FREE MARCH 2017
and The Unlikely
Birth of Istvan...
$100 Film Fest • The Courtneys • The Shivrettes • STRFKR • Port Cities • Horrendous • Dirty Projectors
Bedroom Eyes 7
Edmonton Extra 26
Book Of Bridge 28
Letters From Winnipeg 29
Let’s Get Jucy 32
This Month in Metal 41
International Festival of
Animated Objects 16-17
Goddamn Millenials, Quantum, Nash,
Midtown, Simons opening, Glenbow
$100 Film Fest, Science in the Cinema,
March Upcoming Movies
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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
Ivy Lab, OAKK
Port Cities, Corin Raymond, Tom Olson,
Horrendous, Decibel Magazine Tour,
Dirty Projectors and much more ...
Managing Editor/Web Producer
City :: Brad Simm
Film :: Jonathan Lawrence
Calgary Beat :: Willow Grier
Edmonton Extra :: Levi Manchak
Book of (Leth)Bridge :: Courtney Faulkner
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
Tel: (403) 607-4948 • e-mail: email@example.com
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STRFKR - page 23
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Copyright © BEATROUTE Magazine 2017
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OYR’s WINE STAGE
Sexy, stylish and sophisticated
March 18, 7:30 pm
The Garter Girls
BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 3
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
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
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
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
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
secret lineups and comedy for a generation by Graeme Wiggins and Colin Gallant
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
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
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).
Inside Out Theatre, Glenbow Museum
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.
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
BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 9
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
“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
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.”
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
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
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
SCIENCE IN THE CINEMA
entertainment, education and engagement
by Jonathan Lawrence
Not just for academics, Science in the Cinema brings differing groups together.
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
rewind to the future
by Shane Sellar
Bleed For This
Queen Of Katwe
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
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
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.
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.
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
Moreover, you also get a free getaway vehicle
when you holdup an armored car.
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
Nevertheless, literary retaliation is the exact reason
why you shouldn’t marry a writer. Well, that and
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
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
Moreover, it’s good for the male chess players to
meet a real-life female.
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
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…
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
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
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
“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.
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
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!!
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
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
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
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
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
“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
“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
have mic, will travel
by Kennedy Enns
The Shiverettes hit Western Canada on the heels of debut album release.
friday - st. patty’s day
mitch belot band
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
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
“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.
late night movies
$5 pints, $1 oysters
$1/2 off wine
$7 beer flights
$5 draft pints
$3 jack daniels
20 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
TRIM SIZE: 10.25"W x 11.5" H, RIGHT HAND PAGE
from the plains of Siksika Nation
photo: Unfolding Creative
“I Iron Tusk. “Our very first show was there last January.”
guess you can say we’re a Rockin’ 4 Dollar$ 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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
by Danni Bauer
Portland’s STRFKR and Psychic Twin hit Western Canada this month.
BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 23
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
“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,”
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
“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
“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
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
what’s coming to town in March...
April 5th at the Grey Eagle
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.
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.
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.
March 20th at the Southern Alberta
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.
BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 25
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
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
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,”
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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 &
“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
“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
“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
“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
Wears heart on his sleeve with debut solo effort
Winnipeg-bred Joey Landreth (one quarter
of the Bros. Landreth) is a self-described
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
“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
“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
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
“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.
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
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,”
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
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
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
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
“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.”
“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
old school, new school, no school rules
Repurposing New Wave for a modern crop of electronic music in Calgary.
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
“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  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.
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
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
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
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
the small time hits the bright lights
Corin Raymond’s winding and genial path to his first Juno nomination.
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
“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.
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.
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.
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
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
“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…
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
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.
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
“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
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
“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
“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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
Bring your money and support a good cause.
• Sarah Kitteringham
BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 41
“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
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
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
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
Calgary March 31
The Sewing Machine Factory
Edmonton April 1
Vancouver April 13
Saskatoon April 21
Regina April 22
Lethbridge May 6
The Painters EP
CFCF & Jean-Michel Blais
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
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
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 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
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
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
Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void)
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
• 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
• Sarah Mac
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
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
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
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
Everything is Forgotten
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
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
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
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
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
Field of Love
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
• Liam Prost
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
“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
The Night Lands
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
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
• Jamie McNamara
Live From The Fox Oakland
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
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
• Mike Dunn
BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 51
Scenic Route to Alaska
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
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
BEATROUTE • MARCH 2017 | 53
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
Email Dan at
@fakedansavage on Twitter
by Dan Savage
54 | MARCH 2017 • BEATROUTE