personal, musically the

album is more so. Rather than have an outside producer,

Spoon decided to take the reigns.

“That was my way of making myself responsible to

my sound. You know? It was scary; because I had final

say on everything. I want to produce other people’s

albums, so I thought I should produce my albums

myself before I offer to produce other people’s

albums.” Spoon giggles and continues, “There [were]

more hardware things, more analog synths, I got a lot

more into my guitar sounds. I used different guitars….

I gave myself more permission to experiment with the

sound. The goal with the instruments was not to do

electronic programming, but to have it sound more

organic. I wanted it to be hard to tell what was being

played by a guitar or drum kit versus a drum machine

or synth. So I was trying to blend those roles, and that

specifically helped me really get into it.”

While Spoon has had an intensely prolific

half-decade (in addition to My Prairie Home’s film

and soundtrack, they wrote and/or contributed to

two novels), Armour marks a difference in volume of

output (at least for the near future).

“I realized I really like writing songs and so I

decided to focus on that. That’s what I’m doing now

– making records.”

They conclude: “Because after all that, I was like,

‘Okay, you know, I would love to make another big

project one day, but the nice thing about songs is that

they are so short.’ You know? You just get onstage and

play them, and people like them or they don’t, then

they are over.”

Rae Spoon will headline an album release party for

Armour in Calgary on February 16th at the Ironwood.

Spoon will also perform at The Mercury Room in Edmonton

on February 17, at Le Relais in Saskatoon on

February 18th, at OUT Saskatoon on February 19th,

and at the Good Will in Winnipeg on February 20th.

Armour will be released via Coax Records on February

19th. Stream “Stolen Song,” the sixth track from the

album, exclusively on www.beatroute.ca.

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 25


BARNABY BENNETT

a bard of perpetual restlessness

Looking at Barnaby Bennett’s Bandcamp page

is a bit like looking through the “Staff Picks”

section at your favourite record store. There’s

really no consistent genre, but everything is still

pretty good. Since 2009, Bennett has released 21

albums/EPs, eight of which having been in the past

two years. The albums range between alt-country,

experimental electronic music and his latest foray

of completely unedited synthesizer sounds. If this

all seems unbelievable for one person, you obviously

haven’t met Barnaby Bennett.

A consummate student of the ever-evolving

school of David Bowie, Bennett describes why he was

so inspired by the Starman. “In a general sense, he’s

an artist that represents the freedom to do whatever

you like and believe in yourself.” He continues,

“I’ve always found it best not to confine myself to

one [genre]. I just do whatever I’m drawn to.” Lately

what he’s been drawn to is experimenting with an

early Roland synthesizer, model SH-2000, of which

the project, with long time friend and collaborator

Patrick Whitten, is aptly named. The duo saw their

second release right after Bowie’s unexpected death.

“We were hanging out and were gonna watch a

Bowie film but decided to jam instead. Right after

we finished recording we found out he had died. We

decided to put it out to capture that feeling.” What

was created was a spacey, minimalist, sometimes

spooky album that is a stark progression from their

first release with the project. “I think [Bowie’s death]

kinda fucked me up more so because I just went to

Barnaby Bennett has over 20 releases in the last two years.

see his new play a couple weeks ago. [Lazarus] made

more sense after he passed away...why he did certain

things in it. He was a constant artist, and loved to

challenge preconceptions. Even about death.”

Similarly, Bennett is challenging the norm. For the

multi-instrumentalist, the most important thing is

“just experimenting.” “Three years ago, I made a conscious

effort to make collaboration a big part of my

practice,” He recalls. “There’s always gonna be some

X-factor that the person you’re working with brings.”

Working as a booker for Two Headed Dog

Booking, Bennett has had the chance to connect

with artists from all over the world, including

places like Germany, China and Spain. “Most of my

by Willow Grier

most interesting collaborations have been through

travelling. The Important part is not going in with

set intentions. We just go in and explore different

musical directions and if we like something we’ll try

to shape it into a release.”

After releasing a hard drive full of accumulated

collaborations and solo work over the past couple

years, Bennett is in no way slowing down. By the

time this article is in print, he will have another

SH2000 release out and several other projects in

progress, including a collection of country songs

with members of the Carter family from Nashville,

TN. “Their music began right around the birth of

collective conscious. People for the first time were

able to hear their music simultaneously all over the

world,” Bennett describes, regarding the family’s early

roots in a blossoming music industry. “They were

the first group to sell a million records, and they had

a radio show that was broadcast from Edmonton

to Mexico.” Working with Carter family members

seems as though it will speak to the more traditional

roots of Bennett’s repertoire. “It’s a bit different than

experimental electronic,” he laughs.

And in Barnaby Bennett’s chameleon approach, a

quote from none other than Bowie himself comes to

mind: “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I

promise it won’t be boring.”

Catch Barnaby Bennett’s DJ set at Market Collective

in Calgary on February 13th or with SH-2000 February

20, at Panch House in Edmonton.

26 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


EX-BOYFRIENDS

deli treats, the poet speaks

by B. Simm

You said you needed help because

Your keys were on the counter

Your kid was in the hospital

Because she’d had a seizure

I thought you were a drug addict

I thought you were a liar

But I wanted to believe you

And I was drunk and tired

I wanted to feel something, something besides anger

I walked with you to the bank machine

To borrow money to lend you

You played your role too well

I mean, I knew I couldn’t trust you

You took my number to call me

Said you were my neighbour

I thought that you were lying

That you had gone to score

I wanted to feel something, something besides anger

I wanted to believe you and I was drunk and tired

In a hectic one minute and 45 second romp, they

tear through “Take Me With You When You Leave Me”

as Davidson howls out a tormented, self-deprecating

account of the situation.

Now I see you’ve done some packing

The kitchen sink and some clothes

I can see I’m sorely lacking

Something everybody knows

Those bags and slights you’re stacking

Your determination shows

If it’s not too distracting

Take me with you when you goes

Well, I know this time you’re leaving

You never cease telling me so

Looks can be deceiving

It’s not that bad you know

But you go right on believing

That somehow you will grow

Now, I don’t mind you leaving

Long as I go when you go

The wild men and women of rock ‘n’ roll are

often those whose off-stage antics are the dark,

unhinged dramas and chaotic, celeb romps

that equal and often surpass the strut of the live show.

Perched at one end of the bar in the Milk Tiger lounge

on a quiet Sunday night, DJewel Davidson (aka, Don

Davidson) is playing select tracks off his laptop to a

few cozy couples enjoying their cocktail mood. Sitting

beside him is Ex-Boyfriends’ guitarist and long-time pal

Mike Paton sipping on a bold Manhattan. These two

look as mischievous as a pair of D&D geeks calculating

their upcoming community hall tourney.

Yet deep inside that laptop, filling up the hard

drive, the tracks Davidson has cued belong to a vast

archive of soul, R&B, country, jazz, reggae, punk, glam

and good ole rock ‘n’ roll ready to go. Davidson, the

soft-spoken, mild-mannered frontman for the EXBFs,

also doubles as a musicologist and DJ connoisseur has

been curating his collection for almost four decades.

One part listening party for Milk Tiger’s captive audience

and one part strategic-planning for the EXBFs,

Davidson and Paton chart out their latest foray into

freebasing punk rock.

ROCKPILE

The release show for the band’s new recording, their

fifth since 2003, is set for mid-February. Named after

Davidson’s favourite grocery mart, Deli Oriental Meat

Style & Food, the building which houses the family-run

Korean grocery is a weathered, but wonderful structure

dating back to the very early 1900s, now surrounded by

the creeping terrain of new high-rise condos.

Paton says they’ve been going to the deli faithfully

for the last three years. “I think I was eating kimchi

when we recorded,” chuckles Davidson.

As a metaphor for the EXBFs, the Korean biz is a

stronghold of tradition, authenticity and a healthy

dose of foreign culture that stands in stark contrast to

its upmarket YYC contemporaries. Like the Koreans,

the EXBFs stem from another culture where pre-digital

bands mixed literature, visuals, subversion, defiance

and fun—with a capital F—to create street-level art.

Spurred on by punk’s progression, the revolution

retains its sexy charm and good-looking figure while

still clenching a fist.

The album opens with “Besides Anger,” a tale of

deception and misgivings. “A sob story,” says Davidson

flatly, where someone gets conned for drug money.

Driven by a torrent of amplified fury, Paton flails

relentlessly with the fuzz box spraying shards of

sound and colour at breakneck speed. Then it ends

abruptly; guitars drop out, the bass and drums

pummel on with a rumbling, tribal breakdown as

Davidson leans into the final volley repeating over

and over… “I waited up all night and you didn’t call,

I waited up all night and you didn’t call, I waited up

all night… ” The tension builds and breaks, the song

collapses. But there’s no resolve, no redemption, no

return on the good deed, just an empty epitaph for

addiction and only anger in the end. The EXBFs, those

romantics, they promise fireworks, nothing less.

“It’s the overproof giant bottle rum,” says newest

band member, bassist Andrew O’Neill explaining the

urgency and chaotic attack of Paton’s guitar pushing

the song. “Yes,” concurs Davidson nodding his head.

“The overproof rum is the secret.”

Paton feels just fine about all the turbulence

and playing with the overdrive full on. “We recently

played with another band that we share a similar history

with. And it was quite apparent that they have

matured.” Davidson pipes up to support that observation.

“Yes, they had grown up,” he says grinning.

In addition to his collection and consumption of

music, Davidson’s a voracious reader. Although he

doesn’t promote himself as a literary authority, delving

into literature is necessary for any rock ‘n’ roll lyricist. “I

have read some books, you know. But people tend not

to do that. They set out to write (lyrics), but they don’t

read?! ‘Come on man, read a book if you’re going to do

that! I’ll even give you one.”

Early on Davidson identified with the non-singer,

New York punk poets, citing Richard Hell, Tom Verlaine,

Patti Smith and Jim Carroll as main influences.

“Those were the big four. I realized I couldn’t sing that

well, but I could kind of do what those guys were doing.

And Alice Cooper too. He was my first,” Davidson

says proudly. “He had that snarky tone. And he could

layer it.”

Punk is 40 years old. In the course of its brief but

vastly influential history, it’s become many things to

many people. But as it’s morphed and keeps morphing

very few who play or align themselves with punk rock

seem to grasp that what made it powerful, convincing

and enjoyable in the first place is not an artillery

of metal-fisted brute force; rather punk, while often

screaming loud, was loaded with wit and sarcasm. It

was intelligent, not dumbed down by thugs simply

churning out ear bleed testimonials. That original

vision was never lost on the EXBFs.

So... take me with you when you leave me

Take me with you when you go

Take me with you when you leave me

I don’t wanna stay with me either

I don’t wanna stay with me either

I don’t wanna stay with me neither

I don’t wanna stay with me neither

I don’t wanna stay

Known for leaping around dressed in outlandish

to outrageous wardrobes that range from pajamas

and leathers to hot pinks and faux fur, Davidson’s

lyrics are often overlooked because of “that monkey-business”

he does on stage. “Yeah, I do all that

shit,” he says grimacing. “But I also write songs.”

When asked if he writes from experience and

if it’s autobiographical: “No,” laughs Davidson.

“Definitely not.” Adding it’s mostly all tongue-incheek

channeled through passive-aggression and

the position he’s most fond of operating from,

“sarcasm.”

Deli Oriental Meat Style & Food is a two-for-one

special with former bassist Jean Choe playing on

one side of the vinyl release and her replacement,

Andrew O’Neill, on the other. The side featuring

Choe was actually put out a few years previous

on cassette and now included as bonus tracks on

the vinyl. Where Choe levitated and propelled the

band with her infectious pop-orientated melodies,

O’Neill’s playing, while still smooth and melodic,

has a more pulsating drive giving the EXBFs a little

extra high octane output.

Although an accomplished finger-picking

guitarist, this is O’Neill’s first crack playing in band.

It’s an impressive debut. “What he told me,” says

Paton. “Is that he sat down with a lot of James

Jameson records and studied that style of playing

to learn bass. And he got it on his own, quickly.”

Despite their quiet, bookish demeanor and private

lives that mostly converge around cocktails on a

low-key Sunday night, prepare thyself for the EXBF’s

sonic descent lead by Paton’s over-the-top, searing

fire-power, a No-Sleep-Til-Hammersmith rhythm attack

and Davidson’s crazed monkey-business antics.

Punk rock with a capital F — fun and fucking wild.

The EXBFs can be heard live on CJSW at 3 pm on Fri. Feb

12, then they take over Broken City later that night with

the Shiverettes and guests opening.

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 27


THE CJS

scrapping their way into your hearts

The latest by The CJs is the sound of ‘three pumping hearts in a room.’

The face of rock and roll music has changed many times in its

lifespan in the Calgary scene. After a while, veterans may get

the feeling that they’ve seen every incarnation and re-imagining

of what music can look like. For those who yawn and say there

are no surprises left, there’s another tasty offering up on the city’s

menu. This one is a scrappy trio of caveman rockers who want to

yelp and riff their way into your hearts and souls. The band we’re

talking of call themselves the CJs and they want to take you back into

FAKE WEREWOLVES

warm blanket of sadness

do you write a melancholy song

about unrequited love? You could

“How

say, ‘I really want you but I can’t have

you,’ and leave it at that. Or you could say, ‘If you

were cold, I would set myself on fire, just to keep

you warm.’” So muses Alonso Melgar, principal

songwriter for Calgary emo band Fake Werewolves.

“The songs may sound pretty sad, but they’re also

melodic and endearing,” he continues. “Part of it

is me drawing from my own experience, but this is

true for all emo lyrics; it’s just hyperbole.”

Citing influences like Into It. Over It., Dads, and

Tiny Moving Parts, Melgar and vocalist/bassist

Gavin Howard set out to pay homage to the Midwestern

emo scene that they both connected with

while growing up. “It’s my first time being the lead

singer of a band,” says Howard. “And it feels like the

most solid music I’ve ever been a part of writing.”

“When we started this project, we realized there was

no one in Calgary writing emo callbacks that are

more pop sounding. More catchy like The Promise

Ring or early Jimmy Eat World,” adds Melgar. “So it’s

something new for people, but it’s also for people

who grew up with those kinds of bands [to revisit].”

When Melgar and Howard saw the overflowing,

rambunctious shows of the ever-growing scene festival,

The Fest, in Florida last fall, the duo realized that

there may once again be a hunger for this certain

breed of heart rending rawness. “It was so crazy to

see these crowds of hundreds of people losing their

shit and screaming along to every single song that

I’d never heard of...at 4 p.m. on a Saturday,” Howard

recalls. “This scene IS that.” “Going to that festival

was a kick in the pants to get recording and start

playing more shows,” Melgar reinforces.

While the Calgary scene is decidedly smaller for

now, Fake Werewolves are enjoying the ride immensely

by making music primarily for themselves.

However, they have a four-song, self-titled EP of

delightfully sad, undeniably catchy songs ready to

share with the rest of us too. Melgar explains, “We

thought, ‘Let’s just stick with our pals and stick to

writing the music we wanna write. If people like it

they will show up regardless of whether it’s called

emo or not.’

“This is just the most fun to play music. It’s pop

music. Anyone who doesn’t have fun playing pop

music is probably a communist,” Melgar laughs.

“You can’t not have fun.”

Catch Fake Werewolves at The Ship and Anchor

alongside The Ativans and Old Wives February, 24th,

2016. The will be releasing their debut EP online through

bandcamp.com in early February.

photo: Arif Ansari

the stone age with them where you’ll thank them for the privilege.

Forming about a year ago, these three musicians united with a

singular mission: to captivate the world with their own unique brand

of savagery. In a stark contrast to much of the overtly polished and

shiny radio friendly music populating the airwaves, Jesse Powell, CJ

Parsons and Seth Leon banded together to create a musical project

that combines wild, primitive drumming, heavily distorted riffs and

yelping vocals in a cacophony of chaos. Stressing that this is a fully

by Max Maxwell

collaborative project, these three veterans of the Calgary scene create a

force to be reckoned with.

This summer, they were tapped to make an offering for the Rock

Against Harper compilation and teamed up in the studio with Ryan

Lottermoser (of fuzz-psych group The Pygmies) to create “Sick of the

Death Star,” the song being an explicit anthem denouncing Canada’s

now-former leader. Learning that they meshed well together and

impressed with how smoothly the process went, the band asked to

record a few more tracks with Lottermoser, putting together a jagged

record that matches the band’s aesthetic quite fittingly. The result

was the band’s first release, a ragged little collection of songs dubbed

FYZ 66. According to Powell: “I like rock and roll that is not super

careful and overly cultivated. I like it to be that ragged burst of joy

that comes out of someone. On this album, it’s actually us excited

to be there. This was us really excited to be in a studio with Ryan

and him recording it. Kind of almost going off the rails all the time

because we were so excited.”

If you pick up a copy of the soon to be released tape, don’t expect

a carefully curated masterwork that has been slaved over until

flawless; that’s not the way this group likes to operate. Powell tells

us “I think that the idea of a ‘field recording’ is almost more important

now. I’ve been through the two years to record an album

thing, making everything just so. This was three pumping hearts in

a room excited about what they’re doing and this is a document

of it.” It’s this manifesto that shows through on the recordings

that give you a live-off-the-floor-feeling that will have you ducking

imaginary flying beer cans in your living room as you feel like you’re

really in the middle of one of their shows.

For those brave souls that want to experience the mishigas first hand,

The CJs be playing a double album release with their heroes, The Ex-Boyfriends,

in mid-February. If you can’t make it, don’t fret: The band plans

to play a number of shows around the city in the coming months, as well

as taking their motley act on the road to shake up cities and small towns

across Western Canada. Stay tuned, if for no other reason, than to watch

what these crazies will get up to next.

Catch The CJs in action with The Ex-Boyfriends, February 12th at Broken

City in Calgary.

Fake Werewolves lean towards the poppier side of emo on new self-titled EP.

by Willow Grier

photo: Gavin Howard

28 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


THE 427S

surf noir, say what?

by B. Simm

BR: You gave your first release,

Surf Noir, an interesting title.

What did you have in mind or

envision by calling it that?

CvK: Our music has a dark edge

to it, giving it a moody, smoldering

vibe. And we draw from the film

noir aesthetic, which is sexy and

stylish, with a sense of mystery lying

just beneath the surface. We like to

explore that mystery.

BR: Mavericks sounds much

smoother, slinkier and fuller than

Noir, which has a rough-aroundthe-edges

garage tone. Were you

deliberately aiming to switch up

the production and make it bit

more ‘chill’?

CvK: Absolutely. There was a very

deliberate decision to spend a lot

more time and effort recording

Mavericks. Surf Noir was our preamble;

Mavericks is our first chapter.

A

427, if you don’t already know, is a “big block” engine that was favoured

by hot-rodders in the ’60s and ’70s and also dropped into

factory muscle cars out of Detroit during its heyday. The 427’s,

Calgary-based surf outfit, has the power-burst of those sleek machines

along with the smooth stylistics of a sultry cocktail act playing Dino’s

Lodge off Sunset Strip circa 1964. In 2015 their first EP, Surf Noir, was

nominated for an instrumental award. Lead guitarist, Chris van Keir, talks

to BeatRoute about his band’s upcoming release, Mavericks, and how

they put the noir in surf.

BeatRoute: Obviously the 427s are purists to a large degree, and

embrace traditional surf. But there’s a lot more going on in the music

than just beach blanket melodies. For instance, you list Neil Levang

& Buddy Merrill, a pair of Texan twangers, as one of your influences.

What do you think are some of the main music ingredients that fuel

surf, and what do you like to throw in the 427s’ tank?

Chris van Keir: Surf is catchy guitar hooks played by reverb-soaked

Fender guitars coupled with danceable beats to create a vibe of black

skinny tie, Wayfarer coolness. We apply ideas and influences from jazz,

punk, novels, film, and visual art to avoid becoming another threechord

wonder.

BR: You’ve made a couple of videos.

“The Spy Invasion” is filmed in

a distinct noir aesthetic with props

and fashions borrowed from the

private eye TV series 77 Sunset Strip. What’s the inspiration behind

the vids?

CvK: We believe a music video is simply a short film. It tells a story. We pay

homage to Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe with “The Spy Invasion”, while

we embrace the digital world with Fake Betty, giving people the control to

experience our live show at their convenience.

BR: Fake Betty? What’s that?

CvK: It’s a crush with eyeliner.

BR: Even though Surf Noir leans towards lo-fi, the playing on both

your recordings is tight, precise, deep in the pocket. But onstage

the band lets loose and rips it up. There seems to be a very definite

distinction between making records and playing live.

CvK: Our records are meant to be heard; our stage show is meant to be

seen. A live show should be interesting and engaging, not emulating your

album note-for-note. Isn’t that what rock n’ roll is all about?

The 427’s release party for Mavericks is Fri., Feb. 12 at the Palomino.

ROCKPILE

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 29


EDMONTON EXTRA

PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS

instrumental, multi-synth duo releases new album that reaches ‘success by volume’

Private Investigators’ Disturbing the Void is out February 26th.

Edmonton-based musicians Parker Thiessen

and Ian Rowley are not new to the local scene.

Thiessen also plays in noise outfit Zebra Pulse

and has a solo project called Bong Sample. Rowley

is part of the post-punk duo Rhythm of Cruelty

and has the solo output Boothman. The two came

together back in 2014 to form Private Investigators:

an experimental, science-fiction inspired,

electronic project.

“We had both just gotten synths. I had just gotten

one as a gift, and Ian had just got a new one.

We decided to jam with them,” recalls Thiessen.

Their project moved along naturally from

there. Thiessen plays two synths and has also

used contact microphones and metal scraps.

Rowley plays three different synths through

effects (including microbrute, volca bass, volca

keys) that are also sequencers. The instrumentals

they produce are noisy at times, and at others

the beat can put the listener into an ambient,

drone-infused trance.

When it came time to discuss influences, the

German electronic group Tangerine Dream was

mentioned. “I would say it would be wrong to

not say Tangerine Dream,” says Rowley. Thiessen

agrees and adds: “Science-fiction, movies.” Their

tracks would make a dynamic soundtrack. Rowley

also brings the genre that has helped shape their

sound, “The electronic end of the Krautrock stuff is

a huge influence.”

Since their inception in 2014, the duo already

has three available releases including: The Rush

(2015), Live at Bohemia (2014), and Early Looters

of the Apocalypse (2014). All were released on

the duo’s label: Pseudo Laboratories. Thiessen

explains: “We were mostly doing sequences when

we first started, or holding one key and changing

the frequencies and stuff like that. I feel like lately

we have been doing a lot more leads and playing

the synths more, rather than just using them to

create sounds.” Rowley also mentions the more

minimal nature of their initial release: “There are

sparse pieces on the first album, which I like, but

we are definitely progressing into trying to play a

bit more,“ notes Rowley.

Their upcoming release Disturbing the Void will

be available February 26th via the Deep Mining

Syndicate label. “The Deep Sea Mining Syndicate

release is not a lot different but it is definitely more

advanced than what we have been doing,” explains

Thiessen.

The duo doesn’t plan to add vocals to their

tracks anytime soon, but their mood-evoking

by Jenna Lee Williams

tracks are often labeled with an elaborate title.

“Honesty we kind of have a funny thing about how

we name songs. I pluck song titles from books I’m

reading, and things we say,” notes Rowley. “I am

constantly making an endless list of song titles on

my cell phone,” adds Thiessen. “I always kind of

found it funny when instrumental influence had

very complex titles for songs. All of our song titles

are not necessarily arbitrary but we have made

them pretty complex,” says Rowley.

Songwriting is part improvisation and part

premeditated. “We will, kind of on our own, come

up with sequences or things to play and bring it to

a jam, then the other person will play over top of

it,” explains Rowley. From their jams the duo brings

their skeleton of sequences to the stage, where the

remaining musical elements are filled in.

When you see Private Investigators live expect

strobe lights, smoke machines and the volume

being pumped from multiple PA systems. “I

personally play the music we do really loud. I feel

it has more of an effect. Because we aren’t moving

around onstage, to make it more of an experience,

to make it more visceral I think it has to hit you.

I like to play it as loud as possibly can… [we] try

to be louder than all the other bands. Success by

volume!” exclaims Rowley.

Check out Private Investigator’s album release on

February 26th at Good Luck Bar in Calgary with

Container, Corinthian and Focus Formula.

PSEUDO LABORATORIES

fast-moving Edmonton label releases three albums in February

The same pair that is behind the experimental science-fiction

project Private Investigators—Ian Rowley and Parker Thiessen—have

started their own label: Pseudo Laboratories. Thiessen

is also the man behind The Ramshackle Day Parade: a record

label, collective and open mic night that has been around since 2008.

“The concept behind [Ramshackle] is literally anyone who is doing

experimental music within the scope of weird shit basically is fully

capable [of performing]. I wouldn’t turn anyone away unless it is straight

up not the kind of music the label would release. That concept is really

fun, as anyone could do it. But I was kind of craving to do some physical

releases. So we thought we would start something different with kind of

a different feel to it. The concept with Pseudo Lab is it wouldn’t be just

experimental music, either,” explains Thiessen.

Thiessen and Rowley hope that the label will allow people to discover

new music. The profits from each band’s release help fund the next

upcoming release. It’s reminiscent of a human centipede—but instead of

feeding shit to the next in line, they feed the profits gained from a variety

of rad albums.

“Every release we do, when the money comes back, it will pay for

that release and fund another one. Every band is a part of another band

becoming on the label. It is becoming self-sustained,” says Thiessen. So

far, due to the quick, vertically integrated turnaround, all of their releases

are available on cassette and digital download. They plan to release using

other mediums in the future.

Pseudo Lab plan to include outfits from outside of Edmonton in the

future, but at the moment other acts on the label include mostly Edmonton

bands (with the exception of Calgary’s Poison Wave) including:

Rhythm of Cruelty, Tension Collectors, Poison Wave, Max Uhlich, Borys,

Static Control, Robert Burkosky, The Olm, Ocra and Boothman.

Their label has released a great combination of lesser known and

more established artists. “I hope that our label is doing a service to some

of the people who wouldn’t think they could release things. There is a lot

of cool stuff coming out of the city,” says Rowley. “I’m really stoked about

the Tension Collectors release. I have literally been bugging Sean for

two years to do a release, maybe three years. He has sent me countless

variations of tracks of different points in his life. To finally have it nailed

down and it coming out is really exciting because he is such a talented

guy. I think people are really going to dig it,” Thiessen exclaims.

The cassettes released on the label have had good sales and have been

well received. “The Olm/Ocra split has definitely been one of our more

successful releases in terms of the amount of coverage it has got. It was

number 17 on CJSR for the whole year,” notes Thiessen. “Max Uhlich too.

I feel like Max’s was the most different release sound wise. He has been

involved with experimental music for a long time,” adds Rowley.

The label is at almost 10 releases, with five more expected to be out in

the next few months.

by Jenna Lee Williams

Some of the artists on the label are not only musical artists but

visual artists also. Thiessen describes his video art and Rowley and

Brandi Strauss’ collaborative collage and the soundtrack surrounding

those pieces: “Something from most of the Pseudo Laboratories

bands is included in the PLATE exhibition at Enterprise square.

PLATE is an acronym that Ian came up with that stands for Pseudo

Lab Artists Together Electronically. It is kind of a compilation, but

more of a video compilation. The video is all video feedback, when

point a camera at a TV and send the signal to the TV so the image

keeps looping itself.”

Check out the Pseudo Laboratories Triple Cassette Release Show at Panch

House in Edmonton on February 13th featuring Tension Collectors, Robert

Burkosky and Boothman. Calgary’s Untrained Animals will be joining

those acts.

30 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


TENSION COLLECTORS

dexterous and kooky drummer Sean MacIntosh branches out by Brittany Rudyck

ROBERT

ROCKPILE

It’s always astonishing to meet musicians who are

committed to 30 different projects and still manage

to hold down full-time jobs. These are the kind

of people who do it purely to for the love of creating.

One of Edmonton’s most highly-regarded drummers,

Sean MacIntosh, is a shining example of this work

ethic: taking on projects that have stood the test of

time like Gary Debussy, or with fun sides like Night

Court — a collaboration with Robert Burkosky —

which may only linger for a show or two.

For a prolific collaborator like MacIntosh, finding the

time to do a solo project was something that has been

in process for a few years. Hence, the birth of Tension

Collectors, an electronic-based project that has acted as

somewhat of a journal for the quirky and exceptionally

talented artist.

“I bought a new sampler and I started listening to a

lot of electronic music and hip hop. I really started to

get into it and became really inspired. It was mostly at

work too, because I’m a shipper/receiver at this place

downtown, and there’s some downtime, so I try to be as

secretly creative as possible. I’d get all this sound source

material while I was at work and try to put it into songs.

It’s mostly me trying to make stuff that I like. I have a

weird process where I throw all these different tracks in,

get them into some kind of cohesive shape and then I

walk away from it for a couple of days. Then I go back

and keep playing with it.”

If you haven’t seen MacIntosh perform in any of

his several projects, you’re missing out on a drummer

who smiles joyfully the entire time he’s behind the

kit. His bouncy, effortless musical style has prompted

several local artists to reach out for his expertise,

most recently Caity Fisher and the Wastoids.

The group freshly finished recording an album in

mid-January to be released later this year. In addition,

MacIntosh seemed quite certain of a full-length Gary

Debussy release for 2016.

“We’re really slow, which isn’t news to anyone, but

I think we have an album to put out. We’re just really

picky,” he shrugged honestly. “We have a bunch of stuff

recorded and I’m really excited to share it with people.

Gary Debussy will always be mainly instrumental, but

Jackie from Banshee has joined us onstage before and

that was ridiculous, so who knows.”

Until then, the Tension Collectors tape release on

Pseudo Laboratories this month will feature short, static

worlds peering into MacIntosh’s mind. “There’s some

angry stuff on there. That first batch, anyway. The computer

I had with the initial batch of tunes was stolen.

They also took band cash and a bunch of other dumb

things like the power supplier to my sampler. So, I didn’t

even have a sampler for about a month. I had to save

up for a new computer, re-jigger my set up and figure

out that whole thing again. That set me back and I got

pretty bummed about it, actually.”

While the idea of Night Court busting out a surprise

set at the release show would be “fucking sweet,”

MacIntosh isn’t giving out too much on just what

exactly will go down at this show. If you’re interested

in going, feel free to drop Pseudo Laboratories a line

for more details.

Check out the Tension Collectors tape release along with

Robert Burkosky, Boothman, and Untrained Animals at

the Panch House on February 13th.

Sean MacIntosh managed to find the time for a solo release as Tensions Collectors.

BURKOSKY

slinky porno synth creator sets sights on the future

Between Ben Disaster and adult pursuits, Robert Burkosky preps solo release.

Conversations with musicians like Robert

Burkosky are the kind to inspire an odd

curiosity about many unknown and

unconventional subjects. BeatRoute watched

Burkosky sip bubble tea and discuss everything

from Ron Jeremy to ‘80s horror films to the

myriad of musical projects he’s been part of

including Energetic Action, Christ Appearing as

Sun and most recently, Ben Disaster.

While the chat tried to focus on his upcoming

cassette release, his eclectic array of knowledge

steered us in some interesting directions.

BeatRoute: Tell me about your current solo

project and why it was important to you to

branch out in the direction you have.

Robert Burkosky: It’s a two-song cassette

single called Timeless Obsession. I wrote it in

the summertime and recorded it in October.

I recently broke free of the one band I was

playing in [Ben Disaster] so I could focus on

being a multi-instrumentalist. I’m a fan of a lot

of jazz and soundtrack music and I wanted to

do something that creates more of a dream and

helps me escape. I’m so influenced by film and

TV, and with this release, I was trying to emulate

the music I had heard in a lot of the ‘90s softcore

porno shows I would watch in the basement

very quietly as a child [laughs]. The music was

always instrumental but it featured very sultry

rhythms and a lot of guitar and keyboard. It was

very erotic music and it stuck with me.

BR: In the video, “Illicit Dreams,” I spied

a photo of you with Ron Jeremy. Can you

explain how that photo happened?

RB: I met Ron at the Taboo: Naughty but Nice

Convention back in 2013. I’m a huge connoisseur

of adult films and collect erotic cinema

focusing on the golden age of adult film from

the late ‘60s to the late ‘80s. I’m so fascinated

with it because they were actual movies back

in those days. They had a script, the plot had

something to it and the performers could actually

act. So, when I heard Ron was coming to

town, I grabbed a bunch of my collection to be

by Brittany Rudyck

photo: Jesse Nash

signed. The first thing he said to me was, “Wow,

this is refreshing. This guy has really great taste!”

I think he was pretty stoked that I actually

knew a lot about his filmography.

BR: Your father is an iconic drummer in

the metal band Disciples of Power. Is that

where you get your chops from?

RB: Totally. Since I was a baby I would sit on his

lap and listen to everything from Judas Priest to

Kiss to Slayer. He would move my arms and air

drum. I got my first kit at the age of three and

since then it’s been an obsession. I gotta thank

my dad for that.

BR: So, what’s the next instrument you

want to learn?

RB: Probably a saxophone. I’ve had a little experience

with saxophones when I did a release with a

group called Filipino Doctor, which was a free jazz

trio that myself, Keaton Bassett and David Finkelman

created. We recorded some stuff in 2012, but

I actually want to learn how to properly play it,

practice and learn scales. John Coltrane is one of

my idols and I worship that man’s music.

BR: What’s up next for you after the cassette

release?

RB: My wife Moira and I have a side project

called Beauty Rest. We have two singles that have

been digitally released. It’s dance music with a

very ethereal, dreamy, melancholy sort of filter.

We’re currently writing and trying to get enough

material to release a full-length. Another group I

play in called Cockatoo are coming back from a

hiatus. They were one of my favourite local bands

when I was a teenager, and in 2013, they asked

me to play drums for them. They’ve been around

since 2006 and highly inspired by ‘80s gothic rock

and post punk. I love playing drums in Cockatoo.

I love it all.

Pseudo Laboratories is releasing Burkosky’s tape

along with Boothman, Calgary’s Untrained Animals

and Tension Collectors at the Panch House

on February 13th.

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 31


letters from winnipeg

LOVE, LAKE WINNIPEG

Manitoba songwriters reimagine ‘70s folk songs for benefit EP

Singer-songwriter Sol Sigurdson on the shores of Lake Winnipeg.

When Riverton, Man. singer-songwriter

Sol Sigurdson, 80, recorded The Lake

Winnipeg Fisherman, a collection of folk

songs released in 1970, he never imagined the enduring

legacy those songs would have or how they

would be reinterpreted nearly five decades later.

Sigurdson, who was part of a fishing family that

was active on Lake Winnipeg for decades, played

dancehalls throughout the Interlake region with

his band The Whiskey Jacks in the ‘60s.

“We put on these hootenannies and then I

started to write words about the lake,” says Sigurdson,

over the phone from his home in Edmonton.

“People really enjoyed it, and then I ended up with

a dozen songs.”

The Lake Winnipeg Fisherman was initially

distributed on vinyl in limited quantities within

the Interlake, but as Sigurdson says, “it went far beyond

the community” with people making tapes

and giving copies to their friends.

His songs are now viewed as an important

document of the people of Manitoba’s commercial

fishing industry, and Lake Winnipeg, which has

become increasingly threatened since the 1990s.

As a Lake Winnipeg Foundation (LWF) press

release notes: “Excessive phosphorus is contributing

to the growth of harmful algae blooms which

are contaminating beaches, reducing water quality

and threatening livelihoods.”

“Lake Winnipeg is really a canary in the coal

mine,” says Alexis Kanu, LWF’s executive director.

“This can and, in some cases, has started happening

in lakes across the Prairies and the solutions

that we’re developing for Lake Winnipeg will have

beneficial impacts for lakes throughout Manitoba,

Saskatchewan, and Alberta.”

Love, Lake Winnipeg: A Tribute to the Songs of

Sol Sigurdson is an EP in support of LWF, featuring

four songs from Sigurdson’s original album, with

reimagined versions from former Weakerthans

frontman John K. Samson and Scott Nolan, along

with Jess Reimer, Mise en Scene, and DJ Co-op.

Samson also produced the album.

Nolan was enlisted to provide tracking and

instrumentation for an arrangement that Samson

photo: Lake Winnipeg Foundation

created for the song “Black Bear,” one of the standouts

on the EP.

“I discovered Sol’s music through John,” says

Nolan. “To me, the song (“Black Bear”) is almost

Dylan-esque. It’s a terrific little tune.”

“Black Bear was a fishing station that my dad

managed,” Sigurdson says of the inspiration behind

the track. “There were really interesting characters

there. This one fellow drank a little bit, so he was

always two days late coming for the start of the

season. My dad nicknamed him ‘Two-Day Bob.’

Two-Day Bob, two days late for work. That could

be a song in itself.”

by Julijana Capone

A sold-out benefit concert at the West End

Cultural Centre helped launch the release in

January with all of the artists who appeared on the

EP performing the songs live. Sigurdson also made

an appearance.

“We had Sol come up after our set and he did

a few songs and it was terrific,” Nolan says. “You

could tell by his energy onstage that this must

have been an exciting moment for him. A part of

him seemed almost surprised that people cared

about this little record… that these songs were

getting this second life.”

“I must admit that I was a little nervous,” Sigurdson

says with a laugh.

As for the lake that once gave him so much

inspiration, taking care of it, he says, is “going to be

an uphill battle.”

Kanu adds: “We tend to only hear about Lake

Winnipeg when there’s bad news… but we also

need to inspire people to action by celebrating

the beauty of the lake and what the lake gives

us… What we wanted this project to be was a reminder

that this is something we’re celebrating, it’s

something worth investing in protecting, and we

wanted to encourage more people to take action.”

Love, Lake Winnipeg is available for purchase at

lovelakewinnipegatributetothesongsofsolsigurdson.

bandcamp.com/releases. All proceeds support the

Lake Winnipeg Foundation. You can also visit lakewinnipegfoundation.org

to become a member or make a

donation directly.

EAT ‘EM UP RECORDS

Winnipeg’s friendly neighbourhood ‘pawn shop for punks’ is open for business

Brandon Ackerman, left, and Jan Quackenbush of Eat ‘Em Up Records in their natural habitat.

a lot of unusual things in here,”

says Jan Quackenbush, from inside

“There’s

Eat ‘Em Up Records, the West End

Winnipeg shop he runs alongside partner Brandon

Ackerman.

“We have a talking Donald Trump doll in the

window,” Quackenbush mentions. “He has a

number of different phrases that he says depending

on his mood.”

Since May of 2015, Ackerman and Quackenbush

(also of punk bands Rock Lake and Squareheads)

have taken a collector’s approach to their store,

skewed towards the punk and underground rock ‘n’

roll variety, stocked with new and used records, cassettes,

books, comics, stereo equipment, and bargain

bin VHS tapes. They buy and trade stuff, too.

“When you walk into a shop that is curated

you can tell right away,” says Ackerman of similar

stores. “You can tell if what’s on the shelves are just

what that store’s trying to sell you or someone’s

personal hoard.”

Though the shop itself has been open for less

than a year, the Eat ‘Em Up Records banner was

born as a label over a decade earlier, and physical

copies of all 16 releases they’ve put out since 2004

are available in the store, from Bunk Mustangs’

2015 self-titled album and Satanic Rights’ latest

7-inch to all three Rock Lake records and Squareheads’

debut LP, Persona Non Grata.

“We were playing the Albert one time, and [late

Squareheads frontman] Anthony [Bueno]’s uncle

tried to sneak in without paying, so he told the

door guy he was a representative from Eat ‘Em Up

Records,” recalls Quackenbush. “We got a logo made,

and just put the first Squareheads album out ourselves

under that name.”

The shop today exists, in part, as an extension

of the label, though it’s mostly stocked with

non-label releases, including items from Winnipeg

cassette label Dub Ditch Picnic, along with

vinyl by the likes of everyone from GG Allin &

The Jabbers and the Ugly Ducklings to T. Rex and

Goblin, among so many others.

Having previously worked at independent

record retailer War on Music and head shop

Kustom Kulture, Ackerman spent years learning

the tricks of the trade before getting into the

business himself.

A habitual record hunter, Ackerman says that he’s

recently gotten into auctions and estate sales to find

new stuff.

“Today I went to one specifically because I

saw that they had a poster of Alice Cooper at

the Winnipeg Arena in the ‘70s, but I didn’t stick

by Julijana Capone

around because it would have been an all day

commitment,” he says. “After collecting records

for so many years, I need to have a store just to

get rid of all of this stuff that I accumulate.”

Near the front of the store is a pile of cult, exploitation

and classic action flicks on VHS, like Psychomania,

above Blacula, and in the vicinity of Die Hard 2

and Predator.

“I can’t sell DVDs at all,” says Ackerman. “No one

wants DVDs, but I could sell VHS every day.”

Indeed, their customers come for the kind of stuff

that they likely aren’t going to find anywhere else, or

just to get rid of their stuff, altogether.

“We sometimes function as kind of a pawn shop

for punks,” Ackerman says. “There might be some

people that need to make rent for the month, so they

bring in some records…

“I’ve had someone bring in a speaker to sell that

had a bug crawl out of it, which immediately had to

be ejected from the store,” he recalls. Or there was

the time that a guy tried to sell a “perfectly working”

record player with wires hanging out of it in a hockey

bag full of empty beer cans.

But most of his customers, he says, are “just people

with record collections that love music.”

Check out Eat ‘Em Up Records at 466 Sherbrook St. in

Winnipeg or online via eatemuprecords.com. You can

also head to their Bandcamp page at eatemuprecords.

bandcamp.com to purchase releases.

32 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


JUCY

CLASSIFIED

staying true has staying power

by Willow Grier

From kitchen parties to concert halls, Classified retains the humility and alternative approach that has distinguished him for years.

photo: Jess Baumung

There is a lot of material surrounding the music

industry that will have you believe that

selling your soul is essential to advancement.

Do you want to succeed? You’ve got to compromise.

Here’s 10 tips to change your style so that

record labels will notice you. You’ve got to make

diss tracks to create buzz. Build yourself up to

appear like something close to royalty. Flaunt sex

and money like it were the most important thing

on the planet.

And then there’s Classified: a hip-hop artist who,

for two decades, has been redefining what being a

successful independent musician means. He’s been

primarily self-releasing his own music on his own

terms for the last 20 years, and what does he have

to show for it? Dozens of award nominations and

wins, platinum and gold singles, and a #1 Billboard

Canadian Music Albums debut for Classifed (2014).

All while retaining creative control of his music,

and keeping his roots close.

Classified (a.k.a. Luke Boyd) declares on the first

track of his new album Greatful, “I ain’t your rapper’s

favourite rapper, I’m my fans’ favourite rapper.” This

is an attribute he takes pride in, and cultivates by

being approachable and inviting fan interaction For

example, running a contest for fans where he brings

the tradition of East Coast “kitchen parties” to the

masses, hosting house shows all across Canada along

with the Greatful tour.

For Boyd, one of the keys to success outside of his

strong connection to his fan base has been collaborating

with other artists to keep his style fresh and

evolving. This also helps keep things lighter and stops

his analytical mind from taking over. “With this album

what stood out was that I don’t wanna be in the

studio by myself any more,” he laughs.

JUCY

“I like having someone else there to pull me back

when I’ve been working on a set of drums for five

hours and it comes out not sounding any different.

You can spend hours dwelling on nothing when you

smoke weed.”

On Greatful, Boyd works with a broad collection of

artists including Slug from Atmosphere and Brett Emmons

of Ontario rock band The Glorious Sons. “The

way I came up was the old-school hip-hop mentality

of making beats by going through old vinyl from the

‘60s and ‘70s and chopping them up to make a beat

out of it,” Boyd recalls. “That was kinda my first way of

collaborating without doing it for real. Now instead,

I’ll just call so-and-so who I know sings or plays guitar.

Having different minds and opinions always helps. It

brings a different outlook and fresh perspective.”

The 16 songs comprising Greatful are a glowing

example of how much Boyd has progressed as a musician

over the years. The production is more technical

and clean, the structures grander and better executed.

“It’s the next step in my life,” Boyd states. “I’m writing

about stuff I haven’t written about before. Musically,

production-wise, there [are] a lot more intricacies and

live instrumentation.”

One of the highlights of the album is “Noah’s Arc,”

a reflective track featuring fellow Canadian Saukrates,

that questions whether the state of the world could

be improved by a global flood. Boyd raps, “We’re

living in a dirty world and it needs to be refreshed. So

the rain keeps falling down to wash away the mess.”

In contrast, one of the album’s other lead singles, “No

Pressure (featuring Snoop Dogg),” is a West Coast

anthem with an accompanying video featuring Trailer

Park Boys star J.Rocc and comedian Tom Green,

among others. In the video, the unlikely cast work to

fulfill their deadline when Classified and Snoop end

up being write-offs on shooting day. The concept is

a light-hearted throwback to the goofy music videos

that used to heavily populate MuchMusic and MTV.

Other tracks on the album speak to his home life,

being married with three daughters (the sarcastically

named “Having Kids Is Easy”), and the burden of balancing

independent musicianship with mainstream

success (“Heavy Head”).

When asked what his favourite part of making

such a varied album was, Boyd jokes, “Finishing it.”

He continues, “It was definitely something we didn’t

want to rush,” alluding to the long process of creating

and recording it. “Now I’m just stoked for people to

hear it and see it live.”

In the time that Luke Boyd has been making

music as Classified, his overall creative process has

stayed the same, and it’s as straightforward as he

is. “If I’m not hanging out with my kids, I just go

into my studio. It’s just something I like doing.” So

maybe there is room to leave old mentalities behind,

like the idea that you have to put yourself on

a pedestal above fans in order for them to respect

you. Maybe it’s OK if people just want to chill with

you and invite you to their kitchen party. It may

be less “flash and bang” but it’s also less “flash in

the pan.” Classified has proven time and again the

staying power that can come with being down to

earth, and Greatful is a celebration of the heights

to which that can take someone.

Catch Classified on his Greatful tour with SonReal

at the Shawn Conference Centre on February 19th,

MacEwan Hall in Calgary on February 20th and the

Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on February 27th.

Classified will be doing a signing before his Calgary

show at HMV Chinook Centre at 1:30 p.m.

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 35


TREASURE FINGERS

jack of all trades, master of several by Paul Rodgers

LET’S

Treasure Fingers continues to explore his light and dark dynamic.

photo: Devin Brewster

GET JUCY!

Hello again, my fine feathered friends. Here’s to a

fantastic, frequency-filled February. I hope your

list of New Year’s resolutions includes “go to more

shows,” because this is going to be one hell of a month.

For all you Dirtybird enthusiasts, head on down to

the Hifi Club on February 4th for Will Clarke and Billy

Kenny’s “Will & Bill’s Excellent Adventure” tour. These

cutting edge house producers are anything but bogus, so

be excellent to each other, and party on dudes!

On the 11th, again at the Hifi, be sure to check out rising

house artist Darius from France. Tasteful, beautifully

produced house tunes that teeter on the edge of multiple

styles including disco, funk and chillwave. This one will be

blissful and serene.

403DNB has something very special in store for their

annual Lover’s Ball Valentine’s special. This year it takes

place on February 13th at the Nite Owl and features two

of the best names in liquid drum and bass: Logistics and

Hybrid Minds. That’s just on the main floor. Downstairs,

they also have Detroit’s Sinistarr and a whole host of

local talent.

At Dickens on February 25th catch U.K.-based D

Double E, known as one of the great grime MCs. This is

not one to miss if you are looking for some cutting-edge,

forward-thinking music delivered by one of the pioneers

of the sound.

Last but not least (and certainly not sanest), we have

psychedelic trance trailblazers Infected Mushroom bringing

their “CVII Animatronica Tour” to the Marquee on the

27th. Not quite sure what this entails? Prepare to get really

weird, and for your mind to perhaps never be the same.

It’s true our city and country are experiencing some

pretty scary times right now, but take solace in the fact

that your promoters are working their asses off to make

sure that there are amazing shows seemingly every single

day in this town. Shake off some of your worries and

strive on as many of these dance floors as you possibly

can. I promise it will help.

• Paul Rodgers

Darius

We all have both light and dark or

positive and negative aspects to our

personalities. Being in tune with

both is important to find balance in life, and

the same goes for artists and musicians. This

sometimes manifests in the form of artists

reinventing themselves, having side projects or

aliases or leaving their craft to pursue something

completely different. Oklahoma-born,

Atlanta-based producer Treasure Fingers (a.k.a.

Ashley Jones) cut his teeth in legendary drum

and bass outfit Evol Intent—a trio known for

their menacing atmosphere and nasty basslines.

In order to contrast the heavier nature of the

music he was producing, and channeling his

love of hip-hop music and its roots in funk, soul

and disco, he began making lighter house beats

on the side.

At first, he didn’t put to much stock in the

project. It was purely for fun: a “therapeutic”

process. That was until 2008 when he released

his single “Cross the Dance Floor” and

was contacted via MySpace by heavyweight

DJ/producer A-Trak, who asked him if he

wanted to start releasing music on his label

Fools Gold. Since then he has experienced

new levels of success, reached a whole new

audience and started his own record label

dubbed Psycho Disco. Jones explains why he

chose that name for his label:

“You could go way back into the history of

music and find music that people danced to, but

it was really disco that took it into that nightclub

element, gave it that extra culture, and we really

haven’t strayed that far from that formula: that

same tempo, the drum style, even the chords, how

the vocals were processed and that sort of stuff.

You’ll still hear records today that are very similar

to disco records that were made in the late ‘70s,

early ‘80s so I do feel like it’s an eternal sound at

this point, it’s just solidified itself as sort of perfect

dance music.”

Knowing that Jones created Treasure Fingers

to balance out his production work, and that the

project now occupies the majority of his time,

it begs the question if he now desires to make

nastier music to counter the bright, polished and

more accessible disco he now makes.

“Yeah I definitely have to jump out sometimes

and just make some really aggressive, disgusting

drum and bass [laughs], or just anything really

noisy or dark,” Jones explains.

“I actually just started another side project that

hasn’t come out but it’s very… it’s influenced by

like early Depeche Mode and kind of the darker

new wave stuff of the ‘80s, and even some Skinny

Puppy and Nine Inch Nails type stuff,” Jones

continues. “So I felt like that was probably something

where I just had to jump out and get into

a different space for a while. I think that is why I

always jump around to different genres. I think

that if I did the same thing over and over I’d drive

myself insane.”

In addition to this dualistic approach to

production, Jones also is a sharp producer of

sounds that fall more into the realm of hip hop

and downtempo.

He states that recently he produced a track for

weirdo rapper Young Thug’s latest mixtape and

say that it “doesn’t sound like any of the other

tracks” on the release and that its untraditional,

downtempo approach to hip hop is certainly not

what you would expect from Treasure Fingers.

Versatility is an integral component to staying

relevant in this internet era of the music business,

which Jones states can be “overwhelming” at

times. His dualistic approach to production, his

impending release with Evol Intent, potential

new side projects and daily torrential flow of new

music on his SoundCloud page may just set him

apart as a key figure in electronic music.

Catch Treasure Fingers at the Hifi Club on

February 20th.

36 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE JUCY


The Calgary Folk Music Festival presents the inaugural edition of

Block Heater, a winter music extravaganza February 12-14, 2016

at three live music venues on the Music Mile in the historic community

of Inglewood. Throughout the Family Day long weekend, over

20 local, national and international artists will perform concerts

and collaborative songwriter-in-the-round sessions at Festival Hall

(1215 10 Avenue SE), the Inglewood Music Club (1401 10 Ave SE)

and Ironwood Stage and Grill (1229 9 Ave SE).

• 100 Mile House

• Art Bergmann

• Phil Cook

• Copperhead

• Elliott BROOD

• Alejandro Escovedo

• Frazey Ford

• Jenn Grant

• The Harpoonist

and the Axe Murderer

• Corey Harris

• Jeff Lang

• Scott MacKay

• Catherine MacLellan

• Lorrie Matheson

• The Multifarians

• Northern Beauties

• Tom Phillips

• Colleen Rennison

• Ben Rogers

• Andy Shauf

• Slow Leaves

• The Sojourners

• Emily Triggs

For more information on the artists, tickets and schedule go to

calgaryfolkfest.com

ELLIOTT BROOD

JUNO winners make highly anticipated return to Calgary

Since their beginnings in 2002, Mark Sasso

and Casey Laforet (soon to be joined by

their third band mate Stephen Pitkin) have

crafted unique and memorable songs under the

collective name of Elliott BROOD. Their work is

often somewhat difficult to categorize—swinging

between alternative, folk, country and rock as

they see fit—but they’ve consistently produced

quality music. This creative flair earned them

a spot on the Polaris Prize shortlist in 2009 for

Mountain Meadows, and JUNO nominations in

2006 and 2009, finally culminating in a win in

2013 with Best Roots & Traditional Album of the

Year being awarded to Days Into Years. Following

up on this success is 2014’s Work and Love, which

takes some of their traditional folk elements and

ROOTS

by Aaron Swanbergson

throws them into overdrive. With producer Ian

Blurton (Public Animal, C’mon, Change of Heart)

now in the mix, Elliott BROOD has struck out

into new territory, bringing their music a power

and cohesion that is entirely new. Combine this

with deeply personal and evocative lyrics and we

have an album well worth experiencing. Looking

back at their last decade or so of evolution makes

one wonder just what a 2016 show with Elliott

BROOD will contain. Be prepared for crashing

cymbals, energetic banjo, distortion pedals, or the

sliding twang of country guitar, all combined into

high-energy songs that you won’t soon forget.

See Elliott BROOD at Festival Hall on February 13th

as part of Block Heater.

ANDY SHAUF

sonic blood will spill on the Block Heater stage

by Willow Grier

With a silken hesitancy, or perhaps deliberation akin to Sufjan Stevens or Elliott Smith,

Andy Shauf paints dark portraits with music that somehow shine despite the blackgrey

tones. His captivating vignettes of anti-heroes, and stirring lyrical journeys that

could poetically span generations pull listeners in through empathy, curiosity, and sometimes

even horror. While often

containing beautifully

layered though minimal

instrumentation, the real

draw with Andy Shauf’s

music is the starkly

honest character profiles

he creates. These brief

episodes have the potential

to tear the listener’s

heart to shreds as soon

as it can soothe and put

them back together. Slipping

seamlessly between

the realities he creates,

Shauf evokes all things

macabre and morose,

while his honeyed voice

drifts delicately on the

surface. Now supporting

The Bearer of Bad News

(2015), Shauf will warm

and redden the rooms of

Block Heater, even if it’s

with the spilling of sonic

blood.

Catch Andy Shauf at Lantern

Church on February 13

during Block Heater.

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 39


BLOCK HEATER

ALEJANDRO ESCAVEDO

iconic musician jokes about being a rock star

by Liam Prost

JENN GRANT

East Coast musician wants to keep summer alive

Jenn Grant, a folk artist with a newfound

interest in psychedelia, borrows sounds

from a huge array of genres and bathes

them in her rich and serene voice. Her musical

influences are a bountiful mesh of classic

and contemporary, including Jenny Lewis,

Lou Reed, Radiohead and Father John Misty

(who she embarrassingly met in the hallway

of a hotel wearing only a towel).

Beyond music, Grant is an environmentalist

and an advocate for the outdoors.

This holistic approach to life mirrors what

is perhaps the most interesting thing about

her sound: a penchant for instrumental

experimentation. While drums and bass

grooves strongly root her arrangements,

the use of congas, harp, flute, horns, guitars

and violin create a complex yet balanced

sound. Layered vocal harmony from Grant

herself as well as a strong lineup of guest

musicians strengthens the narrative of the

album. Strong imagery transforms the music

into a story worth listening to. Her most

recent album, Compostela, is a soothing

adventure from start to finish; listening to

it is like relaxing on a boat as you are kindly

rocked back and forth slowly by the ocean

waves.

It was conceived as a tribute to her

mother after she passed away. After a trip

to Spain, the landscapes and scenes that inspired

Grant came to life in the album. The

by Robyn Welsh

title comes from a Spanish word meaning

“field of stars,” representing a journey—

which is exactly what the album proved

to be for Grant. Though it is quite warm

sounding, it deals with themes of traveling

through sadness and loss with hints of

hope and happiness.

At Calgary Folk Fest this past summer

she was able to reconnect with friends

and fellow musicians. After experiencing

firsthand the summer music festival vibes,

Grant believes that, “as Canadians, we need

to really encourage people to get out and

see live music in the winter and not just

on beautiful summer nights.” Block Heater

aims to provide Calgarians with a music

experience akin to that of a summer music

festival. This is partly achieved through a

workshop style collaborative format. Grant

says she is looking forward to performing

alongside Catherine MacLellan, a friend she

met in Halifax after MacLellan ended up

moving into the same neighbourhood. The

two quickly became friends and have collaborated

many times in the past. Though

they have not discussed it yet, there is the

possibility that the two will make magic

happen when they meet again this month.

Catch Jenn Grant’s performance at the

Ironwood Stage and Grill on February 12th as

part of Block Heater.

Disclosure: Roots editor Liam Prost is a Calgary Folk

Festival employee.

There are two kinds of people who name their

band The Rock Stars. The first would be a Noel

Gallagher type, for whom the term tidily pads

their ego. The other kind are typified by the two

folks who actually did it. One of those two is roots

rock legend Alejandro Escovedo. It’s remarkable

that Escovedo can fit so effortlessly into the musical

canon while still retaining enormously reverent to

those around him. In talking to BeatRoute, Escovedo

spoke of the songs he started learning as a teenager

as if he had never started writing his own songs.

Escovedo came of age in a grand musical atmosphere,

breathing in the music of Lou Reed, Roxy Music, and

John Cale, and exhaling his own contributions back,

barely noticing his own input. Over the course of our

interview, Escovedo never stopped namedropping

musicians, but always with a clear sense that it was for

the sake of their credit and not his own credibility. He

even references meeting Iggy Pop and fondly recounts

watching him hit on his girlfriend. This reverence also

extends to the musicians who play in and around his

own material: musicians like Jennifer Warnes, who

recently helped facilitate a Leonard Cohen project

with Escovedo, and herself recorded a Leonard Cohen

tribute record, Famous Blue Raincoat (1987). These

types of projects are second nature to Escovedo, but

he is careful to shy away from the term “tribute.” “It’s

more of an homage,” Escovedo argues. These types of

shows are not about using the name recognition of an

established artist to sell tickets, but to highlight the

music and the songwriting. Having recently relocated

to Dallas from Austin, Escovedo is perhaps less

familiar with a Calgary winter than he is David Bowie’s

discography, but he has a profound connection to

the city. Escovedo’s performance comes on the wake

of One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo,

of which Escovedo had a piece featured a few years

ago entitled By The Hand of the Father. The piece is

a daring exploration of a Mexican immigrant family,

intercut with a series of songs about Escovedo’s own

family life. In our interview, Escovedo laments the

loss of One Yellow Rabbit curator Michael Green,

who was killed in a traffic collision last winter, but

looks forward to a reunion with his Calgary collaborators.

Alejandro Escovedo is one step away from

being considered a musical legend, having played

with almost everyone a musician might dream of

playing with. Even now he is working on new material

with REM guitarist Pete Buck. It takes a truly modest

musician to share the stage with Bruce Springsteen

and still consider adopting the name ‘Rock Star’ to be

a “joke,” a man so in love with the music industry, he

has become totally oblivious to his own remarkable

contribution to it.

Alejandro Escovedo performs at the Lantern Church

February 12th as part of Block Heater.

40 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE ROOTS


BLOCK HEATER

FRAZEY FORD

established folky puts soul in the centre

BEN ROGERS

Vancouver songwriter channels a cosmic but down-to-earth sound

ROOTS

by Liam Prost

From the first acoustic guitar chord of the opening track on Frazey Ford’s 2014

release Indian Ocean, listeners begin to settle into a comfortable singer-songwriter

mindset. But just before your Neil Young reverie can begin, a warm organ sweeps

you away straight into Aretha Franklin territory. Ford comes from folk origins, having

performed for many years as the lead on many three-part harmonies that make up the

catalogue of the Be Good Tanyas. After hearing Ford’s soft and wavering voice on the Be

Good Tanyas’ more delicate, bluegrass-textured tracks, one might not anticipate a turn

to soul music from her solo material. But between her debut record Obadiah (2010) and

aforementioned Indian Ocean (2014), she has truly found a unique and prescient place

within the genre. Soul and gospel aren’t new to Ford either, and in some ways this is the

music she always wanted to make. That’s not to say that Be Good Tanyas was at all inauthentic

however. Ford stresses that the Be Good Tanyas was the right music for the right

time, and of course, the right people. Some of her contributions to the Be Good Tanyas

foreshadow this turn as well. Specifically, the track “Human Thing,” which carries a level

of strength and vivacity that permeates her solo work straight into tracks like “Done”

from Indian Ocean (2014).

Frazey Ford plays the Lantern Church on February 13th as part of Block Heater festival.

Vancouver’s Ben Rogers describes his new album The Bloodred Yonder as “the transition

from life to death, good to evil, paradise to perdition, and all the lost souls you

meet along the way.” His beyond-his-years voice is rough-hewn and well suited to

the tone of his alt-country songs, with expansive reverb-drenched guitars, slinky and deep

baritone guitar and pedal steel. Rogers is no one-trick pony though. An accomplished actor,

he’s also appeared recently on CBC’s Strange Empire, as well as playing a supporting role in

The Driftless Area, starring Zooey Deschanel and Anton Yelchin. His crack band includes

members of City and Colour, Rich Hope and His Evildoers, Portage & Main and Frazey Ford.

The band conjures a sound likened to Crazy Horse playing in a honky-tonk roadhouse, a

sound as cosmic as it is down-to-earth.

Ben Rogers performs in Calgary at Block Heater on February 12th at Festival Hall and on February

13th at the Lantern Church.

• Michael Dunn

CATHERINE MACLELLAN

PEI songwriter stands tall on her own

THE NORTHERN BEAUTIES

Calgary folk quintet already sound like friends

The Northern Beauties are an effortlessly

charming, Calgary-based folk quintet. They

describe their music as Canadiana-bluegrass-folk,

and consider their sensibilities akin to

artists like Neil Young, Wilco and Ryan Adams. The

goal of their music is to remind listeners of traditional

and older country western music while still

staying accessible. In addition to their radio-playability,

they write songs that invite the listener

to really delve into their lyrics. They accomplish

this with wandering and peaceful melodies, which

leave just enough room for introspection, the

perfect soundtrack for a long drive on a twilit

prairie road. There is an immediacy to the music,

as if the band is in the room playing just for you,

as if you had been friends for years. Their songs

are filled with endearing yet melancholic group

harmonies that compliment their heartfelt and

patient lyrics. Of the six songs on their latest EP,

almost all of them focus on love; which makes

Northern Beauties a perfect mid-afternoon set this

Valentine’s Day. Bring along your significant other

or Tinder date!

The Northern Beauties perform as part of Block Heater

at the Ironwood Stage and Grill on February 14th.

photo: Keith Skrastins

by Liam Prost

It’s tempting to begin writing

about Catherine MacLellan by

talking about her father: the

late, great, Gene MacLellan. Or

even her former marriage to quiet

legend, songwriter Al Tuck, or

even her ongoing partnership with

guitarist Chris Gauthier. But her

associations with others does not

define Catherine MacLellan herself,

whose songwriting and presence

outshines any of the intertextual

elements that might pull focus

away from her beautifully penned

songs. Bio-fodder aside, MacLellan’s

true appeal is her concisely

written narratives, her breathy,

honest vocal delivery and her

immaculate taste in collaborators.

2014’s The Raven Sun features

some of her most lavish arrangements,

but also some of her most

confident songs. More recently

however, MacLellan has deliberately

relinquished focus, opting to

perform alongside two other PEI

singer-songwriters: country songstress

Meaghan Blanchard and pop-folk singer Ashley Condon. The three go by the all-too-perfect title The Eastern

Belles and perform achingly beautiful, guitar-led folk. The Eastern Belles write their songs together, but trade off

lead vocal duties, leaving the inevitable three part harmonies for accentuation instead of going full barbershop.

The three carefully support each other, valuing their distinct vocal timbres for texture over dense instrumentation.

MacLellan is certainly the most established of the three, and a set under her own name should be just as dynamic.

Catherine MacLellan will be bringing her solo material to the Ironwood Stage and Grill for Block Heater on February 12th.

by Kennedy Enns

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 41


SHRAPNEL

LOVE ME LIKE A REPTILE

celebrating the music of the one and only Lemmy Kilmister

Rest in power, Lemmy.

SHRAPNEL

illustration: Tom Bagley

Truly, there never will be another man quite

like Lemmy Kilmister. He was the kind of

leather-clad, whisky-drinking, motorcycle-riding

badass that seemed to be spawned from

the pages of a boisterous comic book. Catapulting

from his origins in the glittering celestial space rock

group Hawkwind (who unceremoniously ejected

him for evidently “taking the wrong drugs”), he

was destined for groundbreaking things. Splicing together

elements of the Ramones, Little Richard and

Chuck Berry, he bridged the gap between metal and

punk with freakish speed-injected riffs (literally and

metaphorically). Consequently, Motörhead caused

an enormous shift in the world of heavy music.

Thanks to 41 years and 23 studio albums with

Motörhead alone, Kilmister’s legacy reaches across

the musical landscape. Accordingly, on February 14th

the Palomino Smokehouse in Calgary is hosting a

celebration of the life of Lemmy, who passed away on

December 26th, 2015 following years of bad health

and a short battle with an aggressive form of cancer.

Paying tribute is a cavalcade of multi-genre bands,

including Calgary’s own Cripple Creek Fairies, Black-

Rat, Napalmpom, Bass of Spades, Blades of Steel, and

Chron Goblin. All proceeds from the show will go to a

foundation for cancer research.

“I first heard Motörhead when I was around 12

years old and watching skateboard and dirt bike

videos,” recalls Devin “Darty” Purdy, Chron Goblin and

Spliff Troll guitarist.

“The first Motörhead song I ever heard was ‘See Me

Burning’ [from a dirt bike video]. It hit me like a ton of

bricks.... The speed of the double kick...the shredding

of guitar and distorted bass...and Lemmy’s raspy Jack

Daniels-infused voice was like nothing I’d ever heard

before.”

He continues: “Motörhead was very influential to

me as I grew up loving punk rock, which then started

my love for heavy metal. Motörhead has the ability to

combine a bit of both of the genres in a very unique

and unforgettable way. I always looked up to Lemmy

for the fact that he never compromised his beliefs,

attitude, and musical style for anyone. He did what he

loved until the day he died.”

Stu Locklin, bassist and vocalist of blackened thrash

trio BlackRat, also tells of his first encounter with the

band.

“Zero Skateboards were notorious in the late ‘90s

and early ‘00s for making raw and vicious skateboard

movies complete with the appropriate tunes. They

featured the likes of Slayer, Danzig, Minor Threat,

Iron Maiden, and of course, Motörhead. I was 14 at

the time, working my first job, and with my very first

paycheque I purchased the Zero video ‘New Blood.’

The video begins with Jon Allie, a real fucking ripper,

doing a 360 down a huge set of stairs, when ‘We Are

The Road Crew’ kicks in at full blast with that savage

bass tone. I remember the following three minutes

being filled with chaotic skating, a brand of heavy that

I’d never heard before, and the meanest vocals to ever

exist. I probably watched the video part 100 times before

riding my skateboard full speed to the closest CD

store to buy the Ace of Spades [1980] album. I blasted

that damn thing on my Walkman every single day for

the rest of my teenage life, and searched endlessly for

other bands with a similar style of mean and nasty

heavy metal.”

by Breanna Whipple

Locklin continues: “Years prior to the formation

of BlackRat, (guitarist Ian) Lemke and I would play

sloppy guitar and bass Motörhead covers in his mom’s

basement. Lemke’s dad had this silly little bass amp

that had the dirtiest sound, and I fucking loved it, because

of its similarity to Lemmy’s tone. I pretty much

learned how to play bass guitar exclusively with that

filthy tone, and exclusively covering Motörhead songs.

Because of this, our band dynamic was cemented in

the style where the overdriven bass acts as the rhythm

guitar, similar to the way Motörhead does it. Because

of Motörhead, the three-piece, bass and vocals style

has always been the coolest formation for any band.

My favourite bands followed this outfit: Venom, Sodom,

Tank and so on, and therefore I couldn’t help but

attempt to emulate that style. I’d say the mutual liking

of the entire generation of Motörhead-inspired bands

is what brought BlackRat together.”

Coming from a far different end of the rock

spectrum, long-standing punk rock act Cripple Creek

Fairies was similarly inspired by the act.

“They showed me that you didn’t have to be technically

amazing to make great songs, which was a relief

to a farm kid struggling to learn an instrument and

play heavy metal. It showed me that you should focus

on the song, not the guitar gymnastics. The first time I

saw them was at Cowboys. I didn’t have earplugs and

my brains were pulverized. I’m still trying to relearn

basic functions,” enthused Cam Hayden, bassist and

vocalist.

“There will never be another Lemmy, nor another

band quite like Motörhead. Motörhead had the ability

to cross genres and created a very loyal and dedicated

fan base. He truly lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle,” adds

Darty.

In addition to being a massive cultivator in the rugged

world of aggressive music, Lemmy was a talented

lyricist. For example, Motörhead’s ninth studio album

1916 has a harrowing self-titled track that features a

monologue of an underage man’s experience through

World War I. The quiet, slow song is touching and

unusually gentle; the violin accompaniment is a sad

finishing touch. Perhaps that is the most extraordinary

thing about Lemmy: if you scrape past the dirty riffs

and dig a little deeper, you discover a historian that

put a piece of himself in every song.

“People who are proclaiming, ‘Rock and Roll is

Dead,’ and ‘God is Dead’ are wasting their fucking

breath because Motörhead is immortal,” confirms

Locklin.

“There will never be another Motörhead, but the

music will live on forever. There are innumerable

bands that will do everything in their power to try

and be the scariest, grossest, loudest act, but Lemmy

accomplished all that and more just by being himself.

It was obvious that Lemmy didn’t give a shit about

death, and he’d probably have a giggle at all the people

mourning his death. I don’t think we should be sad

about him dying, instead we should celebrate the

fucking crazy life that the bastard lived, and the music

he created.”

Love Me Like A Reptile, A Motörhead tribute, will occur

on Sunday, February 14th at the Palomino Smokehouse

and Bar in Calgary. If you’re interested in donating to

cancer research, visit http://www.diocancerfund.org/ or

visit www.cancer.ca to make a donation.

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 43


MEGADETH

Dave Mustaine dissects the entrails of Dystopia

Megadeth has recaptured their sonic glory days with their 15th studio album.

Few bands can boast such a colossal legacy as Megadeth. With

an extensive discography fuelled with political allegories,

speed-driven guitar riffs, intricate solos and a powerfully aggressive

vocals, there is no doubt that Megadeth, and by direct extension

their hugely influential guitarist Dave Mustaine, were integral to the

founding of thrash metal.

Adored not only by nostalgic metal fans, Megadeth has an unusual

and spotty history that has recently rebounded to the glory

days with their 15th studio album Dystopia, which was released via

Tradecraft on January 22nd. With the addition of Lamb of God’s

Chris Adler on drums and Kiko Loureiro on guitars, the chemistry

between the members is reminiscent of the classic Peace Sells… But

Who’s Buying? (1986) era of the band. The influence of Megadeth’s

premier studio drummer, Gar Samuelson, is abundantly clear in Adler’s

own style; Dystopia’s “Fatal Illusion” sounding strikingly similar

to Peace Sells’ hit “Black Friday.” Luoreiro lives up to the vast history

of guitar prodigies before him, displaying his seemingly effortless

virtuosity throughout.

Band mastermind, guitarist, vocalist, and media bad boy Mustaine

speaks of the anti-tyrannical nature displayed throughout the album.

“The name of the record was supposed to be Tyrannicide, but a couple

of people were asking me if it was a dinosaur or not and it was just

like, ‘No, it’s not, it has to do with killing tyrants.’” He laughs.

“You know, and the funny thing is that people who are heavy metal

fans, a lot of them think that a lot of the crazy concepts I come up with,

you know, are my own. Rob Halford in Judas Priest was singing about

tyrants in the song “Tyrant” on Sad Wings Of Destiny [1976], so these

are the things that influenced my life and stuff that I believe in… So if it is

good enough for Rob, it’s good enough for Dave!”

Alluding to inspiration drawn from his earlier years, he speaks of the

by Breanna Whipple

sci-fi oriented artwork displayed on the album cover in which a robotic

Vic holds the severed head of a cyborg in the midst of a fallen wasteland.

“You know, it’s funny, that whole thing with the album cover, the

artwork, dystopia, the concept behind the song... I used to watch a lot

of movies when I was a kid, and probably stuff that was inappropriate

for my age. I remember watching Planet Of The Apes [1968] when I was

really young and it made a huge impression on me, especially the scene

at the end with the statue of liberty buried in the sand… I saw, of course

I was an adult now, I saw [dystopian film] 12 Monkeys [1995] with Brad

Pitt and I thought that was great too, but there are so many kinds of

movies, like [airborne virus film] Outbreak [1995], and all these different

things like [alien invasion film] Independence Day [1996], crazy movies

about just a world just getting fubar’d, you know what I mean? And it

makes me think that, you know, if we don’t pay attention there is a good

possibility some of this stuff may happen.”

Allegorically, the dystopian theme resounded throughout the conversation,

particularly when we asked about his spotty relationship with

the media (and many metal heads). Mustaine was not oblivious to the

response to his well-publicized controversial politics or the anger of the

failure of Megadeth’s classic lineup reunion. Despite everything, he maintains

an optimistic attitude and is thankful for Megadeth’s longevity.

“I think, you know, if you were going to sum things up with me there

are so many things that people say that are mean-spirited, there are so

many people that really love me that say nice things... I think if you go

right up the middle... what you see is what you get,” he says.

“I try and be loyal and honest with my friends, I try not to hurt people

when it’s unnecessary... I love what I do, I never give up.”

Megadeth performs in Calgary, Alberta on March 6th at the Grey Eagle

Resort and Casino; in Edmonton, Alberta on March 9th at the Rexall

Place; and in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on March 10th at the Mosaic

Place. All dates will also feature Suicidal Tendencies, Children of Bodom,

and Havok.

TRIVIUM

conjuring a soulstorm for the ages

No strangers to the cyclical nature of the

music industry, Floridian heavy metal band

Trivium have successfully weathered a

decade and a half of outrageous fortune, but not

without gaining a few battle scars along the way.

The fact that the quartet’s latest album, Silence

in the Snow, debuted at 19 on The Billboard 200

charts demonstrates not only their ability to

resonate with audiences across the heavy metal

spectrum, but their resolve to achieve ever greater

heights. According to bassist and backing vocalist

Paolo Gregoletto, the powerfully melodic seventh

studio album marks a high point in Trivium’s artistic

and technical trajectory.

“Every time you go into making a new record

you’re always trying to find new angle on your

band and your music,” says Gregoletto, who joined

in 2004 (the same year they were signed to Roadrunner

Records).

“It’s funny how one song can change everything.

We broke new ground on this record because of the

path that ‘Silence in the Snow,’ a song we had had

in our books for about eight years, sent us down. It

opened up doors to what would gradually become

something different. For example, on the tracks

‘Dead and Gone’ and ‘Beneath the Sun’ we used seven-string

guitars, which is something we haven’t done

for the two previous albums, so it was refreshing to

get back to it.”

The already daunting task of following up their

wrathful previous release, Vengeance Falls (2013),

took serious turn when Trivium’s lead vocalist-guitarist

Matt Heafy damaged his vocal chords while on

tour and found himself at a critical crossroads in his

career as a thrash-throated singer.

“We were lucky it wasn’t anything serious. It was

a culmination of the stress of performing in Canada

at Rock on the Range and then enduring a border

crossing 12 hours later. The general strain led to him

having vocal issues, which were resolved when Matt

was turned onto new vocal coach Ron Anderson by

Matt [Shadows] from Avenged Sevenfold. Sometimes

going through a crisis turns out to be a blessing in

disguise. Going into this latest record we were all

realizing it was going to be a heavy singing challenge,

but having been through that earlier in the year

helped strengthen his voice and he learned to scream

in a new way that benefited us. Thankfully this record

is an accurate reflection of how we are live.”

The atmosphere of discovery on Silence in the

Snow was conveyed thanks in part to the production

values of Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Slash, The Amity

Affliction, Alter Bridge) and master mixer Josh Wilbur

(Lamb of God, Gojira), who facilitated their transition

to a more sustainable albeit classic metalcore sound.

“It’s cool to see how quickly the new songs have

caught on with people after only a few months. I

think Shogun (2008) needed time to sit with people,

you don’t take it all in on the first listen, yet it became

a fan favourite. Silence in the Snow is also very metallic

and progressive, but we also made sure there are

lot of big hooks and distinctive vocal and drum parts,

as on the tracks ‘Until the World Goes Cold,’ ‘Silence

in the Snow’ and ‘Blind Leading the Blind.’”

Trivium’s seventh album Silence in the Snow is “very metallic and progressive”

Another contributing factor to Trivium’s

ever-shifting tempos has been the turnover of

drummers including the departure of Travis Smith

(Eternal Exile), Nick Augusto (Maruta), and most

recently Matt Madiro. Breaking in the “the new guy,”

Paul Wandtke, together with Heafy and long-time

guitarist/backing vocalist Corey Beaulieu, gave

Gregoletto pause to appreciate his band mates’

resilience and desire to continue their artistic

evolution. Reflecting on a platinum-plated past, the

recharged Trivium seems primed to engage whatever

surprises the future holds in store.

“The best way for us to honour Trivium’s legacy

is by playing the back-catalogue perfectly and

by Christine Leonard

giving the people what they want to hear. It’s been

cool for us to perform songs we haven’t played live

in years and we’re having fun pairing up old songs

to help introduce the new ones. We’re at the peak

of our abilities and we’ve got a pretty big selection

of songs. It’s exciting again and it feels like a real

breath of fresh air.”

Trivium are performing at the Starlite Room in

Edmonton on February 10th, the Marquee in Calgary

on February 11th (Every Hour Kills and Shark Infested

Daughters are opening), O’Brians in Saskatoon on

February 12th, and the Pyramid Cabaret in Winnipeg

on February 13th.

44 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE SHRAPNEL


This Month

In METAL

There are an unusually high number of metal

related events going down this February

in Calgary. First up: not music, but definitely

awesome. Telus Spark is hosting the BODY

WORLDS Vital exhibit until May 31st. What’s

more fascinating than looking at dismembered,

plasticized, peeled and posed human bodies?

Nothing, that’s what.

On Monday, February 1st the progenitors of

metal are touching down at the Scotiabank Saddledome

in Calgary. Given god guitarist Tony Iommi’s

recent fight with lymphoma, this is very likely Black

Sabbath’s final tour. To help usher your metal idols

into a hopefully lengthy and healthy retirement,

head down and undercut that asshole scalper as

best you can.

A handful of bands are releasing albums on February

12th, so head to Bandcamp and take a listen

then buy! First up is Portugese classic metallers

Ravensire, who will unveil The Cycle Never Ends via

Cruz del Sur. Check the reviews section for Shawn

Vincent’s thoughts on that gem. If you like your

metal more extreme, check out the long awaited

album II by powerviolence/grindcore band Magrudergrind

(unless you get your knickers in a twist

over sponsorships, because you’re whiny like that).

Distortion will be hosting a Happy Holiday

Party!! on Saturday, February 13th, presumably for

Single’s Awareness Day. Head there to see Pervcore,

Stab.Twist.Pull, Pillowfight, and James and the

Shades.

The next morning on February 14th, head over

to the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Flea Market in Calgary

for the grand debut of Midnight Records, a “small

pop-up distro/record shop run by a very small team

of Calgary punks.” Focusing on hardcore, d-beat,

crust, anarcho-punk, and more, selling LPs, tapes,

CDs, mags and patches, the shop will stock titles

from Havoc Records, Ebullition, Active Distribution

(U.K.),and Pioneers Press, alongside acts like ISKRA,

Brocrusher, Narkotta, and more. Lift your filthy

dollars like antennas to hell and get your ass down

there. You can also visit https://midnightrecordscalgary.wordpress.com

for more information.

The album releases on February 26th are excellent.

Season of Mist will release Wildfire, the fifth

full-length by Australian black thrashers Deströyer

666; 20 Buck Spin/Svart will unleash Oranssi

Pazuzu’s Värähtelijä (read the review section for

James Barager’s thoughts). Finally, Canada’s own

space thrashers Voivod will see their EP Post Society

released via Century Media.

Don’t miss out on the best local show of the

month, which will go down at the Palomino

Smokehouse in Calgary on Saturday, February 27th.

There, Edmonton hardcore punk No Problem will

release a new EP. Their Calgary buds PMMA, Ultra

Gash, and Teledrome will also perform.

Start your March off right with some great tunes

at a show whose proceeds go to an excellent cause.

On Friday, March 4th, Vern’s will host A Very Rob

Fundraiser featuring performances by Licorice, If I

Look Strong; You Look Strong, Trip and Stumble,

and Mandible Klaw. All proceeds for the gig will

help out Copsickle vocalist Rob Morrissette, who

was diagnosed with a rare and painful form of

rheumatoid arthritis called Spondyloarthritis in

September 2015.

“I am in an experimental phase with drugs, they

have been aggressively trying to treat it,” says Morrissette,

who was a self-employed drywaller with no

medical benefits at the time of diagnosis, resulting

in a difficult and expensive situation that is being

treated with multiple prescriptions.

“Basically I’m just waiting it out, trying to learn

more about this disease and trying my best to stay

positive through the crappy times.”

If you’d like to hear some kick ass music and help

out a member of the scene, attend the gig, or head

over to https://www.gofundme.com/5ghxd858 to

donate.

• Sarah Kitteringham

“A Very Rob Fundraiser” is organized by Mike Stumble (left) for Copsickle vocalist Rob Morrissette (right).

photo: Andrea Cantana

SHRAPNEL

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 45


musicreviews

Savages

Adore Life

Matador

It was never going to be easy for Savages to follow up

their debut album Silence Yourself. The 2013 album

was captivating in a way that very few young bands are

able to manage. It was the kind of album that suggested

that it might have been a one off, or at least a high

water mark.

The London quartet burst onto the scene with their

frenzied single “Husbands,” the most direct distillation

of the core of Savages energy written to date. A taut

descent into post-punk delirium that builds until lead

singer Jehnny Beth frantically yelps “husbands, husbands,

husbands,” until her voice is ragged. Drummer Fay

Milton, bassist Ayse Hassan, and guitarist Gemma

Thompson all commanded their instruments with the

same blunt force. That manic energy came to represent

the band and their tense, challenging music.

Eventually, the band became known for their prickly

political leanings as well as their music. Their manifestos

lending equal presence to the music the band was

making. “SAVAGES’ SONGS AIM TO REMIND US THAT

HUMAN BEINGS HAVEN’T EVOLVED SO MUCH,” read

a 2013 post on the band’s Facebook page, “THAT MUSIC

CAN STILL BE STRAIGHT TO THE POINT, EFFICIENT

AND EXCITING.”

Two years later, not much has changed. Savages’ follow-up

effort Adore Life is a 10-song romp that achieves

the three final goals that the initial 2013 manifesto set

out while still pushing the band’s sound in intriguing

new directions. While Silence Yourself arrived about a

decade too late for the post-punk revival that took place

during the early-aughts, Adore Life sounds like a band

confidently stepping out of the shadows of its influences.

Previously it seemed that the band were playing alone

together, despite recording much of Silence Yourself off

the floor. It’s interesting then, that recording separately

has worked in an opposite fashion for the band. Hassan’s

bass still pushes every song forward, but it seems more

like part of a team, rather than a lone entity.

Much of Silence Yourself had Beth reclaiming

traditional male sex-roles for her own uses, but Savages’

music never sounded like the “cock rock” she seemed to

be channelling.

Lead-off track “The Answer,” sounds not too far

removed from a cut off of one of QOTSA’s early works.

The song is structured around Thompson’s delicious

guitar riff and some of the quickest, most technical work

the band has ever done. Drummer Fay Milton shines

especially brightly, anchoring the song with a complex,

fill-heavy drum part. The song builds to a guitar solo

and an abrupt stop, only to start again second later,

tossing the listener directly back into the pit to fight for

themselves.

In a 2015 feature with Pitchfork, Beth talks about the

band’s struggle to record songs in a smaller room, detailing

their eventual decision to move to RKA Studios

in London for more space. The album benefits from the

studio qualities that producer and long-time friend of

the band Johnny Hostile, who worked with the band

on Silence Yourself, was able to put into it. It fills the

room with it’s presence, drawing the listener in and

inviting them to take part. With that, Adore Life is not

as challenging as its predecessor, not to say it doesn’t

provoke thought.

The lyrical repetition that appeared throughout

Silence Yourself reappears here, but under different circumstances.

Now, Jehnny Beth ruminates on matters of

life and love, specifically what it means to love and how

it affects people. The band doesn’t seem entirely content

with life, but instead they’re channeling the disappointment

they felt on Silence Yourself and turning it into

action. The band seems more interested in building up,

rather than tearing down.

Beth’s voice is as entrancing as ever. It sits front and

center on every track, elevating already stellar instrumentals

to their absolute emotional zenith. On “When

in Love,” Beth snarls about relationships and their ability

to make a person act unlike themselves. “This is love, it’s

not human,” Beth sings, simultaneously acknowledging

that she’s in love at the same time she seems to be falling

apart because of the fact.

That kind of self-doubt sits under the surface of

the album, subtly undermining every revelation that

seems to come about. “I adore life, do you adore life?”

Beth questions on “Adore,” the slow-burning, emotional

anchor of the album. With each repetition, the

question digs deeper and deeper into the listener’s

psyche. The song builds to a chorus that soars briefly

only to end just as quickly as it begins, the listener

plunged back into the murky, Nick Cave-esque abyss

the band has created.

The way that Beth sings about life and love often

seems similar to the way Morrissey dealt with the topics

on The Smiths more manic songs. “Love is a disease, the

strongest addiction I know,” Beth wails, vocally channeling

her inner Corin Tucker, “What happens in your brain,

is the same as a rush of cocaine.” This uncomfortable

relationship with love appears often on Adore Life, the

ability to give into its embrace all too easy for Jehnny

Beth. The singer is constantly questioning, never content

to take something at face value.

Both of Savages’ albums have been released with an

accompanying text from the band. It may be reading

them a little too deeply, but examining the documents

gives insight into the band’s headspace when they make

their albums.

“It’s about change and the power to change. It’s

about metamorphosis and evolution,” begins the note

belonging to Adore Life before it delves into an almost

comical rant.

“It’s about now, not tomorrow. It’s about recognizing

your potential. It’s about self-doubt and inaction.” It’s a

somewhat strange direction for a band that two years

previous wrote, “SAVAGES’ INTENTION IS TO CREATE

A SOUND, INDESTRUCTIBLE,” but to call it a softening

would be false.

As a whole, the album flows in a way that Silence

Yourself never achieved. It could be credited to the

band’s tendency to slow down the tempo on the majority

of songs on Adore Life. The band can still fire up a

mosh pit, as they demonstrate with the fiery “T.I.W.Y.G,”

a send-up to anyone who dares defy the band’s orders

and messes with love, but they seem more comfortable

sitting back.

Adore Life is successful because Savages continue to

demonstrate that even in a society that lends less and

less reverence to genuine human interaction, they still

have an ability to forge connection. The music featured

within is 10 of the most captivating rock songs in recent

memory. Not only is it a perfect companion to their

previous album, but an exciting starting point of a new

era in the career of one of the few bands in 2016 that

command such attention from its audience.

• Jamie McNamara

illustration: Cristian Fowlie

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 47


Animal Collective

Abbath

Abbath

Seasons Of Mist

As a genre rooted in isolation and misanthropy,

black metal bands are often solo projects in

all but name. Abbath, the eponymous debut

by Bergen-based Abbath Doom Occulta, is a

different beast. The corpse-painted Abbath

fronted Immortal for 20 years before dissolving

the band in 2015. Despite his esteemed position

in metal, Abbath is a reinvention for the

vocalist/guitarist. His bleak worldview remains

unchanged. However, the playing is tighter,

songs more developed, and the overall effect

more severe.

Once that first blast beat kicks in on “To

War!” there is no forgetting Abbath’s pedigree

and predilection for sonic violence. Abbath is a

black metal album, albeit one with heretofore

unheard levels of focus and fidelity. Also, there

is ample evidence of the singer’s love for classic

hard rock and metal spread over the record’s

eight savage tracks. “Ocean of Wounds” and

“Count the Dead” boast anthemic choruses and

huge guitar hooks, while standout “Winterbane”

features unexpectedly melodic baritone

vocals.

The band plays these demanding compositions

expertly. Ex-Gorgoroth bassist King ov

Hell shines amid the odd-metered twists and

turns of “Root Of The Mountain.” Album closer

“Endless” borders on hardcore, showcasing

the punishingly precise playing of ex-Immortal

basher Creature. “Battle-axe to grind,” Abbath

barks on “Fenrir Hunts,” a double-time bruiser

in the vein of early Slayer. Faithful to his words,

this exceptional release surpasses even the loftiest

expectations. Abbath is a boundary-blasting

metal record that acknowledges the singer’s

past while gazing defiantly forward.

• Ari Rosenschein

Matt Andersen

An Honest Man

True North Records

Blessed with a soulful rasp and guitar chops

to spare, New Brunswick’s Matt Andersen has

long been a mainstay of the festival circuit

across Canada. His latest release, An Honest

48 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE

Man, makes every attempt to ensure that trend

continues. With its head-bopping grooves and

sassy horn arrangements, An Honest Man feels

custom built for the casual festival attendee,

featuring the kinds of uplifting choruses that

the folks don’t have to think too hard about,

and therein may lie part of the issue with this

record.

While the hooks and arrangements make

moves to lift and inspire, the lyrical content

does anything but, opting rather for clichés.

On the opening cut, “Break Away,” Andersen

laments that he knows his town too well, which

leads to, “…these walls are closing in, just when

I think I’m out they pull me back in. Things

have gotta change, I gotta break away,” over a

sunny drum groove that wouldn’t find itself

out of place on a mid-90s California hip-hop

record. On the more subdued and reflective

“The Gift,” Andersen implores himself, by way

of a conversation with a third party, to “believe

that you are special, believe you have a gift, the

gift of life is all you need.” By the time the title

track arrives, with its horn arrangement pushed

out front by a big, greasy baritone sax, it’s clear

that Andersen has the rare gift of a voice that

can not only hang with horns, but blends in

with them seamlessly or stand apart if need

be. “Quiet Company” is a standout with gently

picked acoustic guitar fitting right in the pocket

with a swaying, light funk groove accented by a

Cropper-like electric guitar line and regal pedal

steel.

“Let’s Get Back” begs society as a whole to

get together and love one another again, with

soaring gospel harmonies backing up Andersen’s

considerable vocal chops. Marvin Gaye’s

What’s Goin’ On? showed that soul music could

ask the hard questions 45 years ago, and many

of them are still valid. Ultimately, if An Honest

Man had searched a little deeper for some

heavier words, Matt Andersen might have a

game changer on his hands.

• Michael Dunn

Animal Collective

Painting With

Domino Records

In the late 2000s it felt like Animal Collective

was everywhere. They’d built a solid indie

crowd following during the decade with the

experimentalism of albums like Sung Tongs and

Campfire Songs. The band maintained a distinct

aesthetic throughout jumps in popularity

on breakthrough works Feels and Strawberry

Jam, but it’s widely agreed that the electronic

pop of Merriweather Post Pavilion is the most

defining work in their oeuvre. At once a left

turn and a catapult into popular culture, this

release has become something of an iron lung

for the band.

A four-year gap between middling follow-up

Centipede Hz comes to an end with the release

of Painting With, an album they describe as an

“electronic drum circle.” In contrast to previous

works, the songs came from blank slate studio

sessions and the loose-ended nature shines

though.

Mostly the musical foundation for the songs

is simple. Bass lines and tones that sound

something like a distorted didgeridoo, familiarly

oddball bleeps and bloops and vaguely tribal

drumming make up the bedrock. It calls on a

simplified version of MPP’s melodies and Feels’

rhythms, leaving the spotlight on the intricate

vocal interplay like that of Panda Bear’s Meets

the Grim Reaper.

Aside from the math required to add up all

the vocal tracks, it’s a pretty casual affair —

perhaps even unmemorable. Lead single “FloriDaDa”

has enough hooks to keep the listener

engaged, but the novelty of the style wears off

soon after. With the exception of the cathartic

climax of “Lying in the Grass” and vocal drama

between Panda Bear and Avey Tare on “On

Delay,” Painting With is largely pop with too

little dynamism, passing through the ear like

white noise.

Hopefully the band takes a handful of these

cuts and gives them their signature live reboot

on tour, while keeping unmatchable highs from

previous albums in the mix.

• Colin Gallant

Breakbot

Still Waters

Ed Banger Records

Listening to Breakbot in 2016 is frankly kind of

depressing. The Parisian producer, born Thibaut

Berland, initially rose to prominence during

Ed Banger Records’ heyday of the late-aughts.

The French record label was riding high off of

producers like Justice and Breakbot making pop

friendly dance music that found a rather large

following online.

Breakbot’s own 2012 debut album By Your

Side is a genre classic. Its singles received strong

blog hype and helped solidify Breakbot’s name

as one to watch. The album capitalized on

everything that BreakBot had been building to.

It perfectly captured the major tent poles of

nu-disco in a way that was fresh and exciting.

It seemed at the time that even though the

genre was fairly niche, that most of the DJs in

the nu-disco scene would have career longevity.

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how Breakbot’s

career has played out.

After four long years, Breakbot’s follow up attempt

Still Waters marks his return to the genre

that he helped popularize. Unfortunately, Still

Waters is an aptly titled album. The album is a

boring listen from beginning to end, even for a

genre that finds inherent value in the chillness

of a song. Perhaps the most disappointing thing

about this album is how safe Breakbot chooses

to play every single choice he makes. From

the song structure, to the sound design, to the

lyrics, it is all completely expected and just not

that exciting anymore.

“Arrested,” is as if Breakbot is trying to strike

gold twice without changing anything about his

method. It’s a cookie-cutter, 90 BPM nu-disco

ballad. A quick search of BeatPort’s nu-disco

charts would yield enough near identical copies

of that song that you could soundtrack an

Abercrombie & Fitch store for a whole year. The

non-descript nature of Still Waters pervades

all aspects of the music. Even the funk on Still

Waters seems inauthentic, as if it wasn’t earned.

It’s a cheap imitation of funk: the production

isn’t as tight as it should be, the groove doesn’t

hit you deep in your gut, it just doesn’t sit right.

Breakbot is consistent to a fault: most of the

songs on this album feel as if they were locked

away on someone’s blog circa 2011, only to

be unearthed now. Even after almost all of his

genre counterparts like RAC, Chromeo, and Justice

have moved on from their original musical

aesthetics, Breakbot soldiers on — even if his

efforts result in lackluster records.

• Jamie McNamara

Andy Brown

Seasons

Independent

The third full-length album from New Brunswick-born

Andy Brown stays true to his

folk-ballad style. Based on his past and present

offerings, writing about heartache, loss and

love is seemingly his niche. The aptly named

Seasons encompasses this theme throughout

much of the album’s 11 tracks, with songs such

as “Run,” “Seasons,” and “Firemoon” referencing

the changing landscape of life in a given year.

However, the core storyline from start to finish

centers around coming to terms with the end

of a relationship. Every track carries with it a

weight of longing, regret and the memory of

the one that got away.

Not overly produced, you can easily imagine

yourself in a room with just Brown and his

guitar serenading a crowd with his melancholy

anthology. They say misery loves company so

for anyone experiencing the despair of a broken

heart, look no further, Andy Brown will be your

trusted companion to wallow in the depths for

as long as you choose to press play.

• Heather Adamson

Basia Bulat

Good Advice

Secret City Records

2013’s Tall Tall Shadow was a high water mark

for the career of London, Ontario singer-songwriter

Basia Bulat due to its tremendous depth

and variety. Its penultimate track “Never Let

Me Go” cried out with an indie-pop sensibility

that teased a more permanent shift from

auto-harp to organ that permeates Bulat’s

new release on Secret City Records. If I had

one piece of Good Advice for Bulat after her

last release, it would have been to point at the

poppiest tracks from Tall Tall Shadow, such as

the insistent title-track, as the direction she

should take all of her material. Good Advice is

the hooky, indie-pop record Bulat was destined

to make, and it suits her perfectly. So well in


fact, that after returning to Tall Tall Shadow, I

had actually forgotten that most of that record

is purely acoustic folk music. The arrangements

on Good Advice are mostly keyboard centric,

but with newly prescient drums and, of course,

a reshaped focus on Bulat’s unique and subtly

powerful voice. The song writing has also been

given a pop facelift. There is less narrative

and more attention to lyrical hooks, but this

actually sharpens the sentiments of individual

tracks instead of dumbing them down. The

standout track here is most certainly the single

“Infamous,” whose quick and exciting chorus

rivals those of U.K. juggernaut Florence and the

Machine, but whose string-accented denouement

has depth beyond its radio-playability. If

she’s trying to convince us that she’s outgrown

her folk roots, Basia Bulat’s Good Advice is

pretty convincing.

• Liam Prost

Church of Misery

And Then There Were None

Rise Above Records

Music doesn’t get much doomier than Church

of Misery, the ‘70s worshipping brainchild of

Japanese bassist Tatsu Mikami. He’s singlehandedly

kept the cosmic blues fire burning since

the band’s 1995 inception. Their new album,

And Then There Were None, delivers seven

uncompromising slices of miasmic pentatonic

sludge.

Mikami assembled scene heavyweights from

far-flung corners of the stoner rock galaxy to

reanimate his bleak vision. Collaborating for

the first time with non-Japanese players, it’s obvious

why Dave Szulkin’s thick-as-a-brick tone

and the vintage swing of Eric Little’s drumming

impressed the mastermind. Former Cathedral

bassist Scott Carlson handles vocals, and he’s a

dead ringer for his ex-frontman and Rise Above

Records label head, Lee Dorian. Like Church of

Misery’s previous output, the album chronicles

morbid tales of real life murderers. Lyrics like

“As I release you from your affliction, stare

down upon you as you slowly fade” won’t convert

nonbelievers, but that’s hardly the point.

Two eight-minute trudges bookend And

Then There Were None. The opener, “The Hell

Benders” emerges from psychedelic vapors

and transitions into a bouncy riff à la Sleep’s

“Dragonaut.” The monolithic riffs of “Murderfreak

Blues,” the album’s final track, spotlight

Mikami’s fluid wah-drenched basslines. Along

the way, Church of Misery churn out plenty

of proto-metal and even a few traces of

NWOBHM. And if Carlson’s mournful cries lack

Ozzy’s melodic gifts, they certainly convey the

madness of the material’s protagonists. Mikami

knows it’s rough living on terra firma with a

headful of haze; these riffs are his antidote.

• Ari Rosenschein

Crew Love

Based on a True Story

Crew Love Records

Crew Love Records is a nebulous collection of

around 10 artists and producers based in New

York City. Partnering with Berlin label !K7, the

fresh imprint’s roster is starting off 2016 with a

compilation release, titled Crew Love: Based on

a True Story. Well, actually the “Crew,” which

includes artists like ex-Dirtybird affiliate Nick

Monaco, Boston duo Soul Clap and San Francisco’s

dance pop trio PillowTalk, is trying quite

hard to make sure that project isn’t described

as a compilation.

Instead they emphasize the fact that the

album is in fact an album, made collaboratively

by the label’s roster of 10 acts, containing a

Basia Bulat

total of 17 members. Despite the large size of

the group, the album feels much more cohesive

than your average label comp. The collaborations

have also resulted in a large amount

of dance floor-friendly experimentation from

the artists. There are your requisite house

records, but there are also slinky slow jams, like

“Memories of Mallorca,” Slow Hands & Tanner

Ross’s contribution to the album. The song is

not unlike Junior Boys’ or Jai Paul’s best work,

brimming with equal parts vulnerable emotion

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 49


Jordan Klassen

and guarded personal motives. The vocalist

drapes his delicate falsetto overtop the sleek,

arpeggiated bass line and gentle cooing synths

that whirl and distort off in the distance.

Working together, Crew Love are the more

American counterpart of Vancouver’s Mood

Hut label, not quite as laidback or as grownup,

but still providing similar semi-serious, but

ultimately heartfelt house records. The artists

all have their tongues firmly planted inside their

cheeks, never fully revealing if they are taking

the piss, or if this is art they’d die for. Based on a

True Story has a Lou-Reed-if-Lou-Reed-listenedto-house-music

style swagger anchoring the

album with a consistent through line.

• Jamie McNamara

Cross Record

Wabi-Sabi

Ba Da Bing

Emily Cross throws herself into Wabi-Sabi with

unprecedented finesse. The visual artist turned

musician and vocalist stretches out her digits to

perforate a threadbare space. Aided by her new

husband and co-creator Dan Duszynski, a studio

engineer, Cross blends her elastic voice with

tantalizing, cinematic displays of skill, whispering

softly into your ear and shaking rhythmically

at the back of your exposed neck.

Cross Records builds jarring intensity with

whirring drums and focused guitar riffs, while

clearly maintaining a deep connection to open

palm minimalism. She bounds fluently between

weighty sound and rapt, sometimes disturbing

calm — much like meditative strokes on the

soft underbelly of a crocodile. The album glides

headlong, erected by demonstrations of nervy

guitars and a reverberating ambiance à la Godspeed

You! Black Emperor.

Thematically, Cross is seemingly inspired by

and plays on the natural world, songs titled

“Steady Waves,” “High Rise,” or “Wasp In A Jar”

mirror this and the potential risk that is endemic

to the earthly. The opening track “The Curtains

Part” is a curious, slow moving song that

sets the scene for Wabi-Sabi, with a fraudulent

false start (sound is distorted to sound corrupted),

before spilling open into unanchored free

floating tendrils of swelling electronic detail

and simple broken guitar. Wabi-Sabi is equal

parts mesmeric and inky blue-black dusk.

• Arielle Lessard

Deep Sea Diver

Secrets

High Beam Records

Deep Sea Diver’s chief songwriter, guitarist and

singer Jessica Dobson can count on an inherent

stamp of approval for her debut after a long

sting spent with The Shins. But to call Secrets

derivative of that project wouldn’t be accurate.

Dobson has a whole lot of musical personality;

that dynamic voice and deceptively understated

guitar work are her biggest weapons and are

well employed throughout.

Opening number “Notice Me” uses a prickly,

slightly-kilter riff to anchor its mini-climaxes of

super shiny synth and corroded guitar menace.

Here, her voice is tender and warm, but on

tracks like “Wide Awake” she howls a feverish

scream that stops you in your tracks.

Later in the album, the switch-ups settle into

a mostly mellow but still chugging pace. It’s

fittingly time to settle into her lyrical methods

and explore the namesake of the record. The

titular track uses rhythm and angular guitar to

urge her on in confronting a lover with both

threats and pleas. “I saw you drown in the light

of the moon, still trying to disfigure the lies

from the truth.” But still she implores: “You’re

the only one that I’m ever thinking of. Show me

the way, I’ll be waiting.”

Dobson has a fire burning in her as both the

keeper and haver of secrets and uses it effectively

to entrance listener on this impressive debut.

• Colin Gallant

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald

I Wanna Make it With You

Trauma 2 Records

The new album by Michael Bernard Fitzgerald

(commonly known as MBF), I Wanna Make it

With You, is a hopeful and honest portrayal of

50 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE


love. Infusing elements such as electric guitars

and fast drums, MBF’s new indie rock sound may

be shocking for old fans. Songs such as “One

Love” and “Love or Nothing” utilize melodic and

choral aspects similar to those of his previous

albums, while songs such as “Fire and Rain” and

“This Isn’t It” are nuanced and more fast-paced.

In “Burn With You,” string instruments create

an orchestral sound that complements a wistful

electric guitar. MBF’s vocals and simple acoustic

guitar illustrate his faithfulness to his original

style even as he explores new ground.

The album’s lyrical narrative mirrors the

highs and lows of the musical progression. From

hopeful young love, to loss and frustration,

to wanting to make new love work despite

the realization that, like the final song, “Love

is Hard Sometimes,” MBF creates a refreshing

record that reflects the erratic emotions that

come with being in love. Despite the cliché of

yet another love album to add to everyone’s

lists, the album is a raw, earnest and passionate

portrayal of MBF’s loving self. Because of his

undoubtable loyalty to his Calgarian roots and

fans, MBF decided to release I Wanna Make it

With You at his January concert right here at

home. This gesture of thanks displays MBF’s

genuine, personable nature and his appreciation

for loyal fans.

• Robyn Welsh

Lydia Hol

Heading North

Independent

Vancouver singer/songwriter Lydia Hol’s first

full-length album, Heading North, is a touching

soundscape of tender songs paying homage to

her literary roots. There is a subtle nature to

her melodies giving weight to the lyrics that are

equal parts dream and reality. Hol’s music lives

within the genres of country, folk, roots and

blues. The album weaves an array of instruments

throughout its nine tracks resulting in

arrangements that elevate the simplicity of

each song.

Beginning with “Ammunition,” co-written

with Victoria singer-songwriter Mike Edel, the

presence of violin and cello provide a welcomed

depth that accentuates the song’s grasp. The

album’s title track “Heading North” makes the

biggest impact with a memorable chorus and a

country/roots flare that yearns to be developed

further throughout the rest of the album. “Long

Road” has an undeniable beauty in its pure

delivery, while “Mistress of the Track” takes a

detour in its historical tribute to Canadian race

horse jockey Ron Turcotte — stepping outside

the realm of melody to incorporate recorded live

commentary of one of his award winning races.

Heading North is a delicate offering from

a burgeoning songwriter who has a way with

words that eases and enlightens the listener.

The album provides the perfect backdrop to a

morning spent curled up with a good book and

a warm drink, or do away with the book entirely

and gaze out a window while getting lost in

the intricacies of Hol’s poetry. Time well spent.

• Heather Adamson

Jerk in the Can

Big Crime Baby

Sometime Music

Don’t judge an album by its cover, even if it’s a

pixelated image of a clown stealing a baby from

a stroller on some downtown street. Actually,

on second thought, you can judge all you want.

It’s hard to avoid preconceived notions of

what Jerk in the Can’s third release, Big Crime

Baby, will sound like, based on the grotesque

and overinflated imagery they have built up

for this album, including a video depicting a

grown-up-mutant-baby-guy stealing diapers

from a convenience store, etcetera, etcetera.

However, the understated, minimalist synthesizer

punk Jerk in the Can’s duo create on

Big Crime Baby goes over much more smoothly

than you’d imagine. The eight songs on the

album show diversity in sound, structure as well

as varying sonic ideas.

Out of damp, reverb drenched, bit-crushed

pools of darkness come bouncy analog arps,

cheesily dreamy synth pads and big minimal

drum machine grooves. These elements coat

the clear vocals, which switch from ghostlty

ballads and awkward raps to heavily modulated

screams of agony.

Jerk in the Can showcase a balance of eerie

dream pop — reminiscent of Australia’s HTRK

— that divulges into aggressive industrial noise,

taking direct influence from Skinny Puppy or

early Nine Inch Nails, sprinkled with an aesthetic

suitable for an Insane Clown Posse worship band.

Though that depiction may not be the

intention of Big Crime Baby, and yes, the album

is corny as hell in many ways, the sound of Big

Crime Baby is executed with bizarre precision,

unexpectedly creating brooding cyberpunk

with a lot of room to breathe.

• Michael Grondin

Junior Boys

Big Black Coat

City Slang

A new Juniors Boys release comes as something

of a surprise. Figurehead Jeremy Greenspan

has been hard at work supporting like-minded

artists like Jessy Lanza and Caribou (whose

Jiaolong imprint he contributes solo and collaborative

releases to) with not a word of what

was coming from his nearly 16-year-old band.

Suddenly, we receive Big Black Coat.

The record is frustratingly mixed and without

easy context. Junior Boys already have four

assured releases under their belt and each

was met with a different amount of listener

response and critical acknowledgment. They’ve

been hard to keep track of since 2007’s So This

Is Goodbye, largely because it is the measurable

high water mark for the group.

Where Big Black Coat falls short of reigniting

interest in Junior Boys (for populists or genre

obsessives) is on the minimal pop songs the

group once so excelled at. What do you buy for

the person who has everything? What pop song

do you release that can compete with a gold

standard?

Vocal-reliant tracks like opener “You Say

That,” “No One’s Business” and “Baby Don’t

Hurt Me” cleverly reference but fail to match

the simpler days of the band. Greenspan’s vocals

have always been an intriguing hindrance,

a pre-determined detriment to true pop

achievement. Where the Boys have impressed

in the past is their ingenuity in working around

it, but these three duds are unable to make a

stand-alone case for his neutered approximation

of R&B.

Let’s not dwell on that. BBC has 11 tracks and

many are blue-hot fire. Though intentionally

lo-fi and screechingly synthy (which perhaps

excuses the previously mentioned tracks as

an in-character exercise) it would be hasty to

cry thoughtless ‘80s worship. Greenspan and

Dan Snaith (Caribou mastermind) are close

associates, and their symbiotic house music

nerdship shines in both their latest releases.

The best songs featured on this record take off

from tinny bass lines—in the vein of Frankie

Knuckles’ Chicago—and land confidently on

an untested asset. The Arctic desolation of the

guitar lament on “C’Mon Baby” and the delightfully

mismatched claustrophobia and distance

of club-killer “And It’s Forever” reward the faithful

Junior Boys listener by contrasting tradition

with understated innovation.

The remaining tracks are touched by a signature

Junior Boys cheekiness that offers a familiar

invitation to fans, but little for the newcomer.

It’ll take a few listens and likely some knowledge

on both Junior Boys’ and dance music

history’s highs and lows, but Big Black Coat is

something of an inhospitable treasure.

• Colin Gallant

Jordan Klassen

Javelin

Nevado Music

Jordan Klassen has been touring the Canadian

folk scene for almost long enough to

get completely lost in it, but he’s back with a

glimmering new record, and it is almost really

great. Klassen himself played almost all of the

instruments on the Nevado Music-released

Javelin and produced it himself at Sonic Ranch

outside El Paso, TX, after a recommendation

from Irish songwriter James Vincent McMorrow.

Their relationship heavily informs this

new record. McMorrow’s washy Post Tropical

(2014) shares an immense textural similarity

with Klassen’s new work. To Klassen’s credit,

this approach suits him much better. The clicky

drum track and playful violin, which anticipates

a bird-like female-vocal line on “Gargoyles,” is

nothing short of outstanding. Unfortunately, as

the arrangement backs off at the climax of the

song, we are greeted with Klassen’s less-than-interesting

lyrics. Through this and several other

stunning arrangements, Klassen does his best

to disguise that he is not the most talented

songwriter. He also seems unsure of his vocal

delivery, pulling out a falsetto on tracks like “No

Salesman,” which, while not quite unlistenable,

makes for the least compelling songs on Javelin.

The vocals are at their best when swimming in

and around the songs instead of bubbling on

top, this works best in the single “Baby Moses,”

wherein the most prominent melodies come

from the baroque-tinged string section. This

track also features a weird-but-wonderful solo

from, either a guitar that has been modulated

to sound like a horn, or the inverse. Javelin is

fantastic listening while doing something else

— a something else that takes up enough brainpower

to avoid over-thinking Klassen’s lyrics.

• Liam Prost

Mammoth Grove

Suncatcher

Self-Released

Harvesting solar rays since the appearance

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 51


their self-titled debut in 2011, Calgarian

tusk-rockers Mammoth Grove have had

ample time to let the songs from their latest

album, Suncatcher, soak in. Comprised

of lead vocalist-guitarist Devan Forster,

bassist-vocalist Tad Hynes and drummer-vocalist

Kurtis Urban, the high flying

trio recorded Suncatcher back in mid-

2014, but the nine-track odyssey wouldn’t

see the light of day until late 2015. A

beguiling psych-stone follow-up to the

band’s 2012 Taste of What’s to Come

EP, this new release reflects Mammoth

Grove’s progressing musicianship and

organic approach to writing songs that

combine lyrics that speak to the heart

and heavy hooks that go straight to the

head. A fierce and fuzzy album with an

impetuous spirit, Suncatcher is a welcome

reminder of days gone by; when men wore

rawhide sandals and dogs sometimes got

tofu for dinner. Rumi said you grow more

flowers with rain than thunder, but the

confident loping strides and blown-out

ampage of “The Storm” strike a happy medium

between nature and nurture. Fuck a

manbun. These modern day diggers prefer

to let their freak flags fly free. Thicker

with grooves than your favourite pair of

bellbottom corduroys, the ever-winding

strains of “Long Road”, melodious moonburn

of “Sundance”, and grungy optimism

of “Rollin” are distilled from the rawest

essences of blues, rock and metal. From

the magnetic space-anthem surges of

“Choppin Off Goblins” to the rippling instrumentation

of “Silver Lagoon,” Forster’s

languid vocals conjure the memories of a

thousand bonfire nights spent listening to

CCR under the stars and skinny-dipping in

the stream of collective consciousness.

• Christine Leonard

Anna Meredith

Varmints

Moshi Moshi Music

Anna Meredith is a Scottish composer

known for being a musical chameleon. In

the past, her work has garnered her the

title of Composer-in-Residence with the

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. In a

track-by-track breakdown provided by

Meredith, she describes her debut album

Varmints as a 10-song “collection of musical

pests” that have haunted the composer

for the majority of her career.

Varmints is a truly varied album. Opener

“Nautilus” is a pumped-up journey

into acoustic dubstep, a barrage of horns

bellowing the same repetitive pattern in

unison until the whole song boils over

into a big beat inspired rock track.

Throughout the album, the most

refreshing thing about Meredith’s work

is her ability to seamlessly blend acoustic

and electronic musical elements. The

composer shows an unnatural talent to

take elements from across the musical

landscape and blend them in ways that

are new and interesting. “Scrimshaw” begins

with a gentle, skipping synth line that

glitches and decays, only to slowly rebuild

with the help of strings and horns, finally

swelling into a huge Arcade Fire-esque

dance party that the composer herself

described as a “quasi-tropical, intergalactic

jig.”

• Jamie McNamara

Metafloor

Stronger

Independent

Stronger is the new EP from Calgary-based

artist Metafloor, an artist known for

switching between the sounds of dubstep

and footwork on his releases.

This release falls under the dubstep

category, similar to his Murdasound /

Antagonist EP that was released in the fall

on Really Good Recordings.

On Stronger it appears that Metafloor

decided to channel the classic sounds of

U.K., mid-2000s dubstep, calling to mind

artists like Kode 9 during the Dubstep

AllStars vol. 3 era.

What gives both the title track “Stronger”

and “Spaceships” this nature is their

inclusion of classic dubstep elements like

sparsely distributed tribal and eastern

motifs, lengthy deep bass lines and vocal

samples reminiscent of true dub.

The third untitled track is a collaboration

with local dubstep producer

Boneless. This one delves into the deeper

half-step territory that Boneless is known

for, while still maintaining a sense of

cohesiveness with the mood and defining

characteristics of the previous two tracks.

The Stronger EP is Metafloor harkening

back to his roots, creating something that

reignites the classic sound of dubstep to

remind everyone what made it great in

the first place.

• Jonathan Crane

Mark Mills

1.6.16

Friend Zone Records

Mark Mills is already known as Calgary’s

ultra-positive sex pop music dad — with

his energetic stage presence, and previous

albums Go Love Yourself and Triple Fire

Sign, it’s evident. Just in case he didn’t win

your heart yet, he lives up to his reputation

once again by kicking off the New

Year with the release of his new album,

1.6.16.

The upbeat tempo that Mills plays with

and has gifted us with makes for quite

the party album. 1.6.16 is a great way to

begin and end of your night out, as each

track has a certain energy to it that will

guide you through the night. The balance

between the beat of the drum, the sounds

from a keyboard and the electric guitar

throughout this album makes it impossible

for you to sit still. With each play,

the listener is transported to the kind of

party that recalls John Travolta in Saturday

Night Fever. Mills plays with groovy

tempos that will ignite your inner Duran

Duran. He pulls from the most colourful,

sparkly and cliché elements from the ‘80s

and re-contextualizes them in a distinctly

2016 way.

Mills touches topics such as love, lust,

and the many highs and lows of life in a

vibrant and colourful way. In doing so,

these tracks will make you not only relate

to, but want to embrace the hardships

in life. “Mrs” is perfect for that. This ‘80s

electro-pop track will you dancing the

night away, but also have you thinking

about that one person you can’t stop

thinking about. (“No matter where I go or

what I do, you know I can’t stop missing

you.”) Each component of the 16-track

album has a distinct instrument that lives

with you through the entire song – it’s

mesmerizing. Whether it’s the maraca,

Spanish flute, electric guitar or the

hypnotic beat of the drum, it commits to

the entire song, and Mills’ voice ties it all

together. Mark Mills has blessed our ears

with 1.6.16, and this reviewer hopes he

continues to impress us with his talents.

• Maria Dardano

Mirror

Mirror (Reissue)

Artoffact Records

Mirror’s self-titled reissue is an avant-garde

musical endeavour, featuring a variety

of artists and collaborators, beautifully

woven into a single story.

Somewhere between electro-pop and

rock, this 10-track album is a flowing experience.

The songs don’t literally blend into

each other, but you find yourself in a state

of relaxation, drifting as you listen.

That being said, the album contains

everything from ballroom-type piano

pieces to intergalactic electro jams, love

songs and haunting lullabies; beyond that,

the music feels purposeful. Every note

and every interlude is placed strategically,

pushing you towards the next track.

One song in particular, “World of Darkness,”

ends with the ominous winding of

a record, dampening its joyful ambiance

almost immediately.

On the other hand, songs such as “From

No One With Love” and “Nowhere” have

a fantastical aspect to them. Floating

and fairy like, I found myself reminded of

childhood and greener pastures.

Some of the more well known contributors

on the docket include Depeche

Mode’s, Dave Gahan, infamous ‘Warhol

superstar’ Joe D’Alessandro and producer/

keyboardist Vincent Jones of The Grapes

of Wrath.

Overall, the album is a great listen.

Captivating and entertaining at the same

time, it isn’t hard to zone out and let the

album take your imagination wherever it is

you want to go.

• Foster Modesette

Mu

//

Boompa

This Vancouver electro-pop duo describe

themselves as being a perfect blend of

opposing forces. Francesca Belcourt and

Brittney Rand are Mu. One member is full

of “wildly unkempt artistic brilliance,” the

other, defined by a “deep intellectual and

intentional approach.” The self-description

seems to be an apt representation.

52 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE


Their sophomore release is the musical equivalent

of a spider web: delicate and beautiful, yet

surprisingly strong and technically sound. Mu

is highly skilled at creating organic sounds and

textures to make listeners melt, despite everything

being created synthetically. “Disarmed” is

the brilliant album opener, starting things off

with an elegantly slow buildup. Meticulously

weaving together layer after layer of dreamy

sound beneath slightly warbled, angelic vocals,

the duo evokes a presence reminiscent of Bat

For Lashes. As the track listing begins to build

steam, “Vampire” stands out as the album’s climax.

Written about certain emotionally draining

villains that seek to prey on the vulnerable,

the song has a youthful, cheeky effervescence

that will keep it running circles in listener’s

heads for days. Every line of this song is cleverly

written earworm, including a sweet little metaphor

involving pink wine. The rest of // sprawls

and dances between silken low spacey-ness,

and sparkling highs like the softness of seashell

windchimes. This album is for fans Purity Ring,

Lucius, CocoRosie, and maybe even Saturdays =

Youth era M83, and it is truly pleasurable listen.

• Willow Grier

Nap Eyes

Thought Rock Fish Scale

Paradise of Bachelors

It is encouraging to think that somewhere in

Halifax, Nova Scotia’s north end, there are kids

in their basements who are as obsessed with

Lou Reed and Pavement as the kids down the

block are with Drake and Pitbull. Nap Eyes

were evidently those kids, and their sophomore

release, the brilliantly titled Thought Rock Fish

Scale, lives and breathes its influences almost

to a fault. Opening track and record standout

“Mixer” opens with a jangly, slow-tempo dancehall

groove, and leads strongly into “Stargazer,”

whose guitar melody is as sharp as if it was

pulled from a Libertines record. Small mistakes

and recording errors also start to leak in with

this track, and contribute to the lo-fi aesthetic.

The velvety vocal delivery on “Lion in Chains”

stands out for its juxtaposition of its title-subject

with the banality of waiting for water to

get cold at the sink, and also the biggest vocal

crescendo on the record, which forecloses on

itself charmingly with the relatable anxiety of

a voice crack. This track also closes with a disarmingly

pretty, reverb-soaked guitar melody.

Unfortunately, even at eight tracks, most of the

charm of the record is tapped by the second

half. Even the second single “Roll It,” which is

among the most energetic and fun songs on the

record, does little to excite after the slog of its

preceding two tracks. Thought Rock Fish Scale

feels unique mostly for its influences, but leaves

plenty of room for what might be a dynamic

third record.

• Liam Prost

Rolla Olak

Heavy Feather

Older Records

Heavy Feather is the latest release from Vancouver-based

musician, singer and songwriter

Rolla Olak. The album blends psychedelia and

roots rock through its 10 tracks that will send

your chill vibe into overdrive. The lyrics flow

seamlessly anchored by hooks reminiscent of

rock from the ‘60s, along with a healthy, multiera

Tom Petty vibe, a long standing respective

comparison that Olak has received since his

first release in 2009. Although not an anthem

spouting album, it has immeasurable credibility

in the authenticity of its songwriting with an

unmistakable mellow tone beginning with track

one “2AM.”

A number of songs start with Olak counting

Junior Boys

in before the first note is played, a signature

choice that places you right beside him in the

studio. Having heard Olak perform many times

live, this recording is a truthful representation

of his essence as an artist. The addition of

accompanying vocals, namely Louise Burns on

“Ghost Riders” and “Casino Circuit,” allow for

a richer experience of the songs and showcase

Olak’s collaborative nature. There are some

surprises on a few select tracks when you think

you know exactly where a song is going sonically

and it suddenly takes an unexpected detour.

BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 53


Midway through “Dance All Night” is a brief

dose of African rhythm resembling certain ‘80s

pop rock record, and “L-I-F-E-T-I-M-E” morphs

into a kaleidoscope of experimental sounds

concluding with a one minute Dobro guitar

with slide riff.

On the whole Heavy Feather feels like one

groovy mind-expanding trip surrounded by the

hippest group of people you can imagine. No

LSD or effortlessly cool friends required. Cue

the lava lamps.

• Heather Adamson

Porches

Pool

Domino Records

Mark Mills

In 2016, it may seem fairly routine to see your

favourite act ditch their fabled guitars for

greener pastures in the land of electronics. It’s

a somewhat cliché story, but that doesn’t mean

it’s any less jarring sometimes. In this case, the

transition comes from Brooklyn singer-songwriter

Aaron Maine, the man behind the band

Porches. Porches is the latest in a long line of

traditionally guitar-led indie bands like Telekinesis,

Night Beds, and, on a larger scale, Coldplay,

making the leap to synth-backed stardom.

Where those examples always felt somewhat

unnatural and mismatched, Porches is remarkably

stronger because of the change.

Maine’s last full-length, 2013’s Slow Dance

in the Cosmos, was a bedroom-pop outcast:

the result of his work with girlfriend and lo-fi

ingénue Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos). Where

that album found Maine doing quirky, folk-pop

not too different from early Flaming Lips, Pool

abandons it all. Instead, Maine steps into a

newfound, off-kilter pop star persona. Backed

by a bed of warm, analogue synths that sound

as if they were found at the bottom of the

swimming pool the album is named after. They

warble and groan over top drum machines

that sound like they were found in a New

York dumpster outside of Maine’s apartment.

Maine’s voice is a shining beacon on every

track, cutting through the mix to deliver a

gut punch of emotional power. The quality of

Maine’s vocal deliveries on Pool give his lyrics a

new directness that didn’t appear on previous

efforts. Maine uses his voice to reach a new

level of vulnerability that he didn’t seem to

have before.

Pool is a trendy record, but it never feels like

a slave to the trends it borrows from. There’s

the analogue synth flourishes, gauzy melodies

and skittering, garage-inspired hi-hats that

seem to be inescapable in pop music today.

The melody lines warble and warp, never quite

determining their true pitch. That doesn’t

stop Maine’s ear for melody from being laser

focused: melodies are immediate, catchy while

still remaining mysterious. First single “Hour”

is the most emotionally rewarding track on the

album. Maine and Kline share vocal duties on a

track that yearns heartbreakingly for a lost love.

“In my loner hour, I turned to my twin bed for

power,” Maine croons, his vocal delivery is never

better, the desperation in his voice almost unbearable.

That desperation seems to proliferate

most of the songs on Pool, but Maine does well

to never make it overpowering.

The title track features one of the few missteps

that Maine makes, using an autotuned vocal

effect that has no reason to exist. The effect

is less Bon Iver on “Woods” and more chintzy,

‘90s house, but the chorus is undeniable. Still,

the short track segues into “Glow,” an absolute

stunner of recent R&B revivalism that wipes

away any ill will. The album ends with “Security,”

a new wave-inspired, slow-burning jam. It is

one of the finest examples of Maine’s unique,

but familiar production style. The song simmers

with a tension and the same longing that Maine

displayed throughout the album. The only difference

is he eventually lets it boil over on this

track, reaching a synth-driven climax that is not

only catchy, but intensely dance-friendly. It’s

Maine’s welcoming party to the next chapter of

his career.

• Jamie McNamara

Sleepwreck

Disasterpiece EP

East Van Digital Recordings

Vancouver producer and “live-electronic” artist

Sleepwreck is an oddity amongst his electronic

music making peers in the city. He makes

music that is decidedly un-danceable in a city

that prides itself on releasing records that find

success on the dance floor. Instead, Sleepwreck

describes his music as “post-apocalyptic groove

magic,” an aggressive blend of down-tempo

electronica and dubstep.

His music is loud, abrasive, and fast paced.

The wobbles and wubs of post-Skrillex Dubstep

make their appearance throughout the EP.

Unfortunately, all of the fun, hook-filled music

didn’t carry over with those dubstep trademarks.

Instead, the songs all dwell in a permanent

halftime state. They chug slowly, like a

robotic funeral dirge, but much less enticing.

The songs are always stopping, then abruptly

starting again with loud stabs of not-quite-intune

melodic elements piled on top of one another

and compressed down until all remnants

of any previous dynamic range is gone. This

approach doesn’t lend itself well to an overall

rhythm.

Still, not all music needs a firm rhythm or

groove to be worthwhile, but even the most aggressive

noise projects have a certain attraction

to the listener. They feel like they need to be

explored, their intricacies learnt in order to fully

be enjoyed. That’s not the case with this EP.

• Jamie McNamara

Charlie Stout

Dust & Wind

Independent

The sound of country music has a lot to do

with where the person singing the song is from.

The accents from the southern states have

always been a mark of authenticity in country

music, be they from Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky

or Texas. On his debut full-length, Dust &

Wind, Texas songwriter Charlie Stout uses just

his voice and guitar to keep things close to the

bone.

Recorded live in one night at the abandoned

First Presbyterian Church of Taiban, New Mexico,

and played in a narrative, fingerpicked style

similar to Texas forebear Guy Clark, the songs

on Dust & Wind deal with the darker themes of

southwest criminality, keeping grace with God,

and the consequences of both. On the album

opener, “I See Stars,” the gunfighter rides his

breathless horse into the dirt, a bullet burning

his shoulder and chased from behind by

a posse of law, the sound of crickets from the

live recording hastening his imminent demise.

“The rangers may surround me,” he intones at

once defiant, yet resigned to his fate while a

locomotive thunders past, “but they’ll never

take me in.”

“You can follow in my footsteps, you won’t

find no golden streets. Heaven wasn’t made for

men like me.” Lines like these, on “The Hanging”

could have come on any of Marty Robbins’

Gunfighter Ballads albums, but they’re more

charged here by Stout’s laconic delivery and the

spare and live nature of the recording. There

are no horns or fancy arrangements on Dust &

Wind, just a man and his guitar singing songs

out into the desert night.

• Michael Dunn

Wet

Don’t You

Columbia Records

New York alt-pop trio Wet are the latest in a

seemingly long line of mixed-gender duo/trios

54 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE


that make yearning pop music that is sonically

indebted to ‘90s R&B and mopey, emotionally-fueled

indie music. Of course, if that sentence

seems to suggest that Wet isn’t welcome

to the party, you would be mistaken. In fact, it’s

one of Wet’s more impressive qualities: the fact

they are so on trend, but still wholly original

and interesting. The group released their self-titled

EP on boutique record label Neon Gold in

2013 and earned a groundswell of support off

of the backs of singles “You’re the Best,” and

“Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl.” Those songs, which

have been spruced up gently, appear on the

band’s debut album Don’t You.

In the span of their relatively short career,

Wet has mastered the art of the monochromatic

slow-burner. Don’t You is a clinic in

production restraint – producer/guitarist Joe

Valle and guitarist Marty Sulkow, never muddy

up the mix with unnecessary filler. Instead, their

soft beats sit in the back of the mix, confidently

playing the role of backbone on which vocalist

Kelly Zutrau lays down the rest of the skeleton.

The beats are clear, but still worn and weathered,

like watching a VHS tape on an HDTV.

Still, the album’s obvious draw is Zutrau’s

jaw-dropping voice. It’s warm and smoky, sitting

in the just perfect register. Mid-album standout

“All The Ways” finds Zutrau cooing gently about

her fear of commitment over top one of the

band’s most upbeat arrangements.

Like many debut albums, Don’t You seems

focused tightly on one aesthetic. While that

works in a singles-driven music environment,

the album does feel fairly dense because of

it. The album starts to drag near the back.

Late-album tracks like “Move Me” and “These

Days” seem to feel like bland filler to buff up

an otherwise unblemished collection of songs.

Still, Wet’s debut is one of the few to deserve

the hype it’s garnered. It’s incredibly impressive

throughout and the few missteps don’t take

away from the experience in any meaningful

way.

• Jamie McNamara

Donovan Woods

Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled

Meant Well Records

Ontario singer-songwriter Donovan Woods has

the sort of bittersweet and soulful voice that

fits naturally within spare arrangements, and

his new album Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled, stays

well off the path of instrumental excess, preferring

to let the songs do the heavy lifting. The

laidback vibe throughout is supported by a solid

set of songs that are well served by their instrumentation,

rather than being products of it.

“What kind of love is stronger in the broken

places?” Woods asks on the opening cut, “What

Kind Of Love Is That?,” over an up-tempo yet

subtle acoustic blues riff that provides a soft

landing for the ascending drama of the accompanying

string section. Woods eases the healing

of a heartache, while not quite letting go of

the memory on “The First Time,” reassuring a

past lover, “You’re gonna learn to love another,

and so am I, we’ll never get as high as the first

time.” On “Between Cities”, the space created by

Woods’ acoustic and hushed vocals is ably filled

by the dynamic interplay between a single,

sinewy violin and the swelling volume of the

pedal steel.

The songs on Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled

demonstrate Woods’ ability to tell his story

with finesse and yet maintain the sensibility to

not linger around in self-gratification. While a

bit more volume and projection to let his voice

loose might have served a purpose on this record,

these songs really call for restraint, a hard

quality for some songwriters to learn, but one

that Donovan Woods manages deftly.

• Michael Dunn

Porches

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BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 55


livereviews

Calgary Songs Project

#1 Royal Canadian Legion

January 15, 2016

Every seat and most of the standing room at the #1

Legion was full on January 15thfor the Calgary Songs

Project, a celebration of local songwriters who have

made an impact on the Calgary music community over

the last 30 years.

Tied in with the 30th anniversary of High Performance

Rodeo, the show featured a lineup of several

local artists from a range of genres playing covers of

influential Calgary songs. Napalmpom, Forbidden Dimension,

The Von Zippers, The Shiverettes, Tom Phillips

and the Union Choir all took the stage to share why

these songs were special to them and to perform their

own signature version of the tune.

A high point in the show was watching the crowd

flock to the dance floor for Tom Phillips’ cover of The

Dudes classic “Dropkick Queen of the Weekend.” The

band made an abrupt switch from the more mellow

country vibe, cranked up the tempo and went into rock

and roll mode. All the acts were phenomenal, but this

high energy cover really set the tone for the rest of an

excellent night.

• review and photos: Jodi Brak

Elder, Chron Goblin, Woodhawk

The Palomino

January 9, 2016

Packing a bang more potent than a brisket basted in

Monster Energy Drink, this sold-out Saturday night affair

attracted the usual suspects, despite the dipping mercury,

to celebrate general manager Arlen Smith’s birthday. And

what better way to pay homage to the painted-pony’s

resident pit-king than with a basement party complete

with legendary psych-rock outfit Elder?

Calgarian riff-riders Woodhawk kicked off the proceedings,

hitting all the gritty notes with their raucous

roadhouse metal. Propane and Jack flowed freely as the

golden western trio woke all them witches with their

thematic rock fury.

Next up, Chron Goblin proved, once again, that they

know how to fit any audience right into their pocket.

Exceptional musicianship was displayed in the presence

of their headlining idols; an attentive crowd calling for

more of pneumonia-plagued singer Sandulak’s raspy

howls in the mix.

Main course, Boston’s Elder pushed the festivities into

overdrive and the wee hours of the night, with extended

jams that blended seamlessly from one harmonious

blues-rock meltdown to the next. Glasses were raised

even as Elder’s devastatingly melodic vortex pulled their

all-too-willing victims under.

• Christine Leonard

photo: Mario Montes

56 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE

The Revival, Miesha and the Spanks

The Gateway

January 15, 2015

Calgary garage-rock duo Miesha and the

Spanks and five-piece Winnipeg electro-rock

band The Revival filled the minds

of the small but engaged crowd with energetic,

catchy tunes on Friday, January 15th

at the Gateway.

Miesha and the Spanks kicked off the

show with an older alternative feel, reminding

this reviewer of the vocal stylings of

Brody Dalle from The Distillers and like a

less punky version of the powerful Bikini

Kill vocalist, Kathleen Hanna.

The pair played a 30-minute set filling it

with about nine toe-tapping, head-banging

songs.

The headliners came out with a powerful

force of electronic beats mixed with a solid

hard rock sound, making the crowd interested

right off the bat.

They played a 14-track set, including a

drum solo and two covers: Wolfmother’s

popular decade-old track, “Joker and the

Thief,” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”

— both of which were covered beautifully.

Lead vocalist, Kevin Hogg, was energetic

and a joy to watch and listen to from

start to finish and filled the set with long,

impressive notes and several head bangs

and hair flips.

At the end of the loud, energetic show,

the crowd seemed pleased, hanging out and

buzzing about the show they just watched.

The bands made a good impression and the

crowd probably would have hung around if

the show was an hour longer.

• review and photo: Andrea Hrynyk


SAVAGE LOVE

V-Day’s pleasure and pain

I’m a 45-year-old straight male. Politically and socially, I consider

myself an ardent feminist. There is nothing I enjoy more than giving

a woman an orgasm or two. I’m very GGG and will cheerfully do

whatever it takes. Fingers, tongue, cock, vibrator—I’m in. If it takes

a long time, so much the better. I’m okay with all of that. Now and

again, though, I really like a quickie, a good old-fashioned “Wham,

bam, thank you, ma’am!” The only ladies I’ve found willing to engage

in those cock-centric acts are sex workers. I’m okay with that, too.

But the last time I paid for it, with a woman I had patronized before,

I was just about to slip my cock in doggy-style when her phone rang.

It was in reach, and she picked it up! I hesitated, but she didn’t pull

away, and in fact pushed back a bit while she answered. I figured this

was what I came for, so I proceeded. Her cavalier attitude toward

being fucked from behind while having a trivial phone conversation

wound up being a huge turn-on for me. By the time she finished

her 20-second call, I was finished as well. I hadn’t come that quickly

since I was a teen. She laughed that she should take calls more often.

What kind of beast am I that I really enjoyed such utter indifference?

Does this reveal some dark secret deep in my psyche? How can that

mesh with my otherwise feminist views?

—Premature Ejaculation Needs Some Introspective View Examined

First, PENSIVE, “enjoys giving women orgasms” sets the bar for “ardent

feminist” just a bit low. So here’s hoping your feminism involves more

than penetrating a willing partner with your fingers, tongue, cock, and

whatever vibrators happen to be lying around. Because if your feminism

doesn’t include support for pro-choice policies and candidates, regular

donations to Planned Parenthood, backing equal pay for equal work,

speaking up when other men say shitty/rapey/dehumanizing things

about women (particularly when there isn’t a woman in the room

whose pussy you want to lick until you come, because feminism!)—and

more—then you’re not a feminist, ardent or otherwise.

Moving on… Why did it turn you on when the sex worker took a call

during your session? Because it did. Turn-ons are subjective and mysterious.

People who are curious about their turn-ons have to start with “this

turns me on” and work backward from there. And to figure out why a

particular fabric/adornment/attitude/scenario arouses us, we use the

only tools available to us—guesswork and self-serving rationalizations—

to invent a backstory that makes some sort of logical sense, and then we

apply it to something (kinks, turn-ons, orgasms) that really defies logic.

So, PENSIVE, if I were to hazard some guesswork on your behalf, I’d

probably go with this: Being treated with passive contempt by someone

that you are supposed to be wielding power over (the woman you’re

fucking, a sex worker you’ve hired)—being subtly humiliated and mildly

degraded by that woman—taps a vein of eroticized self-hatred that

makes you come quickly and come hard.

And while that’s wonderful for you, PENSIVE, it isn’t proof you’re

a feminist.

Down to business: Christmas came and went, and every present

I bought for my extraordinary husband could be opened in front

of our children. He deserves better, and I have a particular gift in

mind for Valentine’s Day. My husband has expressed an interest in

sounding, something we’ve attempted only with my little finger. He

seemed to enjoy it! But the last thing I want to do is damage his big

beautiful dick. So is sounding a fun thing? Is sounding a safe thing?

Recommendations for a beginner’s sounding kit? Or should I scrap

the idea and just get him another butt plug?

—Safety Of Sounding

P.S. Here is a picture of the big beautiful dick I don’t want to damage.

Sounding, for those of you who didn’t go to the same Sunday school I

did, involves the insertion of smooth metal or plastic rods into the urethra.

Sounding is sometimes done for legitimate medical purposes (to

open up a constricted urethra, to locate a blockage), and it’s sometimes

done for legitimate erotic purposes (some find the sensation pleasurable,

and others are turned on by the transgression, particularly when a

man is being sounded, i.e., the penetrator’s penetrator penetrated).

So, yeah, some people definitely think sounding is a fun thing, SOS.

“But whether or not something is a safe thing depends on knowledge

of the risks/pitfalls and an observance of proper technique,” said Dr.

Keith D. Newman, a urologist and a Fellow of the American College of

Surgeons. “The urethral lining has the consistency of wet paper towels

and can be damaged easily, producing scarring. And the male urethra

takes a bend just before the prostate. Negotiating that bend takes talent,

and that’s where most sounding injuries occur.”

Recreational cock sounders—particularly newbies—shouldn’t

attempt to push past that bend. But how do you know when you’ve

arrived at that bend?

“SOS’s partner should do the inserting initially,” said Dr. Newman, “as

the bend in the urethra is easily recognized by the soundee. Once he is

clear on his cues—once he understands the sensations, what works, and

when the danger areas are reached—SOS can participate safely with

insertion.”

And cleanliness matters, SOS, whether you’re sounding the husband

or serving burritos to the public.

“Infection is always an issue,” said Dr. Newman. “Clean is good, but

the closer to sterile the better. And be careful about fingers. They can

be more dangerous than sounds because of the nails and difficulty in

sterilizing.”

So for the record, SOS: Your previous attempts at sounding—those

times you jammed your little finger into your husband’s piss slit—were

more dangerous than the sounding you’ll be doing with the lovely

set of stainless-steel sounding rods you’ll be giving your hubby on

Valentine’s Day.

Moving on…

“Spit is not lube,” said Dr. Newman. “Water- or silicone-based lubes are

good; oil-based is not so good with metal instruments.” (You can also go

online and order little single-serving packets of sterile lubricant. Don’t

ask me how I know this.) Using “glass or other breakable instruments”

as sounds is a Very Bad Idea. Dr. Newman was pretty emphatic on this

point—and while it sounds like a fairly obvious point, anyone who’s

worked in an ER can tell you horror stories about all the Very Bad Ideas

they’ve retrieved from people’s urethras, vaginas, and rectums.

Now let’s go shopping!

“Choosing the best ‘starter kit’ is not hard: Pratt Dilators are not hard

to find online, they’re not that expensive, and they will last a lifetime,”

said Dr. Newman. (I found a set of Pratt Dilators on Amazon for less than

$30.) And when your set arrives, SOS, don’t make the common mistake

of starting with the smallest/skinniest sound in the pack. “Inserting

something too small allows wiggle room on the way in and for a potential

to stab the urethral wall,” said Dr. Newman.

The doc’s next safety tip will make sense after you’ve seen a set of

Pratt Dilators: “Always keep the inserted curve facing one’s face, meaning

the visible, external curve facing away toward one’s back.”

You can gently stroke your husband’s cock once the sound is in place,

SOS; you can even blow him. Vaginal intercourse is off the table, obviously,

and you might not wanna fuck his big beautiful dick with a sound

until you’re both feeling like sounding experts. And when that time

comes: Don’t stab away at his cock with a sound in order to sound-fuck

him. A quality sound has some weight and heft—hold his erection upright,

slowly pull the well-lubricated, non-glass sound until it’s almost all

the way out, and then let go. It will sink back without any help from you.

Your husband’s butt should be plug-free during your sounding

sessions, SOS, as a plug could compress a section his urethra. If you’re

skilled enough to work around the bend—or if you’re foolish enough to

push past it—the sound could puncture his compressed urethra. And a

punctured urethra is every bit as unpleasant as it sounds. (Sorry.)

Finally, SOS, what about coming? Will your husband’s balls explode if

he blows a load while a metal rod is stuffed in his urethra?

“Coming with the sound in place is a matter of personal preference,”

said Dr. Newman. “There is no particular danger involved.”

P.S. Thank you for the picture.

by Dan Savage

Listen to Dan at savagelovecast.com

Email Dan at mail@savagelove.net

Follow Dan @fakedansavage on Twitter

58 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE

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