Destruction Unit • Chixdiggit • Of Montreal • Hai Karate • Kris Demeanor • Mortillery • Tegan and Sara
Editor’s Note/Pulse 4
Bedroom Eyes 7
Places Please 10
Edmonton Extra 42-43
Book of Bridge 44
Letters from Winnipeg 45
Let’s Get Jucy! 37
This Month in Metal 53
Sled Island 2016 25-41
CKUA, Arts Corner, Monthly Mouthful
Space Jam, Chained Heat, Netflix and Kill,
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Destruction Unit, Garbage Daze,
Of Montreal, Hooded Fand, Bad Animal,
Chixdiggit, Vantopia, Leftover Crack,
Dayglo Abortions, Brass Monkey, High
Kris Demeanor, Jenny Berkel, North
Mortillery, The Month in Metal
Tegan and Sara and much more ...
Managing Editor/Web Producer
City :: Brad Simm
Film :: Joel Dryden
Calgary Beat :: Willow Grier
Edmonton Extra :: Jenna Lee Williams
Book of (Leth)Bridge :: Courtney Creator
Letters From Winnipeg :: Julijana Capone
Jucy :: Paul Rodgers
Roots :: Liam Prost
Shrapnel :: Sarah Kitteringham
This Month’s Contributing Writers
Christine Leonard • Gareth Watkins • Sam Risser • Sarah Mac • Mike Ryan • Michael
Grondin • Kyle Lovstrom • Sara Elizabeth Taylor • Alison Musial • Kyle Harcott • Levi
Manchak • Foster Modesette • James Barager • Jamie McNamara • Breanna Whipple •
Rob Pearson • Brandon Tucker • Michael Dunn • Shane Sellar • Trent Warner • Bryce
Dunn • Brittany Rudyck • Jamie McNamara • Jonathan Lawrence • Dan Savage
This Month’s Contributing Photographers & Illustrators
Michael Grondin • Levi Manchak • Courtney Creator • Dylan Smith
Tel: 403.451.7628 • e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
We distribute our publication in Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, Canmore, and Lethbridge.
SARGE Distribution in Edmonton – Shane Bennett (780) 953-8423
Connect with BeatRoute.ca
Facebook.com/BeatRouteAB :: Twitter.com/BeatRouteAB :: Instagram.com/BeatRouteAB
1112A 4th Street SW • Calgary, AB • T24 0X6 • Canada
e-mail: email@example.com • website: www.beatroute.ca
Copyright © BEATROUTE Magazine 2016. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the contents is prohibited.
Chixdiggit - page 19
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 3
BROKEN CITY will be hosting a
fundraiser Thursday, June 30 with
proceeds going to support the Calgary
Multicultural Orchestra ‘s 2016/2017
season. The event will feature live
music and a 50/50 raffle. CMO offers
free after school music lessons to
children ages 6 -17. Children learn
a musical instrument, play in an
orchestra, and perform in community
concerts and recitals throughout the
year. The CMO is a creative learning
environment, and a safe space in
which to develop trust, confidence
NMC Memberships provide year-round access to Studio Bell and
help to support our operations. Memberships purchased between
June 1-June 30 will have a special “front-of-the-line” discount, and
cost $49 ($58 after July 1) for adults, $38 ($45 after July 1) for students/seniors,
and $94 ($110 after July 1) for families of four.
What are the benefits to advance memberships?
• 15% discount on membership price
• 10% discount at Studio Bell’s gift shop and coffee retailer,
Rosso Coffee Roasters
• 1 free general admission ticket for a non-member guest
• 1 gift card for Rosso Coffee Roasters
FROGFEST FESTIVAL 2016
Three days of camping, music, peace, love and frolicking in the forest
outside Rocky Mtn. House. Oh joy, oh bliss a wonderment not to be
missed. Sleepkit, The Firm Handshake, The Handle, Slow Down Molasses,
The Wheel, Robot Workers, The Ashley Hundred, Old Cabin,
EHM Sky Patrol, The Rumble, Rotary Park, Serious Clouds, Rosalind,
Rak and Targus, Chicken-Like Birds, Manaray, The Bitterweed Draw,
Ewan McIntyre, Pyramid//Indigo, Alexa Borden, Body Waves, Jesse
Speed, Silver Moss, Flowshine, Bryson Waind & The Citizens’ Band.
More info at frogfest.ca
WHAT IS INSHALA?
Inshala is a transformational festival, held in the great outdoors of
Southern Alberta. Inshala is a co-created gathering of people from
many communities. People come from near and far to share their
insights, talents and passions with each other.
You are invited to Inshala 9 “ELEVATE”. As we gather, we ‘Make
Time for Timeslessness’. This is a Multi-Generational event where all
ages are welcome. Through collaborations and co-existing at Inshala,
may we truly inspire each other to live our dreams awake.
The Conference offers a variety of experiences from Speakers,
to Movement Workshops, and Art Explorations; held within a chill
space named The Desa. There will also be a Kids Zone and Playgrounds,
Artisan Market, Art Installations and Art Gallery, Fire
Spinners, and a walking Labyrinth. Our evenings will be filled with
soothing sounds, groovy beats, and inspiring performers for all ages
to enjoy with two stages offered in the IllumaSphere, and the ARC.
4 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE
Sled Island presents... the greatest garage band of all
Straight Outta Tacoma, Washington 1960. The Parypa brothers, Larry and
Andy, set the band in motion, but it wasn’t until 1963 when they recruited
screamin’ Gerry Roslie as the lead vocalist and keyboard player, Rob Lind on
sax and the mighty Bob “Boom Boom” Bennet on drums that The Sonics
came alive. With their first two records, Here Are The Sonics (1965) and Boom
(1966), recorded in ramshackle studio on a two-track machine with a single
microphone, punk rock made its segue into the world changing it forever.
Forever for The Sonics wasn’t that long. By then end of 1966 they were heading
down another musical road that wound up a dead end. Still, for thousands of
bands following in their wake, they remained the purest of garage bands... there
was no substitute. In 2016, The Sonics are back. Veteran drummer Dusty Watson
now sits in Boom Boom’s seat, driving the band exactly how they were first
designed — bomb-fucking-bastic. Newcomer Freddie Dennis plays bass singing
some lead vocals — fierce and on fire. Here Are The Sonics, once more.
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 7
MADE IN CALGARY
an exploration of art from the 1960s to the 2000s now in print
Between 2013 and 2014, the Glenbow museum
presented Made in Calgary: An Exploration
of Art from the 1960s to the 2000s which featured
577 artworks by 219 artists spanning 50 years
of art-making in Calgary. Based on that exhibition,
the Glenbow has published an art-book, Made in
Calgary, which celebrates those artists, their work
during that time.
Melanie Kjorlien, the Glenbow’s VP of Access,
Collections and Exhibitions says the 1960s was chosen
as the starting point because “that’s when the
Art College (now ACAD) and the fine arts program
at the U of C started happening. There was a greater
influx of people, artists and instructors coming to
the city and a lot more development happening at
While the educational institutions and the
ideas generated inside those walls certainly
played a vital role in developing Calgary’s artistic
community, Kjorlien notes that the economic
growth and decline that took place over the last
five decades also affected and shaped the city’s
“The whole the boom and bust cycle, which is
unique to Calgary, had a huge impact on things like
arts funding which is hard sometimes to appreciate
but affects the ways in which people produce and
end up making in terms of their work. “
Five curators, that each oversee one particular
decade in the book, write expansive essays about
the artists, their personalities and mindset, along
with the social, political and economic landscapes
that existed during that 50 year span. In doing so,
they cover a broad cross-section of events which
not only tells the story of how Calgary’s artistic
community emerged and developed, but also
reflects the cultural growth of the city itself.
1990s — Chris Cran
Large Laughing Orange
One of 10 large paintings from
Cran’s experimental series
1960s — Vivian Lindoe
A colleague of many in the
postwar Calgary art community,
Lindoe was a multidisciplinary
artist at heart, engaged
with painting, printmaking,
ceramics, batik and furniture.
1980s — John Hall
In Flame, Hall assembled various
images and tourist kitsch
souvenirs that flooded Calgary
to commemorate the Calgary
1988 Winter Olympics.
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 9
Summer Fest brings the future now to Inglewood
All of JazzYYC’s main stage shows for their
Summer Festival will be held at the Ironwood
Stage & Grill so that Inglewood is the place
people will know where to find jazz in the city. Kodi
Hutchinson, the Artistic Director for JazzYYC is excited
about a number of acts that they’ve brought in this
year to play that stage.
“First on the list is Jens Lindemann and Tommy
Banks. They’re releasing an album that was nominated
for a JUNO that was also recorded at the Ironwood.
Lindemann is from Alberta, he was in the Canadian
Brass and is probably one of the top ten classical
trumpet players on the planet. But also a phenomenal
player of a variety of genres. The album he did with
Tommy is jazz-rooted and promises to be a show
flowing with energy.”
The act that follows on Friday, June 17 Hutchinson
calls the “big one” with Hugh Fraser and the VEJI Big
Band. No they’re not to jazz tribute to garden varieties,
rather the VEJI Big Band is the Vancouver Ensemble of
Jazz Improvisation who formed in college during the
1980s and are considered one of Canada’s great big
bands. They’re soon to record their first album in 15
years with a stellar, reunion line-up that‘s only playing
two or three shows this year, including JazzYYC.
Big bands improvise with well-written compositions
that are structured to back a smaller section of the
band to solo over. “Hugh Fraser,” notes Hutchinson,
“is renowned as a composer and knows how to really
move the music forward and build the energy. He’s
very dynamic. I won’t lie, he’s one of the reasons why
I’m a jazz musician. He was one of the most influential
musicians in trying to bring communities together in
Canada when I started playing.”
Sting’s touring pianist, Laila Biali, is also playing the
Ironwood and is considered by Hutchinson to be one
of Canada’s greatest singers. “Laila’s very contemporary
and does this thing called ‘requestamatic’ where she
allows people to post songs on her website that they
would like to hear when she comes through their city.
As a result, she developed a really unique repertoire
and does one of the best versions of a David Bowie
song that I’ve ever heard. She does a lot of different
material, Let’s Dance by Bowie for instance, and manages
to shape pop songs in a jazz way and jazz songs
in a pop way crossing over between the two with a
lot of success. We saw her in Germany at a conference
where she got a standing ovation and she was recently
asked to perform at the National Arts Centre in China.
Honestly, she’s one of the greatest jazz performers we
have right now.”
Marianne Trudel is another of the festivals main
stagers who, according to Hutchinson, has a lot of
world influences in her playing built on acoustic jazz
with a lot of African rhythmic influences in her music.
“She has a very French aesthetic, with a mixture of
European, African and North American.”
The JazzYYC fest moves from traditional, improvisational
to contemporary. Hutchinson feels that while
jazz musicians certainly respect and pay homage to
the masters from the ‘30s, ‘40s and’50s and that type of
groove music, there’s a definite trend for younger, evolving
musicians to embrace music they grew up with.
“When you get to someone like Laila Biali, who’s in
her 30s, you get someone who’s been listening to, say,
Radiohead. That pop influence is extremely strong. So
what you get in contemporary jazz, is more contemporary
rhythms and its also harmonically different
from traditional jazz, which is kind of hard to explain
to non-jazz listeners. But a lot of jazz musicians today
came out of pop music and it’s very strong.
10 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE
Laila Biali: “One of the greatest jazz performers
we have right now.”
by B. Simm
by Sara Taylor
Many of Calgary’s theatre companies have wrapped
up their seasons, but there are still a few shows going
on this month. Here are the top theatre picks for the
month of June.
In Love & Warcraft
Victor Mitchell Theatre at Pumphouse Theatre
After years of commanding a top-ranked guild in
Warcraft with her online boyfriend, Evie Malone has
life all figured out. In life, as in gaming, you simply
have to approach everything strategically, and with
a plan. But when the college senior and confirmed
virgin falls for a non-virtual, totally real and incredibly
cute guy away from the comfort of her computer
screen, she discovers that the real world is often more
complicated than the virtual one.
Suncor Stage One Festival of New Canadian Work
June 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 & 25
Each year, Lunchbox Theatre wraps up their season
with a series of staged readings of new works. After
combing through over 100 submissions, Lunchbox
Theatre has selected nine plays that will be performed
and open to audience feedback and discussion
after the show. Even better? Admission is free.
Visit the Lunchbox Theatre website for a description
of the nine plays that will be featured in this year’s
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Search Tower Productions
Joyce Doolittle Theatre at Pumphouse Theatre
A tiger haunts the streets of war-torn Baghdad
attempting to find meaning amidst the city’s ruins.
On his journey, he comes across two American Marines
and an Iraqi translator who are also on a quest,
searching for friendship, for redemption… and for a
solid-gold toilet seat.
The 2016 IGNITE! Festival of Emerging Artists
West Village Theatre & Pumphouse Theatre
The annual IGNITE! Festival is a great way to experience
the bleeding edge of theatre, music, dance
and the arts. This year’s line-up includes shows that
are challenging, absurd, hilarious and surreal -- and
sometimes all at once. Visit the Sage Theatre website
for a full listing of this year’s shows.
The Fifth Reel brings childhood favourite to Plaza Theatre
We got a real jam goin’ down – Space Jam plays June 17 at the Plaza Theatre.
Though he might not be in the good graces of Canadian basketball
fans after eliminating the Toronto Raptors from the 2016
playoffs, Lebron James is this generation’s crossover star of the
NBA. From hosting Saturday Night Live to a surprising comedic turn
in Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck, James is not only one of the greatest
basketball stars of his generation, but also has assumed the role of
NBA ambassador, ubiquitous not only on the court but off.
But James’ career has yet to reach its apex if the rumours swirling are
to be believed – he could follow in Michael Jordan’s footsteps by starring
alongside the Looney Tunes in the oft-rumoured Space Jam 2.
The original Space Jam, released in 1996, is a much-loved childhood
favourite for those who grew up in the ‘90s. From Moron Mountain
to Mike’s Secret Stuff, from I Believe I Can Fly to Bill Murray’s bizarre
umbrella hat, many of us grew up wearing out our VHS tapes watching
Jordan team with Bugs Bunny to defeat the Monstars.
“I was the biggest Michael Jordan fan, but I also loved Looney Tunes
as well. For a kid who is obsessed with a sports player, to see them with
their favourite cartoon character, that’s pretty remarkable,” says Daniel
Bennett, also known as the hip-hop artist Transit. “I remember studying
every single part of the movie. One year, I got the Space Jam bedding set,
I think a Space Jam comforter, Space Jam wallpaper, Space Jam posters all
around my room.”
Bennett, who purchased a Tune Squad jersey donning “22” – Murray’s
number on the team – recalled his experience wearing the jersey at his
first show in Chicago.
“I came out to the Space Jam theme at the concert. I think they didn’t
like it as much as I liked it,” he says. “But it’s such a nostalgic thing. I think
it was a lot of people’s first encounter with basketball. Anytime I wear
that Tune Squad shirt at a bar there’s always some enthusiastic drunk
guy who gives me a hug and says, ‘That shirt’s amazing.’”
One of the men responsible for the movie that captivated a generation
of Bugs Bunny and/or Chicago Bulls fans is Herschel Weingrod, a
screenwriter with a resume of nostalgic best-ofs, including Kindergarten
Cop, Trading Places and Twins. Weingrod was brought on with partner
Timothy Harris to rewrite an earlier draft of the script producers weren’t
quite satisfied with.
“First of all, in order to write it, we had to watch about 30 years of
Looney Tunes cartoons. To write for Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and
Sylvester and Tweety and all of those characters, you have to understand
their voices,” he said. “So there was Looney Tunes police. We would hand
by Joel Dryden
in a draft and they would say, ‘Bugs would never say that.’ (We’d say),
‘Actually, let me refer you to a cartoon from 1946…’”
As Weingrod and Harris got to work revising the script, producers
asked to pair which NBA stars they would like to get involved. They
got whoever they asked for – stars like Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley,
Muggsy Bogues and Shawn Bradley.
“Oh! This is sounding pretty interesting,” Weingrod says. “Then I said,
‘What if Michael is playing golf with Larry Bird and Bill Murray?’ [They
After Stan (Wayne Knight) is flattened by the Monstars and the
match appears lost for the Tune Squad, Murray – who plays himself
– appears, volunteering to be the team’s fifth member. After Jordan
scores the winning points, Murray puts an end to his NBA career and
“Most of what Bill Murray says he just makes up on the spot and it’s
just so brilliant and it makes the writer look 50 times better,” Weingrod
says. “He made up that beautiful part, there’s a scene where he says to
Michael Jordan, ‘You’re not playing anymore and I was wondering, I’m
white and I’m slow and I can’t jump but I can dribble and I can shoot, do
you think I have a shot?”
Jordan tells Murray no, to which Murray asks, “It’s because I’m white?”
“And Michael says, ‘No, Larry Bird is white.’ And Bill Murray made this
thing up about, ‘Larry’s not white, Mike. Larry is clear,’” Weingrod says.
“I mean, shit like that he just made it up on the spot and he’s cracking
everybody up [on set].”
Weingrod has heard the rumours about a Lebron-led Space Jam 2, but
he and Harris have yet to be contacted to help out on a potential sequel.
Like many fans of the original, he thinks a retread – such as Lebron
teaming with the Looney Tunes again to defeat a new group of space
aliens – wouldn’t satisfy.
“Someone’s going to have to come up with new twists on the familiar
story that still resonates with people. If you end up alienating the fanbase
from the earlier one, you’re going to get the kind of reaction like, ‘Ben
Affleck is Batman?’” he says. “I was reading comments about Space Jam
and half the people didn’t even like the first one but even those ones
were saying, ‘No, no, leave it alone.’”
If Space Jam 2 does come to fruition, Bennett said he will be
front of line.
“After becoming a dad and watching it again with my son and him
loving it from his perspective, that’s when I’m like, this movie is going to
become a life-long thing,” he said. “If number two comes out, I’m going
to drop everything I’m doing and take my kid out of class to go watch it.”
Space Jam plays June 17 at the Plaza Theatre. The Fifth Reel will be serving
up a special theme drink for the evening – a little something called Mike’s
Secret Stuff. For tickets, visit fifthreel.ca
screenwriter of ‘90s favourites looks back
Prior to Space Jam playing at the Plaza Theatre June 17, the
screenwriter of that film – and Kindergarten Cop, Twins
and Trading Places, among other ‘90s classics – answered
some questions about those VHS tapes you burned through as
BeatRoute: How does it feel to know many of the films you’ve
written have become cult classics?
Herschel Weingrod: It’s always a surprise and an honour that
people still do view that work fondly. It seems to hold up well for
lots of people. People throw lines at me, they quote lines, which I
find amusing. “It’s not a tumour!” and all that stuff. I did a Reddit
Ask Me Anything (AMA) last year and most of the questions
were either about the alleged sequel to Space Jam or they just
asked me, “is it a tumour?”
BR: Trading Places (1983) was very early on in your career.
How did you get that movie made?
HW: We met someone at Warner Brothers and he said (the idea) is
very funny, but if I can’t get Richard Pryor to play the black guy, how
can we make the movie? I said, well there’s this kid on SNL, Eddie
Murphy, and he said, “I don’t think he’s going to be a movie star.”
Then we got a meeting at Paramount and we told these other
producers the same pitch. They got all excited and Paramount made a
deal with us to write the script. The rest turned out rather well. It was
like a happy accident.
BR: Are you involved with Kindergarten Cop 2?
HW: Kindergarten Cop 2 was released straight to video with
Dolph Lundgren in the Arnold role. They never asked us if we
wanted to be involved.
by Joel Dryden
BR: Will you watch it?
HW: If they send me a Blu-ray I’ll watch it. I have no intention of
paying to see it.
BR: If you were brought on Space Jam 2, what would be your
HW: You’d have to invent some new really villainous group of
cartoons and Bugs Bunny has to recruit Lebron James and some
other NBA stars to help them beat these guys. (Maybe) they’re
going to have the NBA guys’ powers taken away. I don’t know
if you can duplicate that. It’s just obvious theft, it’s not original
Space Jam plays June 17 at the Plaza Theatre. For tickets, visit
12 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE FILM
a goofy shoot with some seriously talented artists
L-R: Geneva Haley, James Barry, Gillian McKercher, Guillaume Carlier, Sean Edwards. Ted Stenson not pictured.
by Colin Gallant
photo: Keeghan Rouleau
NETFLIX AND KILL
what’s streaming and slaying this month?
Orange Is The New Black (Netflix) is back. A year ago
that would be happy news, like a clear STD panel or the
launch of a new candy bar, but after the steep decline
in quality during season three it’s like the launch of a candy bar
that gives me a bunch more STDs. The trailer confirmed that it
would be set in a women’s prison and that was about it. Could be
they’ve got something really cool planned, could be more Crazy
Eyes’ erotic novel. I mean, I’ll still binge watch it, I’m just not
going to like it.
Casual (Hulu) got universal praise and a Golden Globe nod
during its first season. Going by what I’ve seen so far it’s that kind
of comedy drama that isn’t funny enough to be a comedy, where
the stakes aren’t high enough for drama. Normally I’d advise you
pass on this one, but there’s no critical smoke without at least a
little fire, so give it a go.
I don’t know if Dreamworks decided that the lips of the characters
in Voltron: Legendary Defender (Netflix) would move like
they were trying to get away from the words coming out of them
to make it look more like badly dubbed anime airing on Cartoon
Network at you-have-a-serious-problem o’clock in the early two
thousands, but it’s kind of doing it for me. Plus, five mini lion-robots
come together to form one super-bot, so there’s that.
• Gareth Watkins
Y2KREATIVE is a new #YYC hubspot for artisanal Millenials to
handcraft lifestyle works that will one day be handed out in
dystopian $200 Happy Meals served in Michelin Starred food
trucks. That was a running joke theme when BeatRoute met up with
a group of artists in their new studio space, at least.
The not-quite-named space houses mostly filmmakers, plus one
illustrator/designed and writer/filmmaker/DJ/bar owner. The following
is the first in a series of artist profiles in and around the world of film.
James Barry and Sean Edwards: The duo behind Ramble Films.
Ramble has produced original shorts as well as working with Sled
Island, Bruce McCulloch’s Young Drunk Punk, Paper Bag Records,
local musicians, plus a lot more. They have recently wrapped a
music video for Feel Alright. The two like to buy more gear than is
defensible. See for yourself at rambleritual.com.
Guillaume Carlier: An independent filmmaker with a knack for capturing
live music, Carlier has been screening his film Moses at select occasions
over the last year. He also completed a project on Feel Alright — a
documentary, for CJSW — and will soon be on hand at Garbage Daze IV.
He knows more about wine than anyone I’ve met, and has a pronounced
appreciation for Celine Dion. View some of his work on Vimeo.
Geneva Haley: An illustrator and designer who works in the themes
of environments, music, agriculture, narrative, editorial and sequential
images. She’s done work for Sled Island, Marlaena Moore, authors
and more. She feels photos with house plants are “too Internet,” and
makes use of the ancient proverb that “Janice in accounting don’t give
a fuck.” Check genevahaley.com for more info.
Gillian McKercher: A member of the Calgary Society of Independent
Filmmakers who is a returning Herland participant and recently
completed a new script. McKercher has been commissioned
for the $100 Film Festival’s Film/Music Explosion! program, where
new works are created for songs by bands from Calgary. McKercher
also produced videos for the Calgary Collection. She believes in
teambuilding exercises and meetings about meetings. You can find
her on Vimeo.
Ted Stenson: A writer working in several mediums (plays, film, poetry,
fiction, etc), “sometimes filmmaker” and an owner of Good Luck
Bar, Stenson also goes by the DJ name Teddy Celebration. He’s been
published, been a member of juries and committees, and has recently
become a father. Stenson enjoys screaming at the television when
basketball is on. Find him at tedstenson.com.
Orange Is The New Black season four will hit Netflix June 17.
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 13
rewind to the future
by Shane Sellar
How to Be Single
The best thing about babysitting British kids is they’ll
believe your skulking boyfriend is actually a magical
Unfortunately, that fib wouldn’t fly with the inanimate
child in this horror movie.
After a breakup stateside, Great (Lauren Cohan)
gets a nanny gig at an English manor where she’ll
be looking after the Heelshires’ (Jim Norton, Diana
Hardcastle) son, Brahms.
When she arrives, she’s shocked to learn Brahms is
really a doll the homeowners believe to be their deceased
son. While they’re away, Greata must adhere
to Brahms’ strict schedule, or face his cruel wraith.
Relying on the played out premise of a possessed
doll to deliver its hackneyed scares, this horrible
haunter has no redeeming qualities to speak of,
including the toy’s design or it’s failed attempt at an
eerie ambiance. Besides, the only way to rid yourself
of a haunted doll is to give it to your dog.
When the random shooter jobs are all taken, mercenary
work is the next best option for ex-military.
However, the garrulous gunman in this action-comedy
proves you can do both.
Mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) undergoes
cancer treatment for his girlfriend (Morena
Baccarin). But instead of a cure, the formula activates
his mutant healing ability and leaves him disfigured.
With help from some X-Men (Brianna Hildebrand,
Stefan Kapičić) he adopts a mask, a moniker and
a light-hearted outlook on his off kilter quest for
revenge on the perpetrator (Ed Skrein).
From Reynolds’ on-point portrayal, to the
cartoony violence and the fourth-wall narrative, this
reappearance of Marvel’s merc with a mouth after
his ill-fated debut in an earlier X-film is a ribald and
refreshing reboot that is as faithful to the self-aware
smart-ass as can be.
Furthermore, it shows burn victims a jazzy costume
is all they need to reacclimatize to society.
Spring break is convenient for senior citizens because
they already all live in Florida.
And while the vulgar elder in this comedy isn’t
there yet… he’s on his way.
Straight-laced lawyer Jason (Zac Efron) rekindles
his relationship with his grandfather, Dick
(Robert De Niro), at his grandmother’s funeral.
During their interaction, he agrees to drive the
widower to Boca Raton.
Much to the chagrin of his fiancée (Julianne
Hough), Jason and Dick hit the road, where Jason
learns his grandpa’s personality matches his phallic
name. From drugs and alcohol to felonies and coeds
(Zoey Deutch, Aubrey Plaza), Dick’s determined to
enrich his grandson’s stuffy lifestyle.
The timeworn tale of an eccentric mentor edifying
an uptight pupil but drenched in geriatric semen
jokes and soulless performances, this raunchy road
trip is both equally pointless and repugnant.
Moreover, when you have unprotected sex with
an old person you’re liable to contract liver spots.
How to Be Single
The easiest way for a person to stay single is to stop
bathing. However, the singles in this rom-com are
more concerned with attracting than repelling.
To gain worldliness, Alice (Dakota Johnson)
dumps her boyfriend, moves to NYC, lives with her
sister (Leslie Mann), and works at a law firm where
her co-worker (Rebel Wilson) introduces her into the
singles scene. Elsewhere, Lucy (Alison Brie) is kneedeep
in online-dating horror stories.
But over time, each finds a potential partner
(Damon Wayans Jr., Anders Holm, Jake Lacy, Jason
Mantzoukas) and must choose their ultimate path.
The painfully familiar story of four single females
navigating singledom in the city, HTBS is neither
insightful nor plausible. The women are weepy, the
men are unrealistic, and the script is disjointed and
laden with unladylike language and behaviour.
Besides, if being single is so much fun then why
can’t we torch all of the wedding gowns?
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
If zombies had existed in Victorian times, the
wealthy would’ve just thought them ugly peasants.
Mind you, the affluent in this horror movie are
fully aware of their flesh-eating epidemic.
In the wake of a zombie outbreak, 19th century
England’s most opulent families are required to send
their offspring away to be trained in marital arts. This
was the case with Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) and
her sisters (Bella Heathcote, Suki Waterhouse, Ellie
Bamber, Millie Brady).
The undead, however, are not Elizabeth’s only
adversary, as she has found an infuriating rival in
zombie hunter Colonel Darcy (Sam Riley).
Not as over-the-top as one would expect a pairing
of Jane Austin and the living dead to be, P+P+Z
is also not as insipid either. Oddly enough, it’s the
public domain portion of this parody that’s more
pleasurable than the zombie killing parts.
Furthermore, zombies aren’t that scary when
they’re wearing powdered wigs.
The Home Shopping Network works exactly like
online shopping, except quantities are limited and
time is running out.
Two things the aspiring inventor in this dramedy
knows all too well.
Determined to bring her removable mop-head
to market, single mother Joy Mangano (Jennifer
Lawrence) convinces a QVC bigwig (Bradley Cooper)
to allow her the rare opportunity to host her own
segment, which eventually brings in sales.
But a shifty manufacturer recommended by her
deadbeat dad’s (Robert De Niro) girlfriend (Isabella
Rossellini) could put an end to all of her success, her
supply and her patent.
Based on the semi-motivational true story, Joy’s
ensemble cast and offbeat direction offers the only
entertainment in this breezy biography. Whereas the
plodding script only services those highpoints as it
lurches towards its inspiring yet manipulated ending.
Maybe next time they could focus on a real
QVC superstar, like, the inventor of porcelain clown
The worst thing about working for a Russian boss is
their zero-tolerance policy towards bathroom breaks.
But as the thieves in this thriller have learned,
working alongside them is even worse.
The wife of a convicted Russian crime boss (Kate
Winslet) hires a coalition of career criminals (Chiwetel
Ejiofor, Norman Reedus, Aaron Paul) and crooked
cops (Anthony Mackie, Clifton Collins, Jr.) to obtain a
safe-deposit box from a bank for her.
But before she hands over payment, she now
wants them to infiltrate a government building to
steal more evidence to help overturn her husband’s
Meanwhile, two straight cops (Casey Affleck,
Woody Harrelson) work the case from different
angels. Action-packed with some intriguing relationships
and colourful characters, Triple 9 defies its
numerous crime story clichés to formulate a forceful
but ultimately forgettable heist picture.
Furthermore, cops and robs only work well together
when it comes to fixing their marriage.
The key to surviving in a Puritan society was accusing
as many people of witchcraft as you could.
Unfortunately, any accusation of necromancy in
this horror movie would fall directly on relatives.
Excommunicated from their New England colony,
William (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Kate Dickie), their
eldest Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her siblings
relocate to an isolated homestead adjacent to a
When the newborn and the eldest son disappear
and the family’s goat starts speaking to the children,
rumours of sorcery start circulating with Thomasin
as the prime suspect. An unnerving but authentic
look at family life in 17th century, this multi-layered
slow-burner embodies the dialect, dress and superstitions
of the pious of those paranoid times.
Meanwhile, the subversive script is supplemented
by haunting imagery, restrained direction and notable
performances. Mind you, any demon ordering
you to dance naked in the woods is probably recording
it from the bushes.
Fashion isn’t filled with self-absorbed skinny people
any more; it’s filled with narcissistic fat people.
Fortunately for the returning Adonis in this
comedy, the plus size trend hasn’t affected the male
After inadvertently killing his wife, former
male-model Zoolander (Ben Stiller) returns from
self-imposed exile to partner with a Fashion Interpol
agent (Penélope Cruz) and a former rival (Owen Wilson)
to save his estranged son (Cyrus Arnold) from a
mad designer (Will Ferrell) who believes his blood is
the key to eternal youth.
The extremely overdue sequel to the 15-year-old
cult classic, this commercially-driven continuation
of the conceited character is more concerned with
gratuitous cameos than it is with fresh material.
In fact, writer-director Ben Stiller milks past favourites
like Billy Zane and Will Ferrell to death, while the
overall story just lacks vigour.
Incidentally, the only infirmity that still keeps
people from being a supermodel is their height.
He’s a Soldier of Fortune Cookies. He’s the…
14 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE FILM
extreme music that confronts the deep trip
Destruction Unit explores the excitement of excess.
Destruction Unit; a band this writer has championed for a
long time as a seeker of true psychedelic music, that which
touches on an important part of the psychedelic experience,
the bad trip. Through sonic aggression and construction of a state
of confusion, Destruction Unit explore these aspects that most acts
seem to shirk in favour of a more pleasant Reality Tunnel. Any well
ventured soul seeker will tell you that The Bad Trip is just a part of
The Deep Trip.
Destruction Unit member JS Aurelius, currently living in Vancouver,
was kind enough to field some questions regarding Destruction Unit, the
Desert and the importance of staking your claim in a world of garbage.
BeatRoute: Can you maybe give a brief overview of the genesis
of the band?
JS Aurelius: This is a tough one since I wasn’t around for the actual
genesis of the band, when Ryan first started playing under the name
Destruction Unit. However, since day one, more or less every aspect of
this band has been in constant flux, from being a solo studio project, to
being a 10-piece live band, from writing with acoustic guitars and church
organs to using nothing but distortion pedals. This band is more about
the trip than the origin or destination.
BR: Ideas? Intentions?
JSA: I think we are all interested in attacking expectation and complacency,
taking styles and genres and aesthetics and ideas that already
exist and attacking them with each other: anti-form, anti-structure,
anti-tradition. Of course you can point to references and influences,
but I think we’re really trying to crash them into each other so they
form a big, broken garbage pile that’s easy to climb up and plant a flag
on top of. As a group of people, we are some combination of socially
inept, depressed, nihilistic degenerates. Constantly straddling that
line between having a great idea and no clue at all. There is nothing
particularly novel about what we are doing, other than it being our flag
by Sam Risser
photo: Pooneh Ghana
at the top of that garbage dump. I’m sure to a lot of people, from the
outside, we come off as quite serious or angry or unapproachable, but
we’re really just doing all we can to get by in this world without giving
up on it totally. It’s hard not being depressed, it’s a struggle. And there
is plenty to be angry about. But there is also plenty to be thankful for.
It’s a privilege that we get to do this, that we get to see cities outside
of Arizona, and meet people all over the world and learn from those
experiences. It’s nice to know that there are just as many deviants out
there like us to keep things interesting and exciting. We’ve made plenty
of mistakes along the way, made fools of ourselves more often than
not, said things we wish we hadn’t, you know. But that’s how you grow.
You can’t take yourself too seriously or that process stops. You can’t
tear the world down around you without being willing to tear yourself
down too. That’s just the ride we’re all on.
BR: I’m also interested to hear your thoughts the desert, drugs
and “extreme” music.
JSA: Well, each of these things could consume you whole and spit you
out if you’re not in the right state of mind. I love the desert, I love the dry
air and the blistering heat. But that doesn’t mean I’d recommend it carte
blanche. And I’d say the same thing about drugs and extreme music.
Excess is exciting. We’re all more or less past the point of being able to do
anything else with our lives anyway.
BR: Will Destruction Unit be touring any time in the future?
JSA: We’re doing some shows in Europe this summer, late June and July.
Not a ton set in stone in the U.S. right now but I’m sure that will come
along. It’s a very dysfunctional band, at this point we don’t even know
who the full lineup is.
See Destruction Unit on July 2nd at Brixx in Edmonton and on a massive
bill including LSD and the Search For God at the #1 Legion as part of
Garbage Daze in Calgary.
connectivity through chaos by Willow Grier
Calgary’s summer seems to have a music festival for
everyone. For the past four years, Garbage Daze has been
bringing in underground punk, and especially hardcore,
for the scene. Now in its fourth year (this year dubbed the The
Digital Age), the festival has grown to include even more genres
Organizer Jason Scharf explains that while the styles have
diversified, the roots remain the same. “The electronic artists are still
coming from the punk spectrum. It’s people that grew up listening
to the same DIY music and have the same DIY ethos.”
Up until this year, Scharf and partner-in-crime Elijah Carnat-Gronnerud
have been managing every part of Garbage Daze themselves.
“This year we realized we bit off a lot more than we ever have
before,” Scharf explains. “So we reached out to people in the city
whose work ethic we admire and who we think put on some really
cool events.” Aligning with Two-Headed Dog Booking and Deep Sea
Mining Syndicate, Scharf and Carnat-Gronnerud have brought in
some of the most unexpected headliners yet.
As far as top recommendations go, one band Scharf brings
attention to is, “Career Suicide from Toronto,” a “really seminal 2000s
Canadian punk and hardcore band that have done a ton for the
scene across Canada.”
To add to the international pull, “Destruction Unit from Arizona
[is] this really intense and powerful live band that’s doing something
quite different. They started as post-punk, then [played] psych-rock,
and now their music is a hybrid of all their different interests.”
On the electronic side of things, one of the Saturday headliners
is Shifted from Berlin. Scharf hails it as “really cutting-edge, modern
techno that’s pushing what that genre is and where it came from.”
To add to the uniqueness, Shifted will be doing a live PA performance
instead of a DJ set. “He’s never done one in Canada at all, so it
will be really special.”
When asked about the biggest lesson learned from the past
couple years, Scharf responds, “That we needed to be more open
to working with people. The power of collaboration is so immense.
Two people can’t do everything.”
With the successful culmination of efforts going into this
year’s lineup, attendees should “be prepared to see something
really different and unique. A lot of these artists are offering
things that haven’t been seen in Calgary or Western Canada at
all,” Scharf concludes.
Garbave Daze IV, The Digital Age, runs June 3rd to the 5th in Calgary
at various venues. Full lineup, schedule and tickets available at
photo: Michael Grondin
16 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
explosive new album pre-empts Canadian tour
all heart and a lot of rosé
photo: Unfolding Creative
There’s a sort of chaotic magnetism surrounding Bad
Animal. Reminiscent of the raucous tornado of a similarly
named scruffy pink muppet, the band has burst onto the
Calgary music scene and excited audiences with their distinct
brand of hard-hitting arena rock compressed into a bar setting.
To be frank, this band would not be outpaced playing with
Arctic Monkeys or Cage The Elephant. In fact, there is such a
cultivated and distinct sound about them, it’s hard to believe
they are only about to release their first album (it’s fantastic
by the way).
In reality, some of the members had been making music together
for quite some time when they were forced to pause during
frontman Ben Painter’s battle with cancer. Not to be held down
for long, once Painter was in recovery, his mind switched back to
by Michael Grondin
Hooded Fang, Toronto’s art-punk astronauts, have
crash-landed in the middle of a colourful, alien
world. And the super sonic vessel they arrived
in is the charged Venus On Edge, their third full-length
album to date.
Colliding precision and cold calculation with spastic
energy, this high-speed collection of psychedelic punk takes
us on a trip through the chaotic minds of this experimental
Venus On Edge is a departure from their previous
albums, which maintained the punk and the indie, but not
as much of the chaotic experimentation found on this new
“Over time, people have different interests, and we listen
to a lot of different kinds of music. Our influences and our
lives are always changing and that seeps into our music,”
says bassist April Aliermo during a phone interview from
Explosive drums set a firm foundation for the dirty bass
driving, while fierce guitars echo and skip about, played with a
tone not of this world.
“What may be different with this record from our last ones
is we started experimenting more with different pedals, and we
were trying to make the guitars sound like other instruments,” she
explains. “We really got the drums and the bass to have a steady,
repetitive rhythm, but then Dan and Lane’s guitars are speaking to
each other like spastic birds.”
Recorded live off the floor in guitarist and vocalist Daniel
Lee’s dad’s basement, this dynamic 10-song album shows immense
attention to detail and maturity in the band’s sound. The
album features artwork from Toronto friend and visual artist
“We were able to just seclude ourselves and just focus on recording,”
says Aliermo, adding that the vocals were the last step in
the process. “We had the instrumentals for a long time, and a year
later, Dan and I locked ourselves away and just hammered out
lyrics for a whole week and then we laid down the vocals.”
Hooded Fang will be embarking on a Canadian tour, with just
one stop in Western Canada announced so far at the Sled Island
“We really want to play these shows for everyone, our live
show is heavier than our actual album. It’s like a dark run through
a tunnel,” she says with a laugh, adding that they try to have as
much fun as possible when they play live. “I’m lucky to play with
some really great musicians.”
Hooded Fang performs in the Lukes Drug Mart parking lot alongside
Chad VanGaalen, We Are The City and We Knew on June 12th.
by Willow Grier
writing songs with long-time friend Marek Skiba. Currently, Bad
Animal has come to include Skiba and Kyle Gritchen on guitar,
Trevor Stoddart on drums, and Danny Trevena on bass.
When asked to describe the band’s sound, Skiba quickly conjures
an analogy: “You know how Dean Martin would go onstage
and he would be holding a drink but never sips it? It’s the swirl of
the drink. And people are just thinking, ‘Aww damn that’s cool.’”
This quote is a pretty apt representation of what the guys are
like in person: energetic, clever, and quick to answer.
To their credit, their fun-having ways ended up setting a record
(while they recorded their album) at OCL studios... It was for
drinking the most during a session. And this even went further
when the proceeds from the bottles collected ended up saving a
high school’s dance, whose fund-raising recyclables were tragically
stolen. Bad Animal is all heart (and a lot of rosé).
Fun and games aside, however, the album they are releasing has
a ton of great moments. Drawing from heartbreaking personal experience,
to comic books, to dealings with the particularly vapid,
the album is “a series of vignettes. Many different windows into
different people’s lives,” as Gritchen describes.
But Painter says the band’s real merit is in their live performance.
“It’s all about the energy. We want to go fucking
insane, and leave it all on the stage... We really believe in what
we have here.”
Maybe you’ll see Bad Animal “getting lost” in the woods by
your house, or maybe you’ll see them melting faces in a crowded
bar. Whatever the occasion may be, you can be sure that there will
be an epic soundtrack to accompany them.
Catch Bad Animal’s album release at Broken City on June 17th. Also
follow their “Get Lost” video series where they take acoustic versions
of their songs to strange and sometimes uncomfortable places.
20 years of a mad circus
by Trent Warner
It’s been 20 years since Kevin Barnes founded of Montreal in Athens, Georgia.
That the project has endured is no small feat for any band, especially
one with a rotating crop of members and surreal theatrical productions that
feature dancers, mascots, confetti and even, at one point, Abraham Lincoln
dressed up like Spider-Man.
Strangely enough, these are the only things that would make sense at an of
Montreal show. Throughout the band’s storied history, Barnes was inspired by
psychedelic ‘60s folk and rock, and has adapted to involve elements of funk, soul,
electronic and disco. At times, this work can be frenetic and disjointed, equal parts
David Bowie glamour and Sly & the Family Stone grandeur.
These influences blend to create dancefloor ready indie pop that hides darker
lyrical content and explores heartbreak, death, mental health and even Barnes’
divorce on 2015’s Aureate Gloom. To Barnes, the juxtaposition signals a hopefulness
and a yearning for survival. He notes that slaves would do the same thing to
uplift their spirits through melody and musical communion. Exploring his dark
feelings are what Barnes needs to move on to the next life. He seems to rejoice in
While the Canadian tour will be more stripped down, Barnes hints at a show
that’s still strange and visual. It makes sense for a band that’s always changing
to pull back at this point, it’s a rare thing to see their emphasis on the musical
performance. There are only four shows planned currently, all in Western Canada
after a stop at Toronto’s Field Trip Music & Arts Festival. After all, “It’s a pretty long
journey to get through Canada,” says Barnes.
Maybe that’s Barnes’ secret to performing and touring for so long. “It creates a
more circus-like experience to have a big group of people all travelling together.
There’s always someone new to talk to and escape if need be.”
At the end of the summer/early fall, of Montreal plan to release a new album
and embark on yet another tour. After 20 years, 13 albums, and a documentary
film, the band continues on to its next life.
Of Montreal plays Calgary’s Flames Central on June 18th and Edmonton’s Needle
Vinyl Tavern on June 19th.
Kevin Barnes discusses the spirituality of his freak-funk psych-pop show.
photo: Chad Kamenshine
18 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
25 years young! by Sarah Mac
With a quarter century under their belts, Chixdiggit! prep new album and Fall tour.
photo: Christine Lortie
It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the
inception of local punk legends, Chixdiggit!.
Known for their fast, catchy riffs and fun,
light-hearted lyrics (usually about girls), Chixdiggit!
are veterans of the pop-punk scene and hail
from right here in Calgary. They’ve released five
full-length albums since their stumble into punk
rock stardom, as well as a handful of 7-inches,
singles and EPs. Their first album (self-titled) was
released on Sub Pop Records in 1996 and after
some extensive touring, label changes and a small
hiatus, they were picked up by Fat Wreck Chords
(2005) and have called it home ever since.
Recently we chatted with front man, K.J. Jansen,
about the band and anniversary show.
“We’ve had a good 25 years. It’s one of those
things, when we started we didn’t really think it
was really going to be anything. Now the joke’s
kinda on us. And well, 25 years kinda creeps up
on ya.” Jansen explains.
Twenty-five years is a long time for any band
and although we figured he couldn’t remember
it all, we asked for a rundown in honour of their
“I think we were 18, 19, that was our first show.
Then it was awhile before we could get the instruments,
and play them well enough to do it in front
of other people.” Jansen laughs and resumes.
“We just started as a joke. We had some friends
that bought the T-shirts that we made. And at
first, we were kinda thinking we could get by
without having to, you know, play shows and stuff
like that. We liked the idea of being in a band, but
not really the idea of the work. Then, the friends
who bought our T-shirts were asking us, ‘Where’s
this band?’ So, we were kind of challenged to play
a show,” he admits.
“After we played our first show, it turned into
another one and another one and then an album,
then a tour. But at first we had a really difficult time
getting a show out of town. Eventually, Huevos
Rancheros [another long-running Calgary band]
took us to Seattle, our first out of town show; then
we were hooked, and that was about 25 years ago.”
Jansen pauses, “Like I said, it creeps up on ya.”
Not only do we have 25 years to celebrate,
Chixdiggit! are reciprocating the love to their fans
in the form of a new album, which should be out
by September and followed by a tour. But until
then, you’ll have to get your fill at their upcoming
anniversary show. Which is a pretty easy compromise
if you ask us.
“I’m really looking forward to the anniversary
show, we haven’t played in almost a year. So it’s
time. And because it’s 25 years, it’s going to be a
party, that’s for sure,” Jansen laughs
“So you might as well come down to the show
and party and make fun of us for being old.”
Don’t miss Chixdiggit! at their 25th anniversary
party with The Shiverettes at Commonwealth in
Calgary on June 4th.
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 19
rollin’ out the Boogie Vans
by Mike Dunn
poster: Alan Forbes
Now in their fourth year throwing a wild and weird rock ‘n’
roll wizard party out in the bush, the Vandits VC have put
together their biggest lineup so far, with 18 bands spread out
over two nights, near Equity, Alberta.
Initially started as a fine excuse for the Vandits to get out of town for
a few days with their buddies and better halves, and have a chill hang
while checking out each other’s handiwork on the boogie van customization
front, Vantopia has grown from a small gathering of about eight
bands and 100 people in 2013, to the aforementioned 18 bands, and an
expected attendance of 300+ humans.
In addition to local favourites HighKicks, Woodhawk, and Miesha &
The Spanks, and Edmonton’s most loveable weirdoes, The Wet Secrets,
the lineup includes the reunion of Temple, Regina math-stoners Black
Thunder, Saskatoon’s Von Jumbo, and Denim Machine, who, according
to organizer Arlen Smith, “is kind of a side project of Frankie McQueen
and Mancub. They write rad songs about vannin’”
The party will be emceed by Vandits associate David “Matchstick”
Brooks, who writes and publishes a magazine called Custom Vanner out
of California. Matchstick has started a band called SAME/SAME, with
Vandits member Corey Martin, formerly of Breathe Knives and Helvis,
which Smith describes as, “a weird, dreamy psych/noise project that they
developed over Skype, sending song parts back and forth. They’re pals,
they talk on the phone all the time. I think they might be in love.” SAME/
SAME will play the Thursday night Vantopia pre-party at The Palomino,
which also includes Solid Brown and HFT, and again at the shaker on
Saturday night. The one act Smith hasn’t yet seen but is pumped to have
at the party, is Dead Quiet from Vancouver, “kind of a metal/fuzz rock
supergroup,” featuring members of Barn Burner and Ancients.
“I’m really stoked to cut loose. It’s pretty much my one weekend
a year to not have to be at the bar and responsible, and we’ve got
everything. Punk rock, thrash, stoner rock, garage rock, fuzz rock,
straight up rock n’ roll.”
Vantopia 4 goes down June 3rd-5th, near Equity, AB. Tickets are $30, and
include camping. There are no onsite liquor sales, BYOB, and no “unfamiliar”
dogs. The after party happens Sunday June 5th at The Palomino
Smokehouse, featuring Black Pussy, Frankie McQueen, Mammoth Grove
and Electric Owl.
20 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
rockin’ Western Canada to the core
What many thought would never be, is actually happening – Leftöver
Crack are coming to Western Canada.
Leftöver Crack hail from New York City, and rose from the ashes of
the brief but highly influential punk band, Choking Victim, in the late ‘90s. Since
their inception, they’ve gone through a couple lineup changes, as well as some
intensive label shifts. But as it stands, they are as follows: Stza Sturgeon, vocals; Alec
Baillie, bass; Chris Mann, guitar; Donny Morris, drums and are currently calling Fat
Wreck Chords their home.
Recently we chatted with front man and founding member, Stza Sturgeon, in
preparation for their Western Canadian tour.
Known for their punk approach on a classic ska, dancehall mixture — dubbed
crackrock steady beat — Leftöver Crack combine dance worthy tracks with a message
of anti-fascism and solidarity behind them. They’ve released three full-length
albums to date, their latest, Constructs of the State; released in November of 2015,
is their first full-length album in 12 years. Constructs hosts a roster of various punk
rock heavyweights involved on almost every track, which gives it a very eclectic
feel, while still maintaining their roots.
The release of this new album put many fears of a L.Ö.C. breakup to rest,
although promise of more new material would be music to our ears, and Sturgeon
gives us some hope.
“We have a plan to put together a compilation of all our seven-inch recordings,
our split-sides and our compilation tracks that were never released. But we’re in a
creative space right now, where we can just decide to write a song or cover a song,
go into the studio the next day and get it done. Especially if we’re all together, like
on tour,” he explains.
“So, for all we know we could be in Edmonton, on tour, and be like, ‘Hey, let’s
cover a Brian Adams song,” he laughs, then stops.
“Just the fact that I just thought of it, now there’s a 75 per cent chance it’s going
to happen. I’m thinking ‘Summer of ’69,’” he continues, completely serious.
On a creative high and with a new album in tow, it’s safe to say L.Ö.C are looking
forward to their Canadian dates. And with shows already sold out, it looks like fans
are just as excited.
bringing the Armageddon to Calgary
Controversial punk icons talk changes and picking up the pace.
Canada Day is fast approaching and what better way to celebrate than
with Canadian punk legends Dayglo Abortions and the Calgary Beer
The Dayglo Abortions are veterans of political satire and have the albums to
prove it. Forming out of Victoria, British Columbia, they have been offending the
Leftöver Crack may or may not cover Bryan Adams.
by Sarah Mac
photo: Alan Snodgrass
“I’ve never been to Western Canada and I’m looking forward to getting my fill of
Canada and all things Canadian. Seriously, I’m really excited, it’s beautiful up there,”
Leftöver Crack play Edmonton’s Starlite Room on June 28th, Calgary’s Dickens on
June 29th and 30th, Vancouver’s Venue on July 1st and 2nd and Victoria’s Distrikt on
by Sarah Mac
public with the loud, heavy, tongue-in-cheek punk rock since 1979. Their first
album, Out of the Womb, was released in 1981 and The Dayglos have been consistently
pissing people off ever since. Their latest, March’s Armageddon Survival
Guide released by Unrest Records, is no different.
The constant and mastermind behind all this vulgarity is front man and founding
member, The Cretin. And luckily for us, he had some time to chat.
First off, Armageddon Survival Guide, is the first full-length album from The
Dayglo Abortions in 12 years. The last, Holy Shiite, was released back in ’04.
“We’re not the most prolific band on earth, it usually takes us a couple years
between albums. But we’ve gone through a lot of changes lately too. We changed
labels, we changed drummers and management. Actually, almost everything has
changed in a lot of ways,” The Cretin explains. “But we’re really proud of the new
“And we’re already working on songs for part two of the Armageddon Survival
Guide,” he laughs.
“We’re trying to get more prolific. But most importantly, we all just want to play.
That’s the biggest thing.”
And play they will! The Calgary Beer Core collective have set up an impressive
lineup for you to feast your ears on, and with The Dayglos as headliners you’re
guaranteed a gritty and obnoxious punk rock time.
“It’s Canada Day, it’s a good day to party, one of those days where you don’t
not want to play. And there’s no blatant nationalism at these Canada Day parties
either,” The Cretin jokes.
“We’ll probably play the whole new album; it’s going to be fun. We have two
extra guitarists playing with us, so it’s just going to be balls-out, three guitars. And
it’s the Calgary Beer Core, so it’s going to be a goon show; you guys are going to be
crushed,” he laughs.
There you have it, kids. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of Calgary Beer
Core’s Canada Day punk rock party – so don’t miss it!
Dayglo Abortions play Calgary Beer Core’s Canada Day party on — you guessed
it — July 1st at Distortion.
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 21
HIGH STRUG DOWNERS
move it on up, dig the Downers new record and new sound
The first thing that strikes you about
the High Strung Downers is that
while they may look and play the
part of a here-comes-trouble late ‘50s, early
‘60s rockabilly band, dressed-to-kill in snazzy
lizard lounge suits with their hot-rod hair
cuts, sonically and psychologically they’re
There’s a swack of personalities and
stylistics going on that’s more like a blazing
romp across America than it is a quick swing
through Tennessee. Even though they’re
steeped in rock ‘n’ roll, country, R&B and
doo-wop, the Downers are a wild mix of
characters from different corners of the rock
‘n’ roll universe which makes them familiar,
fun and, all important, refreshing.
Joe Love, stand-up bass player, writes
straight ahead, this-is-how-it-is, point
blank, take no prisoners songs. Call him
Joe “Dee-Dee” Love, because he’s got a
heart full of Ramones achin’ to be. T-Bone
whacks away on the snare drum, but he’s
also a sure-fire crooner one part Tom
Waits, one part Chris Isaak with honeymoon
eyes. And the power-duo led by
Greasy Greg and Earl Garnet deep dip into
the Lennon-McCartney rock ‘n’ roll well of
everlasting life cranked on the Clash.
Greasys puts it into perspective, “When
people ask, ‘What are you guys all about?’ I just
say, ‘Picture the Ramones, playing on Johnny
Cash’s gear, dressed like the Rat Pack.”
Greasy Greg, is the new boy on the block
who replaced Buzz Elroy on rhythm guitar
and vocals, giving the band a whole new
turbo charge. Earl speaks to the line-up
change. “It happened naturally. Buzz certainly
was a strength who gave us a clear identity
and moved us forward. And we want to
continue to evolve, that should be the goal
of any band.”
Greasy previously played in another roots
band, The Ruminants, and was coming out
of bad patch in his life plagued by an awful
relationship breakup and a death. “I was in
a real negative space, and the band gave me
something to focus on, get excited about
and something to be a part of when I really
needed it in my life.”
There’s no denying that Greasy brings a
blast of energy to the Downers that didn’t
exist before. The shift from hayseed rockabilly
to hard-hitting rock ‘n’ roll took over.
Earl says that’s exactly what they set out
to do. “We were on a mission. Whatever
style of music we delved into, I wanted to
sound like now. I can’t write songs about the
‘50s, I just can’t.”
Greasy echos the same sentiment. “It’s a
pleasing aesthetic to do the whole rockabilly
thing, but it’s not 1955 anymore. And quite
honestly, I wouldn’t want to live there anyway.
Black people couldn’t vote, women had
little to no rights. It was great if you were a
straight, white dude, but that’s about it. Sure
we’re influenced by the past, but I’m pretty
happy to live in 2016 right now and to make
a record that has a High Strung Downers’
sound. The same way Credence Clearwater
Revival has a sound. You wouldn’t say they’re
a country band, a rock ‘n’ roll or R&B band,
you just know it’s a CCR song, and that was
our goal to making this record.
The HSD’s record release of Can’t Feel
Good All The Time is on Sat. June 11 at the
Ironwood Stage and Grill.
the pulse of Queensland is all about music, dancing girls and screaming for more
A menois et trois of management: Mark, Jesse and Mike. The main monkeys at work and play.
Easy come, easy go... The Downers toast to good and bad times, but always in style.
Mark Parker chalked up a number of years in
the bar industry with lengthy stints at the
Palomino, the now defunct Amsterdam
Rhino and then a two year run in Las Vegas managing
a bar on Fremont Street before tracking down his old
high school pal, Mike Workman, who was running
Dixon’s Public House in Midnapore. Combing their
pub and live music experience, they teamed up and
took over the Brass Monkey, a neighbourhood bar
nestled deep in the southeast burb of Queensland on
the edge of beautiful Deer Run.
Parker says they had their sights set on a couple of
places, but the moment he walked into the Monkey he
knew that was the bar. “I’m a music guy, and there was
great stage and PA already set up. I could work with
that, for sure.”
Jessica Chung, a marketing coordinator for OPA!, the
Greek food chain, was regular at the Monkey before
Parker and Workman took over. The three became fast
friends then associates moving towards making the bar
am honest music venue outside of downtown.
Initially Parker booked a few cover bands, but was
quickly dissatisfied as was his clientele. “I was paying
bands to practice their set list to an empty room. No
one was interested.” While regulars love their karaoke
and open jam nights (completed with flutes and sitars
by B. Simm
by B. Simm
sometimes), when the weekend comes, fresh, original
music is the order their customers ask for.
As Calgary matures, so does its demographics and
communities. It’s becoming increasingly common that
those who move out of downtown opting for a house
and yard don’t necessarily want to throw out the records
and social life they grew up with. Bars aren’t just a
phase of life, they remain a way of life no matter where
you live. That’s the new reality for old and young.
The Brass Monkey has all the right stuff to make
that happen. It’s a real music venue, not just a makeshift
live entertainment room on the weekend. A
bona-fide hangout whose motto is more the merrier...
“We live for the party. Life is better with dancing girls
on tables, live music and people wailing at the top of
Chung says that bar has gone through a facelift with
the change of ownership. “They drove out the old,
crusty crowd, the drug dealers, all the bad stuff. It was
a rejuvenation, a re-brand that brought in younger, livelier
faces. There’s a community here now, without the
drama. We’ve become the pulse of Queensland.”
Visit the Monkey located at 950 Queensland Drive SE.
For more info go to brassmonkeypub.ca
22 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
THIS IS SLED ISLAND
In her welcome letter opening the Sled Island program guide,
executive director Maud Salvi notes that the strength of our
community is what has brought Sled Island to a decade of
being. I have to say I agree. After all, she’s my boss. (More on
that further down.)
Over 60 local bands (and more still from the Western
Canada region) will be performing at the festival on the same
stages as bands like Guided By Voices, Deafheaven and Peaches.
Homegrown artists of non-musical disciplines will be in
focus as well. Over 400 volunteers will commit their time. And,
hopefully, an enormous audience will spend five days engaging
with all of this.
In covering the festival, BeatRoute wanted to honour the
tradition of the presence of veteran bands and promising
younger talent, but also to highlight that this is the weirdest,
most gender and sexuality diverse year yet.
It can be a little awkward to talk about when we’re a media
sponsor and the person writing to you now does a short-term
contract with Sled each year. As a community-produced publication,
BeatRoute relies on interconnection to produce compelling,
accurate stories informed by firsthand understanding.
In a relatively small city with a precarious economy like
Calgary, you have to care very much about whether your culture
lives or dies. There’s a very real chance that the latter can
happen if you don’t.
So, fuck objective, fuck clinical detachment and outside
assessment. We love Sled Island and we love being a part of
letting art grow and touch people. What we hope the most is
that we can use that passion to tell you a story that’s worth
hearing, and inspire you to be an active participant in something
that takes a little faith to experience.
We hope you’ll find the following pages to be a weird, exciting
ride that inspire curiosity and exploration of Sled as a hub
where our city shines together, collectively, in unison. If we did
our job right, you’ll be asking for ten more years.
photo: Allison Seto
GUIDED BY VOICES
lo-fi indie-rock titans reform with new blood
After a four-year reunion run featuring
the “classic-era Guided By Voices lineup,”
the on-again-off-again lo-fi titans
called it quits once again in 2014, then resurfaced
with a new roster this year. Since news
of a GBV date at Sled Island broke, the band’s
founder and high-functioning lead songwriter
Robert Pollard has had much in the works,
and plans to keep the momentum going.
Since March, Pollard has released two
albums and counting—a solo effort, called Of
Course You Are, and GBV’s 22nd record, Please
Be Honest, which he recorded himself and
played every instrument on, thus making it sort
of feel like a solo work. But as Pollard explains,
he doesn’t separate or delineate projects.
“I wrote a new batch of songs and mapped
out all the parts for each one. I typically don’t
do that except for a project I have called
Teenage Guitar, and even with that I do mostly
spontaneous experimentation,” Pollard says.
“But for Please Be Honest my idea was to play
everything, have all the instrumentation and
vocal parts scripted and if I could pull it off
without it sounding too clumsy, I would give
it the Guided By Voices tag. If not, I would just
call it Teenage Guitar. Obviously I decided that
To mark GBV’s Calgary appearance, we
picked Pollard’s brain via email (he hasn’t
done a phone interview in years, apparently),
corresponding about his evolving approach to
songwriting and the future of the band.
BeatRoute: I’ve read that you keep a
notebook full of phrases sourced from
random places and things, and then you
create lyrics from that. What are some
of the lines in your notebook right now?
Robert Pollard: Here, let me get it out. How
can a fool decorate? Geezers’ hat team. Euclid
mannequin. Heavy blondes can cook. Discount
revolution. AC/DC motorized wheelchair.
Naming cities after planets.
BR: Do you have any new techniques
that you’ve incorporated into your songwriting
process for this album?
RP: I’ve begun a process where I re-assemble
sections of songs I’ve written using a cd burner.
It’s like editing a film. I can insert or repeat any
section I choose to at any place in the song.
It’s just moving things around until it’s right. A
similar process to making collages.
BR: My favourite song on the new album
is “Unfinished Business.” Do you always
feel compelled to finish what you’ve
started? Do you currently have any
unfinished business that you’d like to
RP: I don’t return. I move on to the next thing.
I keep the gutters fresh. If an idea doesn’t come
in a fairly spontaneous manner, it’s probably
not worth fussing over. I find that to be the
case probably 99 per cent of the time. I know
what I like. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I
know what pleases me.
BR: Because there is always so much in
the works for you musically, I’m wondering
if you have ever taken an extended
by Julijana Capone
period off from music—and, if so, what
was the reason?
RP: No, I have never done that. It’s difficult to
write on the road, but I never spend too much
time away from home. I work everyday at
home. Whether it be on songs or collages.
BR: Guided By Voices has disbanded
twice in the past, but reformed this year
with a fresh lineup. Did you feel that a
totally new lineup was necessary for the
band to continue?
RP: Yeah. We played for four years with the
original line up. Actually the Bee Thousand line
up. And we recorded six albums. It was very
productive and it was good to get everyone
back together again. But at the end it started
getting very mechanical and tired. There was
a great degree of complacency, so I decided it
was time to wrap it up. I’ve decided now that
Guided By Voices the brand name, just needed
BR: How has it been playing and rehearsing
songs with the guys? Can you envision
more GBV live dates and albums in
RP: Yeah, we’re going to play as many shows as
we can and see what happens. Maybe record
an album or two. You find out what kind of
chemistry is there when you tour for a while.
We’ll just have to see how it unfolds.
Guided By Voices perform at Olympic Plaza on
June 25th as part of Sled Island Music and Arts
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 25
Calgary opens wide for its first taste of the iconic artist in seven years at Sled Island
Peaches brings Rub to life onstage during stint at Sled Island.
An innovative and iconoclastic artist with a
heart of gold and the warpaint to match,
Peaches was already rocking the boat of
Toronto’s club scene when she debuted her first solo
outing Fancypants Hoodlum (Accudub Inc), under
her given name Merrill Nisker, back in 2005. But it
wasn’t until the electro-rocker and rapper was transplanted
to German soil in 2000 that her musical
career truly began to flourish. Signed to the Kitty-Yo
record label after an unforgettable one-night stand,
Peaches followed her water-testing Lovertits EP with
the release of her breakthrough album The Teaches
of the Peaches in the fall of 2000. Evidently, she
had found a home for her soul and her art in the
cultural Mecca and has stayed on to return the city’s
“Well, I’ve lived here for 16 years and I just
think Berlin is still a super cool city,” Peaches says.
“It’s very open to night life, and music, and art,
and performance, and experimentation, and I’ve
received a lot of it and met a lot of international,
super-talented people that make their way
through. Being in Europe you get a little more of
that, because people float through a little easier
and also in terms of funding and collaborations
and other things like that.”
A tour de force with Marilyn Manson and
Queens of the Stones Age further established
Peaches’ reputation as a dynamic on-stage presence
with a talent for smashing gender-norms
through her glamorously riveting performances.
Deemed too racy for Britain’s Top of the Pops, she
went on to flaunt a full-beard on the cover of her
2003 album Fatherfucker (XL), which featured
Iggy Pop on the single “Kick It.” Continuing to defy
the odds and social conventions across borders,
her subversive songs were suddenly accessible
to a mainstream audience, popping up on the
soundtracks for movies like Waiting... and Mean
Girls, as well as on television series such as South
Park, 30 Rock, True Blood, and The L Word. Meanwhile,
everyone from Pink to REM were queuing
up to have some of that erotic Peaches magic
spread upon their labours.
“I’ve always been mostly interested in performance
art, and video, and music - the fashion thing
was never really a concern of mine, that just kind
of organically grew out of what was happening. I
think I’ve just found more likeminded people, not
that there weren’t in Canada, but it just seems like a
good flow. And, I’ve had a little stint doing different
projects in a theatre here and met different people.
There’s just a really good conceptual and contemporary
art scene. So, I don’t need to push. I just
try and do my thing and it just seems to like build
organically, which is really, really good.”
After marrying her polti-punk passions to those
of Joan Jett, Josh Homme, Beth Ditto, amongst
others, for her next LP Impeach My Bush (XL) in
2006, Peaches returned to command the dancefloor
in 2009 when she unleashed I Feel Cream
(XL). A glittering trans-disco fantasy, teased-out by
the show-stopping single “Talk to Me,” the album
was buffed to perfection by the skillful ministrations
of co-producers Simian Mobile Disco, Soulwax,
and Shapemod. The next year in, 2010, Peaches
gained the ‘Electronic Artist of the Year’ award
at the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards in
Toronto, and performed a one-woman version of
Jesus Christ Superstar at Berlin’s HAU1, entitled
Peaches Christ Superstar. For her latest full-length
outing, Rub (I U She Music), featuring Nick Zinner
(Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Peaches tapped into her love of
filmmaking to enhance and contextualize each of
the album’s carnal capers.
“From the beginning I used to make a lot of
Super-8 movies for the songs, so it was always part
of it. I’ve made a movie that I’m in and also directed
a lot of the videos that I’ve made throughout
the years. I’m also enjoying making videos for
every song on Rub. The track “Rub” has its own
six-minute video and was made using a deliberately
all-women cast and crew of 40 in the desert
with me and Lex Vaughn, who spent a lot of time
in Canada, and A.L. Steiner, who made the lesbian
porn film Community Action. There’s already five
videos that have been put out for Rub, including
‘Dick in the Air,’ which is a collaboration featuring
me and Margaret Cho.”
Other NSFW vignettes for the album include
the Peaches-directed “Light in Places” starring UK
by Christine Leonard
laser-butt-plug aerialist Empress Stah, “Free Drink
Ticket” directed by Sara Sachs, and “Close Up”
featuring Sled Island 2015 performer, Kim Gordon
(Sonic Youth, Body/Head). Directed by friend and
collaborator Vice Cooler (who performs alongside
Peaches at the 2016 festival), the combative-clip
for “Close Up” finds Peaches taking on the role of a
“I’m glad that they [female martial artists]
exist,” the composer of the ultimate walk-out
song, “I Don’t Give A ...,” confirms. “That video was
born out of my relationship with Lucha VaVoom,
they’re a Mexican wresting and burlesque troupe
who perform four times a year in L.A. and they’re
friends of mine so it was a nice collaboration. We
actually found me a stunt-double, a pole-dancer
and wrestler who was sort of my build, so that was
really cool. The director, Vice Cooler, also coproduced
that album with me. I have a little house in
L.A. and we spent a year in my garage making the
album from scratch there. It’s not so glamorous, it’s
just a garage, but it was fun.”
That album, Rub, and its accompanying
eye-candy provide a galvanizing glimpse into the
marvelous psyche, of an ambihelical performer
who channels Prince and Bowie, while embodying
the spirit of rebellious artists from history who
have refused to choose between sexual identity,
and self-expression. This assertion is echoed by
Peaches appearance on the silver screen in the
motion picture Desire Will Set You Free (2015 Amard
Bird Films), directed by Yony Leyser and is also
Peache’s selection for Sled Island’s film lineup.
Having called in favours and utilized her
impressive network of contacts to assemble an
avant-garde dream team of bands and artists to
fulfill her role as curator and festival queen diva,
Peaches looks forward to bringing a taste of her
adopted hometown to Sled Island and the Canadian
“A lot of these acts will give people a Berlin
experience,” she says. “Hyenaz, Planningtorock, and
Born In Flamez will sonically blow people’s minds.
Just come as you are and be like you wanna be!”
As for her own flagship concert, the Sled Island
headliner Peaches promises to bust out the ultimate
Rub experience for her audience when she
mounts the stage at Flames Central.
“The first half of 2015 was about finishing the
album and getting it ready. It came out in September
and I’ve just been touring like a crazy woman
since then. It’s been business as usual, which is not
business as usual, which is just super exciting and
fun as usual. We have done so many shows and
so many festivals. Mostly America and Europe,
I’ve done Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal, like I
usually do, but it’s good to dig a little deeper. The
show is Rub-focused for sure, but with some classics
thrown in. I’ve only done all the songs from an
album in order live once; I’ve played Teaches of the
Peaches backwards so ‘Fuck the Pain Away’ would
be last. This show is pretty true to the new album
and working the songs out in their pure form. It’s
like a big mess, but in a really good way.”
Peaches performs at Flames Central on June 25th with
her curator picks Vice Cooler and Lafawndah.
26 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
bringing Berlin, America’s most exciting club music and more to Sled Island
“I’m just excited that it wasn’t restricted to just bands in a certain
area,” Peaches says with enthusiasm in describing her role as
curator of this year’s Sled Island Festival. “Having these superinteresting
Berlin bands, someone like Born in Flamez, that don’t
get to play outside Europe (especially in Canada), in a different
context is going to be exciting for everybody.”
by Christine Leonard
Planningtorock — “I’ve been a supporter of Planningtorock
(Jam Rostron ) since her first tour. I took
her on tour with me in 2006. She’s from Northern
England and has been living in Berlin for five years.
She’s also really, really specialized in their style and influential
in her scene. Planningtorock and I wrote and
produced the video for ‘Free Drink Ticket’ together,
and she also remixed my song ‘Vaginoplasty.’”
Born in Flamez — “They’re very dark, slow and
possess a more experimental sound that is very
happening right now. Atmospheric, but also still
danceable. From that new school of that, with a
big video element… I’ve seen her do a lot of diverse
projects that are cool sonically and that’ll be very
Junglepussy — Junglepussy is more like rapping, but
it’s more New York. Like old-school style with that
amazing quick wit. Junglepussy and I have never met,
so I’m really glad she’s coming along. I always want
good strong performers, but I also wanted a mix of
all musical cross-sections. I think there’s a good mix
here, so I’m happy about that.
Hyenaz — “Hyenaz and I have a good relationship already. I actually had them [the duo of Mad
Kate from Bonaparte and Tusk] on tour with me for a bit. It’s very conceptual, very ritualistic performance
and a lot of movement. Mad Kate, she’s a great artist figure in Berlin doing a lot of performance
art and post-porn work and a lot of academic work. (It’s not like regular porn it’s like neo-porn. Like on
your own terms; not your typical porn.) So, they don’t get much chance to get out of Europe. That’s
going to be a really interesting show. I predict Hyenaz is going to blow people’s minds.”
Desire Will Set You Free (film) — “…will give
people a total view on a queer, open world in Berlin.
It’s a really good film about people living their lives…
My contribution to the movie is that I do a song by a
kabarett artist from the 1920s called Claire Waldoff.
She was very interested in gender-fucking back then,
but she was less popular than Marlene Dietrich.
What’s interesting to me is that she talked about a
lot of stuff during that time that’s been reintroduced
now in Berlin; in the past ten years there’s definitely
been that freedom again.”
Lafawndah — “Likewise, I
have yet to see Lafawndah
[Yasmin Dubois] perform
live. When it comes to Lafawdah,
she has this Middle
Eastern kinda vibe in her
singing and it’s also a little
experimental. But still keep
in mind that everything
that I’ve picked that’s experimental
is also danceable. It
is actually quite a nice mix,
now that I look at it!”
Maluca — “And then we
have Maluca, who has
these Caribbean roots.
Maluca has worked a lot
with Diplo, but is also a
great energetic live entertainer.
I saw her playing a
small club in Los Angeles
like four years ago.”
TT The Artist — “I know that TT [Tedra] and
I have wanted to play together for a long time.
I always DJ TT’s albums, so it’s nice to have
her along. I just love the music. It’s like booty
Baltimore beats and brings in more of like an
American vibe to the whole thing.”
Vice Cooler — “Such an incredible performer,
but he hasn’t really performed in a really long
time so it’s gonna be all new music. And, it’s kinda
me pushing him to play again, which is sort of
selfish, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking
forward to seeing all of these come alive!”
Cakes da Killa – “Cakes is from New York and is
always a lot of fun. Cakes and I have also done shows
before. In fact, we just recently played in France
together. She’s just super high-energy and really an
excellent performer. And, she’s such an insane fast
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 27
from rags to riches, from intensity to even more intensity
I’m trying to see if George Clarke will ever blink. We’re engaged
in a staring contest across time and space to the Pitchfork Music
Festival in Chicago’s Union Park, Sunday, July 20th, 2014. I’m
thinking that maybe he won’t. To his right guitarist Shiv Mehra
is strumming two heavily reverbed notes on the most beautiful
Fender Jaguar I’ve ever seen, to his left Clarke’s best friend
and closest collaborator, Kerry McCoy, the only person onstage
wearing a piece of clothing that isn’t black, waits for his signal.
Clarke is wearing an immaculately cut black shirt, black pants,
black patent leather Oxfords polished to a reflective sheen, hair
parted far to the left. He doesn’t speak, but he’s communicating -
gesticulating wildly, almost conducting the crowd before the song
has begun. He still hasn’t blinked, and I’d hate to be whoever he’s
staring at. His stare is Old Testament wrath-of-God stuff.
Clarke may be one of the only frontmen in rock music, and
definitely one of very few in extreme metal, who can be accurately
described as ‘flamboyant’ onstage (he has been compared to
everyone from Freddie Mercury to, and I’m not making this up,
Hitler), but offstage he is thoughtful and reflective, particularly
when it comes to his band and its music. He’s also an ordinary,
suburban white guy getting into his late 20s, coping with fame,
notoriety, newfound wealth, touring, not touring, moving cities,
staying still. Being the vocalist of the band giving modern extreme
music a dose of raw and unfiltered feeling.
Clarke met Kerry McCoy in high school after moving to
Modesto, California, a place he now describes as “Pretty desolate,
a small town. San Francisco is where everyone attempts to go to
after they graduate and pretty much where we grew up is a suburb.”
McCoy was one of the only kids in the school who listened
to punk and metal, identifying Clarke as one of his people by a
Slayer t-shirt. They went deeper into the genre, finding thrash,
death metal and finally, and above all else, black metal.
“We were involved in a lot of random bands in high school,”
says Clark. “None of them really did too much. We didn’t really
get serious about what we were doing until Deafheaven started.”
After a spell of homelessness, sleeping in cars and on couches,
Clarke and McCoy moved to San Francisco, sharing a room in
a Haight-Ashbury borderline-squat, both resigned to working
nothing-jobs to be able to continue to play music.
They spent $500 recording a demo and released it online
through Bandcamp. Not long after Tre McCarthy, one of the
founders of the Deathwish Inc. label alongside Coverge’s Jacob
Bannon, found the demo on a blog and emailed the band, offering
to release the demo. Clarke and McCoy’s counter-offer was
that Deathwish release Roads to Judah, their debut album.
“Things started moving really quickly,” Clarke says. “We were
essentially nothing and then we became a real band. We did
SXSW and some touring and it grew from there. We toured for
two years and during that time we had different members switch
in and out. We ended up gaining our current drummer, Dan Tracy,
and started working on songs in the fall of 2012.”
Those songs had names like “Dream House,” “Irresistible” and
“The Pecan Tree,” the album was titled Sunbather. The cover
is pink, shading to orange. The title is written in a typeface,
Sunbather Book, that’s available to purchase. There’s a section in
which French musician Stéphane “Neige” Paut, who was hybridizing
black metal and shoegaze as early as 2005 with his band Alcest,
reads a section of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness
of Being. While Roads to Judah’s lyrics detailed Clarke’s dissolute
life in San Francisco, Sunbather was about the possibilities that
were in front of him now that he had left that world behind. It
breaks all the rules that metal claims to have never had and does
“That record is about wanting more than you have, and it’s
by Gareth Watkins
about wealth disparity and finding yourself in
financial straits. At that time we were going
through a lot of transitions. We had lost our
whole band, so Kerry started writing songs on
his own. It was very stressful, and I think we
turned that stress into something creative.”
Roads to Judah had been a critical darling,
placed in best of lists by the mainstream and
metal press alike. It opened doors for them, but
Sunbather was a wrecking ball: review score
aggregator Metacritic found that it was the
best-reviewed major release of 2013, and it now
stands as the seventeenth best reviewed record
of all time on the site, beaten by Bob Dylan,
Nirvana, Beyoncé, Serge Gainsbourg and Kendrick
Lamar. It took first place in the best metal
albums lists of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Spin and
others. On paper, it shouldn’t have worked at all:
black metal with a distinct and acknowledged
influence from Burzum, the one-man-band of
a white supremacist, convicted murderer and
church arsonist, but also gorgeous, crystalline
shoegazing, tropical EBow and slide guitar
harmonies from artists who dressed like regular
people and would talk about their love for
Drake in interviews.
Two years of touring followed before the
self-described “road warriors” were back in the
studio. Following Sunbather wouldn’t be easy.
“It was a high-stress situation again. Because
we had received all these accolades with
Sunbather we didn’t want to create the same
record twice. That was the biggest challenge: we
wanted to step outside of our comfort zone a
little bit and include different influences - just
evolve, and be interesting to ourselves.”
For last year’s New Bermuda, the band was looking to “trim the
fat,” as Clarke puts it, to “Focus on stronger, more clear melodies.
We also wanted to have a more metallic sound, a more riff-focused
record. There’s a lot more urgency on New Bermuda.”
In addition to having something to prove, Clarke was having
something of a quarter-life crisis, having gotten everything he
promised himself on Sunbather and still not feeling content.
“That record thematically is a bit darker - it focuses on depression
a lot, feeling uncomfortable, being in transition, dealing with
adulthood for the first time. It’s about a loss of creativity, about
moving to Los Angeles and not having it be what you wanted it
to be. About being depressed.”
The song “Luna” portrays this beautifully when Clarke screams:
“There is no ocean for me/ There is no glamour/ Only the mirage
of water ascending from the asphalt/ I gaze at it from the oven
of my home/ Confined to a house that never remains clean/ To a
bed where the ill never get well.” The song opens with a guitar riff
with a debt to thrash metal and Clarke sings in a register that’s
lower and more guttural than he had on previous records. It’s noticeably
more ‘metal,’ whatever that word means now that bands
like Deafheaven exist.
They’ll be playing Sled Island after coming off a headlining tour
with Tribulation and Envy and a support slot for Lamb of God
and Anthrax, both the largest they’ve ever played. They’re used
to being the odd band out, the metal band at the indie festival,
the indie band on the metal tour, but if knowing that half of their
audience just isn’t going to get it phases them then they haven’t
shown it yet.
Deafheaven play at the #1 Legion on June 25th as part of Sled Island
Music and Arts Festival.
28 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and the weaponization of pleasure
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is a monolithic
figurehead of underground music and art,
and has always rode the vanguard of the
avant-garde. Given he/r stature as a confrontational
artist going back to early ‘70s with COUM Transmissions,
or inventing “industrial music” as one-fourth
of Throbbing Gristle later that decade, or embracing
acid-house culture with Psychic TV in the ‘80s, right
through to he/r immersion into pandrogyny (now
preferring “s/he,” “he/r,“ “we” and “us” pronouns) -
Gen has always smashed boundaries and taboos.
Since reforming Psychic TV in 2003, P-Orridge has
continued to craft intricate and fascinating music, and
Psychic TV’s new album, Alienist, due out this September,
will be no exception here. A return to the music the
members of PTV cut their teeth on in those psychedelic
Sixties, figures heavily: “We’ve been going through
this interesting phase for a while now, where the band
that’s playing with me now are totally into obscure ‘60s
psychedelic music. The band has a real affection for that
era, and growing up in that era, we saw all sorts of those
bands live, like Pink Floyd.
“And it dawned on me that there wasn’t that same
excitement at most concerts that we were seeing
anymore, or being a part of - and that was a shame!
There’s a really amazing experience that can be had if
the band relaxes and just plays as long as they want, the
way they want, improvising when they want, and just
giving everything they have energy-wise to an audience.
That’s what an audience both craves and deserves,
and that’s why we usually have it in our contract that
we’ll play at least two hours, because it takes a while
for people to relax and realize they’re in a safe place at
last - where they don’t have to worry about looking
cool, or fashionable. They can do ridiculous dances, and
it’s okay, because people are laughing and smiling with
each other - so it’s about that now. That’s the drive - is
to get that connection with everybody there, in the
sort of timeless moment of energy. And that’s led us
to going back and looking at our library of what we’ve
enjoyed in that way, from bands in the past - so we’re
by Kyle Harcott
doing cover versions, and this new record has two,
of the four songs – ‘cos they’re long [laughs]. We‘re
covering Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire,” and we do
“How Does It Feel To Feel?” by The Creation. The other
two songs are originals. There’s “I’m Looking For You,”
which is the story of Lucifer’s fall with the fallen angels,
and being told by a cynical observer that rebellion was
over and worthless, and it was too late! [laughs] And
the other song is about... well, you’ll have to see, that
one’s “The Alienist.” And that’s one that’s about my
love of words, really, because “alienist” can also mean
“detective,” and it can also mean “psychiatrist” as it did
in the Victorian era. So the title has all these different
seemingly contradictory meanings and that’s what that
song has become about - the playing with language and
the different resonance you get. But it’s a danceable one!
So if we could sum it up, it’s that in Psychic TV, we use
pleasure as a weapon.“
While the band doesn’t tour as heavily as they used
to, P-Orridge tells us s/he remains fond of Canada, and
recounts the tale of a special Ottawa gig in 1990: “Ottawa
was weird. We were booked into this restaurant
that usually had cabaret, Frank Sinatra-imitation singers.
Gosh knows why we were booked in there, it was so
bizarre. And the PA was so inadequate that we turned it
into performance art and piled all the tables and chairs
people were sat in, into a big pyramid, and sort of did a
samba ‘round this pyramid, with abstract noise in the
background. That same night we got a message that a
roadie from Mötley Crüe had turned up and said Mötley
were really big fans of Psychic TV, and they put us on
the VIP list for their gig at the stadium that night. So we
all went there after our soundcheck, to this stadium and
saw Mötley Crüe, and saw Tommy Lee going round and
upside-down in his drums in the air. Pretty amazing!”
As for the show they’re bringing to Sled Island this
year, people can undoubtedly expect “A brand-new,
super-duper video light show, and a lot of smiling!”
Psychic TV perform at Dickens Pub on June 24th as part
of Sled Island Music and Arts Festival.
photo: Jorge Pereira
NEW BOMB TURKS
Cleveland’s kings of swing
In 1990 the times were-a-changing:
Margaret Thatcher threw
in the towel, The Simpsons first
aired on TV and the New Bombs
Turks emerged from a dormitory
at Ohio State University.
Although the Turks were part of
the laid-back college town and
the state capital which defined
Columbus at that time, all four
founding members grew up in the
industrial grit of Cleveland, a two
hour drive to the north on the
shore of Lake Erie.
“Cleveland was definitely
different than Columbus,” says
Eric Davidson, the Turks’ frantic
frontman who, along with
guitarist Jim Weber and bassist
Matt Reber, formed the nucleus
of the most blistering of punk
bands to spring from the Midwest.
“Cleveland was an older town, with a
lot more ethnicity, drenched in music with a
punk history. It kind of had a big city attitude
that was very surly, dirty and industrial. It
was just a lot more diverse and sarcastic.”
Sarcasm was at the irreverent core of many
punk bands in the 80s and 90s. And the
Turks, who came from the same town as the
king of sarcasm, Harvey Pekar, were raised in
a climate of profound cynicism—the erosion
of America’s manufacturing and economic
core that produced the desolate Rustbelt era.
“This sounds all so needlessly poetic,” says
Davidson reflecting on his upbringing, “but
for people my age and a little bit older, we
were the children of people who were slowly
losing their jobs.”
Although Davidson sidesteps and downplays
the sentiment, Cleveland suffered one
of the steepest economic declines in US
history that resulted in nearly 25 percent of
its population, or 177,000 people to leave the
city between 1970 and 1980.
In the midst of its despair, Davidson notes
a number of circumstances that his generation
of Clevelanders cut their teeth on and
gave the Turks their unmistakable endurance.
“Dennis Kucinich was the mayor for awhile
(1977-79) who was very, very liberal and an
out-atheist (in a Catholic stronghold), the
unions were tough, and Cleveland always
had a really good radio market. Even though
boring classic rock lingered into the ‘90s,
sometimes at night you’d hear some pretty
good music on those stations, along with a
really good mix of college stations. And the
seediness, just the places you had to go see
bands, which was downtown or just on the
west side of downtown, were beat-up, old,
grungy dive bars you’d have to sneak into and
sit through a crappy cover band or new wave
band just to see that one punk band. That’s
the way Cleveland was, sometimes you had
to drive really fucking far just to see things,
and it all kind of builds this steeliness in you
by B. Simm
just to find things you like.”
Another of Davidson’s observations why
Cleveland spawned its particular character
conducive to punk was the extreme weather.
Living next to the mighty Lake Erie meant
summers were hot and humid but soon
plunged into dark, stormy, severe winters
that cut to the bone.
“I always used to say life is going get better
in the spring and summer, then it’s going to
get terrible, really fucking terrible. I remember
when we first went out to California,
where it’s kind of nice all the time, especially
LA, and I was visiting the guy who ran Lookout
He said, ‘Yeah, we were punk rock kids
who were mad at our parents, rude and
everything like that, but we weren’t really
that mad.’ I went, ‘What!?’, and he shrugged
saying, ‘We would just go down to the beach
and look at hot girls.’ Going down to the
beach and looking at hot girls was never
an option in Cleveland. If it was, I probably
wouldn’t have started a punk band.”
The New Bomb Turks officially put the
band on the back burner in 2005 although
they continue to play select festivals and
one-off shows. Jim Weber teaches high
school full time, and Davidson is an editor for
CMJ (College Music Journal) who now lives
in Queens, NY. In 2010 Davidson published
a witty, street-smart, insightful account of
garage punk called We Never Learn: The
Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988–2001. He says
the Turks’s current set is culled from the first
two Cyrpt releases, !!Destroy-Oh-Boy!! and
Information Highway Revisited as well 2000’s
Nightmare Senario which debuted their
current drummer, Sam Brown
Arguably the fastest punk outfit that
swings supreme, Davidson says they’re still
built for speed and promises “a fun show, or
we wouldn’t do it.”
Catch New Bomb Turks on June 25th at Dickens
Pub as part of Sled Island 2016.
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 29
accomplished instrumentalists noting the presence of younger fans at shows
Tortoise come to Calgary shortly after the release of their
dance above all else
History will try to tell you that ESG are a no wave, postpunk
band. That isn’t entirely accurate. ESG prefer to be
thought of simply as the band that makes you dance.
Formed at the end of the ‘70s by three teenage sisters and some
friends from their neighbourhood in South Bronx, NY, the band
had no agenda of being part of Manhattan’s self-serious art
world. They had only three goals: stay out of trouble, make you
dance, and get a gold record. They succeeded at the first two,
but were robbed of the third.
Sampled without permission countless times before crucial
legal precedents for intellectual property were established, ESG are
in part responsible for hits by artists like 2Pac, Wu-Tang Clan and
the Beastie Boys. The list goes on, and on, and on.
We spoke to Renee Scroggins from the band on the issue and
the near-end of ESG after she sustained a serious knee injury. The
band has managed to soldier on and are working on new music:
“As a matter of fact, we’re gonna have a new album that we’re
gonna release in September called What More Can You Take?. I’m
talking about sampling, I’m talking about – there’s an artist out
there that’s a rapper, that’s stealing our name. Who steals another
“I have never in my life, in the history of music, saw someone
take another band’s name and it be acceptable. You wouldn’t
do this to a male artist, and yes, I do have to look at it as ‘you’re
picking on women,’” she says. Scroggins disagrees with not only the
unpermitted sampling of the band, but also the often misogynist
subject matter of the artists who’ve done it.
Still, there’s a lot of joy in the story of ESG. Playing music as
family (now including a second generation of Scroggins) has been
by Willow Grier
Sled Island has a penchant for bringing low-key legends to a
small but noteworthy festival. Mogwai, Earthless, and last
year’s guest curators Godspeed You! Black Emperor blew
the roofs off venues with beautifully woven, instrument-rich
works of art. This year, one of the top instrumental acts is Chicago
five-piece, Tortoise. With a career spanning longer than
many attendees have been alive, they will surely have a few
tricks hidden up their shell.
Tortoise began in the early ‘90s with a unique style of dynamically
layered textures and sonic ideas and infusing these with dub,
funk, and jazz.
One of the secrets to the band’s success is the fact that all
members are multi-instrumentalists. Founding member Doug Mc-
Combs says, “With so many songwriters there is always a different
angle and voice driving the project forward. It could develop much
further than with just one of us writing everything.”
While never stale, McCombs mentions that many of their best
ideas are those slow to develop, and long to linger. “When I write
songs I don’t do a lot of home recording. If I have an idea, I will
keep it around for a long time. If I still remember it some time later,
then usually that means it’s a good idea.” He then adds (not wholly
un-ironically, given the band’s namesake), “Our process is generally
quite slow. We often work on ideas for years before we end up
using them in an album setting.”
Tortoise’ new album The Catastrophist (their first in seven
years), expands upon concepts they created for the City of Chicago,
as a celebration of their diverse music scene.
The band created “skeletal pieces” that could be fleshed out by
large groups and soloists. McCombs elaborates that about half of
the music on the album comes from this energy-rich experience,
and the rest was them “figuring out how [they] could expand it in
a very ‘Tortoise’ way.”
McCombs speaks of his excitement attending a smaller, more
intimate festival, and also of sharing new material.
“A few years back, everyone in the front row was middle-aged
guys, and since then, things have changed. Now the crowds are
younger, there’s fresh interest again, which is really neat.” Since
Tortoise is playing one of Sled Island’s largest all-ages shows, it will
be great to see a full circle of appreciation.
Tortoise perform at Central United Church on June 24th as part of
Sled Island Music and Arts Festival.
by Colin Gallant
a way to keep one another close. They’re a band who has taken
many a licking but continued to bring lightness to their world
through their music. Classic releases like the EP ESG (1981) and
album Come Away With ESG (1983) are as potent today as they
were upon release.
Their appearance at Sled Island marks the band’s first stop in
Canada in eight years, and a chance to see band who just can’t be
ESG play the #1 Legion on June 22nd as part of Sled Island Music
and Arts Festival.
hittin Sled Island in three incarnations
by Michael Grondin
The music of drumming machine Kid Millions, and his many side
projects, bursts like a bubble; the bubble is an initial idea and what
explodes from it is an improvised journey fueled by curiosity.
Kid Millions (John Colpitts) is a member of the notoriously experimental
Brooklyn acts Oneida and People of the North, and has a solo
drumming project called Man Forever. All three acts delve deep into the
possibilities of sound, blending Millions’ unrelenting drumming with ambience
and chaos driven drone sounds, made by guitars, synths and many
other forms of sound and instrumentation.
Oneida, a five-piece outfit, has been on the experimental music scene
for almost 20 years, and with over 20 releases and a repertoire of unhinged,
mind-boggling live performances, they have found solitude in
their raw creation, rather than in the labels or categories being placed
upon their music.
“I don’t care at this point. It’s been twenty years. People are going to say
whatever. I’m not at war with the people who want to put us into a particular
box,” says Millions in a phone interview from New York. “It’s a business,
right, so people want to know what they’re getting. I don’t know if it inhibits
us and the sound we’re making, but perhaps it makes it easier for people to
dismiss something that doesn’t fall into their assumed genres.”
Without any preconceived notions of their trajectories or outcomes,
the music of Millions’ projects stem from possibility and feeling rather
“We’ve always used the studio as an instrument. We piece things together
from a lot of different sources,” he says. “We’re very open to what a
recording can be and we’ve become a lot less critical of what constitutes a
song or a piece of music.”
People of the North takes a step further into uncharted territory, using
repetition as a compass, where Man Forever gives Millions the opportunity
to explore what is capable with a set of drums and two hands.
“We give everything onstage. We don’t want to leave anything left over.
We really try to listen and be attuned to the various shifts and improvisational
directions that may come up,” says Millions of his acts’ live performances.
“I try to attend to what feels necessary in the moment.”
Oneida, People of the North and Man forever will be playing at this
year’s Sled Island Music Festival.
“I hope people listen, and that’s about as much as I can expect,” Millions
See Kid Millions as a part of Oneida and People of the North, as well as solo as
Man Forever at Sled Island Music and Arts Festival.
30 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
inviting listeners to find the humour
by Liam Prost
“I whose wavering vocal crescendo’s are as ‘jazz-singer’ as they are
don’t want to sound serious anymore, that’s not the full picture of me.”
There’s a lot written about Angel Olsen, a crooning songwriter
‘horror-movie soundtrack.’ Within the indie-darling-discourse of Olsen, the
centre-point is obviously her beautiful, heart-rending music, which broaches
freak-folk in the intimate moments, and lo-fi rock at its edge. Her most
recent release Burn Your Fire for No Witness (2014) is a tremendous record of
fragmented sentiments, a cavalcade of visceral emotions and haunting lyrics.
Burn Your Fire cut “White Fire” opens with the cutting line “everything is
tragic, it all just falls apart.” For most other singer-songwriters, the self-seriousness
of such a sentiment would be striking, but this particular lyrical moment
is one she wants people to shit to. In a recent interview with Spin, Olsen
reported that she wants her music to soundtrack Lena Dunham defecating
in the HBO ensemble dramedy Girls, a show which she respects for “showing
every angle” of “daily life,” even those angles to which camera lenses do not
often focus. This remark is revealing both of Olsen’s music as a method with
which to reconfigure expectations about tone and emotionality, but also of
her sense of humour.
Olsen tells BeatRoute, “I don’t want to sound serious anymore, that’s not
the full picture of me.” A suggestion which is obvious to us on the receiving
end of her quips and liberal use of the word “dude.”
Olsen is a hugely buzzed about act, with media attention all over the place
and an outrageous Twitter personality, her lack of self-seriousness dares listeners
to read humour into her often dour music. Despite her success and newfound
public profile, she still opines that “it’s a privilege to be interviewed.”
Those who read her interviews or listen to her music “get to carve the piece
anyway,” and get acquainted with their own vertical slice of Angel Olsen. She
tells us that “you have to embrace the character that you are,” and it became
clear that no one knows Angel Olsen better than Angel Olsen.
While tight-lipped about details regarding her material, Olsen teases that
we can expect something “very soon” and that “it’ll still be wordy,” with some
“upbeat poppy shit” and of course, more “introverted material.” An impending
release to which Olsen admits to being “so relieved and so excited.”
Angel Olsen performs at Central United Church on June 22nd as part of Sled
Island Music and Arts Festival.
elusive songwriter and composer experiments with limitations
Julia Holter is an elusive person. Her most recent record
Have You in My Wilderness suggests an invitation into her
world, an exploration of the driving forces and collateral
damage of a musical career that has spun from academic
composition into convivial experimentation and even dipping
in pop and folk. Wilderness however, inviting as its green and
sprawling arrangements prove to be, provides few windows
into the songstress herself. Her narratives are elusive and often
impersonal, and her vocalizations are theatrical. There is a
grandness and eloquence to her music that seems impossible
to retain in a touring band, but Holter tells BeatRoute that despite
having incredibly ornate instrumentation on the record,
she is “really happy with the live band.” Holter performs in a
four-piece with viola, drums, bass, and herself on keyboard.
A smaller ensemble to be sure, but it is hardly stripped down.
Movements are reproduced, but sharpened, notes that float
on the record punctuate the live sound.
“I approach performing as a very different thing,” she says, and
“I enjoy the limitation of a different set of people for a live show.”
With this most recent recording, Holter infused some improvisation
from her band, an inclusion which seeps even deeper into
the live show, a change she views as an experimentation, not
necessarily a “progression.”
“With every project I have a different amount of control,” she
says. Holter kept a tight lock on her early recordings and that
has loosened more recently, but that doesn’t mean that she will
not take that road again. Rather, Holter experiments with adding
and removing limitations, influences, and improvisations.
“Every project is different and that’s what’s fun about it.”
Holter has also composed music for film, another such project
with its own set of limitations. She say that when composing for film
you are constricted to “what someone else wants you [to do],” and
new LP a tribute to indie-rock love affair
a long time touring around with other bands had
been a big part of my day to day, and I love a lot of
those bands,” says Shotgun Jimmie a.k.a. Jim Kilpatrick
in between sets at Lawnya Vawnya in St. John’s, NL. “In the same
way that some songwriters just write love songs about love interests,
those bands are kind of my love interests.”
The love interests that Kilpatrick is referring to are bands like the
Constantines, Attack in Black, Eric’s Trip, and Project 9; bands that
also served as inspiration for a series of tributes on the indie-rockers
latest record, Field of Trampolines.
by Liam Prost
that the role of a composer is to “underline the emotions” and not
necessarily create them as she does so easily on her own projects.
Have You in My Wilderness is a beautiful and organic record,
polished and rounded out with shades of Sergeant Pepper, breathes
of chamber pop, and the majesty of mystery. Only Julia Holter knows
where her music will go next.
Julia Holter performs at Theatre Junction GRAND (Flanagan Theatre)
on June 23rd as part of Sled Island Music and Arts Festival.
by Julijana Capone
“I’ve been toying around with the idea of doing a tribute album
for awhile,” explains Kilpatrick, who previously paid homage to
Ladyhawk and Guided By Voices on his 2013 album, Everything
Everything. “I guess it just keeps popping up when I’m writing.”
The world-travelling singer-songwriter has called Brandon, MB
his home for the past few years, and recently started studying Visual
& Aboriginal Art at Brandon University. While his previous albums
have been largely a one-man-band affair, Kilpatrick says his artschool
studies have opened him up to working more collaboratively.
Enter Joel Plaskett, who produced the album at his studio in Dartmouth,
NS, and Human Music, the Winnipeg trio that appear on the
record and also function as Kilpatrick’s backing band, as of late.
“I had a realization watching Joel play at SappyFest a few years ago
that he’s just a genius,” says Kilpatrick. “He’d been saying ‘Hey man, I
want to record a record for you,’ and I thought if I have an opportunity
to work with this guy while he and I are both healthy, alive and
making music, then it would be foolish not to try it at least.”
Among the 10 tracks on the LP are a few sunny salutes to touring
and camping (“Join The Band” and “Triple Letter Score”), along with
those endearingly earnest tribute tracks, and the out-of-nowhere
psychedelic title tune. Indeed, the album is both a love letter to
Kilpatrick’s favourite bands and the adventures that come with life
on the road.
“I sort of had the idea that the Field of Trampolines would
be this metaphor for this better place or this better place of
existing,” he says.
Shotgun Jimmie performs at the Ship & Anchor on June 23rd and at
Wine-Ohs on June 24th as part of Sled Island Music and Arts Festival.
32 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
silver thorns and sirens of the deep
by Christie Leonard
Draw the beeswax from your ears and
unlash yourself from the mast, there’s
no reason to dread the siren song of
Salt Lake City’s SubRosa. Painting melancholy
portraits with her banshee vocals and enthralling
guitar vortexes, Rebecca Vernon stretches
a skin of sludge, doom and stoner rock over a
gothic post-metal skeleton. The powerful undercurrents
generated by twin electric violins,
wielded by Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack, lend
a supernatural bent to SubRosa’s epics, which
rarely dip below the 10-minute threshold. All
the while, the inescapable gravity of bassist
Levi Hanna and drummer Andy Patterson bring
the atmospheric ablutions back to a terrestrial
“I feel like it’s really adventurous to have a
longer bigger canvas to work with and to have
a series of movements that tell a story and take
people on a journey, rather than just reaching
a destination,” Vernon says. “It’s been exciting
to build those stories and anticipate how we’re
going to make people feel.”
Thanks to appearances with the likes of
Kyuss, Red Fang, Deafheaven, and Cult of Luna,
SubRosa has established itself as a force to be
reckoned with. Two previous releases, No Help
for the Mighty (2011) and More Constant Than
the Gods (2013), along with their earlier LPs
and EP, have hit home with a growing North
American and European fan base. While readily
admitting that performing in the middle of the
day is one of her worst fears, festival-veteran
Vernon has no reservations about shedding
a little moonlight on SubRosa’s forthcoming
“The title is For This We Fought the Battle
of Ages, and the release date is August 26th.
There’s a lot of literature that influenced the
new album, but the core and the heart of it is
[the novel] We. It’s an amazing old, sci-fi, dystopian
novel written in the 1920s by a Soviet
dissident named Yevgeny Zamyatina. He was
in exile most of his life because of his criticism
against Communism and the collective way of
thinking. In a nutshell, We is an argument for
individual happiness over collective happiness.”
Armoured in the romantic trappings of
myth and fantasy, SubRosa’s sprawling, lyrical
symphonies do battle with the emotional and
psychological demons by holding a mirror up
to the darkness within.
“I actually consider myself to been a positive
person, but one who’s keenly aware of the
vicissitudes of life,” Vernon explains. “Our
songs deal with social and political issues and
modern problems, like racism and warfare, and
I feel compelled to sing about this deep sorrow
and feeling of universal suffering in cosmic
and poetic ways. I guess we’re trying to look
up in the heavens, high up in the stratosphere
like a bird’s-eye view, and trying to sing about
it almost like the Greek chorus in an opera
watching the tragedy unfold on stage and
trying to explain how terrible it is, without a
message other than - life on earth is really hard
SubRosa perform at Sled Island Festival from June
22nd to June 26th in Calgary, Alberta.
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 33
return five years later promises audio-visual experience
no! Fuck that shit.”
That was Seth Bogart’s answer to the first question posed
in the interview for this story. We scheduled well in advance,
due to his being one of my idols and his omnipresence as Hunx at Sled
Island 2011 (also inescapable: endless lines to see him). Apparently,
there was a miscommunication with his publicist’s wanting to do the
chat after Coachella.
“That’s a festival I can get into,” he chimes in, when informed that this
call is to talk about Sled Island. I didn’t actually see any of his official
performances in 2011, but did enjoy his luridly intimate set at our old
“I think I peed everywhere,” he (barely) remembers. “And I think
everyone drank my pee.”
Early this year, Bogart released his first album under his given name,
but will be billed as The Seth Bogart Show at Sled.
“It’s an audio-visual show, so there’s projections the entire show, and
lots of costume changes, and usually I have a set,” he says. “By the time
I come to Canada we’ll probably have some blow-up things on stage.
Then there’s lots of commercials and videos.”
Unbeknownst to Bogart at the beginning of our interview, someone had
recorded the entirety of his debut of the Show and let it loose on YouTube.
It depicted (spoiler alert) fake security guards who are lusted at during the
show, only to do something unexpected when the ruse is revealed.
“I need to find some of those for Canada,” he reacts. “I would always
flirt, every time, with security when I was in Hunx. Just because I always
thought it was funny.”
Almost all of the time, pop music is about love and sex. Yet with Bogart,
he at once — intentionally or not — normalizes and simultaneously
absurdifies homosexuality within supposedly alternative, yet predominantly
heterosexual, indie culture. The response (for Bogart and many others)
from the press has sorely missed the mark in its appraisal of so-called
“gay music.” The collateral effect has been to dominate the conversation
on, thus marginalize, artists whose sexual expression is as rightfully in play
in their work as it is for anyone inside the heterosexual experience.
“I feel the album is really weird because it’s half very silly and funny,
and then, there’s a few songs on it that are very personal and sad, about
losing friends… I guess there’s some sexual fantasy songs as well,” he
says. “When it comes down to it, I feel like I’m kind of a mix of all that
stuff, so, I was just trying to make something that felt really real to me.”
The Seth Bogart Show takes place on June 23rd at the #1 Legion, and Bogart
will DJ at Broken City on the 24th as part of Sled Island Music and Arts Festival.
pop act flexes electronic muscle on tour
After a year spent touring their 2015 release, Picture
You Staring, Montréal based pop act, TOPS, travels
to southern Alberta for the 10th annual Sled Island
festival in Calgary.
“I’m really excited. [Guitarist David Carriere] and I are both
originally from Edmonton and it’s always been a festival that
I’m really excited about,” says lead singer Jane Penny.
The band brings their lush and intimate pop arrangements
from the album, all shimmering guitar, silky vocals, and throwback
synths, along with a host of new material, hinted at having
liberation in the unknown
by Mike Ryan
more electronic elements and edge.
“Extremely cutting-edge,” Penny jokes.
While the songs are intrinsically the sound
and feel of the band, they do represent a step
forward, Penny says.
The natural tendency to change in
response to the passage of time, gained
experiences, influence and perspectives runs
alongside the literal space in which creation
takes place. It’s an important part of the
process for an artist, and in the case for TOPS,
that came in the form of a house for rent
in Glendale, CA. With an attached garage
and friends to keep energy levels high, the
band seems to be flourishing as they prepare
material for the next album, expected out in
the coming year.
“We have a bunch of new songs in the set
that we’ve been playing this past year. Everyone’s
been really patient and good about talk
of a new album. About half the set are songs
people haven’t heard yet and they are really getting into it. It’s
been really nice to see how people vibe with it before we make
the final recordings,” Penny adds.
With six videos released from the latest album, including an
erotic cameo from fellow Albertan, Mac DeMarco, TOPS has
provided plenty to tide us over until June and beyond.
TOPS perform on June 23rd at Broken City. Check online for more
Western Canada tour dates.
by Mike Dunn
“I met David and Virginia the night of the gig. There wasn’t
much discussion about what we’d do, we just set up, and got together
and played. They’re different from jazz, they have their own
science. They’re constant musicians, always playing somewhere,
and that’s different from me. I had this mentor once, Milford
Graves. He told me not to use what we practice in performance,
and just let music happen.”
Zappa’s musical awakening in the concepts of improvisation
happened very early, at the age of five, seeing his uncle play live, the
legendary rock composer and satirist Frank Zappa. Stanley would
listen to the songs, but the parts that struck him the most were
Frank’s flights of improvisation. “I was astounded by the sections
that took 15, 20, 25 minutes, where he’d just play and play. I could
give or take the vocal parts back then. Even now, I’ll go onto You-
Tube, and people will mash up these huge clips of Frank improvising.
I can just sit there watching it for hours. That’s what I want to
do. I want that freedom of rhythm, melody, and harmony. Frank’s
parts were always melodically fascinating.”
Zappa promises the JOOKLO ZAPPA set at Sled Island will be
firmly in the frenetic JOOKLO style, fully improvised, with three
career musicians playing off each other and “connecting with music.”
Where the knowledge of what’s going to happen in any given
show can give most acts confidence and comfort, it’s the unknown
that is most freeing in the improvisational style of avant-jazz. If the
magic they felt in Brooklyn was any indication, Zappa says he’ll be
looking forward to something similar at Sled. “It’s just our second
time playing together. We’ll have a few days to rehearse, and run
over ideas, and put a wild show together. I
have no idea what’s awaiting me at the moment.”
Somewhere, somehow, in the frenetic madness that is the
sound of JOOKLO DUO, saxophonist Stanley Zappa finds
a place for himself, adding to the esoteric avant-jazz by
“pushing buttons and pulling levers.”
“When you have two people who’ve played together as long as
Virginia (Genta, alto/tenor saxophone) and David (Vanzan, drums)
have, they have a method, an aesthetic, and it’s up to me to find a
few buttons, a few levers, and push and pull with them.”
Zappa had been aware of JOOKLO DUO for quite some time
when he was approached by his friend Kevin Reilly of Relative Pitch
Records, a New Jersey-based label specializing in avant-jazz, free
jazz, and free improvisational music, to fly out to New York and do
a show with them at Jack, a club in Brooklyn.
JOOKLO ZAPPA play Wine-Ohs on June 22nd as part of Sled Island.
34 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
finding magic in getting lost
The Besnard Lakes are a band with a righteous
mission. Since 2003 they have taken
their time to build and shape their dense
psychedelic grooves into wave after wave of
meditative, yet obliterating crescendos. Whether
experienced live, or lying on your bed with your
eyes closed and headphones turned way up, these
songs overwhelm the senses and wash over the
listener with a sense of surrender akin to a blissful
calm amidst devastating catastrophe. Jace Lasek
(guitar, vocals, production) explains to BeatRoute,
that a great deal of their musical inspiration is
derived from their time spent camping at the lake
in northern Saskatchewan from which they derive
“We have a permanent campsite up there, so
we make the pilgrimage from Montreal every year.
We try and take about two or three weeks off and
just go up there,” Lasek says.
“Everybody’s got to get away for a little bit, walk
away from this crazy world. It’s hard to get your
mind off of checking your phone all the time, and
checking your emails. You can’t do that up there,
so you just kind of sit in beautiful silence — it’s
Attempting to bottle the feeling of serenity
that they find there, the band then sets to work,
passionately constructing the songs that will share
the experience with their audience. Their aim is
not exactly political, but intentionally disruptive
to the oftentimes-relentless routines of daily
“It’s an extension of going up to Besnard Lakes.
We really want people to feel that sort of blissful
moment where there’s not a care in the world,
and you don’t think about anything except for the
moment that you’re actually in right now, at the
show. We want people to get lost — for an hour,
hour and a half, or two hours — in our music, to
try and help people forget the pains of the world.”
In the past, The Besnard Lakes have employed
more occult and surreptitious means of intervening
in the reality of their fans, like engraving magically
imbued symbols called sigils onto little tags
and distributing them with limited edition vinyl.
Their music however remains their most powerful
medium for magic.
“Visual art is interesting because you can stare
at something for a while and it’ll make you feel a
certain way. Music is a bit more forceful in that
it’s intangible. It’s created, but you can’t grasp it, it
engulfs you physically and you can feel it. It’s really
special and magical for us.”
The Besnard Lakes perform at The Palomino on June
23rd as part of Sled Island.
by Rob Pearson
䰀 䄀 䈀 䌀 伀 䄀 匀 吀
ᰠ 刀 䔀 䴀 䔀 䴀 䈀 䔀 刀 吀 䠀 䔀 䴀 伀 伀 一 ᴠ 䰀 倀 ⼀ 䌀 䐀
䄀 嘀 䄀 䤀 䰀 䄀 䈀 䰀 䔀 䄀 吀 夀 伀 唀 刀 䘀 䄀 嘀 伀 刀 䤀 吀 䔀
刀 䔀 䌀 伀 刀 䐀 匀 吀 伀 刀 䔀
⠀ 䨀 䤀 䴀 䴀 夀 䈀 唀 䘀 䘀 䔀 吀 吀 一 伀 吀 䤀 一 䌀 䰀 唀 䐀 䔀 䐀 ⤀
䤀 吀 ᤠ 匀 䄀
䠀 䤀 吀 䬀 䤀 䐀 匀 ℀
圀 夀 䄀 吀 吀 刀 䔀 䌀 伀 刀 䐀 匀 ☀ 吀 䄀 倀 䔀 匀 ⼀ 䌀 䄀 䰀 䜀 䄀 刀 夀 䄀 䈀 䌀 䄀 一 䄀 䐀 䄀 ⼀ 吀 䄀 䬀 䤀 一 䜀 夀 伀 唀 ᰠ 䘀 刀 伀 䴀 䜀 伀 伀 䐀 吀 伀 䜀 刀 䔀 䄀 吀 ᴠ 匀 䤀 一 䌀 䔀 ㈀ 㔀
眀 眀 眀 ⸀ 眀 礀 愀 琀 琀 爀 攀 挀 漀 爀 搀 猀 ⸀ 挀 漀 洀
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 35
A GLANCE AT CALGARY
Get to know a few of our own
photo: Michael Grondin
So many awesome Calgary bands playing Sled
(nearly 70), so few pages in BeatRoute! Below
is just a peek at some locals you may not have
known or who we haven’t had the chance to cover
much in the magazine. It’s up to you to find out
about the rest!
Smooth R&B and disco-infused house beats will
get your booty shaking. Produced by a collection of
Calgary beatmakers and DJs, Advances’ main goal is
to get you dancing and swaying. They’ll be playing
as a live act for Sled Island.
Perhaps the only Calgarian artist set to introduce
their seven-piece live band and brand new album
at Sled Island 2016, Aleem finds himself hard to put
into words. Expect lushness.
Blü Shorts may be the freakiest band in town. They
play sludgy, discordant art-punk louder and with
weirder than anyone else. One writer called their
Sled Island 2015 set the best they saw at the festival.
A heavy cloud of intrigue hangs above duo
Chuurch, who appeared in Calgary with little warning
a very short while ago. They’ve just dropped
their first EP, and let’s say it has seriously caught our
Relentless fury and a patient, white knuckle grip.
Crack Cloud travels on a delicate line - one side regimented
thought, the other side bringing absolute
chaos. With the drums acting as the centerpiece,
punctuated guitar snaps, droning synths, hints of
saxophone and smooth bass lines add tension and
The Hermitess lives up to her namesake in more
ways than one. A live performance from Jennifer
Crighton is special not just in its beauty and
intricacy, but also its rarity. At Sled Island, she’ll
be performing musically with her dissonant and
rapturous freak-folk. Yet a whole other side awaits:
Crighton has put together a filmic, auditory, and
sculptural installation as well.
L. T. LEIF
The initialized name is new for Laura Leif, but she’s
been doing great work for years. Woodpidgeon, EM-
BASSYLIGHTS, HexRay, and others owe at least some
of their history to Leif. Her new release, Shadow on the
Brim / Rough Beasts, is primed for a July release show,
and may be unlike anything you’ve heard from her.
It’s been said before, but we’ll say it again: Norwegian
Icebreaker are the loudest band in Calgary.
They’re a psychotic freak-out mess in the best
Sinzere is a rapper and singer who plays Sled for the
first time following her appearance at the inaugural
Femme Wave. She works in different subgenres of
hip-hop that take on haters and heartfelt emotion.
Patiently and quietly, Slo Dance make the most unprecedented
pop music in town. Minimal production
from Evangelos Lambrinoudis and raw vocals
from Kaleem Khan will leave you gasping for air.
36 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
WILD WILD WEST
a look around the region
THE AVULSIONS CONDUCT DADA PLAN
BeatRoute prints both an Alberta and British
Columbia issue. While our AB home might be
Calgary, we do our best to inform readers about
bands from all over Western Canada. Below is a snapshot
of some of the best from the region. For bands
from Alberta’s capital, see the Edmonton Extra section.
We’re stoked to be presenting a BC showcase
during Sled. We’ve booked Dumb, who make crunchy
garage-rock, KIM GRAY, who has a debut album of
smoky vintage pop coming soon, Painted Fruit, who
jangle like pros, and Smoke Eaters, who make deadpan
pop music to freak out to.
Jons: Wistful pop music for a more relaxed moment
during the festival.
Fountain: An absolutely blistering band that plays
fast and jagged post-punk.
The Backhomes: History will remember them as
psych legends. Big, pulsing trips through space.
okpk: Experimental electronic musician who will be
playing a dark live PA set.
Anion: Sludgy, noisy hardcore to bruise your
Astrakhan: More sludge! Their new album Reward
in Purpose comes out right before Sled.
Davachi/Smith: Sarah Davachi and Richard Smith
are literal experts in synthesizers and drone music.
Davachi is a returning fave of the fest.
Dada Plan: This is the music of crackling videotape,
which oozes with early digital age nostalgia,
but is still warm to the touch.
Latex Honey Glove: Electro-pop duo exploring
BDSM and power dynamics live on stage.
Mint Records 25th Anniversary: A giant party to
celebtrate 25 years of great releases!
Shearing Pinx: Unparalleled experimentalists with
dozens of releases and a punishing live show. Their Sled
shows are stops on a tour with French no wavers Zad
shitlord fuckerman: Pure 8-bit insanity filled with
humour and adrenaline.
Advertisement: Battering punk band with guttural
An Ant and an Atom: Ambient music that shifts
from gentle to noisy with ease.
Participation: Post-punk rife with interlocked
guitars and chanted vocals.
The Avulsions: Downcast post-punk with vocal
harmonies cutting through the gloom.
The Radiation Flowers: An upbeat, shoegazey band
that keep melody front and centre.
respectfulchild: Meticulously crafted violin looping
to daydream to.
Shooting Guns: Road warriors working the sweet
spot of doom.
Conduct: Snarly post-punk on the industrial fringe,
Conduct is hands-down one of the most exciting
live bands out of Winnipeg right now.
Wilt: One of the few black metal bands performing,
Wilt is a great chance to release some aggression.
tunic: A savage combination of emotive, hollered
vocals and twisting furious instrumentation.
The Zorgs: Adorable pogo-punk weirdos that
have no-fucks to give, and you’ll love them for it.
38 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
HERE COME THE VIDEOFREEX
Sled Island presents fascinating documentary on inception of video counterculture
The year is 1969. A war overseas runs rampant with
bloodshed while racism and sexism divides the people
at home. Despite the frequent discrimination and hate
crimes being brought upon the citizens of the United States,
the masses are oblivious.
Unlike the digital age we’ve become accustomed to, things
were much different 40 years ago. A grand total of three
news networks dominated television sets across the country,
manipulating reality with ease. This changed drastically with
the creation of portable video cameras, especially those that
fell into the hands of free-thinking minds.
The idea of picking up a video camera and telling his own
story was completely unimaginable, but that is exactly what
David Cort did. He began filming anything he thought to be
interesting, naturally drawing him to the festival of peace
and love in the summer of 1969, Woodstock. It was there
that he met Parry Teasdale, a kindred soul on a mission similar
to his own. Shortly thereafter Teasdale formally joined
Cort and his girlfriend, Mary Curtis Ratcliff, in collectively
documenting a commentative video counterculture.
It wasn’t long before the alternative video containing messages
of pro-vegetarianism and anti-war anthems caught the
attention of CBS network executive, Don West. Commissioning
the group, they were allotted a time slot for a guerrilla-style
television show funded by the network all while allowing artistic
freedom. Problems arose however when the pilot featured
radical political themes and was immediately cut. Refusing to
give in, the ever-expanding group known as the Videofreex continued
their fight for freedom playing a role that can largely be
the recipient of thanks for the excessive freedom in media that
we enjoy today.
Here Come The Videofreex provides fascinating and intimate
insight on the initial steps taken by the children of the revolution. If
not for their bravery and determination, one could arguably state
that history would not be what we’ve known it to be – the truth.
Here Come The Videofreex screens at Theatre Junction GRAND
(Studio) on June 23rd as part of Sled Island Music and Arts Festival.
by Breanna Whipple
Berlin-based Fenster serve as pit orchestra for feature-length film
I AM THE BLUES
beautifully shot documentary a snapshot of blues community
There’s a stark contrast to the boarded-up ghost towns
and urban decay the legendary blues musicians call
home in Daniel Cross’s I Am the Blues, and the guitars
they play: each one finely crafted, deftly polished and worth
a mint. It’s an effective image, given that blues music is a
source of pride and belonging in many poverty-stricken
southern U.S. communities – it brings people together when
there’s nothing else for them. The blues musicians here don’t
need garages to practice in – they set up a makeshift drum
set and play blissfully on the front lawn, and the neighbours
come down to watch.
The blues is an important part not only of these black
communities, but of all southern African-American identity.
In the south, blues is played and heard everywhere – even the
Reverend in the film is a pretty slick bluesman.
Although the genre’s lyrics usually revolve around hard
times and being down-and-out, the masterfully talented men
Over the more than hour-long journey that is
EMOCEAN – Fenster’s debut experimental film –
what begins with an island party soon transcends
into a “meta-psychedelic journey into another dimension.”
“It’s really playful and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but
at the same time we really wanted to commit to exploring this
other world sonically and telling a story in a simple cartoony
way, but also has some layers of meaning embedded within
it,” said JJ Weihl, a member of the band. “We enter this world
where emotions are forbidden.”
Filmed, edited and produced by the band, EMOCEAN begun
as a joke – “Wouldn’t it be crazy if we made a movie and a
soundtrack?” – and according to Weihl, the band quickly took
that joke really far. While writing the story, the band felt drawn
to shoot on VHS, but decided to make the format of the film a
formal element of the storytelling.
“We wanted to justify it in the story. The movie starts as
a documentary and it’s all filmed in HD. When we’re sucked
into another dimension, it switches to VHS,” Weihl said. “We
grew up in the ‘90s. It’s like a nostalgic retro future landscape.”
and women portrayed in the documentary – most of them in
their 80s – aren’t complainers. In fact, they are full of vitality
and youthful humour. Their one concern is whether the blues
will continue to be meaningful now that all the great blues
musicians are getting old, many passing away. Perhaps the
biggest question the film raises is what will happen to black
identity in the south if blues music disappears.
I Am the Blues is beautifully shot, capturing the heart and
soul of the American South, and allows a glimpse into the lives
of the most musically talented octogenarians you’ll see from
Mississippi to the Louisiana Bayou. If you aren’t already taken
to the blues before watching the documentary at Sled Island
this year, you’ll undoubtedly have a few raspy tunes stuck in
your head for days to follow. And that’s a good thing.
I Am The Blues screens on June 23rd at Theatre Junction GRAND
(Studio) as part of Sled Island Music and Arts Festival.
by Joel Dryden
A successful crowdfunding campaign which raised
approximately €8,000 provided Fenster with the ability
to pay a small production crew, purchase props and fund
travel – but in the end, much of the filming was dictated
by experimentation, and editing was handled by the band
themselves, with each member taking a third of the film
to cut together.
“We didn’t even record to sound separately, we just (used
the camera sound). We made a production company for this
movie, ‘Whatever Productions,’” Weihl said. “That was just
about, whatever works, just do it. Have the people involved in
the project have as much fun as possible.”
The finished feature – a special experience to see a movie
“about a band made by a band while the band is playing”
– will screen as a “cine-concert” at Sled Island, with Fenster
serving as pit orchestra.
“The audience can focus more on the movie, and we’re on
stage, but kind of in the dark,” Weihl said. “We play, but they
don’t really see us so well. So it’s the music coming out of the
darkness of the stage.”
by Jonathan Lawrence
40 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
SLED ISLAND COMEDY
there’s nothing typical about this year’s lineup
This year at Sled Island, even the most
seasoned festival goers will be treated to a
few new things, as this appears to be the
“year of firsts” for the festival’s comedy component.
Not only have they opened up some of the
comedy to all age groups this year, but they also
boast two comedy curators rather than just the
standard one, not to mention an unprecedented
level of talent in their comedy lineup that actually
forced them to alter their typical show format.
Speaking of the amazingly talented comedy
lineup, people looking at the roster might
wonder whether the entertainment is suitable for
minors. With acts like Crimson Wave performing,
it’s expected that adult content (for lack of a better
word) will be present onstage. Evan Wilson,
one of Sled Island’s comedy curators, explains
that this all-ages policy relies on the discretion of
the viewer to decide what’s appropriate for them.
“Let’s just say that all ages can go into it, but we
leave it up to the discretion of the people attending
to determine whether or not something
is appropriate for them. I personally think it’s a
good thing for younger people to get exposed
to the kind of things Crimson Wave talk about.
If young people can hear some of the themes
and points of view of that comedy, I think that
them knowing that those are regular things that
people talk and think about could possibly have a
Such an age-inclusive comedy show is a rarity
in a society where the majority of stand-up comedy
occurs in bars or other age-restrictive places.
This year allows Sled Island to give Calgary youth
a chance to see comedy preformed live, and
hopefully create a passion for stand-up within the
VISUAL ART AT SLED ISLAND
a thorough exploration of identity
Sled Island prides itself on its cross-pollination
as a music and Arts festival. We spoke with
Ginger Carlson, the visual art curator for the
past two years, to see how her selections fit into
and strengthened the overall experience at the
festival. According to her, the spirit of the programming
is mindful of the other disciplines being
showcased, and would be hard to miss — even for
the average concert-goer.
BeatRoute: Some of the work deals with erotic
content. Was this a curatorial theme you set out
to explore, or did it happen naturally? Either
way, what does that particular subject matter
lend to the programming? Is it at all due to
Peaches being guest curator? It seems like some
of the themes in visual art mirror her picks for
Ginger Carlson: I definitely kept Peaches in mind
while selecting work for this year's line-up. As an
artist who is such a powerful and important figure
in discussions relating to eroticism and intimacy, as
well as someone who pushes a lot of boundaries, I
was definitely interested in reflecting and considering
those themes and issues through this year's
visual art program. A lot of the artists are making
work that deals with identity either directly or
indirectly and there is certainly some work that
deals with erotic content as well. Another thread
that connects much of the work is an interest in
pushing boundaries, of all kinds, from opening
new spaces for intimacy to work that deals with
multiplicity and fluidity, and by playing with our
expectations and presumptions.
BR: You have said that this year’s art program
explores sites and non-sites, spaces and
non-spaces. Can you elaborate? Sometimes it
seems like people don't know Sled is more than
just a music festival — or that BeatRoute is
more than just a music magazine. Does the way
these works have been installed do something
to catch the eye of a viewer who wouldn't
otherwise be looking? What would you say to
someone who doesn't visit art galleries about
hearts of these teens.
This year Wilson, and fellow curator Sarah Adams
put out a public call for applications, which
resulted in over 60 submissions by comedians all
over the country. From this they selected the best
of the best, including Steph Tolev who Wilson
GC: In terms of exploring sites and non-sites,
spaces and non-spaces, I think that visual art can
be quite unique in its ability to bridge spaces and
ideas in ways that disrupt our expectations of
what music, film, or performance can look like or
feel like. The work in this year's program hopefully
will provide a lot of entry points for people that
generally don't visit art galleries, by both bringing
art directly to them at music venues and with
work that questions just where exactly those disciplinary
boundaries between visual art, music, film,
and performance lie.
BR: Can you highlight three shows that offer different
contributions to the overall cohesion of
by Brandon Tucker
describes as “Your best friend at the party, if
your friend could actually tell jokes,” and Cheryl
Hann who is “the funniest member of Picnicface,”
according to Wilson.
Not only is this lineup jam-packed with
pure comedy talent, but it also boasts an equal
amount of male and female performers. This isn’t
highly unusual in the world of comedy festivals,
and is something that Sled Island was very aware
of when they were putting together the lineup.
“There has been a lot of controversy around
festivals brushing off the fact that their lineups
are made up primarily of men, and we wanted
to balance the lineup because given the comedy
talent out there today there is no reason not to,”
Aside from the stand-up showcases taking
place at Theatre Junction GRAND, Late Night at
the Plaza does a special Sled Island edition, and
Crimson Wave will be recording a live podcast
taping at Good Luck Bar. These particular events
are closed to minors due to the nature of the
So whether you’re a teenager looking for some
laughs or a stand-up lover hoping to experience
one of the funniest nights of your life, then Sled
Island is the place to be.
Comedy events take place throughout Sled Island.
Check the program guide for performance times.
by Colin Gallant
the program? Or just three that would interest
GC: At the #1 Legion this year we have two
projects that consider the intimacy of bodies,
Nine Kennedy's architectural intervention on the
second floor, GLORY, WHOLE, reimagines the
sexual and spatial site of the "glory hole" and Justin
Waddell's Will, Wish, Want or Purpose installation
in the basement will be a sexy and safe space for
viewing historical and contemporary experimental
films and videos that explore relationships, sexuality,
love, and cooperation.
At Theatre Junction Grand on Saturday
evening, we're working with the music program
to present performances by visual and performance
artists Tasman Richardson and Jeneen
Frei Njootli. Ashley Bedet's sculptural installation
a monolith and an obelisk walk into a room
will also be at Theatre Junction Grand, creating
individual spaces for reflection, respite, and
Make sure to check the schedule for performances
by Jennifer Crighton, and Nicole Kelly
Westman and Del Hillier, as these artists will be
animating their visual art installations with performances
that bridge the worlds of visual art, film,
and music in surprising ways.
Art will be everywhere at Sled Island. Check the
schedule for installations, performances, workshops
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 41
Edmonton rushes Sled Island
If the artery that runs between Edmonton
and Calgary is the QE2 Highway, it’s about to
become clogged with Edmonton musicians
streaming southward for the 2016 edition of Sled
Island. BeatRoute put two fingers on the wrist of
the Edmonton music scene to check the pulse of
Calgary’s northerly neighbours. We asked them to
answer a random survey.
BeatRoute: Sled Island Guest curator Peaches
has an album from the early oughties called
“The Teaches of Peaches.” What are The
Teaches of [your band]?
Pigeon Breeders: Listen. React. Flow.
Jesse & the Dandelions: The “Candies of Dandies?”
Doug Hoyer: A: Notice the little things B: Pretty
much everything can be pretty funny and pretty sad.
c. It’s not hard to fall in love, if you want to fall in love.
Marlaena Moore: To not be afraid of being vulnerable
in order to be heard.
Hood Joplin: be positive + stay based
Switches: The Teaches of Switches are dance like
nobody’s taking 100 per cent of the shots you didn’t
eat, pray, live, laugh or love; so smile, cause nobody’s
watching you! YOLFO! You Only Live Forever Once!
Tropic Harbour: Eat Ramen every day, explore new
scenery, slow down and enjoy the good moments.
Betrayers: First Lesson: Throw your fucking chorus
pedal in the trash. Second Lesson: It feels good to
be bad. Third Lesson: Give no quarter for you shall
Faith Healer: It’s all downhill from here.
HELLEN: Be yourself, go nuts, play loud.
N3K: Olde English.
Preston: Always put your foot with the coolest sock
Rayleigh: That’s awesome. No, we don’t have
anything like that. Like do you want a pun? Or some
advice? We don’t have any advice for anyone. Sorry.
Weird Year: That people should treat others well
with respect rather than be absolutely terrible.
Concealer: Disregard for technical proficiency.
Pyramid//Indigo: The teaches of Prius maintenance.
BR: “Acoustic Afternoon” or “Weekend Dad
Drives” could be Spotify playlist names that
describe the music genres that they feature.
(Folk & Classic Rock) What name would you
give your bands Sled Island set if it were a
Pigeon Breeders: Pick Your Poison & Turn Off The
Lights (Weird Late Night Jams)
Jesse & the Dandelions: Stoner Music for people
who don’t actually get stoned
Doug Hoyer: First Date Picnic
Marlaena Moore: Sad gal sing along
Hood Joplin: -- - -CLUB 420- - --
Switches: Day Drunk Beaver Punks
Tropic Harbour: Dream and Chill or Big Shiny Jams
Betrayers: Bubblegum Flower Punk
Faith Healer: Everybody Hurts
Mitchmatic: Weeknight existential wobble
HELLEN: Night Sweats
N3K: Space Jammer Unlimited
Preston: Emo evening
Rayleigh: Daddy Likey
Weird Year: Turn this to 11 in a dark room
TEETH: Music You Won’t Know What to do With
Concealer: Post-Apocalyptic Picnic Classics
Pyramid//Indigo: Communist Doomsday
BR: If you could play in any other Edmonton
band featured at Sled Island this year, which
band would it be. (Bonus points for not just
saying another band you already play in.)
Jesse & the Dandelions: I would be overjoyed to
play in Diamond Mind or with Jom Comyn. I could
add some keyboard layers maybe and spice things up
with a harmony or two.
Marlaena Moore: Faith Healer, I would play tambourine
or triangle just to play in the same band as Jessica
Jalbert and Jenni Roberts.
Hood Joplin: Mitchmatic! One of my hometown
faves. Incredible musician & performer.
Faith Healer: I’d play in Physical Copies because I
heard a rumor that they’re opening for a band I really
really love. But honestly there isn’t an Edmonton
band doing this festival that I wouldn’t like to play in.
Mitchmatic: Caity Fisher! Cause despite being pals
forever we’ve never ever been in the same band.
HELLEN: Cocaine Eyes. They’re great people who
make absolutely rowdy tunes.
Preston: Either Feed Dogs or Switches.
Rayleigh: Counterfeit Jeans. That band rehearses at
our jam space and let me tell you this – they’re a very,
very fun band.
Weird Year: I’ve always wanted to play drums for
a hip-hop set, so playing with someone like Hood
Joplin would be cool. That or a collaboration with
TEETH: Maybe Tuques, not only because I love my
friends, but because I love the music they make. OR
Feverfew, Mary Wood is a genius.
BR: If you’ve played or attended before, fill
in the blanks in this sentence: One time, at
Sled Island I/my band _________ and it was
by Levi Manchak and Jenna Lee Williams
Pigeon Breeders: One time, at Sled Island the three
of us saw Godspeed together twice and it was
Jesse & the Dandelions: One time, at Sled Island
I slept in the car because I didn’t have a place to
stay and it was terribly uncomfortable, but I packed
enough peanut butter sandwiches to last me the
Doug Hoyer: One time, at Sled Island, I opened for
St. Vincent and it was the biggest, most exciting &
terrifying show of my life.
Marlaena Moore: One time at Sled, I got really drunk
and went skateboarding. I was on the way to Palomino
when in the distances I saw all the Coathangers
hanging outside of the Palliser. Without thinking, I
yelled “COATHANGERS” picked up my skateboard
and ran to them and began to gush a perhaps inappropriate
amount. I ran into them all several times
during the festival and they ended being super cool
and nice. It was a lil embarrassing but also really rad.
Hood Joplin: One time, at Sled Island we walked into
the artist lounge at the Calgary tower for the first
time and they were playing my friend’s song on the
PA system! It was very cool.
Switches: One time, at Sled Island my band took
Ritalin and it was annoying and then we were tired.
Tropic Harbour: One time at Sled Island I drank a
Long Island that was only booze and it was a good
Weird Year: I saw Kim Gordon live and it was the
most beautiful dissonance.
TEETH: One time at Sled Island my band chummed
it up with BIG|BRAVE and it was the best day of our
Pyramid//Indigo: One time at Sled Island we
watched children dance (and one scooter) to Drive
Like Jehu. It was inspirational.
Unfortunately not all bands had time to respond
but amongst the rad Edmonton acts playing Sled, are:
Caity Fisher, Cocaine Eyes, Diamond Mind, Everyday
Things, Feed Dogs, Jeans, Feverfew, Jom Comyn,
Physical Copies, Power-Buddies, Tendencies, tuques,
42 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
playful indie rockers serve up some seriousness on debut album
For as serious as their music makes them seem, the three dudes in Edmonton’s
post-punk poster children Counterfeit Jeans are more than
a little goofy. Passing through quite a few Simpsons before landing
on Counterfeit Jeans, the trio are funny dorks who don’t take themselves
Their relaxed approach to making music has served them well in the
two-ish years they’ve been a band and even recently earned them two Edmonton
Music Award nominations. Now they’re preparing to release their
first full-length self-titled record on July 1st, and the process still seems
just as fun as when they first started, as vocalist/guitarist Jed Gauthier
described with a chuckle.
“We did everything on this record ourselves except for the artwork and
the mastering. It was recorded in the jam space and in my living room.
My living room was where most of the vocals were done… probably in my
underwear,” he laughs. “My cats hate it when I sing or make any noise. They
just run and hide, which tells you how good of a singer I am.”
The new record is being released with the help of local Edmonton label,
Sometimes Music, who are helping distribute the album across Canada and
beyond. When asked about the friendly partnership, they indicated they were
stoked about it, yet it wasn’t a surprise the question was met with a joke.
“Basically we signed a 20-year contract and gave them the rights to our
names, images, power of attorney…” Gauthier smiled.
Heykants chimed in, “I think he gets, like, 95 per cent of the T-shirt
Gauthier quickly added, “And Tyler’s first child.”
To which Bedford replied, “We signed a deal with Rumpelstiltskin, essentially.”
They’re a funny bunch, but Gauthier’s B.A. in Philosophy clearly shines
through in many lyrical explorations. Their first single, “No Desire,” clearly
states, “This is the sound of joyful elation, through the grips of self-annihilation.
I cannot wait to die to strip myself of desire;” an homage to Eastern philosophy
and the death of the ego. The Simpsons references seem to be a ruse.
Thoughtful lyrics appear to be a side effect of skillful musicianship, since
the music was written before the lyrics were even considered.
Counterfeit Jeans bring philosophy to rock and roll.
by Brittany Rudyck
photo: Meaghan Baxter
“All of the songs are disjointed in a sense. We had written all the music
and then when it came time to record, I had to write all the lyrics for the
recordings. It was really stressful to write 10 songs worth of lyrics at once.
So, if there are any recurrences, it’s because I was trying to hammer it out
as fast as possible,” Gauthier says with a smile.
You can see Counterfeit Jeans at Sled Island and their album release 9910 in
Edmonton on July 2nd.
THE NEEDLE VINYL TAVERN
new Edmonton venue welcome in wake of closures
The Needle Vinyl Tavern believes in its local music scene.
In the heart of downtown Edmonton, in the old CKUA headquarters, you
will find The Needle Vinyl Tavern: one of Edmonton’s newest bars, restaurants
and mid-sized venues that opened earlier this year. The Needle has
two stages, a state of the art sound system, a VIP area, and musical murals
(including an image of Prince) and is complete with a vinyl-tiled floor.
BeatRoute checked in with owner Rob Campbell and promoter/booker Daniel
Lenz to get the skinny on the Edmonton’s newest hot spot.
Edmonton lost many crucial music venues in 2015, but many new ones began
in 2016. “That is a bit of weird coincidence. We actually started the project more
than three years prior to opening. We really felt that location was critical. There
were venues around at that time that subsequently closed, and we were as
disappointed as any other music fan in town to see them close. We saw the vision
of our venue to be different than venues in existence. It took us the better part of
two years to find the right location,” explains Campbell.
Rob Campbell and fellow owners Neil Bosh James Leder had plenty of time
photo: Levi Manchak
by Jenna Lee Williams
to establish their business plan; a business plan that sets The Needle apart from
other bars. “We wanted to create a place that was designed from the ground up
a music venue. We wanted to build a place that had great sound, a proper green
room, and be comfortable for patrons also,” says Campbell. “We really do want to
make a difference in the Edmonton music scene and try and be supporters and
promoters of Edmonton music.”
The owners and staff of The Needle are also supportive of the Alberta Music
City initiative. Edmonton is a festival city, but is also well on its way to becoming a
music city of the north, similar to Edmonton’s sister city, Nashville, Tennessee.
“If you go to a city like an Austin or a Nashville, whether you are going for
brunch, lunch, happy hour drinks, a Saturday night out, there is music all the
time. We want to really try to bring that, have a place to go to be exposed to live
music,” notes Campbell.
This is a feature of the venue that stands out for Lenz also: “With having
longer business hours than most venues in Edmonton it allows us to have
more live music. We have music seven days a week including happy hour and
brunch acts, regular Sunday and Tuesday nights as well as ticketed events
throughout the week.”
What type of shows are booked at the Needle? From local bands to international,
The Needle hosts them all. Upcoming shows include: Danny Michel
on June 17th, SUUNS on June 15th, and of Montreal on June 19th. “Jim Cuddy
from Blue Rodeo, the Cuddy Family Band will be doing a fun party set in early
July. We also want to do a Canada festival and have some great talent lined
up,” says Campbell.
With the owners and staff all being music lovers themselves, Campbell discusses
the importance of community: “We believe in growing the whole music
scene in Edmonton. It benefits everyone in town culturally, and we really want
to actively engage in the music community and hopefully see it getting stronger
rather than the deterioration we have seen with the closures.”
The Needle is located at 10524 Jasper Ave. and is open daily from 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. – 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 43
BOOK OF BRIDGE
smooth urban beats in new release by Courtney Faulkner
nights I just drive off somewhere
and I park and I write in
the car,” says Lethbridge rapper
and producer Mc Soprano, who admits
to spending most weekends writing and
recording music rather than going out.
“I did record in a car once, when I
started music I didn’t have a studio...I
hung the microphone on the mirror of
the car and I just had the laptop right
there,” says Soprano, “I wonder what
people would think if they were driving
by seeing someone in the car just yelling
into the microphone.”
These days Mc Soprano, who has been
writing and recording music since 2008,
has a home studio, and is preparing to
release his EP album “Late Nights” on
June 17, with songs produced by Diplo
and Trelll. “The album is based on Lethbridge,
the struggles of being in a small
city...sometimes you’re bored, there’s not
much to do, so I wrote about late nights,
hanging out with friends,” says Soprano.
“I write about having a good time,”
says Soprano. “Everybody likes to have a
“I think there’s a stereotype when you
tell someone you rap, cause it’s hardcore
rap, or gangster rap, but when I rap I
think it’s more like poetry,” says Soprano.
“I write about girls, past love, emotions.”
“There’s a track talking about the
struggles of an emerging artist, when you
first start working in music, making connections
and trying to break through,”
says Soprano. “It’s more of an emotional
track I’ve been working on for a while.”
Mc Soprano has been recognized for
his talent, winning contests and gaining
radio plays. “Last year I released a single
‘The Life’ and it made it to a bunch radio
stations,” says Soprano. “It was good, the
feeling was really great to actually hear
your song on the radio.”
While he’s been made offers to move
to a larger center, with an already thriving
urban scene, Mc Soprano has chosen to
build his empire in Lethbridge. “Just as
I’m a music artist and I’m trying to get
out there, there’s other people trying to
get out there too,” says Soprano. “If I just
up and left, there might not be anybody
to pave the way for other artists, or even
just work with them.”
“There’s a group called Roughies, they
do hip-hop and rap,” says Soprano. “I
hang out with them and work with them.
I think it’s just a matter of time before
a couple of us are able to get our songs
out there and people start recognizing
Lethbridge and knowing that there is
some talent here.”
“All it takes is just one of us to make it
out there and take everybody along,” says
Soprano. “And my friends here they really
support my music a lot. I would say my
friends really help me go on.”
“My ultimate dream is to have a few
artist who get exposure and put Lethbridge
on the map for music.”
To hear Mc Soprano’s latest album, which
he is releasing for free on June 17, go to
mcsoprano.com and soundcloud.com/
photo: Tammi Constantine
AN ELECTRO DRAG OPERA
lights, lipstick and sinful salvation
words and photo by Courtney Creator
Offending people is a good sign for the performers behind Castrati.
Eros is coming. Hitch a ride. Enter the Cult of Cosmic
Purgatory for a religious ceremony unlike any other
— yet, a surprisingly familiar one. Castrati: An Electro
Drag Opera, held its service for four nights during the
Electric Eye Music Festival, where congregation members,
danced, prayed, sang and ate the breadfood (despite
warnings of impending doom).
“Casting the whole audience as a congregation who has
come for this last epic service of this crazy cult, it brings everybody
in this thing together,” says Aaron Collier, the graceful
Princess Edward in the opera, and also the designer of the
lighting, set and music. “It’s one of those shows that you have
to be there for.”
“It’s been interesting to just watch audiences embrace the
show,” says Jay Whitehead, who unleashes as Didi d’Edada in
an electrifying red wig paired with matching bold lips.
“The first inspiration for the show came out of the characters
we created,” says Whitehead. “At the time we were
thinking of those issues of censorship and religion and sexuality
and how those things collide.”
“We all come from various religious backgrounds,” says
Collier. “It was a collaboration where we dreamed, and based
a lot of the story around religious ceremony.”
“It came out of a time where we were receiving lots of
backlash for being a sex and body positive space in Lethbridge,”
says Richie Wilcox, director of the opera. “This show
was our response to that criticism.”
Castrati was performed at Club Didi, a small DIY performance
space and private club in Lethbridge that hosts drag
shows, a season of plays by Theatre Outré, music tributes, underwear
dances and more. “It is an all-inclusive queer friendly
place where a whole amazing community comes together,”
The show has taken on various incarnations, and is in its
third rendition, evolving each time it’s revisited.
“Our first thing was just this wonderful collage of these
moments of music, of strange rituals and movement pieces,”
“We definitely offended some people, and that was a really
good sign for us. We were hoping that we were saying some
things that were contrary.”
In preparation for their performance at International
Dublin Gay Theatre Festival last May, the four spent a week
together refining the performance. “We had a very short,
intense rehearsal process, which we always do to ourselves
because we’re so busy creating other things,” says Katherine
Zaborsky, who dons a mustache and black suit to embody
Castrati, the son of Didi, “but in some ways that’s the best way
to do it.”
The result was an opera that’s much less dark with less
literal translations of ceremony.
“As we’ve gone forward and made this new narrative, it’s
funny cause people don’t take it as such a direct comment on
their religion, they just see it as this religion,” says Collier. “But
a lot of people still recognize it right away.”
“It translates and transcends, whatever religious upbringing
you have,” says Whitehead. “We all have similar rituals, the
shame, the taboo, all that stuff is the same in every religion.”
Processing their own religious upbringings through the
humorous opera has helped the actors understand and reconcile
their own relationships with sexuality, gender, shame
“For me it breaks even more of a hole open into all of that,
knowing that all of these religious traditions that we adhere
to so vehemently, were simply human based, someone sitting
down and writing a text, really just some writing like we do,”
says Zaborsky. “Hopefully we can explode a little bit of that
blind faith and obedience that we have to experience everyday
in this modern culture.”
Castrati heads east to in Halifax this July for the Queer Acts
Festival, as a kick off to Pride Fest.
44 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
letters from winnipeg
TD WINNIPEG INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
features fresh bill of jazz giants, newcomers and a few surprises
by Julijana Capone
Soul revivalist Andra Day is performing at this year’s festival.
Winnipeg is gearing up for 10 days of tunes as part of the
2016 TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival—from
genre-bridging jazz and blues to revivalist soul and
brass-brimming funk, along with acts that fall under none of those
This year’s lineup brings to the stage jazz saxophonist Kamasi
Washington, neo-soul singer-songwriter Andra Day, as well as
indie-pop Swedes Peter Bjorn and John, and influential post-rockers
Like other festivals across the country, the Winnipeg Jazz Fest is
feeling the affects of the low Canadian dollar. Some of the big name
international acts that would ordinarily perform as part of the Club
Series at Union Sound Hall are fewer in number, and thus have been
dispersed to different venues.
Rather than programming five to six nights at Union, Nolin has,
instead, programmed three like-minded shows in what would traditionally
be Theatre Series venues, like the West End Cultural Centre
and the Burton Cummings Theatre. “I wanted to try something a
little bit safer and a little bit different,” says Nolin.
Even still, a convoy of Canadian and homegrown Manitoba
acts are ready to fill the void. Sets are scheduled from 81-year-old
Montreal jazz pianist Oliver Jones, who will be performing as part of
his final retirement run; The Legendary Downchild Blues Band; and
Saskatoon’s Close Talker; along with Winnipeggers Mariachi Ghost,
Micah Visser; and Begonia, the latest project of powerhouse vocalist
Alexa Dirks (also of Chic Gamine).
With the event’s 27th year around the corner, we asked Nolin to
offer up 5 Best Bets for the 2016 installment of the Winnipeg Jazz
Fest in no particular order.
Tuesday, June 21 at the Burton Cummings Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
The L.A.-born instrumentalist whose ambitious 2015 release, The
Epic, has been hailed for expanding the boundaries of jazz, is known
as much for his own musical chops as he is for his hip hop affiliations,
having also been part of the studio band for Kendrick Lamar’s To
Pimp A Butterfly, and a touring sideman for Snoop Dogg.
“I’m always looking for fresh and exciting,” says Nolin. “I’m always
looking for something new. Kamasi is sort of the epitome of that.
He’s such a bright star right now that’s bridging generations and
Thursday, June 23 at the Burton Cummings Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
Andra Day is still a relative newcomer, yet the San Diego native’s
retro brand of jazzy soul has been striking a chord. “Her star is just
beginning to blast off,” Nolin says.
Peter Bjorn and John
Friday, June 24 at the Burton Cummings Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
You probably still haven’t gotten their 2006 hit “Young Folks” out of
your head, but Nolin says their forthcoming new album is yet another
one for the books. “It’s so good,” he says.
Tia Fuller Quartet
Saturday, June 25 at the West End Cultural Centre, 8:00 p.m.
While her name may not be as widely known as the aforementioned
acts, Nolin says Tia Fuller is someone we need to be talking about
more: “She’s toured the world with Beyoncé, she’s a huge jazz artist
that plays with some heavy jazz cats, but like Kamasi she also has a
foot planted in that other world.”
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Sunday, June 26 at the Burton Cummings Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
Finally, Nolin says to expect the unexpected during Trombone
Shorty’s set. “It’s a rock-funk show, more than sort of a classic jazz
show, but it’s so entertaining,” he says.
The TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival runs June 16-26 in Winnipeg.
For more information on tickets, passes and wristbands, head to jazzwinnipeg.com.
YES WE MYSTIC
purveyors of hopeful melancholy
The creative impulses of art-pop transformers Yes We
Mystic are shaped and shifted into luminous form on
debut full-length, Forgiver, or what the band has been
referring to as their “sonic ‘Rosetta Stone.’”
The inventive collection of tracks are a culmination, and
expansion, of 2013’s Floods and Fires EP and last year’s remix
effort, Vestige. “When we say ‘sonic Rosetta Stone,’ all of the
different things that we’ve tried and done, we try to unpack
in this album. It’s kind of the whole map of what we want to
accomplish and all of the different things that we want to
touch on emotionally, sonically and lyrically,” says lead vocalist
Merging dramatic orchestral indie-pop instrumentation
with audacious experimental flourishes, Forgiver marks an early
high-water mark in the group’s still-germinating catalogue.
Working with producer Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes, Patrick
Watson, Wolf Parade) at his Breakglass Studios in Montreal, the
five-piece brought bold ideas to the table and executed them
with remarkable skill. A warped-pop aesthetic is exemplified with
cuts such as “No Harm,” featuring electronic mandolin sounds
awash in reverb, or the “Contest of Wit,” on which droning flutes
are processed and distorted, before building into an unexpectedly
While recording, Lasek’s wife and Besnard Lakes bandmate
Olga Goreas was also in the studio. “We found out
that Olga used to play the flute, so we begged her to bring
it out for us,” says Fuhr. “That was the base from which we
built the rest of the ‘Contest of Wit.’”
And a big part of how the band continues to distinguish their
music is a careful focus on the structure of their songs, allowing
them to go to “new and interesting places.”
While the band’s desire to push creative boundaries is audible
on Forgiver, the album’s namesake was also a central theme.
As Fuhr has previously noted in a press release, “It explores the
different manifestations of forgiveness, and asks whether we can
reconcile our capacity to forgive with our own self-respect.”
In the lead-up to the release, the band teased the album with a
poster campaign, where they asked fans to text their replies to the
question: ‘What have you been unable to forgive?’
“We received something like 130 different texts from across
the country,” says Fuhr. “Trying to find connections between
other people’s baggage and our own was very interesting…
We found that the major strand that connected most people
was someone had committed an act that changed how they
viewed people…But there was a lot of instances of people recognizing
that forgiveness was something they wanted to work
on, or saying ‘This happened to me, but I was able to forgive.’”
That sort of hopeful melancholy is something that is certainly
becoming a hallmark of YWM’s musical makeup.
“There are bands that we like that have done happy albums
and we’ve liked them less,” jokes YWM’s chief lyrical contributor
Keegan Steele (vocals, mandolin, synth). “I don’t necessarily
believe in that cliché that you have to be miserable to make
good art… I have written happy songs, but they haven’t felt right
for the group.”
Yes We Mystic tour Western Canada this June and July. Select dates
include June 25th at Local 510 in Calgary, July 1st at the Biltmore
in Vancouver, July 7th at the Mercury Room in Edmonton and July
9th at Capitol Music Club in Saskatoon.
Yes We Mystic have just released their “Sonic ‘Rosetta Stone’”
by Julijana Capone
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 45
Hifi’s flagship night draws to a close after nearly 20 years
Hifi owners pass the Thursday night torch to Substation Recordings.
This month, Hai Karate, one of Calgary’s longest-running electronic
music residencies will conclude. Created by Pete Emes and
Mike Grimes at the Night Gallery in 1999, and born from their
collective desire to play the sounds they felt were unrepresented in the
scene at that time, the Thursday night will change hands and be run by
“We had a real kind of punk rock mentality about playing dance music,
where we felt that there was too many rules and we wanted to disobey all
the rules,” explains Emes.
“And it’s really hard to describe and relate to considering how different
the scene is now to what it was in ’99, but at the time it was something
different. And that evolved over the years, we felt like we continued to
fill a niche in terms of what the night was representing and what we were
promoting musically on the night, we feel like we’ve managed to keep it
really current over the lifespan of it,” he says.
Stating the importance of the Night Gallery in fostering a solid basis for
the night’s formative years, with its “special energy and vibe,” a common
thread with fellow enduring Calgary night Sunday Skool, Emes explains
that they owe their longevity largely in part to the support of the staff,
supporters and other DJs they had around them. And of course their determination
and clarity of vision.
Five years into their residency at the Night Gallery, the duo decided
based on a number of factors that they needed either to relocate to another
existing club, or start their own. They decided to take the risk, pooled
what they had together and in 2005 opened The Hifi Club.
“When we ended up putting it together and opening it, it was busy
right off the bat so we felt really lucky about that and that was kind of
hard decision to make, but in 2005 once we opened Hifi, we were full
The move to Hifi also marked the beginning of many long-lasting musical
alliances. At the Night Gallery, Eme’s brother Dave would regularly
open for them and Smalltown would play for the majority of the night.
Once at Hifi, they started filling slots with guys like Wax Romeo, Ivan
Rankic and DJ Pump.
At the start of Hai Karate, Emes was working downtown as a geologist
working for oil companies. The success of the early days of the night motivated
him to dive in to music completely. Alongside Grimes, they opened
“At the time we wanted a record store where we could order from a
bunch of distributors and we’re filling a niche… and we wanted to be able
by Paul Rodgers
to live off what we were doing, so we felt like opening that business would
be a good idea.”
Giant 45 served as a creative hub for local musicians at the time, and
past employees such as Dan Solo and Sandro (Sergio Levels) went on to
create nights of their own, like Modern Math.
Also around that time, Smalltown DJs (whose name originally stems
from an early mixtape entitled Pete Emes and Mike Grimes are Smalltown
DJs) also began playing at Shambhala Music Festival, where they continue
to play on an annual basis. This experience helped to further hone their
skills and sculpt their foundation and fanbase. They also met Bassnectar
there, who at the time was still in the beginning stages of his now massive
career. They brought him to Calgary where he played Hai Karate and
crashed on Grimes’ couch.
“He’s not sleeping on couches anymore, but he played Hai Karate back
in the day,” Emes says with a laugh.
Since the early years, they have continually brought in both established
and up and coming artists. Walking into the Hifi Club one can observe the
chronological plaques on the walls denoting some of the highlights over
the years, and Hai Karate were responsible for many of them.
Remembering fondly bringing artists like Kenny Ken, A-Trak, Diplo and
Chromeo, Emes states
that many of his most memorable times were had playing with their
“When I would stay late and play until the wee hours of the morning
just for the staff or whatever those are kind of my most vivid memories,”
The duo are confident with the “hardworking” new management of
Thursday nights and ensure that they are “very conscious” about who they
select to work weeklies and run nights at the Hifi.
They are also keeping very busy. They have a new Saturday night called
My People, numerous records about to be released and a stacked up festival
season rapidly approaching.
“I’m 40 and, you know, it’s like a midweek show and a midweek night,”
explains Emes. “And I feel that the youthful energy and the young energy is
one of the exciting things about our culture, and I still feel like I have that,
but at the same time I feel like our voice is going to be better heard in a less
frequent, differently curated regular event rather than doing weeklies.”
Check out the final Hai Karate on June 2 at the Hifi Club. Smalltown DJs will
also be performing at Sled Island.
LET’S GET JUCY!
June is a special month in our city. With Sled Island taking
place part way through the month and the summer
finally beginning to sink in, it’s a great time to get out and
experience the vibrancy of the electronic and hip-hop music
communities that are thriving here.
Drum and bass mastermind Spor has a side project called Feed
Me. His next-level production skills as a renowned drum and bass
producer translate into electro-house that is as polished as it is
greasy. Check him out at Flames Central on June 4th.
On June 8th, Australian artist What So Not will be playing
at the Hifi. Once a duo featuring Flume, Australian born Emoh
Instead has since branched out on his own. His tracks have been
played by countless names in the EDM circuit and he has an
impressive festival rap sheet. Experience some huge sounds in an
Las Vegas’ BOGL will grace the stage of the Hifi alongside
VNDMG (pronounced Van-Damage). Expect some sounds that
stray from the realms of club convention on June 11th. 403DNB’s
Metropolis takes places June 24th to June 26th, comprised of four
events throughout different times of the day at Nite Owl, The
Oak Tree Tavern and Zon3 after-hours. Headliners include Alix
Perez, Cotesy, Total Science and Kytami among many others, and a
massive array of local DNB selectors.
Sled Island is bringing through plenty of international talent
in the vein of electronic and hip hop, but they also have a strong
focus on our local electronic music community. On June 22nd,
there will be a producer showcase featuring Beach Season, Mark
Adam, OAKK and MetaFloor. That same night there will also be
a special Sled Island edition of Studio Social, and applications for
that need are due June 17.
Australian born busker turned internationally known beatboxer,
singer, beat looping mastermind Dub Fx will perform at
the Marquee on June 28. This is a big one brought to you by the
joint effort of two hardworking Calgary crews Come Correct and
That’s it for Let’s Get Jucy this month. Check back in July for
more electronic music and hip-hop listings.
• Paul Rodgers
Dub Fx puts the soul in loop music.
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 47
And Cutest Kitten Ever by Foster Modesette
Long-time Calgary musician and locally
renowned poet, Kris Demeanor, is finally
putting out a new album after a seven-year
“After you release seven recordings,” said Demeanor,
“some of the song structure, the whole construct of a
pop song, seems dull or done in your mind. To make
that fresh, for myself, I (started) involving people that I
don’t get to play with as much as I wanted.”
Demeanor’s bold new approach to writing and
recording came in the form of teaming up with Calgary
talents, Jamie Konchak, Allison Lynch, Cinnamon Anderson
and Rae Spoon, to create the Cutest Kitten Ever.
“A lot of the songs are like three or four chunks
that have been put together,” said Demeanor.
“Sometimes, in my mind, they are almost like a character,
a photographic snapshot, a scene, as apposed
to classical song structure.”
The record, Entirely New Beasts, released on May
15, 2016, is a minimalist’s cache. The album does have
detailed elements, found in synth pop backgrounds or
French horn segments, but at its core it is an experience
that highlights the simplicity of words and their
overwhelming bond with music.
“Music does sort of have a special relationship
photo: Alanna One Spot
with words,” Demeanor mused. “Lyrics that are either
obscure, or simple, can be forgiven in the context of a
good tune. That’s always been one of those things in
the pop-rock-folk world.”
A wonderfully rich album, filled with heavy guitar
licks, whistling, birds chirping, academic harmonies,
beautifully captivating poetry, and, above all, a love for
what is being produced, makes Entirely New Beasts a
statement worth paying attention to.
On Demeanor’s new musical endeavour, he tells
BeatRoute, “with that freedom, you have to be as adventurous
as possible. It used to be that the first draft
was always the best…catching the fresh-early energy
of a creative process, (now), it’s okay to look over a
piece and really scrutinize every word, decide over a
few months, is this really the way I want to say this?
Question it and re-tool it: on this album I did that more
than I ever have.”
Entirely New Beasts is out as of May 15th, catch Kris
Demeanor at the Ironwood on June 14th, and at
Calgary Folk Fest July 21st-24th as part of Berner, Mark,
Demeanor. Demeanor also will be a part of Verses Vs.
Homeless: A Shlelter From the Storm Production during
the concept of home, and her new album Pale Moon Kid
like to write about what I see, not just
what I feel.”
The concept of home, a place that is
not just a house, and is where you feel happiest
and most content, is the driving force of Jenny
Berkel’s songwriting, particularly in her most
recent album Pale Moon Kid. Berkel has always
pondered the idea of home, “I’ve had so many
homes... I’ve had probably 30 addresses. Home
to me isn’t a house, it is a place where I can be
This theme weaves throughout her songwriting:
album cut “Lilac, Lily” carrying in the whimsical
lyric “home is a knock on the door.”
All of the songs on the album were written
over a period of two years, and in that time
Berkel’s notion of home was tested during a
move from Winnipeg, to Toronto, to Montreal.
Berkel found herself tying strings from place
to place, and drawing inspiration from the
Two years of writing rolled into eight days of
recording, and in the heat of summer in Welland
Ontario, Berkel recorded Pale Moon Kid with help
from her sister, Kay Berkel, as well as producer
and collaborator Daniel Romano. The undeniable
chemistry between the three shines through the
cohesive layers of the album to give Pale Moon
Kid an intimate feeling. This, in part, is due to the
by Robyn Welsh
bond that Romano and Berkel formed playing
together in the Trilliums band.
In speaking with BeatRoute, Berkel opines, “I
like to write about what I see, not just what I feel.”
In doing so, she draws inspiration from Leonard
Cohen’s songwriting, and taps into Karen Dalton’s
vocal styling, which she describes as “sad trumpet”
Berkel’s tendency to veer away from typical
progressions and lean toward dissonant chords
gives her music an unintentionally medieval
tonality. Her mysterious and full-bodied voice
combined, with the mystifying ambiance of the
instrumentals typify Berkel’s unique sound.
Like many artists, Berkel prefers a show where
people are listening intently, “I like to feel that
people are very present at the show, it can be big,
but I like it if people still feel close,” she says. At
a recent show in Toronto at The Dakota Tavern,
Berkel recounts, “It was a very quiet at the show...
but it felt a bit like we were having a family experience
all together because it felt very intimate.”
Jenny Berkel makes many stops on her June Western
Canada tour. Select stops include The Good
Will in Winnipeg on June 2nd, Creative City Centre
in Regina on June 5th, The Almanac in Edmonton
on June 8th, Wine-Ohs in Calgary on June 9th and
MoSo Fest in Sasktoon on June 16th.
Jenny Berkel is looking for intimate experiences on her upcoming tour.
photo: Justin Morabito
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 49
NORTH COUNTRY FAIR
welcoming you home
North Country Fair: Where hippies, hipsters and cowboys can all get along.
Any music festival is defined as much by
the land it’s held on as by the music it
presents; Gallagher Park, home of the
Edmonton Folk Music Festival, features rolling hills
and a dawn-till-dusk, sun-drenched view of the
city skyline from the capital’s iconic river valley.
The Calgary Folk Music Festival’s setting at Prince’s
photo: Doug Springer
Island Park is replete with thick fir trees with the
downtown core’s skyscrapers towering above
them, trails throughout the grounds, and is banked
on either side by the Bow River. But few settings
inspire the devotion of attendees as well as “The
Land,” the location of the North Country Fair, near
Driftpile First Nation, northwest of Slave Lake.
For the uninitiated, the North Country Fair
has been held annually since 1980, making it one
of the longest-running Alberta folk and roots
festivals. In that time, it has become a destination
festival for artists from across Canada and North
America. In the past, the lineup has featured some
of Canada’s most respected artists, some very early
in their careers, such as Tanya Tagaq, and Luke
Doucet of Whitehorse fame.
The festival, ever eccentric in its programming,
has a reputation for music running from the early
afternoon until deep into the night, featuring stranger
and stranger shows as the night turns to morning.
As it’s held each year on the summer solstice, it’s rare
that the night stays truly dark for more than a few
hours, giving way to a 4 a.m. twilight of dusk, where
the fog rolls in off the Driftpile River, and the hoots
and hollers of wild hippies, hipsters, rock ‘n’ rollers
and cowboys getting free and freaky can be heard
from all sides.
“All clichés aside,” says Meagan VanDruten, vocalist
from Edmonton’s Swear By The Moon, “The Fair is a
place where you can discover who you are. There’s
a symbolism between the space in the field and
the ability to discover who you are.” Her musical
partner, Zachary Moon, suggests that the generous
and welcoming vibe of the Fair, in addition to its
unpredictable nature, are a couple of the biggest
reasons people keep coming back. “You get out there,
and you’re greeted with a truckload of firewood from
the locals. And before you can even set up your tent,
some friend, new or old, has handed you a beer and
by Mike Dunn
a guitar. As long as you’re awake, it’s just sort of keeps
going like that. Everyone makes you feel like you
belong there. And I don’t know what’s gonna happen,
but I don’t want to miss anything either.”
This year’s lineup, as eclectic as ever, features a
rare solo appearance by Canadian legend Buffy Ste.
Marie, Vancouver rock ‘n’ rollers Bend Sinister, the
avant-garde psych-pop of Calgary’s Ghostkeeper,
legendary Manitoban children’s entertainer Fred
Penner, and B.C. blues guitarist Jesse Roper. In addition,
the Fair always features a diverse group of familiar
Edmonton-area artists including singer-songwriter
Joe Nolan and his new outfit The Dogs,
the energetic blues of Boogie Patrol, alt-country
weirdoes The Uncas, trip-hop stylist Tzadeka, and,
as has become custom, one of the Fair’s most vocal
and globe-trotting promoters, prairie balladeer
Scott Cook. “This’ll be my 21st Fair, and my twelfth
as a performer,” says Cook with no small hint of
nostalgia. “It was the first inkling I got of a wider
family, stretching across scenes, that I could be part
of. That first year, someone said, ‘Welcome home,’
and I believed them. It’s sun-drenched, fungi-tinted,
boreal perfection. Or, it’s a giant bog full of muddy
hippies searching for a dry rolling paper. Most likely,
The North Country Fair will be held June 16th-19th at
“The Land”, near Driftpile, Alberta. Advance weekend
passes include camping and are $140 for adults, $80
for youth. Children’s passes are free. Details, full lineup,
and maps are available at lslncca.ca
50 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE ROOTS
nuclear metalpunks pound out toxic thrashterpiece
If one were to the fuse the horrors of both
the secretive chambers of Josef Fritzl and a
desolate post-nuclear wasteland, the result
would be Edmonton’s five-piece metalpunking
thrashers, Mortillery. Emanating metallic
toxicity since their spawn in 2008, their latest
full-length Shapeshifter packs their hardest and
most hazardous punch yet.
Although a quick Google search delivers thousands
of modern thrash bands at the click of a
button, Mortillery wallops courtesy of the prominent
influence of hardcore punk fused with classic heavy
metal. Founding member and rhythm guitarist Alex
Gutierrez elaborates on the contributions to their
“Kevin [Gaudet], our drummer, is more into
rock and roll, and Miranda [Wolfe, bassist] and
I are more into punk stuff, Cara [McCutchen,
vocals] listens to your classic heavy metal... and
Kent [Quinlan, lead guitar], he likes more technical
stuff... But since we’ve been hanging out he listens
to more aggressive shit.”
He continues, “In this band we play thrash metal
and we’re not looking to reinvent the genre. We just
focus on the parts of the genre that we identify with
more, at the end of the day we just play and write
whatever makes us stoked.”
The May 27th release Shapeshifter, which is the
band’s third full-length and second release under
Mortillery released Shapeshifter on May 27th via Napalm Records.
Napalm Records, demonstrates a more refined
presentation of the band’s collective skill. Their
frenzied metalpunk attack has subtly morphed,
developing from the rawness of their 2011 debut
Murder Death Kill to the melodic assault of Origin
of Extinction (2013). Now, those elements are
cohesive and incessant.
“I think we just grew better at writing the
songs, you know? Like we got to know each
other better and know what our influences are
and then try to use that better instead of just
like writing random songs, like at first it seemed
like we were all just kind of playing whatever we
photo: Dana Zuk
wrote, but now it’s more focused.”
In early May the band published a music video
for “Torture,” the eighth track on the aforementioned
record. Juxtaposing playing footage with a horror
movie-esque storyline, the consummation of the video
shows stacks of VHS with the names of Albertan
bands (presumably, the killer has claimed them all),
a move which simultaneously exemplifies the strong
camaraderie in the provincial metal community.
“I think that’s the cool thing about Edmonton
and Calgary, and I’m sure you see it when you go to
shows...everybody gets along pretty well, there’s not
really much shit in between bands, nobody is really
by Breanna Whipple
competing with each other or anything. So it’s really
easy to be involved, to be very supportive, because
everybody’s your buds and we’re also all in each other’s
bands too so it’s kinda hard not to support each
other,” says Gutierrez, laughing.
Albertan friends and fans aside, Mortillery enjoys
unusually strong visibility (bolstered by frequent touring
that has seen the band play Europe and South
America, among other locales) as Gutierrez believes a
frequent Internet presence is essential for expanding
the metal genre.
“I’m not one to be upset about people using
downloads and the Internet to find, promote and
help out bands. It ties in with touring, we’re a smaller
band enjoying moderate success and the internet has
helped us reach out to a wider audience who normally
wouldn’t know anything about us.”
Internet success is far from being the highest priority
on Gutierrez’s itinerary.
“I take this shit very seriously, for those who know
me know that I don’t fuck around when it comes to
my bands and the work it takes to make it happen.
Whether it’s our live shows or all the behind the
scenes stuff, I make sure we don’t take any shortcuts
and always perform to our best ability.
“Play it loud, play it fast, this is rock ‘n’ roll!”
Mortillery performs in Calgary on June 10th at Broken
City and in Edmonton on June 11th at Brixx Bar.
52 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE SHRAPNEL
This Month In METAL
You know you live in a city with a respectable
and impressive number of metal
shows when you’ve got a huge festival
booking bands that hipsters and metallers alike
go gaga over (on that note, Sled Island is bringing
in Deafhaven, Bell Witch, SubRosa, and
more, head to www.sledisland.com for tickets)
and a dozen more incredible heavy gigs piled
on top. It’s for that reason I wish Shrapnel could
be five or 10 pages this month… but alas, there
is no room. Instead, I’ll get crazy stoked here
about all the quality gigs going down in Alberta
First up: Natefest will begin on Wednesday,
June 1st. An alternative to the regularly
scheduled Calgary Metalfest, which will occur in
September instead with the big four of Canadian
thrash, this festival features six bands per
night at Distortion, along with a free kick off
show at the Ship and Anchor on Wednesday
with Illuminated Minerva, Thrashadactyl, and
more. For the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
gigs, tickets are $10 in advance per night. Check
out the Facebook event page for the extensive
On Thursday, June 2nd, the original lineup
of Kataplexis is back for a gig with growler
Kyle Ball back at the helm. They’ll be joined at
Broken City by Oxeneer (fresh off the release
of their April full-length Worn Out) and black
metallers Numenorean. The following Saturday
on June 4th, Kataplexis will invade Edmonton
with MessiahLator, Low Level and more at
The following weekend is where the show
options in Calgary get a bit overwhelming. On
Friday, June 10th, Brazilian black metal legends
Mystifier are playing at Lord Nelson’s; Edmonton’s
toxicthrashers Mortillery are playing
an album release party alongside BlackRat at
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and
several messages back and forth, we weren’t
able to get our interview questions back from
the infamous Armando of Mystifier back on
time. If we had, you’d have learned all about
whether that new album is actually impending,
the methods behind the Satanic madness, and
more. Instead, just make sure that you burn
an homage to the fire demons in hope that the
organizers are chatting with each other about
set times and not overlapping, and buy tickets
to both damn shows already.
On Wednesday, June 15th, Canada’s best
ever metal band Voivod is playing at Dickens.
Had I not interviewed them the last time they
came through in February 2015, there’d be a
whole page devoted to the sci-fi legends and
their newest release, the incredible Post Society
EP. Sadly, space is limited, so instead I will just
highly, HIGHLY recommend you buy tickets for
their gig with King Parrot and Child Bite. You
can catch the same lineup at the Starlite Room
in Edmonton on June 16th, at the Exchange in
Regina on June 17th, and at the Good Will Social
Club in Winnipeg on the 18th.
If you’re anywhere close to Vancouver (or
have enough money to fly/drive there), I highly
recommend heading over for Covenant Festival
Mystifier plays Calgary on Friday, June 10th.
from June 16th to 18th. With performances by
Dire Omen, Auroch, Weregoat, Taake, Temple
of Abandonment, Drawn and Quartered, and
more, the incredibly affordable festival is now in
its second year. Head to the Hidenberg for the
shows; buy your $80 three-day pass in advance.
Two Alberta bands will be releasing albums
on Friday, June 24th at Distortion in Calgary.
The first is the long running proggy death band
Caveat, who has been resurrected with added
members. (Special side trivia: Caveat is the
first band I ever interviewed for BeatRoute way
back in August of 2005). They’ll be playing with
death/grind/gore act The Dead Cold again on
June 25th in Edmonton at the Starlite Room. To
get acquainted with the style of the new album
from Caveat, I highly recommend heading over
to Soundcloud to stream of the new “non-metal”
songs from the album dubbedd “Oghma
Infinium.” Featuring gorgeous violin and cello by
Karen An Sim, the song is reminiscent of recent
Meggido is playing their first show in seven
years on Saturday, June 25th at Vern’s with
Bloated Pig, World Class White Trash, and
False Flag. Head down for new material from
the band’s upcoming full-length, along with
several other classics.
Now, for the highlight of July that falls on
a weird date for publishing: on Saturday, July
2nd, legendary black metal act Revenge will be
playing at Dickens with an amazing list of opening
bands, including Auroch, Garotting Deep,
Radioactive Vomit, and Ominosity. Tickets are
available at http://revenge.zoobis.com/. Do not
miss this gig.
• Sarah Kitteringham
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 53
Tegan and Sara
Love You To Death
Warner Music Canada
It’s been 10 years since the Calgary-born Tegan and
Sara’s career-defining The Con (2007) dropped. That
album saw the talented fingers of Kaki King, Chris
Walla and Jason McGerr of Death Cab for Cutie,
among others help grease the chains of Tegan and
Sara’s raw indie rock. Few songwriters can pen and
perform such shiver-inducing lyrics as “maybe I
would have been something you’d be good at,” from
closing track “Call it Off,” with as much vulnerability
and emotional resonance as Tegan and Sara. Synths
sirened through the dry acoustic guitars of the title
track while the two singers sang percussively on top
of each other, carefully squeezing chamber-pop influences
into their bedroom pop recording aesthetic.
Those same synth leads hit hard on almost every
track of new record Love You To Death, but nine
years and ten buckets of glitter later, the duo’s music
is almost unrecognizable, for better or worse.
When Heartthrob’s (2013) single “Closer” dropped,
it signaled a confident move into polished mainstream-ready
pop music. The track pops to life with
massive synth chords while the titular lyric bleeds out
of pitch defiantly, a quiet reminder of the duo’s indie
origins. The chorus features the triumphantly belted
“let’s make things physical” over a sharp drum line.
The expensive-sounding, detail-intensive production
lubricated the song for Top 40 radio consumption,
while the charm and indelible songwriting that typify
Tegan and Sara grounded the song in relatability. The
record that followed was polished at every corner,
possibly to a fault, but as a move into synth-pop, it
came across as authentically as it could have, and it
skewed towards sharper drums, dirtier synths, and
retained a few guitar tracks, all of which are shelved
entirely for Love You To Death.
Heartthrob propelled the duo into Taylor
Swift-opening glory, and as pop stars go, you could
do a lot worse than Tegan and Sara. Their unique
style and narrative, humble origins, and characteristic
doubling, demands twice the stage. Nothing about
Tegan and Sara has ever felt written or manufactured.
Love You to Death is lovingly imagined, but wholly
sterile in ways that Tegan and Sara’s music has never
been, even with the added sheen of Heartthrob.
Lead single “Boyfriend” opens with strangely familiar,
effervescent electronics. Not familiar in a nostalgic
sense however, but rather, reminiscent of other currently
successful pop acts, and of course, the young
producers whose music those acts borrow from. It
refrains from being an explicitly tropical-house track
or anything that deliberative, but the production
on “Boyfriend” carries the ‘80s inflected pop song
directly into the currently musical moment in the
least climactic way possible. The boring arrangement
on this track is doubly disappointing because it is so
easy to envision a more interesting instrumental, considering
Tegan and Sara have offered us so many in
the past. “Boyfriend” is, at its heart, a smartly written
track about the complications of dating someone
whose sexual aim and/or orientation is in flux, or at
least not perfectly centered. The song is progressive,
socially nuanced, and most importantly for the genre,
endlessly catchy. That said, the hammy beat drops
and floaty vocals turn the song into an unwanted
remix of itself, and not in the cool “Ignition” sense.
Further, the explicit themes of “Boyfriend” offer a
strong reminder of how Tegan and Sara’s identities
as gay women has been such a quotable part of their
musical mythos from day one. The duo has never
used either as a gimmick or a crutch, but rather, the
love songs abound throughout their discography
have held a level of gendered ambiguity, and thus
moments where their sexuality comes out explicitly,
feel stronger in their infrequency. Thankfully, this is
also true on Love You to Death. “Stop Desire” most
notably uses its title and chorus to confidently emote
the undeniability of both female, although more
specifically, lesbian, sexual and romantic desire.
Strong pop songwriting like this permeates the
entire record on tracks like the almost-heartbreaking
sparkle-piano ballad “100x,” and the obvious album
standout “U-Turn.” The latter track emotes the confidence
the project is contingent on more strongly
than elsewhere on the record, and the more muted
arrangement suits the song’s lyrical reliance. The witty
quip “Make a change or this is gonna stall / Shape
up or you’ll drop me like a call” perfectly prefaces
the punchy chorus. “I wanna write a love song / even
though you never asked me for one” carries both
the confidence of the duo’s newfound pop stardom,
as well as a profound sense of self-awareness. The
charming contradiction therein is that the song is
about writing a love song and not a love song. Moments
like these carry the legacy of wit and wonder
that Tegan and Sara that lose some of their impact
from the overly shiny arrangements.
“B/W/U” is the most reminiscent cut on the
record, offering a sparse electronic bed with lo-fi
drum machines and clean synth arpeggios. The intro
and post-chorus have a slow and cute electric-piano
lead that calls to mind former producer Chris Walla’s
influence, although even this track feels all-too-perfectly
pitched and polished, a clear reminder that
T&S’ Chris Walla days are over.
It feels strange to suggest something so cliché, but
Love You to Death listens more like what studio executives
probably Tegan and Sara should sound like
than what has made them such a tour-de-force. Such
a sentiment feels doubly strange considering they
have been major-label produced for almost ten years,
thus the new, overly glossy production is certainly a
stylistic choice by Tegan and Sara themselves.
As an exercise in pop songwriting, Tegan and Sara
offer a master class, but the arrangement feels stuck
in high school. Love You to Death is a stall for Tegan
and Sara, not necessarily a misstep, not necessarily
an all-time-low, but not entirely free of disappointment
• Liam Prost
illustration: Dylan Smith
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 55
Cash Money Records
Early into the daunting, 120-minute runtime of
Drake’s recent opus Views, the Toronto rapper
insists “Views already a classic.” Of course, to declare
an album a classic before it comes out is an absurd
gamble, but if any artist making music in 2016 were
to stake the claim, it could only reasonably be Drake.
Views is an interesting record because of
its place in Drake’s career. The album’s original
announcement over two years ago felt like a
much-deserved victory lap for one of the biggest
rappers of all time. Of course, that announcement
took place before just about every ubiquitous cultural
moment that Drake seemed to find himself
at the centre of in the following years.
It seems that Drake’s own success is his own undoing,
of course he’ll tell you that himself in most of his
songs, but it has never felt more true than on Views.
The massive releases of If You’re Reading This…
and What a Time to Be Alive found Drake owning
the rap industry simply by playing by his own rules.
Traditional release methods make Views feel like a
step back for the rapper that always seems to have a
finger on the pulse. Still, it’s not just the release methods
that make Views feel like a step back.
Sonically, the album shares more in common
with Take Care than it does with Drake’s more
boisterous oeuvre. Views is contemplative Drake,
for better or worse. The rapper is often examining
what it means to be a global superstar, but
the album is also a love letter to the city that
Drake loves so fiercely. All together, Views functions
better when Drake focuses on the latter.
The album is pastiche of styles that have found
success in a massively diverse Toronto. Afrobeat
and Caribbean influence crop up often, with
genres like grime and New Orleans bounce also
lending themselves to the mix.
Drake’s contemplations can’t help but feel stale,
especially because he’s retreading well-worn ground.
We know about Drake’s issues with relationships, but
what was acceptable for a 24-year-old on Take Care is
often groan-inducing for a man almost in his thirties.
Drake’s ruminations on past relationships are often
emotionally stunted, the petty product of a mildly
narcissistic manchild that avoids nuance in favour of
As always, Drake’s music is his saving grace. Songs
like the newly Popcaan-free “Controlla” and the
Rihanna-featuring “Too Good” are both song of the
summer contenders because they show the side of
Drake that isn’t brooding for once.
• Jamie McNamara
The Glowing Man
Young God / Mute
Swans are the masters of dark, “post-rock/punk”
sludge, and they have delivered some of the most
ambitious albums in recent years, most notably
2012’s The Seer and 2014’s To Be Kind, which were
guided meditations to the darkest, shittiest recesses
of the mind.
The multi-member collective, helmed by the
brooding and enigmatic punk rock cowboy Michael
Gira, have utilized raw power in their previous
efforts, channeling contemplative rage through
repetitive drone sounds, creating fiercely dense
walls of noise and feedback along with the whirling
progressions in their 20-plus minute songs. And,
not to mention, their music is always fueled by
some aspect of society that sickens them, casting a
restless ooze over their work.
They can make any other ambient or drone outfit
look feeble by comparison, based on the immense
power of their sound and their fully layered crescendos,
supplied by the wall to wall to wall stacks
of amplifiers in their studio and live performances
(Swans at Dickens Pub during Sled Island in 2013 was
the loudest show I have ever seen).
However, their new album, The Glowing Man,
is a step in a whole new intriguing direction. The
effort, dare I say, is jazzy, and orchestral, and peppered
with major chords. Now, the darkness, and
the repetition, and the intensity is all still here, but
the instrumentation is clean, and there is a larger
focus on Gira’s voice as he actually sings lyrics in
a classic post-punk style, rather than his usual
repetitive, three-word hymns.
We still get meditative, and we still find ourselves
rank with social anxiety, but the use of strings such
as cello, an assortment of mallet instruments, synthesizers
and horns alongside their usual arsenal of
guitars (which are fingerpicked and plucked, rather
than abused and beaten), bass and drums brings
out a whole new side to Swans’ perspective and
capabilities, showcasing that they are always willing
to try new approaches to their music.
But, in true Swans’ fashion, these orchestral,
20-minute epics still build and build in intensity
and pressure until they ultimately explode and
burn to the ground.
• Michael Grondin
Counterfeit Jeans bursts from the speakers with
the barely-restrained energy and volume that has
become the Edmonton band’s calling card. Reminiscent
at first of a noisier, more aggressive Television,
“Black Light” burns out of the gate, teeming with
overdriven guitar and bass, and propelled by a the
clangour of a mountainous half-time backbeat.
Counterfeit Jeans have developed their lo-fi postpunk
sound through relentless playing throughout
Alberta and the west, and their debut LP is strengthened
by the work, resulting in a tight punk rock
pocket augmented by roaring guitars, and setting
itself apart with distinctly memorable melodies.
Those melodies, though, would be of little impact
without quality lines. “This is the sound of joyful
elation, in the grip of self-annihilation, I cannot wait
to die, to rid myself of desire,” in “No Desire” is reminiscent
of Cobain in demonstrating the juxtaposition
of jubilant ecstasy versus existential nihilism.
“Gemini” opts for some restraint, kicking off with
slinky chord stabs before picking up a tricky-sounding
double-time guitar riff under the melody. The
rhythm section of Spencer Heykants (bass) and
Tyler Bedford (drums) provide an excellent pocket
throughout numerous tempo transitions, reminiscent
of The Jesus Lizard, which allows vocalist/
guitar player Jed Gauthier ample space to fill with
his outside-the-lines style, deftly mixing hard-driving
riffs with sharply-picked lines that veer from the
dexterous, to funky shots and into chaotic, but fully
in-control noise rock. Gauthier’s abilities to careen
through several guitar styles on any given song are
immediately apparent on “Generation,” a standout
cut full of left turns, that works through its dynamic
shifts in reverse, flying out of the gate, a whirlwind
of pounding vitriol, before winding down to a very
chill, almost indie-pop finish.
There’s a distinct musicality at work on Counterfeit
Jeans that belies its lo-fi aesthetic. When
music is at its most chaotic, the band tends to have
absolute control over what they’re playing, and
the tonal and tempo variations employed here by
Counterfeit Jeans demonstrates an attention to
the minutiae of the creative process. Such gears
are rarely shifted easily. The Nirvana comparison is
appropriate throughout the writing. In the noisier
moments there are hints of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur
Jr., and the melodies are reminiscent of Lou
Barlow’s best moments with Sebadoh. Whether
these are apt points of reference for the band or
not, Counterfeit Jeans has made a record that
sounds wildly fresh, breaking some heady ground
on their full-length debut.
• Mike Dunn
56 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE
Reward in Purpose
War on Music / Sunmask
Astrakhan arose towards the end of 2012 in the midst
of the rich ever-growing metal scene that resides
in Vancouver and its surrounding area. Reward in
Purpose follows an initial steady stream of EPs and
marks the first full-length of a band that, in their first
four years together, has continually demonstrated a
resolute dedication to pursuing a well-defined and
captivating musical undertaking.
The ten-minute opening track “Omajod,” is an appropriate
introduction for the group’s first full-length
release. It begins gradually, building momentum with
a deep, resonating psyche groove before giving way to
a long, grim scream that pierces the hazy atmosphere
and showcases a darker side of the band.
The bands numerous stylistic influences shine
forth throughout the album. Generally straying to the
heavier edge of progressive metal, such as in the driving
“Microcosmic Design.” Their more sludge-based
and gloomy elements also remain.
Riff-driven tracks like “The Traveler” maintain their
attentiveness slow-burning grooves, and also allow
the vocalists free range to illuminate their dynamic
range. Clean, symphonic lines are juxtaposed by
gripping, guttural screams.
Their ability to straddle greatly varied inspirations
allows listenability throughout the record’s entirety,
and therefore has the potential to reach a vast array
of listeners. Fans of the grittier prog-rock of a band
like early Tool, avant-garde and melodic Norwegian
black metal like Arcturus, and definitely fans of
story-driven stoner rock like The Sword.
• Paul Rodgers
Classixx are one of the more intriguing production
teams in recent memory because of their ability to
make the album a worthwhile experience in a singles
driven music landscape. Their 2013 debut Hanging
Gardens found a cohesiveness that is rarely found on
the dance music LP, opting for a more leisurely style
indebted to disco, new wave, and funk. That said,
that album also suffered from sameness and a decent
amount of bloat.
The duo, consisting of Los Angeles natives Tyler
Blake and Michael David, return with their sophomore
long-player Faraway Reach, which boasts an
intriguing collection of guests, but often suffers from
the same issues as its predecessor.
Despite a few missteps, Faraway Reach is often a
joy to listen to, balancing Balearic grooves and LA
synth-pop perfectly. Songs like “Just Let Go” find
Classixx in a highly collaborative mood, using guest
vocalist How to Dress Well to perfect effect.
Elsewhere, stand out single “Whatever I Want”
features T-Pain in a combo that works much better
on record than it does on paper. T-Pain’s auto-tuned
crooning is more subdued than his more boisterous
pop rap hooks, perfectly complementing the
mid-tempo bliss that Classixx have crafted underneath
• Jamie McNamara
Formerly known as lushush, and earlier still as
Lu_shush, Tom Carlson of Missoula, Montana, has
taken a huge stride on his debut album as Gunsounds.
The self-titled work is an exercise in distorted
melodies and richly crafted beats. You’d be forgiven
for assuming he was a trap DJ based on his alias, or
for expecting vaporwave based on the cartoon kitty
adorning the album cover, but Gunsounds is more a
sometimes ambient, experimental pop project.
Carlson has a degree in audio engineering, which
shines through in the meticulous nature of the beats.
They approach being danceable, but usually fall back
in the name of offering something more cerebral.
Notable exceptions are “How_to_Draw_a_Scorpion_for_Kids,”
which has an alien club feel akin to
TNGHT’s “Bugg’n” it its first half, and “All I Wanted
Was A ;),” which is an endorphin rush of major keys
and joyful sirens.
At just under 30 minutes in length, Gunsounds
makes for a detail-rich re-introduction to a thriving
• Colin Gallant
Should I Remain Here at Sea?/Taste
When a band releases two records in quick succession,
one of two things can happen. Either both
records can sound largely the same, leading one of
the two to be dismissed outright (see Beach House’s
latest releases), or, they can be stylistically counterposed
(such as Bright Eyes’ rootsy I’m Wide Awake It’s
Morning and dominantly electronic Digital Ash in a
By putting out two records so close together, Islands
does themselves, and us, a disservice by forcing
the records to read in relation to each other, which is
especially unfair given how balanced and well-constructed
both records are, despite not markedly
Given the name if nothing else, Should I Remain
Here at Sea? is easily readable as a comment on
Islands career since their debut Return to the Sea. The
latter was a gloriously unpolished record, seeping syrupy
pop hooks from every corner, very much a tie-in
to Nick Diamond’s previous band The Unicorns. The
operative assumption of SIRHAS? however, is that the
band still is, in fact, at sea. Six releases later, Islands’
pop-rock aesthetic has been polished to death, such
that the suggestion that Islands is the same band that
produced Return ring false.
Taste is mostly synth and electronics driven, which
is the strongest contrast to SIRHAS?’s stripped down,
guitar pop style. The former record is also more
political than personal, with nods to male privilege
and police brutality. Both records are strong in their
own right, and it feels wrong to condemn a release
strategy, but there is simply too much music in the
world to give them both the time they deserve.
• Liam Prost
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Australia must have the best acid. The country is
home to a massive resurgence of psychedelic rock
that runs much more ragged than its American
counterpart. But while Kevin Parker and co. in Tame
Impala have ventured further and further from their
psychedelic roots, fellow Australians King Gizzard
and the Lizard Wizard have picked up the slack with a
prolific output of mind-bending garage-rock.
Nonagon Infinity is the Melbourne septet’s seventh
album in six years and it’s the latest experiment
from a band that refuses to sit still. The album was
made to function as an unbroken loop, the end of the
final song serves as an intro to the first. It’s a strong
dose of gimmick, but KGTLW never rest on it. Instead,
the album rips from front to back with impeccable
garage-rock swagger and confidence.
Nonagon Infinity is interesting solely because it
seems so far removed from its contemporaries. The
tracks on the album blend seamlessly, often to the
point that it’s hard to tell where one track ends and
the next begins. Couple this with the band returning
to various lyrical and melodic motifs throughout the
album and the result is a disorienting album that is
utterly captivating, but impossible to pick apart.
The album does suffer from being stuck in fifth
gear. The band roars through songs with a blinding
tempo, voraciously consuming riffs with delirious
efficiency. Rarely does the music slow down, and
the similarities between songs mean that a listener
could feasibly listen to the album one and a half times
before realising they are back where they started.
• Jamie McNamara
For The Sun
While the term “folk music” has recently grown
incalculably to include the cross pollination of
several intermingling styles, at its heart is still the
ability of a singer-songwriter to write and perform
compelling songs without the aid of a symphony.
Though For The Sun, the debut LP from Canmore
songwriter Layten Kramer, certainly brings the
house in regards to production and instrumentation,
his songs remain the focal point, as easily
imagined played around a crackling campfire as
they are with the lush and energetic treatment
they’re given here.
Kicking off with an eerie synth entanglement
leading into the delicately fingerpicked title track,
Kramer brings a sense of immediacy with his first
line, “Have you had enough of this life? Are you
growing tired of the lies?” The rhythm section
picks up a steady heartbeat, moving quickly to the
chorus, which drops amid Beatles-like grandeur
and the welcome harmony of horns and synth
lines. The second song, “Thin White Lines”, helps
the album settle in to what becomes its sonic signature:
uptempo folk-pop with stuttery-yet-danceable
beats, augmented by synths, and the always
hummable lines of a songwriter who knows that
having people listen to your words is contingent
on connecting to your melody.
For The Sun only touches on its folk elements,
certainly on the cantina melancholia of “Shadows”,
and on the closer “Time Is Here To Stay.” “Gold
and The Sea” is a standout, with dramatic builds,
a soaring, harmonized chorus, and a guitar break
that understands that a single note played in
desperation and conviction adds a lot more than a
hundred empty tones.
• Mike Dunn
There comes a time in many bands lives when the
lead singer strikes out on their own. It’s a huge risk,
but it can pay off a lå Beyoncé or flop like Debbie
Harry’s Koo Koo (1981). Now, it’s the Dum Dum Girls’
Kristin “Dee Dee” Welchez’s turn. X-Communicate
provides its listener a retro dance party, mixed in with
enough torch songs to really let everything sink in.
If the Dum Dum Girls referenced ‘60s girl
groups, then for her first solo soiree, Welchez has
time travelled into the future with a pit stop in
the ‘80s.The polished synth line of standout track
“X-Communicate” is reminiscent of new wave acts
like Blondie, but with a modernity that distinguishes
Welchez from being a kitschy ‘80s revivalist.
The song “White Street” is a stream of consciousness
narrative describing heading out to a
party with the heart ache of Robyn alone on the
dance floor: “If you catch my eye I just might take
you up tonight.”
Overall, Kristin Kontrol has created a solid first album
that asserts her risk in going solo was worth it.
• Trent Warner
As one half of influential Swedish duo Studio, Dan
Lissvik was responsible for bringing Balearic brilliance
to the often-bleak Gothenburg. Since Studio’s dissolution,
Lissvik has worked as producer for artists like
Montreal’s Young Galaxy, while also working on solo
works for the first time in his career.
The solo works culminated in last years three track
Shuvit! EP, an EP that showed that Lissvik’s ability to
BEATROUTE • JUNE 2016 | 57
make dubbed out music is still in tact, but it never felt
as effortless as his work with Studio. Now, the new
father returns with his debut full-length Midnight, a
record that shows that Lissvik still has a take on dance
music that is utterly populist while still remaining
The gentle, meandering feel of Studio’s essential
West Coast returns on Midnight. The propulsive,
post-ABBA drum work and listless guitars are straight
off of “Life’s a Beach,” but that’s not to say that
Lissvik’s style hasn’t evolved since his days in Studio.
Songs like the hypnotic “D” pick up where West
Coast left off, dropping the listener into a haze of
dubbed out drums and plucky synths that would feel
right at home on a Todd Terje record.
• Jamie McNamara
On their first full-length album, DealBreaker, Edmonton’s
Royal Tusk have crafted a catchy piece of
modern rock, relying on melodic hooks and catchy,
crunchy guitar riffs. Unlike many of their contemporaries,
Royal Tusk’s commitment to songwriting
is evident in the use of lyrics in their hooks, rather
than rely on the trusty “whoa whoa whoa” laziness so
often present in today’s radio rock.
DealBreaker is radio-ready, but in a way that seems
content to be further outside most programming
lists. It’s clever modern rock, with some interesting
left turns, like the head-shop-jazz-while-whistlingdown-the-road
feel at the end of the title track.
There’s some cool Slash-y guitar work on the Wurlitzer-driven
closing ballad “So Long The Buildup.”
The dance rock harmonized verse melody on
“Above Ground” takes away from the smart chorus,
but when it’s sung solo in the breakdown, the lines
have more weight in anticipation of the big finale
chorus. Royal Tusk has a sound that should set them
apart from the radio pack.
• Mike Dunn
Alexis Taylor is no stranger to the ballad. As frontman
of synthpop group Hot Chip, Taylor has been known
to slow the tempo to croon wistfully, but it always felt
like a brief aside before the party started again. For
his third solo LP Piano, the British musician focuses
solely on ballads sung with only piano accompaniment.
Some of the songs are covers, like Elvis’ “Crying
in the Chapel,” but most are either new works from
Taylor or reworkings of his past writing. The move
is refreshing to hear from Taylor, but his style is
largely unchanged from past work, and it’s debatable
whether or not his nasally croon can carry an album
on its own.
Indeed, the main detractor from Piano is the
fact that it’s an LP and not an EP. Lead off track “I’m
Ready” is a song about the creative process, a song
that seems fitting on an album that feels more like a
creative exercise than a cohesive vision.
• Jamie McNamara
You can’t really blame this Toronto foursome
for wanting to cover all their bases with their
genre-defying debut. In a super-saturated musical
blogosphere of what’s cool according to culturally
“hip” types, the appeal of sounding like you’re the
missing link between the Karen O-isms of art-punk,
tUnE-yArDs’ electro-beat collages and the fringes
of Eleanor Friedberger’s goofball pop past will
probably land you some affirmative head-nodding
and a 7.5 from Pitchfork. Sure enough, tracks like
“Candy,” “Tick” and “One More” bob and weave
(pun intended) with a bombastic punch to the gut,
while “Eagle” flies high with intricate sonic interplay
between guitarist Morgan Waters and the rhythm
section of Zach Bines and Spencer Cole. “Coo Coo”
self-medicates a calmer Jasmyn Burke espousing the
object of her affection, but she returns to freak-flag
form on the seething “Shithole.” With the music
scene in the Six branching out and taking risks with
groups like Dilly Dally, The Highest Order and Darlene
Shrugg, Weaves stand to make waves amongst
their peers and then some.
• Bryce Dunn
58 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE
Savages, Head Wound City
May 24, 2016
When London post-punk band Savages burst
onto the scene in 2013, it was on the back of
a fiery live show that only seemed to up the
intensity found on their debut album. The
passing years have found the band solidifying
their claim as one of the best touring bands
of the moment, but until Tuesday night,
Calgarians never had a chance to see what all
the fuss was about.
The quartet, consisting of vocalist Jehnny
Beth, guitarist Gemma Thompson, bassist Ayse
Hassan, and drummer Fay Milton, played a
revelatory set to a packed Commonwealth that
seemed even more intimate than usual.
The night began with recently reunited
mid-aughts supergroup Head Wound City. The
group, featuring members of Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
The Blood Brothers, and The Locust, played a
raucous mix of noise and hardcore that was
technically impressive, but not entirely pleasing
to the small crowd gathered. The group tore
through a mix of old songs and material off
of their freshly released album A New Wave
of Violence, but their punishing sonics might
have been better suited for a later night.
The most impressive thing about Savages’
jaw-dropping performance is just how simple
it is. The band wears all black, and flashy stage
effects are kept to a minimum. Instead, white
strobes flashing only intensify the manic
performance put on by frontwoman Jehnny
Beth. Beth’s ability to stir up a crowd is a treat
to watch, she commands the room, often stopping
to make direct eye contact with crowd
members mid-song. Beth’s interaction with
the crowd seemed to forge genuine connection
between the audience and the band, her
attempts to reach out to the audience always
met with adoration. Savages’ music is often
intense, but the band does well to offer levity
to the audience with songs like “Sad Person,”
and the stunning “Surrender.” The night eventually
reached it’s emotional zenith with the
performance of the gorgeously earnest ballad
“Adore,” which was met with a healthy chorus
of fans singing along.
• Jamie McNamara
photo: Michael Grondin
Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, AB
May 20, 2016
Beyoncé is contagiously indestructible.
With a forecast of single digits and rain for her outdoor show in Edmonton, you
might imagine a lowered level of enthusiasm for the multi-platinum cultural icon. You’d
be dead wrong.
Over the course of two solid hours and over 30 songs, Yoncé and her all-female
ensemble brought to life the themes of survival and strength so prevalent in her latest
But the show wasn’t about a flawlessness that eschews vulnerability, it was one
that embraced obstacles and hardship as beautiful, communal and essential to meaningful
living. She smiled through the blanket-like rain, embraced fans and let everyone
know that the elements (both figurative and literal) were worth overcoming.
The set list was what you’d expect from an artist with hits spanning two decades:
heavy on Lemonade and Beyoncé, but comprehensive of past fan favourites as well.
When things came to a close with anthem “Halo,” Beyoncé delivered the catharsis all of
the drenched fans and entertainers needed.
To see an artist so revered and larger than life surrender all of herself to the moment
gave a brightness to roughly 40,000 people who sorely needed it.
• Colin Gallant
photo: Daniela Velasco
60 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE
ask a stupid question, get a smart answer...
I’m a 31-year-old straight woman. I have a good job, great friends, and
average attractiveness. I’ve dated close to 30 men at this point, and I
can’t wrap my head around this: I’ve never had a boyfriend or dated
anyone for more than a couple months. It’s really starting to wear on
my self-esteem. I don’t believe anything is wrong with me, but the more
time goes on, the more I think I have to be doing something wrong.
The guys ghost me or things fizzle out or we’re not at the same point in
our lives. This is particularly true for one guy I’ve remained friends with
(common social circle) who is struggling with his career, though things
are still awkward because it’s clear there’s still something there. Another
area of concern: I’m still a virgin. Catholic guilt resulted in me being
a late bloomer, with my first kiss at 21. Once I got more into dating, my
low self-esteem coupled with the fact that I’ve basically decided I want
to be in a monogamous committed relationship with a guy before
having sex, relationships just never happened. I don’t have unrealistic
expectations that I’ll marry the first dick that sticks itself into me—but
I’ve waited this long, so I’m not going to jump into the sack with just
anyone without knowing that I can at least trust them. The only guy
I really do trust is Somewhat Depressed Guy, but propositioning him
could further complicate our already awkward friendship. Is something
wrong with me, and what the hell should I do?
—What’s Wrong With Me?
I get variations on the first half of your question—is something
wrong with me?—all the time. But it’s not a question I’m in a
position to answer, WWWM, as I would need to depose a random
sampling of the guys you’ve dated, interrogate your friends, and grill
you under a bare lightbulb for a few days to figure out what’s wrong
And you know what? Nothing could be wrong with you. You may
have pulled the short straw 30 times in a row, and you just need to
keep getting out there and eventually you’ll pull a guy who won’t
ghost or fizzle on you.
As for the second half of your question…
What the hell should you do? Well, gee. What you’ve been doing
hasn’t worked, WWWM, so maybe it’s time to do something else.
Like fuck some dude on the first date. Or if that’s too drastic, fuck
some dude on the second date. Or better yet, go to Somewhat
Depressed Guy and say: “I don’t think you want a relationship right
now, and I’m not sure I do either. But I like you and trust you, and I
could really use your help with something…”
While the commitment-and-monogamy-first approach has
worked for some, WWWM, it hasn’t worked for you. And being a
virgin at 31 isn’t boosting your self-esteem. There are lots of people
out there who jumped in the sack and did a little dick-sticking with
people they barely knew but had a good feeling about. The jumping/
sticking/dicking approach doesn’t always lead to committed and/or
monogamous relationships, but it can and it has and it does.
Somewhat Depressed Guy might be somewhat less depressed if
he was getting some, you might have higher self-esteem if you finally
got some, and dispensing with your virginity might make dating after
you part ways—if you part ways with him (you never know)—seem
a lot less fraught.
Straight male, 48, married 14 years, three kids under age 10. Needless
to say, life is busy at our house. My wife and I have stopped having
sex. It was my decision. I get the obligation vibe combined with a
vanilla sex life, and it just turns me off. We’ve had many conversations
about it and we want to find a balance. But it always defaults back
to infrequent and dull, making me frustrated and cranky. For the past
two months, I’ve tried to just push sex out of my mind. We live mostly
as parenting roommates. We used to be pretty kinky—dirty talk, foursomes,
toys, porn, etc.—but all those things wear her out now, and her
interest has disappeared. My guess is that she was just playing along
with my kinks to keep me happy and is now over it. Is this just life as
a 48-year-old married father of three? Am I being selfish for wanting
more in my sex life than my wife is willing to offer?
—Hard Up Husband
Is sex wearing your wife out, HUH, or is raising three kids wearing your
wife out? I suspect it’s the latter.
But in answer to your question: Infrequent and underwhelming sex,
sometimes with an obligatory vibe, is not only the sex life a 48-yearold
married father of three can expect, it’s the sex life he signed up for.
There’s nothing selfish about wanting more sex or wanting it to be more
like it was. Kids, however, are a logistical impediment—but a temporarily
one, provided you don’t go nuclear. A couple’s sex life can come roaring
back so long as they don’t succumb to bitterness, recrimination, and
sexlessness. To avoid all three, HUH, it might help to ask yourself which
is the likelier scenario: for years your wife faked an interest in dirty talk,
foursomes, toys, porn, etc., in order to trap you, or your wife is currently
too exhausted to take an interest in dirty talk, foursomes, toys, porn, etc.
Again, I suspect it’s the latter.
My advice: masturbate more, masturbate together more, lower your
expectations so you’ll be pleasantly surprised when a joint masturbation
session blows up into something bigger and better, carve out enough
time for quality sex (weekends away, if possible, with pot and wine and
Viagra), discuss other accommodations/contingencies as needed, and
take turns reminding each other that small kids aren’t small forever.
by Dan Savage
I didn’t talk to my nearly-70-year-old dad for most of my 20s. Now
that I’m back trying to maintain relationships with my parents, I
am struggling. My dad is the king of the overshare. He makes creepy
comments about women who are about 30 to 40 years younger than
him—including women who were kids when he met them but are now
grown-ups. Not something I want to hear. I don’t think he is abusing
anyone, just being creepy, but I desperately want him to stop with
the inappropriate comments. He makes about one creepy comment
per phone conversation. If he were a person at work, I would be able
to stand up for myself and say, “That is not appropriate.” But when
he says creepy stuff, Dan, I’m a deer in the headlights. I go silent, it’s
awkward, and I keep hoping he’ll understand how weird he’s being. I
would say something, but bringing up things that anger me causes him
to act overly sorry, and that routine is annoying too. I asked my mom
(they divorced a long time ago), and she had no suggestions. She was
just like, yeah, he’s like that. Any suggestions on what to say?
—Seeking Help Regarding Unpleasant Guy
“Dad! It creeps me out when you make comments about women you
wanna fuck. I realize you’re a sexual person, and I honor that, and blah
de blah blah blah. But these are thoughts you share with friends, Dad,
not with your adult children. There’s no need to go into your oh-so-sorry
routine, Dad, we just need to change the subject.”
Listen to Dan at
Email Dan at
@fakedansavage on Twitter
62 | JUNE 2016 • BEATROUTE