Propagandhi • Parquet Courts • Classified • Lemmy Tribute Show • Cirque Nuit • Oscars Preview • Savages
Editor’s Note/Pulse 4
Bedroom Eyes 7
Places Please 13
Edmonton Extra 30-31
Letters from Winnipeg 32
Let’s Get Jucy! 36
This Month in Metal 45
Block Heater 39-41
Music Mile, Cirque Nuit, Garter Girls,
Black Diamond Tattoos, Smutty Story
Circle, Palomino Anniversary, Jedi Handbook,
Isolde, Jazz in Banff, Rose & Crown
The Oscars, Netflix & Kill, $100 Film Festival,
Propagandhi - page 21
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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
Classified, Treasure Fingers
Block Heater 2016
Lemmy Tribute, Megadeth, Trivium
Savages and much, much more ...
Calgary Songs Project, Elder, The Revival
Managing Editor/Web Producer
Music Editor/Social Media Consultant
City :: Brad Simm
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Jucy :: Paul Rodgers
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Letters From Winnipeg :: Julijana Capone
COVER: Peter Moller
This Month’s Contributing Writers
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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
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• 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
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BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 3
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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,”
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
“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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
“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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
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’
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.
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
“She has the best odds.” - straw_hat_boy_
“She was absolutely extraordinary.” -
“Named after smelly cheese? What why!” -
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
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
• Gareth Watkins
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
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
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
“It’s difficult to say what it’ll be until it’s closer to
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
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
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
rewind to the future
by Shane Sellar
Jem and the Holograms
Straight Outta Compton
To capitalize off inexperienced climbers, Nepal
should really open a funeral parlor on the side of
Case in point, the imperilled alpinists in this fact
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
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.
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
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
Although, you do have to constantly reassure
senior staff that women are allowed to wear pants
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
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 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
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.
Twins make the worst paranormal victims
because you have to haunt them twice as much
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
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
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.
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
BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 19
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,
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,”
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,”
“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
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
“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
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 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
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
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
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
Parquet Courts play in Calgary at The Commonwealth
Bar & Stage on February 19th.
techno outsider eschews the club aesthetic
trying to make my version of dance
music, and I don’t even ever dance
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
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
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
“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,
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
“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
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
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
constructing armour, piece by peace
by Sarah Kitteringham
Rae Spoon will release their next album Armour on February 19th.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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
warm blanket of sadness
do you write a melancholy song
about unrequited love? You could
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 29
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,
“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,
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
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.
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
30 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
dexterous and kooky drummer Sean MacIntosh branches out by Brittany Rudyck
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
“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.
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
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
“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
bandcamp.com/releases. All proceeds support the
Lake Winnipeg Foundation. You can also visit lakewinnipegfoundation.org
to become a member or make a
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
Eat ‘Em Up Records, the West End
Winnipeg shop he runs alongside partner Brandon
“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
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
A habitual record hunter, Ackerman says that he’s
recently gotten into auctions and estate sales to find
“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
“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
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.
“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
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
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
jack of all trades, master of several by Paul Rodgers
Treasure Fingers continues to explore his light and dark dynamic.
photo: Devin Brewster
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
• 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
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
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.
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
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
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
Catch Andy Shauf at Lantern
Church on February 13
during Block Heater.
BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 39
iconic musician jokes about being a rock star
by Liam Prost
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
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
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
established folky puts soul in the centre
Vancouver songwriter channels a cosmic but down-to-earth sound
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
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
LOVE ME LIKE A REPTILE
celebrating the music of the one and only Lemmy Kilmister
Rest in power, Lemmy.
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
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
“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  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
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
“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
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
“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
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
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
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 , 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  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  with Brad
Pitt and I thought that was great too, but there are so many kinds of
movies, like [airborne virus film] Outbreak , and all these different
things like [alien invasion film] Independence Day , 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,
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
“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
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
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
“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
• Sarah Kitteringham
“A Very Rob Fundraiser” is organized by Mike Stumble (left) for Copsickle vocalist Rob Morrissette (right).
photo: Andrea Cantana
BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 45
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
• 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Big Black Coat
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
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
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 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
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
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
• Jamie McNamara
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
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,
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
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’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
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
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
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
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
• Liam Prost
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
A number of songs start with Olak counting
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
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
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
• Jamie McNamara
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
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
Dust & Wind
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
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
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
• Jamie McNamara
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
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
FOR MORE REVIEWS,
STREAMS, CONTESTS AND
SO MUCH MORE!
BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2016 | 55
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
• review and photos: Jodi Brak
Elder, Chron Goblin, Woodhawk
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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 email@example.com
Follow Dan @fakedansavage on Twitter
58 | FEBRUARY 2016 • BEATROUTE