Margaret Cho • Taboo Sex Show • CUFF • Giraf • NOFX • Pup • Keys ‘N Krates • Orchid • Lady Gaga
Editor’s Note/Pulse 4
Bedroom Eyes 7
Places Please 10
Edmonton Extra 35
Book Of Bridge 36
Letters From Winnipeg 37
Let’s Get Jucy! 41
This Month in Metal 51
Femme Wave 24-26
Margaret Cho, Instersite Art Festival,
Montreal Modernism, Sex Taboo Show
Calgary Underground Film Festival, GIRAF,
Calgary European Film Festival, Marda Loop
Justive Film Festival, CJSW Music Docs
TABLE OF CONTENTS
NOFX, Pup, All Hands On Jane, The
Sweets, Fred Penner, Hello Moth,
Rosalind, Dragonette, Elephant Stone
Alberta Electronic Music Conference, Keys
N Krates, Beach Season
Barney Bentall, Andrew Collins Trio,
100 Mile House, Orit Shimoni, Danielle
French, James Vincent McMorrow
Traer, Orchid, Steve Grimmett/s Grim
Lady Gaga and much, much more ...
Managing Editor/Web Producer
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 •
NOFX - page 28
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BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 3
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.
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats
Into The Cosmic
Into The Cosmic – Blacklight
BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 7
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,
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
“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.
BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 9
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
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
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.”
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 11
fresh psychology straight from the sugar shack
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
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,
“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
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
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
“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!”
“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
14 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE CITY
24 | JANUARY 2015 • BEATROUTE ROOTS
‘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
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
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
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
“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,”
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
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
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
BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 17
GIRAF12 FESTIVAL GUIDE
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
Louise en hiver
(Louse By The Shore)
2016, France/Canada, dir. Jean-François Laguionie
Friday, Nov. 25, 7pm,
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
2015, Spain/France, dir. Alberto Vasquez and
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.
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
VISITING ARTIST SHOWCASE
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.
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
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.
bad boy of ballet film release
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
“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’
This year, already a handful of films are on my
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
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
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
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
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
rewind to the future
by Shane Sellar
The Legend of Tarzan
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
The Purge: Election Year
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
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
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
Fortunately, when your in-laws are apes you
don’t have to set your bathroom standards so
Sleeping with the lights on is stupid. I mean, who
wants to watch the monster-under-the-bed eat their
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
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
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
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
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
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
Incidentally, when a cadaver washes up on your
deserted island, their 10 favourite albums belong
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
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
He’s a Kindred Spiritualist. He’s the…
BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 23
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
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
“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
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
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:
One would hope that Peach Kelli Pop won’t do
away with any of their charm or cuteness anytime
Peach Kelli Pop perform at Dickens on Friday, November
BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 25
Toronto duo puts traditional rockin’ roles out to pasture
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
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
“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.
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
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
“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
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.
BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 29
ALL HANDS ON JANE
set this place on fire by Michael Grondin
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,”
“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
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
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
30 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
not just nostalgic, still opening doors
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
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.
BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 31
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
“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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
liquid light and swirling sitars
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
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
You don’t actually need a
pitch to convince you to go
see Destroyer, do you? Dan
Bejar is one of Canada’s most
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
“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
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
“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
“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
“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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 37
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
“[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
“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
a warm hello from aboard the Cariboo Express
by Graham Mackenzie
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
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.
The Creekside Villa
709 Benchlands Trail
403 609 5522
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
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
soft like snow… beautiful, delicate and deadly
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
“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.
BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 49
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
“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
Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper performs in Calgary,
Alberta on November 16th at Distortion and in
Edmonton, Alberta on November 17th at the
50 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE SHRAPNEL
Dark Love Songs
CD Release Party
Thurs., Nov. 17
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
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
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
• Colin Gallant
illustration: Bad Blood Club
Animals as Leaders
The Madness of Many
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
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
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
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,
• Colin Gallant
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
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
Ain’t What it Seems
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
All The Right Noises
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
• Jamie McNamara
Wanna Be Bad
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
Rats In Paradise EP
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
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 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
• Willow Grier
Poor English EP
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
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
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
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://
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
• Nikki Celis
A Seat At The Table
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
• Mike Dunn
BEATROUTE • NOVEMBER 2016 | 55
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
• Max Foley
on a Shadowy
Up + Downtown Music Festival
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
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
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
Email Dan at
@fakedansavage on Twitter
by Dan Savage
58 | NOVEMBER 2016 • BEATROUTE
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