BeatRoute Magazine Alberta print e-edition - November 2016

beatroute

BeatRoute Magazine is a monthly arts and entertainment paper with a predominant focus on music – local, independent or otherwise. The paper started in June 2004 and continues to provide a healthy dose of perversity while exercising rock ‘n’ roll ethics.

FREE

NOVEMBER 2016

Margaret Cho • Taboo Sex Show • CUFF • Giraf • NOFX • Pup • Keys ‘N Krates • Orchid • Lady Gaga


FIXED

Editor’s Note/Pulse 4

Bedroom Eyes 7

Places Please 10

Vidiot 23

Edmonton Extra 35

Book Of Bridge 36

Letters From Winnipeg 37

Let’s Get Jucy! 41

This Month in Metal 51

FEATURES

Femme Wave 24-26

CITY 9-14

Margaret Cho, Instersite Art Festival,

Montreal Modernism, Sex Taboo Show

FILM 17-21

Calgary Underground Film Festival, GIRAF,

Calgary European Film Festival, Marda Loop

Justive Film Festival, CJSW Music Docs

TABLE OF CONTENTS

MUSIC

rockpile 28-37

NOFX, Pup, All Hands On Jane, The

Sweets, Fred Penner, Hello Moth,

Rosalind, Dragonette, Elephant Stone

jucy 39-41

Alberta Electronic Music Conference, Keys

N Krates, Beach Season

roots 43-46

Barney Bentall, Andrew Collins Trio,

100 Mile House, Orit Shimoni, Danielle

French, James Vincent McMorrow

shrapnel 49-51

Traer, Orchid, Steve Grimmett/s Grim

Reaper

REVIEWS

cds 52-56

Lady Gaga and much, much more ...

live 57

BEATROUTE

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

Brad Simm

Marketing Manager

Glenn Alderson

Advertising Manager

Ron Goldberger

Production Coordinator

Hayley Muir

Content Coordinator

Masha Scheele

Managing Editor/Web Producer

Shane Flug

Music Editor

Colin Gallant

Section Editors

City :: Brad Simm

Film :: Jonathan Lawrence

Calgary Beat :: Willow Grier

Edmonton Extra :: Levi Manchak

Book of (Leth)Bridge :: Courtney Faulkner

SaskTell :: The Riz

Letters From Winnipeg :: Julijana Capone

Jucy :: Paul Rodgers

Roots :: Liam Prost

Shrapnel :: Sarah Kitteringham

Reviews :: Jamie McNamara

This Month’s Contributing Writers

Christine Leonard • Arielle Lessard • Sarah Mac • Amber McLinden • Kennedy Enns •

Michaela Ritchie • Michael Grondin • Sasha Semenoff • Sara Elizabeth Taylor • Breanna

Whipple • Brittany Rudyck • Morgan Cairns • Jamie Goyman • Keegan Rholeau •

Matthew Coyte • Claire Miglionico • Jay King • Max Foley • Paul McAleer • Robyn Welsh

• Nikki Celis • Mike Dunn • Alec Warkentin • Tyler Stewart • Shane Sellar • A.L. Devlin •

Lisa Marklinger • Shayla Friesen • Cole Parker • Danielle Wensley • Dan Savage

This Month’s Contributing Photographers & Illustrators

Amber McLinden • Matthew Cookson • Kenneth Locke • Naomi Brierley • Erin Prout

• Michael Kuby • Trevor Sieben • Jen Squires • David Guenther • Vanessa Eagle Bear •

badbloodclub

Front Cover

Kelsey Reckling

NOFX - page 28

Advertising

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

Distribution

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

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

E-Edition

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BeatRoute Magazine

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

Copyright © BEATROUTE Magazine 2016. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the contents is prohibited.

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 3


pulse

BROKEN CITY RE-MASTERED

GOOD LIFE COMMUNITY BIKE SHOP

OBTAINS LIVE MUSIC LICENSE

Mission’s Good Life Community Bike Shop

is ready to celebrate a hard-won milestone

this month. After some barebones, DIY

shows last year, bylaw officers shut down a

performance held at the shop, leaving the

future of GLCBS as a performance space.

The not-for-profit were discouraged at the

time, but have prevailed in the not-so-easy

task of obtaining the proper licensing. They’ll

be doing their first legit show with Blü Shorts,

Aiwass and Torture Team on November 11th.

As always, a safer space policy is in effect: no

booze, no drugs, no harassment of any kind,

and all ages are welcome to attend.

BMO NATIONAL ART AWARDS WINNER

University of Alberta graduate, Nathan

Levasseur, is this year’s winner of BMO

Financial Group’s 14th annual 1st Art!

Invitational Student Art Competition, which

honours visual arts excellence in postsecondary

institutions across the country.

His submission, Everyone Changes, is

a digital drawing printed on satin gloss

photo paper. It “combines contemporary

product design aesthetics and language,

through which the piece looks, to re-frame

our relationship to vulnerability, production,

and capitalism.” This is the second year

in the row that the competition’s national

winner has resided in Alberta.

DEICHA CARTER • ALAN LINDSAY • CAMILE BETTS

A new chapter of Broken City begins. Alan Lindsay, one of Broken City’s owners who

joined the crew in 2011, brings a lighthearted experienced approach to running the joint.

“Out of all the bars in Calgary, Broken City just stood out as a place that respected artists

and patrons. After seeing some of my favourite shows here I decided I had to get involved

in some way. I took a job as a door man and worked my way up.” When Alan started out

it was almost exclusively bands and over the last 5-plus years they’ve expanded their

programming to include a quiz night, local favourites like R4$, Unity Sound & Natural

Selection. “We love it all really, and have noticed a major cross pollination of communities

blending together for shows throughout the week.”

Broken City was Camile Betts’ home before she knew it, she was very stoked to join the

brigade in 2010. As an established installation artist working with Burnt Toast Studio for

8-plus years, Studio Cartel (Big Kitty Crew) and Come Correct, she’s been a catalyst for

connecting different art formats within the scene. “I love the feeling that it’s a little dark &

divey, the culture is raw where real people can be comfortable to be themselves.” Most of

the Broken City gang are artists in the community outside of the venue. “This place allows

us to come to work everyday and still follow our dreams of creating stuff.”

ON NOT LOSING MY FATHER’S ASHES IN THE FLOOD

Calgary Book Prize winner Richard Harrison returns with his first book in 11 years.

The launch of On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood takes place on November

14th at Shelf Life Books with Harrison in attendance to conduct a reading. Using

“elements of memoir, elegy, lyrical essay and personal correspondence,” Harrison

explores memories of his father set around the Alberta floods of 2013.

Deicha Carter joined forces in 2015, “I love the DIY spirit that this place embodies.” As

she takes the booking reins, her vision includes programming that appeals to everyone.

Inclusive is her word of choice, “every person that wants to check out a show can find a

night. There’s such a broad range of growing artists that perform in every genre & we want

to give all of them a platform.” This includes a revamp of their booking approach so watch

for upcoming changes, some new November happenings include: 1’s & 2’s Days and new

DJ night hosted by Bass Turtle Productions, The GWS Sunday Musical Buffet (new jam),

Friday Night Dance Parties (rotating special guest DJ’s/crews). “I’m so excited that this lil’

family wants to invest in & give me such a great opportunity!”

4 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE


PINBALL WIZARDS & BLACKLIGHT DESTROYERS

THE ART OF SAN FRANCISCO POP ART GURU DIRTY DONNY GILLIES... book launch at the Palomino Nov 4th & 5th.

King Tuff

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats

Into The Cosmic

Into The Cosmic – Blacklight

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 7


CITY

MARGARET CHO

one woman revolution

Ms. Cho: actress, comedian, author, singer, activist.

Considering that she’s one of the most versatile

and prolific performers working in the

entertainment industry today, compiling a

list of the things Margaret Cho isn’t doing right now

would probably take less time than recounting the

plethora of ventures and causes that she’s currently

involved with. A Grammy and Emmy Award-winning

actress, comedian, author, singer, and activist; her

resume of accomplishments is as impressive as it is

honestly come by. Margaret Cho’s road to success has

never been clear, or straight (for that matter), but her

determination to find her voice and make it heard has

paved the way for countless artists to come.

“I don’t’ really make a plan. I kinda like to sort of see

what’s going to happen,” says Cho from her home in

the rolling no-cell-phone-reception-hell-mouth hills

of California. “I’m always so busy anyways. I don’t have

the luxury of thinking ahead, I just sort of let everything

kind of happen as it will. I will continue expand

in my field, I’ll do all sorts of different acting projects,

as well as a lot of different televisions projects. I would

love to have a talk show, that’s kind of my big dream.

That would sort of encapsulate all of the worlds I’m

in. Whether it’s music, or journalism, which I’m very

interested in, or comedy. That’s something I would

love to do.”

A return to sitcom would not be entirely inconceivable

for the 47 year-old who has made her own

unique mark on the genre on a number of fronts. Her

Korean-American family loosely inspired the groundbreaking

1994 sitcom, All-American Girl, in which Cho

portrayed Margaret Kim a rebellious teenager who

flaunted her tattered-denim and modern moxie much

to her traditional parent’s chagrin. The short-lived

show continues to be referenced as one that set the

stage for those all-too-rare sit-coms that have dared to

enter into the forbidden realm of immigrant and nonwhite

households. Looking back, Cho could not have

anticipated the exponential effect those first tentative

steps would have on the rest of Hollywood.

“No, not at all. I had hoped that it would and I wish

it could have continued, but it’s great that people

remember it,” says Cho of All-American Girl. “And also,

Photo: PixieVisionProductions

I think now with shows like Fresh Off the Boat, Master

of None and Doctor Ken we can see how our show

had a great impact on the people who would grow up

to make these shows. And I’m very proud of the legacy

of it.

“And now, I’ve got to step into the role of the elder

statesmen. Which I love too and now I realize that this

is necessary. To know that you’ve broken ground for all

of these people, and Asian comics in particular like Ali

Wong, and Bobby Lee or Ken Jeong, making way for a

new archetype. That is the elder statesmen. I love that

role and I’ve very happy to play it.”

Fourteen years after the conclusion of her pioneering

series, Cho would return to the small screen at

the head of her own reality-sitcom on VH1, The Cho

Show. The “semi-scripted” program focused on Cho’s

lifestyle, and relationships with her family and a retinue

of celebrity pals such as Sandra Bernhard, Michelle

Rodriguez and, perhaps most memorably, Joan Rivers.

Cho would go on to become a co-host of E!’s Fashion

Police in 2016, applying her eye for style and acerbic wit

to that television panel just as Rivers’ had prior to her

death in September of 2014.

“I love the sitcom format it’s one that I grew up

with one that I spent a lot of time on,” Cho confirms.

“To me, it’s a really great old fashioned way to tell a

story. There are a lot of single-cam shows these days,

but I do love a multi-cam show. I just do anything

that makes me laugh, that makes me think, and that

makes me feel like I want to be a part of it. You know,

something like Fashion Police is great, because I love

clothes. I make clothes. I love the art of it and all of it is

very pleasing to me. Also that fact that it’s the legacy

of the Rivers’ family, the family that I am a part of. Joan

Rivers was like my mom, she was great. So, it would

have been something she wanted, for me to be a part

of that show.”

Sadly, Cho had just lost another of her showbiz

parents with the death of Robin Williams in August

of 2014. Cho was often scheduled to appear after

Williams during her early years of performing in

comedy clubs. A strategic move that she’s pretty sure

he’d arranged just to make her work that much harder,

and thus get that much better at. With the help of

friends, Cho organized the Be Robin charity campaign

to provide outreach to San Francisco’s homeless

population. A cause that was extremely important to

the late comedian.

“Yeah, it’s fun being involved in all this charity work

like the #BeRobin project. It was a way for all of us

to come together and honour our dead dad. Robin

Williams was like our dad. It’s horrible, you know. So

getting together and have a place where we can just

get crazy is something that Robin would have loved.

And raising money for people in need, it’s really exactly

something that he would do. And something that

was great fun to do in order to deal with our grief and

incredible sadness about it, and have a blast!”

Touching hearts and minds with her penchant

for delivering social scrutiny with a jolt of humanist

humour, Cho has steadily moved beyond self-parody

into the realm of self-actualization. The reality of

having finite resources to distribute between many

avenues of creativity has codified how Cho prioritizes

her endeavours. Building off of the momentum of

her Off-Broadway acts “I’m the One I Want” and “The

Sensuous Woman”, she most recently recorded her

stand-up special “psyCHO” and is currently touring a

comedy show of that name. Accustomed to her role

as the brave face of the generic Asian-American, Cho

strives to bring grace and fortitude to her ever-expanding

role as model citizen and comedic orphan.

by Christine Leonard

“One of the things that I really love about my profession

is that I feel like I make comedy very safe for people

who do identify as an outsiders. Whether you’re

gay, or any ethic minority, or a feminist. Comedy clubs

were never safe for women, even now. It’s pretty rough

sometimes. Especially with a lot of comedy about rape

that’s not really anti-rape. There’s a lot of misogyny in

comedy that I feel is not addressed. So I like to work

with that. I think ultimately it’s about being funny and

then finding some kind of levity in the pathos. You

want to really address very deep subjects, but also it’s

got to be filling, and ridiculous, and really side-splitting.

I don’t wanna get just bogged down with messages

and ideas. I want things to be funny always, but I want

to find my way through it. In end, it all boils down to a

microphone and a spotlight.

“I identify myself as a stand-up artist outside of everything

else I do. I’ll always return to stand-up comedy.

It’s something that is a constant in my life. It’s something

that I do every day. I’d just feel weird if I didn’t’

do it every day. It’s just who I am. You just have to love

what you’re doing. I think you have to fall in love with

it every day and try to connect with it every day. Being

an artist is not any different from being a human being.

Art is as important as breath, or movement, or water,

or anything. It’s just vital to practice it.”

Margaret Cho brings her psyCHO comedy tour to the

Jack Singer on Saturday, Nov. 19.

CITY

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 9


INTERSITE FESTIVAL

intimate art experiences in unexpected spaces

The last time you saw an art exhibit was

likely in a museum or gallery – to which

the very act of viewing art has become so

inextricably linked. There is public art, but often

it is easily recognizable, taking the form of large

murals or sculptures in busy squares, drawing the

ire of all-too-vocal taxpayers; meanwhile paintings

hang on white walls in air-conditioned corridors

and performances are viewed in dark rooms filled

with rows of seats. Everything in its right place, or

so it would seem. But these common conceptions

of when and where it is appropriate to experience

art is exactly what festivals like Intersite are trying

to subvert.

Intersite Visual Arts Festival is being held for its

third year this November in Calgary, but the term

festival itself might be a bit misleading. There is

no dedicated, central location for the variety of

works on offer. Instead, the artworks will appear at

locations throughout the city including the Bow

Building, the Central Memorial Library, and other

seemingly random locations.

“We believe that contemporary art practices

are really diverse and broad, and a lot of that work

really fits well in a gallery context but some of it

isn’t ever really meant to live there, and so this

festival is an opportunity for those works to live

and be presented and to also be acknowledged for

what they are,” says Ashely Bedet, programming

coordinator at The New Gallery and Intersite

committee member.

Some of these works are performances and

Intersite offers artists and viewers a way to engage outside the gallery context.

interventions in which the artist is central, but

others take the form of objects left inserted in

the public realm, sometimes hidden in plain sight.

Many of the works are less loud and overt than

what is commonly accepted as public art, certainly

less permanent, and are more dynamic than what

often appears in galleries. Despite the wide-ranging

nature of the work, all of the pieces have in common

the fact that they offer unexpected encounters

for unsuspecting viewers: you, the public.

You might seek some of these works out

intentionally, but you are just as likely to stumble

upon them serendipitously as you make your way

through the day. According to Bedet, that’s the

beauty of the festival.

“One of the most beautiful things is when

people come across the work and are actually in

dialogue or conversation with the artist. There’s

something very genuine and lovely about that

exchange that I think is something unique to

Intersite that it can offer as a festival because it’s

not a huge cross-city ordeal, it’s very one-on-one.

You might come across it or you might not, but it’s

something to look out for because even just the

act of looking predicates that maybe you’ll find

some art somewhere.”

PLACES PLEASE

You don’t always have to create a brand

new story to be innovative. Sometimes,

you can take a story we’ve heard before

-- whether it’s a childhood fairytale, a real-life

court case, or a play that debuted years ago --

and give it a fresh new spin. Here are a few ways

that Calgary’s theatre companies are doing just

that in the next month.

The Monkey Trial

Theatre Junction and tg STAN

Theatre Junction GRAND, Nov. 2-5

In 1925, the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial

-- centered on a substitute high school teacher

who violated The Butler Act by teaching evolution

to his students -- pitted fundamentalism

against modernism, religion against science,

dogma against intellectual freedom. Come

experience the Canadian premiere of this play,

created by Belgian theatre company tg STAN

and based on the transcripts of the astonishing

proceedings.

The Kings of the Kilburn High Road

Liffey Players Drama Society

The Shed Theatre at the Pumphouse Theatres, Nov. 4-12

Six young Irish men came to London in the

early 1970s, leaving home for a life of hard

work and harder drinking. They all intended

to return home to Ireland after they made a

little money, but twenty-something years later,

they all find themselves still in London. Five

by Sasha Semenoff

For artist Maggie Flynn, who will be presenting

In Circulation, which takes place on various

Calgary Transit buses, Intersite is an opportunity

to offer experimental work outside of a gallery

context.

“I do projects, often, that don’t have a clear relationship

to the gallery. And so thinking about the

ways that I want to get support for those projects

or bring those projects into dialogue with the arts

community is not always clear. But Intersite is such

a lovely space where that’s already understood and

that’s what they’re seeking. So it was such an easy

fit when they reached out to me.”

Flynn will be delivering cut-and-pasted news

stories from independent media sources to transit

commuters, exploring the various power dynamics

in play that control who sees what and how in an

age of social media newsfeeds dictated by algorithmic

suggestion.

Calgary artist Angela Fermor’s A Map of Hollow

Spaces is markedly different from Flynn’s work in

that it does not feature her direct presence; instead,

Fermor will be leaving empty, hollowed-out

books throughout the Central Memorial Library in

an exploration of space, both outward and public,

as well as inner and private. Such contrast between

works is indicative of the wide range of experiences

facilitated by the festival.

Intersite Visual Arts Festivals runs from November

2 – 5 at various locations in Calgary. See website for

details.

of the friends gather in the side room of a pub

in memory of one of the group who has died.

Over one afternoon and evening at the pub,

they drink to their fallen friend, the only one to

make it home to Ireland -- albeit, in a coffin.

Slipper: A Distinctly Calgarian Cinderella

Story

Alberta Theatre Projects

Martha Cohen Theatre, Nov. 22 – Dec. 31

With the help of a time machine, Edward

travels from the olden days to modern times to

meet Cinderella. But will her crazy step-mom

and selfish sisters ruin their fairytale dream?

Come boo the villains and cheer on the heroes

in this light-hearted, music-filled, absolutely

Calgarian show making its world premiere on

the stage of the Martha Cohen Theatre this

month.

Six Characters in Search of an Author

U of C School of Creative and Performing Arts

Reeve Theatre, Dec. 2-4, 6-10

An acting company is in rehearsals when they

are interrupted by the arrival of six strangers.

These characters break the theatre’s sacred

fourth wall, each pleading for the chance to tell

their stories. Fans of the absurd will not want

to miss the contemporary interpretation of this

metatheatrical play that first made its debut in

Italy in 1921.

• Sara Elizabeth Taylor

10 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE CITY


BEAVER HALL GROUP

1920s modernism in Montreal; full of colour and profoundly female

Following the First World War, a profound change swept across Montreal. Once

the post-war recession subsided by1921 and the industrial pace hit its stride,

Montreal not only became a leading manufacturing centre but it was also the

country’s busiest port with head offices for both national railways and Canada’s two

largest banks. While the good times in the United States were under siege during

Prohibition, Montreal’s nightlife was thriving with cabarets and brothels well-stocked

helping the excesses to flow freely in some sectors of the city. Theatre and art galleries

took prominence in other areas as the Jazz Age descended bringing a whole new

sight, sound and texture to urban living.

It was in this new dawn, break from tradition that A. Y. Jackson, from the

Group of Seven, helped to establish Montreal’s Beaver Hall Group — a collection

of artists who would embrace a distinctly different approach to their work. Their

first exhibition took place in January 1921, where Jackson proclaimed during his

opening speech that “Schools and ‘isms’ do not trouble us,” rather, he emphasized,

“individual expression is our chief concern.”

Part of that individualism was the inclusion of women into the group, a radical

departure from the practice of preceding artist collectives. Of the 24 members

known to have been associated with Beaver Hall Group,10 female artists played a

central role in the exploration of modernistic painting.

Jacques Des Rochers is one of the curators of the Beaver Hall Group exhibition,

now showing until the end of January at the Glenbow museum. Des Rochers says

by B. Simm

that one of the defining features of the group’s art are the loud, vibrant colours, for

the time, that were a large part of the Jazz Age expression.

“By 1922 the term jazz was used a metaphor by conservative critics to describe

the use of explosive colours which they thought were unrealistic or just to say

it was bad.” Des Rochers adds that, “They painted things in a way which did not

normally appear. It was modern because they had another view of the world.”

A big departure spearheaded by the group was that they shifted from rural, naturalistic

settings, that the Group of Seven was famous for, to urban landscapes and

environments that ranged from bustling street scenes and the flurry of activity in the

harbour to quiet back lanes with snow covered churches. They set out to document

the modern city Montreal was becoming and they were very much a part of.

But what the group is most often recognized and praised for is their focus on

the human presence and the wealth of portraits they produced. The female form

often depicted in a causal rather than a contrived state or pose which speaks

volumes of who that person might have been. Des Rochers notes that critics were

surprised when nude portraits deviated from being distinctly sexual. “They didn’t

possess deeper sensual qualities. There wasn’t the erotic, that was expected with a

nude painting. They were different, quite unexpected.”

1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group is at the Glenbow Museum

from October 22, 2016 to January 29, 2017.

Prudence Heward, At the Theatre, 1928. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

CITY

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 11


DESENSITIZING SEX

fresh psychology straight from the sugar shack

I

heard Karl Sandberg long before I ever saw him, a perfectly pitched string of notes from some obscure,

off-Broadway musical drawing me into the theatre where he was helping set up stage. I had been on assignment

writing a preview for the show for the Calgary Journal. He sounded like something straight out of a

Disney movie, and, as I soon saw for myself, he had the snappy suit and meticulously stylized hair to match. He

strolled around the stage with that sort of Stepford-level pleasantry common of guys that pay their taxes early

and help your grandma from the vehicle when the sidewalks are slippery. The kind of guy that, when you hear the

confident click of his would-be bowling-alley shoes, reminds you of ‘50s music and the flavour vanilla.

He seemed pleasant enough, sure — but almost boringly so.

To say the least, he was far from the sort of person I ever imagined turning my entire sexual worldview on its ass

and giving it a flogging.

“No, I’m not kidding you,” his distinctly jovial half-drawl insisted a few rows back as he conversed with crewmates.

“I have, right now, in my backpack, a Spider-Man dildo.”

…I may have spoke too soon.

As it turns out, Karl, 22, happens to be just as knowledgeable (if not more so) about sex toys as he is about harmonizing

chords and blocking out a scene. That’s because, much to my story-mongering delight, Karl is not just an

ex-arts major slash theatre enthusiast. Karl sells dicks for a living.

“Actually, dildos probably make up the lowest percentage of the products I actually sell,” he persists. But dildo

salesman has such a nice ring to it, even if it does carry with it a certain door-to-door quality. The title stands in

almost comical contrast to the man you would meet at the front counter of the Little Shop of Pleasures’ (LSOP)

two Calgary locations, were you to venture by. You have to understand, he simply doesn’t look the type.

Of course, to say there’s a “type” for this sort of work is highly reductive — even borderline offensive — but you

knew what I meant, didn’t you? And isn’t that exactly the point? The duality infuriated my imagination like an itch

I couldn’t scratch. He looked more like he should be selling made-to-order suit jackets and billion-dollar watches

than gallon drums of lube and themed masturbation sleeves. And yet…

story and photos by MIchaela Ritchie

INTERVIEW WITH THE DILDO SALESMAN

I said as much as I stepped into the Macleod Trail location of the sex toy chain, my first ever foray into such tumultuous

and tantalizing territory. It wasn’t meant as a snub, but more as a way to diffuse my palpable anxiety at

being suddenly surrounded by such a volume of as yet unidentifiable fuckable objects. The top 40 hits strategically

filling the shop’s white noise, while hilariously ironic, were simply not enough to anchor me back in my own reality.

“I get that a lot,” Karl chuckles. After a year of employment there, he was used to customers remarking on his

spiffy appearance upon their entry into what my super-celibate mind could only describe at the time as a kind of

Disneyland for grown-ups. “My first thought is always, ‘Well, who else are you going to buy a dildo from? Would

you prefer if I came in here in my ripped jeans and a T-shirt? ‘Cause I can do that if you like.’” His adamant professionalism

was startling, to say the least, in as much as it unsettled me more than the nearby display of Fleshlights

did. The comments on his appearance are second only in frequency to Karl’s personal favourite: “‘I bet you get a lot

of strange people in here, huh?’”

“Of course it’s not a question, it’s an assumption, but it’s posed as one because whoever’s asking it is looking for

validation,” Karl explains. “And the more I hear it, the more I realize that the people who come to our shop are all

people who consider themselves to be very normal, but also very isolated.”

The elder of the LSOP stores is a bit of a fucking rabbit hole — in every sense of the phrase. It is home to not

just whips, chains, and harnesses of all makes and models, but a rainbow wall of more than 100 kinds of lube (silicone,

water-based, flavoured, you name it), a bright and colourfully illuminated glass case full of weapons of mass

seduction (all of which are made entirely of surgical steel), and a half a dozen seemingly endless racks of lingerie

(spanning 10 different sizes, including one for the curviest ladies fondly labeled “queen size”), all overlooked by

a flamboyantly decorated butt-plug mascot about the size of a grown man’s torso standing watch at the front

counter. So I could forgive the folk whose off-kilter reactions to the place have given Sandberg and his coworkers

many a vivid tale to recount over the years. Hell, my own eyes became saucers the moment I stepped in the door.

How did Bill Hader put it on SNL? “Mark me down as scared and horny.”

Karl lives for it — that moment of unhinging. It’s the thing that breaks up workdays of otherwise stark retail

monotony. In a business where customers are reluctant to even leave their name at the shop to sign up for the

points reward system, their discomfort is a rare rift in the armour that Karl can reach them through.

“My favourite part of any interaction is when somebody tells me their name — even if it’s a fake one. It makes

me feel like the most trustworthy person in the city,” he says.

Unfortunately, the awkward exchanges Karl so often enjoys with his customers don’t always conclude in anyone’s

idea of a happy ending. Sometimes discomfort simply breeds insensitivity, people’s inability to feel comfortable

with their own sexuality not only hindering their own pleasure, but also shaming others.

“I have people come in and ask me all the time, ‘Wow, what kind of loser owns that?’” Karl says of the

types of people LSOP staff call ‘point-and-laughers.’ “And my only thought is, ‘Remember where you are. It

doesn’t make you cool to come in here, to this safe space, and point and laugh at things. If anything, it just

shows your ignorance.’”

But such ignorance is common, says Karl, given our society’s historic mental linkage between a certain comfort

with our own sexuality and an unspeakably horrific moral standing. Though Fifty Shades certainly got many a

soccer mom’s blood boiling again, and despite the fact that Calgary has the highest percentage of sex stores per

capita across North America (as Macleod Trail will tell you, we are a happy, horny city), our mainstream culture

continues to marginalize kink — even in the face of findings presented in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, which

approximate that one in six people have a sexual fetish and, furthermore, over 50% of both men and women

fantasize both about being sexually dominated and dominating somebody else.

“Turns out, if you’re not tying up your wife, if you’re still doing it missionary style, you’re actually the kinky one,”

Christina Nelson all but cackles. “And yet…”

And yet, indeed.

Chris and Don, owners of the Little Shop of Pleasures... “Sex makes the world a better place.”

MIXING BUSINESS WITH PLEASURES

It was almost to spite the negative stereotypes and the shame they reinforced in her that Chris Nelson started

working at the Little Shop of Pleasures back in 1996. Having always possessed an intense curiosity regarding her

sexuality, despite the stern teachings of deeply religious relatives, Chris first started working for the previous shop

owners in an attempt to satisfy her sexploratory appetites with an employee discount. She hired Don Wilheim,

whom she had just begun dating at the time, simply as reliable backup in case one of her coworkers went MIA

before a shift. As a musician, Don says he took the part-time position solely for the tax benefit it gave him.

However, what first started as strictly business soon evolved into a labour of love for the couple, who

observed through working at the shop a real lack of quality products and sex education resources in the community

for the types of customers they interacted with (which, both surprisingly and not, are most frequently

mid-30s power suit women on their lunch break looking for a way to kill some stress after work). The previous

owners, says Chris, knew little about the psychology and practice of kink or BDSM, much less how to relay such

information to buyers.

“We got vampire gloves in one day,” Nelson remembers of her time managing the store under the previous

ownership, “which is a leather glove with little tacks poking through for gentle spanking. I came into work that day

to find my boss with a hammer, pounding all the tacks down! I said ‘What are you doing?’ and he said ‘Oh, this is

terrible craftsmanship, this is going to hurt somebody!’ But that’s what it was supposed to do!

“So when I heard they were selling the store [back in 2000], I think I knew what I wanted to do,” she says,

flashing a gentle glance over to her partner. “They needed us.” The pair looked to each other as they surely had a

thousand times throughout the last 20 years, and giggled — some inside joke shared between them that I was not

privy to, but that betrayed them in the moment more as the lovesick teenagers-at-heart they were, instead of the

orchestrators of a small-scale sex revolution.

“I was already leery about who would be taking over, right?” she shrugs, “I wanted the new owners to have

respect for what we do here.”

“We take this stuff very seriously,” continues Don, the severity of his tone more evocative of a funeral parlor

than a discussion on the down and dirty. “We’re not selling carburetors here — this is people’s sexuality we’re

talking about! This is people’s intimacy. We’ve got to know our stuff.”

It has been that commitment to professionalism, in everything from expertise to style of dress (and the staff

regularly compete to see who can best succeed in both, Don and Karl inform, stealing glances at each other’s

necktie du jour) that has motivated the Little Shop’s inner proceedings ever since the pair took over.

Sixteen years later, the sex toy industry has undergone a similar evolution. What once was a space dominated

by sleazy visual pornography centered solely on heterosexual male pleasure has since become one where risque

products are packaged in discreet, sleek boxes reminiscent of the Apple brand; where trans-identifying folks can

obtain appearance-altering tools with the utmost safety. A place where even a 91-year-old woman can buy a pair

of sexy stockings with her 75-year-old daughter (“We know what kind of store this is, young lady!” Chris recalls the

women snickering as they hunted down their spoils) — entirely free of judgment.

22 12 | NOVEMBER JANUARY 2015 2016 • • BEATROUTE ROOTS CITY


MISTRESS MISINFORMATION

But of course, the new level of pseudo-acceptance our society has seemingly

gained for sexy-time has raised a whole host of new concerns along

with it, like a surprise post-coital boner nobody was really expecting, and

thus, everybody involved just tries to ignore until the problem solves itself.

Certainly, the advent of the Internet opened the door for individuals —

equal parts curious, excited, uneducated and embarrassed — to embark

on their own sexscapades without having to seek advice about such alien

concepts as genitalia from any actual living, breathing humans beforehand.

But while the discretion and vast (see also: often confusing and/or contradictory)

wealth of information offered up by that digital void can be most

useful for veterans to the game, Chris and Don are concerned it poses a

significant risk to virginal voyagers.

“The Internet is a fabulous resource, and an occasionally terrible teacher,”

Chris says. “My problem is that, because it’s become almost the only

resource people have out there these days for sex education that doesn’t

aim to embarrass, today’s teenagers are accessing porn and information

online and don’t understand that the porn star they’re watching has had

a fluffer for anal sex. She has someone to help her work into being able to

have sex for an hour.

“Meanwhile, you get these young boys who say ‘I’ve seen this girl online

and she does it,’ so he ploughs into the girl he’s with and he hurts her. And

these girls watch stuff on the Internet and think ‘This is what’s expected of

me?’ and are rightly terrified by it.

“So I fear that this generation’s idea of relationships and intimacy will be

skewed, because the online only gives them a little part of the story.”

But according to Calgary sex therapist Cheryl McMeeken, whom I later

consulted following my discussions with the sexy sales team, the harsh

stereotypes we put on sexuality and more adventurous sexual acts, which

are largely to blame for the secrecy with which we continue to discuss

them IRL, are not necessarily something to be feared. Rather, our closeted

behaviour persists because the subject matter is deeply personal.

“These are personal items and our personal sex lives we’re talking

about,” McMeeken explains, “so we’re not going to necessarily want to ever

tell our neighbours what we’re getting into.

“That said, since we’re seeing more of sex — it’s becoming more present

in media and elsewhere — I think we’re getting desensitized to the idea

of sex. And to be clear, it’s desensitizing in a good way, not a negative way.

In the past, I believe we’ve been over-sensitized to it. But now it’s almost

as if we’ve realized, ‘Well everyone has one, so why not?’ Even my mother

has a vibrator, and good for her!” It is McMeeken’s belief that our society

is, regardless of our relative snail’s pace, on the right track to cultivating a

healthier understanding of our bodies and intimacy.

“You have to think back to the fact that we were settled by people that

left Europe expressly because they wanted to express their religious values

and Europe was becoming too liberal for them,” she reassures. “So really, in

North America, considering the foundation we have, we’ve come a long

way. We’ve just got to keep going in a forward direction if we’re ever going

to catch up from that hangover.”

ALL HANDS ON DECK

But just keepin’ on keepin’ on isn’t quite cutting it for Chris and Don.

While the LSOP team doesn’t disagree that folks deserve their share of

sexual privacy (Chris and Don certainly know how embarrassing it can

be to get the slow-clap from a neighbourhood construction crew after a

day of not-so-quiet “product testing” at home), the pair maintains that,

when speaking broadly about sex in our communities, the hush over the

crowd that we have so far encouraged needs to be disrupted with the

loudest of bangs.

Cameryn Moore, the Montréal-based playwright, actor, and self-professed

sex activist behind Calgary’s incoming monthly Smut Slam events,

agrees.

“Events like Smut Slam are a sign that taboos are decreasing in some

ways. But at the same time, there remains a very strong backlash to

sexual openness, and sexuality generally being discussed,” she says. “We

owe it to ourselves and to each other to be honest about our experiences.

That’s the only way we’re going to get more comfortable talking

about it.”

Caring and concerned cool grandma that she is, for Chris, this more

assertive motion begins with a reexamination of modern parenting,

saying that parents need to wake up and smell the sensually-lit candles

when it comes to giving their kids “the talk.”

“They need to understand that their children are interested in having

a conversation about sex — even just about relationships. I’ve talked to

lots of moms and got that conversation started, because they don’t want

their daughters to know about pleasure.

“I say, ‘Here’s the truth. Your daughter, the moment that she’s got

breasts and her period, is a sexual creature, whether you accept it or not.’

That kid will eventually become boy crazy or girl crazy, and the moment

somebody touches them, without the right information, they’re going

to think this sexual stimulation is ‘I love you.’ As soon as our kids can

learn to own their pleasure machines, then they can have a healthier

perspective on relationships.”

But the sex-ed doesn’t end there at the Little Shop. Rather, the store

facilitates a whole new kind of learning for its customers, not just

through their monthly BDSM workshops, but also by building an environment

wherein people feel they can divulge their darkest, dirtiest, and

dumbest in the pursuit of a better sex life.

“There are some discussions you absolutely have to have face to face

— some things which deserve inflection,” Karl says when asked about

the benefits of talking to a sexpert in store about your bedroom woes,

as opposed to just throwing your money at the nearest computer and

hoping for the best. “Nothing will send you to the hospital faster than

trying to makeshift with things that might look correct. That’s where we

come in.”

So sure, you could go buy your vibrators and condoms at the nearest

Walmart with your milk and eggs, but you might just be missing out on

some valuable information by choosing the novelty route and, at the

very least, some of the greatest dick jokes you’ve ever had your conversational

ice broken with.

“We love — no, seriously — we really love this stuff! We live, eat and

breathe this stuff. So when you come talk to us, you’re not coming to

someone who read the label on the toy box and is now trying to educate

you. You’re talking to a participant, someone who has studied this —

probably last night!” says Don with a wink.

LITTLE SHOP OF TABOOS

“A lot of people, when they come in here, they’re shy, they’re worried

about people seeing them, they’ve got their own judgments about

themselves, they’re kind of hunched over,” Don demonstrates. “And I

always tell those people, ‘You know what, treasure that feeling you’re

feeling right now. How many other things in your life make you feel so

embarrassed, so nervous? That makes you this excited? That’s because

it’s important to you! That’s why it makes you feel this way!’

“So treasure that feeling and the taboo nature of it — it’s human nature.

The second you tell somebody they can’t look behind that curtain,

they immediately want to. It’s the forbidden fruit, and they know in their

gut that it’s going to be good.”

Here’s the truth...

Your daughter, the moment that

she’s got breasts and her period,

is a sexual creature, whether you

accept it or not. That kid will

eventually become boy crazy or girl

crazy, and the moment somebody

touches them, without the right

information, they’re going to think

this sexual stimulation is “I love

you.” As soon as our kids can learn

to own their pleasure machines,

then they can have a healthier

perspective on relationships.

“Nobody needs anything from our store. You do not need a Lamborghini to drive to work; a Ford Fiesta will work just fine.

You don’t need a Lamborghini, but fuck, it sure is fun to drive!’”

“We’re just here to reassure people that whatever you want to do, it’s

actually fine, as long as it’s between consenting adults, and nobody gets

seriously injured. Sex is okay, and it’s important, and it’s good for you,”

Don stresses, practically speaking in all caps, accenting every point with

an elaborate flourish of his hands.

“The health benefits from orgasms three times a week are shocking!

If some drug maker made the same claims about a pill they had, they

would be making millions selling that thing! Sex is the glue that holds

relationships together. It’s the cement that goes over the cracks that

form from day-to-day life.”

Yet despite the innate normalcy of liking, wanting, craving, and

exploring sex, Chris and Don say carnal knowledge remains taboo

primarily, not because of any sort of mass regulation on the thing, but

because we limit ourselves from exploring experiences that we lack the

comfort and maturity to process in a healthy way.

“I often see people coming in with the idea that, ‘I don’t need anything

from this store,’” says Don identifying customers’ most prevalent

misconception, that using sex toys somehow diminishes their own

adequacy to give pleasure. “People think they should know everything

about [sex] already, and if they do then what could they possibly need?

And I say ‘Well, no you don’t. Nobody needs anything from our store.

You do not need a Lamborghini to drive to work; a Ford Fiesta will work

just fine. You don’t need a Lamborghini, but fuck, it sure is fun to drive!’”

ROOTS CITY BEATROUTE •• NOVEMBER JANUARY 2015 2016 | 23 13


While the Little Shop of Pleasures team embraces

openness and positivity, Chris acknowledges there

will likely always be some level of taboo when it

comes to talking freely about sex, “because the taboo

is your judgment of it, not mine.” Karl echoes these

sentiments, fully cognizant of his own good fortune

in being able to discuss his job sans filter with most

of his family and friends. But even with the support

he has garnered from many of them, in the presence

of more conservative company, Karl feels it is wiser to

keep the status quo, clandestinely referring to himself

as “a retail associate” for the benefit of some enthusiastically

religious relatives.

“It isn’t that I ever feel ashamed to work here,” he

clarifies, “but admitting that you like sex can almost

feel like coming out, in a way.” It is for this reason that

Karl appreciates a certain level of taboo, for giving his

customers the opportunity to act boldly in exploring

a facet of themselves that can be a pretty unsettling

can of worms to pop open.

“It takes guts to come into your own,” he continues.

“When people come here, they are often sharing

their most intimate, guarded secrets with me so I can

help them, and that is not a fact that is lost on me.”

Don’t be fooled, the team confesses, sometimes

working in a kinkster’s paradise has its pitfalls. Hearing

about nothing but people’s “cocks” and “cunts”

all day can be rather like “sandpaper to my ears,” says

Karl of the foul language shoppers sometimes think

it’s perfectly fine use (spoiler alert: it is not fine). And,

this store like any other is subject to the soul-sucking

wrath of inventory day (hanging up over 600 pairs

of panties in an afternoon can be exhausting). In

perhaps the most teeth-grindingly cringe-worthy of

encounters, Karl even had one unfortunate customer

come into the shop one day to get their toy serviced,

only for Karl to realize that the man currently had

the anal plug in question fully inserted as Karl was

testing the remote’s new batteries. But it’s all made

worthwhile, he ascertains, for those few diamonds in

the rough that crop up from time to time.

“Recently, I had a woman come in asking me for

the quietest, most inconspicuous vibrator we carried,”

he recalls. “Turns out she was from Liberia, and

was taking the toy back to a friend of hers who had

just been widowed. Poor woman hadn’t had a decent

orgasm in months.” Sex toys are strictly prohibited by

law in the region the women were from, but Karl believes

that, by introducing them to one particular air

pulsator that looks more like a facial massager than a

masturbation machine, he may have just been able to

help bring some joy back into someone’s life at a time

when they are overwhelmed with grief.

Indeed, above the inherent humour, the discomfort,

the connection, and even just the sheer pleasure,

the one thing that keeps this crowd going is the

thought that their expertise can help someone find

happiness again from within their own bodies.

“My primary objective, whenever I see someone

who is clearly struggling with themselves — confused

about their sexuality or the kinks they might

have, or wondering about just even the mechanics

of their own bodies, I’m wondering how I can help

you feel more normal. I want people to understand

that they aren’t the only kinky bastards out there!”

Karl says.

“Sex makes the world a better place,” Chris

asserts, her eyes fixed firmly on Don, who nodded,

“and so are we.” I couldn’t help but agree with

them — regular reproduction is kind of what

sustains the human race, am I right? I settled back

into the vaguely torture-dungeon-reminiscent

armchair, as close as I imagined I would get to being

calm about the whole encounter, for the time

being. After all, there’s no denying sex is a strange

and mysterious subject (even if only because we

make it so), and maybe it always will be. But at

least in as much as feeling and respecting that, we

can all relate.

“One orgasm at a time?” I offer. Feeling confident, I

wanted to try my hand at their euphemisms.

“Every now and then, two orgasms at a time,” Karl

is the first to respond with a grin of approval. They

had finally broken me.

“A whole string—!” Don chimes in.

“A whole freight train of orgasms!” Chris cheers.

“Orgasms for everybody!”

As the days grow colder and we all find ourselves

stuck inside, in greater need of ways to keep warm,

the LSOP team will be making their rounds to

Karl, your friendly dildo salesman: “Remember where

you are. It doesn’t make you cool to come in here,

to this safe space, and point and laugh at things. If

anything, it just shows your ignorance.”

convention floors all across Southern Alberta. If you

or someone you know are looking to expand their

sexual horizons this winter — maybe even do a bit

of bold Christmas shopping — look no further than

the Calgary Taboo Show (November 10-13), the Edmonton

Taboo Show (November 17-20), or even the

Little Shop’s own sex education workshops (which

in the past have included topics like the illusions of

power in BDSM, scheduling sex like your taxes, and

using toys with a partner because “you can’t tickle

yourself!”), hosted in-store at the end of each month.

For more information, visit the Little Shop of Pleasures

on Facebook, tweet @shopofpleasures, or go to

littleshopofpleasures.com.

14 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE CITY

24 | JANUARY 2015 • BEATROUTE ROOTS


FILM

ACCIDENTAL COURTESY

‘how can you hate me when you don’t know me?’

Documentary highlights one man’s “lost art” of friendly conversion.

The original title of Accidental Courtesy:

Daryl Davis, Race & America was Courtesy

Accidental, which is a musical term. It made

sense given that the star of the documentary,

Daryl Davis, is a notable R&B and blues musician,

having played all over the world with legendary

musicians such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

However, as director Matt Ornstein explains,

during one of the test screenings someone wrote

THE HAPPY FILM

life, documentary and the pursuit of happiness

In bold letters warns the audience at the beginning

of the documentary: This film will not make

you happy.

It’s a good thing that the filmmakers, Stefan

Sagmeister and Ben Nabors, placed the cautionary

caption there in case anyone got the wrong idea. If

you were unfamiliar with The Happy Film’s premise,

you might think it was about relaxing on the couch

with Netflix and a beer; yet in fact, it’s a serious

insight into the science behind happiness and one

man’s quest to find it. Along the way, he’ll attempt

the answer the question: Is there a formula one can

take to find happiness?

It may sound like a social experiment, but the

origins of The Happy Film come from genuine questions

asked by the film’s main subject and co-director

Stefan Sagmeister. “It is the true story of a graphic designer

who thinks he can design himself to be better,”

said Ben Nabors, co-director of the film.

Throughout the film, Sagmeister will run a series

of experiments on himself to change his brain,

including a total nine-month trial with meditation,

cognitive behavioural therapy and medication.

What he found, though, was that it’s not always so

simple. What begins with a tone of levity, Nabors

explains, becomes more serious throughout the

documentary’s running time.

“It is [a social experiment] too, but it is certainly

the true story of what happens to a guy who turns

himself into a lab rat for happiness,” said Nabors.

Sagmeister’s drive for happiness may confuse

FILM

Accidental Courtesy instead and audiences were

seemingly more receptive to it. And since Daryl

Davis has become most famous for his extracurricular

work in befriending members of the Ku Klux

Klan, you could say the new title makes sense too;

as in, that has to be an accident, right?

“How can you hate me when you don’t

know me?” Davis asks his supposed adversaries

throughout the film. It’s a good question, and one

Pursuing happiness isn’t all smiles.

some, as he is initially very successful as a graphic

designer, having designed record covers for The

Rolling Stones, Jay-Z and Aerosmith, to name a few.

Furthermore, he seems quite content. As Nabors

explains, however, “He just became very interested

in this question, if we can train our bodies. If we can

exercise to be healthier, why can’t we similarly train

our minds?”

that must work, as Davis has been successfully

befriending, and often converting, members of

the KKK and other identified racists for “20 to 25

years,” Ornstein says.

That said, “He doesn’t go in trying to make a hard

sell,” Ornstein adds. He doesn’t try to convert anyone,

or tell them to get out of that life. “He has lunch

with them, he’s friends with them. He starts there.”

Davis’s old-school methods of personal, face-to-face

interactions in the impersonal age of social media are

the likely reasons for his success.

Ornstein’s reasons for wanting to document

Davis’s life and capture it on film are pretty self-explanatory.

How many others have attempted such a

bold idea?

“I read a newspaper article about Daryl and was

pretty interested, just because we come at this

issue [of racism] from the same angle over and

over again. And here is someone doing something

different and I wanted to know why he did it. I had

so many questions.”

Perhaps Davis’s modus operandi was born out of

naiveté; it seems like it’d be easier to slay a dragon

than convert a Grand Dragon. Yet, he kept asking

that question: “How can you hate me when you don’t

know me?” Asking the question seemed to work, as

many of the Klan members had never met a black

person, or bothered to speak with one. And sometimes

that’s all it took to make them think otherwise.

Speaking of terrible names, Dragons and Grand

“As a graphic designer who finds improvements

to things, it makes sense that he would pose that

question,” he adds.

In the film, Sagmeister states that making a movie

about happiness is like making a film about life. “It’s

too big and too complicated,” Nabors adds, finishing

the thought. “So we focused on area where we felt we

had some expertise which was his happiness.”

by Jonathan Lawrence

Wizards? C’mon, KKK. That’s pretty lame.

Spending his early years abroad, the young Davis

didn’t physically experience racism until he came

home when he was older. “His initial goal [was] him

trying to understand racism,” Ornstein explains.

“Suddenly he wants to know why people dislike him

because of his skin, which led him down a road he

never thought he’d be on.

In his travels across the United States over the

years, he’s collected robes and other artifacts from

friends who have left the Klan, slowly building a

collection in hopes of eventually opening a museum

of Klan memorabilia, so to speak.

Ornstein said his goal with the film was “trying to

explore [Daryl’s] psychology.” He continues: “[Daryl]

tries to spend time with people and that’s a lost art…I

saw a tangible effect he’s had.”

When asked what it was like to make such a

bold documentary about relevant issues, Ornstein

responds that “it’s been an inspiring process for me.”

“But I was definitely uncomfortable sometimes,”

he laughs.

Accidental Courtesy received the 2016 SXSW

Special Jury award for Portrait Documentary and the

2016 Nashville Public Television Human Spirit Award.

It will be available on Netflix in the spring.

Accidental Courtesy screens during this year’s CUFF

Docs festival at the Globe Cinema, which is happening

Nov. 17-20.

by Jonathan Lawrence

Although the documentary’s subject matter

focuses on Sagmeister’s life and problems, Nabors

assures that there is something for everyone to take

away. “There is a lot of relevance and a lot of answers

observing his successes and failures throughout the

film. You [might] learn what to do, what not to do,

and hopefully apply it to your own life. That was

always our goal.”

Self-financed and six years in the making, The

Happy Film is an ambitious project; one that Nabors

sounds proud of, and is happy with its critical response

so far, pardon the pun.

“Six years in the making was never the plan,”

Nabors laughs. That said, it seems the extra time gave

the filmmakers room to develop their theory and to

see where it went, including all the highs and lows

that can happen in someone’s life during that time.

“Documentaries are interesting; you can choose

when you end your story. If we had stopped the

story on a high moment, Stefan’s journey would

have been very positive. If we stopped it on a low

moment, Stefan’s journey would have been wasted.

We gave ourselves the time and space to properly

contextualize it.”

So, remember that The Happy Film will not

make you happy, but knowing that you didn’t have

to go through Sagmeister’s experiment just might.

The Happy Film screens during this year’s CUFF Docs

festival at the Globe Cinema, which is happening

Nov. 17-20.

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 17


GIRAF12 FESTIVAL GUIDE

Nova Seed

OPENING GALA

Nova Seed

2016, Canada, dir. Nick Diliberto

Thursday, Nov. 24, 7pm, Globe Cinema

Drawing inspiration from ’80s cartoons like Masters of the Universe and

Thundercats (but with much more impressive animation) , Nova Seed is

a visually stunning, action-packed feature made all the more impressive

by the fact that animator Nick DiLiberto created all of the images by

hand. Over the course of four years, DiLiberto drew each of the sci-fi

adventure’s 60,000 frames by hand, with pencil and paper, before digitally

colouring and sequencing them.

The resulting film is a testament to DiLiberto’s creativity, and his tolerance

for pain—by the end of the process, his hands were covered in

bandages and two layers of gloves just to be able to draw. The finished

film speaks for itself, though, and its handmade world of mad scientists

and genetically augmented warriors is a perfect way to kick off this

year’s festival.

Louise en hiver

(Louse By The Shore)

2016, France/Canada, dir. Jean-François Laguionie

Friday, Nov. 25, 7pm,

Globe Cinema

Animation isn’t only about fantastic worlds and impossible adventures.

It can also be much more human. Directed by 50-year animation veteran

Jean-François Laguionie, this pastel-tinged feature tells the story of

an elderly woman who misses the last train out of her small seaside

town, and realizes she will have to survive the winter alone. While

foraging for food and shelter, she has the chance to reflect on the life

she’s lived and the memories she’s let slip away.

A beautiful twist on a desert island story, Louise en hiver is a thoughtful

and endearing examination of how we come to terms with the lives

we’ve lived. was recently awarded the Grand Prize for Best Animated

Feature at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, North

America’s largest animation festival.

Louise en hiver

Birdboy

(Psiconauts)

2015, Spain/France, dir. Alberto Vasquez and

Pedro Rivero

Friday, Nov. 25, 11pm, Globe Cinema

The feature-length debut from Goya Award-winning directors Alberto

Vasquez and Pedro Rivero, Birdboy is a dark, twisted and visually stunning

fantasy based on Vasquez’s graphic novel.

Described by Variety magazine as “fascinating in its oddball complexity,”

the film is a compelling and adult story set in a world of talking

animals. Themes of depression, addiction and environmental disaster

mix with beautifully rendered fantasy elements, sinister creatures and

bleak humour into an utterly original animated feature—a coming-ofage

story set in a uniquely twisted post-apocalyptic world.

Indie Animation Mixtape

Side A: Friday, Nov. 25, 9pm, Globe Cinema

Side B: Saturday, Nov. 26, 9pm, Globe Cinema

The films in the Indie Animation Mixtape represent Quickdraw’s favourite

creations from around the globe. Chosen from over 1,200 submissions

and cherry-picked from the worlds leading animation festivals, these

shorts range from heartwarming to experimental, hand-drawn and

computer generated, but the one thing they all share is a commitment

to animation as art.

Birdboy (Psiconautas)

Bozzetto Non Troppo

2016, Italy, dir. Marco Bonfanti

Saturday, Nov. 26, 5pm, Globe Cinema

Directed by Marco Bonfanti and debuted at the 2016 Venice Film

Festival in September 2016, Bozzetto Non Troppo is a colourful and

poetic portrait of one of animation’s living legends. Almost entirely

narrated in Bozzetto’s own words, this documentary takes viewers into

the director’s home and studio, where they will meet his friends, family

and favourite pets, and walk away inspired by the infectious passion

for the medium of animation—and GIRAF’s audience gets to see the

documentary’s North American premiere.

Allegro Non Troppo

Late Night Shorts Pack

Saturday, Nov. 28, 11pm, Globe Cinema

Some shorts aren’t meant to be seen in the light of day. The Late Night

Shorts Pack collects the more odd, offbeat, and downright bizarre animated

efforts of the last year, perfect for audiences craving something

they’ve never seen before. From psychedelic journeys to unconventional

mating habits, these are the films that keep you staring at the screen

in disbelief.

VISITING ARTIST SHOWCASE

Amy Lockheart

Sunday, Nov. 27, 6pm, Emmedia Screening Room

As much as we GIRAF loves showing off films, the real highlight of

the festival for us is bringing in one of our favourite animators to host

a workshop and artist talk, and show off their art to a local audience.

This year, we’re excited to invite Amy Lockheart, an internationally

recognized animator, filmmaker and artist. Her work has been published

in Drawn & Quarterly and screened at festivals from Ann Arbor

to Hiroshima, but more important than that, it is unique, hand-made,

and everything that GIRAF looks for in an animator.

CLOSING PACK

Newgrounds: Everything by Everyone

Sunday, Nov. 27, Emmedia Screening Room

This year’s festival wraps up with a package celebrating the influential,

absurd animation website Newgrounds. Founded by Tom Fulp in 1995,

Newgrounds was the first website that allowed anyone and everyone

to upload animation content, and was generating viral videos before

the existence of YouTube. These user-created videos, made simply for

the sake of creativity and expression, also helped to define a style of

absurd, fast-paced, chaotic and offbeat animation that has profoundly

influenced a whole generation of animators.

GIRAF takes place at the Globe Cinema and Quickdraw Animation Society

studios. For screening info and tickets, please visit http://giraffest.ca

Newgrounds: Everything, By Everyone

Allegro Non Troppo 40th Anniversary

1976, Italy, dir. Bruno Bozzetto

Saturday, Nov. 28, 7pm, Globe Cinema

Italian director Bruno Bozzetto’s 1976 Oscar-nominated masterpiece,

is this year’s retrospective screening. Both a loving tribute and satirical

response to Disney’s Fantasia, Allegro is a similar blend of hand-drawn

animation and classical music, albeit with a more cynical edge than

Disney ever allowed. Largely out of print, this will be a rare chance to see

the film on the big screen to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

22 | JANUARY 2015 • BEATROUTE ROOTS

18 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE FILM


AMY LOCKHART

GIRAF’s featured artist

Amy Lockhart is a filmmaker, animator and artist. Her animations

have screened at festivals nationally and internationally, including

the Ann Arbor Film Festival and International Animation Festival in

Hiroshima, Japan. Lockhart has received fellowship at the National

Film Board of Canada and support from the Canada Council for

the Arts. She has completed residencies at Calgary’s Quickdraw

Animation Society, Struts Gallery, and The School of the Art Institute

of Chicago. Drawn & Quarterly published Dirty Dishes, a book of her

paintings, sculptures and drawings in 2009. She currently works and

lives in Chicago.

DANCER

bad boy of ballet film release

THE SCREENING

Paper cut-outs, Amiga art, absurd characters, surreal tangents—Amy

Lockheart’s animation is both impressively diverse and immediately

recognizable. She’ll be joining us for a screening and artist talk,

presenting some of her favourites and providing an insight into her

creative process.

THE WORKSHOP

This small, hands-on workshop will provide a rare opportunity to

learn directly from one of our favourite animators working today.

With a focus on paper cut-out animation, this workshop will walk

you through Amy’s animation process, explaining the tools and techniques

she uses to bring her films to life. This is a hands-on workshop.

Some experience with animation fundamentals is recommended.

THE INSTALLATION

Head to the basement of the Globe Cinema any time during the

GIRAF animation festival for a multimedia art installation from this

year’s visiting artist.

When you get to number one the only way is down, or so the saying

goes. At age 19, a gifted young man named Sergei Polunin became the

youngest principal in the history of the Royal Ballet. Honing his craft

since early childhood, by age 22 he had already conquered every goal

a professional dancer possibly can. Dancer chronicles the surprisingly

sacrificial journey made by Polunin, whose boyhood dream was to be

adored and remembered. Calgary release date is set for November 18.

• Breanna Whipple

FILM

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 19


CALGARY EUROPEAN FILM FESTIVAL

bringing the best of the other side of the Atlantic for five years by Jonathan Lawrence

Watching a foreign film generally involves a

degree of multitasking that gets even the

best of us. “I have to watch - and read? At

the same time?” you ask incredulously.

The most rewarding experiences often aren’t the

easiest though, and the Calgary European Film Festival

is returning for its fifth year to prove that stories rich in

character, setting, and culture are worth paying attention

to, and worth letting that poor bag of popcorn last

longer than the opening credits.

The Calgary European Film Festival, or CEFF, which

runs from November 7-13 this year, is an opportunity

for Western audiences to see European-made films that

would otherwise likely not see an overseas release. That

said, each production has received at least one international

award or other accolade from such notable

festivals as the Venice International Film Festival and

Cannes. This year’s line-up includes films from Albania,

Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Hungary,

Italy, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain,

Switzerland, and Czech Republic – more countries than

ever before.

It is also running for a full week this year, up from a

four-day run in 2015.

Much like the other film festivals in Calgary such as

the Calgary Underground Film Festival and the International

Film Festival, the European Film Festival is seeing

rising attendance rates each year. We caught up with

Beatrix Downton, the board president for the European

Cultural Society of Calgary (organizer of CEFF) and

the representative of the German community for the

festival to discuss it in further detail.

“The image of Calgary as a backwater provincial

town is definitely long gone,” says Downton. “Calgary is

quite cosmopolitan, people are hungry for stories from

other cultures - our movies allow us to travel the world

without shelling out big bucks for airfare.”

Take a globetrot this month at the Globe.

Looking at the line-up of films this year, one can

easily see some recurring themes of complicated relationships,

outcasts in society, and other serious subject

matter. In response, Downton writes: “I love the way

European movies place the human experience at the

centre of the story. There might be less action…than in

many Hollywood productions [but] instead we get to

see stories that feel true to life, relatable to the viewer’s

own experience.”

Despite the dramatic nature of most of the films,

Downton assures that there is still a good dosage of

comedy and levity in the festival’s line-up. “[It’s] a great

way to address serious questions and make them approachable.”

She adds that she is most looking forward

to the quirky Life is a Trumpet from Croatia, and the

Austrian crime movie Life Eternal, which “brings some

unconventional dark humour to the screen.”

Even if you think foreign films aren’t your cup of

tea, Downton believes that if you like independent

cinema, you’ll love European film. The eclectic

culture of Europe embraces everything people love

about independent cinema, where anything and

everything is possible. Because of this, Downton says,

“There is room for many different stories, movies that

are fun, serious, exciting, sad, thought-provoking ...

and always entertaining.”

The opening night on November 7th will kick off

with Sieranevada (Romania, 2016), directed by Cristi

Puiu, who received the ICS Cannes Award for Best

Screenplay.

So this November, do yourself a favour and put

down Netflix for a bit, put on your reading glasses and

go experience some culture. Don’t worry, Luke Cage will

still be there when you get back. Probably.

Watch something from the other side of the world this

November at CEFF Nov. 7-13 at the Globe Cinema.

MARDA LOOP JUSTICE FILM FEST

free festival tackles the issues in an even bigger way by Claire Miglionico

From eating bugs to drones, the fertility industry to political prisoners,

Justice fest runs the gamut of contemporary issues.

The first time I attended the Marda

Loop Film Festival was at Mount Royal

University –then Mount Royal College

– circa. 2007. I had watched a documentary on

domestically abused women wrongly convicted

for the murder of their abusive husbands. I had

never seen a film rooted in social justice in such

a powerful and enraging way.

A decade later, the festival is still running

strong, with a lineup that spans over five days

rather than three, and four locations rather

than two.

“Now we have the John Dutton Theatre at

the Calgary Public Library, EMMEDIA, River

Park Church and the Globe Cinema as venues,”

says Caitlin Logan, the festival’s program chair

over the phone.

The best part? The festival has been free since

day one and aims to continue to be free, thanks

to their many community sponsors.

Logan had been an attendee of the festival

for about five years before she decided to

become a volunteer.

“I’ve always been a huge advocate of becoming

more aware of what’s going on in the

world. I had a friend who was involved in the

festival who introduced me to it. It seemed like

a perfect fit,” she says.

Logan is part of the panel of volunteers who

review the thousands of films that get submitted

to the festival each year. She says they are at

the time of year when filmmakers start submitting

films to the festival. The festival is open to

anyone who wants to submit.

The festival also looks to film festivals in Europe

and renowned festivals like Hot Docs for

inspiration on films that could pique Calgarians’

interests.

This year, already a handful of films are on my

“must-watch” list.

A Syrian Love Story sticks out. It’s a human

rights film that follows Amer and Raghda over

the span of five years as they fight for political

freedom under the tyrannical Assad dictatorship.

Amer and Raghda first meet in a Syrian

prison cell 15 years ago where they fall in love.

Upon their release, they get married and start

a family only to be torn apart again as Raghda

becomes once again a political prisoner.

Future Baby takes a look at the fertility industry

and how it has become the future of human

reproduction. Egg donors, surrogate mothers…

the options are endless for parents out there.

How far are we willing to go and what could be

some of the long-term impacts of using these

modified modes of reproduction?

National Bird is number one on my list and a

favourite of Logan’s. “It takes a look at the other

side of the military drone offences and looks at

the people who have to pilot drones and carry

out these missions using the drone, and the

psychological damage that they suffer while

doing this, “ says Logan.

The Apology tackles the topic of “comfort

women” who were forced into military sexual

slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during

World War II. It follows three, now grandmothers,

former comfort women, seeking

justice from the Japanese government.

Bugs will sure be the talk of the town. Insects

as food has become a hot topic and fits hand

in hand with the UN Sustainable Development

Goal #2 to end hunger, achieve food security,

improve nutrition and promote sustainable

agriculture. Follow the filmmakers as they farm,

cook and taste bugs from around the world. If

you’re game, sample bugs for yourself after the

screening courtesy of Entomo Farms.

The Marda Loop Justice Film Festival runs November

15th to 20th and touches upon human

rights, social justice, environment and development

issues. The full schedule is available

at justicefilmfestival.ca.

20 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE FILM


FIVE FILMS TO SEE THIS MONTH

festivals galore and the December instalment of Doc Soup

With the dreary winter weather starting to set in, what better way to

spend your weekend than in a warm theatre watching world class

film? This month, Calgary will be host to four film festivals, plus the

second instalment of Doc Soup’s season. Each different in theme, but equal in

merit. Here are just a few options for the coming month.

by Morgan Cairns

Calgary European Film Festival: Eva Nová (2015) and The Last Bus (2011)

Selected as Slovakia’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at this years Academy

Awards, Eva Nová promises to be a standout. Eva, a former actress and recovering

alcoholic, tries desperately to reconnect with her son after abandoning him as a

child while battling with her sobriety. Director Marko Škop’s fiction feature debut,

this intimate drama is probably best served by Emília Vášáryová’s stunning performance

as Eva.

Preceding Eva Nová is the Slovakian short The Last Bus. Bringing Wes Anderson

levels of quirkiness, this stop-motion animation follows a group of forest animals

who, upon the arrival of hunting season, board a bus to flee to safety.

Screening at the Globe Cinema, Saturday November 12th, at 8 p.m.

Marda Loop Justice Film Festival: Raped (2015)

At 18 years old, director Linda Steinhoff was raped by someone she knew. In an

effort to come to terms, and better understand how the system both helps, and

hurts, victims of sexual assault, Steinhoff has created her first documentary feature.

Including interviews with a convicted rapist, a victim, a lawyer and a psychiatrist,

this documentary might make for uneasy viewing, but it only furthers the point of

the film; that in order to do something about sexual assault, we first must learn to

talk about it.

Screening at River Park Auditorium, Saturday November 19th, at 2:45 p.m.

CUFF Docs: Kate Plays Christine (2016)

Part documentary, part psychological thriller, Kate Plays Christine follows actress

Kate Lyn Sheil as she prepares to play the role of Christine Chubbuck, a Florida

newscaster who committed suicide on live television in 1974. Christine, the film

at the centre of this documentary, takes place in the days leading up to Christine

Chubbuck’s on-air suicide, and focuses on her struggles with depression. Given

the intense subject matter, Kate must immerse herself in the life and torment of

Chubbuck in order to give justice to the role. Sheil’s performance has earned rave

reviews, so if you plan on seeing Christine when it comes to theatres, Kate Plays

Christine will serve as excellent context for the film, and give you a deeper look into

both Chubbuck, and the actress tasked with playing her.

Screening at the Globe Cinema, Friday November 18th, at 6 p.m.

GIRAF Animation Festival: Allegro Non Troppo (1976)

Coined a sort of Fantasia for adults, Bruno Bozzetto’s 1976 classic will be presented

as GIRAF’s 2016 retrospective screening. With a mix of live action and surrealist

animation, paired with a classical music score, the seven sequences range from

comedy to tragedy, and everything in between. With the slew of documentary

features screening this month, this throwback film will be a pleasant shake-up in

your film schedule.

Prior to that, GIRAF has secured the North American premiere about Allegro

Non Troppo’s creator Bruno Bozzetto, fittingly titled: Bozzetto Non Troppo.

Screening at the Globe Cinema, Saturday November 26th, at 5 p.m. (Bozzetto Non Troppo) and 7

p.m. (Allegro Non Troppo)

Doc Soup (December screening): Mr. Gaga (2015)

One of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary choreographers, Ohad Naharin

takes centre stage in this Israeli documentary. Eight years in the making, Mr. Gaga is

a true testament to the human body, in both its abilities and its limits. What makes

this film a must-see is not only its powerful subject, but the opportunity to view

performances from some of the most talented dancers in the world, making Mr.

Gaga a visual delight on many levels.

Screening at Cineplex Eau Claire, Wednesday December 7th, at 7 p.m.

CJSW MUSIC DOCS

video project aims for diversity both in front of and behind the lens

Aleem Khan will perform unheard material at a screening of CJSW’s music docs.

If you’re a regular BeatRoute reader, it’s likely you’re familiar with Calgary

acts Feel Alright, Empty Heads and Aleem Khan. The aim of a new batch

of music documentaries directed by Guillaume Carlier for CJSW is to reach

those who have not.

“We wanted it to be visible for people who don’t know Calgary’s music

at all,” says Carlier, adding he thinks of it as “a look behind the curtain” and

an “inclusive” endeavour. Carlier is the first director in what the station

intends to be an ongoing series, with a new set of eyes behind the lens at

each turn.

Carlier curated the musicians (with assistance from CJSW’s Whitney Ota) in

an effort to represent musical diversity, also noting he believes the three to be

FILM

by Colin Gallant

among the best bands in the city.

The docs all have two components: live performances (including new, previously

unrecorded exclusives) at the station’s studio, hand-tailored by Ota to the band’s

specifications, and not-so-standard interviews also developed in collaboration

with the artists. Without giving too much away, none of the three interviews or

performances are alike.

Some of the filmic techniques employed will be recognizable to those who’ve

seen Carlier’s video for Aleem Khan’s song “Marzipan” or the original short Moses

he released last year; semi-improvised filming and disrupted chronology are some

of his staples. Carlier isn’t resting on the tried and true, however. He adventurously

dabbled with around seven different cameras, including a cell phone and GoPro.

Khan and Carlier’s working relationship will continue at the November 26th

screening of the docs, with Khan performing unreleased music for the first time in

front of an audience. The event will be a licensed one taking place at The Plaza.

Those unable to attend can look forward to streaming the docs on CJSW’s new

platform for video: cjsw.com/video (release date TBA as of writing time).

Ota says, “Here, Guillaume Carlier’s video documentaries will be showcased

alongside some of our other video content such as the newly revealed ‘CJSW 360’

series which will allow users to pan around the room, viewing what they like, and

the ‘Sing, Talk, Play’ series done by Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi.” Continuing, “We’re hoping

to provide our listeners with a new way of experiencing our live sessions and

Guillaume’s films will provide a unique glimpse into backstage life with the bands

and showcase what CJSW is capable of in the studios.”

CJSW’s music docs by Guillaume Carlier will feature Empty Heads, Feel Alright and

Aleem Khan and premiere on November 26th at The Plaza. Soon, they’ll also be

available at cjsw.com/video.

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 21


THE VIDIOT

rewind to the future

by Shane Sellar

Ghostbusters

The Legend of Tarzan

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

The Purge: Election Year

X-Men: Apocalypse

FILM

Ghostbusters

Female Ghostbusters are better because you get to

pay them 40 per cent less than their male counterparts.

Unfortunately, the gender wage gap doesn’t

benefit the entrepreneurs in this comedy.

When a book Dr. Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) cowrote

on ghosts with her estranged colleague

Dr. Yates (Melissa McCarthy) is reprinted, its

supernatural contents threaten her bid for college

tenure.

To stop the publication, however, she must join

Yates’ ghost hunting team (Kate McKinnon, Leslie

Jones), who are currently engaged in a conflict

with a deranged genius (Neil Casey) intent on

opening a portal to another dimension.

While the all-female cast brings a fresh perspective

to the mythos, this re-working of the original

is too haunted by its predecessor to be its own

movie. Not to mention its ghastly script, flat jokes

and lackluster special effects.

Moreover, ghosts from the 1800s would be

aghast to see these Ghostbusters in public unaccompanied

by their husbands.

The Legend of Tarzan

The upside to being raised by apes is you keep your

human friends lice free.

Mind you, the simian-reared aristocrat in this

action-adventure abhors his heritage.

Lord Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård), née

Tarzan, must return to the jungle that he was

marooned in as an infant to prevent its enslavement

at the hands of the Belgium King who has

deployed an evil envoy (Christoph Waltz) to reap

it riches.

Accompanied by his wife Jane (Margot Robbie)

and an American businessman (Samuel L. Jackson),

the ape-man soon learns he was really lured

back by a vengeful chieftain (Djimon Hounsou).

Despite some questionable special effects and

a few bad one-liners, Legend is the most comprehensive

and visually thrilling interpretation of

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ character yet. Moreover, it

finally adds a self-reliant Jane to the mainly misogynistic

mythos.

Fortunately, when your in-laws are apes you

don’t have to set your bathroom standards so

high.

Lights Out

Sleeping with the lights on is stupid. I mean, who

wants to watch the monster-under-the-bed eat their

legs?

Luckily, the restless spirit in this horror movie

vanishes in illumination.

With her younger brother (Gabriel Bateman)

suffering from insomnia, and her bipolar mother

(Maria Bello) talking to her imaginary friend, estranged

daughter Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) returns

to the fold to assist.

She quickly discovers that her brother and

mother’s problems stem from a shadowy figure

that stalks the household under the cover of darkness,

yet evaporates when the lights are switched

on.

A clever creature feature that prays on our

inherent fear of the dark, this low-budget thriller

doesn’t skimp on the scares. Moreover, it uses resourcefulness

to execute the melancholy narrative

about mental health. The only bone of contention

is with its clichéd creature design.

Ironically, when making love to a monster most

prefer to keep the lights off.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Bringing a date to a wedding is important because it

keeps the groom from hitting on you.

Awkwardly, the groom in this comedy is their

soon-to-be brother-in-law.

To avoid any embarrassment at the hands of

their loser sons, Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave’s

(Zac Efron) parents order them to bring dates to

their sister’s Hawaiian nuptials.

Placing an expense-paid offer online lands

the boys national attention and two party girls

(Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick) posing as a teacher

and a stockbroker.

During their prize-winning vacation, however,

the bad girls drop their goody-two-shoes guises

and give the irresponsible brothers a run for their

money.

A raunchy yet run-of-the-mill rom-com about

unscrupulous characters saving the day in an

unconventional way, Mike and Dave delivers a few

decent laughs thanks to its male leads, but ends

up just aping other wedding movies.

Moreover, a Hawaiian wedding is a great way to

bankrupt all your closest friends.

The Purge: Election Year

If you really want the right to kill whomever you

want with no consequences, become a cop in the

United States.

Ironically, all law enforcement gets the night off

in this action-horror movie.

With the run for the White House in full swing,

purge opponent and presidential hopeful Senator

Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) vows to stay out home

during this year’s public culling to prove that she is

for the people.

The New Founding Fathers’ candidate (Kyle Secor),

however, plans to use the night’s lawlessness

to eliminate her. Now, Roan and her bodyguard

(Frank Grillo) must stay one-step ahead.

More politically motivated than purge related,

this second sequel in the anarchic series may be

timely but its lampoon of modern-day Republicans

is too on the nose and less interesting than

the mindless destruction happening outside.

Sadly, younger voters are more likely to stay

home on Election Day than on Purge Day.

Swiss Army Man

The worst thing about being a Swiss Army Man is

TSA confiscates you before every flight.

Luckily, the multi-purpose corpse in this dark

comedy has its own means of propulsion.

When a flatulent cadaver, Manny (Daniel

Radcliffe), washes up on the shores of Hank’s (Paul

Dano) deserted island, he rides the gassy stiff back

to civilization.

Lost in the thickets, Hank uses Manny’s erection

to navigate. En route, he teaches the carcass about

love using Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) as an

example. Now, Manny wants to find Sarah so he

can confess his love for her.

A divisive film if ever there was one, Swiss Army

Man attempts to dissect deep psychological issues

using dead dick and fart jokes to do it. The only

problem is that none of it is humorous, quirky or

otherwise.

Incidentally, when a cadaver washes up on your

deserted island, their 10 favourite albums belong

to you. ​

X-Men: Apocalypse

The worst part about being a mutant teenager is

your nocturnal emissions melt the bed.

Ocular emissions are also a pubescent problem

in this action/fantasy.

The world’s first mutant Apocalypse (Oscar

Isaac) awakens in the Eighties and hastily ensembles

an army of mutants (Michael Fassbender,

Olivia Munn, Alexandra Shipp, Ben Hardy) to help

him enslave the multitudes.

With Professor X’s (James McAvoy) mind

breached, it’s up to a batch of new recruits (Tye

Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Lana

Condor) led by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) to

impede the ancient evil before it can use Xavier’s

telepathy to subjugate both human and mutant

kind.

With a poorly designed villain perpetrating a

predictable bid for world domination, this latest

installment in the tepid franchise suffers from too

many X-Men with too little character development

between them. Meanwhile, the overblown

action scenes feel contrived.

Besides, according to the Bible, Jesus was the

first mutant.

He’s a Kindred Spiritualist. He’s the…

Vidiot

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 23


FEMME WAVE

FEMME WAVE 2016

cresting again in second year

Disclosure: Femme Wave feminist arts festival co-founder

Hayley Muir is BeatRoute print production staff.

words and photo by Amber McLinden

Femme Wave is going into its sophomore

year, and co-founders Hayley Muir and Kaely

Cormack are taking it all in stride for this year’s

festival.

Femme Wave’s mission is to “create an integrated,

encouraging arts scene with opportunities for women

and non-binary artists.” The festival incorporates music,

comedy, film, and visual arts to create this space.

The organization has a growing audience, and

they’ve expanded from the grassroots organization

they were last year. With a board, a large committee,

and a little more organization, this year’s festival

proves to be even better than the last. The growth is a

great thing for attendees, as the lineup gets bigger and

more diverse. Music headliners Peach Kelli Pop and

catl. are two examples.

“We have much more reach than we did this time

last year,” Muir says. “There’s a lot more people who

are aware of Femme Wave, and the overwhelming

majority of those folks are really excited about it.”

It’s clear that Femme Wave is making its mark on

the Calgary arts community, but there’s still a long

way to go. It seems that in the past few months, there

hasn’t exactly been a change in the number of women

being booked to play shows in the music scene, Muir

speculates. Despite this, some artists that played

Femme Wave last year seemed to have definitely

gained some traction in the music community.

The programming this year includes workshops

where people can come and have the opportunity to

play with various musical instruments. “We’re hoping

to kind of foster more people that would want to play

music that maybe haven’t yet, for whatever reason,”

Cormack says. “We’re trying to get into that role,

where it’s not just showcasing these existing artists but

we also want to foster people that want to do it and

get them doing it more too.”

Of course, negative feedback has emerged, but Cormack

and Muir don’t talk about specific examples. Instead,

they see any pushback as a positive. This is only

their second year running, and the feedback is the

perfect example of why something like Femme Wave

needs to exist. It also shows how far their reach really

is, and how many people they can affect positively.

“There’s been some kind of dark pushback against

us this year and I think that’s been a really hard thing

to overcome and to just refocus and think, ‘We do

a festival. That’s what we do,’ and as long as we do

that really well then everything else can kind of just

happen around it,” Muir says.

Both founders of Femme Wave also play in their

own band, The Shiverettes, and agree that breaking

into the music scene as a woman is definitely still a

challenge. The combination of a tightly knit arts scene,

low representation at shows, and sexism towards

women who do play make being in a band as a woman

look less than appealing. The festival is looking to

change that.

“I always like hearing about people’s daughters,”

Cormack half-jokes. “Every time someone is like, ‘I

have a daughter, and this is awesome, because she’s

going to grow up to be in a band’ or whatever, I really

like hearing stuff like that.”

Even though the goal is to focus on empowering

women, Femme Wave is truly for everyone, Muir

stresses. They hope all attendees can come away

learning a lesson, but it isn’t mandatory. Attending

Femme Wave means you can see a few acts you might

never have seen before, which is truly the point.

“If you want to keep seeing the things that you’ve

already seen, then keep going to the same shows

you’re going to,” Cormack says. “But if you want to

see something a little bit different and maybe learn

something and see something a little off the beaten

path that’s interesting and unique and new, then that’s

what this is for.”

Femme Wave takes place at multiple venues in Calgary

this November 17th to 20th.

All are welcome to “see something a little bit different” at Femme Wave.

24 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE


FEMME WAVE

PEACH KELLI POP

In Defense of Cute:

the uniting force of power pop

by Arielle Lessard

The dreamy power pop ladies from Peach

Kelli Pop (PKP) are getting ready to join

Femme Wave for their first time in Calgary.

At the core of PKP is Allie Hanlon, who delved

into Ottawa’s DIY scene with her twin sister and

learned drums at age 15, recently relocated to

L.A. where she’s signed to Burger Records. While

Ottawa “helped [her] gain the confidence and

experience” she needed to start playing in bands,

she’s happy to be using her fresh start to explore

some creative freedom and make new relationships

– like those with bandmates Gina and Sophie

Negrini and Mindee Jorgensen.

For those that are unfamiliar with Peach Kelli Pop’s

magic, PKP loves Japan and Japan loves them. PKP

puts out albums proficiently while keeping within a

central visual theme of bright colors, pins, illustration,

romantic neon, and smiles all around – things that

might be considered Kawaii, or “cute” for English

speakers. Though the definition can be expanded

with a quick Wikipedia search, with original meanings

that include “one’s face is aglow,” “dazzling” or even

“able to be loved” and “lovable.”

Hanlon addresses issues of dismissing “cute” too

quickly, saying “people will [sometimes] listen to your

music for five seconds and decide lots of different

things about you and your music, which is frustrating.

We have high pitched vocals and it sounds really

feminine, but [at the same time] I’m 29, I’ve been

touring and playing in bands for over a decade, I’m

proud of our live show and how technically proficient

we are at playing. I think when people see us live, they

think this is a group of people that have paid their

dues. Hopefully by seeing us [and] really listening

to the music, people can see that there’s more than

what they perceive to be cute.”

The real misgiving may be categorizing cute, poppy

energy as easy to pull off or somehow dismissible,

when in fact being “lovable,” engaged, fueled-up and

rosy can be infinitely hard to sustain. Peach Kelli Pop

is the perfect embodiment of those fiercer qualities,

and demonstrates vividly that cool, imaginative,

thoughtful women often travel in groups and support

one another creatively. In this way, and in direct

alignment with Femme Wave’s mission, there is a rich

collective togetherness that can grow out of these

platforms. Hanlon notes that the best parts about

being in a creative field are “getting to work with other

people, playing live and going on tour with your

friends and [ultimately] seeing people appreciate the

work that you’ve shared.”

When asked about her current projects, Hanlon

dives in with excitement, and notes that she’s taking

her time to work on the fourth Peach Kelli Pop

album, having released three since 2010, they’ve been

on a feel-good roll. Freshly back from a trip to Tokyo,

Hanlon played six shows and stayed for 12 days, “so

it was kind of like a vacation tour” where the girls

“played shows and explored and hung out, so it was

really magical.” They’ll also be going to Hawaii for the

first time in February to play for a group of kids that

fundraised through Failed Orbit Records to fly bands

over, with Hanlon fully appreciating how “cool [it is

for] people that really love music to [find ways to]

have different bands that they normally wouldn’t get

to see.”

She also found time to do some work for the

Cartoon Network with Victor Courtright, who approached

her to do thematic music for Get ‘Em Tommy.

Courtright himself is a high-octane illustrator and

animator whose previous work has crafted a cartoon

character called, quite literally, Officer Baby Teeth.

“I was really excited about it and he showed me the

different clips, the tone of his show, and I worked on

it with a friend and fellow artist Natalie James.”

Hanlon makes time for PKP by working a day

job in the art world at a small business alongside

illustrator Tuesday Bassen, who comes from a “similar

background of punk music and an alternative scene.”

Hanlon, who’s “open to so many different things,”

raves about the girls she works with and the positive

work atmosphere, “it’s really meaningful work with

fun people! Things are constantly growing and changing,

and [my] day to day is very fluid.”

Peach Kelli Pop delves happily into issues like

power, money, self-empowerment, beauty standards,

broken hearts, and princess castles without ever

losing an eternal sense of fun and their power pop

roots. Hanlon says, “I always write from my heart and

what I’m experiencing so there’s definitely a variety of

topics that come out. So I think that if I’m feeling frustrated

about something, it will come out and it may

end up being something other girls can relate to.” Boy,

can we ever. Lyrics like “she’s held together with glue,

she’ll never disagree with you” from Plastic Love make

for danceable feel-good songs with a soul.

PKP’s latest collaboration with SHEVIL, a collective

of female filmmakers in L.A., to produce a music

video for their most recent Halloween Mask LP

messes with beauty standards, and highlights the

dazzling, bright monsters that make up PKP. Using

smoky, kaleidoscope composite footage of all the

band members’ faces, as well as monster masks and

projected cartoon faces. Hanlon notes that they

chose to work together after “the girls that run [SHE-

VIL] stood out… because they had a clear idea of the

music video they wanted to produce and they even

had a budget written out… I was really impressed by

how organized they were and especially how great

their ideas were.”

In a similar vein as Femme Wave, “they also run

a monthly night for female-centric music, female

performers, stand-up comics and bands… that’s

something that I always try and kick my friends to,

because it’s so fun.”

For other artists, and budding musicians, Hanlon

recommends “focus[ing] on having fun, because it’s

harder to create when you’re focused on things that

can stress you out, whether you’re getting certain

opportunities that you’re hoping for, or what other

bands are doing. So just focus about what makes

you happy about making music, and enjoy the entire

process.” Fans worldwide are evidently pleased that

Hanlon is happy with the entire process and always

manages to produce marvellously art that’s as cute

as it is potent. On a wishful note, Hanlon’s dream

collaborators include, without missing a beat:

“Joey Ramone!

Joan Jett!

Kim Deal!”

One would hope that Peach Kelli Pop won’t do

away with any of their charm or cuteness anytime

soon.

Peach Kelli Pop perform at Dickens on Friday, November

18th.

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 25


FEMME WAVE

CATL.

Toronto duo puts traditional rockin’ roles out to pasture

A

big city duo with an eye for the wide-open

countryside, catl is a breed apart when it

comes to your typical stomp and holler

outfits. Recently returned from a run of U.S. tour

dates that saw them shaking the BBQ shacks and

juke joints en route to the Deep Blues Festival in

Mississippi, this punk raucous couple’s take on

musical hybridization offers a vigourous alternative

to bovine domesticity.

“I think we play pretty straight-up rock and roll,

but we can get kinda lumped into more sometimes

punk rock, rockabilly, or the blues, or any number of

things,” says catl’s drummer/vocalist Sarah Kirkpatrick

of the band’s chameleon charms. “When it comes

down to it, it’s just such a simplistic musical style, just

drums and guitar, so people take what they want

from it. Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is have a

good time, and we want our audience to have a good

time and feel the energy of what we’re doing.”

As the other half of catl’s no bull equation,

singer/guitarist Jamie Fleming pens tunes about

frustration and betrayal, but also about letting

your hair down and drumming up some unbridled

joy. Previously a two-piece and then a trio,

moving catl forward as a romantically-connected

duo was a bold move that came after some

considerable rumination. The decision to hand

the drumsticks to Kirkpatrick marked the outfit’s

rebirth and, having found their running legs, they

haven’t looked back since.

“Learning to play the drums was a big growth arc,”

says Kirkpatrick. “I originally played the keyboards in

this band when I joined in 2009. Jamie and I made a

conscious choice, esthetically and energetically, we

both wanted to stand up at the front of the stage and

make this kind of presence with the two of us. Now

I just play a floor tom and a snare. It’s really strippeddown.

So, the challenge becomes how many things

can you do with just two drums?”

Embracing the opportunity to refurbish their

gritty cowpunk repertoire, the inventive pair has

prepared some specialty catl cuts for the 2016

instalment of Femme Wave: Calgary’s Feminist Music

& Arts Festival.

“Since we were last in Calgary, we released our

last album, This Shakin’ House, which features a

song we wrote about our last experience in Calgary

when we were invited to play Sled Island, but only

got to do one of our shows because of the flood.

We don’t play it live very much at all, so we’ll bring

that song back, especially for Femme Wave. We’re

really excited to be a part of it and flattered to be

one of the headlining bands.”

catl plays Femme Wave on November 19th at the #1

Royal Canadian Legion (Downstairs).

catl are fine-tuning their performance specifically for Calgary.

by Christine Leonard

FEMME WAVE NON-MUSICAL PROGRAMMING

pop-up art, celluloid film and barrels of laughs flesh out the festival

Adora Nwofor

How Femme Wave is keeping its Arts festival mandate plural.

26 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE

As Femme Wave’s music programming grows in its

second year, so too does the focus on comedy, film,

visual art and community workshop events.

Curators Sarah Adams (comedy), Dana Buzzee (art) and

Adele Brunnhofer (film) were all tasked with adhering to

Femme Wave’s vision to “program art that is accessible and

showcase the talent of women and non-binary artists in

warm welcoming spaces.”

Starting from there, the three each applied their own

expertise to put together a layered program representative

of a range of experiences.

Adams combined a call for submissions approach with

direct offers to comedians she felt were a natural fit for

the festival. When asked to spotlight a few key names, she

says “Honestly I think the entire show will be a highlight.”

The program is made up of very different comedic acts:

Patricia Cochrane, Brittany Lyseng, Adora Nwofor (back

for a second year) and The Dirrty Show. While they vary

stylistically, there’s one thing these folks all share – their

male dominated industry hasn’t always proved a comfortable

context.

“One of the reasons Femme Wave comedy is so valuable

is that it's one of the few places these comedians can

honestly speak to their experiences. Female-identifying

experiences are just as real and relevant as anyone else's,

and we're trying to give comedians more opportunities to

openly share them,” says Adams.

Buzzee emphasizes the quality of visual arts submissions

to the festival, noting that she’d include them all if it were

possible. As the program stands, part of her programming

methodology comes from honouring the artists’ intent in

the context their work will be presented in. You may be

noticing a theme here.

by Colin Gallant

Art at Femme Wave will occur at three exhibitions

comprising the works of 15 different artists. The Garden,

occurring November 15th in an empty storefront at 1314

1st St. SW, is “a thoughtful pop-up exhibition… all ghosts,

shadows, and flora.” This Is What Makes Our Guts So Vibrant

runs November 16th to 24th at U-Haul (upstairs at

Truck Contemporary Art) and aims to “[build] a dialogue

about identity by confidently destabilizing the hierarchies

of dominant culture.” Finally, Un_form is a video exhibition

that most fully embodies the element of activism at

Femme Wave. Taking place November 16th to 30th at the

Stride Gallery Project Room (downstairs), it will “[unpack]

the performance of femme identities and sexualities [and

critique] common coming-of-age narratives.” Both the

ongoing shows will also have receptions.

Femme Wave’s film component will include a single feature,

the 1984 documentary Black Magic, as well a package

of shorts (titles coming soon) presented in partnership

with the GIRAF animation festival. Black Magic’s screening

will be a special one for purists: it makes a rare appearance

on celluloid thanks in part to the Calgary Society of

Independent Filmmakers. Telling the story of a group of

African-American girls abroad for the first time to compete

in a double dutch championship, Brunnhofer notes

its enduring timeliness and harmony between innocent

excitement and illumination of marginalized perspectives.

Finally, there are a host of all-ages, pay what you can

workshops taking place at the festival. Check our Calgary

Beat column for more info on that.

Femme Wave’s non-musical components take place throughout

the festival, with visual arts getting an early start on

November 15th. Head to their website for full details.


ROCKPILE

NOFX

the agony of victory and going to work wasted

by Sarah Mac

New York Times bestselling authors (and enduring punk legends) åNOFX barge across the prairies for the first time in five years.

It’s been five very long years since veteran

punks NOFX have trashed our sweet province

with their overwhelming presence.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, NOFX

are legends of their own genre. Back in 1983,

Fat Mike (Burkett), lead vocalist and bassist,

along with guitarist Eric Melvin and drummer

Erik Sandin (or Smelly, as he’s lovingly adorned)

banded together to form NOFX. After a few

tours and many failed attempts at a fourth

member and second guitarist, Aaron Abeyta,

or El Hefe as he’s been dubbed, joined the band

in 1991. The four have remained together since

and wreaked havoc in every country and city

allowing them entry.

Throughout their 33-year career, NOFX have

released 13 full-length studio albums, four fulllength

compilation albums, one split full-length

record, two live albums, two DVDs, a plethora of

EPs, singles and 7-inches.

In 2016 NOFX had two major releases; their

first book, The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other

Stories, which debuted back in April, and in

October their 13th full-length album First

Ditch Effort dropped. Both the book and the

album gave fans a glimpse into the band’s

personal life, the history, the antics and the

heartbreak.

Their list of accomplishments is miles long,

but NOFX isn’t slowing down. So we chatted

with Fat Mike to reflect on this past year and

the tour ahead.

“Well you know, First Ditch Effort was the

longest we’ve ever taken between albums, it’s

been four years since our last. We didn’t want

to rush it and I wanted to do an album where I

could just relax and take my time. Since I usually

just write what I’m feeling, the book opened up

a lot of doors for me and made me feel comfortable

talking about my deepest thoughts and

secrets,” he says.

“It turned out the way I wanted it to, though.

There were six songs that didn’t end up going

on First Ditch. They were more ‘fun’ punk rock

songs and the album felt like it was supposed to

be more sad and somber. But the LP version is a

lot different, there’s at least five songs on there

that are different. And check out the lyrics for

‘Generation Z’ on the lyrics sheet cause they’re a

lot darker than what’s recorded.”

Although Mike’s dark depiction is accurate,

NOFX always manages to lighten the mood.

Songs like “Six Years on Dope” and “Sid and

Nancy” are a familiar style known to earlier

NOFX tunes. On the other hand, “I’m So Sorry

Tony (Sly)” will require a tissue box for sure.

“The LP version of ‘Tony Sly’ is much sadder.”

He casually adds.

On a lighter note, their book The Hepatitis

Bathtub became a New York Times bestseller –

not bad for a punk band, right?

“That’s why we did the book tour and signings

every day. You know, you have to sell nine

or ten thousand to make the bestseller list, and

on the book tour we only sold maybe 1,500

books in a week,” he recalls.

“So we were pleasantly surprised that we

did make the list, but we would’ve been really

bummed if we didn’t. We knew it was a good

book, but we didn’t know how well it would

sell,” Mike explains.

“But that’s what is nice about books, it’s like

putting out a good record in the ‘90s, it’s going

to sell for 20 years. You put out a record these

days, you only have a few months and then it

becomes part of Spotify or Pandora. But a book,

even though they’re on the Internet, people still

like to buy them.”

Let’s get to the tour though. For those

keeping tabs on NOFX, you know that Fat Mike

just finished a round of detox; many wonder if

the detoxing will have any effect on the stellar

debauchery NOFX have worked so hard to

perfect. So we asked him and he’d like to clear

things up…

“I had 85 days where I was totally clean, but

now I’m drinking before shows again. I’m just

not taking painkillers anymore. I did a whole

tour in Europe sober, it was fine but it’s just not

as fun. So I decided I would start drinking before

shows and see how it goes. And shows were

more fun again. So I’m gonna stick with that for

a while.” He laughs.

“You see; the thing is I play better when I’m

sober. But I had to ask, what’s more important?

How much fun I have or how well I play?”

We all know the answer to that question…

“Yeah, that’s what I thought too.”

NOFX plays at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver

on November 4th and 5th, at Union Hall in

Edmonton on November 7th and 8th, at MacEwan

Hall in Calgary on November 9th and at the Burton

Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg on November 11th.

28 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


PUP

following anything but familiar patterns

think, for me, the whole band is about that

cathartic release; I have a lot of pent up en-

“I ergy, both positive and negative and I think

writing aggressive, snotty music is a really good

way to release some of that.”

Toronto-based four-piece PUP is that punk/rock/

amazing that these past few years fucking needed,

pure unabashed raw, live energy. The band released

their latest album The Dream Is Over in May, a

volatile and personal record that shows PUP’s growth

from their self-titled debut album. From the first

single “DVP” to the almost-anthemic aggression of

“Familiar Patterns,” the band have found audiences

have easily connect with the music the new record,

and it probably has something to do with the fact

that when writing songs they’re always thinking

about playing them live.

“We recorded both our albums live off the floor,

except for vocals and a couple overdubs; it’s important

to capture that energy by all of us playing together

in the same room rather than tracking drums

and adding bass then guitar. That’s just never really

worked for us,” explains lead vocalist and guitarist Stefan

Babcock. “When you build songs and play them

live, I think it’s important to track them live in the

studio otherwise you lose a lot of energy. It’s always

been the goal of each record to capture the energy

of the live show.” That energy he talks about bears its

teeth when listeners hit play or, better yet, catch the

guys live; they’re that type of group that leaves your

body writhing and buzzed, and you love it. “We’re

The Toronto rockers continue on their near-endless tour.

always on the verge of kind of falling apart as a band

so it’s kind of probably fun for people to witness a

train that is constantly about to be derailed.”

To break it down, what keeps PUP going at full

blast is the genuine respect for their band mates and

the desire to be in a solid band that knows its shit,

keeps their music unrefined and puts it out regardless

of any bullshit. “We’re a highly dysfunctional group of

adults to be honest. I think we’re all just motivated.

It’s a combination of all of us being really motivated

to succeed on our own terms, combined with a

pretty deep respect for each other… It’s important

to fight through all the bullshit and dysfunction and

look at the bigger goal and kind of suck it up when

you need to suck it up and put in the work and effort,

and try not to let the little things get you down.”

Starting their tour on August 27th, and aside from

two days off in October, PUP will be on tour straight

through to mid-December. That’s a little more than

75 days. “It’s a lot of touring, pretty much nonstop.

by Jamie Goyman

Once that’s over I think we’ll take a much-deserved

month-long break and catch up on life, do what

normal people do. We already have plans to go back

to Europe in January and February, take a month off

and then get back to it,” tells Babcock.

The band, who seem to be constantly touring, has

got it down to an almost science when it comes to

keeping sane for the never-ending life of 100-km/h

scenery passing by. “It’s important to try your best to

have your own space because you’re always around

other people. I like to get up pretty early about once

a week and take the van and go on a hike on my

own… Just even tuning out the world, putting on

headphones and listening to music and being in your

own world is a really important part of my day. Being

able to disconnect and go into my own world and

listen to something that nobody else is listening to

around me is pretty rejuvenating.” This is why when

they hit the stage their live show is unforgettable, any

room fills wild with the band’s potency and leaves the

audience dripping and satisfied.

Western Canada is no doubt ready for PUP to

come through with what Babcock describes as “a

loud noisy clusterfuck.” Perfect.

PUP performs at the Cobalt in Vancouver on November

21st, at Lucky Bar in Victoria on November 22nd,

at Commonwealth in Calgary on November 24th, at

the Starlite Room in Edmonton on November 25th, at

Amigos in Saskatoon on November 26th and at the

Good Will Social Club in Winnipeg on November 27th.

ROCKPILE

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 29


ALL HANDS ON JANE

set this place on fire by Michael Grondin

THE

In a dim yet colourfully lit basement – with

instruments everywhere, patch cords and stomp

boxes on the floor, obscure yet familiar posters

on the walls, and cans of beer within arm’s reach –

comes a dense wall of fuzzy yet flowery rock and

roll from All Hands on Jane (AHOJ), who never

hold back when it comes to their heavy blend of

whisky-soaked “sleazy Canadiana.”

And it’s all about community for this four-piece from

Calgary, with a sound that brings together dynamic

elements of grunge, blues, garage and psych, influenced

by four unique perspectives.

Now in a cozy living room, AHOJ explain their methods

of musical attack over beers and a couple shots.

“We try to really just make it all about the music,

about the rock and roll, and we just want to collaborate

and share the stage with some badass people,” says

bassist (and the newest addition to the band) Tammy

Amstutz about playing live.

The results of AHOJ’s inclusive approach results

in high-energy, beer-crushing ballads suitable for a

head-banging party with best buds in a dingy bar.

“It started as a way to connect with people, and

it turned into something I never expected. We really

want to participate and help enrich the community

we have going. We need every good artist we’ve got,”

explains guitarist and lead singer Teri Wagner. “The

ability to go out and play is so important to what

makes music feel good. We just want to get out there

and make everyone feel welcome and like they’re

part of something.”

To which keyboard player Kaitlin Gibson adds, “The

people in this city are really good at sharing and supporting

each other, which makes it so worth it.”

Sorry I Set You On Fire is the band’s upcoming EP,

All Hands On Jane’s latest “deliverable” comes in the form of a new EP.

containing six psychedelic tracks inspired by the parties

and people these “weekend warriors” play for.

“If we had to sum everything up, it’s this simple:

we just wanna rock everyone’s faces off and have a

good time,” explains drummer Tess Graham. “That

connection, and feeding off of a crowd’s energy –

there’s no high like it. We’re fucking addicted to it

and it keeps us going.”

Now just over five years old, AHOJ have set their

sights high with a focus on creating an experience while

on stage. In an effort to keep productive, they continue

to set high standards for themselves.

“We have a monthly business meeting. We go over

deliverables for the future. The now is fine. The now

is great. But we don’t want it to be living paycheck

to paycheck or booking show to show. We have long

term goals and we try be as organized as we can,”

explains Amstutz.

“You can’t get a degree in how to be in a band,” adds

Wagner with a laugh. “I’m so grateful we take the time

to organize everything and set goals for ourselves.”

However, when onstage, AHOJ don’t hesitate to get

a bit wild.

“We don’t want to just go up and wing it, even

though that is who we are, but at the same time we

make sure all the elements are in place so we can get up

there, let loose and see what happens,” says Amstutz.

“You know, wing it within reason,” adds Wagner.

“We’re meticulous about the serious stuff. We get there

on time, we practice and make sure everything is set up

before we degrade into the party.”

All Hands On Jane will be releasing their EP on December

2nd at Nite Owl. You can also see them ever sooner in

Vancouver - at SBC Restaurant on November 11th.

photo: Matthew Cookson

SWEETS

getting Wild with new EP

The Sweets promise an above-average spectacle for their coming release show.

Calgary locals The Sweets are into “some

weird shit.” On their first recorded

release, Wild, they mix a multitude of

genres to create their own sweetly unique

sound. It’s a combination they describe as

“sludgy blues and enchanting pop-rock” that invites

you to “indulge in your inner moonchild.”

The song the album is named after is “about

going up against the forces of nature. Going into

the wilderness and realizing that nature is stronger

than you.” This frenzied forest motif carries

throughout the entire album, with some songs

featuring sampled sounds like wolf howls to add

to its haunting tone. Similarly, the opening track

“The Beast” follows a dramatic story of fighting

against nature. The heavy bass and drums of the

song build to create a thunderous climax that

characterizes the mythic “Beast” in question.

While one can assume the vast expanses of

mountains and wilderness surrounding Calgary

may have influenced Wild, inside the city itself

Calgary’s music scene has been a huge influence

on The Sweets. “The scene has been super

supportive,” they admit. “Because we do sort of

genre mix it’s been harder to figure out where we

fit in or how we will work in a certain festival.” But

that hasn’t stopped them from playing bills both

locally and across Canada. “It’s a really strong community

and we’re really lucky to be a part of it.”

“Wild is a snapshot of who [the band] is...A

tasting of all our different sounds. There’s a lot

of variety,” The Sweets say of their forthcoming

release. Some songs having a strong psychedelic

influence, some a more folk-rock feel, and then

there’s the odd “banging blues song.” When asked

to explain their varied sound, even the band didn’t

by Kennedy Enns

photo: Erin Prout

have a clear answer. “We don’t let a genre limit

us,” they say, but instead describe themselves as

a “multi-influenced rock group that plays for the

animals in the forest.”

“We go wherever we want with it. If we want a

complicated, poppy bassline then that’s what we’ll

do. That’s why you’ll hear weird shit from us,” they

explain. Some have told the band that their sound

is reminiscent of Cat Power or Feist, or more heavy

psych-rock bands when they play some of their

“harder and fuzzier songs.” The Sweets joke, “they

can liken it to whatever they want really - as long

as they dig it.” They continue, “come out, check

it out and talk to us, and it’ll make much more

sense.”

The Sweets are very excited for fans to check

out their live show. They’ve planned to make

Wild’s release show quite special, with visual art

elements punctuating their performance, and

with an expanded lineup. “At the release, you’ll

hear some of the songs we’ve written well after

the songs on the EP,” they continue.

Since recording, The Sweets have grown from

their usual size to include back-up singers, a keyboardist

and even an organ player. “We’re going

to have eight people on that little, tiny Palomino

stage,” they laugh. They’re also bringing in set design

that incorporates artwork elements from the

EP to further fill the space, but details of that are

being kept secret. “We want to make everything

big and special! It’s not going to be your average

EP release,” they promise.

The Sweets release Wild with The Northern

Coast and The Heirlooms at The Palomino on

November 18th.

30 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


FRED PENNER

not just nostalgic, still opening doors

A

couple of weeks ago, I had my four-year-old niece spend

the weekend at my house, and it was an absolute joy.

However, I was struck by some of the children’s programming

she happened to like. Is it just the cynicism of growing older

and thinking that the programming for the youth of today pales

in comparison to that of my early ‘90s youth? Or is that these

flashy, seemingly nonsensical shows really don’t compare to stuff

like Raffi, Sharon, Lois and Bram and Fred Penner? BeatRoute

caught up with 69-year-old three-time JUNO winner Penner and

discussed that and much more.

“Well, there’s an attitude that a child’s attention span is so limited

that they have to make these really quick hits to catch their

attention… So I guess the answer is no, I don’t think really think

there is enough being done to really give that respect and understanding

of the range of expression that children can appreciate.”

Penner speaks in a thoughtful, articulate manner, recalling

countless memories and feelings from his youth and extensive

history in family programming, weaving it brilliantly into his

responses. It is no question that he was an important, almost

archetypal figure of countless young people’s upbringing, and

with his Order of Canada designation and multiple JUNOs, it’s

clear that he’s recognized as an icon of Canadian culture as well.

When asked what some of his own role models from his youth

growing up in Winnipeg before Saturday cartoons took over and

radio still reigned supreme, Penner responded:

“There was a character, who I’m sure you will not recognize,

called The Great Gildersleeve and he had this beautiful voice

and wonderful style of telling. I remember plugging in my little

earphones and listening to this character share his stories and I

remember the power of that, of listening to a voice taking me on

this journey; so perhaps that set a foundation for my appreciation

for the human voice.”

A long time pet peeve of Penner’s has been the condescending

manner in which many producers of children/family programming

address their young audiences.

“So many entertainers who think they’re going to be working

for children feel that they have to change the way that they talk

or the style to, in a sense, dumb down their phrasing for children

because they’re just smaller than us,” states Penner. “And I just

think that it’s actually quite the opposite, I think the more that

you speak to a child with absolute respect for their ability to understand

you, or to understand the energy that they’re giving to

you, the words may not connect necessarily but it’s the strength

of speaking to another human being in a respectful and grown

up way.”

On his program Fred Penner’s Place, which aired on CBC from

1985 to 1997, he had a mantra he practised for times when he felt

overwhelmed or lost in the technical aspect of filming the show.

His director would simply say to him, “one child,” which reminded

Penner to speak into the camera as if he was simply addressing just

one individual child. Another of his mantras is “never underestimate

your ability to make a difference in the life of a child.” He says

these phrases still constantly hold true in his life.

Penner currently has yet another full-length album, set for

release in spring of 2017, coinciding with Canada’s 150th anniversary.

He still tours regularly, and Penner’s Calgary and Edmonton

shows are 18+ events; he describes them as nostalgic, fun, audience

participation, encouraging all the old “Fred-heads” to come

and get engaged, and relish in a living component of their youth.

Fred Penner performs in Edmonton at The Needle on November 25th,

and in Airdrie for Fred Penner Christmas with Footprints of Learning

Choir (all-ages early show) and at the Palomino in Calgary alongside

Clinton St. John on November 26th .

by Paul Rodgers

Fred Penner is stopping in Alberta for some shows tailored to all ages.

ROCKPILE

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 31


HELLO MOTH

ROSALIND

reborn in the next life by Keeghan Rouleau it takes a village to raise a band

Hello Moth, and welcome back to the spotlight

after three years, as he returns with

Slave in a Stone, his second studio album.

Following Infinitely Repeated, Slave in a Stone

takes inspiration from the passing of life, and the

evolution it represents, rather than the crushing

weight of loss. The result is an emotional mix of

electronic music and chilling vocals; “soulless soul”

as the artist likes to call it.

When asked how death inspires him, Hello

Moth (who prefers to be referred to as his artistic

name) references his necklace, an Egyptian ankh, a

symbol of eternal life which clearly speaks volumes

to him.

“The idea of the afterlife, I love all of that stuff,”

says Moth. “The idea of death being representational,

you know, to take a more mystical

approach. Don’t read too much into my reference

of tarot cards here but, if you get the death card in

tarot, it doesn’t mean death, it means change.”

In the three years since his last album, Hello

Moth has done his fair share of change. While still

keeping the charm he had in his first album, Moth

has created a more saturated sounding album in

terms of emotion.

“It’s the idea that the extremes have been

expanded… Creative asymptote, making the

darkness darker and the light lighter,” he describes

of the growth.

Using his trademark synthesizer, Hello Moth

Hello Moth saturates new release with darker dark and lighter light.

plays us a symphony of new and old - more old in

the case of “The Waters of Babylon.” The song was

originally written by Philip Hayes over 200 years

ago, beautifully brought back to life with Moth’s

rendition.

“That song on the album is kind of the revelation

as to one of the themes that I was thinking

of [with] many instances in my lyrics, and I hadn’t

really realized this until I started figuring out the

track-list. But the lyrics will invoke religion and

violence, and some sort of juxtaposition between

the two.”

In the lead-up to the album’s release, Moth

comments, “Duality and contrast are important

in my songs. I want the music to be both light

and dark when you listen, slow when it’s fast and

alive when it dies. I want every sound, shape and

survival to have silence, colour and instinct. That’s

what recording this album has been about for me

– finding a reason for one piece to exist by linking

it with another.”

If you’re a fan of Hello Moth’s work already, or

just someone looking to hear something truly

unique, Slave in a Stone is an intriguing listen

that will leave you pondering the lyrics while the

catchy rhythms play over and over in your head.

Hello Moth releases Slave in a Stone digitally on

November 4th. He’ll be announcing a release show

shortly.

photo: Kenneth Locke

“A really healthy local scene is like a healthy human body,” says Rosalind.

Rosalind is a band named after a cat, which

was named after Rosalind Franklin. She

was an influential 20th-century scientist

who never got the recognition she deserved

(the scientist, not the cat. Although the cat was

probably influential in her own right). Thanks

to the supportive Calgary community and help

from local arts hot-spot Market Collective,

Rosalind (the band) are deservedly being recognized

for their own talent and potential.

The seeds of the band were sown at a New

Year 2015 jam and the roots grew fast. What

began as a trio of Jesse Shire on banjo, Amanda

Rishaug on mandolin and Mike Goossen on guitar,

has blossomed into a seven-piece indie folk

orchestra in under two years. Since their inception,

Rosalind has developed a diverse resumé,

performing their warm, homegrown music at

Frog Fest, on the Northern Sessions, Shaw TV’s

SoundScape, and with Market Collective.

The latter connection has afforded them an

opportunity to collaborate with other local artists

and develop some creative capital. Market

Collective turns eight this year, and rather than

hosting an event to celebrate, they decided to

launch eight new community-strengthening

initiatives; one of which was the Market Collective

Musician Sponsorship, which Rosalind was

awarded in October.

“We aimed to celebrate every component

that makes Market Collective events so

special. Our live music stage is a highly unique

experience for Calgarians – in that MC offers

paid gigs and visible promotion to over 100

bands and DJs each year and has remained

one of the most consistent all-ages venues in

the city.”

Market Collective’s music director Brendan

Kane explains, “We love the element of music and

local talent at our events. As a thank you, we held

by Andrea Hunter

photo: Naomi Brierley

a contest for local musicians offering a chance to

work with our production team.”

Rosalind will be making a music video with

Kane, recording a song with the help of Ben

Nixon, and doing a photo shoot with Mike Tan. As

Shire puts it, “They’re using what resources they

have: people, facilities, and using it in such a good

way. We really appreciate the opportunity.”

Ben Longman, cellist for Rosalind, continues,

“That’s something Calgary is very good at… A

really healthy local scene is like a healthy human

body. You get out what you put into it. So by

grabbing all these people together….by cultivating

that kind of crowd and audience, they’re ensuring

they have the ability to be a beacon of awesome

Calgary creativity. That’s something that doesn’t

happen everywhere.”

All of Rosalind’s members recognize the importance

of community in fostering a band’s success.

The band would not be where it is today without

the support of everyone, from house concert

hosts to local television stations dedicated to

promoting the local arts. They are forever grateful

for the opportunities they’ve been afforded. Says

Shire, “It’s a huge leg up for us, and we’re super

grateful. Market Collective is such a recognized

name around the city that having us attached to

them, it really does mean a lot to us.”

And their advice for new artists and bands is to

immerse yourself in the creative community. “Be

involved,” Longman says, “what you’re doing will

fluctuate, but you’ve got to connect to the scene

and make sure you’re listening to what’s happening

around you to improve what you’ve got.”

While we wait to see what magic is created

through the sponsorship, keep an eye out for

live releases of Rosalind on Northern Sessions in

November, as well as their feature on SoundScape

later in 2016.

32 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


DRAGONETTE

keeping things interesting and emotionally real for their fourth LP

is the only thing I’ve considered doing, I’ve always

sung. It’s lucky that it worked out,” Martina Sorbara reflects

“[Singing]

on the blast-off career she has shared with Dan Kurtz and

Joel Stouffer as Canadian three-piece electro-pop/indie band Dragonette.

Royal Blues is their fourth LP, and perhaps the biggest departure from

Dragonette’s norm. The beautiful, large pixelated tears adorning Sorbara’s

face on the album cover is no small hint of some emotional themes. In

Sorbara’s words, these “came from life experience. The only way I write is

from what’s happening and what was happening was some pretty hard

times. My emotional self lives inside and the only way it really comes out

is songwriting.”

With the attention-deficit trend of music, the preference of singles

and other channels of releasing music over full length albums within the

electronic world, I asked about Sorbara’s relationship with the mediums

of releasing music, to which she replied, “There is the question of what

is the point of waiting until you have ten songs to release a full-length. I

think Dragonette is a little bit outside of that world. We’ve written such

a range of music on our albums, I think what our fans appreciate about

us is our quirky album tracks and the weird left field shit that comes up

on the album, and that’s important to us. The way we identify who we

are is by that range I don’t think we’d be the same band, or interesting to

ourselves.”

Amidst the personal difficulties facing Dragonette, the phoenix of the

tribulation is Royal Blues. The process changed, but the bouncy beats enjoyed

by electronic and instrumental lovers alike are firmly in place within

the album. “The process of writing [this] record included more songwriting

with others. Collaborating was something I hadn’t done a lot of before.

I spent a lot of time travelling writing with basically strangers. Before it

was more of a home studio writing process with [Kurtz]. The music this

time wasn’t specific for Dragonette, I wanted to see what came out of it.”

Dragonette play the Pyramid Cabaret in Winnipeg on November 16th, Louis’

Pub in Saskatoon on November 17th, the Starlite Room in Edmonton on

November 18th, the Gateway in Calgary on November 19th, the Sapphie in

Kelowna on November 22nd, the Imperial Theatre in Vancouver on November

23rd and Sugar Nightclub in Victoria on November 24th.

Dragonette remain a bit of an enigma in the fast-paced world of electronic music.

by Erin Jardine

ELEPHANT STONE

liquid light and swirling sitars

ROCKPILE

Rishi Dhir, the inspiration behind Montreal’s

Elephant Stone (ES), is a dedicated follower

of fashion draped in psychedelia. Since

the band’s inception in 2009, Dhir has steadily

travelled down the trippy, tranquil, mystical road

of pop paved by those crazy mop-tops once they

ditched the suit and ties and picked up the sitar.

But it certainly isn’t all a Beatlesque branding of

nostalgia. In addition to the psych connection, there’s

a lot of other stuff ringing inside their songs — The

Kinks, Byrds, surf, disco — lots of styles and instruments

that push pop in different direction. It’s far too

limiting to classify simply them as a “psych” band.

“I love a lot of different styles of music, always

have,” says Dhir revealing his interests. “As a

teenage boy, I had one foot in the grunge-Britpop

scene and the other in the ‘70s disco-ABBA

world. I’m always looking for new music to get

excited about and, subconsciously, the music gets

absorbed into Elephant Stone.”

He adds that as the sound of ES evolves and

expands, along with his song writing, he retains a

“singular voice” that gives the band its identity. “I

make music that I want to hear, whether it be a collection

of Big Star power poppers, Hindustani raga,

dirgey psych-rock, four-on-the-floor disco, no matter

how I package the songs, they will always sound like

Elephant Stone.”

by B. Simm

Always keen to explore new horizons, Dhir say he’s

“intrigued by the possibilities of electronic music.”

Drenching themselves in a kaleidoscope of colour

and sound lends to stage sets that are visually

appealing with an assortment of low-tech props, projections

and liquid light shows. Dihr acknowledges

dressing thing up, but quickly dispels any notion that

it’s gimmicky. “I feel our stage presence and show is

dynamic enough that we do not need to hide behind

fog machines. People want to feel, hear and see the

sitar,” he contends rather joyfully.

Following the quest for greater harmony, internal

Zen and l-o-v-e, ES isn’t just a celebration of ‘60s

psych as an art form. The songs on their latest release

Ship of Fools (Sept. 2016) question and challenge

the motives of the corrupt and those that mislead.

There’s a subtle protest, a confrontation underneath

the swirling melody.

“Well,” says Dihr, “I am a citizen of the world. I am

not immune or blind to all the injustices that I see.

Elephant Stone is the medium in which I can voice

my opinion and views. In some ways, it’s the ultimate

form of propaganda… preaching peace, love, understanding

to a backbeat.”

Elephant Stone bring their love-in to the Aviary in

Edmonton on Thursday, Nov. 10 and the Palomino in

Calgary on Friday, Nov. 11.

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 33


COMING TO TOWN

DESTROYER

You don’t actually need a

pitch to convince you to go

see Destroyer, do you? Dan

Bejar is one of Canada’s most

important contemporary

songwriters with a back

catalogue of nearly 30 releases

(as Destroyer and as part of

The New Pornographers, Swan

Lake, et al). His dizzying lyrics

circle through grand scale

romance and adventure that

are as at home in a back alley

of the fifth arrondissement as

they are in an immaculate theatre.

Tickets are long sold out

for his solo show at Festival

Hall on November 12th: head

to Kijiji post-haste.

CALGARY BEAT

Nicole McDonal of Not Enough Fest Edmonton will lead a workshop on Noise at Femme Wave.

ANIMALS AS LEADERS

Not everyone is into progressive

metal, let alone its spin-off genre

“dejent” (an onomatopoeia for the

distinctive high-gain, distorted,

palm-muted, low-pitch guitar sound,

according to Wikipedia), but Animals

as Leaders certainly aren’t letting that

stop them from making ingeniously

experimental, instrumental music.

They’ll be playing on Friday, November

18th at the MacEwan Ballroom

in celebration of their brand new

album The Madness of Many, one of

the standout records in this month’s

reviews section.

HANNAH EPPERSON

Think you’ve been-there-donethat

on live-looped violin music?

Meet Hannah Epperson. Using

plucked, bowed and otherwise

manipulate string sounds, a

massive yet intimate voice and

a Lorde-reminiscent clatter of

minimal electronics, Epperson

intersects personal moments with

big melody and conceptualization.

Epperson plays Nite Owl on November

16th alongside Toronto’s

Omhouse, in support of her debut

album Upsweep.

LOWELL

Inventive vocalist and former Calgarian

Lowell will be stopping back in town on

November 19th at The Gateway alongside

Dragonette. Summer’s Pt 1: PARIS

YK EP showed the world a voice that

works as powerfully singing big choruses

as it does as a sound-sculpting instrument.

With help from producer Zale

Epstein (Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q),

Lowell has one of the most interesting

rhythm-driven pop releases on her side.

This one is sure to be a dance party.

• Colin Gallant

The Calgary Beat Column returns just in

time for winter to take hold of us with

its iron grasp. My favourite season of

pumpkins and costumes turns to colder days

with less colour, and it’s kind of the perfect

time to settle down and work on projects or

learn new things, and this month has plenty

in store in that respect.

I’m sure there’s a chance people are a

bit partied out after roughly two weeks of

Halloween bashes, but if you’re still craving

a little extra costumed capering, Le Cirque

de la Nuit is hosting a Dia de Los Muertos

(Day of the Dead) party on November 4th

at Marquee. There will be spooky roaming

characters and circus performers galore to

delight all the senses.

If you are looking to spark your creative

flair, head to Paint Nite on Sundays at 7:00

p.m. in Kensington for a little wine-infused

art making! These events are led by artist

Caitlynne Medrek through November, follow

a different theme each week, and take place

in the beautifully retro-classic PRLR Lounge.

It’s best to pre-register (paintnite.com) to

reserve a spot.

November 10th, Calgary Communities

Against Sexual Abuse bring us a Men in

Feminism discussion and panel at the Women’s

Resource Centre in U of C. This aims to

bring light to the ways masculinity is shaped

through media and how this affects all of us.

It’s definitely a healthy dialogue that needs to

become more commonplace.

On November 12th, Major Minor brings us

photo courtesy NEF Edmonton

the first edition of Punk Rock Bowling at Paradise

Lanes. This edition features Miesha and

the Spanks, Streetlight Saints, River Jacks,

and Class Action and is an all-ages event.

Then, on November 16th, Rockin 4 Dollar$

at Broken City brings us a special edition

night featuring Calgary Bands as Calgary

bands. This could get pretty hilarious, so sign

up now if you are an artist/band who wants

to play as another local act.

Femme Wave fest comes to us on the

17-20th and in addition to great music,

the festival is also presenting a ton of fun,

by-donation workshops on Sunday the 20th.

These workshops include a hip-hop lyricism

session, a sword fighting class, and finger

weaving and astrology workshops. For the

full details, read our cover stories and head

to femmewave.com.

And finally, another important info session

takes place at Emmedia on November 24th.

Spirit of Truth Productions has organized

a Fentanyl Awareness and Narcan Training

Session. If you go to shows or are at all

involved in the party scene, this info session

is very important. Unfortunately, fentanyl has

had an insidious impact in a lot of scenes,

and learning about it and how to reduce

harm is essentially the best weapon we have.

Register now to reserve a spot. The session

will teach participants how to use a Narcan

kit to respond to overdoses, and will offer

a ton of helpful info on the subject. Harm

reduction saves lives!

• Willow Grier

34 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


EDMONTON EXTRA

THE JAMES T. KIRKS

revving the Iron Horse

The starting line for the James T. Kirks was

inauspicious. The band booked their first

show at the now-long gone Punk ‘n’ Junk

record shop, but they weren’t able to play it. Their

drummer had just been grounded. The road that

travels between that time (199x) and now for the

James T. Kirks is longer than a continental Mexican

road race. Luckily, holding the band together while

hurling forward and staying on track is made

easier when you have the steady hand of a trained

mechanic handling the engine.

Ted Wright, guitarist for the Kirks, runs an

automotive repair shop in Edmonton. He and the

rest of the Kirks crew, brother Rob Wright and

original drummer Silas Grenis, spent their earlier

years rehearsing in a tire shop’s storage garage. The

group is well versed in how to keep all their wheels

spinning in the same direction. After roughly 20

years of shows, a string of other projects, and the

perpetual tease of an unreleased full-length, the

present day James T. Kirks are set to release a new

7” titled Tales of the Iron Horse. Given Wright’s

propensity for hot rod cars and fast guitars, it’s

recklessly clear why the new 7” takes its inspiration

from the story of a legendary race car, El Caballo

de Hierro (Iron Horse in English) and bolts it to the

chassis of the Kirks’ signature surf-punk sound.

Surf rock is a genre better known for single word

shouts rather than lyrical verbosity so the band enlisted

Trevor Sieben to illustrate the narrative tale

of the El Caballo de Hierro in the form of a comic

book that accompanies the record. The tale of El

Caballo de Hierro is the kind of unconventional

underdog story that draws a grin across the face of

anyone with even a hint of outlaw romanticism.

AK Miller was an American mechanic and race

car driver through the first half of the last century

who was happy to drive anything available:

derelict or well-designed. When the Mexican

government created a road race to commemorate

the completion of the border-to-border Panamerican

highway, Miller entered the 2,000-mile

race in an Oldsmobile sedan. The sedan gave way

halfway through leaving Miller’s first attempt

by Levi Manchak

at the race unfinished. Determined to return,

Miller then cobbled together a crew of backyard

mechanics who, with Miller, designed their own

Frankenstein by putting together a hot rod using

parts from all different kinds of cars. Lacking any

substantial sponsorship, the team drove the car

through Mexico to the starting point of the big

race themselves, completing it this time with an

eighth place finish. Upon return the following

year, and after a few more tweaks to El Cabillo

de Hierro/The Iron Horse, the ramshackle racing

team lead by Miller finished fifth in their class –

only behind four Ferraris. Even underdogs have

sharp teeth.

An obvious gear head himself, Wright is no

stranger to the art of building his own Frankenstein.

His guitar rig is a collection of “weird old

amps and weird old guitars” (including a Japanese

copy of a Gibson ES-175d, given to Wright by

BeatRoute publisher Brad Simm) that he uses to

steer his fast, flat-picked surf riffs, defining the

sound of Tales of the Iron Horse. While the current

finish line for the band is the release of the 7” and

comic book, the James T. Kirks have never been in

it for the short haul. With 20 years as a band in the

rear view mirror, the race they are built for is a long

distance rally.

Copies of the 7” will be available in independent record

stores in Edmonton and Calgary following their release

shows Nov. 18th at Brixx in Edmonton and Nov. 19th

at the Palomino in Calgary.

DAYDREAMING

no wave group comes alive on first full-length album

In a time when super productivity seems unreasonably

prized, it’s refreshing to see a band do

things in their own time. Edmonton’s Daydreaming

released their first EP, Dazed, before ever having

played a show.

Taking their time in between releases to focus on

school and other projects, they simply did not rush

into any part of the musical process. The no wave

four-piece has done some shows and a small tour but

seem quite relaxed in their attitude toward creating

their art.

ROCKPILE

Almost two-and-a-half years later, they’re now

poised to unleash their first self-titled LP and it

appears they’ve learned a lot along the way. Coming

from several other bands around the Edmonton

scene like Tuques, Weird Year, Feed Dogs, Begrime

Exemious, the band combines several skill sets to

birth the hollowed-out, droning post-punk sound

they’re growing into.

Originally, it was guitarist/vocalist Durell Smith

who began the band inadvertently by showing his

friends a few guitar riffs in his basement. With a

shared love of Sonic Youth and the no wave movement,

combining to form Daydreaming was a refreshing

and fun way of exploring this particular style.

A few line up changes later, they’ve cemented their

formula for their post punk explorations with the

help of bassist/vocalist Alana Taylor, drummer Derek

Orthner and guitarist Matthew Lecky.

Taylor sat down with BeatRoute over breakfast to

talk more about their upcoming release and what it’s

really like to be a girl in a band of dudes.

BeatRoute: In listening to the new recording,

one of my first thoughts was: Alana must

really like Sonic Youth.

Alana Taylor: [laughs] It’s the only vocal range I can

get away with.

BR: So how does this new recording compare

to the first tape?

AT: It was really the first time Durell and I had sung

in bands and we both weren’t really sure what to do

with the recording. We did it in Durell’s basement

with Derek mixing and mastering it. So the first tape

was pretty amateur. This time we did separate instrument

tracking and I knew a bit more about what

my vocal range would be. This time we challenged

ourselves to come up with better and more complicated

riffs and I challenged myself with my lyric

writing and vocals as well. I don’t think we knew what

kind of sound we were going for yet, so this is a better

example of what we want to sound like.

by Brittany Rudyck

BR: What have you guys been up to since the

first tape, and besides this new recording?

AT: We did a small tour last year and went to Saskatoon,

Regina and Winnipeg. There’re quite vibrant

scenes in those cities. Winnipeg was the only kind of

weird one. They seem to have more of a metal scene

and we’re not quite metal. We played with a metal

band there and I remember distinctly singing into the

microphone and this girl in the background wasn’t

looking so impressed. It reminded me why it’s hard to

be a girl in a metal scene sometimes.

BR: Why is it hard to be a girl in a metal

scene?

AT: It was worse when I was playing in Vitriolage with

Derek and my friend Jaylene. So many dudes would

come up to us and ask if our boyfriends had taught

us how to play or that we’re so good for girls; a lot of

that stuff. It felt like a lot of the time we were being

patronized or tokenized. The scene Daydreaming is

part of now seems more inclusive. We love playing

with Rhythm of Cruelty and other strong female

bands. These people seem to know which kind of

language to use to make the scene more inclusive.

Catch Daydreaming at their tape release show in

Edmonton on November 12th at the Panch Haus with

TEETH and Pike.

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 35


BOOK OF BRIDGE

LEEROY STAGGER

reflecting on Peak Performance Project one year later

“I Leeroy Stagger explains. Winning last year’s

always figured that in this business you just

have one shot and I had already blown it,”

Peak Performance Project earned him a $100,953 pay

cheque, and gave him a second chance to revitalize

his musical career. You could hardly blame him if he’d

spent the money foolishly. Instead, one year later,

things look brighter than ever.

“I feel like now my career is having a resurgence

and this time I’m able to deliver the goods,” Stagger

says. In addition to the pressure of his big victory, his

second son was born shortly thereafter. Like an iron

forged in flame, Stagger used these forces to focus on

the next step and built a beautiful new studio on the

back of his house.

“It was really born of this idea of not wanting to be

on the road quite as much and I was going through

a bit of an identity crisis where my career had stalled

out,” Stagger says. “I had a great little studio before,

but when Ewan came along it was obvious we needed

the extra space.”

We snake our way through the kitchen, down the

stairs, through the hall and finally exit the house into

the studio – the two connected by a thin portal.

It’s clear that Stagger has made the most of his little

space, explaining that the studio is actually bigger

than the house.

The past few years had seen Stagger shift more

towards a production and engineering role, and his

Peak Performance win allowed this transition to ramp

up, enabling construction of the new studio this past

spring. Of course, he’s still a performer at heart, and was

in there to record his upcoming album the day after

construction was completed.

“I almost didn’t do it.” Leeroy Stagger talks opportunity and gratitude.

by Tyler Stewart

“We were really crossing our fingers,” Stagger says.

“Two days before the band showed up we were still

wiring the studio, but it all came together.”

A new recording contract with True North

Records will see his upcoming album released next

spring, with Stagger pushing his sound into new

directions. Featuring producer Colin Stewart at

the helm, sonic boundaries were broken, giving the

album a different, though familiar edge. “It sounds

like a Leeroy Stagger album, but not like anything

I’ve released before,” he says.

Now that the Peak Performance Project has been

reshaped into Project Wild, focusing on only country

music after the sponsoring radio station changed formats,

this opportunity is more limited than before.

As artist development opportunities keeps shrinking,

will the next generation of Alberta musicians get

the same chance Stagger has? Being a long-term

music industry veteran, he certainly doesn’t take this

second chance for granted.

“It’s really a drop in the bucket in terms of what I’ve

invested in my career over the years, but it just changed

my perspective on things,” Stagger reflects. “It gave me

some validation after 15 years of slugging it out, sleeping

on couches and playing to empty rooms.”

Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks. In

Stagger’s case, he’s certainly bucked the trend of that

worn-out cliché.

“I almost didn’t do it,” Stagger laughs. “I thought I’d

be the old man in the group.”

Leeroy Stagger is on tour in Alberta and BC for pretty

much all of November. Head to leeroystagger.com to find

the date nearest you.

photo: David Guenther

FOX EYES

not your traditional drum and dance

Fox Eyes use the love of music to bridge community gaps.

After a six-month hiatus from the scene,

Fox Eyes are back with their fierce, raw

sound, ready to play old favourites

(check out “The Saltiness,” it’s always a request

at shows) along with new songs.

“I’ve been writing like crazy,” says sultry vocalist

and guitarist Amanda Fox. “And I know

Tico has numerous riffs in his head he just

wants to get out there.”

“There’s a few people in the scene who have

been really good to us, they’re playing a show and

they always invite us to come play,” says Fox.

“We’ve met a lot of really nice people,” says Tico

Iron Shirt, lead guitarist for Fox Eyes.

However, it took a little while for Lethbridge to

see past skin colour and recognize Fox Eyes for the

musicians they are.

“It was really strange when we first starting

getting out there, playing open jams,” says Fox.

“People would come up to us and say, ‘Are you

playing Native music?’ Like traditional drumming.

We’d be like, ‘No. We’re going to play some metal.’”

All four members of Fox Eyes are First Nations

people. Fox and Iron Shirt are Blackfoot, from the

Blood Reserve, located 10km west of Lethbridge.

Recently, Fox participated in the public art project

Perceptions: Lethbridge by artist KC Adams, a

powerful photography series intended to open up

conversation about racism.

Adams juxtaposed two pictures of her

models: one where they appear angry or sad,

with a racist slur, and another of them expressing

joy, with their name and a description of

who they really are.

“You had to write what you think people think

of you, what you’ve experienced through racism.

And then you have to write about who you are,”

says Fox. “She would talk to you, she would make

you angry by saying mean things to you. So those

aren’t fake angry faces you see.”

The images were then displayed on public

advertising spaces throughout the city during

September.

“Do I really want to do that, put myself out

by Courtney Faulkner

photo: Vanessa Eagle Bear

there?” says Fox. “It’s almost like a vulnerable

feeling. It’s there, the racism’s there, I’m looked

at anyways, so what’s the difference if my face is

being put up on a billboard?”

It’s no longer socially acceptable to be racist, so

while the act is often not overt, it’s still there, it’s

now just more subtle.

“It hasn’t been totally towards us,” says Iron

Shirt. “But there’s always that feeling, you know?”

“It’s indirect,” says Fox. “It’s a hard thing to

explain.”

“Some people just haven’t known about aboriginal

people in Canada and what happened to

them,” says Iron Shirt. “They don’t know about residential

schools, they don’t know about kids being

taken away... it’s just not common information.”

“It’s a big part of history that effects everyone

here,” says Fox.

“This is Blackfoot land,” says Fox. “Within the

music scene, being a part of Lethbridge is being a

part of the reserve. We’re all a community together.

There should be no separation. We should be

all one community.”

“Racism comes from fear, and how do you deal

with fear? Well you’ve got to break down that fear.

And how do you do that? It’s the unknown that

you’re afraid of,” says artist KC Adams. “[We need]

more opportunities where you have indigenous

and non-indigenous people coming together.”

“It’s for the love of music, right?” says Iron Shirt.

“Overall we just do it for the fun, it’s something we

like to do.”

“It just becomes a part of you,” says Fox. “And

that’s who you are, and you accomplish so much

in it. It feels good to play onstage, it feels good to

perform.”

“I think that’s another connection you make

with people in the music scene,” says Fox. “You

don’t know why you keep doing it – you just do it

‘cause you love it. That’s the same feeling throughout.

And that brings the music scene together.”

Keep up with Fox Eyes on Bandcamp and Facebook

for info about shows and releases.

36 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


letters from winnipeg

SWEET ALIBI

from darkness to light

Roots darlings Sweet Alibi.

It’s been a few years since Sweet Alibi’s third album, Walking in the

Dark, was written, but the album’s weight is still felt among its

members.

The record chronicles a dark and tumultuous period in the lives of

lead vocalists Amber Rose and Jess Rae Ayre, including the death of

Rose’s mother to cancer, and Ayre’s journey towards sobriety.

For Rose, it’s still difficult to perform some of the songs on the album,

particularly the heart-wrenching title track dedicated to her mom.

“I kind of just go away to a place,” says Rose. “I try to look at the audience

and picture one of them in a similar situation as my mom. I always

pretend she’s in the crowd and I’m telling her story. That makes it a little

bit easier, but it’s always really hard.”

photo: Jen Squires

As for Ayre’s own struggles with addiction—captured on the

track “Middle Ground”—it’s been a time for healing and self-discovery.

“I quit drinking four years ago, so there’s been constant

learning curves, learning how to live your life without alcohol in

it,” she says.

“I had a few turning points,” Ayre continues. “You know when people

say they had a wake-up call? I feel like I had a few…I think it was

after one of our first tours. We were out after every show, and I was

drinking quite a bit. After we got home, I just kept the party going,

although there was no party around. It was just me. It got very lonely,

and it wasn’t me anymore.”

Despite the album’s heavier content, there’s a bright hopefulness in

by Julijana Capone

tracks, like “Keep Showing You,” or the sultry fan-favourite, “Bodacious,”

about a famous rodeo bull.

Known for their rich multi-part harmonies and pop-infused take on

roots, the Winnipeg group are currently on the road with singer-songwriter

Jadea Kelly, with whom they share a manager.

With the added talents of vocalist Michelle Anderson (also on

banjo and guitar), Sweet Alibi are among a growing list of Winnipeg

groups (hear: Chic Gamine, The Bros. Landreth, The Small

Glories, etc.) whose expert harmonies and timeless soul continue

to draw eyes and ears to the ‘Heart of the Continent,’ and beg

the ongoing question, “What’s up with Winnipeg’s extraordinary

talent pool?”

“We were just talking about this yesterday,” says Rose. “The community

is just so strong. Everyone is so supportive, there are so many venues,

and so many options for a young band to break out into Winnipeg…

and, of course, there’s so many touring musicians, so there’s lots of help

to break out into the touring world.”

Walking in the Dark, produced by Murray Pulver (also the producer

of The Bros. Landreth’s JUNO Award-winning album, Let It Lie) recently

earned the band a Western Canadian Music Award nomination in the

Roots Duo/Group category, and things continue to look up for the trio.

“The band is doing really good,” says Rose. “We’ve been getting a lot

of traction with the new album. People are really supportive. Jessica has

been really healthy; everyone has been really healthy. We really can’t ask

for more.”

Sweet Alibi perform at the West End Cultural Centre on October 30

(Winnipeg), The Bassment on November 3 (Saskatoon), Festival Hall on

November 4 (Calgary), The Aviary on November 5 (Edmonton), Rogue

Folk Club at St. James Hall on November 10 (Vancouver) and Upstairs

Lounge on November 12 (Victoria). For more information, head to

sweetalibi.com

MOON TAN

headbang the galaxy

by Julijana Capone

Dyer. “We decided for functionality purposes,

we’d discontinue that for the moment.”

The trio have been touring steadily across Canada

over the last few years, recently completing

a tour in support of their new 7-inch, which will

be followed by an official album release party in

Winnipeg in November.

“We’re seeing more people coming out to

shows, and the response has been just awesome,

mind-blowing,” says Dyer of the band’s growing

Canadian fan base. “It kind of threw me off a bit

in Ottawa, I was looking at a guy in the audience

and he was singing everything word for word.”

Interestingly, the group initially had cover band

aspirations, but figured originals were the way to

go. Still, the band doesn’t shy away from throwing

a few Rush covers into their live set. “We’ll also

thrown in a Zeppelin cover here and there, or

we recently started doing ‘Cult of Personality’ by

Living Colour,” he says.

“I’m pretty amazed by our fans,” Dyer adds.

“After every show, we always have people coming

up to us saying, ‘Wow! You’re pretty awesome.

You got something really good going here.’ It’s

that stuff that really keeps us going.”

Self-proclaimed purveyors of “intergalactic

space freak rock,” Winnipeg power trio

Moon Tan are a rock band not from this

time, perhaps not even from this universe.

The group, consisting of Adrian Dyer (lead

vocals/bass), Brady Mitchell (guitar), and Nick

Knock (drums), perform in makeup with moon

motifs and stage outfits that channel a plethora

of heavy ‘70s-rock ‘n’ rollers—a pinch of Alice

Cooper theatrics, and some Led Zeppelin hippie-rock

style. Then add in the multi-octave howl

of Rush’s Geddy Lee with a little red-hot funk.

“We all come from different musical backgrounds,”

says Dyer on the road from Montreal.

“When we came together to write songs, we

almost mixed them like a melting pot of influences.”

On their third release and latest 7-inchThe

Faceless Knight, the band flexes their technical

prowess and anti-genre fusion of prog-rock, metal

and funk atop Dyer’s high-pitched wails.

“It’s been a pretty wild ride, because I wasn’t

always a vocalist,” says Dyer. “We were looking for

a singer for a really long time, and I just decided

to teach myself.”

How did he do that? Through the Ken Tamplin

Vocal Academy, an online tutorial. “I just kind

of took that and ran with it and my range just

exploded,” he says. “I think it’s four octaves now.

It takes a lot of breath support, especially when

Winnipeg power trio Moon Tan.

you’re rocking out pretty hard. It’s quite the

workout.”

When it comes to their tunes, their live

shows—and their bellbottoms—it’s clear the guys

go all in. “Our bellbottoms were custom-made by

a tailor and we design our own costumes,” says

Dyer. “It all sprouted off from the desire to deliver

hoto: zyphotographics.com

a top-notch performance…we want to give people

their money’s worth.”

Their aesthetic desires have even, at times,

come with some risks. They’ve since stopped

wearing their signature moon goggles as they became

too much of a hazard on stage. “Because of

a design flaw, they would fog up pretty bad,” says

Moon Tan perform at The Park Theatre on

November 23 in Winnipeg. For more information

and to purchase Moon Tan’s new 7-inch, head to

moontan.net.

ROCKPILE

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 37


JUCY

ISIS GRAHAM

from DIY culture to professional industry

For a long time, there has been a feeling

that something big is happening in Alberta’s

electronic music scene. Whether it’s

smaller residencies throughout the province,

the massive success of PK Sound, or huge

events put on in Edmonton’s Shaw Conference

Centre and Calgary’s BMO Centre, there’s

always some buzz about Alberta’s electronic

movement.

Isis Graham, co-founder of Calgary-based

Substation Recordings, has been seeing this for

a long time. She teamed up with Edmonton’s

Andrew Williams and Lethbridge’s Matt Carter

to introduce the first ever Alberta Electronic

Music Conference (AEMCON). Unlike some

of the events put on in Alberta, this one is

geared towards not just the music but also the

multi-facets that make up successful individuals

and communities within a music scene. Graham

has been involved in Calgary’s electronic music

scene for over 20 years and, along with her

counterparts, felt it was time to incept a conference

to help progress the growth of Alberta’s

electronic music scene as a whole.

“The conference, for us, is more focusing on

the professionalization of our industry,” Graham

explains. She speaks in terms of the production,

networking, and business aspects of the music

industry. Graham hopes that through AEMCON,

she can help elicit some of the foundations

First ever AEMCOM gets nothing but “yes.”

needed to build a thriving music scene.

She added: “In Alberta, one of the things we

lack is the professional side of the business. We

don’t have a lot of music lawyers, publishers,

or booking agents. A lot of the Alberta scene

is really DIY, which is amazing, but at some

point, once we have enough people seeking out

professional services, it’s going to require some

by Jay King

people to start creating these things.”

With contributors such as PK Sound’s VP of

touring and production Arlen Cormack and

founder/CTO of hardware development company

iConnectivity, the evidence of enthusiast

involvement from various forums is apparent.

“AEMCON is done on a full ‘yes’ platform.

There was nothing that we asked for that

anyone said ‘no’ to. That says a lot to me about

where Alberta in general is at,” Graham notes.

With everything from intro to video mapping,

mixing and mastering workshops, a social media

panel, a marketing panel, a record label forum,

to an equipment swap, there is a plethora of

knowledge and outlets available to attendants

seeking a path in the industry. Graham hopes to

provide the stepping-stones for them.

“We’re just hoping to create a catalyst to get

them to take that next step and get them engaged

with each other. The idea is to give them

access points to the people that are interested

in this music. It’ll also just showcase that electronic

music is a valid form of art and it needs

to be recognized as something legitimate…

and that there’s a huge mass of people that are

interested in it.”

AEMCON takes place from November 11-13 in

Edmonton visit www.albertaelctronicmusic.com for

full details.

GREAZUS

ready to drop beats and knowledge onto AEMCON attendees

Along with a weekend chock full of priceless info from some of the best in the local market,

there is also going to be a couple of nightcaps for everyone to unwind to. After all, the

real reason why the AEMCON is able to operate is because of the music. BeatRoute got a

chance to chat with Vancouver’s Severine Erickson and Patrik Cure (together: Greazus) and find

out some of their initial impressions leading up to the first AEMCON.

“One of our good friends and collaborators/photographers, Michael Benz, got us on board. Also

Dean ‘Phatcat’ Musani helped put together some shows in other cities to celebrate the appearance,”

they explained. The duo will be apart of a panel discussion called “The Past, Present, and

Future of Bass Music.”

When asked what that discussion might entail, Cure says, “This is something we will be working

with John Rolodex. Both of us feel like we are pretty vetted in this area, so we plan on basically

sharing our experiences.”

“Like most things in our life we excel when being spontaneous,” adds Erickson.

This spontaneity is exactly what AEMCON is about. Being that it came together in less than

eight months, quick decision-making that comes from the heart is the underlying factor in much

of the success of these artists.

“Music is something you do for love; it shouldn’t feel like work. That said it does require so

much of your soul to keep the fire burning. We have worked, quite literally, non-stop since forming

Greazus. I believe that has helped us bypass some of the more awkward phases in building a music

career. Phases that we certainly encountered in our solo projects,” Erickson, formerly known as

HxdB, explains.

The two have worked with a myriad of artists like Detroit’s Sinistarr, who currently resides in

Calgary due to its tight-knit community. “In Alberta you can see just how rapidly things have been

building musically in recent years. You can sense the huge momentum and you’re starting to see

more and more world class acts coming out of Alberta,” says Erickson.

Greazus hopes to share their experience and provide hope to struggling, but motivated, people

trying to make it in the industry. Cure points out, “We are just regular dudes that built this all on

our own… with absolutely no financial backing. If we can do it, anyone can!”

Both Greazus’ appearance at the Past, Present, and Future of Bass Music and performance at 9910 in

Edmonton take place on November 12th.

JUCY

by Jay King

Greazus reflect on the climate of their industry and offer encouragement with AEMCON appearances.

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 39


KEYS N KRATES

stopping in for Commonwealth’s 5th Anniversary

Keys N Krates endlessly refine their recipe.

Hey, aspiring laptop DJs: Keys N Krates’ Jr. Flo has some bad

news. “These days it’s not so much about party-rocking

one-man shows; people want a live act, something with

complexity. They want a performance.”

For those of you familiar with Flo and co.’s shows, those words

are hardly surprising or out-of-character. The Canadian live

electronic trio has been around since 2008, pushing a sound that,

while perhaps a bit out-there back then, today finds itself getting

a little bit crowded.

Following in the footsteps of pioneers like Kraftwerk, and

joining the ranks of trailblazers like Tame Impala and Caribou –

while buttressed by a light seasoning of bass music from the likes

of Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, and Machinedrum – Keys N Krates

found their niche in the trap explosion of the early 2010s.

Turntablist Jr. Flo, real name Greg Dawson, joined forces with

drummer Adam Tune and keyboardist David Matisse. After five

years of extensive studio time and two refined, well-produced

EPs, Blackout and Lucid Dreams, they struck gold with their

seminal SOLOW EP. Featuring trap anthems “Treat Me Right’” and

“Dum Dee Dum,” as well as trap time capsule “I Just Can’t Deny,”

by Max Foley

the immense popularity of this latest release spurred what Dawson

describes as “endless touring.” From this author’s personal

experience, having seen KNK on three separate occasions in the

span of a year or so, that’s no word of a lie.

“We’re always working on our production and our live show.

We haven’t really stopped touring to be honest,” Dawson explains

earnestly. “We’re our own entity; we’re trying to hone in on that

‘live act’ feeling that people are looking for.”

Four or five years ago, pitching ‘a live trap show’ to organizers

would get you laughed out of the room. But the talented trio

pulled it off, and the results speak for themselves.

Keys N Krates are a festival fixture, wowing at massive events

like Pemberton and Northern Lights. Their single with English

artist Katy B, “Save Me,” secured them a nomination for this year’s

JUNOs. Their tracks have been remixed by a laundry list of icons:

Machinedrum, Chris Lorenzo, TNGHT, just to name a few.

So, then, where is left for them to go? One might assume

there’s some pressure to continue pushing the envelope. Yet

when posed that very question, Dawson wasn’t fazed in the least.

“We’re just gonna keep refining the live experience. We’ve also

been spending some time in the studio with GANZ and Grandtheft.

[There’s] no telling if those collaborations will see the light

of day, but know that we’re back in the studio working on another

album,” Dawson explains.

“Come see our show!” he adds cheekily. The genuine excitement

in his voice is palpable. And for the uninitiated, now’s your

chance to catch these guys in the flesh.

Keys N Krates perform at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver

on November 10th, at Union Hall in Edmonton on November 12th,

at Commonwealth in Calgary (as part of their five-year anniversary

series) and at Hoodoo Lounge in Banff on November 14th.

40 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE JUCY


LET’S GET JUCY!

Back once again with the ill November! Hope

you all had a rave-filled Halloween and still

have some life in you for this next month,

because it is looking absolutely rife with stellar

programming. Let’s have a gander shall we?

Substation Records present two of the hottest

names in the new school of house at the Hifi on

November 3rd: Billy Kenny and Maximono. Both

of these producers seem to have an endless well of

fire from which to draw tracks from, so don’t miss

this one.

Also on the 3rd, Come Correct are back at

Habitat with Flow, a night of “intelligent drum and

bass” with an all-star cast of locals spinning the best

in liquid D’N’B all night long.

On the 5th at Marquee, none other than Method

Man and Redman are back in town and I think

they hardly need an introduction. Get ‘em!

If you feel like a winter excursion, there’s no

better excuse than Skiitour in Banff at Wild Bill’s on

November 9th.

Dubbed (pun intended) the “Los Angeles dubstep

god” by Rolling Stone, SMOG Records label

owner 12th Planet roles through on the 10th. With

Slim and Cain opening things up, you can bet the

sound system at Marquee will be pushed to its

limits.

If house and techno is more your fancy, there are

two great 4x4 shows that night as well: Dirtybird

artist and AEMCON presenter Ardalan does a set

at the Hifi and Dutch DJ Sander Keinenberg shares

his 20 years of experience at the Habitat.

On the 12th, Secondcity (formerly one half of

Taiki Nulight), the U.K.-born, Chicago-raised producer

draws influence from both places and makes

Cygnets paid kids “in cake” filming their latest music video.

JUCY

some really nice house music and plays as part of My

People. This event partners with charitable organization

Music Heals Canada and has Crooka and local

dynamic duo Smalltown DJs firing shit up.

Representing Anjunabeats, DC’s Andrew Bayer

performs at the Marquee on Friday the 18th, likely a

mix of trance, progressive house and techno.

November 17th catch rising Canadian hip-hop

star Tory Lanez at Flames Central. Gonna be lit!

On November 18th, mosey on over to the Habitat

for a night of throwback dubstep, celebrating

both the golden era of the genre (2006-2010) as

well as promoter/photographer Michael Benz’s

birthday bash.

Young Parisian producer and Drake collaborator

Stwo brings his ethereal mosaic of trap, R&B and

soul to the Hifi on the 19th, with OAKK setting the

party in motion.

Also on the 19th, Stööki Sound return to

Calgary with Hifi and DJ Pump’s Set it Off. Trap, hiphop

and bass in the place.

Fresh after releasing an incredible new album

with such prominent artists as Yasiin Bey and

Tanya Tagaq, A Tribe Called Red and their radically

unique and powerful sound will be gracing the

stage at Flames Central on the 25th. With Smalltown

DJs opening up this is likely to be one of the

most exciting shows of the month.

As always I hope that all you wondrous readers,

ravers, b-boys and bad gyals let your freak flags fly

high on at least a few of these dance floors, and I

shall return in one month’s time with some Christmas-y

listings. Wasn’t I talking about August, like a

couple days ago? What is happening? This is fine…

• Paul Rodgers

BEACH SEASON

life’s a beach: on lessons learned from Libra Year

Beach Season’s new EP is about proving things to themselves.

While the rest of us are resigned to the

impending chill of winter, Sam Avant

and Simon Blitzer are living in an

endless summer.

The boys behind Beach Season have been busy,

balancing extensive studio time with performance

after performance while waiting for their newest

oeuvre to drop. Libra Year is their first EP since they

signed with Universal Music – a vote of confidence

from the music industry they haven’t taken lightly.

“Everyone thinks it’s scarier than it actually is.

Everyone looks at it as like, signing your life away,

but really the people we were working with were

interested in what we were doing.” Avant explains.

“They’re like, ‘We wanna see what you guys can

do, we’re gonna push you and criticize you along

the way, and help you make something that you

can be proud of.’ It’s all about being open-minded.”

Libra Year is about growth. In the words of

Avant, it’s an album about “…making the transition

from being 19 or 20, being a dirtbag teenager, and

actually coming into your own as you become

an adult.” It’s 2014’s Internet Evening with more

polish, more structure, and more passion. “I don’t

think we’ve ever cared more about anything.”

Avant continues. “I didn’t have anything else going

for me.” Blitzer chimes in cheekily.

Avant and Blitzer’s laissez-faire attitude bleeds

into their music. Between their raw vision and

the artistic engineers at Universal, the result is

well-structured and approachable, yet never

boring or formulaic. Influenced by artists ranging

from Passion Pit, Tame Impala, GTA and even

Justin Bieber – of whom Avant is an unashamed

fan – Beach Season is unapologetic in their

genre-straddling style in a way that evokes Epicurean

self-indulgence.

“[Libra Year] was a way for us to prove to

ourselves that we can put a project together,

that we can write decent songs. People really

pushed us to write things well, to write hooks,

to separate verses and choruses, to create

by Max Foley

well-structured and well-balanced songs.” Avant

says. You should hear the result for yourself.

Libra Year acts as a microcosm of modern

radio-friendly pop, minus the grating stereotypes

that permeate the genre. Avant’s vocals take all

the best parts of Zayn, Bieber, and the Weeknd,

buttressed by powerful, purposeful production

reminiscent of Ryan Hemsworth or Cashmere

Cat. The result’s hard not to like. Actually, scratch

that: it’s hard not to love. Tracks like “Tribes” and

“Body Heat” are just the thing for pop-weary ears,

elegantly balancing airy melodies with tightly-refined

low end. It’s a great album to leave on repeat

for hours at a time.

“The whole thing is kinda just like that first taste

of what’s to come next.” Blitzer says. You might be

wondering what that is.

“We want to be recognized throughout the

galaxy.” Avant enunciates through a mouthful of

sandwich. He chuckles and swallows the last bite

before continuing.

“We want to be recognized not as Beach Season

the artists, but as like, oh that guy Sam, and that

guy Simon, they make music. People tend to put

themselves in boxes, which is kinda limiting.”

“We’re just gonna keep moving forward, working

on our live show and our production.”

Billing themselves as “two pretty normal dudes”

with a penchant for noodling around on DAWs,

Blitzer and Avant are wise beyond their years. Their

minimalist, quotable perspective belies the fact

that this is only the beginning.

“[Universal] was asking us ‘What do you guys

want to do?’ and that’s something that not many

artists think about or get asked. It took us a long

time to come up with an answer.” And what

better way for Beach Season to answer than with

a full body of work?

Libra Year is out on Universal Music on November

9th. Beach Season will be hosting the release party

at the HiFi Club that same night.

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 41


ROOTS

BARNEY BENTALL

a warm hello from aboard the Cariboo Express

by Graham Mackenzie

CANMORE’S

BEST

LIVE MUSIC

SHOWROOM

Bentall says the Cariboo Express will go on until he has to come onstage in a walker.

From a rodeo dance in the Cariboo region

of B.C. came a musical idea that has turned

into a fundraiser tour de force in Western

Canada. From Barney Bentall, a musician that can

milk a wild range cow when he needs to, the man

behind several classic Canadian rock staples like

“Something to Live For,” and “Life Could be Worse,”

comes the Cariboo Express Tour.

Before talking about the latest edition of his celebrated

annual tour, BeatRoute checked in about what

Bentall has been up to.

Barney Bentall: Once a year I go on a trip

with Adventure Canada, a company that really

pioneered adventure travel, primarily ship travel

through the Canadian North. They have a wonderful

collective of resources: writers, filmmakers,

Inuit culturalists, geologists, musicians, zodiac

drivers, and bear guards. You find an amazing

collection of people usually going on the trip.

It’s been a wish list thing to do this; it’s amazing

to be up there, 17 days from the Western Arctic

through to the coast of Greenland.

BeatRoute: You also played at Hardly Strictly

Bluegrass in San Francisco recently with your

other project the High Bar Gang, and this

tour the Cariboo Express has a more country

and western tone as well. Do you find you are

adopting this style more and more and transitioning

away from rock ‘n’ roll?

BB: When I first started in the ‘80s I think we were

very much a rock ‘n’ roll band. I think the further

I go along, I like so many facets of popular and

modern music and old time music, I get something

from all of it. I still love to go out with my band, the

Legendary Hearts. We still plays shows each year,

and those shows are back to that more primal rock

‘n’ roll experience. I delve into bluegrass with this

ROOTS

new hobby band that is actually doing quite well,

the High Bar Gang, and that’s been a real wonderful

journey. The Cariboo Express, yeah, its kinda

country western but when Ridley Bent gets going

on “Suicidewinder,” it rocks out full bore. There’s

a real variety in the night at the Cariboo Express

and that’s what we are going for, its not strictly old

time by any means, its more an old school variety

show, we didn’t know what it would be exactly or

how it would develop but I didn’t want to control

anyone’s material choice. We go from Leeroy Stagger,

who has an old time feel but is very current,

then all of a sudden we switch into a traditional

bluegrass number, we just keep mixing it up and

it always seems to work, right from the first show

ten years ago. We also adopted from the beginning,

after watching those old Grand Ole Opry shows,

these announcements, like, “coming up next is Mel

Tillis brought to you by Gillette, closest shave you

can get.” I thought me and co-host Matt Masters

could write skits and poke fun with these type

announcements and get sponsorships and raise

money for charity.

BR: How does that work? How can someone

sponsor a song for the Cariboo Express show?

BB: Normally, the promoter in each town has

paired with a charity, and the charity goes out and

offers song sponsorships, but you can go through

the Cariboo Express website and contact the publicist

Joelle May for the whole tour and she will help

you contact Heather O’Hara, who is the liaison

with the charities.

BR: Will the Cariboo Express ride on indefinitely?

BB: Yeah, some years I’ve thought maybe it was done

but then you realize that the shows have provided

50,000 meals for the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver

each year. In Cranbrook we support an organization

called Friends of Children that helps families

with sick children fly to bigger centres for care, these

things make a difference so it becomes pretty hard to

stop. Then there’s the other part of it all: the players.

Whether it’s my son Dustin, or the regular cast of

characters - Ridley, or Leeroy or a revolving door of

guests, it’s become a highlight of my year playing with

them. When the music starts, its so much fun and the

hang is spectacular. We’re all really good friends and

it’s multigenerational too and quite interesting so I am

sure we will be continuing until I have to go out on

the stage with a walker.

BR: Where is Barney Bentall going next?

BB: A new album in May. I have never wanted to

be a nostalgia act. I like to keep doing what I do,

it’s been very inspirational hanging around my son

Dustin, and Ridley Bent, and Matt Masters - all

these people have really given me a shot in the arm

as time goes by. We all hang out together, it never

feels ageist, they’re all a bit wild but respectful.

They are everything I love and embrace about

music. It’s been real inspirational to connect with

these guys through my son, and we joke about the

family business with Dustin but he’s really just another

troubadour, another person that decided to

follow that kind of pathway. He’s a great songwriter

and entertainer, and I love watching him play

and its nice to have this month to play together. I

know it would drive him crazy if we toured all year

together but I think it is one of the aspects that

makes the Cariboo Express special.

Barney Bentall’s Cariboo Express Tour comes rolling

into Southminster United Church in Lethbridge on

November 2nd, the Max Bell Centre in Calgary November

4th, and the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver on

November 26th. There are plenty of other stops in B.C.

– check barneybentall.com for listings.

VALDY

WEDNESDAY

NOVEMBER 23

8PM

CORIN

RAYMOND

THURSDAY

NOVEMBER 24

8PM

RANT

MAGGIE

RANT

WEDNESDAY

NOVEMBER 30TH

8PM

The Creekside Villa

709 Benchlands Trail

Canmore, Alberta

403 609 5522

www.csvlive.com

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 43


ANDREW COLLINS TRIO

telling a story without saying a word

Andrew Collins may not be in church every

Sunday, but the five-time JUNO-nominated

composer still recognizes that spirituality is

an active part in his life and that of others. On his

latest release, And It Was Good, Collins, once a member

of acclaimed instrumental groups the Creaking

Tree String Quartet and The Foggy Hogtown Boys,

used the Book of Genesis as inspiration to create

atmospheric acoustic music.

“I think spirituality plays a part in my life, it’s not necessarily

religion per se, I just really loved the concept,”

Collins tells BeatRoute, “It seemed to resonate, for some

reason. It was sort of inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I

had the idea many years ago, but for whatever reason, it

took until now for me to put it together and make this

album. It took a lot of hard work to make this record.”

And It Was Good follows the lead of the “new

acoustic music” movement, led in the past by such

musicians as David Grisman, Darol Anger, and Mike

Marshall, and with those artists and others as points

of inspiration, Collins adds another layer of classical

music to the record with the help of a string quartet.

“Composing the string parts was very conscious,” says

Collins. “A lot of it happened after my baby was asleep,

writing with my computer in my lap in my studio at

two in the morning.”

While Collins often produces his own recordings,

And It Was Good was helmed by his mentor, David

Travers-Smith, and was cut live off the floor, with his trio

and the string quartet. “The scope of this was bigger, I

had the string quartet, and we had only really rehearsed

twice, they’re just such great players and sight-readers.

Mandolin maestro Andrew Collins instrumentally narrates The Creation.

by Mike Dunn

I was counting on their excellence, and I wanted to rely

on someone else’s ears, and David’s such a great producer.

I took it home and mixed it.”

Collins knew that touring with a string quartet

would be cost-prohibitive, so he carefully arranged his

pieces to be playable and translate live with his smaller

trio, all of whom are multi-instrumentalists, including

Mike Mezzatesta and James McEleney. “I purposely

worked the music with a trio, so that it stands on its

own, and I arranged the string quartet parts so that it

surrounds the trio, fills out the composition and adds

more texture.”

The album has been well received in the folk

community, Collins and Travers-Smith having been

nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award for

co-producing the record, and the trio being nominated

for Instrumental Group of the Year. While

the accolades are graciously accepted, Collins sees

himself as more of an ambassador of acoustic music

than an innovator. “Part of what makes me want to

play music in the first place is to always be getting

better, and not resting on my laurels. It’s great that

people like the music, but I know from listening to

this style of music, that it’s natural for people to be

‘impressed’ by acoustic music played at a really high

level, but I don’t see it as a reflection of me. I see

myself as an ambassador of this music, rather than

say, an ‘admired musician’, if that makes sense.”

Andrew Collins Trio plays two Calgary shows this month:

the Nickelodeon Music Club on November 12th and the

Ironwood Stage and Grill on November 14th.

photo: Rob Doda

100 MILE HOUSE

Edmonton folk duo find peace in ‘melancholy nostalgia’

Hiraeth is a Welsh word, and although its

meaning doesn’t translate directly into

English, the rough definition is that it’s a

sense of longing for a place or person, even one

that may never have existed.

“A melancholy nostalgia” is how Peter Stone of

the Edmonton-based kitchen-folk duo 100 Mile

House describes the term, the lucid ambivalence

of which names their new full length album.

“I think it is the most open and honest

album we’ve done, for sure.” Stone explains.

“Not that we’ve ever been particularly hidden,

but this kind of lays out our personal lives

kind of completely out there.” While personal

content isn’t necessarily new for the duo, whose

ruthlessly honest and domestic storytelling

won them the Calgary Folk Fest songwriting

contest a few years back and set the stage for

their current career, this new release touches on

some pretty sensitive content. The narratives

inside stretch from laments about getting older

to the trials of loss along the way. The defining

feature of the album for Stone is using music

as a medium, allowing the moods and motions

of their string driven melodies to bring up

personal topics aren’t necessarily always made

explicit, especially in music, but many people

experience and grapple with.

Depression and grief are deeply personal,

but also extremely ubiquitous, and as such,

there isn’t any reason to keep them private.

The songs they wrote for the album have

broadly impactful themes, but touch topics

that doesn’t seem much explicit exploration.

“I’m not sure why we were ever told that

[depression is solitary]; I guess because it

made people uncomfortable, talking about

it,” Stone comments.

Working on Hiraeth proved to be therapeutic,

both for Stone, and his partner in life and

music Denise McKay. This effect is also starting

by Amber McLinden

Peter Stone talks about being open musically and “the most exciting thing” about making music.

photo: Jessica Fern Facette

to be seen by their listeners. The first folks to

hear Hireath found it to be deeply relatable,

which Stone explains, is kind of the point. “The

actual creation of a piece that deals with an

issue is really sort of healing, and then when

other people connect to it, then that’s another

stage of healing as well.”

This album is the first that Stone and McKay

have recorded in a proper studio, but despite

the change of scenery, the couple has continued

to experiment, producing some of their

most complex compositions to date. Both their

music and their lives together have had some

time to develop, and it provides a different

perspective to their writing and production.

“It freed up our brain space, if that makes

sense.” Stone suggests, “instead of having to

wear so many hats and do so many different

jobs, we could just be musicians and [perform]

for the first time on the recordings, if

that makes sense.”

Hireath is a departure from their previous

recordings. Recording in a studio has done

a lot to add professionalism to an already

functional formula, but 100 Mile House

have created deeply emotional album that

discards some of their Americana aesthetic. A

diverse range of string instruments permeate

the record, but they have also introduced elements

of rock in the hope that they can make

the themes permeable to as many listeners as

possible. “Having your songs hopefully connect

with complete strangers who somehow

will feel connected to you once they hear

your music. That’s the most exciting thing,”

Stone explains, “When your song connects

with someone else.”

100 Mile House releases Hireath at Festival Hall in

Calgary on November 18th, and at La Cité Francophone

in Edmonton on the 20th.

44 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE ROOTS


JAMES VINCENT MCMORROW

on moving to a new sound by Cole Parker

ORIT

SHIMONI

soft like snow… beautiful, delicate and deadly

by B.Simm

James Vincent McMorrow fights

“diminishing returns” with help

from OVO collaborators

photo: Suzy King

James Vincent McMorrow is an artist whose

career has been defined by changes to his sound.

His 2010 debut Early in the Morning was almost

entirely made up of soft acoustic arrangements,

with his guitar playing front and centre. Next came

2014’s Post Tropical, a notable departure away from

his indie-folk sounds to lush soundscapes of dreamy

reverb and cathartically melancholic arrangements. It

was a conscious decision McMorrow made towards

becoming the artist he wanted to be. Now in 2016,

We Move, his first number one album in his home

country of Ireland, is another missing link for the

ever-evolving artist.

Gone are the building crescendos, the choral-like

background vocals and the wistful nature. Instead

on We Move, he opts for a funkier, more R&B-tinged

sound with a return of some more tasteful guitar and

hip-hop influenced beats. McMorrow is definitive

though in his approach to the different stages of his

career. “I feel like evolution is necessary.”

While the move from his debut to his sophomore

was purely stylistic, We Move is a shift in

the songwriting process as well. It’s led to some of

McMorrow’s most immediate and ear-grabbing

tracks to date. That change is courtesy of OVO family

members Nineteen85 and Frankie Dukes, who have

songwriting and production credits on a handful of

We Move’s tracklist. This created a much different

atmosphere for McMorrow, and it was one he actively

sought out. “The goal was to bring in people that

could do things that I just can’t do myself and people

whose minds I could tap into.” Historically an artist

that would take his time alone in the studio, McMorrow’s

collaborators forced him to have material ready

for their focused gazes.

As with any artist whose sound grows and

expands the way McMorrow’s does, he’s lost some

fans along the way. “They really want you to stay

the same, because they want to enjoy those things

(you used to do). The reality is if I were to keep

mining those things, it would be the law of diminishing

returns. Everything I do would be a lesser

thing than the thing I did before.” For McMorrow,

who’s constantly looking to hone his craft, you

get the impression that stagnation would be

unacceptable.

For an artist who is so devoted to his craft, it’s kind

of unfortunate that to date the highest he’s reached

in terms of mainstream acceptance is a cover version

of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.” He’s glad it came

from an organic place, recorded for a charity album

with all proceeds of the single going towards that

charity, rather than from some attention-seeking

stunt. He’s definitely distanced himself from any kind

of ‘cover artist’ title however, with “Higher Love”

being the only cover he performs live, simply for its

emotional connection. “My mother used to play it all

the time growing up.”

The live show will also be a different experience

for fans of the singer-songwriter. On his previous

trip to Calgary, McMorrow performed an extremely

stripped-back acoustic set with no one else onstage

at Knox United Church. The intimate atmosphere,

stained glass-windows and rows of pews seemed to

fit the angelic tones of McMorrow’s Post-Tropical

Tour. The fuller sound of We Move however comes

with a fuller live show with his band coming to

perform at the Jack Singer Concert Hall. A few solo

sections are promised for the more subdued selections

of McMorrow’s setlist.

James Vincent McMorrow plays the Park Theatre in

Winnipeg on November 19th, the Winspear Centre in

Edmonton on November 21st, the Jack Singer Concert

Hall in Calgary on November 22nd, the Commodore

Ballroom in Vancouver on November 24th and the Alix

Goolden Hall in Victoria on November 25th.

While playing her acoustic guitar and

softly singing, “Will there be a gentle

and comforting hand reach down from

above? Will there be, will there be love?” you can

hear the faint, but distinguishable sound of a chair

creaking, presumably the one that Orit Shimoni

is sitting on while recording. Because the way

in which it creaks, you imagine it’s a wooden or

wicker chair that sits on an Indian wool rug in the

middle of a fantastic old parlour or living room

with the original Victorian brass light fixture still

hanging overhead.

In fact, you can’t imagine how this new collection

of songs was recorded except in some kind

of aged but inviting setting, far removed from the

sterility of the nuevo studio. The musical intimacy

extends beyond the chair: you can hear the scratch

and zing of her fingers as they move along the

guitar strings, the breath and breaking of her voice,

the piano keys hitting the felts as the notes ring

out, and the graze of brushes as they circle on the

snare skin. Your skull gets right inside the sounds

as they were recorded.

Despite its rich, enchanting quality, Shimoni

feels, “There is nothing cool about this album,

nothing to tap your feet to.” Intended to it be

“incredibly vulnerable,” she says, “it leaves no

production room to drown out the content, and

the content is intense. It takes one to emotional

places one might not want to go. There is a lot of

pain in this album.”

There’s pain, there’s also redemption in its

honesty. In the overflowing country-gospel, “Wine

Into Water,” Shimoni acknowledges it would take

a miracle to turn someone’s life around, but if she

could, she would.

“I made a man walk out of a bar crying with

that one,” says Shimoni. “Who wants to hear that

song when they’re out trying to have a good time?

Considering the music industry and the drinking

industry are practically one and the same, it’s

practically suicide to put it out there. But you

know and I know damn well, that there are a hell

of a lot of people out there who are going to relate

to that song.”

Indeed there are. As a comforting testament,

Shimino adds, “The bar still hired me back!”

But there’s nothing very comforting in the

religious and political denunciation that screams

out in the anti-war song “Fool”. The most complex,

gripping, heart-wrenching and ball-busting track

on the album, Shimino doesn’t take sides nor

does she mince words, there’s only one tragic

outcome: we’re “fools to think it’s worth the blood

of children.”

Noting, “There aren’t a lot of anguished war

songs in the Canadiana genre,” she says, “That

song calls everybody stupid, the mongers and the

bleeding hearts. Wait ‘til you see the video. It is not

uplifting.”

Entitled Soft Like Snow, the album is stark but bold,

full of tangled emotion and uncompromising sentiment.

It’s a gutsy endeavour, entirely unreserved.

“Yeah, for sure,” confirms Shimino. “When you

say the album is gutsy, and you mean production

wise because of how stripped back it is, we wanted

to say, ‘Here is what this woman sounds like

when she’s in a room, with a squeaky chair, with

fingernails, with a broken voice, and a tired but

still-trying soul. We’re not going to mask any of the

ugliness. It is what it is, and we think it’s beautiful

because it’s true.’

“And it’s soft like snow. Beautiful, delicate and

deadly if you stay out in it too long. It’s a piece to

investigate, then put away, take it out again, and

hopefully fall in love with. It can be an open relationship.

Music’s real understanding that way.”

Orit Shimoni’s CD release party is on Friday, Nov. 25

at the 628 Stage and Lounge located in Calgary at

628 - 8 Ave. SW. Doors at 8 p.m.

46 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE ROOTS


SHRAPNEL

TRAER

finding common ground under a black canopy

by Christine Leonard

Traer released their full length iitoomhkitopi, which translates to “First Rider,” on October 21st.

What do you do when 50 shades of

black just isn’t sufficient to satisfy your

festering soul? You invent your own

Mordorian subgenre. That’s exactly the twisted

forest path that Calgary-based doomsters Traer

have opted for. Comprised of a wraith, a recluse,

and a lupine fiend, this tightly-knotted ensemble

is poised to unleash a new universe of sturm and

drang where black holes double as porch lights,

guiding the way home.

“All three of us have a history of playing with

different bands,” explains Traer’s vocalist/guitarist

Ghûl. “The bass player, Nekro, and I are best friends

and have been playing together for a decade. The

drummer, Scara, is from Red Deer but moved to

Calgary once he started dating Nekro. We decided to

form a brand new group together; something Calgary

hasn’t really heard before. Traer is our interpretation

of what we enjoy most in black metal.”

An icy sonic avalanche that engulfs and numbs in

equal measures, Traer’s most recent recordings are

incredibly dense yet carefully devised. Each emergent

track builds the suspense with stealthy rhythms and

veering melodies gradually revealing the shadowy

world between reality-blurring distortions and

riveting details.

“I’ve always had a love for black metal,” says Ghûl.

“For me it’s a way to express that kind of grim,

hopeless, darker atmosphere that I find myself

drawn to. Even in my previous bands it’s creeped

in as a major influence for me. And I’m not just

talking about those core black metal bands most

people would know, like Mayhem or Burzum.

Nekro is also a fan of that dark imagery, not

necessarily Satanism, but that cold, life-sucking

esthetic. Traer’s sound is rooted in a traditional

manner of playing black metal, but with a slower

doomy feel. I’m totally obsessed with that whole

black gaze scene. You can see it in my music and

the way I play guitar. No straight power chords,

but rather weaving a spell.”

Another ascendant to the dark throne of

mystical music, Ghûl’s bandmate and BFF Nekro

has discovered a bastion for self-expression in

the catacombs of Traer’s gothic fantasies. Also a

member of the horror-punk outfit Frightenstein,

she’s proven herself capable of morphing from a

ravenous zombie into a solemn sylvan banshee

without skipping a dolorous bass note.

“Frightenstein was my stepping-stone into the music

industry. It gave me the opportunity to become a

zombie character in the band. I wanted to add more

of me, so I added the corpse paint with the gore and

put spikes on my boots,” Nekro says.

“Twelve years is a long time to be in the music

scene, especially in metal/punk. I have been

laughed at, told I wasn’t pretty enough, told it was

a gimmick to have a female in the band, I was a

joke, trashed talked and that ‘girls don’t know how

to play music.’ Not only did I have to battle the

sexism, my real challenge is the racism, not only in

the music but just in general,” says Nekro, who is

an indigenous woman.

“There are many negative aspects, but I use them

to my advantage and I do feel that it makes me more

resilient, empowered, and stronger.”

Smelting an iron will with a fiery spirit, Traer

have smithed a blackened metal masterpiece that

is ready to be visited upon the masses. A more

refined example of the slothful surges heard on the

band’s live-off-the-floor “Demo 2015” release, Traer’s

forthcoming debut iitoomhkitopi (a.k.a. First Rider)

is a fitting introduction for a band that excels at

manipulating the familiar and making the unusual

instantly accessible.

“There’s no direct storyline to the album, it’s more

of a tribute,” Ghûl elaborates.

“The title means ‘First Rider.’ which was Nekro’s

grandfather’s Native name. The front cover of the album

has a picture she took at his place on the Siksika

Reserve, so it’s called ‘Grandpa’s Trees.’ It’s of our way

of honouring him. We definitely draw on supernatural

themes, and every culture has their own version

of ghosts and witches of the woods. Our music is

like slow creepy storytelling; it’s much more organic

than your typical black metal. That’s why our name is

Traer, which translates as ‘Trees’ in Norwegian.”

Rife with taut tunes such as “Banshee,” “Silence

in the Forest,” and “Blood Sacrifice,” each bend

and scrape on Traer’s self-released homage to the

passage of time reverberates with the age-old

clash of inescapable fate and strident mortality.

Unblemished by fractious misrule, the three

bandmates’ solidarity of purpose slices through

the subterfuge and delivers a deathblow worthy

of Sauron’s most elite soldiery.

“When my husband (Scara) and I started writing

the first few songs for Traer, this other very dark side

was exposed,” says Nekro.

“It was so raw and authentic, as I continued

to write more music, I started to understand

myself better as an artist. Never have I ever felt

so alive in my life. All the sadness, pain and

trauma in my life gave me the power to write.

This band has given me the stamp of approval

to really embrace that feminine side, but remain

tough as nails. I am fortunate to have two amazing

men call me their leader. Their support and

love is mind-boggling.”

Traer released iitoomhkitopi on October 21st. The

album is available on Bandcamp at https://traer.

bandcamp.com/releases.The band performs on

November 4th in Edmonton at Rendezvous Pub with

Korperlose Stimme and Solarcoven; check online for

more November events in Calgary.

SHRAPNEL

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 49


ORCHID

Tropic of Capricorn

Celebrating a decade of fulfilling ominous

acid rock fantasies, San Francisco’s Orchid

is in a pretty good place right now. Not

specifically the sunny sidewalk outside of guitarist

Mark Thomas Baker’s home in Petaluma, CA, but

thereabouts and getting closer every day. Predicated

on the vibrant vocals of Theo Mindell, who

also plays percussion and synths, along with bassist

Keith Nickel’s surf-worshipping undertow and Baker’s

exotically organic guitar strains, Orchid is easily

next best thing to having Pentagram play your

quinceañera. Firmly rooted in the lush loam of

‘70s psych-rock, Orchid’s musical virtuosity melds

traditional American blues and hard rock influences

with a flair for emulating British heavy metal

mainstays; earning them frequent comparisons to

the likes of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

“We try to write classic rock songs and every

song that we’ve ever worked on is really hook-oriented

and constructed around Theo’s vocal lines,”

says Baker. “A lot of bands I hear are obviously

coming up with riffs and trying to write vocals

over that. I don’t know if it’s a signature thing, but

our songs are written around vocals and not really

based on the riff so much.”

Regaled for their head-noddingly good 2009 debut

EP, Through the Devil’s Doorway and subsequent

2011 LP, Capricorn, Orchid were signed to the

Nuclear Blast record label in 2012. They released their

EP Heretic that same year with the full-length album

Mouth of Madness following in 2013.

With two LPs and a fistful of EPs to their current

credit, the career retronauts behind Orchid are now

Orchid is celebrating a decade of fulfilling ominous acid rock fantasies.

faced with their biggest musical challenge: creating

new and interesting compositions that hold their

interest (and hopefully the audience’s too) while still

sounding like themselves.

“That is a battle for sure,” he confirms.

“I think you can’t get too hung up on what

you’ve done in the past and you have to keep

creating and finding things that keep you excited

about your music. If you just chase your tail and try

to produce work that you think your fans want to

hear, that can really lead to failure. There’s no point

trying to guess what people want from you, cuz I

don’t know. They just want the Capricorn album

over and over again! But you can’t really step back

in time and be the person you were. We’ve got all

these years of experience between us and that time.

Everything that’s influenced us in those years is

coming out in what we’re doing now.”

After forging ahead with their fourth EP, Sign of

the Witch (May, 2015), Orchid found themselves

adrift in the doom miasma as they sought a new

drummer to anchor their quartet. The ongoing process

of adjustment and acceptance has done little to

diminish the band’s desire to create compelling songs

by Christine Leonard

and perform them in front of adoring crowds. Regardless

of these inevitable upheavals, Baker portends

that the natural potential of Orchid is still emerging

and that their artistic friendships are growing deeper

even as their audience and influence expands.

“I think that the next album that we’re writing

now is going to be awesome. We’re really excited to

do it and I think it’s going to have ties to our past

as well as some steps into the future, whatever that

may be. It’s so hard to say, because there’s a new

member in the mix,” Baker continues, referring to

new drummer Tommy, who is not yet a permanent

member of the band.

Cultivating an ear for improvisation while

satisfying vocalist Mindell’s obsession with artistic

perfection, heretical guitarist Baker acknowledges

that Orchid will never produce elevator tunes for

the mall-roving masses. But on the other hand, he is

equally quick to admit that hearing Orchid’s heavily-grooved

anthem “Eyes Behind the Wall” used as

bumper music during a World Series radio broadcast

was one of the proudest moments of his life.

“I had all these people messaging me, ‘Dude,

KNBR is playing your song for the Giants’ game!’

So that was a really cool thing for me to have

something associated with my favourite sports

team. But as far as accessibility or what people

want, we’re not that concerned about it. We’re not

popular enough, I don’t think. I wouldn’t worry

about having hits or singles.”

Orchid performs on November 5th with Napalmpom

and Temple at The Palomino Smokehouse in Calgary.

STEVE GRIMMETT’S GRIM REAPER

returns rock fans to hell once more with 4th full-length

See you in hell my friends! Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper plays Alberta in November!

In the midst of a pile of discarded bones a stone

tablet reads ‘Fear the Reaper. No One Escapes

His Evil Power.’ The year is 1985 and visions

of a monstrous humanoid hellhound consume

the television sets of headbangers everywhere.

Battling the encapsulation of evil is a foursome

of leather-clad heavy metal warriors, defining the

core of the genre and proving the power of pummeling

riffs over any exterior force. Leading the

brigade known as Grim Reaper is Steve Grimmett,

who may appear to be a mere mortal prior to

unveiling an unfathomably powerful voice. After

releasing three sacred full-lengths in the ‘80s long

worshipped by defenders of the lead based, harmonically

driven traditional metal, a brief chapter

with thrash metal outfit Onslaught, and countless

other masterful musical endeavours, Grimmett

returned to his roots in 2006 when he banded

together Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper.

Fresh from the fire is Walking in the Shadows, and

regardless of it being the first full-length released

under the Grim Reaper belt in nearly 30 years, it is

equally as punishing as all the rest.

“For us it was very important to do this,” Grimmett

recounts on the continuance of the traditional

roots of his latest album.

“Ian [Nash, guitars] and I have been writing and

recording songs for years always improving our

craft, now I’m not saying we were going backwards

in writing this album but we wanted some consistency,

to make it the fourth album, not only in song

structure but old school recording techniques, so, we

recorded drums, bass and guitars the old school way.

I recorded the instruments in my studio so I know

there is nothing added, there are no samples in there

at all, and I’m sure you agree we hit the mark.”

Led footing on the accelerator of Walking in

the Shadows is the metallic and aggressive anthem,

“Wings of Angels.” Not unlike nearly every song

included in their discography, the chorus is the pinnacle,

encouraging pounding fists and banging heads

by the masses. Altogether, the album is comprised of

12 tracks true to the traditional structures with an old

school feel uncommon with modern metal releases.

By no means is it a complete throwback to the

group’s earlier work, but with the addition of a band

that contains no previous Grim Reaper members,

Grimmett perfectly demonstrates how he has mastered

his craft throughout his extensive and colourful

musical journey that started way back in 1979. It was

then that Grim Reaper caught their big break in 1979

when they won a battle of the bands competition. An

idea easily romanticized, yet apparently not so.

“It was horrific and I swore I would never put

myself through that again, but it was as the start of

all you see. We won 24 hours in a 24 track studio, we

made a demo that I gave to Ebony Records and the

rest is history.”

by Breanna Whipple

The decade that followed saw the band release See

You in Hell (1983) and Fear No Evil (1985) via Ebony,

and then get picked up by larger label RCA for their

grand finale Rock You To Hell (1987). Unfortunately,

the album didn’t perform as well as the label

expected in the American market, and the band was

unceremoniously dropped. They broke up shortly

after in 1988, but were resurrected by Grimmett in

2006 as a solo project, which also became the lineup

for Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper. Staying true to

methods of the old regardless of the vast changes in

the music industry, Grimmett still values the importance

of touring.

“It’s the only way we can reach out and see our

fans, it’s the hardest work I have ever done but the

most rewarding,” he says. “One of the most fortunate

things about my band is we all get along, the fun

starts at the airport and continues until we get home

so every day is a highlight.”

Fanatics may wonder why Grimmett has taken

the initiative to rock his fans to hell once more. The

answer lies within them.

“I will always look after our fans, because without

them we can’t do this, they are passionate about their

music, and you can’t beat that, and to be fair that’s

the whole world over. It’s a true brotherhood and it’s

bloody fantastic.”

Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper performs in Calgary,

Alberta on November 16th at Distortion and in

Edmonton, Alberta on November 17th at the

Mercury Room.

50 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE SHRAPNEL


Danielle

French

Presents

MISS

SCARLETT

& the

Madmen

Dark Love Songs

CD Release Party

Thurs., Nov. 17

Wine Ohs


musicreviews

Lady Gaga

Joanne

Universal Music Canada

Bon Jovi, Bret Michaels, and Jenna Maroni: just

three pop/rock acts to have pulled the now-classic

“going country” maneuver. With much of Joanne,

Lady Gaga is the latest to join their ranks – to mixed

success. There are a handful of worthwhile surprises

from the artist born Stefani Germanotta that we’ll

get to a bit later, but overall Joanne is not the hardwon

reinvention many expected of her.

In the three years since Gaga’s worst-received fulllength,

ARTPOP, she’s done much to shed the expectations

that came along with her larger than life

persona that mixed up high- and low-brow forms of

expression, capturing all the world’s attention along

the way. She won a Golden Globe for her performance

on American Horror Story, was nominated

for an Oscar for Best Original Song, and nabbed a

Grammy for her album of jazz standards (another

classic sidestep for an out-of-vogue pop star) with

Tony Bennett.

With all that branching out done, what were fans

to expect upon the announcement of Joanne? A

Sasha Fierce-esque character? Maybe even a Chris

Gaines? In fact, Joanne is the name of a deceased

aunt she never met and happens to share a sexual

assault trauma with. On the title track Gaga strums

tenderly and restrains her vocals to a vulnerable

crackle as she implores her aunt not to go into the

afterlife but instead stay with her family. A pretty

standard grief track, though one suspects that’s

because of the lack of the room for nuance in pop

music rather than Gaga not having complicated

feelings about it all. Early in the album, “Joanne”

reinforces that Gaga knows which muscles to flex

to best serve a song’s tone, never falling victim to

over-belted wails.

It’s a shame she doesn’t quite pull that part of

her act off when she adopts a new tonality for the

“gone country” contingent of the record. From

opener “Diamond Heart” through “John Wayne”

(yes, really) and along to “Million Reasons,” Gaga

misses the mark of a successful genre transition

with too-affected nasality and flattened consonant

annunciation. It’s the voice your friend Steve, whose

OkCupid page says he’s into all music except country

and metal, makes when he wants to get a cheap

laugh. In fairness, these are the absolute low points

on an album that does come with strong highlights

and more successful new fields of exploration.

“Sinner’s Prayer” is the one slice of Dixie-fried

Gaga (unless you count the title track, which lies

closer to folk ballad than country) that pans out.

52 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE

It’s also a song where her cast of major supporting

characters shines brightest. Written by Gaga, Thomas

Brenneck, Mark Ronson (co-producer for the

entirety of the album) and Josh Tillman (aka Father

John Misty), it’s a western fable about two tainted

people in an explosive love affair. It’s where Gaga

best commits to Southern mysticism and benefits

from the dual guitars of Sean Lennon and Josh

Homme – one smoky and mysterious, the other a

bright lilt that carries the tune.

The following three tracks that conclude the

standard version of the album are a hat trick. “Come

to Mama” is a bit hammy in its let’s-all-just-getalong

sentiment, but cabaret vocal from Gaga and

a Phil Spector Christmas meets Let’s Dance Bowie

composition offers what a lot of us want from pop

– a simple, feel good moment.

“Hey Girl” puts both feet firmly in the ‘70s with

its near exact interpretation of the rhythm from

“Bennie and the Jets” paired with psychedelic synth

squeals and harp plucked by duet partner Florence

Welch. It’s a girl-power, support-one-another

anthem that works quite well due to Gaga’s turn

as a supporting character, letting Welch’s vocal

dramatics take the lead.

Finally there’s “Angel Down,” a song that’s been

interpreted both as a little too pandering and as

a sincere plea. It touches on the confusion of the

social media era and puts police brutality against

people of colour into the center of its yens. A minimal,

twinkling instrumental takes the background

as Gaga gives a perfectly measured amount of vocal

intensity, all the while creating an instant earworm

with her Leonard Cohen-like cadence.

Taking inventory of the highs and lows of the

album, it almost feels like there are two Joannes.

While Gaga reflects and plays with a new direction,

she’s tapped into both her strengths and weaknesses.

It helps humanize the record, even if at some

expense of the listener’s ear. Perhaps this is best

exemplified by her not-quite-smash lead single

“Perfect Illusion.” It’s the closest thing to classic

Gaga style and makes awkward use of rock (Homme

again) and Kevin Parker of Tame Impala’s signature

synths. It doesn’t add up to much to remember –

but as an act of imperfection it gives us a modular

vantage to approach what we expect Gaga to be,

where she was, is, and is headed next. This album

is one that questions itself, making strides and

missteps towards a high point for Gaga. It may be a

necessary breather for her, but it could just as easily

be the work we last remember from her. Only time

will tell.

• Colin Gallant

illustration: Bad Blood Club


Animals as Leaders

The Madness of Many

Sumerian Records

Tosin Abasi, Javier Reyes, and Matt Garstka, otherwise

known as Animals as Leaders, have come

together again to take you into the madness of

their musical minds. The Madness of Many is the

first album the band has self-produced, however,

it often feels like a disappointing follow-up to their

Billboard Top 200-charting The Joy of Motion. After

putting out three mind-bending records, each one

was better than the last, it feels that the trio have

hit their ceiling in terms of ingenuity.

The deception comes with the intro track “Arithmophobia,”

where the listener is charmed by the

sound of a sitar which leads to an onslaught of heavy

riffage, followed by mellow jazz solos, and an intense

breakdown to finish. No complaints, classic Animals

as Leaders. As the next few songs go by, however,

the listener is left begging for something special to

grasp onto. It isn’t until the end of the fourth track

“Inner Assassins,” where the usual chugs fade to clean

strumming and a gorgeous, melodic solo, that some

sense of inimitability was reached.

Animals as Leaders haven’t in any way “fell off,”

as far as their talent and song writing ability is concerned.

The issue is the inability to keep the listener

engaged and excited throughout the entire album.

Regardless, Animals as Leaders are still the masters

of their own domain.

• Jay King

Brandt Brauer Frick

Joy

Because Music

Brandt Brauer Frick are a techno trio, they’re a

classically trained bunch of minimalist composers,

they make pop music and challenging music,

they regard tradition highly, yet seek to destroy

it. They’re a Berlin-based unit who aim high,

argue with logic, and always deliver something

compelling.

It was harder to say this before high water

mark Joy. The confounding nature of three people

making music across intersections of classical

thoughtfulness, dance-geared rhythm worship

and experimentalist band dynamics isn’t a tidy

little thing one can name, justify and place in its

respective corner. Brandt Brauer Frick are all the

better for it. On Joy, without any pandering, the

group’s disparate ambitions make more sense than

ever before.

Throughout Joy, we experience acoustic percussion,

piano, strings and horns, all settled among

erratic acid lines, garage and rave beats, evocative

synths and, finally, the nuanced vocals of Canadian

vocalist Beaver (I shit you not) Sheppard. His

sleep-deprived insistence is the kind of thing you

can’t make up: something that sounds as satisfying

in a disaffected tone as it does urgently entreating

the listener to come to terms with an insoluble

truth. Sheppard is an ace in the hole for the ages

here. One should only greet his future work with a

high bar in mind.

It would be wrong to read that as giving Sheppard

all the credit for Joy’s success: BBF wrote and

executed the album a bit differently from prior LPs

in terms of process; vocals from an outsider as an

informant to the composition, responsiveness at

the forefront. Respect is due to their instinct that

it would pay off, and for offering an invigorating,

career-defining moment.

• Colin Gallant

The Darcys

Centerfold

Arts & Crafts

There is a plague of artists scoping out the ‘80s for

inspiration, and while the era is easy to dismiss as

an awkward transition period, there is plenty of fun

synth tones and bubbly drum machines to mine

for ideas. That said, a self-serious indie rock band

deciding to shirk their low-tempo droning choruses

for danceable rhythms is hardly a new idea.

Toronto’s The Darcys are following this trend

boldly, with direct lyrical and para-textual references

to the so-called ‘decade of shame.’ It comes

across playfully, but never broaches direct parody.

The tonal infrastructure borrowed from the period

is dialed in smartly with contemporary polish.

There’s enormous detail in every track, and each

one is extremely fresh. Beyond the tone and instrumentation,

the musicianship is as precise as you

would expect from a band who put out a Steely

Dan cover album less than five years ago.

Centerfold doesn’t come entirely out of left field

for The Darcy’s. Warring (2013) was hardly inaccessible

as a record (it did come out on Arts & Crafts

after all), but it did contain a certain level of brood.

This new release feels like The Darcys are finally

enjoying themselves, and it’s entirely infectious.

• Liam Prost

Gord Downie

Secret Path

Universal Music Canada

There’s no need for introduction to the terminally-ill

Canadian rock legend Gord Downie. He and

his band, The Tragically Hip, are easily one of the

greatest Canadian rock groups of all time. Secret

Path, however, is a solo project. In Secret Path,

Downie tells us the story of Chanie Wenjack, an

indigenous boy who died escaping a residential

school 50 years ago.

In a press release accompanying the album,

Downie tells us that “this is Canada’s story.” Residential

schools are a dark part of our history that

we rarely acknowledge, but it is essential to our

identity as Canadians. There is no better musician

who could possibly capture this pain, this sense of

loneliness and confusion than Downie.

The title track is one that vividly describes the

journey of Wenjack and is the best track on the

album. Pounding, unrelenting drums propel each

song forward into the next, making the album feel

exactly as it should: a journey. The production on

Secret Path is top-notch, but as it always is with

Downie, it’s never really just about the chords and

beats. The passion in the project is what pushes it

into the realm of being one of the most essential

Canadian albums in years. Downie and his brother,

who helped with the album, are donating all proceeds

to go towards healing the wounds caused by

these residential schools.

• Matthew Coyte

Eliza Doyle

Ain’t What it Seems

Independent

There’s a strange ambivalence that permeates Eliza

Doyle’s Ain’t What It Seems. Lyrically, it’s extremely

depressing. Doyle’s piercing tenor emotes some

dreary sentiments about tired living, desiring

change, and regret, but she does so with some

propulsive banjo-led bluegrass. Her major key tunes

confuse the impact of her depressive lyricism, but

not in a way that feels deliberate.

The record peaks and valleys predictably, but the

low moments like “Old Blue Jeans” and “Moonlight”

don’t offer any significant tonal shifts from

the peppier tunes, some of which are jarringly dour.

Record highlight “Wish I Felt This Good Without

the Whisky” is perhaps the best example, and you

can probably tell why by the title alone. This track

in particular highlights Doyle’s clean and polished

banjo playing. She constructs melodies gingerly

with her fingers. These leads are strongly highlighted

by warm fiddle accompaniment and almost

silent percussion. Louder tracks like this one also

double her vocal during the chorus, which helps

distract from her sometimes flat delivery.

Eliza Doyle’s Ain’t What It Seems is very much

is what it seems, a sparkly bluegrass record with

extremely grim sentiments throughout. Pleasant

enough on the ears, but doesn’t feel totally finished.

• Liam Prost

Roman Flügel

All The Right Noises

Dial Records

For almost two decades, German DJ/producer

Roman Flügel has been travelling the globe to bring

famed Berlin raves to the masses. Still, his name in

this part of North America is largely unknown. You

can see the slow shifting recognition on social media;

mentions of the 2015 edition of BC’s Bass Coast

usually accompanied by an attendee commenting

with glee that they’ve had Flügel introduced to

them via his standout set. His 2015 track “Sliced Africa”

making year end lists aplenty, regular features

on late-night BBC programming, and a recent signing

to acclaimed label Dial all give the impression

that the world may finally be ready for Flügel.

And yet, with All The Right Noises, his first album

with Dial, Flügel shows of his brainier side, ditching

rave aesthetics for more experimental tones and a

sly subtlety that plays better in headphones than on

a dancefloor. Album opener “Fantasy,” is a beat-less

ambient birdsong; the musical equivalent of a clear

winter morning. Much of the album is blissful in this

way, more akin to his track “9 Years” on this years DJ

Koze Presents: Pampa, Vol. 1 compilation.

Not until halfway through the album does Flügel

truly drop the hammer with “Warm and Dewy,”

even still he holds back with little low-end, opting

instead for restless, rolling hi-hats and euphoric

melodic haze. The following track “Dust,” continues

this trend; it’s an ascendant, afterhours-ready

standout, all lightly-lfo’d chords and articulated

arpeggiations. All The Right Noises may not be

ready for the dancefloor, but rarely does music

made with machines sound this lively.

• Jamie McNamara

The Game

1992

Blood Money/eOne

Tove Lo

Fresh off the release of two massive albums last year,

West Coast rapper The Game is back again with 1992.

Usually, an artist releasing full-length albums in a

short succession is call for concern, but the quality of

the Compton rapper’s 2015 output, The Documentary

2 and The Documentary 2.5, proved otherwise.

While 1992 does not have as many memorable

tracks as his 2015 albums, it still has just as many

Kanye references (if not more), and proves that The

Game is still riding a hot streak. One of the best

tracks is the opener, “Savage Lifestyle,” featuring

a Marvin Gaye sample, a chorus dedicated to the

aftermath of the Rodney King trial, and a whole lot

of rage to the boys in blue over a beat that never

stops switching up just like The Game’s flow.

Colour is an important theme of 1992, specifically

red and blue. On “True Colors/It’s On,” he tells

a horrifying story of his childhood about his dad

molesting his sister, detailing the blood on her shirt

when he found her. 1992 is a solid, honest album,

offering nothing extraordinary save for a few tracks,

but The Game’s talent makes it a worthwhile and

smooth listen nonetheless.

• Paul McAleer

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions

Until The Hunter

Tendril Tales

Fans of ‘90s dream pop forbearers Mazzy Star are in

luck. The enchanting voice of vocalist Hope Sandoval

has been renewed in Hope Sandoval and the Warm

Inventions’ highly anticipated new album: Until The

Hunter. The album is a mellow exploration of loss,

growth, and questioning. The repetitive background in

many of the songs pulls the listener into a trance, a delicate

balance between dream pop and psychedelic folk.

In the track “A Wonderful Seed,” the artists

seem to draw inspiration from traditional Celtic

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 53


Solange

folk music while integrating ghostly hums. The

album’s first single “Let Me Get There,” features a

vocal duet between Kurt Vile and Sandoval. While

there’s no doubt that the two are both powerful

musicians, Vile’s voice seems out of place. At times,

his vocals and the electropop guitar accents detract

from the dream-like atmosphere of the song.

Apart from that track, the album makes the listener

feel as though they are high on a Viking ship that

is floating through the clouds, and is a must listen for

ethereal dream pop lovers and Mazzy Star fans alike.

• Robyn Welsh

Nicolas Jaar

Sirens

Other People

Silence isn’t often used as a tool in music for fear

that the listener will disengage if there’s too long of

a pause. Nicolas Jaar starts off his new record Sirens

with around a minute of silence. Fittingly, the first

track is called “Killing Time,” beginning with soft

crackling and nothing else. Suddenly, there’s a burst

of sound with keys exploding like glass shattering,

a blossoming of noise comparable to the creation a

living universe.

After releasing his highly acclaimed and experimental

debut album in 2011, Space is Only Noise,

Jaar has been all over the map, working on everything

from soundtracks to helming his own label

and Internet radio hub Other People. Based in New

York, but of Chilean descent, Jaar’s musical influences

are extremely varied, ranging from hip-hop to

Iberian folk, yet he manages to incorporate the very

essence of these genres into his music constantly.

Sirens is an experience to listen to. It’s Jaar’s least

innovative record, but at the same time his most

refined. At 42 minutes, the universe Jaar has created

is short, but each song is a different world with a

magnetizing atmosphere: “No” lives in disarray and

revolution, while “Three Sides of Nazareth” breathes

insanity; “History Lesson,” the surprising conclusion,

is filled with complacency. In this sense, Sirens

sounds too close to home.

• Paul McAleer

Jacuzzi Boys

Ping Pong

Mag Mag

With their fourth album, Ping Pong, Florida trio

54 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE

Jacuzzi Boys seem to be all about starting fresh.

They’ve started a new label called Mag Mag, but

while they’ve left behind Hardly Art, Ping Pong may

just be the most suitable album for that label. It’s a

fuzzy, garage pop gem that embodies all of the best

qualities of Jacuzzi Boys previous work while bolstering

their song writing ability. Songs like “Boys

Like Blood” and “Can’t Fight Forever” are just that,

actual songs. Where their previous work had a seatof-its-pants

aesthetic, Ping Pong feels punky, but

polished. The chugging “Seventeen,” is a Dum Dum

Girls song smashed through a fuzz pedal; featuring

a pounding, percussive bass guitar and an infectious

scream-along chorus. “Easy Motion” carries

on the band’s fascination with ‘60s psych, bringing

an acoustic guitar and razor-wired synth together

for a song that sounds like Ty Segall’s “Manipulator,”

or Thee Oh Sees on their ode to psych, Drop.

Overall, Ping Pong makes a serious argument

that Jacuzzi Boys may just be a garage band that

actually sounds better in the studio.

• Jamie McNamara

Tove Lo

Lady Wood

Universal

Tove Lo is the latest in a long line of Swedish pop

stars that manage to run up the charts without

making their audience feel like idiots in the process.

That’s not to say that the 28-year-old is reinventing

the wheel in three-minute pop songs, but her

unique brand of third wave feminist sex positivity

is refreshingly open and adult. Of course, it doesn’t

hurt that her songs are impeccably produced,

often sounding like a hybrid between fellow Swede

Robyn, and the hazy, horned-up hedonism of

The Weeknd. It was this fairly simple formula that

launched her 2014 debut Queen of the Clouds

to platinum status, but that album suffered from

bloat and artistic growing pains that have all but

disappeared on her follow-up Lady Wood.

Anchored by the world-conquering, manic-pixie-dream-girl-destroying

lead single “Cool Girl,”

Lady Wood finds Tove Lo gliding confidently into

her own lane as a synth pop sex icon for the “vibe

generation.” Highlight track “Influence,” is built

around a fairly cliché lyrical metaphor (being in lust

is like being drunk), but a Max Martin-esque attention

to vocal intonation and rhythm in the chorus

raises a dumb lyric to an undeniable earworm level.

It’s just one of the many hooks on Lady Wood

that are poised for radio domination. Luckily, Lady

Wood is one of the few pop albums where that

sentiment is a positive.

• Jamie McNamara

Tkay Maidza

TKAY

Downtown/Interscope

Listening to Takudzwa Victoria Rosa Maidza’s

music is a surprisingly maddening experience. Not

because Maidza’s music is bad at all, the complete

opposite, actually. Her music is so good that it’s

hard to believe that the Adelaide-via-Zimbabwe

artist, better known as Tkay, is so talented despite

being so young. At just 20, the rapper/singer has

worked with an impressive cast of producers like

SBTRKT and Bok Bok to provide the bubbly foundation

for her bombastic pop-rap style. Her debut

album for Interscope, the simple titled TKAY, finds

her continuing that trend, working with people

like Mixpak label-head Dre Skull, LA producer

Salva, and co-writer George Maple to craft a

debut album that may just be one of the best pop

albums of the year.

TKAY is a fizzy, synth-heavy sugar rush of an

album. Songs like the lead single “Carry On,”

with Killer Mike, sit somewhere in between early

Charli XCX and Young Thug. Throw in a little PC

Music, some U.K. garage, a little grime for good

measure, and you get close to what Maidza has

created. There are moments, like on the lead

off track “Always Been,” where Maidza channels

Nicki Minaj on her famed “Monster” verse, using

grime-influenced rapid-fire cadences and sophisticated

rhyme structure to force any competitors

to bow down.

Australia may have been responsible for the

scourge of Iggy Azalea, but consider Tkay Maidza

the country’s musical penance.

• Jamie McNamara

Moby & the Void Pacific Choir

These Systems Are Failing

Little Idiot Music

Moby is no stranger to criticisms on his vastly-varied

body of work. Well, he received a great deal of

praise for his most successful, and not-so-arguably

best, album Play in 1999. That featured many truly

timeless electronica classics like “Why Does My

Heart Feel So Bad,” and that song from The Beach,

but his previous album, Animal Rights, nearly

ruined him as he tried to force his angsty, teenage

punk years into an album. So, while that train

wreck was criticized for deviating too far from

what he was good at, so too was the preceding album,

18, chastised for sounding too much like Play.

Also, if you, like me, happened to be in attendance

at his much-hyped set at Shambhala 2014, there’s a

good chance you criticized him to his very core for

that colossal mockery of a “DJ set.”

Now we have These Systems Are Failing, and

while I tried to push my negative associations

garnered from my one experience seeing him

“perform” aside while listening to his latest

record, it didn’t help much. It seems as though

he has returned to his ‘80s punk influences,

channeling his personal issues with the modern

world into perhaps his lividest music yet. The

problem is, it doesn’t pack enough of a punch;

even with all its fuzzy, synth heavy guitar lines

and drum machines and his deadpan voice that

permeates through out. Like the rest of the album,

it’s monotonous and uninspired. Much like

the way he apparently perceives this generation,

you might say.

• Paul Rodgers

MV & EE

root/void

Woodsist

Psychedelic music over time has had very different

meanings. From the Lewis Carroll-fueled jams of

Jefferson Airplane, to the prog styling of Pink Floyd, to

the poppy funk of Tame Impala, I’ve never heard music

that encapsulates the hallucinogenic, mind-altering,

norm-bending nature quite like MV & EE. root/

void is the Vermont duo’s 36th(!) album since their

debut in 2004. Combining traditional western and

eastern instrumentation together, their folky jams

have a strangeness to them that is uniquely their own.

A lot of what they do might be construed as

trying too hard. Track names like “No $ (Shit

Space - It’s All About the Coin ¢ /Corn)” or the

lengthy sections containing nothing but a single

chord slowly being strummed certainly don’t help

that impression, but there’s something undeniably

earnest about their output.

Their reverb-slathered, disharmonic duets

channel Mesoamerican chanting over twangy

steel string, or the drug-rooted spirits that you

hear on the wind singing you disquieting lullabies.

Their seemingly entirely improvised mish-mash of

sitar, country guitar, and dreamy synth filled come

downs make up a perfect soundtrack for a trip

anywhere far away from people who might judge

you for your ten-minute psychedelic love songs.

• Cole Parker

NxWorries

YES LAWD!

Stones Throw

When Anderson .Paak released his debut album

Venice in 2014, he was essentially homeless,

hustling to survive. That album caught the ear of

New Jersey native Glen Boothe, otherwise known

as producer Knxwledge, who himself is no stranger

to the hustle (you don’t get to 64 releases on

Bandcamp without serious dedication, after all).

The two started working together as NxWorries,

releasing an EP in 2015 called Link Up & Suede.

The latter track would make it’s way to none other

than Dr. Dre, landing .Paak a contract with Aftermath

Records and a total of eight(!) guest spots on

the Dre’s 2015 comeback album, Compton.

Yet, as amazing as 2015 was for .Paak, 2016 has

somehow been even better. In January he released

the album of the year in Malibu, all the while

working with Boothe on a follow-up to that 2015

EP, the full-length YES LAWD! for Stones Throw

Records.

YES LAWD! is a fitting victory lap for .Paak,

even when it doesn’t work all that well. It’s a dank

and dusty beat-tape, filled with sub-three-minute

throwback jams, that sounds like a ‘70s R&B

Madvillainy. In a few ways it mirrors that 2004

classic from Madlib and Doom, most notably

that it features two of the game’s most outlandish

outsiders flexing on the game with an infectious

unfuckwittability. The album finds .Paak adopting

a Superfly-era Curtis Mayfield persona. He’s a

shit-talking amalgamation of Shaft and Sade, torn

between being a lover and a player, often in the

same line. On the late-album cut “Sidepiece,” he

contemplates his place as a rap game Don Juan,

protesting his love for a woman is strong enough


to relinquish his other sexual escapades, even

though “one won’t do, and two is not enough for

me, no!”

It’s soundtracked by swelling, sampled strings

and slowly rolling toms and tams straight out of

the ‘70s. On opener “Livvin’,” and the stunted jam

“Kutless,” the dust in the grooves of the record is as

audible as any of the sampled instruments.

There are brief moments that take away some

enjoyment from YES LAWD!, but it still leaves

the impression that when they’re on, NxWorries

are the smoothest duo since Rob Thomas and

Santana.

• Jamie McNamara

Pale Lips

Wanna Be Bad

Hosehead Records

Montreal garage-punks Pale Lips have a ripping

time of a first LP on their hands with the release of

Wanna Be Bad. Just a few chords, vocals that run

from sweet harmonies to raw yowls and a healthy

heap of sass keep these 12 nuggets of brittle but

bright power pop a riot from start to finish.

Tongue-in-cheek opener “Doo Wah Diddy Shim

Sham (Bama Lama Loo)” makes playful use of

vintage garage-pop scatting while maintaining the

genre’s reverence for earnest vocal melody. If that

sounds a bit innocent for a record called Wanna Be

Bad, fear not: “Queen of Spades” is an ode to the

thrill of gambling, “Mary-Lou Sniffin’ Glue” (sounding

not unlike an Exploding Hearts song) preaches

the joys of inhaling that you should not, and “Run

Boy Run” is about taking vengeance on a cheater.

Like much punk and garage-rock, the album

doesn’t exactly swell with variety throughout. Rather,

it takes something fun and unfussy and injects it

with snark, snarl and a sense of humour that makes

the tracks endlessly personable. It’s a saccharine

and venomous concoction, perhaps described

best a big, bright lollipop coated in a lethal dose of

speed and arsenic.

• Colin Gallant

Peeling

Rats In Paradise EP

Buzz Records

Toronto DIY punk “supergroup” Peeling features

members of Mexican Slang, Odonis Odonis, Dilly

Dally, and Golden Dogs. Their first EP as a group,

Rats In Paradise, combines aspects of garage rock,

punk, noise and pop into one album.

In the song “Magic Eye,” lead singer Annabelle

Lee’s rasp and growl is paired with hard hitting

drum beats to create a sultry song focusing simply

on body positivity and sex. Another song off of

the record, “Leisure Life,” condemns apathy, greed

and those who are “making money off of war and

institutional oppression.”

While the themes of the album seem a bit heavy

handed, what’s produced is an enjoyable, almost

pop-influenced, punk album. In just four songs,

Peeling tackle broad concepts such as sexuality,

death, consumerism, religion and mental illness,

but - like much of Buzz Records catalogue – Rats In

Paradise is still a hazy, fuzzy and fun album.

• Kennedy Enns

Planes Mistaken For Stars

Prey

Deathwish Inc.

Prey comes to us as the first new offering in almost

10 years from Colorado-via-Illinois post hardcore/

metal/rock outfit, Planes Mistaken For Stars. But in

all honesty, did we really miss them? Prey is easily

the most cohesive and listenable album of the

band’s catalogue, but that being said, there are really

only three tracks of note and the rest fall into a

weird, too-similar flatness. “Til’ It Clicks,” “Clean Up

Mean,” and “Pan In Flames” are those noteworthy

tracks. “Black Rabbit” gets a partial note for being

simple and stirring, though it’s short enough to

sound like an intro off of Alexisonfire’s Crisis, with

little more development.

The overall production favours a squished-together

sound instead of letting the individual parts

breathe. This does come together like a striking

chorus of ghostly howls at times, but at other times

mimics the decaying rabbit carcass of the cover art:

bleeding together and blending into the landscape.

This album will make you realize maybe you don’t

like PMFS as much as nostalgia tells you to. But that

being said, there are highlights and it still comes

together as the most mature album the band has

put out.

• Willow Grier

Poor English

Poor English EP

Darling Records

It often seems that Portland, and the Pacific

Northwest in general, is one of the last few areas

where six strings still reign supreme. Poor English,

a trio home-grown in the Rose City, kneel to the

throne on their self-titled debut EP, with five

songs that blaze new trails and hearken back to

indie rock’s more celebrated past. Lead single “Everlaster”

is the definite standout of that handful

of tracks. Featuring extremely dense instrumentation

packed with sporadic, mathy guitars, buzzing

slides, a silky smooth bassline, and lead vocalist

Joe Hadden’s impassioned pleas, it really shows

off the band’s ability to harmonize what should

sound like total chaos into a rock song with

instant pop appeal.

That chaos is based on the sheer amount of

effects, noise and musical fidgets – you get the

impression that a Poor English stage is lined

with pedals. Occasionally (like on closer “See

Through”) they overpower what’s being played.

It’s mostly done tastefully though, with seemingly

random one-off riffs dashed with these effects

adding to the overall experience.

Amid that muddle is Hadden and harmonizing

back-up vocals repeating mantra-like hooks over

quickly shifting riffs and rhythm lines, building

tension in an extremely effective way. Frequently

acting more like a rhythm guitar then a lead guitar,

these choruses allow the listener to unpack

the virtuous instrumentation while belting along

to Hadden’s desperation.

• Cole Parker

Protest the Hero

Pacific Myth

Sony Music

There’s no middle ground when it comes to

discussing Canadian prog-rockers Protest the

Hero. Four strong albums in, PTH has developed

a love-‘em-or-can’t-fucking-stand-‘em reputation

that stems primarily from frontman Rody

Walkers divisive vocal delivery which shifts

from crystal-clear highs to vicious gutturals on

a dime. However, Pacific Myth, their latest EP of

voracious fret-burners, is a prime example of a

band that knows their place so well that they’re

unable to escape the territory of self-parody that

comes from musicians that *literally* grew up

playing the same music they’re still putting out

15 years on.

To remedy this situation, Protest has started implementing

unique marketing strategies to produce

their work, beginning with 2013’s Volition (which

was crowdfunded via Indiegogo), and continuing

with Pacific Myth, which was released over a

12-month span to paying subscribers via Bandcamp.

The result is 12 tracks (well, six, with accompanying

instrumentals) that essentially sound like

rejected cuts that didn’t quite make it onto their

last full-length. In fact, any song on Pacific Myth

could be slipped into any other post-Fortress

release and the listener would be none the wiser.

While the guys in Protest are undoubtedly

talented, Pacific Myth has made it clear that

being really, really good at what you do doesn’t

necessarily make it interesting.

• Alec Warkentin

John K. Samson

Winter Wheat

Anti-Records

As if John K. Samson needed to prove to us that

he is among Canada’s best songwriters, Winter

Wheat is the lyrically ambitious, clean and clever,

release that we weren’t sure we were going to get

this late in his illustrious career.

With the Weakerthans now permanently

defunct, and his Propaghandi days a distant

memory, Samson began settling into singer-songwriter

mode on Provincial (2012). It’s a beautiful

record, but also small and reserved. Armed with

the knowledge that Samson writes fitfully, this

year’s 15 track, sprawling, Winter Wheat, comes

as a most pleasant surprise.

Close listens do not go unrewarded. The record

is packed with extremely compelling narratives,

such as the charming and fun first-person account

of a Cambridge spy about to be caught on

“Fellow Traveler,” but it also maintains the many

quotable one-liners that made Weakerthans’

blue-collar anthems so memorable. “The payday

lonely pray in parking lots, a one bar wifi kinda

town,” Samson whispers on “Capital.”

The record is fairly sparse in its production,

and this helps highlight Samson’s lyricism. This is

most true of “Alpha Adept,” which balances its

delusional narrator with some slinky bass guitar,

wirey synths, and a beautifully sci-fi keyboard

breakdown. “17th Street Treatment Centre”

sounds like a first take recording, just electric

guitar and wavering vocals, it feels deliberately

unpolished, like it was recorded from the hospital

bed of the protagonist. Among the most energetic

and fun songs on the record is ‘Fellow Traveler,’

but with its soft percussion, and widely spaced

doo-wop vocal harmony, the track never peaks

quite as highly as it could.

Winter Wheat is a fantastic record, a sprawling

collection of short stories with a clean, but soft,

coat of paint.

• Liam Prost

Slow Hollows

Romantic

Danger Collective Records

It’s winter 2016 and there’s no sign of decline for the

slew of white male jangle pop rehashes: a recycled

‘80s trend re-popularized by the likes of Mac DeMarco

for the new, liberal generation of entitled Millennials

experiencing the woes of life. HYPERLINK “http://

www.mtv.com/news/2793656/rip-indie-rock/” After

all, indie rock - historically and even today - is still a

straight white male dominated industry.

Take L.A. hopefuls Slow Hollows, a new generation

of ‘90s alt-rock revival, jangle pop youths, led

by Austin Feinstein (lead guitar/vocals). Straight

out of high school, their resume is remarkable, if

only by the number of collaborations Feinstein’s

had with high-profile artists such as Frank Ocean

(“Blonde,” “Endless,” and “Self-Control” alongside

Swedish wunderkind Yung Lean) and Tyler the

Creator (“Cherry Bomb”).

Following the release of 2015’s Atelophobia,

Slow Hollows emphasize dreary winter blues with

their third album, Romantic, released under their

own DIY label Danger Collective. The album is a

youthful, poesy, lovelorn collection of songs written

during Feinstein’s senior year of high-school

that effortlessly meander into the foundation of

the human pathos: loneliness (“How can you love

something / and know you’re not trying... / for

what’s feeling / are we breathing still?” laments

Feinstein on “Flowers”).

Don’t expect anything innovative (except

for that sexy, sexy brass), but don’t expect to be

disappointed, either. One can’t go wrong with a

band so reminiscent of the ‘90s alternative rock,

post punk scene, the album’s opening track “Spirit

Week,” providing immediate callbacks to Pavement,

Sebadoh, and Beck. Feinstein’s vocals aren’t

choirboy material, but his lackadaisical drawl laid

over clever, easy-to-follow instrumentation (have

I mentioned that brass?) and chord progression is

definitely appealing.

• Nikki Celis

Solange

A Seat At The Table

Saint/Columbia

On her first album in eight years, A Seat At The

Table, Solange Knowles considerably raises her

creative ante, while providing a strong female

perspective concerning race and gender issues in

21st century America. In co-writing, producing,

and arranging the album, Knowles proves not only

a deft-yet-sensitive hand at vocalizing the strength

and struggles of today’s women, but her skills as a

composer and producer serve as an example of the

highest degree of musical imagination and taste

currently in pop music.

From the cascading intro harmonies of “Rise,”

there’s an inkling that A Seat At The Table might be

a more run-of-the-mill pop exercise, but the notion

is quickly disregarded, as the opening cut never

drops the beat, settling on vocals and Wurlitzer

with a subtle high-hat/kick on the off beat to keep

the cut off balance.

“Don’t Touch My Hair” is continually rising,

with an arrangement brought to classy heights by

classic ‘90s hip-hop horns that blaze into a sort

of Daptone climax. It’s a shocking move for a pop

record, but at this point, Knowles has confounded

throughout, and her artistry, and reverence for the

history of black pop music is well assured.

Solange Knowles is a singular artist, distinct and

distant from her commercial pop past, and A Seat

At The Table is a smart, unpredictable album that

ought to position her as a serious voice in the social

movements of her time, and breathes some life

into a style that has long become sterile, rote, and

endlessly greedy.

• Mike Dunn

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 55


Tropic Harbour

Tasseomancy

Do Easy

Outside Music / Hand Drawn Dracula

If you’re looking for a slow-burning, ethereal album

filled with spine-tingling harmonies, you’ve

come to the right place with Tasseomancy’s Do

Easy.

Tasseomancy’s definition as a word describes

the divination of information based on tea, coffee,

or wine-resin reading. It’s a form of fortune

telling that belongs to the earth. On that front,

Do Easy has you covered with unadorned yet

hair-raising harmonies from twin vocalists Romy

and Sari Lightman. The duo formerly known as

Ghost Bees form the crux of the band, but this

LP is bolstered by the perhaps more recognizably

named contributions like Simone Schmidt (Fiver,

One Hundred Dollars) and Alex Cowan (Blue

Hawaii, Agor).

Starting with the piano-punctuated torch song

“Dead Can Dance and Neil Young,” drifting blissfully

along to lead single “Missoula,” (a bit like Belinda

Carlisle meets Beach House in a Leonard Cohen-written

fable), and wrapping with the startling

spare “Eli,” Tasseomancy track deeply personal

themes best explained in late-night whispers and

not in a needfully brisk album review.

If you’re someone who values the reward of

taking time to settle into deeply considered pacing

and merits reflection on – and investigation

of – pristine, obtuse music without a single clear

grabbing point, you’ll find the rewards of Do Easy

to be rich and plentiful.

• Colin Gallant

Testament

Brotherhood of the Snake

Nuclear Blast Records

As the legend goes, The Brotherhood of the Snake

is a secret society to the fore of culture and civilization

as we know it now: Earth was constructed by

“a serpent-infested swampland called Snake Marsh.”

The Alien King (Ea) engineered humans to work as

slaves to mine for gold. Or something like that.

Testament has taken this mythical apologue and

infused it into their 12th studio offering Brotherhood

of the Snake – a self-described concept

album – distinct in its lyrical content from their

previous works, which used to lean more towards

56 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE

politics, the environment, angsty emotions and

reality.

The title track, also the record’s first single,

invites us on an allusive trip that storms forward

over the course of 10 songs, ending fittingly with

“The Numbers Game,” a narrative about a 14-day,

14-night killing spree. Musically, it’s everything one

might expect from Bay Area thrash - high BPMs,

tangled upper-register guitar with extended runs

and solos layered over a groovy, funk bass line.

This while the second guitar gusts around the

percussion, smartening up the others, but staying

subdued enough that all parts can be admired

separately.

Even after 12 albums, Testament shows no signs

of slowing down anytime soon. Though, they better

be better than just good every time they drop an

album because thrash doesn’t need a comeback; it

never really leaves.

• Lisa Marklinger

Twin Rains

Automatic Hand

Independent

Drift into the electro-dream realm of Canadian duo

Twin Rains. Their debut album, Automatic Hand,

splices motivational melodies and despair, creating

a sublime mindscape for the listener. After moving

from homeland Toronto to Vancouver, Jay Merrow

and Christine Stoesser unearthed this gleaming

gem, full of laidback beats and whimsy. There is

a deep stormy ripple throughout the album, a

yearning and pining vibe that is laced with Stoesser’s

solemnly sultry vocals. Opening track “Before”

totes a weight of anticipation, while twin track

“Ghost Bird,” is slow, almost dragging with trailing

guitar and sorrowful vibraphone.

Fear not, though, the album is not entirely dark.

Sunny guitar licks grace their first single “Flash

Burn,” while “Automatic Hand” is dressed with the

zest of Ace of Base. Haunting synth and a driving

beat unleash an uncontrollable dance-y pants

direction on “A Swim,” laden with contemplative

lyrics like, “If I know that the moon is making the

waves, who am I to point out the undertow?”

The frequency of loneliness and reverie reverb

throughout.

As a whole, the album is seamlessly cohesive,

marrying poppy guitar, airy vocals, intriguing synth,

and wandering beats, all whilst carrying a wide

spectrum of emotion. Just in time for the reflective

essence of winter, this debut is not to be dismissed.

• Shayla Friesen

Tropic Harbour

Glowing Eyes

Independent

Winter in the Prairies is a dreadful experience. The

snow smothers any memory of a warm summer

afternoon spent lounging around, losing track of

time. An escape from the bleak winter, however

temporary it may be, is well deserved to anyone

living here. Enter Tropic Harbour, an Edmonton

dream-pop project led by Mark Berg, whose new

release, Glowing Eyes, offers some comfort regardless

of the seasonal incongruity. Saying it evokes a

longing for the return of summer is an understatement.

Building on the foundation laid by his previous

EP Colour, Berg’s sound has developed, becoming

more sophisticated and lavish. Glowing Eyes

ditches the thin Casio-tone percussion in favour

of a rich rhythm section. Tracks “Stay Awake” and

“Now I See” are prime examples of the new Tropic

Harbour. The music never feels forced like other

synth-heavy groups who seem to relish in bludgeoning

listeners with tacky, Allman-esque solos.

Thick, resonant synth tracks are layered over jangly

guitars resulting in surprisingly light and infectious

melodies.

The entire album represents a uniformity in

composition. Whether that is an intentional choice

made by Berg or the result of a lack of song writing

diversity is debatable. Glowing Eyes is consistent; A

delight from beginning to end and offers a temporary

(and much-needed) break from our cheerless

winter. God knows we need it.

• A.L. Devlin

Tycho

Epoch

Ghostly International

Tycho can do no wrong. Scott Hansen’s dreamy, ambient

downtempo project is a case study in straddling

approachability and constant innovation. Putting the

surprise-released Epoch next to his very first LP, Past

is Prologue – now exactly a decade old – the creative

progression between the two is subtle, but clearly

discernible. Hansen’s evolution is like a comet blazing

a lazy trail through the galaxy, with no set destination.

This combination of stoic serenity and mastery

results in yet another album that’s as beautiful as it is

technically perfect.

Hansen’s recent focus on live performance and DJ

sets bleeds into Epoch elegantly, with a healthy balance

of analog and electronic influence that always

feels symbiotic.

Tracks like ‘Slack’ and ‘Division’ are decidedly

grounded in their analogue-leaning directions, while

title track ‘Epoch’ is a haphazard, epic and emotional

mishmash of techno and textbook Tycho. Throw in

bold strokes like the mixtape-flavored hip-hop vibes

of ‘Local,’ the subtle dubstep nuances of ‘Source,’

and the Dive tributes that exist in ending tracks

‘Continuum’ and ‘Field,’ and the result is what feels

like a comprehensive sampler of what Hansen is truly

capable of.

Epoch feels like an agglomeration of Tycho’s

previous three albums, condensed into their quintessential

components. It’s an excellent introduction to

Hansen’s work for the uninitiated, and a love letter to

die-hard fans needing another album to memorize.

• Max Foley

Martha Wainwright

Goodnight City

Cadence Music

After four years of slumber since her last solo

album, Come Home To Mama, Martha Wainwright

re-emerges only to say “bonne nuit” with Goodnight

City.

Wainwright has recently admitted to feeling

exhausted and satiated in the studio after spending

long, persistent hours arranging each of the 12

songs for this release with her band, proudly stating

that “the integrity of the songs and our ability to

play together as a band” comes through due to

minimal overdubs and the cohesive camaraderie

that inevitably unfolds out of such a focused collaborative

period.

While Wainwright wrote lyrics for only half the

songs on Goodnight City, she carefully adapted and

crafted six other offerings from songwriters such as

Beth Orton, Canadian poet Michael Ondaajte, and

her brother Rufus Wainwright. The album begins

in an easy, playful realm while quickly unraveling

into a stormy battle of arrangements, verbose

lyrical content, and the raw, effortlessness of her

voice. Each song demands attention of its own,

resulting in a dramatic journey through voyeuristic

landscapes. Revealed are intimate glimpses into the

symptoms of family, romance and fame, making

this a challenging listen unsuited to the emotionally

faint at heart. Admittedly, some of the clichéd

content is only forgivable due to the impressive

charisma of her voice, but will most certainly lend

to a steamy, boisterous live show.

• Danielle Wensley

Zeds Dead

Northern Lights

Deadbeats

Zeds Dead is like a virus, evolving ever-faster with

every attempt to nail them down. It makes sense,

then, that the bass-fueled Toronto sensation continues

to deliver lick after lick of infectious material.

Purists and old-school fans might lament their

departure from the tried-and-true, bone-shattering

low-end that put them on the map and to a degree,

they may have a point. But ignoring the duo’s

ever-changing style is to ignore what allows them

to continuously push boundaries. Northern Lights,

the duo’s debut full-length, is an unstable nuclear

reactor of conflicting genres about to reach critical

mass. And it works beautifully.

A challenging listen for ‘true’ heads, Northern

Lights has such a wide range of content spread

across its 15 tracks that it’s hard to believe there’s

an equivalent depth, a palpable passion injected

into each component. The LP boasts an impressive

roster of vocalists like Twin Shadow, Dragonette,

Pusha T (with Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo on

the same song) and Ghetts – with each of their

unique sounds buttressing powerful production

that could undoubtedly stand alone. The newschool

sound of tracks like ‘Stardust,’ ‘Where Did

That Go’ and ‘Neck and Neck’ stand in sharp contrast

to the old-school anthemic vibes of drum and

bass roller ‘Me No Care’ and the long-anticipated

‘Dimemories.’

Those unwilling to watch their old favourites

grow might dismiss Northern Lights as a pop-facing,

radio-friendly mid-life crisis. For the rest of

us, here’s an intriguing selection of tracks that

cements Zeds Dead’s dedication to constant

reinvention.

• Max Foley


livereviews

Lucette

White Lung

The Switches

Shadowy Men

on a Shadowy

Planet

Up + Downtown Music Festival

Edmonton, AB

October 7-9, 2016

Running a festival over 16 venues during a holiday weekend might

have been ambitious, but the best part of Up + Downtown (UP-

+DT) Fest in Edmonton was that their multi-venue setup fostered

a choose-your-own adventure experience. There was a chance to

see a Canadian chanteuse in a world class concert hall, a future

country star in an intimate venue or a band who wrote the theme

song for one of the best comedy shows of all time. Perhaps it was

their surf-rock that set off the rash of people to hang ten above

the crowd at the after party. At UP+DT Fest 2016, you could have

seen a professional punk band riding a high tide up out of the underground,

in full command. You could have broken through your

pre-Thanksgiving coma with a high-energy alt-country band. You

might have stumbled into a reunion show with a band full of high

school friends. Or you could have laughed at a kid in the hall.

Some of Friday’s UP+DT 2016 shows featured Faith Healer,

Mitchmatic, Royal Canoe, Close Talker and If These Trees Could

Talk, which took place at the Needle Vinyl Tavern. While it may

have been enticing to stick inside one venue as the first snow of

the year fell outside, the spirit of the festival encouraged roaming.

Faith Healer were the most alive I’d ever seen them. It was

refreshing to hear Jessica Jalbert addressing the fact that she

was ill but still performing in spite of sickness. Although we only

caught the last few songs of their set, it was a delightful start to

see Jalbert spurring the audience with her quick wit and charm.

Mitchmatic made it abundantly obvious as to why he remains a

crowd favorite in his Edmonton hometown. The audience continued

to swell at the Needle for Winnipeg’s Royal Canoe, who were

as quirky and brilliant as they ever have been.

Although we missed out on the last two bands of the evening,

we trudged over to Brixx Bar just in time to catch Edmonton’s

Counterfeit Jeans. Tight and boisterous, the true highlight of the

trio’s set was Cassia Hardy of Wares appearing onstage to join

them for a live rendition of “Fairy Ring,” the song she provided

guitar support for on their self-titled LP. Hardy added a wild and

assured stage presence the trio wouldn’t have otherwise; teasing

both bass and guitar parts with her natural charisma.

Worst Days Down lived up to their reputation as consistently

sharp and passionate performers. Ben Sir is amongst the dearest

champions of local music in Edmonton and his enthusiasm was

palpable through his slightly nervous, slightly awkward stage

presence but proved that humility will never go out of style.

Our Mercury had the entire room in a trance. While their

punk rock may not have been as fiery as in the past, the band

seamlessly elevated their performance into a more melodic and

adult version of their former selves. Thankfully for us, they didn’t

lose any of their kick and the full crowd at Brixx was left visibly

energized and uplifted.

Saturday kicked off with a plucky all ages set by Tokyo Police

Club at the Needle Vinyl Tavern. Their set was danceable, happy

indie rock punctuated by a smiling, bright audience. It was also

wonderful to see so many young kids at this show properly celebrating

Thanksgiving with their families.

Later Saturday evening, with the help of Not Enough Fest, Banshee,

Wares, Switches, Labour and White Lung put on memorable

and explosive sets. Banshee continues to tighten up as a band and

it’s always impressive to watch the singer/bass player, Jackie, grow

in her vocal range. Banshee’s bluesy Queens of the Stone Agestyle

of rock noticeably impressed the crowd.

After Banshee, I ducked out into the cold wind to check out

some of Bruce McCulloch’s comedy set at the All Saints Catholic

Church. Best known for his time on Kids in the Hall, McCulloch’s

set was inspired mainly by his family life. My lingering hangover

coupled with the few tranquilizing beers I drank at the Banshee

show nearly put me to sleep in the church pew, uncomfortable as

it was. We caught a part of McCulloch’s show in which he reminisced

about Pismo Beach and a collection of disgusting items he

and his family discovered at an unfortunate Airbnb experience:

dirty diapers, a box of condoms with one missing, and a wet tube

sock were just a few other items left behind by the previous renter.

After a few laughs I resolved to return to the Needle.

We walked in perfectly timed to see Wares do her thing on

the small stage. Never one to disappoint, Cassia Hardy hopped

off the stage and yelled directly in my face while ripping through

“Missed the Point.” Switches followed and true to form, did

not disappoint. Although this particular show didn’t include a

shot-gunning contest or cigarettes being thrown into the crowd,

they maintained their delightful stage presence despite a lack of

saucy antics.

With the Switches, it’s always a fun sing along!

Sunday was a flurry of loud punk rock, with the exception

of JPNSGRLS, who felt like a weird last minute addition beside

Borrachera, who are much louder and aggressive. Jay Higgs of

Borrachera is always captivating with his gritty, primal howls and

potent ability to turn your head toward the stage. Chunky, dirty

bass and his delightfully audacious rock star stage persona make

for one of Edmonton’s best bands out there today.

As mentioned, JPNSGRLS were a lot lighter, especially in contrast

to Borrachera. Suited to a younger, Sonic Boom going crowd,

their poppy sound was slightly lost on me. Lead singer Charlie

Kerr was entertaining to watch as he bounded from one side of

the stage to the other, engaging their young fans.

Calgary’s Mortality Rate instantly impressed the afternoon

Denizen Hall crowd with a badass female lead singer. They

performed a set of heavy hardcore mixed with a touch of emo

screaming, for good measure. Everyone in the crowd was ready

to party as they closed their set. This was good timing for Youth

Decay of Vancouver to pop on stage and give the crowd a set of

accessible pop punk, constantly fun to sing (and drink) along to.

After a bit of a breather (and some much needed food in our

bellies), we ended the weekend at 9910 with the Allovers. Fun,

fast and danceable, the Allovers seem to be a fixture each year at

UP+DT. We clumsily danced, smiled and soaked in the last of the

festival. It’s easy to remember why this is one of the best festivals

in the city. Friends everywhere you look, new and old, instilling

the spirit of Thanksgiving in our little hearts.

Until next year…

• review and photos by Levi Manchak & Brittany Rudyck

BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 57


SAVAGE LOVE

the young and the old...

Waiting to pay for my groceries at the market this evening, this guy,

stinking of booze, says to my 9-year-old daughter, “Sweetheart, can you

put the divider thing there for me?” First, why is some leering grown man

calling my child “sweetheart”? He then thumps two huge bottles of vodka

down on the belt. I move closer to my daughter; he then reaches his hand

over me and wraps his hand around her arm, saying, “Now, you be nice

to your Mommy, sweetie.” I pluck his hand off. “Do not touch my child,” I

say. My other hand is pressed against my daughter’s ribs, and I can feel her

heart POUNDING. “You have a beautiful daughter,” he says. The cashier,

whom we know, a guy, looks at me, eyebrows up. I roll my eyes. So pissed.

We leave. “I hated that man,” my daughter says once we get in the car. “He

smelled bad, I wanted to hit him, if anyone ever does that to me again I’m

going to scream.” Here we effing go: “Sometimes you have to be hypervigilant,”

I tell my daughter, “because some gross men out there feel they are

entitled to touch us.” And then I share my story: “When I was a little girl…”

I don’t even remember the first time it happened to me. I don’t remember

the last time some pervert rubbed up against me. But that’s what you have

to deal with when you are a girl. We have to learn to brush this shit off, to

make sure that this endless assault course of predators doesn’t take one bit

of your pride, your confidence, or your sense of peace as you walk through

this world. I am so angry.

We should call this the “Trump Talk.” The depressing conversation that

every parent needs to have with their little girl about revolting, predatory,

entitled men. The Trump Talk.

— Mother And Daughter Discuss Enraging Realities

I’m sorry about what happened to your daughter at the grocery

store—I’m sorry about what was done to your daughter by that

entitled asshole at the grocery store—but I’m glad you were there

with her when it happened.

The author Kelly Oxford, in response to Donald Trump’s horrific

comments about sexually assaulting women, called on women to

tweet about their first assaults under the hashtag #notokay. Oxford’s

post went viral—more than a million women responded—and reading

through the seemingly endless thread, I was struck by how many women

were alone the first time they were assaulted. Oxford herself was

alone the first time it happened to her: “Old man on a city bus grabs

my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me. I’m 12.”

A lot of women I know, including some very close friends, were your

daughter’s age the first time it happened to them, MADDER, but they

were alone. Tragically, many assumed that they had done something

wrong, that they had invited this on themselves somehow, and most

didn’t go to their parents for fear of getting into trouble. And when it

inevitably happened again, some became convinced they were indeed

to blame, that they were bringing this on themselves somehow, because

they thought it wasn’t happening to anyone else, just them.

So thank God you were there with your daughter, MADDER,

there to pull that asshole’s hand off of her, there to protect her

from worse, and there to help her process the experience. And in

that car ride home you inoculated your daughter with your message

(you are a human being and you have a right to move through

this world unmolested) before gross predators could infect her

with theirs (you are only an object and we have a right to touch

you). I want to live in a world where this sort of thing doesn’t happen

to anyone’s daughter, MADDER, but until we do: Every little

girl should be so lucky as to have a trusted adult standing by ready

to intervene when it does happen. I only wish the grocery store

clerk had intervened, too.

Regarding your suggestion, MADDER, I’ve received roughly 10

million emails begging me to do for Donald Trump what I did for

Rick Santorum: My readers and I redefined santorum (“the frothy

mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct

of anal sex”) and some wanted us to do the same for Trump. People

even sent in suggestions: trump is the streak of shit a large turd

sometimes leaves on the bottom of the toilet bowl; trump is the

snot that sometimes runs out of your nose when you’re giving a

blowjob; a trump is a guy so hopelessly inept in bed that no woman

(or man) wants him, no matter how rich he is. The suggested new

meanings all struck me as trivial and snarky—and I don’t think

there’s anything trivial about the racism, sexism, xenophobia,

anti-Semitism, and violence that Trump has mainstreamed and

normalized, and I’m not inclined to snark about it.

And, besides, “trump” already has a slang meaning: It means “to

fart audibly” in Great Britain—and that definition is already in the

Oxford English Dictionary. And it frankly didn’t seem possible to

make Donald Trump’s name any more revolting than he already

has. If I may paraphrase the amazing letter the New York Times

sent to Trump after he demanded they retract a story about the

women he’s assaulted: Nothing I could say in my sex column could

even slightly elevate the feelings of disgust decent people experience

whenever they hear his name. Mr. Trump, through his own

words and actions, has already redefined his last name.

But then your e-mail arrived, MADDER, and I set aside the column

I was already working on to rush your idea into print. Because

your suggestion—that parents call the conversation they need to

have with their daughters about predatory and entitled men the

“Trump Talk”—is just as fitting and apt as the “frothy mixture” definition

of santorum. It’s not trivial and it’s not snarky. It has gravitas,

MADDER, and here’s hoping “Trump Talk” isn’t just widely adopted,

but universally practiced. Because no little girl who gets groped on

a bus or in a grocery store or on a subway or in a classroom should

ever have to wonder if she did something wrong.

I am a 63-year-old man and I am engaged to a wonderful woman

in her 50s and our sex life is great. My libido is off the charts when

I am with her, and she is always initiating. She told me she used

to enjoy teasing and watching guys online shoot while she played

with (and exposed) herself, and she loves to see huge loads. It is a

massive turn-on for her. But I’m at an age where I produce hardly

anything when I ejaculate. Is there a way to increase my production?

Is there some way to increase the volume of my loads by a

large amount? We watch porn that has guys shooting seemingly

endless streams and she gets crazy horny watching them. I would

love to be able to do the same!

—Need To Fill The Girl

Hydrate more, NTFTG, and go longer between orgasms (days,

weeks), and you might see a moderate increase in volume. But you’re

never gonna blow loads like you did in your teens and 20s, and you’re

never gonna blow loads like

guys do in porn. Remember:

Porn producers, professional

and amateur, select for big

load blowers, NTFTG, so

those samples (and those

loads) are skewed. So what

you’re doing now—enjoying

your fiancée while not

denying her the pleasure

of watching her porn (and

then reaping the rewards

yourself)—is without a doubt

your best course of action.

Listen to Dan at

savagelovecast.com

Email Dan at

mail@savagelove.net

Follow Dan

@fakedansavage on Twitter

by Dan Savage

58 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE


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