BeatRoute Magazine AB print e-edition - March 2017

beatroute

BeatRoute Magazine: Western Canada’s Indie Arts & Entertainment Monthly

BeatRoute (AB)
Mission PO 23045
Calgary, AB
T2S 3A8

E. editor@beatroute.ca

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

Currently BeatRoute’s AB edition is distributed in Calgary, Edmonton (by S*A*R*G*E), Banff and Canmore.

FREE MARCH 2017

LOON

See...

Festival

Animated

Objects

highlights

p. 17

THE

OLD

TROUTS

and The Unlikely

Birth of Istvan...

a strange

creative

coming

of age

$100 Film Fest • The Courtneys • The Shivrettes • STRFKR • Port Cities • Horrendous • Dirty Projectors


FIXED

Pulse 4

Bedroom Eyes 7

Vidiot 15

Edmonton Extra 26

Book Of Bridge 28

Letters From Winnipeg 29

Let’s Get Jucy 32

This Month in Metal 41

FEATURES

International Festival of

Animated Objects 16-17

CITY 8-11

Goddamn Millenials, Quantum, Nash,

Midtown, Simons opening, Glenbow

FILM 13-15

$100 Film Fest, Science in the Cinema,

March Upcoming Movies

TABLE OF CONTENTS

MUSIC

rockpile 19-31

The Courtneys, The Shiverettes, Iron

Tusk, Craving Ways, Plaguebringer,

STRFKR, The Frontiers, Silence The

Swamps, nêhiyawak, Worst Days Down,

VRKADE, From Pianos To Power Chords,

Joey Landreth, iansucks

jucy 33-34

Ivy Lab, OAKK

roots 37-38

Port Cities, Corin Raymond, Tom Olson,

Dear Rabbit

shrapnel 41-43

Horrendous, Decibel Magazine Tour,

Woodhawk, Hammerdrone

REVIEWS

music 45-55

Dirty Projectors and much more ...

live 57

Block Heater

BEATROUTE

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

Brad Simm

Marketing Manager

Glenn Alderson

Production Coordinator

Hayley Muir

Managing Editor/Web Producer

Shane Flug

Music Editor

Colin Gallant

Section Editors

City :: Brad Simm

Film :: Jonathan Lawrence

Calgary Beat :: Willow Grier

Edmonton Extra :: Levi Manchak

Book of (Leth)Bridge :: Courtney Faulkner

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 •

Jennie Orton • Michael Grondin • Mathew Silver • Kevin Bailey • Jackie Klapak •

Hayley Pukanski • Nicholas Laugher • Arnaud Sparks • Brittney Rousten •

Breanna Whipple • Alex Meyer • Jay King • Alec Warkentin • Paul McAleer • Mike Dunn •

Shane Sellar • Kaje Annihilatrix • Dan Savage • Claire Miglionico

This Month’s Contributing Photographers & Illustrators

Michael Grondin • Hayley Pukanski • Jim Agaptio • My-An Nguyen

Front Cover

Andrew-Phoenix

Advertising

Ron Goldberger

Tel: (403) 607-4948 • e-mail: ron@beatroute.ca

Distribution

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

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

STRFKR - page 23

e-mail: editor@beatroute.ca

website: www.beatroute.ca

E-Edition

Yumpu.com/BeatRoute

Connect with BeatRoute.ca

Facebook.com/BeatRouteAB

Twitter.com/BeatRouteAB

Instagram.com/BeatRouteAB

Copyright © BEATROUTE Magazine 2017

All rights reserved. Reproduction of the contents is prohibited without permission.

OYR’s WINE STAGE

Sexy, stylish and sophisticated

March 18, 7:30 pm

Gasoline Alley

Heritage Park

Entertainment by

The Garter Girls

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 3


pulse

The Kinkonauts, Calgary’s only longform improv

theatre, and have found a new training centre and

performance space in The Alexandra Centre in

Inglewood. Comprised of more than 40 improvisors

and numerous troupes dedicated to creating

emotional, grotesque and profound play-skits

and make-em-ups.They’re hosting the first annual

Reactor Improv Festival in April (coinciding with

a 10th anniversary) and will be joined by improv

groups from Victoria, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

For more info go to www.kinkonauts.com

DJD’s fundraising extravaganza, the Black & White

Ball takes place on March 11 at the Palliser Hotel.

Expect amazing music, a packed dance floor,

impromptu performances by the DJD Company

and guests, a spectacular silent auction, fabulous

cocktails and delicious culinary delights.

More info go to www.decidedlyjazz.com

The Coming Out Monologues,

YYC has officially

become a program under

the Fairy Tales Presentation

Society umbrella.

The Monologues is

currently in production

for its 2017 season,

which will launch March

22-24 at the John Dutton

Theatre. For more info go

to comingoutyyc.com

4 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE


VOLTAGE CREATIVE GARAGE

Marda Loop arts co-operative, celebrates its first year anniversary

Voltage co-founders Andrea Llewellyn and Kelly O. Johnsgaard

PHOTO: KELLY O. JOHNSGAARD

Located in the heart of Marda Loop, Andrea Llewellyn and Kelly O. Johnsgaard

converted a deserted auto shop into one of the most creative and pragmatic

art facilities in the city. By re-purposing the building they’ve carved out studio,

showcase and instructional spaces specifically intended for sculptors, painters,

printmakers, photographers, designers, festival organizers, animators, multimedia

and performance artists to utilize and flourish. After their first year, BeatRoute

asked how the operation is going.

What have been the biggest highlights of running the Garage so far?

ANDREA: For me, the biggest highlight was getting our business license after all

the stress it had been navigating city processes for permits and bylaws. There is no

specific permit that allows a person to open an art studio with more than one artist

working at a time, or more than one person being taught art. So we had to work

with City Planning and Development to find some way to make this project work.

It has been a year since we have been operating, but for Kelly and I, it has actually

been nearly 2.5 years since this all began. So this anniversary is symbolic of the start

of Voltage blossoming from two person project into an artistic community, both for

our resident artists and our larger short-term hourly rental community. We also have

a few artists-at-large, and a resident art agent, who we are lucky to be able to work

and collaborate with.

KELLY: For me the biggest highlights so far have been seeing the collaborations

between the artists, and also just seeing the positive response from artists and the

community with what we are trying to accomplish which is put simply trying to

provide a safe affordable fun place for ALL artists to come and create there work.

What are some cool projects currently underway?

ANDREA: Last summer we began a large transformation of the exterior of the

building. This included a mural and light box, which has become somewhat famous

on social media, and a clean coat of white paint for the rest of the building. This was a

big moment for us, because until then, we were still pretty anonymous. No one really

knew what was happening or going on in the building, despite the fact we’d been

open since March. It was a conscious choice to stay anonymous until we felt we had

something to present, and could make the best impression possible.

The building still looks pretty raw, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the public

and community embrace of that aspect of what we do. No one comes to Voltage

expecting a sterile or sleek gallery type environment. We are a creative hub, which

fluctuates. To some that might look unpolished or a bit of a mess, but it is liberated

environment.

KELLY: Cool projects under way, the one year anniversary is going to be a pretty

memorable two day event, we have also started planning for the Marda Gras Street

Festival, as well as looking at working with some amazing local artist and businesses

on some potential projects that you will have to stay tuned for.

What are your goals for the foreseeable future?

ANDREA: When it comes to looking down the road at where we’re going, it is equally

about making a statement about artistic space and affordability, use of left over

construction materials and second-hand goods, and use of abandoned or derelict

properties. But also it is about finding opportunities and creating affordable locations

for artists to freely create. We are currently renewing our permit for our current

space, as well as exploring options for the future, and also finding locations to expand

(as this location will be developed by Strategic Group in the upcoming years). We are

finding ways we want to support our artists and provide new resources. The more

efficiently we can do what we are doing, the better. So providing better access for

our regular photographers, and opening a new area of the building with desks for

creatives are two key areas for me.

An ideal property would be one that has some industrial elements while also

having easy accessibility in terms of transportation and visibility as well as making

an impact on the surrounding Community with simply its existence. I just want

to positively impact the community and create opportunities for others. If we can

financially support ourselves while pursuing our artistic dreams, even better. But right

now Kelly and I both have day jobs, and work contract jobs on the side, as well as this

project, so that is a bit down the road.

KELLY: Goals for the future, Voltage Creative Garage 2.0... and creating something

every day!

Voltage Creative Garage shines like at beacon at 2101 - 34 Ave. SW.

For more information about the organization go to www.voltagegarage.ca

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 7


CITY

GODDAMN MILLENIALS

secret lineups and comedy for a generation by Graeme Wiggins and Colin Gallant

CRIME

This piece was written ahead of a Goddamn Millennials

production that took place in September of 2016. It’s

since been updated by an additional reporter in anticipation

of the Calgary show in March.

The word “Millennial” is thrown around pretty

ubiquitously on the Internet these days

with countless think pieces, complaints,

rants often decrying the supposed superficial

nature of a whole generation of young people.

This constant negativity forces young people out

of areas of culture and in some sense silences

their apparently narcissistic voices. One such

area is comedy, with the idea of constant selfies,

Snapchat, and Tinder giving older, out of touch

comedians much fodder. With her show Goddamn

Millennials, comedian Victoria Banner attempts

to give them a place of their own in the comedy

community. (Full disclosure: Banner is a regular

writer for BeatRoute.)

The show grew from Banner viewing a strange

disconnect between her older comedian friends

and the younger non-comedy people she hung out

with. As she explains, “All my young artsy Millennial

friends tell me how much they love comedy and

all my older settled down comedian friends tell

me, ‘Hipsters hate comedy.’” This clearly needed

fixing. “I rented a dive bar in Victoria and showcased

my personal favorite headlining comedians

to a college town. I called it Goddamn Millennials

to punk my older comedy friends and it attracted

200 young people and some sponsors. I’ve done it

three times now and it’s always a party.”

Being fairly generous with the Millennial label, the

show consists of four comedians under the age of 40.

“Millennial can be a mindset,” she explains, “the word

‘Millennial’ has been appropriated and misused by

clueless advertising companies to mean 12-year-olds

who say ‘fleek’ and ‘bae’ when it’s really as old as 35.” She

keeps the lineup close to her chest: “The lineup stays

under wraps as the intention is for you to come to the

show and find your new favourite comedian. Past shows

have had national touring headliners such as Chris Griffin,

Ivan Decker, James Kennedy and Chris Gordon all on

the same bill so while the comedians are young, it’s the

absolute opposite of amateur night.”

So how will the show differ from a normal comedy

show, with older comics and more well-trod routines?

“Boomer comics are hiding from their wives in the

garage while Millennials are meeting Tinder dates in

basement suites. You can talk to a young crowd and

casually assume they’re not going to debate you on

LGBTQ issues. It’s the difference between what you can

get away saying at the family Thanksgiving dinner table

and what you can say at a house party among friends.”

Since this story was first reported, Goddamn

Millennials was picked up as a monthly event at The

Biltmore in Vancouver. Banner has since moved on to

Calgary (leaving the curation and hosting duties for that

iteration of the show in the hands of pal Morris Bartlett),

and will be staging Goddamn Millennials in Calgary on

March 23 at Wine-Ohs. She’ll also be performing as part

of The New Movement In Austin, TX, during SXSW.

Catch Goddamn Millennials on March 23rd at Wine-

Ohs in Calgary.

DOES NOT PAY

violence in media running rampant, once again

by Victoria Banner

Young doesn’t necessarily mean inexperienced, as Goddamn Millenials’ track record of sold out shows proves.

Five years in the making and as local as it gets

Crime Does Not Pay is promising to be quite

the piece from a team that bleeds artistic

integrity. BeatRoute had a quick chat with director

Simon Mallett to hear how exactly Crime Does Not

Pay tackles its self-issued challenges.

Mallett starts on some of the challenges: “The

intent is to bring a graphic novel to life on stage…this

is difficult because comic books are a very graphic

medium while theatre is a very text based medium.”

The theatrical ‘comic book’ will be focusing on

the life of Bob Wood who co-created a shockingly

violent comic book series (where the play gets its

namesake) in the 1940s and the resulting 70 year

ongoing conversation about violence in media.

In light contrast to the dark topics, the play is a

musical with over 20 original songs. In an interesting

twist, all of the actors in the play will be switching

seamlessly between acting and musical roles. Musical-theatre

composer, David Rhymer, known for his

work with One Yellow Rabbit, and Kris Demeanor,

who was Calgary’s poet laureate for 2012-2014,

wrote the songs together.

The play is also the first collaboration between

Downstage Theatre and Forte Musical Theatre,

with Forte focusing on the musical and Downstage

gravitating towards the political nature of the

piece. The showing will be a world premiere hoping

to highlight that the current hot topic of “does

violence in media create violence in youth” has

really been a topic for decades. While that question

is now associated with violent videogames, before

the computer monitors it was centered on movies

and prior to that, comic books.

Projecting forward Mallett says, “I feel this topic

will resurface again with the rise of virtual reality.”

As the character of Bob Wood faces the censorship

wrath of the Comics Code in 1950s, Mallett hopes

the audience will ask, “Who takes on the moral responsibility

when violence is shown in art? The artist?

The consumer?” Staying true to its original inspiration

of sensationalism, Crime Does Not Pay comes

with a trigger warning for profanity, sex, domestic

violence and suicide making it a good idea to keep

an audience age 16 and up. With Crime Does Not

Pay being the theatre’s seasonal centerpiece Mallett

understands the responsibility of conversational theatre

also being a good time and promises “a wicked

night out that is both compelling and entertaining.”

Crime Does Not Pay runs from March 2-11 at the

Engineered Air Theatre.

8 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE CITY


QUANTUM NIGHT

sci-fi novel predicts the rise of the new American pyscho

Quantum Night lives up to Robert J. Sawyer’s

reputation for thoughtful science-fiction

thrillers. This heady exploration into the nature

of human consciousness asks the question: what

if empathy and conscience could be turned on or off?

Set in the year 2020, when the policies of a

psychotic American president are leading the world

into madness, Jim Marchuk, a Canadian experimental

psychologist, develops a technique for identifying

previously undetected psychopaths, suggesting they

number not in the thousands, but in the billions.

While attempting to prove his method, Marchuk

discovers that he himself committed heinous acts

twenty years earlier during a six-month period he can

no longer remember. His investigation into those missing

months reveals a man he doesn’t recognize while

reuniting him with Kayla Huron, a forgotten girlfriend

and victim of his past perverse behaviour. Huron, now

a quantum physicist, has made a startling discovery

of her own about the nature of human consciousness.

Together, by combining Marchuk’s process with

Huron’s discovery, they discover that the world is on

the verge of collapse. Only intercession on a Godlike

scale can turn things around, but not without great

personal cost. Dare they do it? Dare they attempt to

change human nature itself?

This is Sawyer’s most explicitly political novel, at

times almost a forensic examination of the cultural

and political differences between Canada and its

neighbour. With great characters, a fascinating plot,

and solid pacing, Sawyer blends the scientific with the

fantastic creating a philosophically compelling book

that explores the dark recesses of the human mind,

tackling concepts such as ethics, morality, consciousness,

and human nature.

• Randy McCharles

PLACES PLEASE

American actress Stella Adler once said, “The theatre

was created to tell people the truth about life and

the social situation.” The definition of “truth,” in this

situation, is fluid; theatre can be used to tell a true story,

or to tell a fictional story within real-world situations. Either

way, theatre is, it its best, a reflection of our world.

Here are a few plays embracing the concept of truth in

theatre this month.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Theatre Calgary, Max Bell Theatre

March 7 - April 1

Though they are brought together by tragedy, two

women develop an unlikely friendship that blossoms

amidst the rubble of war-torn Afghanistan. Don’t miss

this world premiere production, developed with San

Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater and based

on the novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini

(also known for his best-seller The Kite Runner).

Assassinating Thomson

Inside Out Theatre, Glenbow Museum

March 14-18

In 1917, influential Canadian artist Tom Thomson was

found dead eight days after he disappeared during a

canoeing trip. Conspiracy theories about Thomson’s

cause of death abound: was it an accident, suicide, or

perhaps even murder? Explore the mystery with Bruce

Horak, a visually impaired artist who lives with 9 per

cent of his vision and captures his view of the world

in his series “The Way I See It.” In this unique one-man

tour-de-force, Horak explains his controversial perspective

on Canadian Art History -- including the death of

Tom Thomson -- while creating an original portrait of

each new audience.

The Watershed

Porte Parole and Crow’s Theatre

Theatre Junction GRAND

March 29 - April 1

“Documentary theatre” is a genre of theatre that tells

true stories using pre-existing documents (newspapers,

government reports, interviews, etc.) as source material.

You can see the documentary theatre genre come

to life this month with The Watershed, the story of

Montreal playwright Annabel Soutar’s cross-country

journey with her family to investigate the closing of a

federally funded freshwater research station. Soutar

and her family encounter scientists, government

officials, activists and business leaders in their search for

balance between economic prosperity and ecological

sustainability.

CITY

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 9


The NASH

beware of the Quarter Horse!

Inside the inviting expanse of the Off Cut Bar, with

its warm blue panels, natural wood furnishings and

soft glow of sunlight, there’s two large plaques on

the far wall with a collection of mug shots, crica1920s

and ‘30s, of men who roamed the rough and tumble

streets of Calgary. Inglewood, where the Off Cut is

located alongside the posh Nash restaurant, was once

the city’s rugged commercial strip and all too familiar

with the types of characters in those mug shots and

their rowdy ongoings.

When Michael Noble, The Nash’s renown chef,

first acquired the main floor of the old National Hotel

in its dilapidated state, he wasn’t deterred with the

renovation challenges.

“A designer would look at this space and say, ‘Wow,

it’s kind of awkward.’ But I saw potential and had

always wanted to have a bar. The cocktail renaissance

was happening, and the natural for me was, ‘Let’s do a

bar and put some live music in there.’”

Even before Noble was aware of the National’s

punk and blues bar history, he wanted to call the place

by B.Simm

The Nash, the nickname associated with the hotel

dating way back.

“On that first day I knew what I was going call it.

And when I was a having a bit of a fight with the provincial

heritage people, I did some digging around and

found that back in the ‘70s and early ‘80s almost an

identical sign advertising the old blues bar was on the

side of the building. ‘Holy shit, the place was actually

called that!’ So A, I got my connection with the old

blues bar. And B, I got approval on my signage.”

Noble says the decor inside “pays homage to the

history of what’s been here for decades and decades,

along with honouring old school cocktails.” One

‘notable’ cocktail on the liquor menu is the fabulous

and most dangerous Quarter Horse Jim Bean Black

Bourbon. “Yeah,” he chuckles, “every Quarter Horse

takes one leg off. After two....”

Proud that he’s connected with the past, but with

a fresh, modern spin on the food and atmosphere,

when the lights go down Noble loves the “sultry, sexy

feel that takes over.”

SIMONS OPENING

Quebec-based retailer cosies up to downtown

NORTH OF ORDINARY

stunning Artic photography unearthed by the Glenbow

If I asked you who the first professional

female photographer in

western Canada was, you’d probably

draw a blank. Being the first

of anything is enough to win you a

place in a text book, however Geraldine

Moodie’s story doesn’t stop at

her craft, the images themselves tell

a tale of what life looked like at one

of the most remote corners of our

country: Nunavut.

The Glenbow Museum reveals

North of Ordinary, the photojournalistic

account of Geraldine Moodie

(1854-1945) and her husband

Douglas (1849-1947) over time in

the original great white north. The

couple travelled the Artic together

as Douglas was senior officer in the

North Western Mounted Police

(NWMP). Geraldine was a seasoned

portrait photographer in both

Alberta and Saskatchewan, and

Douglas championed for her to be

the NWMP photographer. Unfortunately,

Geraldine was denied the job and instead the NWMP hired

another officer who was less equipped to deal with the elements and

ironically spent most of his time on a boat. Regardless of the NWMP’s

hiring blunder, Geraldine continued to photograph her surroundings,

along with Douglas, an aspiring photographer taught by his

wife. The couple’s detailed journals and photographic accounts of

the cold, culture and community that happened around them is

nothing short of an artistic time capsule.

What makes the Moodie’s story even more unique is that the artifacts

shown in North of Ordinary were only brought to light in the

last two years, before then only roughly 50 prints were available for

viewing across Canada. Zoltan Varadi, Glenbow’s Communications

Specialist, has described the exhibit as a “treasure trove” of visual and

written history not before shown to the masses. “Prior to 2015 not

much was known about Geraldine. Our archives department was

tipped off by a local historian who mentioned the Moodie’s great

grandchildren may be sitting on a cache of material.” The Glenbow

inquired, and over 1000 negatives, journals, letters and a uniform

were donated as part of the exhibit.

by Jennifer Thompson

Uncovered in Geraldine’s photos are her captivating portraits of

the Inuit people. “Geraldine would take photos of the locals and

then invite the subjects, and others stationed in the area to view the

photos on their boat,” says Varadi. In most cases the subjects had

never seen photos of themselves, and Geraldine was able to further

capture this on film. “A photo within a photo,” as Varadi describes

it can also be seen in the exhibit. “[the Moodies] would have these

photographic slide shows by lantern and created a small community

with through these gatherings.”

Although the historic account of such a remote part of our country

is fascinating, the artistry of the exhibit shouldn’t be discounted.

Geraldine was primarily a portrait photographer, while Douglas focused

on landscapes. Through out the exhibit their craft evolves and

influences each other, adding another layer to their dynamic story.

Geraldine may not have gotten the job, but she excelled at

capturing history in a distinctive way, only to benefit Canadians for

generations to come.

North of Ordinary can be seen from February 14 to September 10,

2017 at The Glenbow Museum.

Calgary’s Stephen Avenue has a distinct feel. One block away from

the city’s most effective transit options, the Red and Blue Lines

of the C-Train, the hub serves as a frontline for anyone entering,

exiting, or dwelling in Calgary’s downtown core. Fellow Canadian enterprises

Hudson’s Bay Company and Holt Renfrew already hold dominion

over the inner city department store crowd, but player three is about to

enter the game.

Simons began in Quebec City in 1889, some 138 years ago. In the time

since, the brand, also known as La Maison Simons, has opened 13 stores

- their March debut in Calgary being number 14. The Core Shopping

Centre bordering Stephen and 7th Avenues is where they’ll call 95,000

square feet home.

CEO Peter Simons says “The key for Calgary was to bring Simons to the

heart of the city in a way that pairs our contemporary style with the heritage

of a historic building,” adding that across five stories of retail space the retailer

would “[create] an exciting shopping experience where customers can explore

our branded environments; each with its own space and personality.”

Having shopped at Simons in Montreal and Edmonton, this writer can

say that the appeal lies in the options. Simons offers in-house brands, trendy

labels, and haute couture in their palace-sized storefronts. A regular at Wal-

Mart can afford “le 31,” a budget-geared property of Simons, while a fashion

week dilettante can actually try on some Maison Margiela instead of ordering

from afar. Those between the two poles can peruse of-the-moment standalone

brands and Simons’ range of lifestyle originals in tandem.

The Bay already offers affordables and semi-premium pieces, while Holt’s

in Calgary is mostly dedicated to the high end. From personal experience,

Simons seems to encompass the strengths of both while feeling distinct unto

itself, thanks to its many original lines.

What’s precarious about their opening is Simons’ aggressive proximity to

their competition. Does a city of one million with a sprawling geography have

the concentration to support a rivalry of this size in a mere three city blocks?

Let’s not forget that, while further away, American giant Nordstrom is

vying for a similar clientele at Chinook Mall, one of the city’s most patronized

shopping districts.

Trends are not data, but it’s tempting to surmise that Calgary’s abundance

(perhaps even excess) of premium department stores is a testament to our

fragile economy’s recovery.

Only time will tell. What we know now is that a domestic enterprise is on

the horizon of disrupting the status quo of premium retail in Calgary. At the

very least, it’s worth your curiosity.

Simons opens March 2017 in downtown Calgary.

rendering: McKinley Burkhart

• Colin Gallant

10 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE CITY


FILM

SCIENCE IN THE CINEMA

entertainment, education and engagement

by Jonathan Lawrence

Not just for academics, Science in the Cinema brings differing groups together.

FILM

If you’ve ever watched a film like District 9 or

Alien and worried that you, too, might become

victim of similar physical problems such as

becoming an undead or having a small creature

burst through your chest, have no fear – because it

probably won’t happen.

Hence the lack of results on WebMD for “moaning

sounds and a craving for roommate.”

Science in the Cinema is an initiative put on by the

University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine

to watch films and actually learn something about

science and medicine. We spoke with Dr. Jennifer

Hetfield, Associate Dean at Cumming School of

Medicine, about the program and she was more than

enthused to talk about it and its growing success.

“It’s a super exciting way for the School of Medicine

to be connected to our community and we have

an opportunity for information about health to be

shared in a way that’s really meaningful to people and

accessible to people.”

Each film that the University screens each month

focuses on a different health issue. Of the seven research

institutes at the University, ranging from brain

to heart to mental health, one will pick the film for

that month. Specialists from that particular field, as

well as community groups, come down to talk about

the subject matter. Past films include Seven Pounds,

which addressed organ transplants, and Philadelphia,

which addressed HIV/AIDS.

“We’ve been able to identify films that relate

specific health themes, and it’s been incredibly successful,”

Hetfield says. “Each iteration of Science in the

Cinema seems to attract more people. And there’s a

tremendous opportunity there because we bring specialists

in the field to the event and they get a chance

then to have a Q&A with the audience members.

They set up the film, give the context of the film, in

terms of whether the scientific research that informs

the film, and then people enjoy the movie and then

have the opportunity to have a dialogue around what

they’ve seen.”

The best part is that you don’t have to be knowledgeable

of the subject matter to enjoy the film and

the presentation. Hetfield explains that it is geared

toward the general public who have a real interest in

health topics, but from a lay perspective. She wants

the appeal to come from the stories portrayed onscreen,

which, when done right, will reach a much

wider audience.

“There’s people [that attend] who are definitely

not from academia, we have people from every walk

of life, there’s a really fascinating demographic. We’ve

got a lot of young people represented, a lot of our

seniors.”

Although there is a Q&A period with experts in

the field, what makes Science in the Cinema interesting

is that it’s not your typical biology class. “It’s

not dry or boring or academic or filled with jargon.

It’s about real lives,” says Hetfield. In January, Science

in the Cinema played Finding Alice, a story about a

woman who developed Alzheimer’s disease.

“The film portrayed so much to us about the

impact on her family, on her, on her job, on her community,”

Hetfield explains. “It talked a lot about the

services she encountered. The audience really got to

dive deep into the personal experience of this really

serious disease. I think the personalizing and the

dramatization, the storytelling around health themes

is what makes Science in the Cinema a success.”

The next screening in March is called “Hip

Hop-eration,” a clever amalgam of “hip-hop” and

“hip operations,” two of the major themes in the

documentary. It’s a true story about a group of senior

citizens from New Zealand, some in their nineties,

who form a dance troupe and ultimately end up

competing in a Las Vegas championship.

“I’m super excited,” says Hetfield. “I love this move

from a whole variety of perspectives. It shows a completely

different perspective on aging. It’s a combination

of uplifting, sad. It talks about a wonderful, entire

senior’s community.”

She hopes the documentary can help dispel some

of the stereotypical lifestyles we associate with elderly

people; sitting at home and watching television.

“This is this funny, vibrant community where

the individuals are so unique and they all come

together as this dance group… It just challenges every

single stereotype of aging, challenges stereotypes of

community and people living together, and it also

inspires people that if they have some sort of a health

challenge that they can overcome it if they have the

right spirit and community support. I think people

are really going to enjoy it.”

Dr. Steven Boyd, Director of the McCaig

Institute for Bone and Joint Health and Dr.

Kevin Hildebrand, Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery

for Alberta Health Services will be attending

the screening to answer any and all questions

about the topics of hip replacements, knee

placements, arthritis and the risk of fractures

depicted in the documentary.

Ultimately, Science in the Cinema is a great way

to enjoy a film with a lot of interested people, ask

important questions, and have something cool to

talk about with other audience members.

“We have a growing number of people who see

this as a great way to expand their knowledge or

talk to people who have a lot of expertise,” Hetfield

explains. “You can’t necessarily walk down the street

and talk to the best cardiac surgeon in the city, but

you can go to Science in the Cinema and there will be

a fantastic expert…and you can ask them whatever

you want.”

So the next time you’re worried about that rash

turning into a full-on zombie outbreak, put things in

perspective. Go watch a good film and listen to some

professionals for a while, and you’ll probably realise

that that blinding glare you’ve been complaining

about isn’t you turning into a vampire; you just need

to get some sun.

Hip Hop-eration will be shown at the Globe Cinema

on March 16 with free admission (and popcorn!).

More listings for SITC can be found online.

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 13


$100 FILM FEST

25 years of small gauge filmmaking and catalyzing community

What’s in a name? The $100 Film Festival is less about dollars and cents than accessibility.

Calgary’s oldest film festival turns 25 this

March. The anachronistically named $100

Film Festival is perhaps the biggest event put

on by the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers

(CSIF), and this milestone intends to put

the festival’s historic significance into focus while

remaining vitally contemporary.

The festival got its name from the approximate

cost of putting together a celluloid (this term denotes

physical film like Super 8 and 16mm, distinguishing

it from digital media) work back in 1992. While the

cost of production at the time of the festival’s origin

was meant to define its spirit, it was never about the

money at all.

Felicia Glatz oversaw the retrospective component

of this landmark year for the $100FF, saying her job

was like that of a “detective.” Through interviews with

founders like Gordon Pepper and James Morrison

(among countless others), she deduced that the dollar

amount was simply the most literal way to articulate

the accessible spirit of CSIF, the $100FF, and adventurous

filmmaking as an outlet for the creative community

in Calgary. In the world’s (and especially Alberta’s)

economy we know that $100 won’t buy you today

what it did in 1992. The point is that if someone really

wanted to, they could find the means to put together

a film. Beyond that, the CSIF and $100FF actively encouraged

it and offered a platform to show the results

to an audience.

Glatz boils it down to a club that anyone can join,

so long as an interest is there. She heard about the

opportunity to oversee the retrospective aspect of the

festival (featuring 18 films from its history, an archival

installation at the venue and attendance by legacy

CSIF members) from a film professor at the University

of Calgary who inspired a love for “small gauge

filmmaking” in her. Put simply, the term refers to film

works created without the intent to be consumed by

a broad audience - most commonly arthouse works

by Colin Gallant

or semi-private recordings, like home movies - as an

“alternate history” to the one told by costly mass-distribution

film.

Select filmmakers included in the retrospective

include founders Pepper and Morrison, locals Noel

Begin, Joe Kelly, Donna Brunsdale, and Don Best, plus

international artists Lawrence Jordan and Paul Clipson.

Glatz also helped clarify the festival’s relationship

with music during our interview. The most pertinent

example is the Film/Music Explosion!, which pairs filmmakers

with bands to create an original Super 8 film

set to a song, spurring on cross-media collaboration

among artists. Best formalized for the 2009 edition, the

FME now kicks off each night of the fest with a set by a

local band, their closer rehearsed to sync up to a film.

This year’s FME includes bands that shouldn’t be

unfamiliar to BeatRoute readers: DRI HIEV, Torture

Team and The Shiverettes (this month’s Calgary Beat

lead) are paired with cinematists Eric Durnford, Alexis

Moar and Rory O’Dwyer.

Also on this year’s program are returning vets Ross

Meckfessel, Stefan Moeckel, Kyle Whiteheads and

legions of other small format filmmakers. Fittingly, Pepper

will show a new work to coincide with his inclusion

in the retrospective.

The $100FF, an extension of the ideology of empowerment

held by the CSIF, is one of just a few small

format, low budget film festivals in the world. Missing

out on it during this historic year would disservice

one’s knowledge of the cooperative nature of Calgary’s

arts community.

The $100 Film Festival runs March 23rd to 25th at the

Engineered Air Theatre located inside Arts Commons.

The festival, put on by the Calgary Society of Independent

Filmmakers, features a 25-year retrospective alongside

new celluloid works from around the world and at

home. DRI HIEV, Torture Team and The Shiverettes are

musical performers as part of the Film/Music Explosion!

FILM IN MARCH

It’s March and winter is still hanging in there.

Yes, Netflix has that stay-at-home appeal, but

make sure to check out these film events in

Calgary that you definitely won’t fall asleep to,

popcorn bowl in hand.

Wayne’s World/Fifth Reel

Wayne’s World, the 1992 cult classic about a couple

of knuckleheads who form their own talk show,

officially returned to theatres all across the United

States this February for its 25th anniversary. This

comes as quite the delight for the thousands of

dudes and dudettes across the country who still

dress as Wayne and Garth every Halloween. Of

course, Canada was left out of this momentous

occasion. Thanks, Mike Myers.

That said, worry no more, Calgarians. Wayne’s

World is coming to the Plaza Theatre on March

11th courtesy of Fifth Reel. Dressing up in costume,

quote-alongs, and air-guitar are all highly encouraged.

And make sure to check out the re-release on

iTunes for new extras such as director’s commentary

and a making-of feature – schwing!

Wim Wenders Series/Cinematheque

Calgary Cinematheque continues its study of

renowned German director Wim Wenders from

last month, showcasing two more of his films: Alice

in the Cities and Wrong Move. Wenders initially

garnered attention through his photographs of

lonely, barren landscapes which may explain his

fascination with introspective observations of

people and the world around them. Odds are,

unless you’re a film buff, you haven’t seen too many

of his films; though if you like intelligent stories and

thought-provoking visuals, you really should.

Alice in the Cities: When a German journalist is unhappily

driving across the United States, he meets

a young girl named Alice who he must reluctantly

bring back to Germany. Though they initially find

themselves at odds, the pair begins to form an unlikely

friendship. March 2nd at the Globe Cinema.

Wrong Move: Set in 1970s West Germany, Wrong

Move is the story of an aimless writer who attempts

to put his life of gloom and misery behind

him by leaving his hometown and befriending a

Catch Wayne’s World, presented by The Fifth Reel, at The Plaza.

by Jonathan Lawrence

group of other travelers. Though in the end, he may

find that the journey doesn’t necessarily always

lead to the best destination. March 16th at the

Plaza Theatre.

Fire at Sea/Doc Soup

In today’s headlines of refugees and asylum seekers,

Fire at Sea is as topical as ever. Reportedly, more

than 17,000 African and Middle Eastern refugees

have unsuccessfully attempted to cross the

Mediterranean to Lampedusa in the last fifteen

years. Lampedusa, an island less than eight square

miles off the coast of Italy, surrounded by crystal

clear waters and picturesque beaches has become

known around the world not only for being a

paradisiacal sanctuary, but as a site of unspeakable

tragedies. It’s an unsettling juxtaposition.

Nominated for Best Documentary at the 2016

Academy Awards, Fire at Sea focuses on the

Lampedusan people and the unprecedented

events that are now part of their lives. See it March

1st at Eau Claire Cineplex.

Shadow World/justREEL

The arms industry is now, and has been for a long

time, out of control. And not to name names, but

it’s currently looking to get more contentious than

ever. Shadow World, based on the 2011 book of

the same name by Andrew Feinstein, exposes the

shady business dealings of the military-industrial

complex from arms dealers, journalists, whistleblowers

and members of the US Army.

It will certainly be a frightening and eye-opening

look into how the arms industry is perpetuated

through state corruption and how

it fosters illegitimate trade, creates worldwide

paranoia and yet remains a multi-billion dollar

industry. After the screening, questions and

answers will be provided by Dr. Pablo Policzer,

a political science professor, as well as Dr. David

Jay Bercuson, who specializes in Canadian military

and diplomatic history. The Marda Loop

Justice Film Festival presents Shadow World as

part of justREEL, its bi-monthly feature length

documentary series. It will be shown on March

14th at River Park Church.

14 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE FILM


THE VIDIOT

rewind to the future

by Shane Sellar

Arrival

Bleed For This

Masterminds

Nocturnal Animals

Queen Of Katwe

Arrival

Oddly enough, alien abductions decreased around

the same time human waistlines increased.

So our girth could be the reason the UFOs in this

sci-fi film decided to land instead.

When alien spacecraft strategically position

themselves around the globe, a senior military official

(Forest Whitaker) recruits a linguist professor, Louisa

(Amy Adams), to commune with the visitors.

Partnered with a theoretical physicist (Jeremy

Renner), Louisa begins to decrypt the cephalopod’s

pictorial form of communication, all the while

suffering from vivid dreams of a dying daughter she

has never met.

Meanwhile, the world’s superpowers prepare to

annihilate them if their purpose is not uncovered.

With its cerebral stance on an alien incursion,

Arrival challenges the status quo sci-fi shoot ’em ups.

Its violence simmers in the background, while its

foreground dazzles with an astounding time-travel

tale concerning the human condition.

Incidentally, the sooner we decode their language

the sooner we’ll understand their Tweets.

Bleed for This

Boxing isn’t that dangerous; it’s the only sport you

don’t need a jockstrap to play.

In fact, the pugilist in this sports-drama wasn’t

paralyzed anywhere near a ring.

Vinny Paz (Miles Teller) is a junior welterweight

who can’t make his division so his father (Ciarán

Hinds) hires Tyson’s old trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron

Eckhart) to assist.

While his father doesn’t approve of pushing his

son into a new weight class, Vinny’s junior middleweight

world championship changes all that.

So too does the car accident that leaves him with

a medical halo screwed into his skull. But even that

isn’t enough to keep Vinny from the ring.

The mediocre retelling of the amazing recovery

that took the boxing community by surprise in the

early nineties, this true story’s charm lies in its dedicated

performances, not in its timeworn underdog

prizefighter narrative.

Anecdotally, the next weight class in boxing after

heavyweight is sumo.

The Edge of Seventeen

You know you’re turning seventeen when your

parents get you luggage for your birthday.

However, the senior in this dramedy is apt to get

nothing from her widowed mom.

Falling out of favour with her mother (Kyra

Sedgwick) and brother (Blake Jenner) after her father

died while in her company, the only people cynical

Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) has left is her best friend

(Haley Lu Richardson) and her high school teacher

(Woody Harrelson).

But when her BFF hooks up with her bro, it sends

Nadine into a tailspin that causes her to stalk her

crush and crush the nerd who has feelings for her.

With all of the heartbreak, humour and humiliation

of the high school experience as well as a career

defining performance from Steinfeld and a sardonic

script, this comical coming-of-age tale encapsulates

adolescents in all its awkwardness.

Unfortunately, all those people you hate in school

end up becoming your co-workers.

Hacksaw Ridge

By not arming your troops you cut your military

budget, like, in half.

In fact, the unarmed soldier in this drama supports

that economical theory.

Following Pearl Harbor, Desmond Doss (Andrew

Garfield) is determined to join the war effort, but

his Seventh-day Adventist beliefs preclude him from

carrying a firearm or from fighting on Saturdays.

Scorned by both his superiors (Vince Vaughn,

Sam Worthington) and platoon over his convictions,

Desmond’s medical training later mends those who

ridiculed him during the Battle of Okinawa, where he

singlehandedly transports the injured back to base.

Based on real events, but more importantly a real

pacifist, this unconventional Mel Gibson helmed war

story is steeped in heroism and Catholicism. While it

is an unflinching depiction of battlefield horrors, Gibson’s

overly graphic skirmishes seem to indulge in the

violence, especially when directed at the Imperialists.

Moreover, being unarmed indicates to your enemy

that you’re an omnipotent being.


Masterminds

The easiest way to steal millions is to swipe a lotto

winner’s oversized novelty cheque.

However, the morons in this comedy opted for

robbing their workplace.

Security guard David Scott Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis)

is cajoled into pilfering his armored vehicle by

a co-worker, Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig), and her

boyfriend, Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson).

While David hits Mexico after the heist with

minimal cash, Steve squanders millions on a mansion

back in America. When the FBI (Leslie Jones) starts

sniffing around, Steve sends a hitman down south to

silence David. But fate has other plans.

An absurd satire that uses zany Internet humour

and ridiculous dialogue to retell the true tale of the

ill-fated 1997 Loomis-Fargo robbery, Masterminds

makes it difficult to discern fact from wacky fiction.

Nonetheless, its abstruse jokes do deliver some

unexpected chortles.

Moreover, you also get a free getaway vehicle

when you holdup an armored car.

Nocturnal Animals

The hardest part of writing a best selling novel is

finding a talented enough ghostwriter.

Fortuitously, the author in this thriller has found

his own voice.

Successful art curator Susan (Amy Adams)

is shocked to receive a manuscript from her

ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). It tells of a family

man whose family (Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber) is

murdered, and his work with an ailing detective

(Michael Shannon) to bring their killer (Aaron

Taylor-Johnson) to justice.

Filled with allusions to the affair she had with her

current husband (Armie Hammer), Susan can’t help

but be moved by this gesture, especially since her

present marriage is deteriorating.

With its superb cast and ethereal direction

from Tom Ford, this absorbing, multilayered and

multi-narrative psychological love story beautifully

blurs the lines between fact and fiction, inspiration

and revenge.

Nevertheless, literary retaliation is the exact reason

why you shouldn’t marry a writer. Well, that and

alcoholism.


Queen of Katwe

The reason women don’t play chess is because all of

the pieces resemble penises.

Fortunately, the female in this drama is unafraid of

the phallic-looking bits.

Raised by her single mother (Lupita Nyong’o)

in the abject poverty of Katwe, Uganda alongside

her brothers and sisters, 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi

(Madina Nalwanga) doesn’t have much of a future

beyond selling her body.

That is until she meets Robert Katende (David

Oyelowo), a soccer coach who teaches chess to

his players on the side. Intrigued, Phiona joins his

club where she proves to be a phenom and fierce

competitor.

As her matches take her further from the slums,

she finds more to life than Katwe.

The powerful and inspiring depiction of the

real-life chess champion, this Disney adaption

of an ESPN magazine article on Phiona is a true

underdog movie with vibrant performances from

its leads that help transcend the film’s more formulaic

moments.

Moreover, it’s good for the male chess players to

meet a real-life female.

Trolls

Troll dolls were only fun to play with as a kid when

you had a bag of firecrackers.

And while none of the imps in this animated-musical

explode, they do sparkle.

When the troll princess (Anna Kendrick) celebrates

her tiny touchy feely tribes’ (Russell Brand,

James Corden, Gwen Stefani) liberation from the

unemotional Bergen’s twenty years ago, their singing

and dancing attracts their former captors.

Now, her eternally optimistic highness must work

alongside naysayer troll Branch (Justin Timberlake) in

order to save her subjects from becoming dinner.

Glamming up an ugly chambermaid (Zooey Deschanel),

the trolls set out to seduce the Bergen king

(Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

Butchering an array of classic songs that kids will

no doubt accredit to this saccharine adaptation of

the wild haired figurines, Trolls’ boilerplate storyline

and Smurf-like characterization is the opposite of its

somewhat inventive animation.

Incidentally, trolls actually live under bridges and

eat suicide jumpers.


​He’s a Gummy Worm Hole. He’s the…

Vidiot

FILM

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 15


Questioning the Old Trouts’ about

the meaning, the focus, the plot,

the storyline of their first show,

The Unlikely Birth of Istvan soon to

make another debut (remounted,

as they say in the theatre world),

doesn’t result in any direct answers.

Not really any vague answers either.

Istvan is a bit of mystery. Not one

that the Trouts’ are intentionally

trying to make by keeping secrets

or wearing the cryptic artists’ hat....

Okay, maybe there’s bit of that, but

it’s not a deliberate move to not give

the story away, because the story

itself is one that keeps evolving,

morphing into different variations.

In a lengthy discussion with a very

funny crew (what’s written below,

a brief summarization), the story

of Istvan parallels how the Trouts

themselves came into existence.

Istvan, and I could be wrong here,

but Istvan is a probing, philosphical,

metaphypical, and — oh that big

quest — an existential stab at trying

to undertstand life, death, and how

the hell it all works, which, of course,

there are no real concrete answers.

But there are a lot of stabbings on the

ranch, or farm...

After simmering all year in the grips of the school system, when

summer camp starts the gates unlock and adolescence run

wild. Not surprisingly it takes one to train one, and camp counselors

are often the crazies leading the charge.

Out in them thar hills, at the Rocky Mountain YMCA Summer

Camp, is where Judd Palmer, Pityu Kenderes and Peter Balkwill along

with cast of other uncorked counselors first gathered and started

brewing the strange concoction that would become the Old Trout

Puppet Workshop.

Kenderes first started as the camp nurse, Balkwill a van driver, and

Palmer the “arts and crafts guy” who would burn down a small studio

making candles. During the day they fueled the kids’ imagination with

mountain treks and planned activities, at night they howled at the

moon and tore up Banff and Canmore “dreaming of being roustabouts,”

laughs Balkwill, “for the rest of our lives.”

They’d leave the YMCA and flock over to the Alberta government’s

Kananaskis Country, teaming up with the Green Fools theatre group

doing interpretative programs in the summers throughout the ‘90s.

It was there that they began staging puppet shows — Kenderes and

Palmer would swoop down to his family ranch by Waterton in Southern

Alberta to gather an assortment of old equipment and machinery

for props.

Out on the ranch the budding puppeteers where prone to “whoop

it up” under starry skies, embrace the vast beauty of the universe and

absorb its peculiar contractions. Visits and extended stays on the

ranch became the fertile breeding ground, the deep plunge the Trouts’

made into their weird and wonderful theatrical travels.

“It was in that crazy world we all meet,” says Balkwill. In fact, ninety

percent of the Old Trouts’ board is made from that alumni.”

Fast forward two decades: The Trouts’ headquarters is an old

Quonset on the back corner of an industrial lot located in SE Calgary.

The structure identical to those that house tractors, balers, frontend

loaders and other pieces of farm machinery in need of routine

maintenance. A separate room is filled with a wood, tools and building

materials. A large contraption that looks just like a Hobbit’s tree fort

occupies most of the space inside. The studio is one part workshop,

one part Pee Wee’s playhouse.

16 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE

THE OLD TROUTS

the puppeteers’ strange cycle of life

Front row: Old Old Trouts Judd Palmer, Pityu Kenderes and Pete Balkwill. Back row: New Old Trouts Teodora Ivanov and Nick Di Gaetano.

Balkwill and Kenderes sit around the playwrights’ table during a

rehearsal break and ponder the beginnings of The Unlikely Birth of

Istvan, their first big foray into puppetland.

There’s some talk about the animals on the ranch and how it took

a while for city kids to climatize to their weirdness. After a brief pause,

Balkwill and Kenderes look at each other, then Balkwill begins.

“Certainly the environment of the farm plays into this world that

was created. Pigs are terrifying creatures, actually dangerous. You

don’t want to get stuck in the pig pen. The goats have square pupils,

and these insanely square bony heads. And at any time could put you

down! They’re terrifying.”

“The idyllic farm, had some dark corners,” adds Kenderes.

“Tell them the story about the turkeys,” shouts Balkwill.

“No!” replies Kenderes, not sure the full disclosure of a cleansing

should be revealed. Balkwill decides to plough through.

“We can generalize it. There was a plague amongst the farm

animals and they had to be euthanized. Because the puppeteers

were freeloading, the way that our rent was paid was by doing chores

that were less desirable to the farmers who lived there. So you make

the apprentices, the newbies do the hard things. So these particular

animals had to be euthanized, the herd had to be culled. So, ‘Make

the puppeteers do it!’”

“There was a lot of the cycle of life happening that went into the story,

recalls Kenderes. “And a lot of it developed from experiences that we

having that day. All very kinetic and naive,” he says laughing.

“We wrote a pig into the show so we thought we’d get a real pig

sound,” says Balkwill. “This was at night, and someone thought to also

videotape this for some reason, and the pig ate the microphone!”

In another tale of their hilarious exposure to life on the farm,

Kenderes retells the time they were given the job of having to kill some

irritant skunks.

“These skunks were down in a well and we were trying to figure out

how to shoot a gun down there without the bullets flying back. So we

got my Volvo hooked up a hose to the exhaust and gassed them. Did

it work? Nooooo.”

Balkwill reiterates that the circle of life and death on the farm is how

The Unlikely Birth of Istvan came into being.

by B. Simm

“It’s a very pastoral setting. Rolling hills, beautiful sunsets, northern

lights. But under the veneer of that lies the harsh, harsh, brutality of life.

The darkness.”

On the ranch located on the edge of foothills, there’s a network of

creeks and streams renown for trophy fishing. It’s there the Old Trouts

found their name and identity for the theatre group.

“The trouts in the creek are enormous,” says Kenderes. “Every time

you walk to the edge of water, they come right up and are looking at

you. There’s a legend that one of these trouts is as old as time and can

answer questions about the universe. I don’t know if I saw THE trout,

or asked the right questions... Our trout is slightly evolved, it has legs.

And it has an existential stink above its head. All that it can think

about, it comes up in smoke.”

The adventures on the Palmer Ranch would wind down and take a

hiatus with Judd leaving for Toronto seeking to find a more promising

future. He did not.

“I was young, it was exciting living and experiencing the big city.”

Calgary was small and didn’t have the same mystic, but soon he realized

that what he wanted to do he could probably do even better in his own

backyard, quite literally. Feeling sentimental and longing to get back West,

he wrote his fellow puppeteers a letter suggesting they reunite back on the

ranch and put together a whooper of a production. The “letter” would

change the lives of Trouts from that point on.

“This was 1999, and the looming frenzy of Y2K had everyone thinking

a thousand ways how the world would end. We were young, ambitious,

bursting with enthusiasm, wild and crazy, all those things, and decided

to stage a show for the locals. The cowboys in the area, and the Hutterite

colony up the road.”

The show took place, to the dumbfoundment of cowboys and the

delight of the Hutterites who helped them load their stage and set

design in a horse trailer that they drove to Calgary for the High Performance

Rodeo. With seven years of camp counselling connections,

droves of former camp kids came to see Istvan, launching him and the

Trouts into puppet stardom.

The remount of The Unlikely Birth of Istvan runs from March 16-25 at the

DJD Dance Centre


Highlights Festival Of Animated Objects

THE UMBRELLA

A man steps out of subway in New York City in

to a blast of wind and rain. He buys an umbrella

from a street vendor, moments later his purchase

becomes and gnarled, twisted mess of a contraption

dragging the new owner about who struggles

to hang onto to this unruly little creature. The

dramatic street tango became the inspiration

for Judd Palmer’s children’s book, The Umbrella.

Essentially, it’s a story of the relationship between

an umbrella to its owner. Through an exquisite

narrative of love, loyalty and devotion, we discover

that even imperfect, a person remains worthy

of being loved. During a storm, our heroes suffer

damage, but love triumphs! The show is an adaptation

of The Umbrella, written and illustrated by

Judd Palmer, nominated in 2012 for the Governor

General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature.

Matinee performance in both French and English

takes place at the ARTS COMMON ENGINEERED

THEATRE ON SAT., MARCH 18.

RED LEATHER YELLOW LEATHER

Amidst contemporary cultural confusions, two

champions arise. Watch as two clowns – Stan

Lee, a second-generation Chinese Canadian, and

Neech, his Metis-Cree cultural counterpart –

take back their traditions in a battle against… a

homogeneous Canadian Identity! Does it fulfill

cultural diversity quotas? Yes. Is it racist? Maybe.

Is it funny? Probably, who knows? Only one way

to find out. ARTS COMMONS ENGINEERED AIR

THEATRE MARCH 19.

DOLLY WIGGLER CABARET

Wild, weird, and hilarious!

Short form puppetry for adults.The

genesis of Dolly Wiggler can be traced

to a dive bar in Amsterdam that hosted

off-duty circus performers indulging

in “free-form madness” cabaret style.

International puppetry stars and local

greats throw it all on stage that rocks the

downtown LEGION MARCH 17 AND 18...

FRIDAY NIGHT IS ST PADDY’S DAY!!

LOON

A man. The moon.

A most peculiar love story.

Based in Portland, WONDERHEADS

is a multi-award winning physical

theatre company specializing in

mask performance and exquisite

visual storytelling for adults and

children. LOON is a love story that

whisks a man to the moon and

back! Donning oversized masks and

propelled by questions of amorous

proportions, the WONDERHEADS

step into the life of a lonely man and

look for love. Francis, who is plagued

by isolation and tickled by whispers

of childhood imagination, has hit

rock bottom and discovers that he

has nowhere to go but up. And up,

and up! But will plucking the moon

from the sky bring him the love he is

searching for?

LOON plays at the ARTS COMMONS

ENGINEERED AIR THEATRE

MARCH 17 AND 18.

BROKEN SUGAR BOWL

The Long Grass Studio and Workshop pulled

together a dream team of puppet artists

and performers to bring you this delightful,

multimedia adult puppet play. Three poems are

woven together to create a story of “Old Woman”

through the symbolic and iconic lens of puppetry.

The inspiration for this forty-minute play comes

from award-winning Canadian poet, Mildred

Tremblay. Tremblay was an exceptional woman

whose writing is both timeless and timely. She

lived through years of dramatic social change

for women, recording it with wit and spice,

addressing women’s issues and experiences that

are still urgently relevant today. Her poems have

big, bold feminist themes, softened with curves of

humour. The show plays at MOTEL THEATRE AT

ARTS COMMONS MARCH 18 and 19.

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 17


ROCKPILE

THE COURTNEYS

all around the world and back again

by Alex Hudson

“Our whole thing is that we don’t have a career.”

photo: Andrew Volk

When The Courtneys scheduled a weekend-long

session with local producer

Jordan Koop at his Noise Floor Recording

Studio in fall 2012, they had no agenda beyond

capturing a handful of their songs. They certainly

never anticipated that the resulting debut album,

2013’s The Courtneys, would become an underground

sleeper hit, turning the trio of singer-drummer

Jen Tywnn Payne, bassist Sydney Koke and

guitarist Courtney Loove into one of Vancouver’s

most hotly tipped indie pop exports.

“It surprised me,” remembers Jen, speaking with

BeatRoute in Moja Coffee on Commercial Drive

in Vancouver. “We had no expectations. We just

wanted to record the songs we had. And then it

took us quite far.”

So how did The Courtneys, who first formed in

2010, become so unexpectedly successful? Sydney,

reached on the phone from her current home base in

Strasbourg, France, cites “the moment that changed

everything for us” was an article by Pitchfork, when

the publication included them in a feature about

under-the-radar bands.

The added exposure meant that accomplishments

came quickly. The album sold out of three consecutive

vinyl pressings through Vancouver-based label

Hockey Dad Records, buzz band Wavves tweeted

lyrics from the single “90210,” and the group scored

deals to release and distribute the album internationally.

They also landed high-profile opening gigs touring

with Tegan and Sara, and also Mac DeMarco. (Jen

is Tegan and Sara’s cousin, and she previously played

in DeMarco’s old band Makeout Videotape.)

The lengthy 2014 tour with Tegan and Sara was

a particularly pivotal moment for the three-piece.

“Touring with a bigger band, you learn a lot from

them,” Jen says. “It’s like a business, how they run

ROCKPILE

their crew, and then getting to play these big venues.”

Suddenly, The Courtneys found themselves playing in

front of crowds of thousands in prestigious theatres

and ballrooms throughout the United States.

Sydney recalls, “It was sort of like rock and roll

camp. They gave us a lot of advice on how to prepare

our tech rider and how to talk to sound people,

because we didn’t have our own sound technician.”

This professional advice has been valuable for the

Courtneys as they rise in the music industry: not only

do they often face on-stage technical difficulties due

to having a drummer for a lead singer, their all-female

lineup sometimes attracts patronizing scorn from

mansplaining sound guys. Sydney points out, “We’re

this really basic three-piece band who are all girls,

so of course the way that the technicians treated us

sometimes was totally great and other times was with

quite a bit of suspicion. We had to figure out how to

act confident and know what we were talking about

to at least communicate how we wanted to sound.”

As the Courtneys continued to rack up new

achievements, they booked a scattering of days at the

Noise Floor Recording Studio. The drawn-out recording

process took place over the course of years: lead

single “Lost Boys” came out way back in January 2014,

but the bulk of the new material wasn’t laid down until

spring 2015. These sessions have now spawned the

sophomore album, II, which came out in February.

With its wonderfully straightforward combination

of fuzzy slacker-rock guitars, luminescent pop

melodies and witty lyrics, II recaptures everything

that made The Courtneys so addictive. But it’s also

a more ambitious effort, with many of the songs

riding surging, hypnotic grooves that become more

engrossing with each listen.

Opener “Silver Velvet” is a chugging, pastel-tinted

daydream that begins the album with squeals of

feedback and the blissed out opening lyrics, “The

day is getting shady / Laying in the aisle / There’s

nothing in this life to do / But stay here for a while.”

The seven-minute “Lost Boys” contains quirky lyrics

about a “vampire teenage boyfriend” and ends in

an extended jam that highlights guitarist Courtney’s

stormy fretwork, while “Tour” climaxes with euphoric

refrains of “It’s time for us to let go / Slack off and hit

the open road.”

Jen points out that these new songs are more

emotionally complex than the band’s past work,

describing the process of writing lyrics as “my therapy.”

Although some songs are about goofy subjects

like aliens (“Mars Attacks”) or a love for television

(“Virgo”), others concern relationships and other

autobiographical matters.

“On the first album, everyone was stuck on

saying that we were a summer band, and it was

beach-y and summery,” she says. “We have that

sound, but I read this review yesterday that was

saying that the songs [on II] were kind of sad. That

made me really happy. Oh my god they get it! They

don’t sound sad, but they are in a way. They go

deeper than what is first apparent.”

The album came out on Flying Nun Records, an

iconic New Zealand label that has long been an inspiration

for the group. Sydney explains that The Courtneys

had offers from larger Canadian companies

who could have helped with grant applications and

commercial wheeling and dealing, but they ended up

choosing Flying Nun for its distinct indie aesthetic.

“It actually just makes sense for us to be on Flying

Nun because our music sounds like the other bands

on that label,” she says. “Even though it wasn’t going

to be as good for our monetary music industry

career choices, we had to do what makes sense for

the actual music that we make and what seems like

it’s going to be the most fun for us.” She adds that

the band’s music is particularly well received in New

Zealand, making it a logical choice for them to team

with a Kiwi label.

With the album available now and already

receiving enthusiastic reviews, the Courtneys are

preparing for a North American headlining tour that

will kick off in Vancouver on March 14. After the

tour, their next move is unclear: these days, the band

members all live in different countries, with Jen based

in Vancouver, Sydney in France, and Courtney in

Los Angeles. They all work jobs outside of the music

industry and have no intentions to pursue the band

full-time. “Our whole thing is kind of that we don’t

have a career,” Sydney observes.

Most importantly, they’ve made an album that

they regard as timeless. Although they continue

to embrace inspirations like ‘90s alt-rock and Kiwi

indie pop, II is much more than simply the sum of

its influences.

“I don’t know if we totally care what other

people think about the record, but I do think that

we all really like it,” Sydney reflects. “I’ll be proud of

that forever, and the validation of it being released

on Flying Nun is really, really satisfying for me. I

feel great about it and I think the others do too.

If people like it and we get more opportunities in

our lives because of that, that’s really cool, but it’s

hard to know what opportunities we will accept

and what we’ll do next. We just have no plans and

that’s how it’s always been.”

The Courtneys perform on March 14th at The Biltmore

in Vancouver, March 16th at Broken City in Calgary,

March 17th at Brixx in Edmonton, March 18th at

Amigo’s in Saskatoon and March 19th in Winnipeg at

The Good Will. American dates follow.

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 19


THE SHIVERETTES

have mic, will travel

by Kennedy Enns

live music

The Shiverettes hit Western Canada on the heels of debut album release.

mar 4:

sadlier-brown duo

mar 11:

aaron pollock

friday - st. patty’s day

mar 17:

mitch belot band

mar 25:

mike watson

saturday nights

photo: Jarrett Edmund

Calgary band The Shiverettes’ first full-length

album Dead Men Can’t Cat Call has been

years in the making. Combining songs

they’ve played since day one like “Broken Record”

and songs they wrote the day they recorded the

album (“Obsessed”), Dead Men Can’t Cat Call

shows how the band has grown since their start

in 2013.

The Shiverettes became Calgary legends with

the release of their song “Stephen Harper Suck

My Dick.” Now two years old, the song has

helped define the music they want to make.

“I know for me, that song changed the style of

music I wanted to play because we wrote this

angry, fast, punk rock song and it just felt so

good. It just clicked for me and I realized, ‘This is

the kind of shit I want to write,’” Kaely Cormack,

guitarist and vocalist explains.

The Shiverettes call themselves “snotty, feminist

punks” and Dead Men Can’t Cat Call shows this

in spades. The album combines hard hitting drum

beats and rough guitar riffs with songs that speak

harsh truths and bring to mind the ideals of the riot

grrrl movement.

“Broken Record” starts their latest album, a song

which was also part of their very first demo that has

now been refined through years of practice. Now a

punchy, polished anthem for the band, fans can see

how The Shiverettes have changed over the years. “I

feel like we’ve grown so much, and we’ve diversified

our influences,” lead vocalist Hayley Muir says,

“both in our sound and lyrically, we’re more filled

with piss and vinegar now.”

“We write songs based on life experiences,”

Cormack says. Many of the songs on the record

came from a place of “feeling like we’re being

silenced.” Cormack wrote “Shout Your Assault” in

reference to what she calls a “clusterfuck of assault

cases” happening and reported in the media.

During the Jian Ghomeshi trial the judge presiding

said that “it’s just a stereotype” that all women

should be believed when they come forward

about sexual assault. Cormack then took those

words and used them as fire as her and Muir spit

out in one of the verses. “Who the fuck says that?”

she asked. The song became an outlet for those

frustrated with situations surrounding sexual

assault and has been met with love from fans,

sympathizers and survivors after it was played for

the first time at Tubby Dog in November.

“Lots of blood, sweat and tears went into this

record, that’s why it’s so salty,” Muir jokes. The song

“Justice Robin Camp” combines all three perfectly.

It uses the lines “keep your knees together,” and

“I know you want to” as a shout against the

horrifically sexist language used by Camp.

“Dead Men Can’t Cat Call” is the start of the

b-side of the album and where the album gets its

title from. It opens with cat meows which Muir says

is her “favorite part of the record.” Combining the

meows of both Muir and Cormack’s own cats as

well as the cat meows sent in by fans. “Dead Men

Can’t Cat Call” is a threat against those who think

that catcalling is ever appropriate. “I’ll smile when

you’re dead,” Muir growls on the track.

The Shiverettes recognize the platform they’ve

been given: “If you’re lucky enough to have a

microphone in front of you, don’t waste that

opportunity,” Muir says. “We recognize the privilege

of having that microphone, and having that

platform, and that voice, and we’re not wasting it.”

Dead Men Can’t Cat Call will be released in vinyl,

CD and in MP3 formats. To accompany the release

The Shiverettes are planning a Western Canadian

tour playing with the Power-Buddies, The Garrys

and Homo Monstrous.

Dead Men Can’t Cat Call is out March 31st. The

Shiverettes kick off their tour that night in Calgary at

Wine-Ohs, followed by a stop at The Sewing Machine

Factory in Edmonton April 1st. Later, they’ll play Vancouver’s

Black Lab on April 13th, Amigo’s in Saskatoon

on April 21st, T&A Vinyl in Regina on April 22nd and

The Owl in Lethbridge on May 6th.

weekly specials

late night movies

$5 pints, $1 oysters

$1/2 off wine

$2.50 tacos

$7 beer flights

$5 draft pints

$3 jack daniels

midtownkitchen.ca

20 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


TRIM SIZE: 10.25"W x 11.5" H, RIGHT HAND PAGE


IRON TUSK

from the plains of Siksika Nation

photo: Unfolding Creative

“I Iron Tusk. “Our very first show was there last January.”

guess you can say we’re a Rockin’ 4 Dollar$ baby,” states

drummer Carlin Black Rabbit of his new metal band

“That’s where we got better with chemistry,” says Joe Duck

Chief, lead guitarist.

After first jamming together on the intimate stage at Broken

City, the Siksika-goo-wan musicians – already in bands No More

Moments and West End Rangers – saw that there was opportunity

in taking the project more seriously.

They officially formed as Iron Tusk in August of 2016,

producing a few songs in Black Rabbit’s Mom’s kitchen. As of

today, the band consists of four members: Carlin on drums, Joe

and Ty on guitar, and Buddy on bass – each member taking a

swing at vocals.

PLAGUEBRINGER

new EP brief but epic

Within many local music scenes there is a pervasive

feeling that some artists might have gone amiss.

That there is a diamond in the rough of bands that

push forth trying to get their sound out and heard. Plaguebringer

is one of those diamonds. With just over five years

since their inception, a couple member changes, and a bit of

a hiatus since their 2014 release Hallowed, the band is back in

full force and ready to drop their newest EP, Three Kings.

Firstly, it must be pointed out that the first track off the three

track EP,MALEFICARVM, is a mind-bending, masterpiece of a

song. It’s accompanying video, which can be found on YouTube,

is also a DIY production by the band. Even after a long hiatus

they have still found a way to push their ability to another level.

Lyrically they’ve explored psionic cognitive function with the title

track “Three Kings.”

“It’s kind of like a psychological situation, the mirror phenomenon,

where you set up two mirrors on either side of you, in

the dark,” Explains vocalist Diaro (DJ) Irvine. “The idea is that it

separates your psyche into your id, your ego, and your superego.

It ends up being like you’re talking to yourself but with different

personalities. I wrote it from that perspective based off a chapter

in the book from the 1800s, The Yellow King. Sort of an interaction

between spirits.”

With such deep lyrics to accompany the masterful riff writing

from guitarist, Aaron James, it’s hard not hard to want more than

just a three song EP. But with all the members having careers and/

or families, they are enjoying it while they can. “It’s been five years

and I really love it, we’re not planning to give it up anytime soon,”

says Irvine. The band has hopes of releasing a more complete

album in the future and have also made plans to go on a Canadian

tour in June.

by Hannah Many Guns

“We’re playing just straight up heavy rock ‘n’ roll,” expresses

Black Rabbit. “Loud guitar and loud drums.” Naming

themselves after a Mastodon song, the band draws heavy

influence from their sound. “We like to try to put it into a

groove as much as possible, though, kinda like Sabbath,” adds

Duck Chief.

The band recorded their EP Flooded Times in just twodays

last October with Transistor 66 Records. “Actually

getting into a studio and working with someone that has

years of experience has given us our best product,” says

Black Rabbit. In January, the band added three more live

CJSW session tracks to the EP, including an alternate take of

fan favorite “Dark Waters.”

“From the original recording of ‘Dark Waters’ to what it is

now, we’re really spontaneous with it. There was one point we

jammed it out for ten minutes when we were playing a show,”

says Black Rabbit.

“We like to drag it on and mess with the crowd,” adds Duck

Chief. The band’s live performance of the song delves deep into

improvisation, so you’ll never hear the same version twice.

“We’re experimenting in it… We want to add an organ to it for

the live show. It’s one of those songs where we have that creative

freedom,” continues Black Rabbit.

Iron Tusk hopes to release a full length LP this coming fall, so

they’ll be going into writing mode until then. “It’s not gonna’ be

your basic 4/4 structure. We’re not going to sell ourselves short for

this one,” ensures Black Rabbit. “It’s going to be a loud album. It’s

going to be a banger.”

Flooded Times is available for download on iTunes and Bandcamp.

Catch Iron Tusk live at Nite Owl on March 11th for their cassette

release with openers Oxeneer, Bazaraba, and Empty Visionaries.

They’ll also be on the bill for MomentsFest 3 in Siksika Nation on

May 20th.

by Jay King

Amongst the balance between life and music they have a knack

of staying true to their form and love for their respective sound.

“We’ve always been very honest with everything that we’ve done

musically. To this day, we’re still writing the music that we love to

write regardless of what trends exist out there. We’re always playing

the music that we want to hear,” guitarist Aaron Lang explains.

Showing that kind of passion which many great metal bands

exude, Plaguebringer, with their brief but epic EP, Three Kings, are

shredding to keep the love of music alive.

Plaguebringer release Three Kings on March 18th, with a Western

Canadian tour to follow.

CRAVING WAYS

all the ways we crave change

by Willow Grier

Calgary’s Craving Ways is the slowly stewed brainchild of Colin McDonald.

The musician has roots in plenty of projects (Quit the City, Dead

Emperor, Alexa Borden), but Craving Ways is where he most feels at

home. The surf-laden, quasi-psychedelic offering recently graced BeatRoute’s

own issue launch party, to the delight of attendees. McDonald was joined

by Tad Hynes and Kurtis Urban (Mammoth Grove) and the trio jammed out

sprawling shred sessions and complex yet easily soaring structures. Moments

between songs were filled with choruses of “Fuck Yeah!” and the audience

turned to one another to learn more about the mysterious new band.

In reality, Craving Ways started several years ago, though has found its hang ups

along the way.

“The project started in Vancouver in 2013 after my old band Quit the City

broke up,” Explains McDonald. “I was in Van for one more year and recorded

the first EP there, but before I could start playing any shows I had to move back

home to Calgary.”

“I kept writing new material,” he continues. “But the project kind of sat on the

shelf for a while until I met Kirill Telichev (The Dudes, HighKicks, Julius Sumner

Miller) at a party. He produced and put in a lot good ideas into the songs. He’s a bit

of a wizard. We got Sean Friend (Solid Brown, The Suppliers) to do the drums and

Ryan Wells (Robot Workers) to do the keys on a couple songs. We ended up have

four tracks recorded, then I got a bit busy playing with Alexa Borden and Dead

Emperor for a couple years and only played a handful of shows with Craving Ways.”

As another delay, McDonald explains, “I write all the material myself, so when

it comes to shows I get the help of my awesome friends I’ve met in Calgary since

moving back. Urban and Hynes have helped with with every show but the line up

changes quite a bit.”

The mid March release show will see the final product of the four songs released

as a collection called All in All, and will make room for all that McDonald has up

his sleeve. For now, he has seen his vision come to fruition with a heavy, hard-hitting

rhythm section that offsets his Dick Dale-esque guitar. The easy-to-love songs

come off with a delightfully groovy, beach-ready exterior, and a stop-what-you’redoing-to-check-out-these-riffs

chewy centre, ready for audiences to devour.

Catch Craving Ways’ All in All EP Release on March 24th at Nite Owl with support

from The Rumble, Slim Hawley, and Robbie Shirriff.

photo: Unfolding Creative

22 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


STRFKR

from disillusionment to thriving

There are some simple traits that a good person should practice

throughout life. One is when you drop off someone at

their home, you should wait until they are safe inside before

you drive away. Two, if your friend is scared of flying, you better

hold their goddamn sweaty hand during the bumps. Three, the

most important of them, is to always greet dogs. It’s safe to assume

that if you do one of them, you probably do them all.

When STRFKR’s brainchild Joshua Hodges greets three dogs

in his passing during our phone interview, we’re fairly confident

you’re in good company. This year will mark a decade since the

then-26 year old started making music in his basement as a

personal outlet, the vessel he named Starfucker, later toning it

down to STRFKR.

STRFKR is a Portland-based band who walk the line between

indie pop and dance music. They have a knack for bass lines,

shiny synth, and hooky vocalisations by Hodges. This is well-evidenced

in the band’s hit-making history, and most recently

with single “In The End,” taken from their Polyvinyl release Being

No One, Going Nowhere. But it wasn’t all sexy good times and

free-wheeling for Hodges.

“The [way that the] whole project came about was out of

frustration, naming it Starfucker was a ‘fuck you’ to the music

industry that I had experienced,” Hodges remembers. To his surprise,

he has been able make a career out of doing what he wants

creatively and personally. “I didn’t think it would be something

that lasted ten months, let alone ten years,” he says.

Hodges knew at a young age he was a creative type. His

mother taught him a couple simple chords on the guitar, and he

learned a little piano. “When this project started I was working

really shitty jobs. All I ever wanted to do was music. I didn’t go to

school after high school, I just moved to New York. I was in a couple

bands and got hired to do, like, a hired guy to be in a band,

be a guitarist and tour for a little bit. But it wasn’t really my own

thing and it wasn’t really that great. This project was basically my

giving up point, the ‘fuck this.’”

That’s not the end of his story. “I remember when I was able to

quit working, and we could actually make money just touring.”

Hodges was astounded that he could get by on his creative vehicle,

even if wasn’t exactly a plush way to live.

The interesting thing is, we tend to forget how lucky we can

be in our own heads when we miss the simplest part of life, like

alone time, or waking up in your only bed, or being able to meet

a good friend for a random beer at a drop of a dime.

“I still can take it for granted, you know, but [it’s] just like any

job when it becomes normal. Touring is kind of fucking hard. I

like alone time and there is not much of that on tour. I definitely

have to remind myself to appreciate it, still. The brain is naturally

narcissistic, the mind is not grateful, so I think you have to trick it

to be that way.”

Hodges is fairly modest about the success and growth of

STRFKR. “When we first started it was about what I wanted to do

live, but after a while, playing the same songs over and over gets

kind of repetitive. So it’s changed to be more interactive and fun,

to have a good time with our audience.”

With astronaut costumes and band members crowdsurfing on

an inflatable flamingo, it’s not a stretch to imagine yourself having

a good time at a STRFKR show. Good thing you have the chance

to find out for yourself.

STRFKR play the Pyramid Cabaret in Winnipeg on March 17th, Louis’

Pub in Sasktoon on March 18th, The Needle Vinyl Tavern in Edmonton

on March 19th, Commonwealth in Calgary on March 20th and

The Imperial in Vancouver on March 22nd. Psychic Twin join them for

all dates.

by Danni Bauer

Portland’s STRFKR and Psychic Twin hit Western Canada this month.

ROCKPILE

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 23


THE FRONTIERS

a need to create

2016 brought about a lot of changes for The

Frontiers – including a name change and

a shift in sonic identity. Four members left

the band in the spring of 2015, and two new

members cycled in through the coming months.

They added Jeff Towers on percussion in late

2015, and brought aboard guitarist and producer

Mike Fournier early in 2016. When the dust

settled, they got down to work. Lead songwriter

Drew Jones, violinist Mike Kissinger, stand-up

bassist Ethan Dalen, and the two new members

went on to perform 86 gigs that year, including

42 from June to August. “We create value based

on how much we can gig,” states Jones, over

pints at the Kensington Pub. “Recording was

an afterthought,” he continues. The fact is, the

band was sitting on over a dozen songs ready to

record. All they needed was a nudge of ambition

from their newest member, Mike Fournier, as he

offered to record an EP for them at Slaughter

House Studios, where he rents out a recording

space. They decided to record the entire album

live-off-the-floor – a true testament to the

cohesion of their live set.

“After listening to the takes over and over, I noticed

that muting the vocals really cleaned up the

feedback in the session, so we decided to re-track

the vocals one by one in my home studio,” states

Fournier, explaining the refining stages of this

ambitious 10-hour project. They only ended up

using 5 of their 10 allotted studio hours, due to

the fact that they nailed each track by the third

or fourth time through. Their lead single, “Man

of Steel,” was actually nailed in the first take.

SILENCE THE SWAMPS

horror from the depths!

Alt-country inspired act release debut album after cutting their teeth on the road.

Jones and Towers credit The Avett Brothers, an

American alt-country band as their main source

of inspiration for the tightness of their live set,

stating that “though [the] songs are formalized,

we leave a lot of room for live improvisation.”

Silence the Swamps aim to bring a

sludgy new voice to Calgary punk,

steeped in horror imagery and geared

towards a raucous Saturday night out.

The trio, comprised of Cam Jonze,

Dylan Sutton, and Brendan Toft, draws

influence from a wide spectrum of music

like grunge and early AFI. However, each

member cites The Misfits’ blending of

grim lyrical content with big rock riffs as

one of their key influences.

“We reference a lot of dark images in

our lyrics, whether it be prostitution,

drugs, addiction, abuse, depression, anxiety,”

says Toft. “But then there’s the other

side too, and it’s just about having fun,

playing music, and wanting to hook up”

The three have known each other for 15

years, but it was an impromptu jam lesson

last summer that turned the possibility of

forming a band into a viable project.

“I kind of know when shit isn’t going to

work, or when to not even bother with it,

but within the first practice it was like ‘we

can actually do this,’” says Jonze.

The group had three songs written

within the first two weeks, and now with

a debut album slated for mid-March

release, their focus has turned to their live

show.

“You see a lot of bands now, at whatever

bar on whatever night, show up with

their nine-to-five fuckin’ gear, play a little

bit and get out,” opines Sutton. “I think

we want to do something a bit different.”

“Yeah, put some showmanship into it,”

says Jonze.

According to them, this is something

the local punk scene needs more of.

“The punk scene in Calgary isn’t exactly

flourishing,” alleges Jonze. “That’s one of

the reasons why we make punk. Not only

because we love it so much, but we think

that the time in the world is right, right

now.”

“Too many people are just stuck, pigeon-holed

in that alt-rock thing, writing

songs about flowery bullshit or whatever,

and sometimes on Friday, Saturday night

you don’t want to go hear that shit… You

want to go have fun,” Sutton muses.

Toft points out that music is cyclical,

and believes that punk is at the start

of a resurgence. The goal of Silence the

Swamps is to be at this new movement’s

cutting edge.

“It’s time for a punk band to have that

raw edge and vision,” he says.

Catch Silence the Swamps EP release March

16th at Nite Owl with Inch to the Right and

Dear Rabbit out of Colorado.

photo: Mark Preston

In speaking with Jones, Towers, and Fournier,

it’s easy to realize that their musical chemistry

stems from their everyday life. The group would

finish each other’s sentences as they reminisced

on their inclusive band philosophy. “Nobody

by Taylor Odishaw-Dyck

is the star… It’s not about one person,” agreed

Towers and Fournier. “We line ourselves up on

stage in a half-circle; we want to make sure our

philosophy shows through,” adds Jones. The

digital edition of their new release Enough is

Enough, is available now on Bandcamp, and they

have just announced that their album release

show will go down at Broken City in late March,

with support from Fig and the Flame, and The

Dearhearts.

The album is packed with breathtaking violin

scales, intense vocal harmonies, and honest

lyricism: “It’s been a while, but now I’ve finally

figured out just where I’m going.”These guys

are no longer messing around, as they intend

to take their music to the next level. Enough

is Enough was chosen as their album title to

reiterate this mindset. “This is a DIY project in

pure form,” states Towers. “Anything within our

reach, we take care of ourselves.” They can talk

the talk, and the trail behind them backs up

their confidence. In 2015, they sold out a previous

album release show at The Palomino under

their old moniker, Sealegs, and sold out of their

physical CDs soon after.

“Whether you get noticed for it, or you don’t,

you still create it,” states Fournier, then stepping

back to let Jones finish the thought. “When that

need to create is meshed with a response from

the community, that’s when shit gets real.”

Catch The Frontiers as they release Enough is

Enough alongside Fig and The Flame and The Dearhearts

at Broken City, March 24th.

by Jonathan Crane

Audacious horror punks think Calgary’s scene needs a crash cart. Perhaps their EP release show will be their answer.

photo: Michael Benz

24 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


TOURING ROUNDUP

what’s coming to town in March...

WEEZER

April 5th at the Grey Eagle

Event Centre

What’s left to say about a band

so part of pop culture’s modern

fabric? However you feel about

the trajectory of their career and

the signature veneer of frontman

Rivers Cuomo, it’s hard to dispute

that there’s a certain magic in

their many early-mid career hits

and enduring spirit. Though their

success is stadium-sized, Weezer

have always felt relatable in their

awkwardness. Revisit a younger

you while they play “Buddy Holly”

and take a look around at the next

generation of alt-rockers just starting

to get inspired by the band.

HUMANS

March 9th at Nite Owl

It’s always a party when Humans come to town. Their

sets at the Hifi, Commonwealth and Sled Island block

parties are the stuff of legend. This time, they’ll be headlining

the latest CLUB NACHT at Nite Owl with Overland

and sitstill (who blew us out of the water at our

most recent issue release party). If muscular electronics

and pop accessibility are you thing, don’t miss it.

KATE TEMPEST

March 31st at Commonwealth

At the cross-section of performance, music and

poetry, Kate Tempest relentlessly injects her art

with a street-wise perspective on the issues of

today. Her delivery is rooted in spoken word but

verges on modes like rap, monologue, rant and plea.

Accompanying her lyricism are jagged abstractions

of electronic music, rock and hip-hop. She’s been

noted by the Mercury (longlisted) and Ted Hughes

(winner) awards for her ability to interest young

people in poetry through contemporary languages

they already understand. Her performances are direct,

confrontational and unlike anything else you’ll

see this month.

MOTHER MOTHER

March 20th at the Southern Alberta

Jubilee Auditorium

Mother Mother have enjoyed a meteoric

rise since their off-kilter indie pop beginnings

in Vancouver. Today a Universal

signee, the band has carved out a niche

as in pop’s stratosphere while keeping a

signature oddity that shows a commitment

to identity. Sporting a futuristic,

alien-like look and hard-hitting hits on

new album No Culture, this tour looks to

be a highpoint from the band.

ROCKPILE

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 25


EDMONTON EXTRA

nêhiyawak

on respecting tradition, blazing trails and community diversity

by Brittany Rudyck

nêhiyawak embed “catchy numbers” with thoughtful oomph.

photo: Conor McNally

One of the first things nêhiyawak’s Marek

Tyler did when BeatRoute visited Edmonton’s

Aviary venue one balmy February

afternoon was offer tea. The smell of sweetly

pungent smudge was present in the air and the

space felt homey and comfortable. We opted to

set up in the back room where the band rehearses

two to three times a week. As Tyler moved around

the space organizing gear and setting up for the

post conversation jam, we reflected personally on

growing up in Saskatchewan and other geographical

similarities.

The Cree word nêhiyawak directly means plains

people, or people of the plains, pronounced:

neh-Hee-o-wuk, with an emphasis on the second

syllable. BeatRoute learned as the interview went

on, the word and its meaning weighs heavily on

the band as they navigate the musical landscape,

as well as their relationships with elders, youth and

the community at large.

Kris Harper (guitar) and Matthew Cardinal

(bass) walked through the doors shortly after we

settled. Once we each had a glass of tea in hand

Tyler was quick to begin the interview process

eagerly seeking out the first question. His natural

curiosity and apparent desire to know more about

his band mates’ thoughts and ideas permeated our

entire conversation.

The band’s openness with each other and

what they approach in terms of art is a refreshing

attitude to witness. Harper and Tyler

are cousins from the Onion Lake Cree Nation

with just enough age difference to have missed

a close relationship growing up. It was 2003

when the two first recorded music together and

was also when the idea of forming a band was

hatched, but it wasn’t until a decade later that

the band would truly form with Cardinal joining

the cousins after only a few jams as a duo.

“I remember the first time playing together

and feeling something special,” Tyler recalls. “It

felt nice; like there was a spark. But then two or

three jams in, Matthew joined us and it felt right.

Kris had a few songs in the bag, but told us that

nothing was set in stone and the songs were still

young. That’s a really neat place to be, a fertile

place to be. Matthew has a beautiful sense of

sound and approach to music. It felt good right

away but we’re still getting to know each other.”

The natural chemistry between the trio is

noticeable in the first two tracks nêhiyawak

has released on their Bandcamp page. The first

release, “Tommaso,” is an expansive, love infused

indie rock ballad with atmospheric yet catchy

hooks that sounds similar to early Stills songs.

The lyrics are decidedly intellectual, exploring the

relationship between Michelangelo and his assistant

Tommaso. Their second release “Disappear”

was greatly inspired by a lecture given by Bertha

Oliva and Robert Lovelace.

One of the great things about Harper’s writing

style is he leaves each song up for further discussion

and research, if the listener is open to it. “Fats

Domino made a song [called] ‘Walkin’ to New

Orleans’ which is a catchy number,” Harper explains.

“In reality there were only two groups of people

who walked to New Orleans so to a lot of people it

will remain just a catchy number. For those who are

interested it can go a lot deeper. That’s the same for

us. There will hopefully be some catchy numbers on

the upcoming album but for those who want more,

there will be a lot of ideas to spur interest. Lots of

the ideas are in direct reference to indigenous culture,

some are not. I’ll try to reference my material in

everything we print.”

nêhiyawak recorded their first three songs on

Vancouver Island with Colin Stewart, who has

recorded notable artists Black Mountain and The

New Pornographers. Stewart’s home studio is just

north of Victoria and provides a luscious backdrop to

“hide out and drink a lot of tea.” Surrounded by 80 ft.

trees and near the ocean it seemed to be the perfect

place to create their first full length album which is

still very much in its infancy. “Colin gets it,” Tyler says

of his longtime friend and producer. “We all come

from an indie rock background. I’ve worked with him

on a bunch of albums and I trust the guy. He has no

fear and he’s respectful. We’re bringing in something

that’s a bit different and he makes good decisions

with it. I trust him.”

During our conversation, Harper also mentioned

the notion that the band’s voice is slightly more

feminine in nature, which comes from an ideal in

indigenous culture that women are at the forefront

of decision-making. “I could never really feel like I’m

bringing forth that much of a new idea. We’re still

representing ourselves as three male individuals on

stage. That’s not very new musically or sonically per

se,” explains Harper. “But I do think what we’re trying

to say and trying to involve in ourselves and the circles

we’re trying to meander through are very different

than those kind of male dominated scenes. I feel

like that idea of women being the focal point of the

conjecture, the ideas, the ideologies is not necessarily

being represented here but we need to acknowledge

and allow space for a voice that’s not our own.”

Adding further clarity to that thought, Tyler

continued, “We ask for guidance from our youth and

from our elders on how to do this in a respectful way

and bring them into the circle. If we live in an echo

chamber, a vacuum, it becomes really fake, really

quick. There’s a reciprocity that is really important in

what we do. I love the process of learning from each

other; it’s more than just a band. It feels like there’s

something we need to say.”

nêhiyawak are also eagerly awaiting the release

of a documentary this spring by local filmmaker

Connor McNally called ôtênaw, which they

designed the score for. The film captures the

storytelling of Edmonton educator Dwayne Donald,

who keeps the multi-faceted layers of history

within Treaty 6 land alive.

“We haven’t recognized all these places of burial or

where we’re coming from on this land. We walk on

the history every day. It’s heavy. It was very enlightening

to be part of this project and hear Dwayne speak,”

added Harper.

“Before we did the music, we saw the first cut of

the documentary then went on one of the walks the

movie is about. We were told about paintings and

the idea of everything being as multi layered as a

canvas being repainted over and over again. It was a

great way of thinking about the land we’re on,” Tyler

concluded with a smile, “we’re just a snapshot on one

of those layers. It gave me a bit of perspective and

respect for before and after this blip in history.”

Catch nêhiyawak at Fort Edmonton Park March 17th

as part of Stories on the Hills. Their third single, Starlight,

comes out the same day on Bandcamp.

26 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE


WORST DAYS DOWN

bring Elsewhere home with new full length

“I

won’t play in bands with people I’m not friends with,” says Ben Sir,

vocalist for local punk rockers Worst Days Down.

That self-proclaimed stubbornness appears to have worked out for the

best, though. Sir, who began playing solo acoustic gigs under the name Worst Days

Down about seven years ago, never intended to make the project a full-time oneman

endeavor; he always imagined the songs he was writing being fleshed out by a

band, but he wanted to be selective about who he brought on board.

“I’ve seen [bands] work with people who just look at it purely professionally

and that’s cool,” he continues. “I’ve also seen people outwardly dislike one another,

and that makes so little sense to me… How can you have that feeling of mutual

camaraderie and really believe in what you’re doing if you don’t even want to be in

the same room as one another, let alone spend seven or eight months on the road

with each other?”

Jerome Tovillo (drums), Kevin Klemp (guitar/vocals) and Matt Murphy (bass/

vocals) proved to be the ideal additions, and Worst Days Down transitioned from

a solo acoustic act to a full-fledged band in March 2014 after Sir returned from

Vancouver to run The Buckingham.

“I fully moved out there with the intention of [staying] and focusing on music

and not working in bars,” recalls Sir, but a phone call from a friend eventually

changed that. “A friend of mine called me and said, ‘We want you to move back to

Edmonton so you can open a bar and focus on music—I moved back to open the

Buckingham—and the deal was that a bunch of us who play in bands could work

there, and [the deal] would be that when we’re there we work our butts off, but

then when we have to go on tour we can do that.” Tovillo, Klemp and Murphy are

all involved in other bands too. Tovillo and Murphy are members of Audio/Rocketry,

Klemp is in Fire Next Time and Sir continues to play with Etown Beatdown.

Everyone was on board with Sir’s idea.

Along with several digital releases, Sir put out a solo Worst Days Down record

called Money, God and Other Drugs in 2013. Now, the guys are ready to release

their first physical album featuring the band’s full lineup, Elsewhere, on March

3. Worst Days Down’s first release through the intrepid Gunner Records out of

Germany, began to take shape a number of years ago and features a mix of familiar

tracks along with some recent numbers. “It’s kind of cool that half the album is

songs that I played by myself but with a very specific idea in mind. It was cool halfway

through playing acoustically to start thinking intentionally, ‘I want to record

by Meaghan Baxter

this with a full band, that’s what it’s going to be,’” Sir says. “So half the album I’d say

I had ready by the time we started playing [together], but over the last couple of

years we started to learn to be a band together.”

Since the majority of the tracks on Elsewhere have existed in one form or another

over the past few years, it provided the band with a solid stylistic foundation

to use as a starting point for the record. Sir says any challenges came with helping

the rest of the group feel a sense of connection to the more personal songs he had

composed. The guys added their own touches to various elements of the record

and expanded existing ideas, which Sir notes helped foster a sense of connection

and camaraderie surrounding it.

Though unintentional, the evolution of Worst Days Down aligns well with

the poignant notions of change and movement that permeate Elsewhere—

whether that translates into seeing familiar places in a different light or even

lack of movement as one’s idealized life of adventure is replaced by complacency

in the suburbs. “There’s these little personal things that I really enjoy

about the album, because I feel like I was able to be more deliberate with it.

I think for the first time I had an idea of what I was doing, whereas with previous

albums it was just like, ‘I have a song, let’s record it, let’s get out there

and go on tour. It’ll be great.’”

Elsewhere is barely released but the band is already looking ahead at working on

the follow-up, which will be the first album comprised of entirely new material. Sir

concedes it’s taking some work to settle into a cohesive style with four members

having a hand in crafting each song. New ideas have spanned everything from

dropped tuning all the way to thrash metal, but don’t expect Worst Days Down’s

collaborative effort to switch gears entirely.

“We haven’t had any specific conversations about where do we go from here?”

he says, noting he’d like to see the second album released a year from now after

the band tours Europe and North America to support Elsewhere. “It’s exciting, but

[Elsewhere] needed to take some time in order for us to learn how to be a band,

to get the songs ready. It was not easy to sit on it for a year. I was going pretty stir

crazy about it. But now I realize it took every bit of that time to do it properly. Now

I think we’re like, ‘OK, we’ve got this motivation, let’s get to work.’”

Worst Days Down release Elsewhere on March 3rd and will play a release the following

day at Queen Alex Hall in Edmonton.

Worst Days Down use camaraderie to fuse the intimacy of personal songs with the energy of a team.

photo: Travis Nesbitt

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 27


BOOK OF BRIDGE

VRKADE

Lethbridge’s virtual reality arcade

Go inside the game at VRKADE.

From the outside, VRKADE looks like a

small commercial space sandwiched

between an interior design store and a

tattoo parlor; inside, though, are HTC Vives

acting as mini-TARDISes, able to take you to

the far reaches of the STEAM store.

Steven Bandola approached Jason Van

Hierden about the potential of the new class

of virtual reality rigs. Van Hierden was hesitant

at first, but the resurgence of VR coupled with

Lethbridge’s population nearing the 100,000

mark made it so that he was willing to give the

old college try. They opened in early January

and have launched a relentless charm offensive

in the form of VR demos at the college and

university, and constant prize giveaways on

their Facebook page.

The actual storefront interior is pleasant

enough. There’s a stylish reception area and

the consoles are set up in spacious booths

partitioned by curtains. That barely matters

though, since the majority of the experience

happens within the goggles.

At first it feels cumbersome and weird;

glasses make it somewhat uncomfortable. But

after a few adjustments, the extra pound on

your head gets superseded by the intensity

of suddenly being inside a videogame. It’s

sensational, in that it actually fucks with your

senses. One second I’m in the storefront, next

I’m in a massive white warehouse with a Portal

personality core stammering instructions, and

I could feel the shift in my skin. As if the air

had changed.

We played Rec Room (a Wii sports-type

jawn with an assortment of games), QuiVR (a

by Mav Adecer

photo: Brandon Wynnychuk

bow and arrow shoot-em-up), and I snuck in a

game of Space Pirate Trainer (a laser shoot-emup)

when the other two in my party left me

behind on the two-player-only Frisbee Golf in

Rec Room.

The owners curated the list of games very

meticulously. They wanted to pick popular

games, but also wanted to make sure that it’s

not just gun games. They appreciate the Code

Red crowd, but they want their store to be a

family establishment.

Motion is difficult for these games. Not just

the motion sickness (users are advised to take

10-minute breaks every half-hour) but also the

act of movement within the game is very disorienting.

Since walking is obviously limited to

the designated VR space, you have to “shoot”

yourself in the direction you want to go, where

you’re instantly show up.

Van Hierden reps the fervour of a convert

saying, “It’s going to revolutionize not just

games but movies and education. Med students

will eventually be able to practice surgeries,

police will be able to train all kinds of different

scenarios-” it’s at this point that someone using

the demo rig at the university crashed into the

VRKADE display and unplugged the machine.

Jason had to pause our chat to fix the mess.

Blasting goblins with arrows is one thing, but

slicing into empty air and thinking you’re doing

surgery is about as horrific as, well, surgery.

Shooting robots was dank, though.

You can exit reality and enter the virtual world of

VRKADE, located at 1018 3 Avenue South, between

2 and 11 pm daily.

FROM PIANOS TO POWER CHORDS

by Courtney Faulkner

the history of music in southern Alberta

you imagine a day without music? It

surrounds us each and every day - almost

“Can

everywhere we go, we can have easy access

to music in our lives. But it wasn’t always this way.

Over 100 years ago when Lethbridge was just becoming

a city, music was much more rare. You had to own

an instrument, or know someone who could play one,

just to have access to music. Before radios became common,

you would likely only hear music during a concert

or a parade, which meant that music was a driving force

that helped bring our community together.”

This excerpt on the “From Pianos to Power Chords”

exhibit, an intricate display of historical photographs,

objects and stories connected to the history of music

in southern Alberta currently showing at the Galt

Museum & Archives until April 30, can be a challenge

to conceptualize in a time where music is so common

it’s nearly taken for granted.

“Back then it wasn’t as easy to hear music,” says Tyler

Stewart, guest curator for the exhibit. “Really, you can

think of it being a luxury.”

Tyler Stewart, whose passion for music and love of

the Lethbridge community brought him to curate the

show, wanted people to feel connected to history, and

has done an excellent job of fostering this through his

“musician map,” a web of bands and their members

visually illustrated by local “Slaughterhouse Slough”

cartoonist Eric Dyck.

“People seeing themselves in the exhibition was

super important to me in developing the whole thing,”

says Stewart. “They’re still part of history, and it’s

important to me to show people that history is also

right now.”

“Watching 10 people or more in the community on

a snowy Sunday afternoon standing around discussing

and analyzing this band map… I thought this is so

cool that we are having this dialogue about the crazy

interconnections in the music community.”

“When you take a topic like music that people

connect to in so many different ways I think it makes

people really aware of where they fit into in that story,”

says Aimee Benoit, curator of the Galt Museum &

Archives.

“Museums can provide a forum for social interaction,

and we share our own experiences with each

other when we’re experiencing an exhibit,” says Benoit.

“I think that’s an opportunity for people to get to

know each other better.”

“It really is about who we are now, and it’s about

having conversations about who we want to be in the

future as a community.”

The history of music in southern Alberta is far

reaching.

“It was super important to me to show that music

existed in southern Alberta before it was ever called

southern Alberta, and that started with the Blackfoot

people,” says Stewart. “If we want to reconcile colonial

history with the original Blackfoot people who this

land still belongs to, things like this are a way to keep

this dialogue going.”

“What I like about this exhibit is it adds to the

conversation,” says Ira Provost, a Blackfoot musician

and educator from the Piikani First Nation who

worked with Stewart to curate the history of music in

the Blackfoot community. “I hope that it becomes a

naturalized narrative where it’s like if you’re going to

talk about anything in the development in this area

you need to have a perspective from the Blackfoot

community.”

“The Blackfoot have been in what’s now known as

southern Alberta forever. We say for a millennia. We’ve

always had music a part of our way of life, and it still

is,” says Provost. “We’ve used music as a community

gathering tool for years. As the southern Alberta music

scene has grown, it has in the [Blackfoot] communities

as well.”

“It’s not small, it’s not insignificant... And I like that

it’s being inclusive. I like that it’s creating that awareness

to that understanding.”

“Myself, as a musician, I always found that music

really broke a lot of barriers. All the musicians I’ve ever

played with, there was no race barrier,” says Provost.

“We just get together and jam.”

“Music definitely has that capacity to bring people

together to have a shared experience,” says Benoit.

“From Pianos to Power Chords” is showing at the Galt

Museum & Archives until April 30.

Mining the rich history of music in southern Alberta with respect to the cultures that shaped it.

28 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


letters from winnipeg

JOEY LANDRETH

Wears heart on his sleeve with debut solo effort

Winnipeg-bred Joey Landreth (one quarter

of the Bros. Landreth) is a self-described

heart-on-his-sleeve singer-songwriter,

spilling about love and personal tribulations

with an honesty that’s effortlessly endearing.

On Whiskey, Landreth’s debut solo record, some

heavier blues-rock riffage augments the album’s

understated prairie twang. In fact, Landreth says

that he wanted to “take a few liberties” in the

guitar-playing department.

“There’s a little more of the guitar-player Joe coming

out on this record,” says Landreth from Toronto,

where he now calls home. “It’s still a very song-centered

album, but I definitely wanted to be playing

more guitar on this record, and the live show reflects

that a little bit more than the record does.”

Of the album’s seven tracks, Landreth’s

full-bodied vocals shine as he chronicles his path

to sobriety on title track, “Whiskey,” or with

road-worn ballad “Still Feel Gone,” about “the

pressures and challenges that come with being a

traveller” on the ones you love.

The roots artist, best known as the lead vocalist

and chief songwriter for the Bros. Landreth,

took home a JUNO Award in 2015 for the group’s

debut effort, Let it Lie. That album also landed

the four-piece a label deal with Slate Creek Records

out of Nashville.

With that success came an exhaustive touring

schedule and demands that were weighing heavily

on the group. As Landreth explains, his solo outing

is as much a creative pursuit as it is an attempt to

take some of the touring pressure off of the rest of

the band.

“Spending the amount of time on the road that

we have, it can take its toll in certain ways,” says

Landreth. “I’ve been getting that question a lot: ‘Why

did you want to go solo?’ To be honest, I didn’t really,

but it was kind of necessary for the greater good of

the project. Not to say that I’m not having an absolute

blast, because I am.”

Though the artist now lives in a different area

code, his Winnipeg roots are never too far behind.

The album was recorded in his hometown at the

famed West End studio, Stereobus Recording, where

many Manitoba luminaries have also cut records, like

Burton Cummings, Crash Test Dummies, and the

universally loveable Fred Penner.

Working with much of the same team as with

the Bros. Landreth’s debut, the album doesn’t

veer too far from earlier work. Elder Landreth

brother and guitarist, David, appears on the

album, as do drummer Ryan Voth, and producer

Murray Pulver.

Elsewhere, Stereobus studio owner and engineer

Paul Yee, who helped Landreth on his first recording

when he was 14 years old, also lends his engineering

talents. Indeed, this musical endeavour remained an

all-Winnipeg affair.

“That’s kind of the thing about Winnipeg for me is

that there’s a ton of history,” says Landreth. “It’s where

I grew up, where I became a musician, and where I

Joey Landreth will be in Winnipeg on March 9 at the West End Cultural Centre.

became a songwriter. I think that’s why it was really

important for me to record there, too.”

As it stands, the younger Landreth sibling assures

fans of the Bros. Landreth that his solo effort isn’t

indicative of the band’s demise.

“The Bros. Landreth are alive and well,” he says.

by Julijana Capone

photo: Mike Latschislaw

“There’s gonna be some shows coming up this year,

so if anybody’s worried, don’t be worried.”

Joey Landreth performs on March 9th at the West End

Cultural Centre in Winnipeg. For more information on

his new solo record, Whiskey, head to joeylandreth.com.

IANSUCKS

all about the feels

iansucks are Ian Ellis, Adam Nikkel, Emma Mayer, and Kelly Beaton.

Bedroom-pop outfit iansucks is the kind of

band that likes to revel in its despair.

And truth be told, finding the fun in misery

can make for pretty good music. iansucks’ sophomore

outing, Don’t Give in to the Bad Feelings, is

built on awkward energy, lo-fi quirkiness and spurts

ROCKPILE

of synth-y exploration (hear: “Secret Tunnel I”), while

navel-gazing on a gamut of unpleasant feelings.

“It was three years worth of bad feelings,” says

Emma Mayer (also of Figure).

“Relationship things, political things” adds Ian Ellis

(of Hut Hut and Animal Teeth), also the band’s jokey

namesake. “Just about everything, really.”

Mayer and Ellis, both admittedly shy performers,

have shared songwriting and vocal duties for the

project since they started collaborating a few years

ago, though Mayer sings most songs live. “She’s a lot

better of an actual, real life player than I am,” Ellis says.

The band’s formation was by all accounts an

accident, conceived as Ellis’ low-key personal project

without much intention of taking it out of the bedroom.

Enter Mayer, who came on board to contribute

vocals and play violin, and the duo’s aptly titled 2014

debut, Boring Stuff Go Away, soon followed.

iansucks has since expanded to include Kelly Beaton

(Les Jupes, All of Your Friends) and Adam Nikkel

(Animal Teeth), and the group says there are future

plans to tour out West. “We weren’t really planning

on growing so much, but things just keep happening,”

says Ellis.

Much of that may be attributed to their latest

album, Don’t Give in to the Bad Feelings. Along with

its sad/funny tunes about relatable disappointments,

some of the more amusing lyrical content on the record

feels as if pulled from the inexplicable thoughts

derived in dreams, particularly in Ellis’ case.

“In the winter, I get shut in…I get really insular and

stuck in my own head,” he says.

Case in point: the song “Person Box,” in which Ellis

muses about living in a street level apartment and

the many outside interferences. “There was a furnace

that would smack, people upstairs that were always

by Julijana Capone

screaming at each other, and I always felt like people

were looking in at me from the windows,” he says.

“People would walk by and stare at me. I just felt like

the world was really loud outside, and it was disturbing

my nice sadness.”

Elsewhere, “Boring Showers” finds Ellis singing

about his history of concussions and cartwheels mixing

up his “brain juice,” while “Clo” takes cues from

warped videogame-inspired tunes. “Bedtime,” on the

other hand, is the drowsy pop interpretation of falling

weightless through the air.

“I like to play with synths and I don’t like when an

album sounds the same,” Ellis explains. “I wanted to

play around to find something interesting or something

where the songs had their own personality.”

And the band certainly achieves that. The sonic

and emotional arc of the album goes in many directions

of casual despair—sadness, fatigue, ennui, and

so on—with the exception of the sad-words-happyvibes

track “Spring,” written by Mayer.

As for other enjoyable downers, “Too Hard” and

“Crying” are Mayer’s personal accounts of previous

disappointments. “I think I had a letdown in a potential

relationship that turned out to be nothing,” she

says. “I was very sad, and everything felt very hard.”

“We’re always trying to be happier and always

falling short,” Ellis says with a laugh.

Iansucks performs on March 2nd at the Handsome

Daughter in Winnipeg.

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 29


JUCY

IVY LAB

UK halftime tastemakers launch their biggest tour ever

It’s hard to believe that Ivy Lab, in its current iteration,

has been around for almost half a decade.

The trio of bassweight virtuosos – consisting of

Sabre, Stray and Halogenix – made a splash in 2012

with their take on blissful, classy drum and bass,

releasing the instant anthem that was “Oblique.”

From there, a spat of singles and EPs cast from the

same mold as “St. Clair” and “Brat” cemented Ivy

Lab as an act to watch.

“Back in those days, we were trying to slot into a

pre-existing world, and so getting the acclaim that we

did was obviously very exciting.” explains Laurence

Reading, aka Halogenix. “But a lot of what we wanted

to do with drum and bass had already been done. We

were struggling with original ideas.”

What garnered them the bulk of the notoriety

they’ve accrued today, then, was their eagerness to

push boundaries.

Sabre’s classical training and status as a Metalheadz

and Critical Recordings alum, paired with

Stray’s knack for buttery hip-hop soundscapes and

Halogenix’s fresh takes on refined liquid DnB, resulted

in a sound that balanced the sound design one

expected of high-class drum and bass with the dancefloor-readiness

and energy of murky hip-hop.

And thus, almost single-handedly, Ivy Lab became

the poster boys for halftime drum and bass – a sound

that today has all but reached critical mass in the

context of underground bass music.

“Being in that group of people who are called

trendsetters and tastemakers, it puts a lot of wind in

our sails.” Reading continues. “I don’t know if that’s a

No half-measures: Ivy Lab’s endless hot streak.

bit cringey, I don’t want to blow our own trumpets.

But with halftime, we can be more original, and it

gives us license to be more prolific.”

Jonathan Fogel, aka Stray, chimes in. “We used to

aspire to make things super classy and polished, and

sculpted. That’s what marked our brand of drum

and bass. Moving into doing the halftime stuff has

allowed us to be rougher around the edges.”

Echoing through a Skype call from the Denver

airport, on the cusp of what they describe as their

biggest tour ever, Fogel describes the group “overflowing

with inspiration.” It’s a sentiment that bleeds

through the internet connection and drowns out the

robotic background din of the airport.

“[Ivy Lab’s events brand and label] 20/20 goes from

strength to strength; our demos folder has like 60

tunes in it; we have the Peninsula EP coming out next

month, and a new LP slated for later this year; basically,

we’ve gotten more into the flow of doing halftime.

We’re more practiced, and as a result we write more

music that we’re confident about.”

That confidence, then, translates into constant

evolution. With their most recent inspirations

stemming from the likes of EPROM, Tsuruda and

CRIMES!, the most logical step was a comprehensive

North American tour. So when Ivy Lab announced

a series of double-dates with EPROM and Alix Perez’

collaborative project SHADES, discerning bassheads

by Max Foley

everywhere flipped their shit.

“Our discovery of the US bass music scene has

inspired us a lot to explore different way of making

music.” Reading explains, describing an impressive

studio session with Tsuruda. “Everyone inspires

each other, everyone takes little bits of technical

wizardry off of each other, and it helps create this

unified sound.”

Having previously collaborated with Alix Perez

on the Arkestra EP, and teasing an upcoming Ivy Lab

feature on the upcoming new SHADES EP, one can

only imagine what these two acts have in store for

their tour.

“We’ve got so much music right now. We’re

working on streamlining our sets to present as

much forthcoming material as possible, and we’re

looking to open up the sound to a wider audience.”

Fogel explains.

“But we also want to test some stuff out with the

crowd, and see if they want to come with us on a

more low-key journey.” Old heads and eager newcomers,

then, can expect a quintessentially Ivy Lab set

– a microcosm of what’s kept them at the forefront

of the movement.

Ivy Lab and SHADES play the Starlite Room in

Edmonton on March 23rd, Marquee Beer Market and

Stage in Calgary on March 24th and the Red Room in

Vancouver on March 25th.

Love Ivy Lab? A longer version of this story will run on

BeatRoute.ca

OAKK

old school, new school, no school rules

Repurposing New Wave for a modern crop of electronic music in Calgary.

JUCY

photo: Michael Benz

Spearheading the aptly named New Wave residency at the

Hifi, Cole Edwards — A.K.A. OAKK — is representative

of something fresh and original taking place in Calgary’s

electronic music scene.

The new night, taking place every other Thursday night at the

Hifi club and co-hosted by fellow selectors Silkq and Letr.B, aims

to focus on styles that often go overlooked in a city where a few

well-established genres tend to be in focus. Rather than a rejection

of those styles, however, the night will focus on what remains

when one looks at what happens outside their margins.

“I grew up by going to these dubstep, D’n’B, and house raves

that Calgary has always offered, and it’s influenced the sound I’ve

created for sure,” the 23-year-old Calgary native explains. “However,

I never found myself fitting in, or really wanting or needing to.

That’s why we wanted something like New Wave in the city. Some

of the music is a little more approachable for the average person,

and gaining that trust can allow us to present more weird music.”

An explanation like that begs the question: what constitutes

‘weird’ music when the heavy-hitting genres that dominate the

musical landscape are constantly reinventing themselves, often in

pretty strange ways?

“The sound we’re looking for is anything related to beats,”

says Edwards. “Anything spanning across hip hop, halftime, trap,

footwork, dub, dancehall — we don’t want the night to be genre

specific… It’s a spectrum of all the genres we love.”

If this sounds vague and all-encompassing, that is a reflection of

both the artist himself and a macro-level shift in electronic music.

Edwards’ production style represents the ubiquitous post-Dilla

sound that goes beyond sample-heavy true-school hip hop into

by Kevin Bailey

something more dancefloor friendly, while not falling into the

formulaic methods of established genres like trap or house that it

sometimes echoes.

“Defining my sound and putting a name to it has always been

a struggle,” he admits. “I’ve recently come to use the term, ‘Future

Beats.’ But it’s even confusing for myself as I consciously try to

make all my songs sound different, but with recognizable nuances

for the listener to be able to say ‘that’s OAKK.’”

Edwards started making tunes with an MPC he bought as a 15

year old, using them as a platform for him and his friends to rap

over. But things really started to take off for him when he got a job

as a busboy at the Hifi club a couple years ago, and management

showed faith in him and pushed him to hone his craft.

“I got my first opening gig about 4 months into the job after

they found out I made music, and were upset that I was holding

out on them. After that everything snowballed a lot faster than I

expected,” says Edwards, who’s coming out party took place later

that same year when he slayed a set at the Sled Island block party.

“That speaks volumes on the club and management. There is

a reason that they’ve been open for just over [12] years and still

have regulars from day one coming in.”

It’s safe to say that the legendary institution’s investment has

paid off, and it will be a fun ride seeing how far OAKK, Silkq and

Letr.B take their vision for the club, the night, and the city itself.

“We’ve always had a strong and diverse scene here in Calgary,

across all music, not just electronic. We want to get our sound out

and build a community in the city that doesn’t quite exist yet.”

Check out New Wave every second Tuesday at the Hifi Club.

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 31


LET’S GET JUCY!

Clubbing in the winter months can be a

little arduous. Waiting in line in sub-zero

temperatures, struggling to get a cab home

when everyone else is doing the same thing, and

just a bit of a lull in terms of overall show volume

are all factors to take into consideration. Looking

at the upcoming month, though, it’s hard not to

get optimistic. Decent weather and an absolute

blitzkrieg of bookings. Observe!

A London Ting carries on into their second

instalment, indicating that the sound of UK garage

has some enthusiasts in the 403. Two-step on over

to Broken City on Friday the third and get those

basslines in ya.

Another new residency showing good signs

of growth is Dubfounded which takes place this

month at Habitat on the ninth and features Bass

Coast favourites and extremely dub-wise selectors

Mandai and Tank Gyal. Who doesn’t at least kind

of enjoy dub music right?

When the Supreme Hustle and 403DNB team

up, the results are usually pretty astounding. If,

like me, you are a sucker for drum and bass, you’ll

find this one is truly and ridiculously massive. Bad

Company UK, Loadstar and DC Breaks will all be

under the same roof at Distortion on the tenth.

Bad Company, not to be confused by the ‘70s rock

group with the singer who I happen to share a

name with, are one of the most important names

in the genre. Comprised of DBridge and DJ Fresh,

they are responsible for legendary anthems including

the timeless track “The Nine” and recently

reunited last year.

Hannah Wants

On the tenth, head to the Hifi to celebrate

the life and music of one of hip-hop’s greatest

producers, the late J Dilla. The night features Dilla’s

brother Illa J and underground gem DJ Spinna.

Next up, Aussie rapper Illy storms The Gateway

on the 11th. Not familiar? Illy swept the 2016 ARIA

(Australia’s Grammys/JUNOs) nominations with

an insane six nods.

Canadian hip-hop heroes Sweatshop Union

perform at Dickens on the 11th with local

legends Dragon Fli Empire opening things up

among others.

I get the impression that Montreal based techno

legend Tiga quite likes Calgary, as this is certainly

not the first time I’ve mentioned him in this

column. He brings his wealth of experience back to

the Hifi on March 16.

If trap and the danker side of bass music

perhaps don’t float your respective boats, head

over to Distortion that night for Lucky Breaks

with Slynk and Jpod. Both well seasoned festival

and club veterans, this is a dynamic duo that will

ensure a super fun night of breakbeat goodness.

Fresh from announcing the fantastic news that

their festival is returning to full size after a licensing

dispute with authorities made them reduce their

numbers on site to 500 last summer, Fozzy Fest is

celebrating and wants to “Let the good vibes roll”

on the 24th at Festival Hall. The night features

Jason Smylski, DJ digaBoo, Robbie C, Sammy

Senior and X-Ray Ted.

As if you need an excuse to go out and party to

Biggie’s tunes, Natural Selections at Broken City is

dedicating a whole night to the hip-hop legend on

the 25th.

One of breakbeat’s finest, the ever entertaining

A.Skillz returns to the Hifi Club on the 29th. He

is the epitome of a party rocking DJ, mashing up

tons of styles, amping up crowds with amazing

talent, energy, and a tongue-in-cheek knack for integrating

unexpected tunes and he has produced

countless dance dancefloor destroyers over the

years. Will be a good show as always.

Besides getting tons of shade recently for

allegedly ripping off Joy O and Boddika’s tune

“Mercy (VIP)” in her track “Pound the Ground,”

Hannah Wants is an extremely talented and

enjoyable DJ. She performs on the 31st at Marquee

so you can go see and hear for yourselves.

As always I’m sure I missed lots and lots of

things, but looking at this list gets me pretty dang

hot and bothered in the best possible way, so I

hope it has a similar effect on you readers. Much

love to you all and see you on the dancefloor.

• Paul Rodgers

32 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE JUCY


ROOTS

PORT CITIES

Cape Breton trio comes together as a band and signs to major label

Supergroups have a formula. You take two or more

established artists in need of career invigoration,

give them a kitschy name (like the Moseying Masseurs)

or a quotable project (like covering All Things

Must Pass in Korean, backed by a choir of didgeridoos)

and you are essentially done. This formula has had

its share of successes to be sure, but some of the best

supergroups work backwards, finding success as a

collective of multiple talented singer-songwriters, and

eventually leading to several successful careers. Port

Cities is one of the latter, albeit in the early stages.

Carleton Stone’s slick song-writing has been seeping its

way through the East Coast music circuit for a few years

now, and his 2014 release Draws Blood crept up nationally

into number 1 on CBC Radio 2’s top 20. Stone is perhaps

the most prominent songwriting-wise on the record, and

his quippy turns of phrase and subtle lyrical references to

classics like Blood on the Tracks (1975) keep the record

earnest and grounded, even in its low moments.

Dylan Guthro fills out much of the music instrumentally

with his sprightly guitar work. His general

influence is broad and his soulful vocal affection

adds breadth to the band’s three-part harmonies. His

lineage is perhaps the most written-about aspect of

his work, but it does a disservice to the character and

effusiveness of his contribution.

Breagh MacKinnon centres the Port Cities experience.

A classically trained jazz performer, she lovingly works the

ivories into the record’s most effective and tender moments.

But her voice is the real spectacle. She has all of the

warmth and colour of her jazz roots, but also the range

and strength of a pop singer with a surprising restraint

when she is harmonizing behind her two bandmates.

Each member of the Cape Breton three-piece has had

their share of success, with a tableful of EMCA nominations

and several solo releases between them, but with

barely two years as Port Cities, the band has hit critical

mass much more than the sum of their strings. Their

self-titled record just dropped on Warner Music and they

are about to hit the road with Rose Cousins, fresh off a

much-lauded new release of her own.

The three began their musical relationship at Gordie

Sampson’s iconic songcamp in 2011. “I’d be touring in the

summers with them playing shows” Breagh MacKinnon

tells BeatRoute. The three traded off playing in each other’s

bands supporting each other’s solo projects, frequently

writing and collaborating on recordings together. MacKinnon

describes the genesis of the Port Cities project:

“we were on a tour around the Maritimes as three solo

songwriters, sort of as a songwriter’s circle, and it was on

that tour where we started to get that idea of ‘what would

it be like if we started one band?’”

The ball rolled quickly with the band able to curate

together a list of songs they had already been collaborating

on, songs that specifically “seemed to work well with three

voices.” The 12-track release features writing from all three

songwriters, but also credits from Donovan Woods to

Gordie Sampson and Mo Kenney.

Port Cities will be supporting Rose Cousins on March 15th

and 16th at the Ironwood Stage and Grill in Calgary and on

the 17th at the Arden Theatre in St. Albert on March 17th.

Established singer-songwriters find room for one another by balancing strengths.

by Liam Prost

photo: Mat Dunlap

CORIN RAYMOND

the small time hits the bright lights

Corin Raymond’s winding and genial path to his first Juno nomination.

ROOTS

photo: Justin Rutledge

Twenty years is a long time in any line of work, but

when you’re tasking yourself daily with saying things

that have never been said or rephrasing things that

have, through the emotional lens of the troubadour, the

task feels Sisyphean. Those moments you live for, when the

modest crowd grows incrementally until one day you turn

up in a town you’ve been in any number of times before to

play and the joint’s already full, those moments make the

minefield of doubt and obstruction, the hard nights putting

pen to paper and melody to words all the more worth

it. It is, as they say, the journey, not the destination.

Corin Raymond endured those trials, first with The Undesirables,

his bluesy folk duo with Toronto guitarist Sean Cotton,

and then on his own. Along the endless highway through

North America and back to his home at Toronto’s venerable

Cameron House, he has trekked back to his home in Hamilton,

where he has recently been honored with his first JUNO

nomination for his 2016 album Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams, in

the category of Contemporary Roots Album of The Year.

“You know, you’re constantly being given these rewards,

and this energy from people, there’s a lot of dignity in this

life that keeps you going,” Raymond tells BeatRoute over the

phone from Hamilton, “And the work is rewarding, but along

with all of that, you’re given reasons to feel discouraged on

a weekly basis. It can be hard for us in ‘the small time’, with

the onus of believing in yourself when it feels like sometimes

you’re the only one who does. It’s like talking to a stranger at

a party, and you say, ‘I’m a professional songwriter.’” Raymond

pauses momentarily, and chuckles before continuing. “So

now, with a JUNO nomination, I have one sentence I can say

by Mike Dunn

at a party to substantiate my claim.”

Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams is a bit of a departure for

Raymond sonically. Where his previous effort, the double live,

fully acoustic Paper Nickels (2013) was a collection of underground

songs pulled from his extensive group of songwriting

friends, and There Will Always Be a Small Time (2009) largely

hung on acoustic instruments with mild amounts of electric

colour. Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams is darker and moodier, with

atmospheric production elements added to those acoustic

instruments, creating a stark landscape for Raymond’s voice,

which, while always retaining playful innocence, dramatically

straddles regretful resignation on heavier lyrical phrases. “Only

Jesus would go down the road you’re burnin’, you should be

turnin’ to him, but how will you wade and be washed in the

water, when the river is dirty as sin,” Raymond croons on “The

Law & The Lonesome.”

Raymond’s March run through Alberta, with Shari Rae on

upright bass and Tyler Allen on guitar, will get him home just

in time to drive to the JUNOs in Ottawa at the end of the

month, and Raymond’s looking forward to the break afterward.

“No rest for the stupid,” he laughs. “I feel like I’ve already

won though, nominated with such cool artists, people like

William Prince, who I love. The nomination announcement

was kind of weird though. It was this cavernous nightclub at

like, noon, with all these lasers and LED lights. It’s an animal

that I don’t really understand.”

Corin Raymond plays March 24th at the Jeans Joint in Red

Deer, March 25th at the Bow Valley Music Club in Calgary, and

March 26th at the Paintbox Lounge in Canmore.

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 35


DEAR RABBIT

silly little songs true to life

Photo: Dan Mikolajczyk

Based in Colorado Springs, Rence Liam plays a

good two hundred shows a year traversing back

and forth across the States and up into Canada.

These are small shows, little bars and clubs, house

parties where he gets paid passing the hat, or tipped

out at the bar for food, a few drinks and on a good

night enough to check into a motor hotel and fill up

the tank to his highway cruiser, a battered 1993 Toyota

Corolla with 383,000 miles (yes, miles) on it. Liam, aka

Dear Rabbit, is in every way a modern day troubadour,

a one-man band roaming from gig to gig in pursuit of

happiness while investigating and documenting the

world according to Dear Rabbit.

Since 2011 Liam has released three full albums on

vinyl and CD. While there’s traces of Jonathan Richman

and Leonard Cohen, stylistically he’s his own bohemian

armed with a six-string nylon guitar, fuzz-box, digital

delay pedal, a cheap plastic keyboard and sometimes

a trumpet. Sparse, ragged and poetic, Dear Rabbit is

endearing as the name implies, and rife with quirky

stories of landscapes and lovers from across the

universe. His last release, They’re Not Like You, was

recorded with a full band and has all the charm of an

off-kilter, ‘50s sci-fi movie soundtrack in glorious rock

‘n’ roll. Think Roky Erikson and the B-52s with some

good ole American grit. He may or may not be touring

with the band, but he’ll certainly be bringing the

songs and adventure he’s true to and the Dear Rabbit,

diamond in the rough, experience.

“We have a lot of rabbits in our front yard hopping

around, and there’s that book Dear Rabbit, that’s part

of where the name comes from. But my buddy that

I used to play with in a duo, he had a children’s book

called How Rabbits Stole Fire that I was eying. One day,

by B. Simm

he said, ‘Ok, you can have it.’ Then I wrote a song called

Dear Rabbit, and it just sort of stuck.”

All round animal lover, one of his most requested

songs off his latest release is the two minute ditty

“What Kind Of Doggies Do You Like?” drenched in

reverb while slowly swaying to the lazy, primitive beat

of a single drum. The simple lyrics ask, “What kind of

doggies do you like? I’ll tell you what kind of doggies

I like. I like those kinds of doggies that are nice.” Part

nursery rhyme, part sing-a-long, all kooky fun.

And then there’s “Don’t Let South Dakota Spiders

Eat You.” What sounds like some kind of insect mutant

attack is really a love song where Liam called a friend

from a lonely hotel room, had a heartfelt conversation

and made an off-hand comment about the spiders

crawling up the wall. Afterwards, the friend called

back, she left a nice message, hoping he wouldn’t be

devoured by the hotel spiders.

It’s not all about silly love songs and what’s your

favourite puppy either. “Mike, The Man You Miss” is

tackles the disappearance of a father and son who’s

been behind. “The step-dad and the boy’s mom where

the prime suspects in the disappearance,” says Liam.

“There were two mistrials, it was a big thing in the

community. Pretty sad. I tried to write something a

little more encouraging, one for the boy that’s about

his dad Mike, the man he misses.”

On his songwriting Liam says “I just write what I

observe and try to keep it true. Any story can be your

own story, that you can make into a song.”

Dear Rabbit performs Mar. 15 at the Owl Acoustic

Lounge in Lethbridge, and Mar. 16 at the Nite Owl in

Calgary.

TOM OLSEN

emotional fireworks in fine, fine form

Away from the booze, and the drug and the insanity,

take your perfect self and back the fuck off of me...

For good reason Tom Olsen names his back-up

band The Wreckage. Train wrecks, he’s had a few

in his life time. Girl trouble, bottle trouble, head

trouble, he knows it all too well. And on account

of all the turmoil, Olsen makes for one of the best

songwriters this city has had, right up there with The

Stampeders’ “Sweet City Woman” and The Dudes’

“Dropkick Queen Of The Weekend.” Okay, maybe

not “Sweet City Woman,” Olsen doesn’t quite light

up the lava lamp and lather on a warm, glowing radiance,

but what he is the master of is weaving through

the treacherous psychology and battle zones of life,

love and losing your mind several times.

On his second album, aptly titled Love and Misery,

many of Olsen’s songs are filled to the brim, dripping

with emotional angst. Sometimes he still clings to

finding a satisfying connection, still trying to close

the gap, even though there’s terrific discordance, the

tendency to ride it out exists.

“Yeah, that’s true. Some of those songs I wrote

years ago. I was divorced, single dad, young kids,

in and out of relationships. One of those stories in

particular involves a woman who had and offered all

the right stuff, but I just wasn’t in a position to accept

it. I was just divorced had little kids, didn’t want more

kids, so I just had to tell her, and her perfect self, to

back off. ‘This is perfect, but it can’t work.’ And everywhere

was kind of the same, trying to find your feet

in an adult relationship, and I struggled;led with that.

Most of the time,” laughs Olsen, I was just sad.”

From sad to mad seems to be the case. Where

there’s his inclination to try to salvage and hang on to

relationships, there’s also the full on crash, burn and

descend straight into hell that’s packaged in couple of

angry killjoys, “Blight” and “Admit That You Love Me.”

“You know where that comes from? It’s like once

you ended a relationship and then you bump into

that person afterwards and you have a bunch of kind

things to say to each other, and pretend everything is

by B. Simm

okay, but it’s not. There’s still an avalanche of emotion

coming down. The line ‘Your voice makes my heart

run a marathon, my trembling hands haven’t figured

out that you’re gone.’ That happens once you get off

the phone with those conversations. It’s like, ‘Fuck, I

hate how I feel.’ I’m still being moved by them, and

telling her to fuck off was the only way, probably not

the best, to deal with it.”

It’s not all a walking nightmare. The Wreckage are

a crack band, more than capable of delivering topnotch

honky-tonk, aching tear-jerkers and blistering

rock ‘n’ roll. Jonathan Lagore, a young gunslinger does

an amazing job cutting through solos turning out

leads that sting and ooze with sentiment. Drummer

Ben Jackson and bassist Derek Pulliam provide the

backbone making the band tough, class-A country

rockers, a pleasure for sore ears tired of too much

wallpaper twang and lightweight indie-folk pop

passed off as country. And with Pulliam’s studio

and production skills, he gives the record wonderful

depth and space that harkens back to the golden era

of the‘70s.

Out of nowhere, halfway through the record,

Olsen and this crew bust into a jazzy, funky dance

tune complete with some splendid, gospel doo-wop

female vocals reminiscent of those groovin’ rock

bands who showcased on Don KIrshner’s TV variety

show. Strangely out of place, and strangely satisfying.

As is “Wrecking Ball” a Soundgarden-like tidal wave,

bulldozer of a track that never lets up front to back.

And in a complete about face, Olsen ties it up with

“Waiting For You,” a pure, unihibited outpouring

of sweet emotion that features Natasha Sayer and

Olsen in a lockdown of love. “Yeah, admits Olsen, I’m

finding that right now in my life, and I never thought

I actually would.”

Well, a remake of “Sweet City Woman” may not

be far off.

The release show for Love and Misery is on Sat. , March

25 at the Ironwood Stage and Grill.

36 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE ROOTS


SHRAPNEL

HORRENDOUS

bellowing from the caverns in the abyss

American death metal band Horrendous are worth the price of the Decibel Magazine Tour alone.

It was a cold, densely layered riff and the ring of a church bell that

kicked off the movement. Unintentionally harkening to genre progenitors

Sabbath, the opening segment of “The Womb,” the first

song on Horrendous’ debut full-length The Chills, instantly sucks you

into the abyss of vintage death metal, mixing the bite of the Florida

scene with the buzz-saw sound of Sweden’s overlords. Cavernous,

sticky, chock full of toothsome solos, and loaded with dryly guttural

howls, you wouldn’t be far off the mark to assume it was released in

the early ‘90s, when Incantation, Autopsy, Asphyx, and Entombed

reigned supreme.

Instead, it was an offering from an upstart Pennsylvania based act

who wasn’t touring that was unveiled in 2012 in an over saturated

metal market. Guitarists and vocalists Damian Herring and Matt Knox,

DECIBEL MAGAZINE TOUR

extreme metal perfection sweeps Western Canada

along with drummer Jamie Knox,

had just been signed to the rapidly

expanding extreme metal label

Dark Descent, and while their debut

gained plenty of attention, it should

have received even more... even if

the band members weren’t ready

for it.

“We have always played shows

here and there, but touring was not

a priority for us - partially because

it didn’t fit our schedules very

well, but also because we felt there

wasn’t enough interest out there

to justify taking massive amounts

of time off work,” begins Damian

Herring, who triples (quadruples?

Quintuples?) as the band’s bassist

and synth player, as well as their

recording, mixing, and mastering

engineer through his at-home

business, Subterranean Watchtower

Studios.

“So instead we focused on carefully

crafting our material, recording

it, and releasing albums.”

It wasn’t until the one-two punch

of 2014’s Ecdysis and 2015’s Anareta,

both of which lived up to Horrendous’ debut’s promise, that things

snowballed. Critics and fans alike howled their appreciation for the

band’s ominous atmospherics, neck snapping hooks, sneaky tremolos,

and skillful flirtations with doom and psychedelia. The band’s glut of

international press never dried, and they were eventually selected to tour

with Tribulation. Meanwhile, the studio was inundated with work from

bands who wished to replicate the dynamic, buzzing, and eerie production

values so skillfully applied by the young musician to his own band.

It’s no wonder that Horrendous was eventually hand selected for the

Decibel Magazine tour alongside Kreator, Obituary, and Midnight. Not

bad for a band that still says they aren’t “actively focusing on touring,”

despite recently adding bassist Alex Kulick to the fold for just that.

by Sarah Kitteringham

“It wasn’t until 2016 that we got offered a tour that truly excited us

and also made sense with our schedules,” counters Herring. “Tribulation

is one of our favorite current bands, so we couldn’t refuse. I feel very

lucky that our first tour was with such a band. To then be asked to join

the Decibel Tour in 2017 was just insane, and it’s just not the type of

thing you turn down as a band.”

“Up until the spring of 2016, our live shows were fairly sporadic

and relatively small - they had a very punk feel to them,” he continues.

“As a result, finding a great bass player and taking the time to teach

them the songs really didn’t make sense for us during that time. However,

as we started playing bigger shows, we knew we would need to add a

bass player to fill out our live performances.”

The addition of Kulick takes bass off Herring’s over loaded plate, as the

band plans to utilize him as a normally contributing fourth member on

their upcoming fourth album.

“Alex has been great, and we are fortunate him and Matt met spontaneously

in a coffee shop one fateful day,” says Herring.

He adds, “Our performances have really improved since adding him.

It’s a much fuller, more cohesive sound, and now the complete picture/

composition from the albums is there.”

This new addition will also be integrated into upcoming material,

which Herring projects will be released by the end of 2017.

“If all goes according to plan, you can expect new Horrendous output

toward the end of this year. We aren’t announcing anything yet since the

wheels have only begun to turn, but we have plenty of material ready

and hope to get it together and recorded in the near future,” he says.

For now, new and old fans alike will be satiated by live performances,

which will mark the first time most of us have seen the band

in such a setting. It’s an equal point of excitement for Herring, who

is still flabbergasted he gets to not only open for a God of Teutonic

thrash, but also see them every night on tour.

“It’s international law that they have to play ‘Pleasure to Kill’ any time

they take the stage, right?”

We hope to hell he is right.

Horrendous is performing on the Decibel Magazine Tour with Kreator,

Obituary, and Midnight. The tour touches down in Vancouver at the Rickshaw

on March 29th, in Calgary on March 31st at MacEwan Ballroom,

and in Edmonton on April 1st at Union Hall.

by James Barager

It’s rare that a package tour is as thoughtfully booked as the

upcoming run with Kreator, Obituary, Midnight, and Horrendous.

In that vein, we present bios on the bands on the bill. If

you aren’t initiated yet, read on.

KREATOR

While German thrash stalwarts Kreator have replaced a couple

of their limbs and organs over the years (like if Frankenstein’s

monster wanted to changed his own arm), they’ve always

had the same heart. On their debut and follow-up, they were

a frenzied, savage animal of a band that left one in danger of

contracting rabies by the mere act of listening. They started

cleaning things up to a sleeker, more refined sound on subsequent

releases, while still maintaining the riff mania at their

core. While their mid ‘90s material saw a dip in quality for a

questionable quest in compromise and relevance in a changing

metal scene, 2001 saw their praised return to balls-out thrash,

this time with a noticeable influx of Iron Maiden. Which

brings us to the present, and their 14th studio album. Gods of

Violence is exactly what we’ve come to expect... No surprises,

no frills, and no games.

SHRAPNEL

OBITUARY

There’s a reason why these Floridian death metal eternals have

lasted so bloody long. John Tardy’s ghastly vocals could be easily

mistaken for someone holding a microphone next to the corpse

to capture the sound of its gaseous exhalations, and their beautifully

simplistic style is somehow doomy, thrashy, and reminiscent

of traditional heavy metal all at once. Nobody matches their

approach of ‘Celtic Frost as death metal.’ March will see the release

of their 10th full-length, simply titled Obituary. It marks almost

three decades of disease and death.

MIDNIGHT

Cleveland’s Midnight have garnered a well earned reputation

as underground champions. Their particular brand of Venom

inspired black ‘n roll by Athenar and co. has been an unstoppable

force of satanic mayhem, lust, filth and sleaze that has been

steadily gaining momentum since their inception in 2003. Their

combined number of splits, EPs, live releases, and full-lengths is

jaw dropping, so it’s great to see the Noctis Metal Festival veterans

finally getting a little more recognition with this tour. So grab your

torches and don your hood... The witching hour draws near!

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 39


WOODHAWK

soaring beyond the sun

by Christine Leonard

If Woodhawk was the boy next door, they’d

be that denim-clad rogue who revved his

motorbike in the driveway on Sunday mornings

and dumped you on the eve of your Junior

Prom. Or, at least that’s how you’d imagine the

events leading up to bassist Mike Badmington

and guitarist Turner Midzain’s first time on stage

together in Grade 9. Fast-forward to Halloween

of 2014 and they’re showing off a tight-butcurvy

six-track debut album with a title to

match their band’s smokin’ new moniker, Woodhawk.

Breaking hearts and throwing sparks, the

freewheeling trio may have experimented with

different percussionists, but it was the heavy ‘n’

steady Kevin Nelson (Nosis, Doberman) who

rose above the throng.

“We kind of pretended that the part before

Kevin never happened,” says Midzain. “There’s

no bad blood, or anything. I just think we didn’t

figure out which direction we were going until

Kevin joined the band. Honestly, since he started

with us in September of 2015 we’ve got more

momentum and found what we wanted to do.”

So… it was you and not them after all. Not

surprising really, given Midzain and Badmington’s

playful approach to laying down stony causeways

and volleying big, bold riffs back and forth between

them, it was only a matter of time before

someone snapped them up.

“Kevin had been to a bunch of our shows and

knocked at our door asking to join the band

after hearing about us through the grapevine

at our mutual barbershop,” recalls a well coiffed

Badmington.

“He came in, and had a bit of catching up to

learn some of the previous stuff, but we pretty

much started writing right away. And the rest is…

Woodhawk!”

Anchored by Nelson’s technical prowess and

capacity for effortlessly shifting from ‘70s grooves

to punked-up blues, the collaborative three-piece

has already been trying out material from their

upcoming full-length album, Beyond the Sun, in

live performance. Staying close to the realms of

fantasy and science fiction, the much-anticipated

album appropriately features the cosmic designs

of artist Mark Kowalchuk.

“This album represents a year’s worth of our

writing and pushes into a more evolved sound,”

articulates Badmington. “I think it was more

about trying to avoid restricting ourselves and

seeing what we could do.”

Trusting their instincts, Woodhawk travelled

to Vancouver to recording their forthcoming LP

with producer Jesse Gander, who graciously received

the band at his Rain City Recorders facility.

“The quality that he can produce instantly was

amazing! I’ve never seen someone work a studio

so quickly,” Midzain recalls. “So, it was exciting

from day one, because we knew it was going to

be a big sounding album. Every day we woke up

ready to record and we actually ended up finishing

a couple of days ahead of time.”

By his account, one good thing about having

Woodhawk release their full length in April.

time to burn was that it gave Woodhawk the

opportunity to explore the hospitality of the

abundant breweries that surrounded Gander’s

studio. The other benefit was that it freed the

energetic threesome up to accept the gig of a

lifetime. So far.

“Jesse stopped me mid-take while we were

recording and said ‘Hold on, you’ve got to

check your phone. They’re calling you to open

for Airbourne at The Commodore Ballroom

tomorrow!’”

photo: Mario Montes

The memory is clearly sweet.

“Trying to focus after that was kind of hard;

we tried not to shit our pants and managed to

finished the recording.”

Woodhawk release Beyond the Sun in Edmonton

on Friday, April 7th at the Sewing Machine Factory

in Edmonton with Mothercraft and Iron Eyes. They

perform at the Palomino Smokehouse and Social

Club on Saturday, April 8th in Calgary album release

with Chron Goblin and Mothercraft.

HAMMERDRONE

releasing the seeds of destruction

Hammerdrone’s newest recalls a historic act eco-terrorism for Gruinard Island.

It’s the kind of thing you’d read about in a spy

novel, or at least that’s how Hammerdrone’s

lead vocalist Graham Harris (Reverend Kill,

Genepool, Rotschreck) first stumbled upon the

clandestine tendrils of Operation Dark Harvest.

Spurred on by the enigmatic trail, Harris would

uncover a grassroots rebellion that had some

serious dirt under its fingernails.

“I read a fair amount of crime fiction and Scottish

author Ian Rankin makes a passing reference to the

Dark Harvest Commandos (a proto-SNLA faction)

in one of his novels. And I thought, ’Who the hell are

they?’ I looked them up and came across an obscure

and interesting piece of history that I’d never heard

photo: Stephen Hillier

of,” says Harris of inspiration behind the title track of

the melodic death metal group’s forthcoming LP.

Sources reveal that in 1981, a group of microbiologists

from Scottish universities visited the

condemned isle and removed 300 pounds of soil

contaminated with anthrax spores. Infected by the

British Government during World War II, the deadly

toxification wrought upon Gruinard proved that

Churchill could decimate German city in the same

fashion. The radical scientists threatened to distribute

their dark harvest “at appropriate points that will

ensure the rapid loss of indifference of the government

and the equally rapid education of the general

public,” according to letters the group sent to local

newspapers. The threat was not carried out, and the

soil was decontaminated soon after.

Drawing its defiant name from that little-known

act of civil disobedience, Dark Harvest is but the

latest in a litany of hackle-raising releases from the

Calgary-based Hammerdrone.

“When the guys wrote the music for Dark Harvest,

it just came together really nicely and tied together

a lot of the political themes on the album. ‘Join the

Resistance!’ That’s our tag line for playing-up on the

idea of ecologically minded terrorists. We wanted

to make a political statement. I’m quite in favour of

holding the government to account for its promises

and actions, so I think there’s something to be said

for that!”

Originally forged back in 2010, the intimidatingly

intense outfit’s exploratory EPs A Demon

Rising (2012) and Wraiths On the Horizon (2013)

laid the groundwork for the Promethean ambition

of their first full-length release, Clone of Europa,

which materialized in 2014. Unfortunately, that

victory was clouded by hardship, as the disruptive

forces of the mass Calgary flood of 2013 besieged

the band. Stepping away from the musical canvas,

Harris was left to wonder if Hammerdrone would

survive the turbulence that had heaved their world

upside-down.

“My wife got transferred to Brisbane, Australia with

her work in 2014 and I went too,” explains Harris, who

welcomed a baby daughter while living abroad.

“It was kind of a two-year period of globetrotting

for me and so from a band perspective we didn’t

know if we were going to continue to be. But we

pretty much had the second album all written and

by Christine Leonard

we were determined that we were going to record it.”

Proving that long-distance relationships can yield

tangible results, Harris found new ways to collaborate

on the calamitous Dark Harvest with Hammerdrone

bandmates, lead guitarist/songwriter Rick Cardellini,

drummer Vinnie Cardellini (Reverend Kill) and

guitarist/vocalist Curtis Beardy (Krepitus), while living

overseas. Although, frequently compared to the likes

of Amon Amarth and Behemoth, Harris and company

believe in clearing their own footpath when it

comes to defining Hammerdrone’s apocalyptic tone

and temperament.

“That’s the beautiful side of introducing technology

into your music; you’re able to cross 12,500 miles

and continue to record together,” Harris confirms.

The most recent addition to Hammerdrone’s

arsenal, bassist Teran Wyer (Krepitus, Numenorean)

was recruited to the fold for his winning persona and

aptitude for anchoring the most aggressive of combos.

According to Harris, Wyer’s weighty presence on

Dark Harvest heaps another layer of anthemic heaviness

upon Hammerdrone’s soylent machinations.

“After we recorded Clones of Europa we really

need to find someone solid. Vinnie and I used to play

with Teran in Reverend Kill, we knew his style, and

what a great guy he is. Once we realized how much

he was enjoying playing bass it was an easy choice to

slot our good friend in.”

He confirms, “We have a very permanent lineup

now.”

Hammerdrone release Dark Harvest on March 24th

at Vern’s in Calgary with Votov, Concrete Funeral, and

40 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE SHRAPNEL


This Month In METAL

There is no shortage of Calgary bands releasing

albums this month. With so many

on the horizon, we are going to hunker

down and mostly focus on locals for the column

this month.

To kick off the proceedings: Burning Effigy and

Train Bigger Monkeys are both releasing new

records on Saturday, March 4th at Distortion in Calgary.

The bands will be performing with Krepitus

and Sonder; tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at

the door. We chatted with Burning Effigy for more

information.

Together since 2008, Burning Effigy released their

debut Salem in 2014, and is now on the cusp of

releasing their newest EP Lost Serenity. Comprised

of vocalist Colin Allan-Fitterer, guitarists Brent Matusik

and Brendon Langlois, bassist Jorge Mares, and

drummer Mike Bolduc, the band has progressed

significantly with time.

“Our songs have become a lot more aggressive

and technical, leaving behind some of the thrash

elements and incorporating a lot more of a death

metal/progressive approach to our new material,”

explains bassist Mares. The lyrical approach will be

similar to previous material, however.

“The songs in Lost Serenity still focus on historical

events and personal struggles, much like Salem.

We always feel that we can connect to our audience

by expressing ourselves from what we have learned

from our own past experiences and relating it to a

historical event in a metaphorical way,” he says.

Available on CD at the show, the EP will also be

for sale through their online store and on streaming

sites iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify, Google Play, and

Apple Music.

Lock Up will be releasing their newest offering

Demonization via Listenable Records on March

10th. The fourth full-length offering by the death/

grind super group features newly minted vocalist

Kevin Sharp (formerly of Brutal Truth) now

providing unrelenting barks alongside bassist Shane

Embury, who formed the project in 1998 as a

side-project of Napalm Death.

On Saturday, March 11th, Siksika rock band Iron

Tusk will be releasing their newest cassette alongside

sludge act Oxeneer and metallic hardcore

band Empty Visionaires at the Nite Owl in Calgary.

Head downstairs to the Library for the gig, tickets

are $10 at the door.

You dig Black Sabbath, or else you wouldn’t be

reading this column. So... in that spirit, Bat Sabbath

is playing Calgary on Saturday, March 18th

with Chron Goblin, 7’s Wild, and Sellout. Bat

Sabbath is the punk/metalcore act Cancer Bats

exclusively playing covers of the legendary metal

creators, and it rips. The band is touring across

Western Canada in March; they’ll also be hitting

Red Deer at the Vat on March 16, Edmonton at

the Needle on March 17, and Winnipeg at the

Windsor on March 24th.

Slaughterfest 2017 goes down in Edmonton on

Saturday, March 25, and features the final Alberta

performance by Edmonton death/grind institution

Disciples of Power, alongside sets by Display of

Decay, Vile Insignia, Barrows, DethGod, and

Misery Tomb. According to a Facebook post, DoP

is breaking up due to a dispute with a former member,

and aim to rebrand under another name.

“We have been writing and performing some of

the new music we have to offer and this is what we

are focusing on now,” they wrote on a status posted

on February 2, that has been edited for grammar

and punctuation.

“The new name will be posted on a later date

and it wont throw you off too much. We are who

we are, regardless of the name. You can still expect a

sonic crushing blitzkrieg to hit you every time. [It’s]

what we do.... and we have been known to throw a

few oldies in the set. Cheers to you all and see you

this summer!”

There is a Memorial Fundraiser for Skyler

Rasmussen on Saturday, March 25th in Calgary at

Distortion. Featuring performances by Blackest Sin,

Traer, Frightenstein, and Path To Extinction, all

proceeds from the event will go to his family, who

are in a tough financial spot following his unexpected

passing.

Says the event description: “We will be hosting

this event at Distortion, for a night of music, art,

and remembrance. There will not only be live entertainment,

but also a silent auction, and a raffle

for various prizes, including gift certificates for

tattoos, piercings, salon treatments, Cursed Earth

Apparel, and pet training/ grooming services. As

well as gift baskets from Hazzardous Material, Filth

Hounds Beauty!”

Bring your money and support a good cause.

• Sarah Kitteringham

SHRAPNEL

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 41


musicreviews

Dirty Projectors

Dirty Projectors

Domino

“I don’t know why you abandoned me,” begins the

eighth album by lonely Dave Longstreth’s Dirty

Projectors. The band has always been his vehicle, but

this self-titled work follows a period of popularity

he shared with vocalist Amber Coffman. Beginning

with Rise Above, an unrecognizable reintrepretation

of the canonic Black Flag album of the same name,

cresting in 2007 with Domino debut Bitte Orca

(an album where Angel Deradoorian was also a

prominent vocalist), and continuing on with Swing

Lo Magellan in 2012. With a lineup shakeup and a

break-up with Coffman behind him, fans new and

old of the band wondered whether would Longstreth

would revert to the confounding ways of early

Dirty Projectors or find a way to one-up the accessibility

of its most iconic dynamics. After all, the song

the band is most likely to be remembered for is the

Coffman-led “Stillness is the Move” from Bitte Orca.

Much to Longstreth’s credit Dirty Projectors stars a

string of wonky pop singles, and they’re some of the

best songs he’s written to date.

Opener “Keep Your Name” shuffles between a disaffected

down-pitch on the vocals, slurred electronic

production and Longstreth in a vulnerably vicious

narrative as he (presumably) offers his raw view of the

aforementioned break-up. For once, there’s an easily

perceptible justification for his penchant towards the

off-kilter. If you had to listen back to you trash-talking

an ex, you would want a little remove, too.

“Little Bubble” begins with jaunty strings but

quickly becomes an organ lament about how two

people in love can form their own small world

around them, if only temporarily. Like much of the

record, it’s evocative of the things we take for granted

when smitten and offers a relatability from the wordy

Longstreth not much seen before. The song isn’t an

ambitious production compared to much of Dirty

Projectors but it feels appropriate, intentional and the

right kind of restrained.

“Up in Hudson” is the obvious highlight of the

disc. It feels like a charitable TL;DR for a record that

remains complexly human and self-accountable

at every step. You’ll only need one listen for the

chorus (“Love will burn out, and love will just fade

away”) to stick with you, but you’ll need dozens to

soak in all the musical movements and pedestrian

descriptions of the little joys that lead to the humblingly-large

pain Longstreth must have felt while

writing it. The first two thirds contain pitched down

Eastern melody, broken metronome rhythm, swole

up horns and mentions of both Kanye and “Stillness

in the Move.” One feels they know Longstreth, or at

least know the universality of his experience, while

constantly being surprised at what anachronistic

musical addition will come next. By the time the

two-minute guitar blaze set atop polyrhythmic

percussion arrives to finish the track, Longstreth is

without need for words, a little bit like his friend

Kanye during the climax of “Runaway.”

Last of the singles is the frankly perfect “Cool

Your Heart,” a sunny slice of euphoria co-written by

Solange and most impactful when show-stealing

guest singer Dawn Richard emotes. It washes away

the trapped feeling of much of Dirty Projectors by

substituting being stuck in your head with a set of

principles for the future.

Where the album suffers is during the half of tracks

not chosen as singles. For a long time now, Longstreth

has felt guardedly obtuse just for the sake of keeping

listeners at arm’s length. Much of the musical and lyrical

choices made on tracks like “Death Spiral” (which

owes Timbaland an unflattering credit), “Ascent

Through Clouds” (less elastic than he wants it to be),

and closer “I See You” (adding a gospel reminiscent

organ is no excuse for depth), contradict what the

singles do best: pair intimately realist narrative with

confidently confused pop weirdness.

If that’s the cost for the high points for this album,

we are happy to pay up. After five years since the “eh,

fine” feeling of the safe choices made on Swing Lo

Magellan, it’s understandable that not every moment

on Dirty Projectors feels as well considered as it could

be. In a way, it’s a bit comforting that this probably

isn’t Longstreth’s best work yet - knowing things

could be even better will have us at full attention for

the foreseeable future.

• Colin Gallant

illustration: Sarah Campbell

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 43


Sun Kil Moon

Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood

Caldo Verde Records

From the timid introductory bars of “24,” the opening track from

Red House Painters’ 1992 debut LP Down Colorful Hill, frontman

Mark Kozelek has been afraid of growing old. On Common as

Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood, his latest double-album

as Sun Kil Moon, the prolifically unappeasable singer-songwriter

delves even deeper into his struggles with aging in an

ever-changing, unrepentant world.

During the over-two-hour runtime of Common as Light…

Kozelek further experiments with the stream-of-consciousness

lyricism first explored on 2013’s rapturous Benji (and continued

with its follow-up Universal Themes), interpolating spoken-word

vignettes across bass-and-drum-centric narratives that shift from

rhythmically-heavy to delicately-melodic as suddenly as Kozelek

changes lyrical topics.

With no track under six minutes, the self-aware Kozelek further

emboldens his reputation as an outspoken mouthpiece on

Common as Light… utilizing the album as a pedestal in which to

shuck his many opinions of society (including, but not limited

to: millennials, the political climate in America, gender-neutral

washrooms, terrorism, and hillbillies) into the musical void to

varying degrees of listenability.

While many of the central themes explored on the album

can be construed simply as rambling topical observations by

Kozelek, there are a few moments of poignant beauty that strike

an emotionally resonant chord and are reminiscent of the earlier

days of Sun Kil Moon: “Chili Lemon Peanuts” features potentially

the best execution of Kozelek’s spoken-word affectation thus far,

“Philadelphia Cop” is a low-key forlorn funk lament, and “The

Highway Song” makes reading true-crime sound way cooler than

in actuality.

Common as Light… also contains many references to the

‘usual suspects’ of the last few Sun Kil Moon releases, such as

the sport of boxing (Manny Pacquiao and Muhammad Ali

both receive multiple mentions), food (sans crab cakes, this

time), and Kozelek’s love of true crime (Richard Ramirez returns,

albeit briefly), further contributing to the mythos of what can

unfortunately be called the Sun Kil Moon-iverse that Kozelek is

consciously creating with each new release.

While the format of Benji was both a refreshing and exciting

change from the melancholic slower works of Sun Kil Moon,

Common as Light… is undoubtedly a taxing experience for the

listener, and the shift now seems to be focused less on the musical

bent (though it does feature Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth killing

it on drums), and more on the means for Kozelek to record

his audio-diary via long-winded songs that aren’t necessarily bad

enough to not listen to, but are at times unforgiving.

In short, it seems that in the past 25 years the man afraid

of growing old has done just that, and in true Kozelek fashion,

Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood reflects the

inevitable perils we all must ultimately face — but not giving a

fuck either way.

• Alec Warkentin

Thundercat

Drunk

Brainfeeder

Like much of Brainfeeder’s back catalog, Thundercat’s third

full-length is an album that is often hard to pin down. Featuring

production from Flying Lotus and appearances from Kendrick

Lamar, Pharell, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins,

Drunk is an ode to soft rock that the virtuosic musician has

said is inspired by times in which he was less than sober.

Production from Flying Lotus is apparent from the get-go

as the 23-track album winds its way through CR-78 (you

know, the drum machine that ticked its way to infamy

on hits like Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That”) backed

footwork, neo-soul and the kind of avant-jazz that Kendrick

Lamar played with on his opus To Pimp a Butterfly. It’s

not hard to imagine Drunk being the elevator music that

soundtracks the descent to hell.

On tracks like the gentle “Lava Lamp,” producer

Sounwave flexes the same muscles he used on To Pimp a

Butterfly to lift Thundercat’s yearning falsetto into elegiac

love song territory. That falsetto permeates much of Drunk

even when the backing track maneuvers through its multitudinous

moods. “Jethro” featuring Fly Lo, sounds like a cut

off of 2013’s You’re Dead, but instead of the blinding jazz

stylings of that album, Thundercat has embraced the light,

even if it’s often obfuscated by drunken haze.

Elsewhere, songs like the lead single “Show Me the Way”

featuring soft rock legends Michael McDonald and Kenny

Loggins showcases Thundercat’s ability to blend choppedand-screwed

soul with funk basslines and thrilling vocal

turns. Like much of the album, the song sounds less like the

soft rock of yesteryear and more like a jazz-indebted Joe

Jackson single taken on a bad acid trip. On paper, Drunk is

an outrageous concept that doesn’t need to try very hard to

justify its existence.

Kendrick Lamar’s appearance on “Walk On By” finds the

rapper giving his best feature verse since his appearance on

Fly Lo’s “Never Catch Me.” It isn’t the flashiest of verses from

Lamar, but it is a welcome break from Thundercat’s voice

that can become tiresome as the album goes on. Still, where

Thundercat only seems able to show one area of his vocal

range, his bass playing makes up for it by covering ground

from ripping jazz lines to chugging dance rhythms.

As far as subject matter goes, Thundercat has his tongue

in his cheek, even when tackling subjects like racism and

police brutality. Songs like “Tokyo” tell stories of Thundercat’s

love affair with anime culture and features lyrics like

“Fucking Goku ruined me.”

Drunk isn’t perfect, but it’s utterly fascinating. It’s an

album that no other artist could make but Thundercat.

Because of that its missteps are lessened by the sheer weirdness

of it all.

• Jamie McNamara

Pallbearer

Heartless

Profound Lore Records

Arkansas’ Pallbearer were knighted doom metal heavyweights in the underground

scene shortly after the release of their critically-acclaimed, 2012 debut

album Sorrow and Extinction. Heartless, the band’s most recent album, forges a

more musically technical sound than previous releases. However, the virtuosity

of Heartless may push the band farther from mainstream success, instead

increasing their acclaim among more underground scenes.

“I Saw the End” kicks off the album with unique vocal harmonies and the

crisp dual guitar tones on “Thorns,” work with the crushing drums to form

a wall of sound that is not overwhelmingly murky. However, the stand out

element of this album is the creative composition of individual tracks. At 11:58

minutes, “Dancing in Madness” may seem long winded, but the time signature

changes and layering of sound stave off monotony. Despite this, the tracks

tend to run together too much. Where past albums found sonic levity in the

form of classical acoustic guitar, Heartless pushes forward with little to break

up songs or shift moods. Instead of telling a story, Heartless feels as if Pallbearer

have written one long, yet ever-changing song.

Heartless is impressive due to its departure from a number of doom metal

tropes. Like many doom metal albums, the lyrics are cryptic, drawing up

mythical imagery at times. Yet, songs like the melancholic “Lie of Survival,” and

crushing “I Saw the End” seem to be treading more in reality than fantasy. The

band admits that the album “concentrates its power on a grim reality...our

world [is] plumbing the depths of utter darkness.” The album art also avoids

doom metal cliches like skulls, wizards and naked women. Instead, it juxtaposes

an abstract painting against muted purple background.

The technically intense music, lyrics and album artwork create an album

that feels more intellectual than their past projects. The question is, will the

change in direction lead the band deeper into the underground? Perhaps

leaving the cliches of metal behind will make Pallbearer’s music more appealing

to fans of other genres. Stigma and stereotyping have made metal inaccessible

and shedding the genre hallmarks could catapult Pallbearer into the mainstream.

• Bridget Gallagher

44 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE


Dead Men Can’t Cat Call Tour

Wine-Ohs

Calgary March 31

The Sewing Machine Factory

Edmonton April 1

Black Lab

Vancouver April 13

Amigo’s

Saskatoon April 21

T&A Vinyl

Regina April 22

The Owl

Lethbridge May 6


Animal Collective

The Painters EP

Domino Records

CFCF & Jean-Michel Blais

Cascades

Arts & Crafts

Hurray For The Riff Raff

Following the tepid reception to their lukewarm

album Painting With… last year, a four-track release

of music recorded and left over from those same

sessions doesn’t necessarily sound alluring. Damn

if experimentalist darlings Animal Collective don’t

release some solid extended plays.

While it doesn’t carry the frenetic mania of

2008’s Water Curses, or share the echoing pulse of

Fall Be Kind from the year after, The Painters EP is a

surprisingly exciting expression from a group that

pioneered experimentalism in the mainstream, and

who unfortunately seemed to be losing their touch

for flare with their last LP.

While the highlight of The Painters EP may

be the group’s cover of “Jimmy Mack,” originally

popularized by ‘60s trio Martha and the Vandellas,

each track of the 13-and-a-half-minute release

plays to the strength of the AnCo archetype:

rhythmic psych pop backdrops, delirious vocal

harmonies, and the unshaken dedication to a

sound that really no other group could emulate

half as successfully.

In short, The Painters EP does what Painting

With… couldn’t, resulting in an experience that’s

equal parts whimsical and serious while still retaining

the distinct cohesiveness that’s prevalent in AnCo’s

strongest works of the past.

• Alec Warkentin

ANOHNI

Paradise

Secretly Canadian

ANONHI’s newest EP is both a warning shot and a

plea for help. Nine markedly different women make

up the cover of Paradise, ANOHNI included, and the

six songs contained within showcase an intersectional

understanding and political voice not commonly

found in electronic or pop music. She takes on

corporate greed, environmental degradation, and

toxic masculinity in the way that other artists handle

love and heartbreak.

ANOHNI is backed by production from Hudson

Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never, compatriots

on 2016’s widely acclaimed Hopelessness. None

of the songs here would feel entirely out of place

on Hopelessness – Paradise is an extension of that

album’s success; a b-side of sorts. That album was the

start of ANOHNI asking grander questions of American

civilization, of war and surveillance, and of her

listeners. Now, she is demanding answers and pulling

us from where we have strayed.

She sings for retribution against corporate lackeys

on “Jesus Will Kill You,” implying that their God will

punish their lack of caring for our Mother Earth.

“Your wealth is predicated upon the poverty of

others / What’s your legacy? Burning oceans, burning

populations, our burning lungs,” she sings through

vocal distortion, accompanied by signature HudMo

pan-flute and blaring drums.

Politics aside, ANOHNI has the most heavenly

voice, through which she is able to maintain tranquility

while colliding with the discordance of her beats.

On opener “In My Dreams,” her soft reverb acts as

a lullaby, each word pulling you in deeper to the

non-existent Paradise, the alienating and cold world

ANOHNI has found us in.

ANOHNI could easily soundtrack the revolution,

and while it will certainly be painful, god damn it,

we’re going to come back closer than ever.

• Trent Warner

Cascades, the collaborative EP from Montreal producer

CFCF and neo-classical pianist Jean-Michel

Blais, is a confident musical mind-meld from two

visionary musicians.

The duo first met while performing together for

the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy. From there, the

two came together for this EP that trends towards

tasteful minimalism, but takes inspiration from

’90s trance and other electronic bombast. The

result is songs like the EP-highlight “Hypocrite,”

that blends grand piano with supersaw synths not

seen since the days of trance raves. Another piece,

“Spirit,” is reminiscent of James Blake, complete

with an alluring piano melody and entrancing

electronic haze in the background.

Throughout the five-track EP, CFCF and J-MB

walk a thin line between classical form and electronic

cheese. It’s a tough act to pull off, making it

all the more impressive that Cascades is as good as

it is. These songs probably won’t have long-lasting

staying power, but they still make a case for bridging

genre and mindful collaboration.

• Jamie McNamara

Damaged Bug

Bunker Funk

Castleface

Damaged Bug is the solo side-side-(side?) project

of Thee Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer. Bunker

Funk, his latest release on Castleface, extends the

off-kilter psychedelia from his work last year in

Thee Oh Sees, but finds him more willing to delve

into slower tempo, heady kraut-leaning jams.

“Bog Dash” sounds like a b-side from A Weird

Exits…, Thee Oh Sees first of two albums last year.

Meanwhile, “The Cryptologist” sounds like a cousin

of the chugging garage blitz unleashed by Thee

Oh Sees on 2015’s Fortress EP.

It’s a testament to John Dwyer that even when it

seems you’re plumbing the depths of his expansive

catalog, it’s still more worthwhile than few other

artists can claim. And still, even when Bunker Funk

sounds like scraps of Thee Oh Sees material, it

does manage to showcase some of Dwyer’s oddest

soundscapes, utilizing grimy Moogs and smoky

organs instead of mind-melting guitar (although,

there is a lot of that too, like the solo on the latter-half

of “Slay The Priest”).

Elsewhere, “Ugly Gamma,” “Rick’s Jumma,” and

“Bunker Funk” are tracks ripped right from the

back pages of Dwyer’s speed-addled songbook.

Taken as a whole, the woozy, fuzzed-out funk jams

found on Bunker Funk are welcome additions to

the Dwyer-verse, but they often leave you wanting

a little bit more.

• Jamie McNamara

Dim=Sum

Dim=Sum

Big White Cloud Records

Anyone can turn on music and let it play in the

background of whatever they happen to be doing,

but a patient listener will recognize that in the

lengthy and meandering space that occupies

Dim=Sum’s debut double LP, sonic rewards are the

fortune found in anticipation.

A project several years in the making, the band

consisting of Old Reliable alums Shuyler Jansen

and Mike Silverman, David Carswell of Destroyer,

and Chris Mason of The Deep Dark Woods,

Dim=Sum is a post-rock psychological excursion.

An album that twists and bends from eerie calm

through chaotic blasts of noise from which emerge

thoughtful melodies and fully-formed songs.

Characterized by peaceful preludes, the cuts

take their time to build. A mood is established

musically, expanded upon lyrically and melodically,

before a protracted groove supplies space

for instrumental synth and guitar melodies. Or,

melody is thoroughly discarded, all in favour of

tense breakdowns awash in ambient noise and

dissonance.

Jansen’s calm and plaintive timbre is accentuated

by Mason’s higher harmonies, which at

times are more a counterpoint to Jansen, rather

than hanging directly on his phrasing. Mason’s

multi-layered harmonies provide a soft landing for

a number of heavier passages, and his unhurried

bass playing in the pocket with Silverman builds

dramatic tension that suggests a storm is coming,

but never quite lets on how far away it might

be. Carswell’s distinct esotericism is on display

throughout, weaving melody with Jansen on guitar

and synth to create symphonic ideas that touch

down in space as often as they do on solid ground.

Dim=Sum is dense and expansive, relying on a

listener’s patient attention to detail, its constant

serenity interrupted by blasts of climactic turbulence.

• Mike Dunn

Hand Habits

Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void)

Woodsist

In its otherworldly, pensive calm, Wildly Idle

(Humble Before The Void) is immediately entrancing,

Meg Duffy’s layered vocals as close and

comforting as a secret whispered across a single

pillow. “Flower Glass” sets off in restrained haste,

much like Lera Lynn, with the line, “I know I’m not

the picture perfect vision in your mind,” an easy,

swaying beat that pulls you close, with Duffy’s

subtle production filling in the spaces underneath.

Trembling keys and breathless harmony “hold

you like a flower, hold you like an hourglass, I hold

you like it’s the only thing I’ve ever had.” Duffy’s

experimental edge reveals itself on the trippy aside

of “Greater La (Scene),” with a single-note synth

drone coursing beneath spaced-out volume swells

on an organ effected guitar, and Duffy’s spoken

word vocal disguised and disembodied in vocal

effects. While it’s hard to pick a standout among a

debut so fully realized, “All The While” is just that

slight cut above. It’s a gentle, sunny walk in the

woods, equal partsLoaded-era Velvet Underground

and breezy ‘60s folk rock. Duffy’s note

perfect harmonized slide guitar decays into chaos

before quickly returning to motif, and a McCartney/Kaye-like

bass groove that never loses the

beat, but steadily adds an extra melodic element

to a cut that is never short on parts to hum along

to. Duffy’s production is outstanding, with unexpected

turns of captivating esotericism, making

Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) easy to get

lost in, a recurring dream of ethereal melody.

• Mike Dunn

Hurray For The Riff Raff

The Navigator

ATO Records

The world has changed since Hurray For The Riff

Raff’s acclaimed, 2014 album Small Town Heroes

was released, and many now find themselves in

vulnerable and uncertain times.

The Navigator is singer, songwriter, and human

rights activist, Alynda Segarra’s brave, bold declaration

of love to those facing prejudice. It couldn’t

have come at more crucial time.

It’s political without being ornery and balances

between hope and despair. “Hungry Ghost”

is a tribute to the LGBTQ community; a kind of

love letter to the people who continue to create

sanctuaries and promote unity and freedom in the

wake of the Oakland and Orlando tragedies.

“When will you help me out / You can’t even

pick me out of a crowd.” Puerto Rican by descent,

growing up in the Bronx and living in New Orleans,

Segarra’s velvet vocals echo her own story as each

of the twelve tracks weave the tale of a displaced

and wandering street girl navigating her gender

identity, sexual identity, class, race and culture to

find her place. None of this is more prevalent than

in “Rican Beach,” a song about cultural appropriation

and gentrification, which Segarra dedicated to

the water protectors of both Standing Rock, North

Dakota and Penuelas, Puerto Rico, where coal ash

waste is contaminating drinking supply.

“Now all the politicians they just squawk their

mouths / They said we’ll build a wall to keep them

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 47


out,” she sings. “And all the poets were dying of a

silence disease / So it happened quickly and with

much ease.”

The Navigator is a succulent, beautifully-united

concept album, with lyrics that give a damn

elevated by electric guitar riffs, edgy percussion,

Latin rhythms, blazing rock and piercing ballads.

Ultimately the story ends with the compelling

anthem “Pa’lante,” a Spanish term inciting a call to

action, to keep going, rise up and move forward.

And we shall.

• Aja Cadman

HVOB & Winston Marshall

Silk

Tragen

HVOB is an Austrian production duo that consists

of Anna Müller and Paul Wallner. Together, the

duo have released two albums, but for their latest

album Silk, they’ve enlisted the help of collaborator

Winston Marshall. The resulting album is an

emotionally charged take on dance music, often

leaving the dancefloor to cry in the bathroom

alone.

Leadoff track “The Blame Game” is a soulful

post-mortem of a relationship gone sour. It takes a

card from The xx with its moody atmosphere and

guitar-led dance music. It features a dramatic vocal

turn from collaborator Winston Marshall that

sets the tone for much of Silk, the first album on

HVOB’s own label, Tragen.

“Glimmer” and “Astra” serve as palate cleansers

in between the main courses of the album; their

ambient yearning is a welcome change of pace

from the album’s dour emotional core.

Silk isn’t a perfect album, but its successes outweigh

its faults and help to prove that HVOB are a

production duo on the rise.

• Jamie McNamara

Jacques Greene

Feel Infinite

Arts & Crafts/LuckyMe

It can be tough for a well-liked electronic music

producer to deliver on a full-length after a long

run of great singles and remixes. While some

veer towards replicating the feel of a DJ set in

the long form, Jacques Greene has created a

captivating, nearly wordless narrative on Feel

Infinite.

Using his two major trademarks, pitch-shifted

vocal samples and cold, futuristic synth tones, the

artist born Philippe Aubin-Dionne keeps the feel of

his early work alive while using spacious moments

to widen his net. Sonically, the vocal elements (including

a wrenching turn from How to Dress Well

on “True”) recall ‘90s r’n’b, but it’s more the range

of feeling that decade’s mighty runs could contain

that comes to mind than anything else.

While it has a few meditative, nearly beatless

moments to preserve the mood dynamics crafted

into the album, Feel Infinite’s highlights often

come when Greene builds a web of seemingly at

odds rhythms and melodic patterns before flipping

them into a locked stomper. “Real Time” and the

recently JUNO-nominated “You Can’t Deny” are

the best examples of this.

Punctuating the album’s emotive but elusive

tonality is closer “You See All My Light.” A divine

voice repeatedly surfaces, reaching for absolution

but always falling just a second short. As Greene

pointed out in his mission statement for the

album, Feel Infinite is more about aspiration than

reward. Sometimes it’s good to linger in those

moments between.

• Colin Gallant

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

Flying Microtonal Banana

Flightless / ATO

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s newest

album Flying Microtonal Banana is the band’s first

attempt at experimenting with microtonal sounds.

The result is a valiant first attempt, but one that is

plagued with too much repetition.

Microtonal music basically uses smaller intervals

between notes, allowing for more rapid sounding

instruments, a technique popular amongst Eastern

music. The first track, “Rattlesnake,” makes great

use of this, with background shakers and rattles.

The band is sticking to their psychedelic roots, and

it sounds fast-paced and very catchy.

However, as the album progresses you begin

to realize that almost every song sounds like this.

“Melting,” the album’s second track has the same

“snake charmer” microtonal sound to it, and it’s

hard to make it through three minutes of this, five

times in a row.

The band also makes use of strange, ghoulish

background noises on “Open Water,” something

that sounds like an un-tuned bagpipe is heard

throughout the track and later again on the album’s

final track, “Flying Microtonal Banana.”

Overall, one can appreciate the band’s attempt

to try out these off-kilter tunings, and there are

gems on the album: a personal favorite for this

reviewer, the song “Nuclear Fusion.” But, the album

seems to reuse the same sounds, and it’s not interesting

enough to distinguish which songs you like

and which are just background noise.

• Foster Modesette

Less Than Jake

Sound the Alarm

Pure Noise Records

Florida ska punk veterans, Less Than Jake, have

released a new EP entitled Sound the Alarm; it’s

their first album released on Southern California

label, Pure Noise Records.

Right off the start the first track, “Call to Arms,”

will instantly hook long-time Less Than Jake fans.

“Welcome to My Life,” hits the reggae, island feel,

and each song works the brass. “Things Change” is

a great taste of the full EP. After listening to Sound

the Alarm, the only complaint I have is that it’s

only seven tracks long.

A staple in Less Than Jake’s sound is their use

of saxophone and trombone, both of which are

heavily-featured on this latest EP. Catchy riffs and

upbeat drums keep Sound the Alarm light-hearted,

although not as hard-hitting as some past

albums. Lead vocalists, Lima and DeMakes wrap

up the band’s perfected sound with their quirky

and unique vocal stylings, adding perfect harmony.

For first time listeners of Less Than Jake, Sound

the Alarm is a ska-infused and undeniably catchy

album; for fans, Sound the Alarm would be more

See the Light than Hello Rocketview.

Since this year Less Than Jake are celebrating

25 years as a band, Sound the Alarm is the

perfect way to kick off this accomplishment and

following year.

• Sarah Mac

Lusine

Sensorimotor

Ghostly International

From listening to Sensorimotor, the new album

from Lusine (a.k.a Jeff Mcllwain), it’s clear that the

Texas-raised, Seattle-based producer has a firm

grasp on “forward-thinking” electronic music.

Sensorimotor is a compelling album that smoothly

blends electro pop, techno, and disparate dance

music influences in ways that are far from rote.

The album opens with the ambient jangle of

“Canopy,” before fading into the skittering dubstep

of “Ticking Hands,” fearuring vocalist Sarah

Mcllwain. Signature dubstep shuffle bleeds into a

handful of the tracks on Sensorimotor, giving it the

impression of more pop-leaning Burial. Lusine has

a keen sense of how to balance atmospheric drone

with garage house rhythms and melody that place

the album firmly on more accessible landscape

than that of Burial. “Witness” features a vocal turn

from Benoit Pioulard that wouldn’t sound out

of place on Miike Snow’s earlier albums. Elsewhere,

“Just a Cloud” featuring Vilja Larjosto, is a

genuine synth pop hit, slyly-catchy and irresistibly

earworm-y.

The album closes with the seven-minute, arpeggiated

odyssey “The Lift.” It is a confident production

that has had its components whittled down

to clock-like efficiency. Like much of Sensorimotor,

it leaves the impulse to hit repeat again and again.

• Jamie McNamara

The Luyas

Human Voicing

Paper Bag Records

With arms into Montreal’s finest acts such as

Arcade Fire and Belle Orchestre, The Luyas surprise

more in approach than in execution. There is a familiar

baroque instrumental complexity, but much

less of the cinematic grandness than their pedigree

might predict.

Their fourth full-length outing, Human Voicing,

does an effective job of avoiding contemporary

musical tropes that frequently get dismissed as

“overproduced” or “generic.” Tracks are often

slow and plodding, with only spare moments of

melodic clarity. Rarely, if ever, does electronic affectation

or deep reverb inject anything inorganic

to its atmosphere. The Luyas efforts at creating a

meditative record seem to come more from jazz

than from rock or pop. Pretty guitar and violin

lines are smartly obscured by layers of instrumentation,

often organs or mid-range synths. Instead

of reaching into chamber pop, the arrangements

stay hazy, often anchored only by a bassline or

keyboard drone, and singer-instrumentalist Jessie

Stein’s breathy vocal.

The Luyas do more with less, and Human Voicing

is a clearly constructed and restrained release.

While it sinks far enough into the mid-range to

be murky and contemplative, it bursts out often

enough to keep itself interesting.

• Liam Prost

Methyl Ethyl

Everything is Forgotten

4AD

It’s hard not to draw a parallel between Tame

Impala’s Kevin Parker and the frontman of Methyl

Ethyl, Jake Webb. Both hail from the isolated city

of Perth, Australia, both started their respective

bands as a means to home record studio experi-

48 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE


ments and solo material before blossoming into

full bands, and with their latest albums, both have

mastered the art of blending heady atmospheres

with pop song structures.

Those surface level comparisons are where the

similarities end. Where Tame Impala use pop-leaning

psychedelia to focus inward on the neurosis

of Kevin Parker, Webb and his two bandmates

expand outwards on their sophomore, 4AD album

Everything is Forgotten. Where Parker gains his inspiration

from The Beatles, Webb probably learnt

more from the Cocteau Twins and MGMT.

Everything is Forgotten is hooky dream pop that

channels the explosive energy of Cocteau Twins

into tightly wound funk-indebted indie pop.

Tracks like the opener “Drink Wine,” sound

like early-10s’ peak-Robyn mixed with Purple

Rain-era Prince, all strutting basslines and strobing

synthesizers. Lead single “Ubu,” is a catchy piece

of indie pop, occupying a space in between the

bedroom funk of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and

the doomed post punk of Preoccupations.

Still, even if it’s easy to heap praise on Everything

is Forgotten, it doesn’t come without its detractions

like “No .28,” a song that sounds like a flabby

Hot Hot Heat B-side, or the orchestral, piano pop

leanings of “Femme Maison/One Man House” that

feel like Ben Kweller did a collab with Fall Out Boy

circa-“Sugar We’re Going Down.”

Songs like “Act of Contrition” and “Groundswell”

pick the album back up, reaching some of

the best pop moments of the year so far. Even with

its missteps, Everything is Forgotten is a confident

sophomore effort, solidifying the sound of a band

that has a bright future.

• Jamie McNamara

Minus the Bear

VOIDS

Suicide Squeeze

Playing VOIDS, the first album from Minus the Bear

in five years, is immediately quite the shock. Different

sounds from different eras fire off instantly, including

DL-4 reversed guitar, and that perfectly-danceable-yet-still-mellow

tempo they always seem to find.

These sounds, however, are all brought together in a

disparate and jarring way.

The absence of original drummer Erin Tate means

the incredibly awesome/weird rhythms are toned

down and the drums themselves match and serve

the song a bit more. This gives the album a way more

pop sound than we had heretofore experienced. It

almost sounds more Coldplay than math rock.

Reminiscence sets in as I remember how - wait

a sec - every Minus the Bear album brings in new

elements and is confusing for the first few moments.

From Menoso El Oso’s more subdued, reverb-y

sound, to Planet of Ice’s longer songs with synth elements,

every album from the Portland math rockers

carves out a unique sound.

Ultimately, for this reviewer, what ties it all together

are the unabashedly upfront lyrics about sleep,

regret, memory, drug use, sex, and being human sung

with that signature “aloofness” by Jake Snider.

By the fourth song, “Invisible,” the elements have

coalesced and the band’s vision for VOIDS comes

home as a sick, tapping riff enters for the bridge.

Minus the Bear succeed with another unique, amazing

album, but may lose some fans enticed by their

earlier sounds. Still, this reviewer is happy to follow

them into the future.

• Noah Michael

Mother Mother

No Culture

Universal Music Canada

“No culture, I got no culture.”

If you’re able to take time to peruse the lyrics

on Mother Mother’s new album No Culture,

you’ll find few things ring as true as this statement.

More importantly, the words must be

read in silence to avoid that weird mind-pollution

thing that happens when stylized vocals

muddle the pure essence or validity of what’s

intended.

Artists can be fickle that way - only they

know what they want their audience to be captivated

by most. With this project, it’s probably

not the musical compositions.

Which isn’t to say the music is lacking, perse,

just that lyrically, it gives us not-so-slight

clues (or suggestions, perhaps even realizations,

depending how far you take their poetic

regression) that peace, love, respect, soulfulness

and neutrality aren’t just some burnt-out, dipsy-doodle

words that have been overused over

the decades.

No, the tidings are in recognition that on

Earth, as people, a society, a progressive thinktank

of resolve, we will be destined to hear such

phrases (continually and repetitively) until the

lesson is learned.

That’s what Mother Mother is: a sage

consciousness that pushes us to accept what’s

good in ourselves and our space in this world.

Exceptionally bright, isn’t it? That’s how you do

Canadian indie pop/rock mystically.

• Lisa Marklinger

Mozart’s Sister

Field of Love

Arbutus Records

At just eight songs and 33 minutes in length, Field of

Love by Mozart’s Sister feels like a sugar high at the

moment just before the crash. Her brand of electronic

pop is at times nestled between the rawness of

early Grimes and dizzingly saccharine qualities of the

best PC Music releases.

Many of the record’s best moments showcase

hyperactive melody and energy. “Eternally Girl”

kicks things off with a few coos before belting into

chipmunk synth and Caila Thompson-Hannant

belting “I could be the one that you love.” In the

middle there’s “Moment to Moment,” a thematically

appropriate tune for a work when earworms

collide, overlap and sometimes fade before you can

grasp onto them fully.

It might’ve all become a bit too much to take in if

it weren’t for moments like “Angel,” where the pace

cools down and Thompson-Hannant’s voice is the

central focus. Her range stretches from pained falsetto

to Celine-esque diva bursts. Fittingly, Field of Love

peppers earnest love songs with just enough camp to

be both emotionally compelling while yielding a few

bemused grins from the listener.

• Colin Gallant

Said the Whale

As Long as Your Eyes are Wide

Hidden Pony Records

Said the Whale are absolutely one of the most

earnest and hardworking Canadian bands. The Vancouver

now-trio has long been making music that is

50 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE


as exuberantly friendly as it is fun loving. Even in their

quiet and somber moments, STW has always been

able to find ways to make us smile.

As Long as Your Eyes are Wide looks from the

outset to be a more “mature” outing, with nakedly

explicit explorations of grief and loss, coloured by a

coat of new-fangled production.

The record runs abundant with huge shimmering

synth and guitar melodies, and the few remaining

acoustic instruments serve more rhythmic purpose

than texture, making for an unabashedly pop experience,

albeit one with little to no compromise of the

style and wit of their past releases.

Co-songwriters Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft

trade off songwriting duties to great effect as usual,

but it’s Worcester specifically whose work sparkles

the brightest, stretching himself to a greater degree

thematically, but also vocally, even if his tracks are less

raw-ly emotional than Bancroft’s.

ASAYEAW feels intensely laboured, both in production

and in songwriting. It takes a lot of emotional

and intellectual investment to make a record like this,

and STW does not make it look easy. Every song is an

investment and their collective hearts are so far down

their sleeves they might as well be wearing them as

cufflinks.

• Liam Prost

Surfer Blood

Snowdonia

Joyful Noise Recordings

When sifting through Snowdonia, the ironically-titled

latest from Floridian indie-rockers Surfer Blood,

it’s hard to imagine how a group so mired in both

controversy and tragedy have managed to release a

record basking in a sun-drenched glow that, really,

has no business being there.

Their first LP since the death of guitarist Thomas

Fekete from cancer last year, Snowdonia finds the

four-piece breezing through its eight harmonious,

surfer-twang tracks, which at its highs are reminiscent

of pre-Pet Sounds Beach Boys in regards to their consideration

for coherent composition and dedication

to theme.

“Six Flags in F or G,” the undeniable standout of

Snowdonia, finds the group confronting the death of

Feleke, beginning with an almost campy, carnival-like

guitar jaunt before dropping off into anthemic

resolve as vocalist John Paul Pitts’ nasally croons “One

of these days/ Right back at the start/ One of these

days/ We’ll never ever be apart.”

At it’s core, the real strength of Snowdonia lies in

the execution of its instrumentation, which shifts

between kitschy surfer-rock and airy, emotionally-laden

codas with only the occasional misstep, and,

ultimately, it’s a fitting homage to an existence that’s

not always a day at the beach.

• Alec Warkentin

Talaboman

The Night Lands

R&S

Individually, John Talabot and Axel Boman are two of

the most consistently tasteful producers in electronic

music today. Talabot is a Spaniard that has a knack

for discreetly-funky dance music that borders on

Four Tet, but often verges into the territory of a more

laidback Lindstrom. Boman is a Swede that is a Pampa

records regular and one of the founding members

of the label Studio Barnhus.

The Night Lands is the duo’s debut album as

Talaboman and it manages to function as a brilliant

showcase for the best aspects of both producers. It’s

a rare collaborative album that sounds as if it was

created by one person.

The duo themselves described making the album

as “talking blip blop until we felt that we had something

worth saying” and it’s evident in the patient

production choices on the album.

The last time the duo collaborated as Talaboman

was with the one-off track “Sideral” for John Talabot’s

classic DJ-Kicks back in 2013. The Night Lands never

quite lives up to the energy set by the duo on that

restless, club-ready track, but instead their aim is set

on a more cerebral version of house and techno, one

that often adopts African percussion and whirring

synthesizers.

Opening tracks “Midnattssol” and “Safe Changes”

unfurl over 12 minutes of blissful, ambient haze. It’s

not until the album-standout third track that the

duo really lift the curtain on their floor-filling prowess.

“Samsa,” a 10-minute house journey that blends

the cosmic burbling of wandering synthesizers with a

heads-up drumbeat, is a warehouse-ready adventure.

The rest of the almost hour-long eight-track album

plays out with the same success. It’s paced perfectly

and on-par with the quality the two producers are

known for.

• Jamie McNamara

Tedeschi-Trucks Band

Live From The Fox Oakland

Fantasy

A lot of bands lay claim to a “secret weapon:” one

particular performer in the group who is some kind

of savant on their particular instrument, or has some

undeniable charisma that magnetizes the audience.

The Tedeschi-Trucks Band is one of those fortunate

groups that can claim at least two, in band leaders

Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, with taste and charisma

enough through the rest of the group to ensure

that despite their leaders’ considerable skills, the band

is always the bedrock their sound grows from.

Trucks’ slide guitar playing has been held in

high regard since he was a teenager, and he’s had a

definitive impact of the style; many slide players have

elements of Trucks’ right-hand attack in their toolkit,

but to really appreciate it, you have to hear it from

the hands of Trucks himself. Whether it’s the tasteful

backdrop padding of chord tones, or the Indian-influenced

acoustic playing on “These Walls,” or the move

from down-home clean Delta Blues into higher-power

atmosphere dancing on “Leavin’ Trunk,” Trucks is

simply a master of tone, taste, and flat-out bottleneck

fireworks.

Tedeschi is no slouch on the guitar herself, laying

down groovy, Cropper/Nolen Tele-rhythms on the

soulful funk of “Don’t Drift Away” and some flash

wah licks on the opening cut, “Don’t Know What It

Means.” Tedeschi’s impassioned and smoky vocals

speak to not only her ability, but her improvisation in

between lines shows she’s fully absorbed the Southern

style, and it feels fully natural.

The band itself is a collection of top-shelf killers,

evidenced by some melodic asides in their extended

jams suggesting Coltrane and Davis, with some

serious brass-melting saxophone expeditions, while

the presence of extra percussion fills the space in all

the right places. The Tedeschi-Trucks Band breathes

musical fire.

• Mike Dunn

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 51


livereviews

IsKwé

Scenic Route to Alaska

BLOCK HEATER

FEBRUARY 10-12, 2017

by Mike Dunn

During summer, you’re a little more prepared. Even

after months of promo, it kind of felt like Block Heater,

Calgary Folk Fest’s second annual winter music

festival, snuck up on us. At 4PM on Friday, February

10, it dawned on us. “Holy shit, today is the day.”

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10

Kicking off the festival at the Lantern, local singer-songwriter

Evan Freeman brought his most recent

album Luna to life, with soaring vocals reminiscent of

Jim James, backed tastefully with the pleasant harmonies

and atmospheric guitar tones of guitarist Darren

Young. It’s a testament to Freeman and Young’s

professionalism that they played with such strength

in the face of the recent, tragic passing of bandmate

Adam Van Wielingen.

Over at Festival Hall, Block Heater presented the

Indigenous Showcase, beginning with the traditional

drumming of Eya-Hey Nakoda, who were

accompanied by some of the world’s best traditional

dancers, resplendent in traditional dancing gowns.

While their presentation of the music was warm

and friendly, there was a palpable intensity that took

over once they began playing, which only ratcheted

up throughout the evening. Toronto-based artist

isKwé was a tour-de-force, with heavy dance beats

punctuated by synth and violin, as explosive in her

more driving moments as it was subtle and expressive

in her more tender passages. Leonard Sumner, from

Little Saskatchewan, Manitoba, displayed striking

honesty in his sincere and heavy solo performance,

unflinching in his melodic and lyrical assessment of

the experience of getting through life in one of the

hardest places in Canada to live. The solo acoustic

vibe of Sumner’s set was a marked contrast from

isKwé’s volume, and the juxtaposition of styles

worked like a charm to set up the evening’s closer, DJ

Shub of A Tribe Called Red, who stepped up to drop

huge drum and bass beats mixed with the intensity of

traditional singing.

Next, at the Alexandra Dance Hall, local

roots-rocker JJ Shiplett and his road-wizened band

took to the stage, playing hopeful, anthemic tunes

from Shiplett’s recent full-length Something To

Believe In. The title cut made the rounds throughout

the weekend, tones of Springsteen in its refrain, notably

between sets outside Festival Hall, with Shiplett

& Co. inviting the crowd to get with them, on a crisp,

full-moon prairie night, that audience happily obliging.

Meanwhile at The Lantern, Calgary indie-rockers

Reuben & The Dark played two sold-out sets in a row,

to an overjoyed crowd. Walking into a church to hear

tones recalling The War On Drugs was a pleasant surprise,

and the backdrop suited frontman Reuben Bullock’s

theatrical style, while harmonies and chiming

instrumentation bounced through the room awash

in reverb both natural and developed.

The Ironwood played a fitting host to a raucous

closing set by Toronto roots-rock veterans NQ

Arbuckle. Frontman Neville Quinlan’s assertion that

“our crowds tend to be good drinkers” was accurate,

and their energetic sound is as well-suited to the intimate

confines of a barroom as it is to the late-night

lights of an outdoor stage. It was also a testament to

the community engagement of Calgary Folk Fest that

The Ironwood could provide a welcoming and inclusive

environment where our elected provincial ministers

could feel comfortable and enjoy themselves for

a rare night out on the town together, a cabinet-level

dance party breaking out at stage left.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11

NQ Arbuckle’s Quinlan’s ability to get a decent night’s

sleep despite Friday night’s rowdiness was on full

display Saturday afternoon, as he joined provocative

Vancouver poet C.R. Avery and Edmonton

folk-rockers Scenic Route to Alaska for the Avant

Bards workshop on the Festival Hall stage. Quinlan

took a well-earned breather between songs by sitting

happily on stage, while Avery, ever the topical raconteur,

was backed with subtlety by SRTA as he waxed

mightily on what possible reactions Bob Dylan might

have had to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature,

having lived through the golden years of censorship

which hastened the demise of satirist Lenny Bruce,

and were given unique emphasis by the work of

comedian George Carlin. Avery has always been one

of Canada’s most lyrically fearless performers, and his

well-regarded ability to discomfit was most welcome

with a morning coffee.

A quick walk down the street found a near-capacity

Alexandra Dance Hall for the Country Club

session, featuring Texas songwriter Hayes Carll,

local country chanteuse Sykamore, Saskatchewan

old-time revivalists The Dead South, and hosted with

confident-yet-self-deprecating style by Calgary singer-songwriter

Mariel Buckley. Sykamore was subtle

and restrained, note-perfect on her melodic songs

of longing. While there are few performers who can

set up a song as well as Carll, Buckley made the stage

her own with a well-timed withdrawal from the mic,

which only enhanced the heft in final refrain her last

number, “Driving in The Dark.”

Seeing Carll and Buckley on stage together during

the afternoon was merely a prelude to their back-toback

concert sets at The Lantern later that evening.

Buckley took the stage solo for a couple of numbers,

before calling up her Jealous Hearts, vocalist Jessica

Marsh and guitarist Keane Eng. Marsh’s harmonies

were a studied, brassy compliment to Buckley’s lower

register sensitivity, and Eng’s guitar work is particularly

fitting on darker numbers like “Motorhome.”

Buckley is coming into her own as a bandleader, with

a measured steadiness on stage that belies her years,

which sits as a welcome addition to her charming,

say-what-I-want disposition with the microphone.

Carll’s songwriting and storytelling chops were on

full display at The Lantern, distinct in his ability to

avoid theatricality and to show the work as a damn

good craftsman. The reaction to Carll’s intros, and

the ovations from the crowd proved that he’s still

a popular as ever around here, after songs like the

good-time barroom poetry of “Hard Out Here,” the

beautiful small-town love song “Beaumont,” and

52 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE


“KMAG YOYO,” a high-paced humorous trip into space

while still managing an indictment of the use of poor young

people to fight the wars that darker forces embroil them in.

Carll was joined on stage for a duet with Alberta country-hero

Corb Lund, for their co-write from Lund’s Cabin Fever

album, “Bible On The Dash.” The irony of a Bible as musician’s

border security wasn’t lost on Lund, who quipped, “we might

have to build a northern border wall.”

The late show at The Ironwood featured Australian

country troubadour Henry Wagons, whose table dancing

mania was on full display, as wild and reckless in his guise

as a singer-songwriter as he’s been on other recent trips to

the city with his band. Wagons has made some excellent

alt-country records, but there’s a Guy Terrifico element

to him as a performer, a measure of escapist lunacy that’s

entertaining, but the question that always accompanies the

Terrifico comparison is, “Is this serious, or is this taking the

piss out of the style?”

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12

Festival Sundays are the “we made it” day, with the schedule

wrapping up between The Ironwood and Festival Hall. Beginning

at the former, with the Dark End of the Street session,

with confessional singer-songwriter Kris Ellestad, the piano-driven

rock of The Northwest Passage, Calgary indie-rockers

SAVK, and Montréal’s Mélisande, whose bouncing mix of

grooving dance music with traditional acoustic Québecois

tones was a pleasant driving force in the collaborative session.

The Ironwood’s programming for the day concluded with

the Mondo Mundo session, featuring the grooving calypso

and reggae of Trinidadian-Canadians Kobo Town, philosophical

reggae singer-songwriter Taj Weeks & Adowa, along with

the esoteric hip-hop of Calgary’s Sargeant & Comrade, the

groups’ frequent collaborations taking off when the rhythm

sections settled into deep grooves, pulsing the floor of the

old theatre with heavy urban beats punctuated by tropical

percussion and blasts of jazzy saxophone.

Festival Hall was buzzing first thing, with All The Rebel

Rockers, JJ Shiplett joining the venerable Dojo Workhorse,

The Torchettes, and Henry Wagons, bringing both their

original work, and a number of well-received cover tunes

to pay a bit of tribute to the artists who influenced them.

Shiplett kicked off the round of covers with the immediately

identifiable strains of The Tragically Hip’s “Grace, Too,” perfectly-timed

for the afternoon crowd. The Torchettes stoked

the fires with a powerhouse rendition of Aretha Franklin’s

Atlantic soul classic “Chain Of Fools,” before the Dojo Workhorse

boys brought the house down with a beautiful, spacey,

and heartfelt reading of Bob Dylan & The Band’s “I Shall Be

Released,” while Wagons once again threw caution to the

wind, running into the crowd on his jammy number “Willie

Nelson.” Dojo Workhorse brought the festival to a close at

Festival Hall with their spacey soul vibes, dropping killer cuts

from Civil Shepherds and Come To Your Senseis, once again

showing why they’re one of the goodwill musical ambassadors

of the Calgary underground.

If altruistic people seem eager of late to ascribe a deeper

meaning to entertainment throughout the most trying of

times, there’s good reason for it. The unrelenting barrage of

information today makes events like Block Heater special,

where we can get together and enjoy each other’s company,

meet new friends, or by some coincidental miracle, run

straight into old pals you haven’t seen in ages. It gives us a

chance to break away from the usual brunch-and-checkour-phones

routine; to be entertained, or enlightened, and

in the rarest cases, emboldened from what an artist shared

with us. If their perspective made us laugh, or tear up, or

even feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, then that’s to our

benefit, because we’re still at liberty to feel however we

want to, and say it out loud as well.

• Mike Dunn

photos: Jarrett Edmund

Sykamore

NQ Arbuckle

BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 53


SAVAGE LOVE

a trip down fantasy lane...

I am a straight married man. My wife and I have a 4-year-old and a

3-month-old. We’ve just started having intercourse again. For Valentine’s

Day, we spent the night in a B&B while grandma watched the kids. We

had edibles, drank sparkling wine, and then fucked. It was amazing. After

we came and while we were still stoned and drunk, my wife mentioned

she was open to inviting others into our sex life. I asked about getting a

professional sex worker. She said no. But maybe if we were in a bar (we’re

never in bars) and met someone (a unicorn), she might be into it. Anal

came up. She’s always said she’s up for trying anything once. I have a

desire to experiment with anal. (Not just me entering her, but her pegging

me as well.) I asked if she would use the vibrator we brought on me, just

to experiment. She said she was too high to do anything. I felt let down.

I feel she unknowingly teased me with fantasies I have, not knowing I

actually have them. We have a good sex life, and I’m willing to write off

the fantasies we discussed while high and drunk. It’s the teasing that

drove me crazy.

—Having And Realizing Desires

P.S. I’m in no hurry. We just had a baby, and I don’t want to pressure my

wife right now. My fear is that she may only like the idea of exploring our

sexuality together and not the reality of it.

Some people think about, talk about, and masturbate about certain

fantasies without ever wanting to realize them. Let’s call them Team

Fantasize. Some people think about, etc., certain fantasies and would

very much like to realize them. Let’s call them Team Realize. There’s

nothing wrong with either team. But when someone on Team Fantasize

is married to someone on Team Realize, well, that can be a problem.

Knowing your spouse is turned on by fantasies you share but rules

out realizing them—or sets impossible conditions for realizing them—

can be extremely frustrating. And sometimes a frustrated Team Realize

spouse will say something like this to their Team Fantasize mate:

“Talking about these fantasies together—this kind of dirty talk—it gets

my hopes up about actually doing it. If it’s never going to happen, we

have to stop talking about it, because it’s frustrating.”

The problem with that approach? Swingers clubs, BDSM parties,

and the strap-on-dildo sections of your finer sex-positive sex-toy

stores everywhere are filled with couples who used to be on opposite

teams—one from Team Fantasize, the other from Team Realize—but

they’re both on Team Realize now. And what got them on the same

team? Continuing to discuss and share fantasies, even at the risk of

frustrating the Team Realize spouse.

So if you ever want to have that threesome or experiment with

anal, HARD, you need to keep talking with your wife about these

fantasies—and you need to tell her your fantasies too! Tell her you’re

not pressuring her, of course, but let her know these are things you

would actually like to do, and the more you talk about them, the more

you want to do them. If she keeps talking with you about them, that’s

a sign. Not a sign that she’s a cruel tease, HARD, but a sign that she’s

inching closer toward pulling on a Team Realize jersey.

P.S. If your wife doesn’t know you have these fantasies—and is consequently

teasing you “unknowingly”—that’s your fault, HARD, not hers.

I wanted to tell you about something that happened to my friend.

(Really!) She was going to bang this dude from OkCupid but wasn’t

getting a great feeling, so she went to bed and let him crash on the couch.

She woke up the next day to find her underwear drawer empty on the

floor and all of her underwear wrapped around this dude’s feet. She

stealthily removed all the panties from his perv hooves and put her shit

away. When the morning actualized itself, they parted amicably with no

mention of the underwear slippers.

—Men In Alaska

Ask yourself which is the likelier scenario, MIA. Scenario 1: This guy

stumbled around your friend’s dark apartment in the middle of the

night, managed to find her underwear drawer, pulled it out and set it

on the floor, made himself a pair of pantie-booties, had himself a wank,

and fell back to sleep. All without waking your friend. Then your friend

got up in the morning, saw her panties wrapped around his hooves,

peeled them off one by one, and returned her panties to their drawer.

All without waking Perv Hooves up. Scenario 2: Your friend got pervy

with this guy, wanted to tell you about this guy’s kink, but was too

embarrassed to admit that she played along and possibly got into it.

My money is on Scenario 2, MIA, because I’ve heard this song

before: “I met this pervert who did these perverted things in front of

me while I was asleep, and I wasn’t in any way involved and I wasn’t

harmed. Isn’t that pervert crazy?” Yeah, no. In most cases, the person

relaying the story played an active role in the evening’s perversions but

edited the story to make themselves look like a passive bystander, not

a willing participant.

I’m a 30-year-old straight woman who has been with the same guy

(high-school sweetheart!) for the last 13 years. We love each other deeply,

best friends, etc. The problem isn’t that the sex isn’t good—he’s very good

at making me come. But the sex is vanilla and routine, and I would like

us to go beyond that. Nothing extreme, I just want to switch things up

a bit. Talking about sex makes my husband REALLY uncomfortable. If I

ask him what he’d like me to do to him while we’re having sex, he shuts

down. He’ll say, “Everything you do is good,” and leave it there. In the very

few conversations we’ve had about this stuff, he’s said that he feels intimidated

and doesn’t know what to say. This is incredibly frustrating for me.

How do I get him to loosen up and feel more comfortable about talking

to me so that we can eventually progress to some new experiences?

—Why Husband Is Prudish

Have you told him what you want? If you haven’t—if you’re as vague in

your conversations with him as you were in your letter to me—you’re

essentially asking your husband to guess at your undisclosed interests

or kinks. Your husband is probably terrified of guessing wrong. He

doesn’t know what to do, he doesn’t know what to say—but he’s told

you he’s fine with whatever you want to do. So stop asking him what

he wants to do to you, WHIP, and start doing whatever it is you want

to do. Take the initiative, be the change you want to see in the sack,

lean in or bend over or whatever.

From your sign-off, WHIP, I’m guessing you’re interested in some

type of BDSM play, most likely with you in the sub role. So lay your

kink cards on the table and offer to dominate him first. A lot of subs

do some topping, i.e., doing unto others as they would like done unto

them, and some subs become tops exclusively. But take baby steps,

it’s mild before wild, you gotta nail those junior-varsity kinks before

moving up to varsity-level kinks, etc.

Listen to Dan at

savagelovecast.com

Email Dan at

mail@savagelove.net

Follow Dan

@fakedansavage on Twitter

by Dan Savage

54 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines